2024 Entries

Friday, 14th June, 2024

Time flies by on your day off. So many things to do, and I end up doing none of them. Need to go to bed earlier, I’ve been staying up too late this week thinking about all the things I should do and doing none of them.

Went up a hill this morning with my radio. Was meant to be a quick one but didn’t get home til 1:30 and by the time I had lunch and faffed with a new Meshtastic thing it’s school pick up.

Tuesday, 11th June, 2024

It must be that time of year again as I’m thinking about a new blogging platform…not for this site, I still like this one and don’t feel any need to change it. It’s for my amateur radio blog. Mostly trigger by the fact I’ve not written anything on it in ages and I’ve got lots of things I want to write, but I just never do it.

Usually when that happens I decide the problem is that it’s running on a bad choice of blog platform. Particuarly of note is if it’s Wordpress and my neverousness of running a database and so on, vs. just having plain text. There’s really no reason why I need a database, and it’s always the ease of images and using the app on my phone that draws me towards it.

So now I’m thinking that I should move it to a static site generator…but which one…plus I’m looking at easy options like blot.im, or bearblog.dev, etc. They’re nice and have lots of advantages and generally have a good philosphy. However, I then think spending money on hosting is unecessary and I’m still not entirely in control. Blot and bearblog are both the same price a year. Reading the bearblog docs but I do think a simple static site with github build chain is what I should start doing.

I also think about using 11ty as the javascript parts can do interesting things and I think up lots of interesting things but would I ever do them? There’s also Quarto that I moved my main site to. It’s a static generator but has lots of bells and whistles, but again, do I need all that?

Setup my allstarlink node with SIP this morning (it’s all just asterisk anyway), and now I’m thinking of IP phones in the house and the kids would enjoy calling each other. They’re often cheap on ebay so maybe I’ll get a couple and have a play. Technically, I could have a handheld radio and use it to call phones on the network. Even the extent of a repeater in any country in the world that’s connected to the Allstarlink network. Of course, people will point out we have this…in our mobile phones…but not as fun, plus there’s no monthly subscription!

There’s also Pika, which it seems I found in December last year.

Sunday, 9th June, 2024

Had another solar guy round on Friday. He was good, knew lots and didn’t push anything on me. He’s my fav contractor, be interesting to see what he proposes. Got one quite back from the first guy. Need to sit and think about it. He was light on technical details but I could ask.

Been setting up an AllStarLink node. Which is like VoIP but for amateur radio with parts of the links being radio.

Tuesday, 4th June, 2024

Had another solar installer email me with a different panel layout. Using our ENE roof and the WSW one. The east side has a lovely big clear area and it is a great side for installation purposes, but will it generate any power? The west one only has space for two panels and seems a hassle for just two panels. Likewise the same question on power gen.

I used PVGIS again to calculate the power. They do generate power, not as much but it’s something. The west side is better for us for total generation. If they could share scaffolding then maybe I’d think it was a good idea, but I suspect they’d need dedicated scaffolding and so is it really worth it? I’ll wait and see what his quote looks like.

Shame we don’t have a huge garden to do ground mounted.

From an economic standpoint moving to the variable tariff has had the best return. It cost nothing and we’ve saved 23% off our bill. If this is my new starting point then that makes solar harder to justify. If I start from doing nothing then it’s pretty decent payback. I suppose the challenge for myself is to maximise the returns once installed via tariff games and savings schemes that should happen this winter.

Sunday, 2nd June, 2024

I spent ages last night marking up the house drawing with panel configurations. Probably can only fix 6 on the main roof as any more and you start to get too close to edges of other roof parts. Not sure if it’s something they can try when up on the roof fitting the connectors but probably too late at that stage. Maybe I was too harsh on the electrician (not that he knows!) but now I’ve done it myself I feel satisfied that we’re not missing out on a better solution.

Using easypv website is very helpful as it tells me prices and things to consider, plus it does a nice schematic. My decision on DC vs AC coupled battery is still to be made but I do think the extra cost of AC might not be worth it for me. Trying to ask people questions on the /r/SolarUK subreddit to gauge what’s best. Also think going for 80:20 is perfectly fine. It’s probably more like 95:5 and that 5% is driving me to extreme solutions.

Saturday, 1st June, 2024

Had an electrician around for solar and storage. Also chased up two other companies I’d phoned on Monday.

Everyone, and I guess not surprising, wants to do the least effort job, ie the one that means not contacting the power network operator (DNO). They also want to use google maps to size the array. Which is fine and a good way to do things but I got the feeling that it was “here’s a good enough solution, that’ll do.” I’m perhaps unusual in that whilst cost is important it’s not the be all and end all. Application to the DNO will cost money but so what. I also do my own economic modelling, which I guess most people don’t.

When I tell them I have 30 minute variable tariff they look blank at me.

Anyway, I just need to get a couple to come round and then I can convince them I’m serious and move towards what I want. Which is likely to be more expensive than their base design and they’ll be interested as means they’ll earn more? I dunno. Anyway, repeated nagging is needed.

I just need to figure out what it is I actually want 😅

Thursday, 30th May, 2024

Heat pump engineer came round today. Even though we have a modern house all the heating piping and radiators will need to be replaced. Which will cost more, and his ballpark figures weren’t horrendous but the amount of ripping apart of the house necessary is huge. Not sure I can be bothered with that plus all the redecorating afterwards.

That’s disappointing.

Electrician coming tomorrow for solar and storage, hopefully that’s not more bad news bear 🐻.

Wednesday, 29th May, 2024

Making more progress towards solar, batteries, heat pump efforts. Phoned up a whole load of companies and getting quotes and site visits. Got to work through the government hoops to get the grant application. Not sure if I want to do it but probably should. Be something else I obsess over with power prices, solar yield and battery charging schedules.

Saturday, 25th May, 2024

Back from the wedding. Phew what a drive and it was kinda boring and we were too tired to enjoy it. Done now and mostly went for my mum.

First time shooting film in a while…probably not since Christmas. Will see how they turn out.

Thought of lots of things I would do on the drive back, can’t remember any of them now.

Tuesday, 21st May, 2024

I’ve not filled in DayOne all May, and the longer I leave it the harder it feels to restart it. I always want to go back and fill in the days I’ve missed but I know that I’ll never do it. At best I should just add photos from my phone and let it make a new day’s entry for it, even if I write nothing associated with the photo.

I opened it up just now and added today and the weekend. It’s never that hard to do once I open the app and it doesn’t need to be much, just a sentence or two will still be enjoyable to read later on.

It was this culture/diversity thing at work today and in the cafe they had some stalls with food from various countries to try. It was nice but I’m not sure the random mixture of things is agreeing with me. Should’ve just stuck with the sushi and not the random Polish, Turkish, and Greek things I ate as well.

We have a family wedding this week and a big drive to get there. My mum is very excited by it but I really cba with it. It’s my family so my wife doesn’t care either, she was half hoping her work wouldn’t let her take the time off but alas, they did!

I always seem to find people who like things I do but already have everything great. Be it cameras, radios, computers, whatever, there’s always someone who already has x, y, z thing and tells you how great it is. So now I want to buy x, y and z. The main difference is that they’ve probably acquired all the stuff over many years, and not trying to buy it all at once.

I was eyeing a handheld radio to take with me up mountains, a 2m/70cm one which is just for local contacts. Probably £200 used. One I was watching sold today on ebay then I thought I should’ve bought it. If I’m honest, I don’t need it. I already have two handhelds! One is simple, light and cheap - but works - the other is a bit heavier and is feature packed but complicated to use. I should just learn how to use the complex one because it does the same, in fact more, than the one I was looking at on ebay. It just didn’t have a fancy touch screen. Really I need to get a better antenna for my HT and then I could make some more contacts…or at least hear the locals better when I do call.

I need to make a list (or a new one) of radio stuff I want to do, as I keep flitting between things online and then never doing anything. This pretty much applies to all sorts…

Back on the Lego train design again. Picked up a cheap engine on ebay from a Lego set that’ll do as the driver, and trying to design/build cheap rolling stock. I like the wagons, the wood cars and containers. It’s just find a build that’s not too many parts but interesting and so we can have a nice long train. Maybe 6-8 carriages. The usual games of sellers on Bricklink and trying to figure out the best combination of stuff. A seller in Thailand currently has free shipping to UK if you spend over $100. They have loads of cheap parts, but not necessarily the ones I want! It’s a big time sink going through all those parts and stores and then designs and going back to the start of the design and tweaking it to make it less expensive…except then it changes the optimal combination of stores and so the cycle repeats all night.

Although I should go back to the hacker space tonight, to hang out there. I can look at trains and parts whilst just sat around with everyone, or poke though the stuff again. See if I get as excited as last time and agree to sign up and pay the membership fees.

Saturday, 18th May, 2024

Went up a mountain yesterday and played radio. Tidied and cleaned the office today, with cleaning products and vacuuming! Put random junk away, even if it’s just in a box underneath, but makes a big difference. Also listed the Mac Mini G4 for sale. It’s just a computer I never use and I have no nostalgia over it. Going rate seems higher than what I paid, so that could be nice.

Debating about radios still. Maybe I should just buy the IC705…does seem useful for lots of situations. Not perfect for them but close enough and I like that when I try one thing, get bored of it, and move to the next the 705 is still useful. It’s also hard not just to want to collect radios.

Wednesday, 15th May, 2024

Went to the local hackspace last night, what an amazing place full of good tools, materials, bits and pieces and vintage hardware and general stuff! Also has a nice work area, social area, drinks/snacks, local servers, music all sorts that makes it just a great space to hang out. There were about 10 people there, maybe half uni students and half older, probably about my age, folks. Mostly guys but a couple of women too. Everyone was very friendly and so diverse. Most folks were doing programming projects but one guy was doing some wood work. I’d taken my lego pieces to build the unikitty tram, and that attracted a lot of attention and had a good chat with folks about lego and Studio software.

There was an older guy who I talked to a lot about all sorts of things, well mostly I listened, but he was interesting. Does a lot of social work and interfaces with different groups and has interesting stories.

They do weekly meets but if you’re a member then you can use it at any time. Probably going to join, although I wouldn’t surprise myself if I never build anything there but just hang out and chat!

Planning what mountain to climb this Friday…

Going to the hackspace, where most people are running linux on their laptop has obviously got me thinking about running linux again… One guy was running i3 and whilst it’s been years and years since I’ve used i3 window manager, I really want to use it again. It’s so clean and straightforward. One of my laptops was dedicated to running linux on it, I just haven’t got round to doing anything. One guy had a really nice Lenovo laptop, it looked like a surface but better. I’ll add it to my list of todos. The list is quite big and I’m debating if I do my list on Friday, when I’m off work, or if I go up the mountain and play radio. Play radio is my first thought, as the weather is supposed to be lovely. I was eyeing the 10 pointer, circa 1100m, summit that’s about an hour away. That would probably take the whole time I have. Alternatively I go find something closer and lower and do that, then come home and do some jobs.

I also stayed out very late and didn’t get home until 11:30pm, then I was all excited about the place and had to have a cup of tea and some computer time to calm down, but that meant it was post midnight when I went to bed. So now I’m tired and whilst it’s still light outside, and inside, and I could do some jobs, I just can’t be bothered.

My daugther has been using my ipad a lot and the Smart Keyboard cover is showing heavy signs of stress. I think I need to remove it as it’ll get wrecked. She doesn’t use the keyboard, it’s just that it’s attached the whole time and gets handled a lot. It also means it’s on 2% battery right now…

I sort of need to do some work tonight but I’m also feeling too tired for that. Maybe if I park myself in front of the computer I’ll spring into life. Which also reminds me that the office really needs a good clean and sort out. It just accumulates all sorts with everyone using that room, and it’s never clear enough for the cleaner to clean so it’s also dirty.

Archive box, that I host, stopped working the other day. In fact I don’t know when it stopped working as I was hardly using it. It just annoys me that it stopped working for some reason. Nginx also was throwing some weird error about not being able to write to a folder. So I made the folder /tmp/nginx/client-tools or something like that and it ran fine. I don’t understand where that came from… Makes me think about redoing everything. The hackspace runs all it’s websites on a little HP Microserver in the rack there. Maybe I need all my stuff at home on my server. I get why people just pay to have services. I like self hosting but it’s just another thing to look after.

You might see a theme…I also liked the hackspace as everything was done through necessity and with what they have. My problem is that, for the most part, I can pretty much just buy whatever. I feel like this leads to excess of stuff, over engineered solutions, and malaise of tech. On the other hand, using some old thing for something can be annoying. I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m going to try and find stuff to sell in this weekend’s ebay sellers fees promo. I think the Mac mini G4 should go, and the Xbox one, and whatever else I can find.

A while ago I ordered this kit from the US which lets me build a standalone digital radio (ham) where I can connect to all of the digital radio networks and then use a mic and speaker together with a mini PC to chat to people without having to get a real radio out. I always found the digital hotspots a bit weird, where you’d transmit into your hotspot and then it routes over the internet to the network. Why bother with the handheld part? I suppose people already have them. Anyway, I bought all the stuff but have never used it. I’m not sure I really will. I think there’s software I can run on the computer to connect and I never do that either. I just don’t know if anyone would buy it/even be looking for it. I suppose I can list it and see what happens. I’ve also got the Dell Wyse with it, but that was only £20 and I could use that mini PC someplace else. I should just wipe it and reinstall linux on it so it’s more general purpose. Maybe for packet radio that I said I’d do but have never done so either….also including a kit to build the node thing.

Feeling in a purge mood, but also want to buy that small e-ink reader - boox palmer. Perhaps selling the Mac mini G4 and xbox will cover most of the cost of one? At least it’s fewer things and I’d definitely use the palmer.

Friday, 10th May, 2024

My new radio fad has already faded.

I ordered some secondhand track from a bricklink seller back in the 20th of April. He took over a week before posting due to “moving warehouse”, but they still haven’t arrived. I keep thinking “this weekend we’ll build the big track” but no. Messaged him today asking for tracking. It can’t be a scam as it was only £9 of track.

Should’ve just ordered 50 knock offs from Aliexpress for £15. Might still do that.

In fact they have huge train sets on there for £25. Can barely buy a carriage in parts for that with legit Lego. No one will care except me and do I really? I bought €15 of stickers for the Maersk train that I feel like I’m never going to build as I’m not sure I want to spend £200 on it.

Hoping to find some deals on eBay on used Lego trains. There have been a couple of pieces. Maybe I should low ball them and see if they bite with a counteroffer. But there’s no theme to it other than random stuff.

I wanted to not waste my whole evening on the computer faffing about, but guess what.

Lovely weather forecast for this weekend though.

Do I have a short attention span? Is that why I constantly find new things I want to buy.

Is working part time going to quell my purchasing habits…or am I going to bail on the idea.

Have been thinking about 0.9 instead and making use of the flex day scheme to earn an extra day via slightly longer working. Means I’ll get 3 days a month for the price of 2 vs. 4 days for the price of 4. Seems better value.

Supposed to be maximum aurora here tonight. I’ll go outside before bed and see if I can tell. Probably too much light pollution here.

Thursday, 9th May, 2024

So I’m back on the which radio decision again. There’s no perfect radio. There’s no perfect camera. I’m not perfect. etc. The portable radio that I have, the KX2, is probably one of the most highly recommended radios out there. It is absolutely tiny, does 10W (most others only do 5 or maybe 10W but with an external battery - another thing), has an internal tuner that will match anything - basically means you can take a long bit of wire, plug it in and then transmit on just about any band. Is very user servicable, has a nice formfactor, has all the controls you need via buttons and dials and minimal menus needed. Think it’s great for CW (morse) for reasons I don’t know. You can even use it as a big handheld with the onboard mic (I’d probably never do that). I’ve made a tiny mic for it, and it lives in a tiny case. Internal battery is good, and it really is the ideal portable radio.

So why don’t I like it? I do miss a waterfall. Even though I don’t really need one, I’m so used to using one now. All my other radios have it and I just like being able to see what’s going on. It feels wasteful to have an expensive radio mostly sitting around and only getting used when I go out. Now this should start getting a little more frequent but still. My current problem with it is that I never use it except when I go out and I forget how to do stuff. I already have a reasonably portable radio which is 20W and has a waterfall, and was my sole radio for several months, so I know how it works. It does need an external power supply/battery though.

Is it just my brain making me want to buy things?

The thing is, I know what I would buy - the ICOM IC-705. It’s a portable (although bigger than the KX2), 10W (but only with external battery, 5W otherwise), mutliband, modern, digital SDR radio. It can do HF AND UHF/VHF, it has a lovely screen, with waterfall, it has various digital modes, it can be remotely controlled, it has a lot of hackability and interop stuff, it’s also readily available from stores (although not an issue now I already own a KX2 but previously was an advantage).

It doesn’t have an internal tuner. That is the main downside, the 5/10W thing also but probably not that much of a big deal. It’s also more fragile than a KX2 for carrying about.

