My coffee mug

Hello world, and welcome to my corner of the web. This is where I write words about what I'm working on, and post photographs of things I've seen.

I'm a Software Engineer at the Wikimedia Foundation, and so of course my personal website is a wiki (running on MediaWiki). In my spare time I volunteer with WikiClubWest to work on Wikimedia projects, mostly around my family's genealogy and local Western Australian history (especially to do with Fremantle). I try to keep up with issues on all the things I maintain (but usually fail).

I also try to find time to work in my workshop on various woodworking projects. Recently, that's been focused on restoring a chest of drawers and building a metalworking bench.

Travel features in my life, not because I really hugely want to go elsewhere but because I just do — and also because then I can do some more interesting mapping on OpenStreetMap.

I'm currently reading the following: A Puritan Bohemia (Margaret Sherwood, 1896), and Doctor Thorne (Anthony Trollop), and Fathers of Men (E. W. Hornung, 1912), and Perth (David Whish-Wilson, 2013), and The Railway Adventures (Geoff Marshall; Vicki Pipe, 2018).

To contact me, you can email me or find me on Telegram (as 'freosam'). If you want to leave a comment on this site (by creating an account), you need to know the secret code Tuart (it's not very secret, but seems to be confusing enough for most spammers).

Wall done (mostly)


My house's new brick boundary wall is finished! There's a bit of cleaning up to do, and some timber screens to be built, but the 4 tons of concrete and 6 tons of bricks are all in place.

A few new scans


I've uploaded a few new scans of photos of my great-grandmother:



I am at Sydney airport, with a crashing headache (from, I hope, dehydration only) and a couple of hours to while away before my next flight. I feel like I've just been through a very very long night: from watching sunset at about 5PM in Atlanta, it's now mid-morning the 'next' day — 27 hours later. Actually, that sounds wrong, surely it's not that long; but timezone arithmetic is hard at the best of times, and right now my brain is not experiencing the best.

I'm attempting to look at what I was thinking was a small coding-style patch on a MediaWiki extension, but it's turning into something bigger so I might give it up.

And so much for thinking that I would be offline for very long.

Keywords: Sydney · airports · travelling · eslint ·

Waiting at ATL

Atlanta, USA

20191116 142736.jpg

Signing off for a bit

Atlanta, USA

The conference has ended, and everyone's going home. It's time for me to quit Slack, Telegram, IRCCloud, and even close Thunderbird, and head to the number 6 bus (then a train, train, plane, train, plane, bus, plane, and car). Even though it's frustrating, there's something nice about travelling with no internet access: it makes me work on bits of code in a way that sometimes results in more focus and better results. Of course, what often happens is that that works to some point, at which the code is feeling good and you're right in the flow, and then there's some tiny little thing that gets in the way that could be fixed in one minute on Stack Overflow. Or at least that's how it feels — what's actually more likely is that that small bump in the flow would in normal circumstances result in hours of wasting time and nothing much done. In the air, the same bump is slightly annoying, and results in a slight shift in focus, but continued work.

Keywords: TechConf · Atlanta · flow · travel ·

TechConf last day

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

It's the morning of the last day of TechConf, and the rain and mist seems to have come in. Not that it's really experienced, inside here in the over-heated rooms — but it's nice to look out at the damp autumnal trees.

I'm trying to go over notes from yesterday about Discourse, and a few different Wikisource things: the plain sister template and how to make it use alternative Wikidata items (via the main one); and adding badges to the header template (I'll wait till I'm back in Australia for that one, I think). As part of editing those templates, I'm also working on the page-upload part of mwcli, which is now working but still needs some robustifying.

For some annoying reason, I am managing to always wake up early here, which is great from the point of view of having a few hours every morning to catch up with work and code, but does rather leave me brain-dead by mid-afternoon. There are so many amazing people to talk to as well.

I've been looking at the bus schedule for getting to the airport tomorrow. Everyone says American cities have crap public transport, but it doesn't seem so awful. Will take nearly two hours to get there I think, but that's okay.

Keywords: TechConf · Atlanta · USA ·

Copying templates between wikis

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

There's been a fair bit of discussion at the Tech Conf in the last couple of days about how to share MediaWiki templates between wikis. I usually do this via a list such as the templates page on this wiki, which has a pre-populated link to Special:Export. This is a manual export process, and the resultant file is manually imported into the other wikis where the templates are wanted.

This works fine, but I could make it easier. For example, it'd be nice if the process was automatic.

I also have a little script called mwcli, which I've been slowly adding features to this year. One of them is the ability to upload text files to a wiki, including with live-watching for file changes. I need to add a thing for downloading a set of pages. This would mean that it'd be easy to pull a bunch of templates and modules, work on them locally, and push them up to multiple wikis — all from the local machine, and for users who aren't admins. (Maybe that last point is a un-feature, I don't know.)

Another missing piece of this puzzle is how to define the groups of pages/templates/modules. I think an on-wiki JSON manifest page would be good, but probably I'll just use a local flat text list for now.

Keywords: mwcli · templates · MediaWiki · syncronization ·

Wednesday evening

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Now is the time for a whisky, but instead I shall hack a bit and then head down to the bowling and beer. (There's bowling and beer?!)

Keywords: TechConf · Wikimedia · whisky · hacking ·

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