Welcome

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 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 Matrix as '@samwilson:matrix.org'. 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).




Home on the indieweb

Fremantle

· indieweb ·

People often write about the value of owning your own place on the web—the control, the ownership, and the avoidance of lock-in—but today I'm feelong another advantage: the sense of having a place on the web in which you can behave as though you're home. It means relaxing, and not having to worry so much about what other people think. The indieweb is a relief.

Another year of WMAU tech stuff

Fremantle

· Wikimedia · WMAU · wikis · system administration ·

The Wikimedia Australia AGM was yesterday, and I'm signed up for another 12 months of being the tech nerd on the Committee, running the wikis and whatnot. I quite like doing it, although I'm not always very good at keeping up to date with everything — it's nice to run a MediaWiki installation outside of the WMF world, just to have a feel of what it's like and what annoyances are felt. I'm going to try to improve things this year (better mobile view; stats reporting maybe; and generally keeping everyone up to date with things).

Happy 16th centimillenium

Fremantle

· unix · time · timestamps · events ·

Later today, at 8:26:40PM Perth time, the unix timestamp will be the nice round number of 1600,000,000. I don't know if this is called a centimillenium, I suspect not because 'millenium' is a count of years and not seconds, but it feels like a good word for a thing that's not a millenium nor a billenium (which I guess is also not a word). Anyway, happy 1.6 gigaseconds everyone!

Search bangs

Fremantle

· DuckDuckGo · searching · OpenStreetMap ·

I make great use of DuckDuckGo's bang feature, with which you can change your search target by typing <search term> !<bang code>, where bang code is any of the defined codes. For example, I saw a map just now of a place called 'Erdalen' and didn't know where it was, so I pressed ctrl-L to enter Firefox's address/search bar, and typed !osm erdalen and it took me straight to this place south of Bergen in Norway.

Other bangs that I use a lot along with !osm are !w for Wikipedia, !wd for Wikidata, and !r for Reddit.

SVG graphs with the Diagrams service

Fremantle

· MediaWiki · GraphViz · Diagrams ·

I've just released version 0.6.1 of the Diagrams extension. It makes it possible to use formats other than PNG when using the external web service to render graphs.

I'm not really sure there's a point to having the external service — it does make things harder for sysadmins, and now there's local rendering that works with the AWS extension, perhaps it should be retired. Then again, there's something nice about not filling a wiki's file storage with re-renderable image files. Anyway, I don't have that much time to work on this so it'll probably stay.

The main thing that the local rendering is now missing is support for PlantUML.

Reshaping my small plane blade

Fremantle

· sharpening · Men's Shed · woodworking ·

I went up to the Men's Shed this morning, to finally re-grind a plane blade. Over the last couple of years I've been sharpening it solely by hand on the whetstones, and this had brought it out of square by about 1.5 mm. The lateral adjustment of the plane handles that, but it's at its limit and anyway it looks bad having it so wonky. The Shed has a nice sharpening grinder with a water bath and a reasonable tool rest and jig. It's got a little bit of play in it, but not enough to worry about so long as the jig is kept pressed firm in one way or the other while in use. I got it square and good, and will now finish it off on the stones.

Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet

Fremantle

· blogging · wikis · indieweb ·

This is a repost of Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet () by Tanya Basu:

Welcome to the world of “digital gardens.” These creative reimaginings of blogs have quietly taken nerdier corners of the internet by storm. A growing movement of people are tooling with back-end code to create sites that are more collage-like and artsy, in the vein of Myspace and Tumblr—less predictable and formatted than Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Critchlow, a consultant who has been cultivating his digital garden for years, spells out the main difference between old-school blogging and digital gardening. “With blogging, you’re talking to a large audience,” he says. “With digital gardening, you’re talking to yourself. You focus on what you want to cultivate over time.”

“The stream has dominated our lives since the mid-2000s,” Caulfield says. But it means people are either posting content or consuming it. And, Caulfield says, the internet as it stands rewards shock value and dumbing things down. “By engaging in digital gardening, you are constantly finding new connections, more depth and nuance,” he says. “What you write about is not a fossilized bit of commentary for a blog post. When you learn more, you add to it. It’s less about shock and rage; it’s more connective.” In an age of doom-scrolling and Zoom fatigue, some digital-garden enthusiasts say the internet they live in is, as Caulfield puts it, “optimistically hopeful.”


Website status

on the train near Subiaco

· writing · blogging · websites ·

I've been working in various fronts lately, none of which have been my own website. This place feels like a complete mess, but I do have plans for it. I've been making some slight progress towards having all my photos here (or at least spread over my three personal wikis), and I also need to sort out the RSS feed situation (which is currently based on a fairly annoying and slow system). The indieweb HWC meetup was this morning but I wasn't awake enough for it, unfortunately.

Of course, the main point of a blog is to write, and I'm terrible at that at the moment. There's too much to write, and not enough time. Or at least, the time for writing exists quite separate to the time when the inspiration comes – at some point I'd like to sit quietly of a morning, explaining what I'm trying to do. But instead, I'm too busy banging my head against what I'm doing to relax enough to do that! Oh well. Another day.
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