The thing that attracts me to this radio is the UHF/VHF with sideband mode vs. just FM. So I could use it with SSB satellites, or even try for SSB contacts up mountains. It has more uses, although I’d probably not use them that much. It’s not duplex so technically not suitable for satellites…although you can always cheat 👀. I could also use it as my sole radio. I’d probably want to get an amp at home, but I could plug it into that to use at home and then out portable. There’s several good pieces of software that would let me operate it remotely. So I could sit in the warm house and use it when it’s cold in the garage. If I have the amp in the garage I could also run some cable to the office, use it on my desk but still get 100W out of the amp into the antenna in the garden. So I get the feel of using the radio but not the clutter. It has lots of functions and settings and options but if it was my sole radio, I would learn everything and make the most of it.

The lack of tuner can be overcome with either an external tuner - lots of small ones - or just use a reasonant antenna. Up a mountain? I’d just use a EFHW. In the shack at home? Can get an amp with a tuner or, again, just use my EFHW at home on the bands. 5 vs 10 W? Well that depends on what I want to do when out activating a site. Do I just want contacts? Or am I trying to get places…I think at the moment, I just want contacts. I end up spending an hour on the summit just faffing about and making about 20 contacts on a couple of bands and I’m happy with that. Heck, I’d be happy to make 4 contacts on 2m FM with a handheld and walk back down. So 5W will still get me plenty of contacts in UK and Europe. Probably nothing exciting but not that bothered. There are small amps I could take with me, and get 40-50+W if I wanted to try that. Or take a little battery to get 10W out the box. I was worried about the KX2 only have 10W vs. the 20W of my G90.

I also thought the KX2 would be good for taking on holiday, but I’m still not sure I want to risk a £1000 radio going through security at the airport. Think I’d rather try and pick up a cheaper one (or use my G90 which was £300) and then if something bad happens, I’m not too upset.

Like tools, you pick the right one for the job, so there’s always the case of having multiple radios. But I just don’t like that. I could have one, with supporting items, that would do probably everything I’ll ever want to do with ham radio.

The good news is the KX2 is well sort after so I’ll be able to sell it without losing any money.

So I guess I need to watch a bunch of videos on all this. Maybe that’s want I wanted all along?

Well the videos didn’t really help. I should do something else to distract myself from it all.

Wednesday, 8th May, 2024

After spending what feels like weeks designing and redesigning Lego trains on Studio, I finally settled on one I liked and ordered it. Even the ordering process took me all evening yesterday as I was looking at the combinations of lego.com pick a brick, the various Bricnklink stores around the world, Europe and in the UK. As one store doesn’t sell everything I wanted, it was trying to find the combination of everything that was the most cost effective. After lots of trial and error and a spreadsheet, ordering from all UK stores on bricklink worked out to be the cheapest. I did have some tiles which were only available from a couple of stores but they had hardly anything else I wanted. It meant that one seller was just sending me 8 bricks…plus £3 in postage…so after trying to find somewhere else, I ended up just ordering some fun minifigures from them as well, which meant I spent more than I needed to, but oh well.

There was a Thai store that had loads of bricks, almost everything I needed, and was very good value - but when I added in taxes and shipping it wasn’t much better. Likewise with a Serbian store. Lego.com pick a brick did have free shipping and had a lot of items but it was still more expensive, and the remaining items still had to come from bricklink.

Now I wait for all the packages to arrive, no doubt with some comment from my wife on the number of packages! to then build it. I can see why people just buy two sets from lego and join them together! I just don’t know what to do now…

I spent this evening reading a new Lego Trains book and listening to Dire Straits live.

The Lego train I’m making is small and realtively simple but it still ended up being about £50…watching YouTube videos of people’s setups make me realise just how much they’ve spent on stuff. Especailly the low subscriber count channels, a favourite, whereby they’re not making much/any money from videos to help fund it. I suppose they’ve been doing it for years and years and not being me wanting to go from zero to mega train city setup in one month. I also want Lego Monorail, but they only made about 3 sets in the 90s and used prices are astronomical. I also have to remember that my kids want to play with the Lego, so I shouldn’t get too precious with designs, parts, layouts, etc. and I’m better off buying real lego sets with instructions that they can follow along with.

I was going to make the Maersk train set but now I’m not sure about this, the raw parts are about £170 (with 3 wagons and 6 containers) plus postage from about 5-6 stores, so probably getting towards £200. I have bought several motors and battery boxes, for two new trains, either ones I make, or motorising the Harry Potter train…which given the price of stuff this is probably the best deal, plus everyone would enjoy it. Except my wife will disapporve of just buying it, as it’s like a big present for the kids for no reason whatsoever (welcome to being an adult with disposal income I guess 😅).

Sometimes I wonder what I’d be doing if I wasn’t married with kids. Not in a “I regret my life” way but just out of curiosity. Would I have done ham radio? Lego trains? Where would I be working? So many questions which would all be different. I do think things ended up well for me in general because of life. I do think I’d spend way more money on my own! Housing and food etc. would be less but hobbies would be out of control.

This build is amazing.

Saturday, 4th May, 2024

I want to make another train but I just can’t decide what. Was going to make the maersk freight train and wagons but now I’ve decided it’s too expensive and I don’t really love it. I look at other designs and like those but then I’m not sure. I’ve already ordered some more motors and battery hubs. I just can’t decide.

There’s a nice U.K. diesel engine but I’d have to pay for the design. Or I could design my own. Which I’ve done but still not sure. It’s getting to the point of annoying myself. Maybe I should just buy one of the cargo sets that Lego makes vs. making ones myself. Originally it started as making cheaper versions or more flexibility on the carriages.

Maybe I should write out what I want and try and deduce something that way…

Friday, 3rd May, 2024

Today is my first day off as part of my part time schedule. Still not 100% sure if this is the right thing to do. Mostly the worry of not maximising pay now in case something should happen.

I’m waiting for the washing machine to finish so I can take everything out before I go t the dump and then up a mountain with the radio. Probably once I get out I’ll have forgotten this concern.

Wednesday, 1st May, 2024

May 4th Lego is doing a promo week on Star Wars lego. I like Star Wars but I don’t actually like Star Wars lego. It’s just 9000 pieces of grey. Anyway, they often do a “spend over £x and get a free set” and so they’re doing one for star wars week. So I put off ordered the powered up hubs and train motors until today. I found that the controllers are super cheap used but the others either aren’t available used or the same price as new. This did mean I was short of the spend limit, so I added a minifig for the kids and me. I also used our work website thing to get discounted gift cards so I save 8% on the price. Go all through this and buy it, then think “there was no promo in my cart, I hope I wasn’t meant to add it”. Turns out you only get the free set if you spend it the amount on Star Wars lego sets…Ah well.

I now just need to decide what train(s) we’re going to build next. I’ve got the knock off Maersk one, my cutise unikitty one for the girls, or something else I’ve yet to decide upon.

Instead of wasting all evening on the computer I decided to do 5km on the rowing machine. Turns out I’ve not used that since November 2022! 😬 My hands sure know that. The usual inertia to actually get going but then once you do it’s not that bad. I decided to watch this YouTube video, which is 80s synth over the top of scenes of the TGV in France. I guess that’s my life.

Now I want a TGV lego train. There was a set which was based upon the TGV, and people have modified it to look more like it. It is very similar to the passenger train we do have, so seems like it should be further down the list of trains I should get.

I was thinking it would be fun to rent some small office space, where I could setup computers, radio, lego trains, work bench, all that stuff but just one big, indoors floor space. But I bet it’s way more money than I want to spend, and a complete hassle.

Tuesday, 30th April, 2024

I’ve been spending ages each evening designing Lego trains in Studio. It’s quite fun and once you get to know some of the bricks’ names it’s not too slow to make things. Then there’s trying to do the colour scheme and find bricks of the right shape and size that also come in the colour you want. I’m meant to be designing a train to order and build but I’m never done. There are always tweaks and adjustments I want to do, then I go off and look at other people’s models and get new ideas. It’s a whole activity in itself. Tomorrow Lego.com start a Star Wars promo, so I should order the train motors and controller things from there and get the promo kit. That might then encourage me to commit and order them.

I did order the stickers for our freighter build. It’s essentially a clone of the Maersk set from a few years ago but using a slightly different colour blue. Which I think looks better than the trademarked Maesrk blue. However, I’m not not sure I like the look of the engines. Then I remembered it’s not OR but AND…and so if I want to design a new freight train - probably a UK one vs. a US one - then I can still do that. I also got some Docker stickers to put on the containers the train pulls….gettit…😅

I ordered a load of tracks from a seller, who had them at a great price. Well that was over a week ago and they’ve still not shipped. He did eventually reply and say that he’ll ship them Monday (yesterday) but he’s not updated on Bricklink and so I’m not convinced. I still want the order as they’re a good deal but this is getting annoying. I was hoping we were going to have them for this weekend just gone to setup a new layout, and now I doubt they’ll even turn up in time for this weekend coming.

Saturday, 27th April, 2024

Managed to dismantle and clean out the carburetor on the lawn mower today. Once I figured out how to disconnect the choke, just following along with the Honda youtube videos, it was quite easy. The whole thing was full of scale and just needed a good clean. Mower worked good as new, and nothing looks better than a freshly mowed lawn. Wife bought some plants today too, so now there’s some more colour as well.

Still want to get an electric mower, but now there’s no urgency.

We all built a new train layout this morning, two ovals with a connector betweeen them. Meant we could run two trains at the same time. Still investigating what other trains we want to build. This mostly invovles watching too many youtube videos and browsing rebrickable. People make incredible designs. Found some nice mods for the passenger train we have, add that to the list of things to do. I do want to buy another set so we can have 4 carriages and an engine at each end so it looks realistic. I just know it’ll be a difficult purchase to explain!

Friday, 26th April, 2024

Another week flies by. Still need to sort out the mower and now it’s almost the weekend. Definitely leaning towards electric mower, do want a cost effective corded one or a fun cordless one…(for 4x the price 😅)

Ordered some Lego parts and some knock off motors from aliexpress to make the automated train switches. Just need to sort out the power supply so I don’t need another million batteries.

I do want to order the parts to build another train, probably a freight one, but still on the fence about it.

Monday, 22nd April, 2024

I visited this site and read some of the past entries. Barely comprehensible! I’m reading “How to win friends and influence people” and there’s a line in there about how someone signed off his letters with “dictated, not read”, and how rude that was. This was in the time of secretaries and typewriters, but it applies now with voice dictation/ AI generated.

I didn’t design a new layout last night, I watched loads of videos on Lego trains, particular automating parts and the various ways it can be done.

Sunday, 21st April, 2024

Tried cutting the lawn yesterday but the mower didn’t start after being in the garage or winter. I mess around with it for awhile I couldn’t get it. I’m guessing there’s a bit of fuel that’s dried or blocked up somewhere in it but I’m not sure I can figure out how to clean it. What’s annoying is today it’s now raining so yesterday would’ve been the best day to cut it.

I also get really annoyed with gas powered mowers just want to get rid of it and get an electric one. Perhaps when I get this sorted out I’ll sell it and get one as I thought would be annoying but I wouldn’t be certainly a lot less annoying than the moment not starting, but there’s also quite a few with chargeable lithium batteries. A guy at work recently got one with lithium batteries, it does his whole lawn with one charge, and his lawn is probably bigger than mine. The only thing is is little bit pricey.

I ordered a boatload of Lego track pieces off bricklink last night but cheap though getting used parts and also found some software where you can design your own track so I made a double loop one looks quite fun. I think I said it before but Lego trains is an absolute rabbit hole and the stuff people do it insane which is suppose isn’t surprising given this Lego and trains.

I really want the 9 V system because that just runs off mains and not messing with batteries and the trains go backwards or forwards without any fancy arrangement because it just changes the polarity of the voltage however as it’s not made anymore it’s quite expensive.

My experiment of using the voice input on my phone is fine…until I re-read my posts. Sorry! They’re gibberish!

Saturday, 20th April, 2024

Bought a Lego train today. My plan to get two trains and a bunch of track was probably a bit excessive so I just went with one train and some extra track. we had a good afternoon of building it all together. I’m sure my wife will still think it’s excessive. Although the squish mallow that I bought the little one probably is excessive, but the boys had the train so it didn’t seem fair for her to have nothing.

Wife is away this weekend, but I don’t have everything that big planned other than playing Lego!

Thursday, 18th April, 2024

My obsessions with Lego trains have died down now. Although I am waiting for the IR controller and battery to arrive from eBay to set up on the 1960s train that we have from my wife’s grandparents. The whole 10 AAA batteries needed kind of put me off a bit. With the reviews saying the batteries only last up to 2 hours, and rechargeables aren’t really very good because their voltage is lower than non-rechargeable batteries.

Instead, I’ve just been watching loads of YouTube videos about setting up off grid solar and batteries yourself. Once someone takes you through it doesn’t really look that difficult and you’re not integrating it with the wiring of your house or the grid collection so that simplifies things a lot. My concern is locating the solar panels in the best place and then having the batteries and everything in the garage and how far can I run the cables between the solar and the charger? Voltage drop is the issue and if I use big enough cable it should be fine. But how big is big enough? I’m sure the internet can answer that.

My idea is to then run the computers and maybe radio off of the solar battery. I think the inverter that I’m looking at has a mains backup so that if the batteries get too low it will start charging it from the mains to keep the battery healthy. Probably it’s more efficient if I had some system to switch the computer and users to the mains if the battery gets too low, but that might be more complicated.

I’ve been using my phone and the iOS dictate button to write these recent journal entries. It’s pretty good and I can write a lot more in a shorter space of time. I just can’t be around anyone who can hear what I’m doing.

But will the solar/battery thing just be like everything else and I spend a week or so intensely researching and end up doing nothing whatsoever.

Wednesday, 17th April, 2024

Recently signed up to Octopus agile which is electricity tariff that gives you 30 minute interval pricing just like how the national grid does. The upsides of this is that I charged our EV car and actually got paid to do it the other night. It was pretty much less than one pence per hour the whole night there were several periods of zero pence and even one period of negative pence. Downside is between about 4 and 7 pm. The making get up to 35p or more which is higher than I would’ve been paying on the flatmate tariff today is one of those days and even overnight it was still 15p however that’s a lot cheaper than the fix rate so even if I don’t change my usage it still should save about 30 to 40% my electricity bill a month.

Given now have a reason to change my usage I’ve started to set timers on tumble dryers and washing machines and dishwashers to try and utilise the cheapest periods particularly overnight and starting down the rabbit hole of home storage.

If you use Home Assistant and storage systems that integrate, then you can choose when it charges and discharges to maximise the value. You don’t have to go to the extent of installing solar on the house.

My only frustration is that our fuse box is under the stairs and is really impractical to add things to it. When we got the EV charger installed we had a cable cut through the ceiling and another room to get out to the garage. We’ve since plastered it all back up and painted it again, but now I’m worried that to add anything gonna have to cut through them again. I wish I’d done some kind of future proofing and installed two cables or a bigger one or whatever but at the time, with a fixed tariff, a battery didn’t really seem worthwhile on its own and would need solar as well and they had a 15+ year payback period so I wasn’t that excited about it.

Not the end of the world to cut through the plaster again and I am wondering if we could squeeze some storage under the stairs but then I worry I’m just setting myself up for difficulties if we do want to install solar in the future although maybe future me can worry about that.

It would be fun to install a home storage system myself, and a lot cheaper, but I don’t think I know what I’m doing so it’s probably not a good idea. Maybe I could get an electrician to install the fuses and things and I could do the battery part. If I’m trying to fit it under the stairs, I want the smallest system possible and that’s probably a commercial solution.

What I could do myself with install a Wi-Fi relay on the electric immersion heater on the hot water tank and I’ve seen people configure Home Assistant to turn stuff on when it’s the zero/negative pence periods and so they could make use of that free electricity to heat the water.

I’ve also thought about setting a small off grid solar/ battery system to power some radio SDR and receive antennas so I could have a little offgrid receive station and maybe learn a bit about inverters and using Home Assistant and things without spending too much money.

So many projects so little time.

Sunday, 14th April, 2024

I don’t understand why people use WhatsApp to call people, send text messages and leave voicemails to individual people. Why not just use the native phone/messaging app?

My parents do it too, even between people who both have iPhones. 🤷

Friday, 12th April, 2024

Went into a Leica store today. Was fun to look and I asked about some M3s they had and looked at them. Very nice but I’m never going to use it as I don’t even use the M2 I already have. Plus the prices are just getting more and more.

Going to a wedding next month and I had thought about bringing the M2 for that.

Tuesday, 9th April, 2024

After spending the week at Legoland I now want to Lego all the things. Wall boards and bricks for writing and “doodling”, Lego trains in complex tracks with cities and different areas (all able to be controlled via python and web apps these days), going all through the house!

I’m sure when I get home, I’ll do none of these.

I don’t want to get the camera. Didn’t really think about it but I’m not bothered. I’d actually much rather have a GR3 (possibly x as not sure I can get used to 28mm) as it’s so much more useful.

Read a thread about summit activators (radio) and how they make their YouTube videos. Thought about doing that for a while but I know video editing and general production is so time consuming. I like doing it but I just have no time for that. I also feel like I don’t do one thing for long enough to warrant a video channel about it. Bit like blogs. It just needs to be a general, all sorts things that I like to do. A lot of people make the videos for themselves, which is also like to do. But for now I’ll settle with just enjoying the walk and views and radio myself - maybe a blog post about it.

This is if I can tear myself away from all this Lego building I’m going to be doing. 🧱

Monday, 8th April, 2024

So when I got the email saying I didn’t win a chance to buy an expensive, limited edition X100VI, I wasn’t really that bothered. You can only collect it in London from the store in person on one specific day, plus it costs nearly £2k. Yes, it’s limited edition but I’m not entirely convinced a limited edition digital camera is all that interesting. Ironically, this weekend I was reading an article on the FT (can’t find a good way to link directly) about collectible items, and how they’re generally a terrible investment idea. Of course people have made fortunes on them but usually it’s something from 1960-odd that’s was bought for £2000 (in old money) and now is worth £2 million.

Anyway, this evening I got an email saying they have one for me…presumably someone else didn’t show up and I was next on the list. It also happens to be a Saturday that I could get to London with a bit of rearranging of my schedule, vs. Previous where it was when I was in another country on a family holiday! So I could buy it…

There’s stuff like, would it fit in my hand luggage unpackaged, as I’m sure as not putting it on the hold on my flight home. Because imagine having to open it just to bring it back. Not because I wanted to open it. There’s the thing, buying a camera, not opening it because “it’ll be worth more” and so this is an investment? Now maybe I should just instantly relist it…get people who are disappointed they can’t buy it or even those that want a regular X100VI but can’t buy one for months as it is.

I checked ebay and there are a few listed, about 17 in Europe with 6 or so in the UK. Current lowest listing price is £2700, which is £800 over RRP, and sort of reinforces my belief that it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it for the money, and it’s not worth the money for the camera.

I still want it.

But I’m probably not going to rearrange things, and spend money to travel down to buy it. If it were a limited edition MP…I couldn’t afford it anyway 😅

I’ll see what I think in the morning, although we’ll be off to the Lego House and be busy all day so I won’t have time to do anything or think about it really.

Not used my camera this whole trip. Too impractical. I’d rather spend £2k on radio stuff…or perhaps I should use the £1200 of radio stuff I just bought. 👀

Sunday, 7th April, 2024

I’ll take it as a compliment when Danish people can’t tell if I’m Danish or British.

Friday, 5th April, 2024

Didn’t even take the camera today. Just my iPhone. Just as well really as it poured down most of the afternoon. We had waterproofs and the kids found it fun. Plus it meant all the rides were deserted so we just went on them again and again. Weather’s meant to pick up for the rest of the trip so that’s good.

Finished my first book in a while the other night. After obsessively reading the last few books of the previous series, I’d slowed down a lot. Mostly as I’ve ever up going to bed at 11pm or later most nights and I read two pages and fall asleep.

I’m on Children of Time sci-fi series about humans in the future and how they destroy themselves but also go out and explore the stars. It’s pretty good and I’ve started the second one now.

Thursday, 4th April, 2024

Easter holidays! Nice to have some time off work as well.

I always get nervous travelling, I’m sure in 10 years time I won’t be able to leave the house 😅 because of this I’m very organised with where we go and logistics of things, however, I still don’t relax until we get there.

I debated for a long time over what lens(es) I should take and in the end just picked the 35mm f1.4. The 18-55 is probably the travel lens but I find it feels long, physically, and…I don’t know just not fun to use? Perhaps I’ve just used the 35mm for so long it’s hard to change. I’ve got a new bag/box for the camera, a Lowe pro CS60 (I think), it’s hard shell and small. I’d actually bought it for my KX2 radio, which it fits perfectly. There’s only space for the body and one lens. Maybe two of one is the 27mm pancake attached to the body. But this is ideal for me. Small, fits in the backpack with protection from alll the other stuff rattling around.

Tuesday, 2nd April, 2024

The winners of our ballot to purchase the Limited Edition Fujifilm X100VI camera have now been drawn, and therefore we regret to inform you that your entry was unsuccessful.

Probably for the best.

Sunday, 31st March, 2024

Happy Easter! 🐣

Been playing a lot of Last Epoch with my friends online for the past week or so. A good Diablo experience.

Took part in the CQ worldwide WPX SSB contest this weekend. Just casually mind, but it’s a great time if you want to work DX. (Translation: voice contest, work all prefixes (for points) and so many countries show up). Think it was my first time speaking to Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, and maybe somewhere else. Heard Argentina and Caribbean islands and all sorts. Only made about 45 contacts but was great fun.

Making a new tiny transformer for my portable setup, the 3D printed box and winder that I made, looks good but is practically annoying. Especially for fitting in the tiny LowePro CS60 case I bought to house the radio. My aim is to fit everything I need in this box, as my up a mountain, trip out, travel abroad pack. Just need to solder it together and measure the performance of the antenna and cut to the right length.

Off on holidays soon, and then trip with work, so won’t get much time at home to do things for next few weeks.

Want to get things planned for when I start my days off. Radio stuff but also thinking the garage needs sorting, including painting the concrete floor. That’ll be the annoying part, but with better weather then I should make the most of it.

Neighbour has just got a robo mower. Looks nice…would save time. Pricy though.

Monday, 25th March, 2024

I signed up to get a chance to spend a fortune on a limited edition X100VI. there will only be 1934 wordlwide, it’ll cost £1934, and around (at least) 110 cameras will be available in the UK. However, if I did get the chance, I have to go to the Fuji store in London on the 6th April to buy it. Well that decides that.

Sunday, 24th March, 2024

Spoke to Greenland via the QO-100 satellite today. Not quite as grand as it sounds as it’s just a quick signal check and callsign repeat. However, it reminds me of how great this satellite is. It’s the only one in the world and it covers the U.K. and a whole load of this side of the earth. The other day I had a contact with Benin on it, and French Guiana, which I wasn’t exactly sure where it was.

Finally made my tiny microphone too. Next on the list is trimming the wire antenna to length and making a separate box for the transformer vs it being on the wire winder. I need to buy a carry case for the radio. The Lowe pro CS60 is about the right size but it’s pricy for what it is. I suppose I should just buy it elsewhere I’ll debate the issue for weeks and then I’ll want to go somewhere and still not have a bag.

Slowly ticking off the things on my radio building list. Next is going to be back with the orbiting satellites but with computer controlled stuff. At the distant end of the list is EME - earth moon earth. Needs more stuff for this though.

Last Epoch is fun. Played with some friends and enjoying the ARPG aspect of it.

Saturday, 23rd March, 2024

I don’t often look at my blog on the internet but when I do, I remind myself of how much I enjoy the look of it and so it encourages me to write some more.

A very generous ham has posted me a telescopic antenna to test out on my KX2. It’s been a bit cold to sit outside with it to try out but I should try doing so soon. It’s not quite as simple as I thought as it also needs a long counterpoise wire running from it. Which if this is the case then why not just use a wire antenna. I suppose it doesn’t need any poles or supports as the counterpoise can just run along the ground. I was considering buying one, the official one is quite expensive, but knock offs aren’t too bad. So I should really try testing it out to see if I like it. The real test is not me in the back garden but me at some park bench. Not sure I’ll get round to that. I’m borrowing it, but how long is acceptable to keep it until he wants it back? I think he said he had two so maybe this is his method for selling it?

I’ve always like ARPG games, like Diablo series. I like them much more so than RPGs where you read stories and take turns to do things. The action version are fast paced and rapid. You click to run and fight monsters, there are never ending quantities of monsters and you pick up ever better and better loot to equip. I enjoy the progression and finding unique items, and then crafting a build from skills and items. Usually when it gets to “end game” the time you spend to upgrade to the next level or tier grows exponentially whilst the improvement you make shrinks by the same amount. This stage is where I’ll quit. Pareto principle, 80:20, all that, makes it not worth my time! Well there’s a new one in town, Last Epoch, which looks and sounds so similar to Diablo I’m not quite sure how they get away with it. Diablo 4 has been out a while but has had poor reviews and is stupidly expensive. Been debating if I should get Last Epoch, and trying to convince but not tell my friend for him to get it so then we can play together. Another friend has it and says it’s growing on him. He plays with his son and is likely miles ahead so impossible to join in just now, maybe once we finish the story we can join him and it doesn’t matter.

I hesitate getting it, as I know it’ll end up being fun for a while and then I’ll stop and not play. I suppose this is like watching a movie, why start it as it’ll just end…The game isn’t too expensive, £30, and I did see a promo for it to be £25. Think I’ve just talked myself into getting it!

Daughter’s next drama performance today and now I have the 18-55mm OIS Fuji lens to record it without a huge autofocusing noise of the 35mm that I used the last two times. Plus the zoom allows me to focus on her and also capture the whole stage when I need to. Hopefully we’ll get some good seats that make it easy to record between people’s shoulders and not be annoying to everyone else.

I’ve signed up to lots of groups.io radio related groups and get the daily digest email, but I feel like every day all I do is delete them all. Should I just unsubscribe completely? It’s not a huge burden to flick through them, perhaps very occasionally there is a thread I want to look at.

Friday, 22nd March, 2024

I did it. Submitted my application, it was approved and come May I’ll be working 4 days a week! Stayed up late last night figuring some numbers and think I have decided.

Funnily enough, a guy in my team, who’s probably 2-3 years away from real retirement is thinking about part time now and we looked at some numbers on my spreadsheet together.

I see there’s a special edition X100VI, only 300 available in the US and the U.K. has some email ballot system or something. Anyway, I don’t need it.

Thursday, 21st March, 2024

I was meant to do a write up each month about expenses, to force myself to see what I’ve spent. I have my spreadsheet which tells me the numbers but I have no context for it. I like doing this in dokuwiki as it feels organised (although I since realised I didn’t do January in there and did it in tiddlywiki). The dokuwiki needed upgrading, which was as easy as clicking next a few times. I then went to my private section and realised I had some journal entries about work from July-November 2022 in there. Was interesting going back and reading those.

Since went to TW to look at January’s summary. Nice to see, I should do February’s, but it’s also 2315 and I should go to bed.

This all started as I’m trying to figure out my pension contribution if I go part time vs. take home pay. So I come back to the question of how much do I need? Which is always tricky to answer as every month is different and there’s always some thing. Interestingly, the monthly average spend of 2022 and 2023 are the same. Maybe that’s a good target to aim for. Those included big things like EV charger install, kitchen deposit and whatever else, however, I suppose it accounts for future random things that occur.

Hmm the sum of the monthly averages is different from the average of the monthly sums. 🤔

I’m usually the guilty party spending money on excessive things…laptops, cameras, radios 😅 So if I want to save more then I should stop what I’m spending.

I decided on a figure. Then I changed it by 1 percentile and things don’t change that much (funnily enough), so why not do 1 more…but where does it stop…Time for a graph!

Wednesday, 20th March, 2024

Spoke to HR and started filling in the form for part time working. Need to double check the financial calculations. I can see it in the spreadsheet but I want to write out the options on a piece of paper so I can really see it.

I still struggle with not saving as much as possible now because who knows what might happen and I don’t want to be wishing “why didn’t I make the most of it back then”, but this is at the risk that I end up old with money I’ll never need. I suppose giving all the kids deposits for houses will eat everything up!

If I start thinking about that it gets me nervous. The real world is hard (and getting harder?). I was interviewing graduates this week and two of us commented that we were glad it wasn’t us as the graduates. But I’m sure this cycle is the same with every generation. The young are young and the old have forgotten.

I worry with more time off will mean more time to learn about things that I then need to buy. Let’s not get carried away, it’ll be one extra day a week. However, my counter is going to be SOTA. Summits on the air. Climb a mountain, play radio and by the time I’m home it’s school pick up. There are twenty summits within 30 miles of the house. More within 50 and more still within 100. Given holidays, the weather and things 20 is enough to last me half the year or more.

Sunday, 17th March, 2024

To limit how much we have to think, for many decisions like what to buy, we often rely on habits – that is, we simply repeat what we did last time when faced with a similar situation. -– Richard Shotton, [The Illusion of Choice]​(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60784553-the-illusion-of-choice)

Did a nice little radio consutuction project last night and tested it with the analyser. Seems to be working well. Was a transformer for a end fed half wave antenna, if you were wondering. I took some photos so I should write a short post about it on my radio blog. Which reminds me, that I sat down on the computer to find a 3D model for an insulator for the wire. That was 7 tabs ago already…

Saturday, 16th March, 2024

I did nothing and now the domain renewed. I do use as it my secondary domain for services as my primary one is blocked at work. Of course I still have two other domains I keep which I could’ve used instead…oh well. I’ll think about it again next year.

Spoke to my boss about part time and she was supportive. That’s good. Just need to talk to HR and then actually do it. Still can’t help feel like I’m going to be the one cheated in the situation…I’ll still do the same amount of work, I’ll just do it in 4 days instead of 5 and maybe faff about less. I just have to pay for the day off. Plus fight my natural instinct to maximise income now because who knows what’ll happen in the future. It’s reversible so that’s fine. Anyway, one step at a time.

Someone semi-nearby is selling a full loaded satellite setup, radio, antenna, rotator the lot. Probably circa £3k though 😨 I suspect, like him, I’d do it for a while and then think “that’s nice but I’m done now”. So probably a good price relative to what he would’ve paid new for it all. Plus I’m not sure where I’d keep it all. Think I’d get greater satisfaction from building more of it myself as a temporary, one afternoon I play satellites in the garden then pack it up. Which is what I’ve started doing.

Bought a control cable for my fm radio, need to get it hooked into the computer and the software to do the Doppler correction and then connect it to a white stick dual band antenna. Be interesting to see if I can make any contacts that way. I know some people have done and they were then less interested in bespoke sat setups. If that doesn’t work, I can make (or buy) so called eggbeater antenna which have a wide radiation pattern that is like a dome covering the whole sky.

I’ve also got my handheld dual band antenna to use, just I’m incompetent at aiming it. But practice and maybe some headset to free up a hand would help. But this could also be used with a homebrew rotator. That might take me a while to make but I still think it’ll be more fun than just spending a fortune.

Wednesday, 13th March, 2024

The same thing that happened last year. I get obsessed with radio things and then have zero time for anything else. Like writing here or my DayOne family journal or playing games or anything. It’s not bad but I’m also not really doing anything. I’m jumping from one idea to the next, watching videos, reading blogs, then doing nothing other that staying up too late and being tired the next day.

I’ve started making a big list in dynalist of all the possible things I’d like to do, with links and notes. I need to then pick one and actually do it. I’m getting the wire and cores and bits to build a portable antenna for the KX2 (which I’ve not really used and really need to read the manual), but that should be first. I keep having slight regrets about the KX2 and see cheaper radios that probably “would do” but I think once I start to use it I’ll want to keep it. There was another radio, that I nearly bought which can do almost everything and is pretty small. The ICOM 705. Technically I could do everything with it…HF, VHF, UHF, satelitte…I’d need a few other things to help it and whatever but I could have it in the office, it’s tiny, and then the other amps and whatnot in the garage. Whilst it is portable it looks a bit chonky and slightly precious for taking up a mountain, however, it could be done. I could even automate all the systems with NodeRed, relays and whatever. However, I think it’s just my brain creating a scenario where I need to buy another radio. I could sell the one I have, but the net result would be more expensive.

I would like to be able to use the radio in the office, particularly in the winter, as the garage is cold. My dad suggested building a partition in the garage so I could heat a small space, that’s probably a good option but not sure how I’d close it off without a door, or it has a door but then it starts to become a big space. He suggested a heavy curtain but I think that would just get messy and annoying. It could double as a darkroom though…except there’s no space for any equipment as I have the 3D printer and loads of other things in there.

Really I’d like a flex radio as they make it super easy to use remotely, just they are eye-wateringly expensive. I don’t have the antenna to justify it either. Speaking of which that’s another area I’d like to fix. Ah, so many things to do, and hardly any time. This is why I need to organise myself.

I started thinking about the 705 following a conversation on the matrix radio chat I’m in. One guy was talking about selling off various bits and bobs and consolidating down to the 705 to do lots of things. It seemed smart. I’ve recently bought a 2m/70cm FM rig and that’s fine but I can’t do SSB with it, so if I wanted to use SSB sats then I’d need something else. Given the 705 can do 2m/70cm SSB, it’s more than capable as it’ll also do FM. The only thing it can’t do is duplex (send and receive at the same time on two bands - typical on satellites.) However, that’s easy to overcome (either just ignore it!) or have a cheap SDR and computer to listen. Given I want to have doppler control then I have a computer nearby doing that so an SDR isn’t an issue either. Can even have a remote SDR in the house that’s always hooked up to listen with.

I’m tired of reading 5 radio manuals to figure out how to do something, only to then forget it later, if I had, say 2, then that would be perfect. Argualy I could get down to one with just the 705. Feels appealing. Also reminds me of the One True Camera, and to a lesser extent, a single computer. There’s always compromises…

I think I’ll try planning it out, what I’d want to do and how I would do it. Then see.

I watched some videos of saveitforparts and I flip between wanting to have a garage like his - choke full of random stuff - and a clear garage that you actually keep a car in.

Sunday, 10th March, 2024

Happy Mother’s Day here in Scotland 💐.

Sent my mum some flowers, probably overpriced but she always likes them. M&S usually don’t disappoint so rely on them each year. Kids are getting old enough that I don’t have to go to great lengths at home. But also trying to not rely on “special” days to get gifts or do something. My wife reads a lot so if I see a book recommendation that I think she’ll like, I’ll just buy it.

I usually get good recommendations from bookstore.org newsletter. I feel slightly bad that I never buy from them and always go to Amazon - but Amazon is always cheaper.

Saturday, 9th March, 2024

Since my summit radio activation, I now seem to be back into full radio obsession! The problem is I have about 10 potential projects open across a million tabs and I don’t know what to do first.

Friday, 8th March, 2024

I updated about 5 weeks of transactions in my Google sheets in about 20 minutes, which I think is decent. The accounts with the fewest transactions take the longest. Then my query formula updates, I spot mistakes and fix them and it’s all done. I don’t have time for plain text accounting 😅

I’ve had a headache all day and it won’t go away. Tried paracetamol and ibuprofen but no luck.

Thursday, 7th March, 2024

Today I got up, took the kids to school, drove to a summit (not a mountain, a hill of 539m/1700 ft), walked up it, played radio for nearly an hour. Spoke to 37 people in 14 countries up to 1500 miles away. I came home, had a lovely cup of tea, and wrote up a blog post about it. Then normal life resumed.

It was great. Really fun making contacts on the mountain with 5.5m of wire getting blown around whilst I crouched behind an outcrop to shelter from the howling gale. I was back home by 1:30pm and felt like I’d had a whole day already. Plus my legs feel like they did something.

I wanted to sort out my logs on the computer and then write a blog post, and that computer time went by super fast. Definitely unwise for me to start the day on the computer. If I do do this part time thing then I think it should be radio construction/hikes/etc. first, then fiddle about on the computer until school pick up.

Had a really long chat with a lady in my team at work who also works part time, about pay and work and life. Felt like a rare occurrence but a good conversation. We both want to be paid fairly but not ambitious to chase after pay rises. However, I feel like the only way to get paid “fairly” is to chase after pay rises.

The only thing with the radio hobby (and me being me), is that it’s quite expensive. I tell myself that once I buy all these things then “I’ll be done”, but we all know that’s not how it works. I’m only “done” when I cool off on a hobby and am focused on something else. I’ve had my X-E4 for a while now and not interested in getting a new camera (briefly with the X1006 but that’s not even available to buy). Hopefully building various antenna is maybe how I can do things but not spend too much.

Ordered the internal tuner mod for the KX2 from the states. That’s another $250 🙄 but then I’ll be done! Well except I sort of want the telescopic antenna it has for taking with me when I don’t/can’t use a wire antenna.

Wednesday, 6th March, 2024

I finished making my antenna for my trip out on Thursday. It’s a very simple “random wire”, which like all random wires isn’t random. It’s a very specific length, but from an outside perspective appears random. “5.5m? That’s random”.

A little bit of buyers remorse is setting in on the KX2, it’s meant to arrive today and I’m sure once it set it side by side with my current portable setup I’ll be blown away. Was also reading some of the features and it’s packed with stuff. Everyone I know with one, everyone on forums, discord, YouTube, absolutely love theirs, so I’m hoping I do too.

If it does arrive today I could take it with me tomorrow but, it doesn’t have a tuner (yet) and my wire antenna needs one. I could make a resonant one but I don’t have time, especially if I’m working out how the KX2 works as well.

Ordered 48 creme eggs to work from Amazon as they were on sale. My intent is to give most of them away.

Monday, 4th March, 2024

Bought that KX2 on ebay…👀 won it with my highest bid, which is perhaps slightly more than I was hoping it would go for but using a random number probably helped me win it. For about 5s I thought I was going to get a good deal but someone else bid. Anyway, doesn’t matter, bought now. Looking forward to it as a lovely tiny radio package. I’ll sell my current portable one, which I’m still torn about as it was my first radio and it has a great tuner. However, I don’t need it and better off selling it.

Setup a desk in daughter’s bedroom this evening, with a pin board behind it. Looks really nice and fits in perfectly between her bed and the wall.

One of the boys had an incident at swim training over the weekend and the coach had to jump in and rescue him. Everyone was fine, but obviously not great. Think the coach suffered more than everyone else afterwards. My dad text me to today and say that it’s better to talk about it than to keep it in. I was not expecting this and took me by surprise. I was pretty tired on Saturday when they came and I probably wasn’t too talkative. I don’t think I’m upset about the situation and tbh I’ve not thought about it much as the kids are always doing soemthing or there’s some disaster and it’s just another day. Too busy to worry about it.

My grandfather, dad’s dad, died by drowning in a freak incident whilst on holiday fishing and my dad brought that up. It was maybe 15+ years ago now, and I hadn’t put it together or made that connection. I was at work when he texted and I made an effort to reply but it was short. I honestly don’t think I’m worried or upset about it, but now I’m wondering.

Watching a RSGB video on YouTube on VHF contesting…if I remember I’ll link it later…but it’s a collection of videos people have put together of them on a field day. It looks fun, setting up, and camping and so on. Including film from 1966. My local club does do some but it’s never convenient for me.

The replacement 16GB RAM stick arrived and I put it in the new laptop and it works fine. So has a nice 24GB of RAM. Still not got the track point working but also not done anything about it.

Wife and I were talking about long term plans and money and things. Don’t often do that. She remarked that the next 10 years will be our hardest as all the kids grow up and some leave home and some nearly leaving. We talked about stopping work and things and in the most optimistic case I could stop working completely in 10 years but maybe by then I won’t really want to and life will be very different.

Sunday, 3rd March, 2024

The raspberry pi newsletter informed me the very first rpi came out 12 years ago on Thursday just gone. I had one of those very first rpis. They sold 10,000 in the first batch and I was waiting on the website to buy one. I sold it a while ago as I upgraded but I probably should’ve kept it as part of internet history. Although to do what? Sit in a drawer and probably do nothing?

Can’t decide about this KX2. It’s a lovely radio, perfectly designed and capable, ideal for traveling and portable out and about. It, a bit of wire and a light telescopic pole and you can get on the air anywhere.

It’s like a GRIII with a 35mm lens 😅 but it’s pricey. I have a portable radio I can take with me, but it’s like a D850. I can bring it, it is more capable but it and the extra stuff aren’t small.

I’ve told myself I’ll watch the eBay auction first then maybe offer on the forum one. But I haven’t decided what price would make me bid or what to offer - I also doubt they’ll budge much from their listing price given the rarity of the item. Maybe if it sits in the forum for 3 weeks they might but it’s not even been 3 days yet.

Maybe in Thursday, I should take my D850 up the “mountain” and see how it is. The battery arrangement is the biggest issue. I have a whacking great golf buggy LiFePO4 battery, which is great if you drive or I’m in the garden and I’ve parts of LiPo battery which I was going to make my own but never got round to it. Nowhere in the U.K. sells them and nowhere else ships here.

Saturday, 2nd March, 2024

Went outside this morning to put out some rubbish. Was a light drizzle but the air felt so fresh and envigorating. Made me want to go up a mountain and feel the satisfaction of a day in nature and hard work climbing it.

Dad is coming to visit today. Better tidy up…

Like buses, another KX2 has shown up on the second hand forums. This one has a tuner and nice box and things. It does come with a signal link box for digital modes that I’m not really interested in. I suspect they won’t really want to sell it without that but I could always sell it on myself. It’s just a bit pricey… £1350. A new one from Switzerland is likely around £1500 and doesn’t have the case and bits. Think I’ll see how much the eBay one, without a tuner, goes for. It’s already at £620 and there are still 3 days left. I suspect that these are the current prices as supply is so low and demand is high.

I did end up offering for a 2m/70cm FM radio, a Kenwood V71A, that I saw on the forums as well. Not sure how much I’ll use it but seems like a sensible thing to have a decent 2m/70cm FM for local / satellites, that’s not a handheld, for sitting in my shack. Will just need to setup the antenna for it…

I love haribo sweets, and eat too many. Yesterday I bought a packet at lunch time but they repeated horribly on me all day. Like drinking very cheap, off brand orange juice, so acidic and artificial. Made me think that I should stop eating them. I’ll have to find something else to substitute as not sure I can just go cold turkey on them.

Thursday, 29th February, 2024

Leap! 🐸

I played about with Quarto to see if I could make interactive plots with python. Seems like you can only really do it with ObervableJS, aka javascript. That’s a shame, but if I thought about it not surprising. There is pyscript which lets you run python in the browser. Maybe not too hard to learn as I only really want a small subset of things, I just worry about writing formula in JS vs python. I should do some basic javascript learning, like functions, syntax etc. would be useful in lots of places. I did start from a book about…3 years ago but only got as far as chapter one then never quite got round to it again.

A portable HF radio that I’ve wanted to get has shown up on ebay today. Elecraft KX2. It doesn’t come with an internal tuner, but you can buy those separately and fit them yourself. The KX2s have been in production shortage since COVID and have still to recover. I presume it must use some component that is now not a mainstream one following manufacturing getting back in operation? Not sure. If I order new it’s 16 week wait from the US. Also the UK importers have stopped stocking them so I’ll have to import from the US or EU, so no doubt at great expense. So seeing one used for sale is rare. The last one I saw was on the forums last summer. In fact someone I met on the radio matrix chat is the guy that bought it. It came with all the bells and whistles and he paid £900 for it. The one on ebay is already at £510 and it doesn’t finish until Monday. I think a fair price for it is £700 but I bet it goes for way more as so many people are wanting one. I’m nto sure how much importing a new one will be, perhaps £1500? Although I should work out how much all the bits I’d want as well will be and is it really that much cheaper than just getting a new one from Switzerland. Plus it would have the newest design and bigger battery and all sorts. I’ll see what its price is on Monday afternoon and decide.

Wednesday, 28th February, 2024

My wife dug out her senior school maths notes on advanced higher mechanics from over 20 years ago. She’s getting ready to teach advanced higher mechanics come next term and wanted to get up to speed again with it. So far she’s just been teaching “dumb” maths which requires no thought when kids ask questions. Stuff like volume, area, simple angles etc., but now it’s going to be a bit harder and needs some thought ahead of time. Anyway, her notes are in immaculate condition for paper and handwritten stuff. Puts my shoddy internet wiki to shame.

As part of teacher’s continuous development, she’s getting some courses on website making. Some of the maths teachers maintain google sites of materials. I immediately jumped in and shouted “I’ll help you make a site!”. Probably I need to calm down a bit. However, I think quarto would be great to do it - static site, but also with the ability to have interactivity, so sliders to change angles and speeds and whatever so people can see the changes. I might work on an example page with some stuff.

I’m excited to make a student resources page on mechanics maths. Give me soemthing productive to do, an excuse to play with python and quarto some more too.

Although right now a friend and I are playing Factorio and optimising manufacturing. It’s a bit like work but in the evening. A bus man’s holiday as my mum would say.

Had to upgrade iCloud storage to 200GB. Probably could’ve deleted some photos to keep within the 50GB but also can’t be bothered. I think putting all my photos into iCloud then later removing them as confused its tiny brain. I have loads of empty albums or worse, albums with one photo in it, even though I chose to delete them all. I’d like to go back to it one day but not sure I want yet another subscription.

Tuesday, 27th February, 2024

I like how Outlook email reports messages from Microsoft as junk 😅.

I’ve been generally feeling fine about work. Nothing bad, maybe nothing good, but we had a management meeting today and after that I was mad. Not quite sure why as it was a pretty benign meeting. I have a txt file on simplenote or some app that I’ve used as my work rant place. I try to avoid reading the historical entries but it stops me endlessly thinking about pointless stuff.

Can’t decide on the part time working idea. Wife is supportive but she did point out the days off are short. The kids are at school 9-3, so I’d really only have 6 hours that day for myself. I’d still enjoy that time and having it every week would be good, plus I like picking the kids up from school and seeing them before I get home at 5pm feeling tired and trying not to be too grumpy. I wondered if there was some half way option of just taking extra holidays to see how it went.

I have to do school pick up next Thursday, so I’m going to take the whole day off. That’ll be a whole day alone to do what I want. A taster of what it could be like. The problem with a one-off is that it’s not really representative, but still. I should plan a little otherwise I’ll sit on the computer until school pick up and do nothing. I wonder what the weather is…supposedly sunny, but we’re too far away to believe that. There’s always the go up a “mountain” and play radio. Might be safer doing a dummy run in the back garden first though.

I don’t forget. I just remember later. – Dave Rogers

Monday, 26th February, 2024

Watching the tinderbox meet up on blogging.

The refurb T480 arrived today. It’s very clean and looks nice. I think they replaced the keyboard as it has slightly different key markings and I think that means it’s not a legit one. I also think it’s not legit as the trackpoint doesn’t work, which is really annoying. I could get away without the trackpoint but it also means the buttons don’t work and I quite often use the trackpad but with the buttons.

I went on a wild internet goose-chase trying to find a solution and so far there’s nothing. I can’t tell if it’s software, firmware, or hardware. I’ve tried the Windows firmware and then Lenovo firmware but makes no difference. The best link details manually installing the firmware but that doesn’t work for me. I’ll keep going, maybe I’ll try disconnecting the keyboard and reconnecting it?

It might not matter as I could use it as my docked laptop for the radio or second setup at home. However, it bothers me. I could try linux on it just to see if it’s windows. Probably a live CD (USB) would be fine, or maybe just drop debian on it.

I could send it back, but it was quite good value with an eBay promo.

If I do keep it, and the trackpoint doesn’t work (and I don’t want to buy a replacement keyboard), is that I need to figure out the combination of the thinkpads and uses. There’s one for my wife (has to be Windows), then another Windows one for minecraft, then one for the radio which I think should be Linux. I was going to go with the oldest for me, the newest (in generation) for Minecraft, then this one I just got for my wife. Not sure if the trackpoint buttons will be annoying for her too.

Snore. 😴

Sunday, 25th February, 2024

I’ve always like the idea of a single speed bike. So simple. Painful if you’ve a hill to negotiate though. I suspect there’s a metaphor there somewhere.

I saw an old Kenwood microphone that I’ve been looking out for come up on eBay for not too much. It was still £80. It looks lovely and I notionally had the idea of using it with this mini wyse pc I have to connect to some of the digital ham networks. The thing is, I’m never going to speak to anyone on it. There are some local area groups which would be fun to join in and maybe get to know people but…I’m not that bothered.

Building it and the setup is fun, using it…meh. (Like building a new blog in tinderbox but then never writing anything 👀)

So I shouldn’t buy it. Was bad enough buying the computer and bits. They were cheap though, and I could reuse it for other stuff, but still I’m not using it at all.

Maybe something for the eBay sale promo.

I did turn on the radio today. Didn’t make any contacts, wasn’t a shortage, just ended up not having enough time. I know it’s obvious, but having the radio in the garage isn’t very conducive for using it outside of the warmer months. I thought I wouldn’t mind but I do. Not that there’s anywhere else it could go. There’s already too many things in the office plus noone wants me shouting to some Italian whilst they’re using the computer.

Friday, 23rd February, 2024

I just activated a promo to have free ebay listings until late April. That’s crazy…free sellers fees in the biggest market place! I need to sell some stuff. But what?

  • Computers to then upgrade?
  • Cameras to then upgrade?
  • Junk that I never use 👈clearly this, but there are times when I sell stuff then later wish I hadn’t…

I could consolidate everything down, e.g. sell all my cameras and lenses and just go with X100VI, I could sell all my computers and just have a mac ,

I picked up Legends II book, a collection of short fantasy stories by Robin Hobb, George RR Martin, Orson Scott Card, Tad Williams, Neil Gaiman and several others for £5 on abebooks or somewhere online. It’s a little tatty and smells like it’s been in warehouse for a while but it looks good.

Thursday, 22nd February, 2024

Phone for the kids birthday. Downhill from here? 😅 she’s already asked to install the YouTube app, which I’ve said no too…it’s not like she doesn’t have access to all the other devices in the house.

Think I overdosed on reading the previous series as I’ve only read about 5 pages over the past week of my new book. It seems good, but I feel like I want a break from reading. I think it’s also breaking into a new book after reading the same thing for over a year.

Used my iPad in an offsite meeting today to make notes. Definitely prefer it to the idea of using a handwritten remarkable (or equivalent) device. Plus then I can transplant the text into my logseq for future reference.

My RAM sticks arrived for the laptops. £16 per stick of 16GB seemed like a good deal. Now they’ll all have 24GB.

Debated signing up to Lightroom last night. I have some photos from the party at the weekend and they could do with a bit of editing. They’re all of indoors and low light so some processing and colour adjustments would go a long way. Apart from the black and white ones, the Acros straight out of camera looks great.

Thought about just signing up for a month, processing a bunch of photos and then leaving again. Did look at educators discount which my wife is eligible for. Adobe only has the full package - good discount but I don’t need premiere pro and whatever else. Capture one has a discount too, but not sure if a teacher qualifies. It’s also for a year’s subscription.

There’s always open source programmes 👀

Not sure I’ve set the parent controls correctly 😅

Work has approved a training course which is where my mum lives and in the school holidays so no issues with child care. So that will work out nicely.

Tuesday, 20th February, 2024

I saw two Remarkable tablets in the wild today! They’re so thin. Although I did think they might be too large for me. I can see being larger is better for writing on but for carrying around I’m not sure. I also think I wouldn’t really use it. I like taking notes using a keyboard, because I’m faster and it’s readable afterwards. For me, I’d rather use an iPad with the smart keyboard and 1Writer or something to make notes. Logseq would be good if I could get it to sync to my work notes. Work I can only use OneDrive, and iPad I can only use iCloud…I could try git but it’s more prone to messing things up if I’m not diligent with commits.

Friend and I have started playing Factorio again. I’ve setup a server at home, and installed the Space Exploration mod, which the website says it’ll add another 1,000 hours gameplay 😅 Possibly we’ll get bored before then, but it’s a fun game to play together whilst chatting. Keeps me from debating if I should sell all my camera gear and just get a X100VI. What a terrible name.

Monday, 19th February, 2024

An interesting article about raising children in the advent of revolutionary AI. I found the chart on happiness reaches a minimum at age 50 interesting. The article links to another one, where it talks about trying to enjoy life now, and not when xyz happens in the future. This is interesting as I’ve been thinking about work and life and have been debating about part time work, going down to 4 days a week. 3 would be ideal but that’s too much of a pay cut and not sure about flexibility at work on that. I need to do some financial calcs, and test with HR would would be impacted (in case there are things I don’t know), plus can I go back to full time if I wanted. The intent being to enjoy more time now, for myself, with the kids, and not just be on the long clock to retirement. I think having time for myself during the week, will make me more appreciative of the family at the weekend. There are risks that I just spend the day faffing on the computer and do nothing and maybe that’s okay sometimes but otherwise be more organised and plan things out. Do I take the day when my wife is off or should we be offset?

Sunday, 18th February, 2024

A busy weekend, now back home and tired. Not a moment on the computer the whole time!

Bought a T480 off eBay…was 25% off and seemed like a good deal for £150. Making some best offers on 16GB sticks of RAM to upgrade all the thinkpads to 24GB. Windows 11 with 8GB just doesn’t work, unless you don’t want to open anything. It’s terrible but there you go. Probably have two windows machines - minecraft and one for wife to use for swim coaching and work and stuff - and then the other can be my linux/ham radio computer. Think that works out well.

I realise I have a collection of mini PCs under my monitor…a Dell Wyse for some digital ham radio thing I never did, a Intel N100 with dual NIC for making a router (that I might never do), and a G4 Mac mini which I installed a SSD, more RAM and the latest version of Tiger, but have not used since. I think I should install Leopard (?) as then more software will work, however, I need to find a copy of it or a DVD writer as I do have an ISO image. I wonder if my pre-built servers have DVDRs in them, they have some optical drive…not plugged in but that could be remedied. Although buying a USB one, using it and returning it 🙄 would be the easiest option!

Friday, 16th February, 2024

After looking for a new series to read I found a short story by Robin Hobb that’s from the series. It is a tale that’s referred to in the books a few times but now an actual story. Unlike the rest of the series, this one is only about 2.5 hours of reading vs. 16+ hours.

SIM card for daughter’s phone arrived today so I started setting it up. Weirdly it wouldn’t make a new iCloud account if I used her phone 2FA but my one. Anyway got past that. The parental controls are many and detailed. Not really sure I’ve got it right but I’m sure I’ll soon be told.

Had to pick up one boy early from school today as he is ill, and then the little one came home with terrible conjunctivitis. We’re meant to be away this weekend for a family party. It did cross my mind that maybe I’d have to stay home with them and the others go to it. Probably I’m just tired, but that does seem appealing. 🤫

Was noticeably milder this morning and was boiled in my cycle stuff when I got to work.

Used DeDRM from GitHub in Calibre to convert some of my kindle books to epubs. Notionally for when I get a kobo. Seems like everyone is using kepub, but I’ve yet to look at what they do.

I should go to bed early as someone is going to be up in the night coughing or crying, and tomorrow night isn’t likely to be a good one.

Thursday, 15th February, 2024

Well last night ended up being my 2am reading to finish my book. I couldn’t have gone to sleep even if I wanted to anyway.

It was the ending that was most befitting.

Need to reset my kindle though as it keeps playing up and closing the book and telling me to redownload it.

Wednesday, 14th February, 2024

Seems like I went through my 600th post a few days back.

Next week will be 10 years since we first went to California…end of this year will be 5 years since we moved back to Scotland. I just spend an hour on LinkedIn looking at what everyone I knew over there is doing now. Several people I’d forgotten about until I started looking and then I remembered many more. Nostalgia level 100. I do miss those days, absolutely the highlight of my career, hopefully so far but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was ever. I do miss working at a company with so many good people, and I miss the opportunities there were. I do like that we moved back and are settled, we live a 5 minute walk from school and the kids will grow up here. The UK feels like it’s going downhill, but maybe many countries think that of themselves these days, and perhaps they all are. The world is becoming more and more divided, systems and tools and processes and laws accelerating towards some unknown point.

As great as it was, our time could never have lasted forever. Change was always coming, and we picked as much certainty as we could.

It’s nice seeing all the youngsters in my old team doing well for themselves. I have my DayOne journal from home life, but maybe I should make myself a work journal. Not of the boring work I do, but of the people and moments together. I spend so much time with people at work. I should write down the fun stories of work there. Now new people joining our company have no possibility of doing what I did (not with our company anyway) so to tell them of stories of far off places, that seem to surreal and different would be fun for all.

Or do I turn into the old man who lives in the past and how great things were and what hope is there now. I have a timeline in my head of when I want to stop working, but maybe it’s completely unrealistic, and when I think how old the youngest will be then, it definitely seems unrealistic. But maybe I should be planning towards something that’s inspiring and motivational to do, and the years of saving will remove the worry of having enough money. Although I reckon I could fill my days pretty easily for many years before I got bored…

I found one lady who was quite a senior manager, who was laid off a couple of years ago as, and I’m guessing, she was quite outspoken and didn’t get on well with her manager, and now she’s working/volunteering at the air ambulance service. She has a PhD in geology and worked all over the world. Now I suspect she does something fulfilling with joy.

It’s never too late though…right?

Tuesday, 13th February, 2024

The Smart Keyboard for my ipad is becoming very temperamental, which is disappointing. Hopefully it’s just poor connections and I’ll improve the situation if I clean the contacts a bit.

My book, Assassin’s Fate, is getting a bit better. Finally something good is happening after all the build up. There’s hits of a bitter sweet ending but maybe it won’t end that way. I’m just sitting on the sofa in the kitchen reading this evening. Not something I’d normally do, but it’s enjoyable and requires no decisions.

But what will I read next?

Now my problem is that it’s 10:30pm and my kindle says I have 4 hours left to read but it’s at the utmost critical point, I fear I will read until 2am…😴

Monday, 12th February, 2024

I stayed up way too late reading my book last night. I’m on the last book of the entire series and I don’t like it as much as the rest. I can’t decide if it’s becuase I just want to be done now or if she’s trying too hard to make it an epic ending. Or it’s about a small girl, who reminds me of my daughter and she gets treated badly. I feel there is more violence than her other books. They still had fighting and things but not as bad? It feels forced in many ways, and things do or don’t happen which is too convenient for the storyline. I’m about half way through, but probably a good 10 hours of reading left. I can’t just stop and give up on it, or put it down and choose something else.

Been writing a blog post I’ve had in my head for a long time. It’s going to take me a while to write it though. Especially when I get distracted with the content and go off and not write anything.

I just seem unable to write blog posts that aren’t 1000 words minimum! Probably there are some which aren’t that but none are really short. I guess that’s why I never write anything as it’s always too much.

Sunday, 11th February, 2024

Well I migrated my other site to quarto. Was pretty easy, just had to change the meta data from tags to categories, and summary to subtitle, then configure the home page and settings. Can’t decide between the grid layout I currently have or the one they call default, which has wider tiles with the picture in the side. Perhaps if I wrote a description for each blog post that would be a better one as there’s space for it. Generally the layout and design is nice enough, I can tweak CSS settings if I wish, it’s all bootstrap and you just apply the SCSS overrides in a custom file.

There’s the ability to add comments either GitHub based as issues (utterances) or discussion (glances) or the cool but maybe overwhelming hypothes.is. Still not sure if I want any or which I’d prefer. Probably one of the GitHub based ones, if any at all.

I like the table view, seen on the notes page, which is completely customisable via the yaml config and lets you pull in metadata from posts (or any collection). Thinking of doing one for books read with more info like rating, words, series etc.

You can also insert code anywhere and it’ll run. To render things in the site or completely unrelated, pull data, calculate stuff, whatever, bit like what I think org-mode is like (not that I’ve really used it).

As it’s academic/data sciencey focused there’s a lot of functionality around dashboards, interactivity, writing books, and generally a lot of authoring tools. Not scratched the surface on those yet but could be fun to make some interactive pages.

It also includes date ordinals out of the box, so if nothing else, that’s a reason for switching!

Will I write anything in it though? ..maybe one or two things a month…

I need to stop looking at /r/mechanicalpencils😅 people there with crazy collections. Saw a post of all colours of rotring 600. I was thinking of getting one of them but now that I’ve seen these special edition colours I want one! Of course they’re only available in Japan, or were, so now it’s eBay and $100 for a pencil. I should be immediately closing these tabs but I still linger on it. Why 🤦

Saturday, 10th February, 2024

I started looking for a blog engine for my secret finance reporting site and I remembered about fastpages by https://fast.ai. Turns out they’ve archived the project in favour of Quarto. I’m now thinking of using that for my main blog. It does lots of things and is clear and easy to read. It’s not unique or quirky but functional and understandable. I think for a more regular site that’s a good thing. I don’t like my Hugo one so it’ll do for now anyway. But I still get the nagging feeling that I won’t write in it anyway. Although that’s nothing new, so shouldn’t stop me migrating 😅

I did think up a nice way to use it for notes or books and other things so maybe that’ll be good.

Friday, 9th February, 2024

I must’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed or something because I’m a misery guts this morning. Don’t want to go to work, but don’t want to do anything else. I saw a job I thought about applying to but why, and then too much introspection on my current job. I don’t want to cycle to work as it’s blowing a gale and sort of raining but I think the coldness and exercise might break my mood.

Gave my team their performance feedback, they all took it gracefully, unlike me. Or maybe they just hid it well, or I’m too self-absorbed to notice.

Trying hard not to just buy things. After doing all of 2023’s transactions I’ve not done anything since about the 10th Jan, so I should catch up January at least. Feels like I’ve not bought anything but we shall see.

Thought about working at home today, but I have one meeting with visitors who are coming to the office and I’d probably just spend the whole day looking at crap on the internet.

Grump grump. Moan moan. ⛈️

I updated all my accounts in hledger. One account doesn’t balance but I can’t be bothered to figure it out. I also updated the table of transaction in Google Sheets and then immediately enjoyed the auot updating of the monthly summary table using the query function. I think this is the way I want to go. I also decided I should write myself up a note about January’s state of affairs. This led me to look at the top transaction, exceptions, what it would’ve been without those exceptions and how they compared to the average of 2023. I quite like that. I wrote it as a private note in my tiddlywiki…hmm that wasn’t great. Think I’d rather just write it up in VS Code or some other text editor. Makes me wonder about private notes now…Possibly just a git repo with text files in it…although I like reading a website…perhaps I should return to dokuwiki for this. I used to do exactly this in years gone by, and had a template that filled in so I’d remember what to look up. Could make the template have the average figures of last year so I can more easily compare. Be nice not having multiple places though, so maybe I’ll just deal with TW and live with it, or find something to make it better.

Google Sheets is good for it but I’d like Excel as some things are just a little better…but I don’t want it tied to Excel.

Thought about making an anonymous blog to post my monthly summaries and updates. I started this ages ago but…and you’ll laugh…I spent ages building a new static blog and then never wrote in it. This lady’s blog reminded me of that. I like re-reading websites vs. notes in a repo, and having an invisible audience gives me some motivation to keep it up, even if no-one reads it.

Tinderbox would be the perfect place to create such a blog…plus an excuse to manipulate the data in various ways. Although that would take me even longer than spinning up a static site as I’ve long since forgotten what little I knew of tinderbox a few years ago.

brb 3 days whilst I play with quarto 🤓

Thursday, 8th February, 2024

My wife is a coach at the swim club and also does the database administration. Don’t get me started on their database and data transfer practices…let me just say the swim clubs in the whole of Scotland pay some company to maintain this Access database tool which they all use…absolutely horrendous. Anyway, she’s passing that role onto someone else and so now she won’t have the swimming laptop.

However, she organises swim meets and needs a laptop to record times and whatever. She asked if she could take one of my laptop👀 on poolside to use. (I actually only have two). They’re all thinkpad and perfectly durable, and that’s not the issue.

What I do see is an opening for…more laptops 😅 because she’ll want windows and maybe excel which only one has.

It’ll probably be another refurb thinkpad as I can’t even justify a MacBook to myself. I can justify a thinkpad and a Mac mini as the total of them is less than an air.

Very fancy, and expensive, old books that have sold.

Wednesday, 7th February, 2024

Another day where I say I should do all these things and then do nothing.

Little bit of snow again today, which was exciting. I cycled in, with my studded tyres. Glad I did as the roads were terrible and queues were massive.

Daugther has swimming training until 9pm, and I was doing some work beforehand so I could clear the decks before tomorrow. So now I’ve sat down on the computer with a cup of tea but have no idea what to do. This is the moment I should turn it off and go to bed and read. Instead I came here to write about the current situation, whilst I think of something else to do.

I just want to buy everything on the Leuchtturm website.

Tuesday, 6th February, 2024

I made myself write the blog post about the little tax calculator I’d made. Takes a while to remember all the scaffolding. I’ve also come to dislike the theme. Previously I thought about copying this one over to it but now I’m not sure. Wondering about one of those “large font” themes. Simple, bold, big lettering, mostly black and white with a colour. Feels like it won’t get old. Just not Hugo.

I have my site built by vercel and render [or renderon or something like that] (for historical reasons) and render complained of something and wouldn’t build. Vercel is my main host so I just ignored it but it’s another reminder of wanting to change engine.

A colleague at work asked me what I did last night. I thought about what I actually did and then said “nothing”.

I told myself I’d just sit and read my book this evening as if I sat down on the computer then I’d waste another evening looking at things I want to buy but don’t really need. Except I’m currently sat on the computer watching YouTube.

One of the videos was this build of a NAS from some geezer. It’s funny him calling money “nickers” and wanting to go “Jonny big bananas” with the ram.

Monday, 5th February, 2024

Last night I actually picked up a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. Trying to figure out the optimum combination of contributing to my pension and tax efficient savings outside of a pension. It’s a balance of tax now, tax later, enough money now, enough money later.

I’ve attempted it before in a spreadsheet but it’s a pain, and I can’t quite run all the sensitivities and I knew I should really do it in python and pandas etc. So that’s what I r embarked on.

I did have a minor detour of thinking about self hosting a jupyter hub instance, then Streamlit, then I was looking at it in GitHub codespaces, but in the end I settled for using Google Colab.

I made a function to calculate income tax and then compared the changes announced for Scotland. The personal allowance and higher band calculations seem strange to me. Mostly as you could do it several ways and it seem right but there’s only one way to do it. Probably it says in the tax law somewhere but seems arbitrary to me. Anyway, that took me a while to figure it out. I also wanted my function to accept a range of bands and not be a bunch of if statements but also not be some clever but unintelligible numpy matrix maths to find the answer.

I’ve got national insurance to do (tax but with a different name although you don’t pay if after…68?) Then actually get down to what I originally planned.

Needs some thought and planning before I launch into random tables of numbers.

If I pasted in the code and images of the graphs that would’ve been a blog post…

Every time I watch TV at home, I end up flicking to Apple Photos app. I then look at the pictures and remind myself of how good it would be if I had all my photos in it. Also all the B&W digital photos look much better than the colour ones, and all the film ones look the best. As I take a lot of photos inside, the colour digital end up with high ISO and I don’t think they look very good. Film is hard work…or at least feels like it. I suppose I can just pay for the development…Best I sit here and complain about it and then do nothing different.

My daughter watches YouTube, and I’m not sure I entirely approve of that. I watch youtube so I can’t be too judgemental, but I also know it’s a massive waste of time. I’ve seen that she watches Keara’s ASMR channel and without watching it I know it’s a waste of time. Today I decided to see what this girl even talks about. The first video I played she was whispering into it, tapping bottles with her nails and make chop smacking noises and I thought maybe it was some parady or some such, so I changed to another video. Nope. They’re all like that. I guess I should’ve known from the ASMR in the title. In some ways it’s nice to have a youtube video that is deliberately quiet. Do I still disapprove of this? I don’t know, but her starter noises remind me of a chameleon slowly eating a large squishy grub.

Obviously this is a whole world of youtube with other “asmrtists” having millions of subscribers.

The silver lining is I now know another thing I can do an impression of to embarrass her in true dad style. Maybe I should record a video 😅

Sunday, 4th February, 2024

I wasted the whole evening on the computer doing nothing. I seemed to have slipped back into that bad habit again. I did start playing a demo of Songs of Syx, which is a bit like Rimworld/Dwarf fortress, but after playing the very short tutorial for about 15 minutes I decided I was better off just playing either Rimworld of Dwarf Fortress given I own both of them already.

I got sucked into rabbit holes of 10+ tabs each. Somehow I was looking at mechanical pencils, and nearly buying a £30 one for no reason whatsoever. There are a lot more expensive things that i could be looking at, but still. I’m probably not going to use it, AND I already have at least two mechanical pencils already. So that was an hour.

I’ve also been looking at Kobo e-readers, because they can get books directly from the library - which is pretty neat. Also found a library in the next county that uses Overdrive, however, am I really going to use it? My wife would certainly use it as she reads loads of books from the library. In fact, maybe I should get one for her. I have so many books to read as it is, do I need the ability to read from the library as well? I’ll never use it. Plus then what happens to the kindle books I’ve bought? I guess nothing and they sit on kindle. Maybe there are hacks to get them onto the kobo. My kindle does run low on battery quite quickly but it’s not a big deal, as I’ve put a charger by my bed. When I saw quickly I mean about a week 😅. But this was another hour.

Then back to the blog arrangement. I’m back to two separate sites again. I don’t think blog posts will integrate well on here, partially as I think I’d never write any. When does an entry become a blog post? I think here should be for thinking about things and the other site for when I actually do things. So that’s decided…probably…but now what? I’m thinking of redoing the other site with 11ty, because I just don’t like Hugo. I then went down the never ending trail of themes, where they are all nice but I don’t like various parts. I should probably build it myself from scratch and use the theme from this site as a base. A perfect way to spend many hours to then write nothing more in it.

So I might go with the no menu on this site but then a full menu on the other. I don’t think this site needs a menu. Even the archives can just be a link at the bottom on the page, who’s going to be looking for things? I leave all the pages there, like search and notes but they don’t need to be obvious.

I do really need to stop doing absolutely nothing on the computer in the evening. It’s such a waste of time. Read a book, play a game, watch some TV, plan a new antenna, or just go to bed.

Saturday, 3rd February, 2024

I spent awhile last night, looking for a library that uses overdrive in the UK. Not that it works with Kindle, but if I bought a kobo e-book reader, then it could link directly, and I could borrow items from the library straight to my reader. Turns out the county beside where we live. Does it and let me sign up, even though I don’t live there now all I need is the kobo.

The good thing with most static site generators is that you can organise the blog posts in any way you like in the file storage system, and it uses the meta data to generate them in the right order. This means I can keep the journal and blog posts under the same _post directory, but then have an organised differently….if that makes sense.

For a long time I’ve considered making a Linux router to replace the consumer box I have, but I’ve never been able to justify buying another computer just for being a router, and, if I’m honest, there’s not really been anything wrong with my routers.

Currently, I have a Eero 6 Pro (I think, something like that anyway) which my ISP gave me. I bought another to extend the wifi. They’re Amazon products, although you get to choose if you want to sign in with Amazon and link it with your account (I’ve not). It’s all managed via an app on your phone. There’s no web interface like most routers. Think it also has some special ISP code for diagnostics.

I do like making settings changes via the app, and I can do it anywhere. As long as what you want is in the app it’s fine, but there’s no secret console or anything for running your own commands etc. Eero also sells security stuff, although mine seems to be included by my ISP.

I used to run pi-hole to block ads and whilst it’s mostly an appliance you run it can be configured and adjusted. Eero includes ad blocking as part of its security features but there are no settings or adjustments you can make.

If I ran my own router I’d get more control over the ad blocking, including the ability to block at IP level vs. DNS, so you can block ads in things that have hard coded IPs, and maybe even YouTube ads.

Well I saw a N100 intel mini pc on aliexpress for £99, is a quad core with dual nics.

I started looking up nftables the better version of iptables. Oh my, this is going to be quite the project…which may sit on the shelf for a bit…

Maybe I should leave real blog posts where they are…🤷‍♂️

Friday, 2nd February, 2024

Did a bunch of fiddling and tweaking to this site last night. Started to roll in the blog articles as a collection but then it needs a lot of work to make it work properly. i think I might just roll them into these posts and do some filtering or something to build the structure. Not quite sure what I want and will have to fiddle with it a few times to see what it looks like and how it works. It does make me consider leaving the blog where it is, but I’m enjoying just working on one site.

Got my annual performance review feedback today…I really like my boss but the system makes things much less enjoyable. I should try and focus on the feedback items and see what I can do better this year vs. grumbling and moping. Maybe next week I’ll be ready to look forward, after the weekend away from work and reminding myself what’s important, what I have and my life in general compared to so many others.

Maybe I’ll finally work on getting a proper nav section setup on this site…that or just delete the single lnik there is and have nothing! I might go for the nothing option if I don’t merge the blog in and it’s just daily notes, although I quite like the design with it in…so in conclusion…I don’t know. Actually, I’m still for the single site and having a better nav option. It’s just a bit more effort to implement than fiddling with fonts and colours.

Found a wallet on the way to work this morning. Was lying in the middle of the road and was soaking wet, so must’ve been there overnight. Had a drivers licence in it but the guy lives miles away. Dropped it off at the police station for them to return. Even though the police officer was just taking my details I felt like I was being interrogated. Not in a bad way, just his manner was very particular to law enforcement. Anyway, hope the guy gets it back soon but no doubt has cancelled all his cards and so on.

I opened the ipad and the website with the book word count was open, and so I started looking around it a bit more. It’s one of those blogger sites which reinforces the xkcd cartoon about blogging platforms. A solid 18 years on the same platform, soon getting up to more than one post a day, and absolutely masses of content. I like how he has his stickied post by setting the date to 2077.

My wife started watching Masters of the Air on AppleTV. I watched the first one but war shows aren’t really of interest to me. I can tell it’s very well done, and has a huge cast with over 200 speaking roles. I looked the squadron up on Wikipedia and the article was very detailed.

Thursday, 1st February, 2024

Apple Vision Pro - a computer to wear on your face. 🥽 About 6 years ago, work was testing out Microsoft Hololens, I volunteered to be a tester for it and got to use it quite a lot and we did some real work testing. Was pretty neat, especially for work site instructions where you could watch a video of someone doing something exactly on the thing you were looking at, where it would point to specific parts. Really great instructions to ensure things get done the right way, or if someone new is doing it. I have no use for one myself.

I like Staedtler Mars plastic erasers but why is it impossible to put it back in the cardboard cover!

I’ve thought about this for a while but finally got round to doing something about it…adding stats for this site. For now I’ve put them in the notes page but once I finally get round to adding more of a navigation to this site they’ll be more obvious. I found a plugin someone made and used it, but I also edited it to make the numbers nicer to read with comma delimiters. My first (and last?) time writing ruby! Possibly this was all possible with liquid syntax and iterating through the posts, but I feel like a ruby plugin would be quicker?

It showed me I’ve over 1 million characters in these daily notes!

Wednesday, 31st January, 2024

I’m not going to talk about it…but do I have anything else to talk about?

I finished the penultimate book in the fifth trilogy of Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Enderlings series. I’m about to start the final book, Assassin’s Fate. These books were written over 1995-2017, but I just found them all recently so I don’t have to wait. I can’t believe I’m on the final book though. We’ve followed the protagonist through his whole life, plus some side trilogies that then get woven in later on, and it’s been many words, supposedly the total is 4,071,000 words in all the books. It really is a lifetime and a whole world.

This site details longest books and series, and Realm of the Endlerings is number two. I’ve also read The Wheel of Time series, which is number one. However, what surprised me the most was that these are more than the discworld series, but there are 41 of those books! Surprise, surprise, I’ve read all those too. In fact, there are many series and books on this page that I’ve read. I guess there’s a theme there. My wife says “you don’t like change”.

I have a list (and a stack) of books to read which aren’t chart topping epics, but I know I’m going to pick another series from this list, and so that’ll be another 18 months gone where I just read that! Anyway, I enjoy it so what does it matter.

I’m thinking of adding more of a menu on this site, and put in some links to a few pages. E.g. book list, …er other things. Need to figure out the flexbox CSS…

A link I’d saved to my wiki no longer exists. This made me wonder about some kind of read it later/archiving setup, where I can add sites and it downloads the whole thing so I don’t lose it. However, I’m worried that I’ll just end up stockpiling a load of links and sites that I’ll never look at and then feel bad about it all. Or spend ages and ages reading all this stuff but for no purpose.

Won’t stop me from browsing self-hosted lists. That was easy, ArchiveBox is probably the answer.

Tuesday, 30th January, 2024

Was reading the Tinderbox forums today. I’m drawn to it as I can imagine myself getting obsessed and reading all the documentation and being like a Micheal Becker and constructing elaborate systems to solve problems - whether or not it’s the right thing to do. A bit like Excel, just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I should! Although I do find the UI of Tinderbox…unusual. I don’t have a mac still so it’s all academic.

Thank goodness.

Been randomly reading the archives from this site. The font size has grown on me, or maybe I’m just taken by the new background. It reminds me of the hall flooring at my nanna’s house. It was probably not like this whatsoever, but in my head it was this pattern. They moved from that house when I was about 8 or something, and I always missed it. It seemed huge to me at the time, but when I go and look at it online (it’s been for sale a few times), it doesn’t look that big. The kitchen was absolutely awful, I don’t know how my nanna cooked meals in there, let alone huge christmas dinners for umpteen people. Their house would’ve been perfect for amateur radio.

Not really done much radio recently. A week or two ago I went on the satelitte as it was the national radio centre net. I was disappointed that the actual national radio centre wasn’t on, and it was just a couple of people who volunteer there, and I already know two of them. It was during the day and I was working at home, so just said hello, then made my excuses not to have to talk again. My wife complained about the wire antenna in the garden the other night. I’d thought she’d got used to it and therefore it was fine. Turns out I was wrong about that. She said it was her skip. Which refers to the skip her dad used to keep at the house and is supposedly one of the reasons they got divorced. Perhaps I should think about taking it down, or having some alternative. I wonder if I just moved it across the garden so it wasn’t visible from the window. I know the answer is “no that doesn’t make it better”. I could get a folder one or some vertical that sits off the roof on the side of the house. I’d lose the low frequency bands, like 40m and 30m. Probably I should change things up as I’m not sure I’m going to get many new places that I haven’t spoken to already.

Also still want to do more satellite operations. Antenna for that is much less obtrusive. Also like to do EME but need more thought put into that.

Think I’d like to do more portable operation, take the radio and antenna to a forest, or hill top or beach and play with it there. That’s much more of a spring/summer activity.

What have I been doing with my time instead? Fannying around with blogs yet creating nothing. Half a mind to delete the other site and just have this as my blog and nothing else.

iCloud mail is annoying. It only seems to reliably work on Apple devices. Why a username and password would suddenly stop working when querying the imap server is beyond me but it frequently does. Also the username is abstract and illogical to me. I have no idea why my username is what it is, it bears no meaning towards my iCloud login email address. I guess it was assigned at some stage way back when I first made my apple id account? I’d move away but it’s free (Well I’m already paying for iCloud) and, even though I should stop, I use my gmail more.

I could migrate my other blog into tiddlywiki…I nearly did that just now…ugh stop this. I’m tired, go to bed. 😴

iCloud photos on windows is utter shite. Probably couldn’t expect anything more but it’s literally unusable, so why even bother making it a feature.

Sweep keyboard

I’ve not put an image on this site in ages. I don’t have this keyboard anymore. Sad story, I sold it and posted it, but it never arrived. I was cheap and didn’t insure for the full amount so I refunded the guy and lost my keyboard. It seemed like a great one to use, but really it was annoying, unless I wanted to spend ages trying to learn it and not use any other board. That was never going to happen.

Monday, 29th January, 2024

Yesterday was a write off for me, mostly just sitting around feeling rough. I thought I’d have to stay at home today, maybe not even do any work, but this morning I felt much better. Probably helped I slept until 0745. Don’t think I’m 100% better but considerably so today.

It did mean I stopped (over)thinking about the website situation. I partially can’t be bothered to make anything new, and as such will just continue with what I have. I suppose that makes the decision for me. But in the same breath of thought, I think that my dokuwiki install is already “done” and I just add words.

Been looking at bikes, to get something on the cycle to work scheme. Get a nice commuter bike with built in lights and mudguards etc. Have to update the spreadsheet to calculate what’s most efficient.

I keep looking for a new blog, the perfect website, configuration, with zero effort to write prize winning prose, and be praised by all. When, in fact, I enjoy what I have setup here on this site. The fact that I don’t care if anyone reads it, in someways I wished no-one read it (because then I’d write a lot more without worry). It’s not zero effort but it’s pretty minimal, and I’ve written a lot of entries. I’d like to divine a script to count all the words and posts. I’m not sure jekyll can do that easily, but probably a bash or python script could.

I’ve thought of making a new blog where it’s anonymous, with no domain or identifiers. A bear blog, a neocities site, something like that. Just to add stuff to. For some reason I write very little that’s entirely private, e.g. in a text file on the computer, or a journal, etc. I like the idea of people reading the anonymous site but not knowing who it is. I’ve read a few myself and enjoy reading it but never know who it is. There are some where I “know” who it is, as they put their name on the site, but I don’t know them at all, and never look them up or anything.

So what’s my conclusion?

I made the font and content box bigger. I felt like it was too hard to read, but now I’m not sure if it looks worse this way. However, I like this layout, and I might use it for my redo of my main site. I’ll add another box on the side as a sort of menu and maybe use different fonts, and colours but the overall layout is one I like. Will I continue with the 11ty stuff? I’m not sure, it does a lot of fancy things but do I need them? I suppose the image processing is nice to have.

Sunday, 28th January, 2024

Seems it’s my turn for the cold and sickness.

I remembered that ikiwiki stopped being developed in 2020. Maybe that doesn’t matter, and there are a few forks with patches, but it nags at me. If I’m worried about security, I could run the cgi part locally and then just push the static html out. Although then I might as well use something else.

I installed it, well used this container, but I think I’d rather set it up from scratch as I don’t remember things from it and I don’t know what it’s done.

I sat down in the sofa with a crisp apple and my book. Much more enjoyable than wiki/blog pointlessness.

Saturday, 27th January, 2024

Continuing with the dokuwiki experiment. Just trying to organise it a little and get things in the right place. Makes me wonder the place for daily notes and blog posts. On the wiki I’ve started off with separating them into different sections but that’s not what I want. I might as well keep two different sites. However, dokuwiki does make it easy to write posts, so then maybe I don’t need daily notes, or they can stay here. OR I just have a single blog location and then make a post which is daily chat and a post if it’s a blog post…wasn’t this whole ordeal and making a new blog not to have that? Maybe I could do something clever with name spaces. Or make a post which is called today as all my posts, currently, live under /yyyy/mm/dd/ style folder.

It’s certainly easier. But surely opening the equivalent of this page (github.dev/) is just as easy? Also tiddlywiki…also ikiwiki.

I am tempted to install ikiwiki again. It’s always been the ideal static/dynamic site combo…and existed long before the static gen craze. Probably I’ll have to install it to get over it. I did run my main site on it for quite a while. Think I’ve lost track of the various static site revisions I’ve been though. Came across a pelican build for it the other day.

I do occasionally see an ikiwiki site that’s still being updated.

I remember doing some custom CSS for ikiwiki and it wasn’t that bad. It also used markdown so that’s nice. Well it won’t be tonight as we have family over but probably tomorrow I’ll install it again. Hopefully I still have some instructions in the wiki…👀

Friday, 26th January, 2024

After deciding I would go all in with spreadsheet transaction tracking, and starting to do some today, I’m not sure that this is what I actually want to do… I find there are a few little compromises I have to take and edge cases that I’m not sure what to do with in the spreadsheet. The reality is, that these things don’t really change what I’m trying to do, and if I categorise it one way or another it won’t be material. It’s more me wanting completeness with it. I also found my 2021 efforts which had all my transactions from that year, in hledger format, and so if I continued with hledger then I could get up to 3 and counting years. Why that matters I don’t know but it seems nice.

I’m assembling a CSV of all accounts across 2023, and that’ll serve both ways, so for now I can delay the decision.

Poked about in dokuwiki last night. I do like it…I then went to bed and lay there thinking that it still wasn’t what I wanted and I should continue with the static site. Perhaps I should start from an 11ty starter kit vs. absolutely nothing, and then edit it.

Anyway, one plain text decision at a time.

Been playing in dokuwiki some more. 👀

Uh! I was meant to go to bed early, and now it’s 2320 😴

Thursday, 25th January, 2024

My friend is putting all his financial items into hledger file and using Paisa. I’d decided I’d put all mine into a Google Sheets. I’ve had one since 2010 for various money related things , mortgage tracker, pension, investments, utilities, and forecasting and it seems sensible to use it for transactions as well. However, I keep wanting to put it all into hledger.

Hledger (and friends) are all very good and I think beat programs like GNUCash and all the various apps. They are so flexible and can handle pretty much every financial situation. However, they are all backward looking and don’t make it easy to do predictions. At least for me anyway. I’m always in a spreadsheet for doing forward predictions. If I save x then that might be y by the time I’m 50 etc. Or how much tax might I pay if I make a different pension contribution. And my biggest uncertainty, is how much money should I put into a ISA such that I could be FI by 50, but ensure we have enough in the pension as well.

All I want is monthly summaries of what we spend over a decent amount of time so I can get a good average of what we might spend later on. I could still use hledger for that, and save the summary table into the spreadsheet. Which is what I’ve done the past three years.

I’ve used spreadsheets for years and years at work, so I’m very used to them, and Google Sheets just makes it easy to access anywhere. I can generally do things faster in it than a text editor. I should quit debating it and get on with the spreadsheet.

I’m going to get bored of it in a few weeks and move onto something else anyway.

I remember when I used to run dokuwiki and not be constantly looking to switch back and forth between software. I ran it for about 4-5 years, and used to put everything into it. Not masses but quite a lot of lists and notes. I also had a private section where I’d made monthly templates and would write myself a summary of the month. Covering expenses and what I’d been doing. Unfortunately one day I did the update and the wiki never came back. I probably didn’t try very hard but that resulted in the end of it and I fell out of the habit of using it and so never returned. A while later I did reinstall dokuwiki but somehow I couldn’t get back into using it again. I miss dokuwiki but I think I miss that time period more than the software. It could’ve been any software.

Not sure I want to make a new blog. It’s going to be quite a lot of effort, especially if I do everything from scratch. I suppose I can come back to it.

The Intel N100 mini PCs are really good value. Would be ideal for the radio shack PC. I was going to get a used HP/Dell/Lenovo thing from ebay but these are the same price or cheaper and faster.

Wednesday, 24th January, 2024

Using a bulk domain whois searcher I’ve determined there are three two letter .is domains available. This is interesting as .is don’t charge more for two letter domains, whereas a lot of other TLDs do as they’re “premium”.

I’m slightly annoyed I missed out on my initials by about 4 months since it was first registered (or re-reg’d if it expired).

They’re not particularly inspiring domains but they are only four letters.

But what am I going to use it for…? My own url shortening service? meh. A completely anonymous blog where I can write anything and fear nothing? I don’t need more blogs.

I just want it for the novelty, but I know I’ll pay for a year, do nothing with it, then let it expire and think that was €35 well spent…

I’d be much better off getting surname.is. I could actually use it for email, and my website and family might use it (probably won’t). Could do fun things like firstname.surname.is/gerund.

The next problem is what do I do with my current main domain? It’s quite short but it’s specific to me and whilst fine for a website, and okay for email it’s not that great. But I’ve had it ages so I should keep it. It’s generally my username in social places.

I don’t need more domains. If I were to get one then surname.is is most useful. 😶‍🌫️

Sunday, 21st January, 2024

I made a little progress with 11ty last night. I’m sure Hugo and others can do the same things but it seems quite easy to setup custom filters and functions and things. I don’t really know JavaScript but I can muddle my way through it.

Trying to figure out what I want and how best to set things up.

I like the fact I can have a markdown file with contents in it and no front matter and it’ll still work and can be used. Thinking those entries will be good for daily notes or subsets of notes. Tinkering with it to see what I could do.

Not even got into the interesting stuff it can do.

Feel like it’s going to take me a long time though, and that’s even before I get into CSS and layouts.

I’d like to build a website that utilises all the indieweb stuff. But it’s too difficult/confusing for me. Tbh this whole “build a new website” is feeling like an uphill struggle. Why am I doing this?

Saturday, 20th January, 2024

Trying to sort out the apps on my phone. They’ve gotten out of hand. Wish there was an easy way to move lots of apps about. Back in the day you could plug your phone into the computer and use iTunes to manage the Home Screen. I wonder if that’s still a thing.

I’m still old fashioned in putting apps into folders vs. hiding from the Home Screen. Quite often I will just flick down and start typing an app vs looking for it (although that’s due to the mess of home screens) so surely I’d be fine with hiding it?

11ty seems very easy to get going with, but I still have a nagging feeling that I should focus my efforts into tiddlywiki and make that site I’ve always dreamed of. The perfect integration of wiki, articles, guides, projects, and journal. My current wiki is a nodejs version of it that automatically builds a static version and removes anything tagged private. So I can visit one location for everything.

Friday, 19th January, 2024

I keep meaning to look up how to make use of apple reminders, and saw this and then looked up a video and watched this one. Using the lists with Siri in various apps is quite good.

I wonder about migrating from dynalist to Apple Reminders, or Apple Notes. Most of my dynalist lists aren’t tasks or due, more like things to remember, so perhaps notes is better? I don’t know. Book lists are better in reminders? You could use it for habits too with the daily reminder etc. I wonder if there’s someway of seeing your track record? Not that it matters as I never bother doing anything like this!

I don’t like micro.blog. I don’t hate it, but it’s not for me. Back to my hugo blog for now, until I figure out what I’m doing.

For reasons unknown, I’ve been trying to find a really short domain that is not ridiculously expensive. I think I’m about 10 years too late for that. Although my initials don’t seem to trigger the “premium” category, so there’s that. What am I going to do with this domain? No idea…my own url shortener? Yet another one to not use for my site? Or maybe it lets me have more blogs and webpages…

Thursday, 18th January, 2024

I go between wanting a site like kickscondor or whateverthefuckthisis to just a plain text website.

You know when you’ve been talking about something for days or even weeks, and then someone asks you a question about it and you realise they’ve not been understanding you at all. Well I had that at work today. Luckily I’m working at home and they didn’t see my initial reaction.

A shortcut for setting the ID is also provided. Just prefix the ID with a hash symbol:

I’d like to add paragraph anchors to my posts as maybe (rarely but still) I’d like to link back to them. I’ve been on wild goose chases across the internet 🪿🛜, looking at plugins and complex includes but ChatGPT reminded me that kramdown, the markdown processor Jekyll uses, supports paragraph headers out of the box. For example.

I’ll see what this looks like when it’s rendered and probably needs some CSS to tidy it up. The thing will be how do I automate it? The plugins etc did automatically generate the anchors but it wasn’t clear to me how I could see what they were unless I looked at the generated site. I could write a script in 1Writer or VS Code, perhaps based upon UTC time when writing.

Well that doesn’t seem to work.

Remember two days ago, where I talked about not wanting to post rubbish on my site. Well I’ve been browsing a site that does post rubbish and I’d like to repost it here. 🤷‍♂️

Okay, so the syntax {: #my-id-name} does work when I use it with the blockquote above (hint: inspect page). So what about paragraphs? Turns out you have to put it on the line below the paragraph and not inline with it. That does make sense now. I just hadn’t noticed that in the docs.

So this is interesting. I also noticed that on the home page the links to the paragraphs are relative to / so I need unique ones across all blog posts. I think my time idea is good enough for that, as long as I include the date. I don’t have automatic insertion, but I think that’s okay for now. If I want to link to something then I’ll most likely insert something myself. Some hotkey thing would be nice to sort out though, then it wouldn’t be that hard to add it to all the paragraphs.

I can also style them using p[id] in CSS. However, they’re not permalinks, so whilst I could have something to see they won’t actually be a link to it.

Wednesday, 17th January, 2024

Guy at work has a Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar, it’s pretty nice. Combo of smart watch but classic watch styling. It’s also £1000. Probably by watch standards that’s meh but to me that’s a macbook 😅 or 5+ used thinkpads 🐧

I’ve never had a smart watch, but something like that appeals to me. Although I’d need to check what it actually does or if it’s just the worst of both worlds.

Messing about with this 11ty theme. I think it would make a good photos website. The nice thing is that it also includes tinaCMS built in, plus a plugin that rejigs all the images so they’re optimised. TinaCMS gives me an admin panel, so I can just drag and drop the images and then it does all the rest. Although I can’t quite get the media part of TinaCMS to work. It says I need to sync the git repo on tinacloud, and I did but it doesn’t work, and I’m not sure what else to try.

Makes me wonder about converting this and other static sites to one of these javascript based ones. Like 11ty. As they seem to be able to do everything. Although TinaCMS should work with any static site generator. However, not sure I want to learn something else, but it might be a good way to learn some javascript, which I’ve always wanted to do…or maybe that I felt I ought to do, rather than wanted.

Cycled to work today in the snow with my snow tyres on. Quite a bit more drag but think they did make a difference. The schools were delayed opening until 10am today and tomorrow is my turn to do the school run, so half the day will be gone before I’ve even done anything.

Tuesday, 16th January, 2024

Skipped the computer this evening to clear the drive and cars of snow and to fit winter tyres to my bike. Took me until about 9pm and my arms were tired from all the snow. I always put off buying a snow shovel and use a metal one, but it’s heavy. Maybe I’ll get one now…usually we only have a couple of instances of snow through the winter, so doesn’t seem that worthwhile. Although it’s every year so it would get used.

My 2023 DayOne book arrived today. It was noticeably thinner than the last one I had made, but still enjoyable to flick through. It keeps me motivated to keep going with it. Doing quite well this month, having only missed two days so far.

Last night was a write off with looking at blogging site stuff. I was thinking about it whilst clearing the snow. I leaning towards only having this site as my blog. I did think I should try and use images a bit more, and would like the search to be better. If I’m asking for things, then it would be the ability to have paragraph anchors, so I can link back to specific paragraphs.

I’ve started to look into it with all these JSON CMS tools. Where you define a schema and then you can make new entries using it, either as markdown or JSON. This can then be used by static generators to build a site. Some of them are static pages you host with a bunch of JavaScript that interacts with github, so there isn’t even a service to host, which is nice. It would mean having to use that site to write everything. They’re effectively web based Tinderbox’s but you have to program everything yourself.

It’ll take me a while to figure it out if I ever do go down that path. It’s obvious once you think about it, but if I want smart functionality, I need some app to do it. I can’t just edit text files on 1Writer, or VS Code and expect the same. So using a CMS, or Tinderbox or emacs etc. to do it, but then I always have to use that software. The exception is if I could get the static generators to do what I want. That’s probably possible, with some extra code, although how I find the link to previous paragraphs I don’t know.

I have post a couple of things to micro.blog but I look at them and ask myself why did I add them? They’re stuff people would put on twitter and I have to admit that they were utterly pointless. I suppose this whole blog is utterly pointless, so who am I to be critical. Anyway, I don’t feel the need to post that stuff and am quite content idling chattering (over a cup of tea).

Ugh, I’m still torn though. I’ve been working on a Wall-E 3D printed robot that uses a micro.bit and drives around. I took the parts from online but the assembly and setup wasn’t explained, so I feel like I’d want to share what I did as it could be useful to someone. Maybe I should have a projects section, to put things like that. Quite like the idea of that. More practical how-to style posts. Or perhaps I should use the wiki for that. 🤔 Then I wouldn’t need to worry about the cutesy but inaccessible style of this site, plus Tiddlywiki is great. Or I keep projects on my main site. However they end up I like that idea.

Monday, 15th January, 2024

I went down the route of deciding I wanted to build my own site with custom CSS and design (or utilise some framework) but generally do it from scratch and not use a theme. I spent about 2 hours looking at various things last night and by the end I was not wanting to make it myself. I don’t know what I want and so was looking at various places for ideas. I felt like I wasted my whole evening and I still didn’t know what I wanted.

For some reason I then flicked to micro.blog, I might’ve even come across someone’s blog on it when looking for something, and so started thinking about that again. I found a new theme that someone had made which I liked the look of and required zero effort from me. I could still tweak things, but out of the box it looks like what I want.

They have various new things on books and bookshelves and it’ll be reminding myself how photos and posts and everything all works. I do like that they have apps and those make it easy to add images.

I also looked at my old/current micro.blog site from when I last used it in 2022. I quite liked it and it was nice seeing the content I had added.

I’m not super fussed about the community and probably won’t spend much time actively engaging it, I still find the interface of seeing the conversations a bit odd. However, that’s secondary for me and my site can function perfectly well without relying on micro.blog. I don’t care for comments that much and much happier to have an email conversation about something. I can always publish the conversation as an update.

Montaigne is nice, but I’m hesistant to go in with it and micro.blog isn’t too far removed from a static site generator, plus it saves my content to a github repo automatically as well.

I didn’t quite sign up to a new subscription but feel like I’m getting close. I can use it for a year and then decide. I just don’t like “unnecessary” subscriptions, as arguably I can easily setup a static blog. In my head I’m allocating the cost to the apps. If I want the micro.blog apps on my phone/iPad then I have to pay. I want the apps, as I often have dead time where I have my phone and rather than looking at reddit or rubbish, then I could be writing a post of some sorts. I could do that with any number of note writing software but I don’t. Whereas if I can publish it right there, then it’s done and not something else to look at later. Maybe if I get better at doing it then I could migrate to writing posts on my phone and then moving them to my blog later on but maybe I should do a lot of things which I don’t.

So I signed up to Micro.blog. Fiddling about with old posts and themes and settings, installed the apps, linked them, etc. I did find a few new blogs which I still have open to read.

I came to write a post on the website. Oh yuck. I do not like that. I know I’ve just got here but I don’t like it. I didn’t like it last time and I’m not going to like it this time. Too many little things that bug me.

So now what? Ugh I don’t know. Another evening wasted on blog rubbish. Perhaps I should just delete my main site. Put up a landing page, and leave it as that.

Sunday, 14th January, 2024

I like this site, it works well, I’ve got it setup on mobile and desktop to write to, so why should I touch it? I should leave it be.

I know I don’t like the theme of my other blog, so something needs to be done. I’m torn between something convenient to add to, like Wordpress or montaigne or some other app, and just rolling my own static site with custom theme.

Or even getting a Mac and using Tinderbox, but I think that might have the least chance of working out. Probably learning emacs and org-mode would be more likely 😅 think I just like the idea of tinderbox, but when I open it I’m lost.

Then there’s Kirby. A few people who use it for blogs seem to really like it. Half way between static site and dynamic. I’m just not sure if it’ll help me.

For example, I’ve been making a wall-e robot with a micro bit and 3D printer with the kids. I should write about it as it’s not quite download files from internet and we’re done. But I just put off writing a post as…why? I’m not finished the project? I can’t be bothered to? This is mostly it, I can’t be bothered as it feels like it takes too much effort to do.

Maybe I should make use of Shortcuts to handle the image jiggery-pokery and stick to a static site…

Saturday, 13th January, 2024

The idea of keeping notes and blogs in Apple Notes is growing on me. There are still details with montaigne I’m not sure about, like default URLs and something else I’ve forgotten about now. Plus it seems to have a few bugs, although when I point them out they get addressed. Right now a few notes aren’t being rendered and I don’t know if it’s me or the system. The notes are definitely synced as I can see them in iCloud.com.

One project I’ve had forever is to scan all of granny’s recipe notes cards so we can’t lose them and so the rest of the family can see them. There are a lot and I’m yet to do anything. I could just take a picture with apple notes and it’s hosted right away. Then over time come back and add text. Could even try the scan notes function, but her handwriting, whilst pretty, can be hard to read.

Nothing is stopping me from adding them to Apple Notes right now and just sharing them with the family…but I had been thinking of making a website with them in. Maybe tiddlywiki or a static site.

Found my lifetime guarantee card for watch battery replacement in my watch that I’ve not worn in about 10 years. Took it in and got a new battery, for free, in my Tissot, and wearing it today.

As much as I’m having fun with montaigne, except he’s not responded to my emails with the issues (although it’s only been a day), deep down I know it’s not right for me. But I still can’t help thinking maybe it should be right for me. It’s easy and so why not use it? I also have a hard time separating from this site. I could use it as well, but I don’t want more sites…

Also tiddlywiki is back in my head. That can do everything…I should learn it (playlist of blogging platforms is set to repeat 🎶)

Friday, 12th January, 2024

I spent some time last night on Montaigne to try it out and explore it’s funtionality. I quite like it. Adding and editing content via Apple Notes is, unsurprisingly, very easy. It does remind me a lot of blot.im and now I’m wondering about going back to that, as it’s somewhat more robust.

It does seem to have quite a few bugs though and my test site I made has a lot of issues. I’m sure if I wrote them all up and sent them to Anton he’d work on it to fix it, so making the product better. I also saw in his pricing that you can get a custom domain for just $2/month and not have to paid for the other things on the default $5/month.

There’s not much in terms of custom styling on the site though. Maybe that doesn’t really matter though. I’m still unsure about building it from Apple Notes. Whilst I retain all the content, it’s in Apple Notes.

Apple Notes does have templates I can use for remembering metadata, and could even use Shortcuts to do something….adding weather to a note? Or maybe making a photo entry or something. So there’s that plus. It’s always trade offs between functionality and portability.

For managing daily notes and Blog Posts it does let me keep them in separate places, with the ability to list them out under folder URLs, but shows them all in the main listing on the front page. So a good integration of them all.

If nothing else it gives me ideas for how I might structure and manage a static blog. I should still try out the way I was thinking…if I can remember what I was thinking.🤔

This guy still uses ikiwiki.

Thursday, 11th January, 2024

Got an email saying Piwigo was updated to version 14. I should install it and use it with my pics domain.

I’m meant to be writing some content for my work’s annual report. In my head I have lots of great things that I can write, but I feel that when I sit down to actually write in it, they’ll be lame. Reminded me of blogging 😅 I actually thought about writing some stuff on the iPad and this keyboard. It has this really weird effect that means I enjoy using it and can often just continuously write and write and write using it. I think it’s the combination of 1Writer’s blank, simple view, the one app focus of the iPad and the size and feel of the keyboard.

My arms ache like I did some new exercise or sport where I’ve used muscles I don’t normally use. Except I’ve done nothing. So that’s weird.

This first week back to work/school has felt really long. Monday seems ages ago.

I was thinking about beancount again and did think if I just tracked my current account, and put credit card spend as shopping, then I’d only have about 20 transactions a month to deal with - as we buy everything on the credit card. Then I wouldn’t have to do some funky workings but still capture the mortgage, income and would just have to manage a few bills like utilities and council tax.

I like Haribo, and am hard to buy gifts for, so birthdays and Christmas result in me getting huge amounts of them. It’s fine but I do think it’s not great for my health to have all these sweets. I’m also not very good at moderating my consumption of them. Once that box is opened, I’ve got to eat the lot. I can’t bring myself to tell people I don’t want them as then they’ll have nothing left to get me! Plus they’re not clutter so that’s nice. I took two boxes into work and put on the communal table for others to eat. Win:win I think, as some appreciation from work and saves my teeth/waist.

I’ve not done anything on the great blog rejigulating. It my mind it’s amazing, but that’s as far as it has got. I’m still not sure about it. For example I got a book, “Bound to Please” by Michael Dirda. All about other books to read and their writers. Found it from a Tinderbox meet-up video. I’d like to make a small blog post about it, including a picture of the book cover. I’ve not figured out an easy way to do this from the iPad and so I’d have to do it on the computer, and now I can’t be bothered. I guess I could not have a picture. Whereas I think about Wordpress, and I could just upload a photo straight from my device and it does the rest. Probably there’s a book plugin where I can just put in the ISBN and it’ll pull in a nice little element with all the info.

I suppose posts like that are maybe where Mastodon comes in, but I can’t be bothered with Social media, even ethically good ones. I just want a blog and that’s that. Also do I want a picture of the book because I want it or because I think that others want it? A few little images do help break up the text.

1Writer’s extensibility with JavaScript probably means I could type in the ISBN here, and then run some script and it would do all the magic to link to Goodreads or something. But I’m not going to make that, and not sure anyone else has.

Not talked about mac mini’s and MacBooks for a while 😅 If I wait long enough I get distracted by something else and forget about it. So I’ll talk about it…moving the shack computer into the office means a laptop on a stand thing that puts it’s screen upright, and then the Dell monitor next to it connected via USB-C. I really like that setup, it looks neat and functional. Every time I look at it, I do think that the laptop could be a MacBook. The monitor has a webcam, mic and speakers - none of them are the greatest - but good enough and the keyboard has volume control on it. It fits together nicely and doesn’t take up much space. I’ve always been a desktop PC user. Even at university, I lugged a desktop back and forth vs. others who just brought their laptop in their bag. Now I wonder about the laptop life. Before it was because I played games, and ones that needed a decent GPU. These days I just seem to play indie games which run on anything.

Had a nice email chat with the developer of Montaigne and other projects. I want to buy and use his products, but don’t. Not sure what would make me. Perhaps custom domains for https://public.photos ?

I’d like to use his blogging setup (from Apple Notes) but I worry about lock-in and migrating (which is funny, not even started and worried about leaving). Also hesistant to rely on a indie app developer who maybe doesn’t cover his costs and if he doesn’t then may have to shut it down. I won’t lose content but a whole bunch of Apple notes might be a hassle to do anything with? Although what does it matter? Would solve my issue of “add a quick post of a book and a photo”.

I like all of this, and this.

Wednesday, 10th January, 2024

I’m on a 22 day streak with DayOne. Even normal school days where I think there’s nothing to write about, once I start I end up adding 200 words.

I just played the bee game. It’s a game about genetics, breeding bees to get new variants and trying to get better stats with every generation. Plus there’s making honey and candles and various things from all the products. There’s also butterfly and flower breeding and the three interlink in order to get certain strains. ie. I need a butterfly to cross pollinate some flowers to get a new one which some bee wants. Or something like that, not actually got that far in it. There’s lots of things to do and maybe it feels like a farm simulator where you have all these “chores” but nothing expires or goes bad or happens if you don’t do something. You can get distracted with making a nice house or exploring the map and your bees just wait for you. So it’s not a job in middle management.

I want to setup beancount for tracking our finances, so I can use the web app fava. But I really can’t be bothered. I do want to know how much we spend each year but only at a high level, and trying to categorise amazon purchases across two accounts is impossible. Was it a present, for the kids, for me, my wife, replacement xyz, household, etc… generally ended up putting everything as shopping unless I knew what it was. I’d try and capture stuff that I bought for my “hobbies” i.e. computers, radio, books, but unless I did it there and then I’d forget as well. This is before approaching orders where there’s a mix of all sorts of things.

I like beancount as I can put everything into it, expenses, mortgage interest, pensions, investments, and can see it all together. Maybe I should just track things like account balances, credit card bills and income, and then I can work out the difference from those as to what’s spending. Actually, I should establish what our savings should be, do that, and then not care about whatever we spend…keeping a positive bank account all the while though! But then it circles back to how much do I need and therefore how much do I save. Spending is just increasing as all the kids get older and do more things, clubs and sports and clothing all seem to get more expensive as they get bigger.

I always fall back to a spreadsheet. It’s satisfying to look at my google sheets and see I started it in 2010 and have been using it ever since to track various financial related things. It’s changed a lot over the years and I have a feeling it’s about time I rejigged it a bit. If nothing more than to include the new Scottish tax bands (higher🙄) for next tax year. Probably better off sacrificing some salary to do the bike to work scheme every year and get a new bike vs. paying more tax.

Time to figure out why my bees won’t breed… 🐝♀️

Tuesday, 9th January, 2024

I’ve been thinking about The New Blog💫. How is it going to work, what should it have on it, how will I make it etc. etc. It needs to be a static site. I have a wordpress site but that’s a secondary blog specific to amateur radio. Maybe one day I’ll fold it into the main site, perhaps when I get bored of radio blogging, and just want it as a subset of my main site. Right now it doesn’t cost me anything to keep it going, so I’ll just leave it. I really like this site, and want to keep what I like and build on it. I started this site 6th August 2021, 886 days ago. I did pop in and out of tiddlywiki a couple of times but always came back here and have been here solidly for quite a while now. There are a few annoying things, like creating a new file each day and entering the frontmatter. I’ve semi-automated that on 1Writer and VS Code, 1Writer is the most automated, but I wonder if it can still be improved. I’d like to bring in larger blog posts that are about a specific topic, vs. a paragraph about some daily ramblings, but I want the ease of writing daily ramblings to write more blog posts. The traditional way is just to use two collections or architypes of content. One for blog posts and one fror daily notes. The problem with this is all I’m doing is making two folders of files, and just writing in one or the other.

I suppose if I had more time, I’d write out drafts. write my daily whatevers, then rearrange them into blog posts and daily notes and do all the tags and frontmatter and pictures and it’ll just be that.

Things I’ve been thinking about for it:

  • Keep using Jekyll. I can reuse what I learnt from this site, and I want to keep it simple
  • Do I need search?
    • Personally, I can just search in VS Code, and publically, maybe link to github search in the repo?
    • there are some jekyll search plugins or javascript methods for it but I don’t like adding that. Plus I have to figure out how to format the results.
    • There’s google search but meh.
    • Who’s even searching anyway?
    • Maybe add a random post like this guy
  • People expect one page per blog post, one file, tags, etc. not a big wall of text with stuff in between.
    • Relates to search as well.
    • Wondering if I can just keep a manual list of these posts
    • Does it matter what people expect?
    • I can always keep another collection of “articles” or something, for when I do make a Blog post, plus as a way to archive the existing content should someone want it. My most visited page is my beancount setup from about 8 years ago!
  • Wondering about a single text file for a month or even a year, and just separating things by headings. Then using custom header links to sort things out. Not sure about this, it makes some things easier and some things harder. Guess I should try and it on a test site and see what it’s like
    • Using table of contents to generate menus maybe?
    • I’d like it for me, to browse back through as I’m writing.
  • Wondered about link lists
  • Probably can use data or yaml in frontmatter or dedicated site data files…not quite sure how or what for yet.

I’ve also started playing this nerdy but cute and relaxing bee game. So I’m torn between playing the bee game 🐝 and tinkering with this new site idea. Although I’ve spent all evening writing this post and getting distracted with random blogs.

Monday, 8th January, 2024

Back to work and school! 🥳😢

I was giving our willow igloo (the wigloo) a much needed trim (severe pruning more like) and had a lot of time to think whilst cutting up the pieces to put in the garden waste bins. I’d also been out in the morning with the kids, and then played Minecraft on the sofa whilst they’d all played on the computer. I think this was my summary:

  • The less time I’m on the computer the better I feel.
  • Counter to that, if I’m on the computer I need to be doing something specific, e.g. playing a game, working from home, some task. But still, time away from it is better.
  • I like this blog the best, particularly the date as the title. There’s no pressure of a blog post then, but I still write.
  • I decided I would combine my blog back into dailies + blog posts in a single site - this one, and then use my main site as a landing page about me. I just need to figure out the architecture of it, as I still want to be able to write posts via 1Writer on my phone or iPad, but I’m not sure how that can be achieved whilst trying to do some more fancy things of layout and list of posts etc.

That first one is difficult.

Sunday, 7th January, 2024

I’ve embraced doing things vs. just looking at them. We’ve setup a family Minecraft server and, amazingly, if you make a Microsoft family with everyone’s account attached to it you can all share the game. Could do with another computer though…and in this instance it has to run Windows 10/11. That is actually a good thing with Microsoft buying Minecraft. Also they rewrote it in some faster language than java, maybe C# or some other note, which runs on all platforms. It is so much more efficient that the old Java version.

We’re running two computers, one of which is just a T490 with 8th gen intel cpu, an xbox and the iPad, and we can all play together on the world running on my server. I even have a copy on the Switch, but the Switch is annoying in that it doesn’t let you join LAN games, only paid for servers. No doubt some protection thing Nintendo insisted on. Someone runs a DNS server that somehow tricks the Switch into getting a menu to enter your LAN server. I’ve run it before and it worked fine but now it doesn’t work for me whatsoever. I wondered if it was our new router but even when I hotspotted from my phone it still didn’t work. You can self host a BIND9 server and run it but that seems rather extreme, plus it’s just doing the same thing so not sure why it would be any better. It’s hard to troubleshoot and then raise an issue as there’s literally nothing to configure except the DNS settings. Oh well I’ll come back to that some other time.

Right now I’m looking at another 8th-10th laptop…probably ThinkPad. Some are pretty cheap and maybe I can get one for £120 or so.

Doing all this with one version of Minecraft I bought for about $10 back in 2010 and perhaps I paid for it on iOS at some time in the past. I did pay for it on Switch but think that was $15 in a sale a few years back.

As part of all this effort, each account needs to log into the computer, and as they’re all kids accounts they automatically have usage time and other parental controls set. I mostly turned them off but the level of detail you can go to is extreme. I then looked in the parent portal and my goodness is it detailed. You can see literally everything they do. My wife was using the computer in the evening whilst I was on the other one and she just logged in under the kids account and I could see all her web searches, time spent on everything and then when a website wasn’t working under Edge, she opened Firefox but it closed it and she had to request permission to open it. At which point I got a notification on my phone to approve.

Clearly Microsoft knows everything you are doing on a Windows machine (at the risk of stating the obvious). I should see if it can see what’s going on if you use Firefox…I assume it can’t. Anyway, as much as my rms alarms are going, we want to play Minecraft together and unless I’m buying an account each to use the java version on linux, then this is the only way. (I guess it’s good there is still a way, although there’s minetest and probably other open source versions, but it’s never quite the same.)

👆would probably make a good blog post, which I’ll likely never write even though I just did.

Speaking of blogs, I can’t be bothered to redo mine right now. I’ll just leave it as is. For a time I thought about deleting it completely, and then it wouldn’t be the burden I feel, but that seemed excessive. Plus once or twice over the years people still ask me about my 2016 post on using beancount. I think my Hugo theme has two different front page settings, I wonder if I use the other one if that’ll change it enough for me that I’ll be content.

I also bought Children of Morta game in the Steam sale. Was only £5, and is online co-op, so my friend and I have been playing it. The co-op implementation isn’t the greatest but still good to play. Like a Diablo action RPG but a bit of rogue like about it, in when you die you have to start the level again but you can spend money on upgrades, and you can play as different members of the family and level them all up.

So computer time during the day I’m playing Minecraft and in the evening I’m playing CoM!

Booked accommodation to the wedding we have this year that none of us can be bothered to go to (7-8 hour drive or a fortune in flights//car hire and overall hassle of logistics). Least it’s done as I’ve been putting it off for about 7 months since knowing of it.

I have another laptop, why do I need to go and buy one more? Is it because it’s got linux installed or is it because it’s an older gen…maybe 6th or 7th or something. I should just install Windows on it and play mc.

Thursday, 4th January, 2024

I like having one app to do one thing, as then when I open it I know what I’m supposed to be doing. However, it’s a waste. I’ve been trying to see if I could use Apple Notes as a journal, and I can, but I like 1Writer and it can connect to all sorts of places.

Whilst waiting for everyone to come to the lounge, I opened up Photos app on the AppleTV. Was nice seeing the little montages it puts together. The only thing is it shows the same photo several times, but that’s probably as there aren’t many photos of certain people or groups…I should upload more…

One of the boys has taken to Minecraft and wants to play on the computer, but the oldest wants to play Roblox, so there are “disagreements” about that. I might move the radio shack computer into the office so everyone can play, see how that goes without spending any money. I still have a linux ThinkPad I can take into the shack for logging etc. if I need.

Can’t believe the holiday is nearly over, and soon back to work for another year. I’ve not thought about work whatsoever, so that’s nice.

This is another reason why Shortcuts on Apple is so great.

Wednesday, 3rd January, 2024

I hate chasing up trades people. Once it gets down to the final small things they never seem to care about it. The smaller the scope the more nagging is needed and the more frustrating it is.

I’ve made so many places to write things down that I spend all my time debating between them but never actually writing. After I spent all evening fiddling about with Apple Notes and Shortcuts I remembered I’d made a full year planner in dynalist where I could write things about each day in.

At work we have scorecards and metrics and various systems to make sure things get done. Been wondering if or how I should apply that to make sure I do some things at home. Except at work you have other people who hold you to account, whereas most of my things at home are only of interest to me.

There’s certainly the wisdom of chasing two rabbits and catching none. 🐇

But if there’s no page, how do people find anything? Look, nobody was flipping through pages on your blog to find anything anyway, so it’s fine. –On writing more.

Makes me think I should combine my main site into this one, vs. the other way round!

Ugh what am I like. The family has been out all afternoon, and due back within the hour, what have I done? I did do several loads of washing, and few other chores, but then I sat on the computer and two hours went by. 🙄

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blogs and what to do with them, I’ve been fritting about between static generators, services like blot.im and bearblog, looking at kirby still, and generally between one site or two sites (or more) and I can’t decide. What’s funny is that if I go back to this time in 2023 and even 2022, I’m having exactly the same conversations. Still don’t know what to actually do though. Maybe I’ll just faff about the rest of this week doing nothing, then I’ll go to work and not have any time to worry about it. It’s been a year and a month since I stopped using blot…it’s nice but $5/month is a lot for a blog, imo, as you can rent a whole VPS for that! But it is smart.

Tuesday, 2nd January, 2024

Bought the Fuji 18-55mm. Turns out I had some nectar points for extra vouchers on eBay, so that worked out well. I missed having this lens for videoing all the kids nativity and singing things before Christmas, so now I’m prepared.

Next thing to figure out is how and where to take nice portraits of the family when they come. Lighting is the biggest issue.

Miserable weather here. ☔️

Family might be going to see Wonka, so I’ll get some quiet time at home. Wonder how best I can waste that time.

One of the twins said we need more computers to play Minecraft and Roblox with, as his sister wants to play Roblox and he wants to play Minecraft. Now I need more computers 😅

I spent all evening faffing about with Apple Shortcuts on my iPad. It’s a really nice toolset, and creative people can make amazing things.

Monday, 1st January, 2024

Happy New Year! 🎆

I started writing a blog post on my main site about a look back on 2023. I have a dynalist of things, habits etc., I wanted to do last year and I scored myself 🔴🟡🟢. I started writing about why I scored them that way. I stopped as I had to go to lunch or do something but then as I thought about it I wondered if I really wanted to post it or not. It seems quite personal. There’s nothing that exciting or unique about what I wanted to do or any thing sensitive, but I’m just not sure. All the other posts on that site are more “here’s a thing I did” or maybe some slightly funny topic, like bookcases or oranges. 🍊

I know lots of people write much more detailed posts about themselves.

A favourite quote of mine is

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

So why do I worry?

I think the Hugo theme I use is nice but I’m not sure about the front page. Doesn’t give enough information about posts. Also found quite a nice theme for the dokuwiki site. So there’s that again.

Ordered my 2023 DayOne book. It’s so easy and nice quality. Ordering from UK makes it a bit more expensive with postage. After I ordered it I realised I was thinking of using them to print this blog and could’ve shared postage. Guess I’ll try a local web store first…if I ever get round to it.

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