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), as well as listing the software that I use.

I 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 interesting mapping on OpenStreetMap. Sometimes I ride my bike to get there, or walk.

I'm currently reading the following books: A Puritan Bohemia (Margaret Sherwood, 1896), and Arrowsmith (Anon), and Doctor Thorne (Anthony Trollop), and Perth (David Whish-Wilson, 2013), and The Countryside Companion (Tom Stephenson).

To contact me, you can email me, find me on Matrix as '@samwilson:matrix.org', or the fediverse as @samwilson@wikis.world. 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).

Below are my recent blog posts.

Tourists in Fremantle


It looks like there's some sort of luggage enthusiasts' gathering in Fremantle this morning, judging by the number of people getting off the train.

Oh, nope: it's just that a cruise ship is in town, the Pacific Explorer.

Looking back through Borg archives


· backups ·

I've run about three different[1] sorts of snapshop backups I think, in the last 15 years or so. Firstly a dd-based script that hardlinked date directories on a series of (failure-prone) USB hard drives. That was reasonably simple, and I learnt a bit about some useful things, but in about 2015 I thought I'd better not rely on myself for something so critical and switched to SpiderOak. They were all the rage after Edward Snowden recommended (or just mentioned? I can't remember) them as a good encrypted and deduplicating backup system. They were good, for ages. But then a couple of years ago I got sick of their weird client's UI and opaque bugginess — and the fact that they no longer were actually promoting their backup product on their own homepage. So I switched to Borg.

Borg is good, and I do love the fact that the basic configuration is about setting it up how you want it to work. In my case, it's a manually-run thing because I realised that the rate of change on my local machine is not great enough to justify the continual scanning of all changes (for some parts where I do want that, I use NextCloud). But the part of Borg that I do not have working as I want it to is the spelunking side of things: when I want to retrieve a file or directory from an archive, I have to do my own bisecting of where the version I want can be found. That's partly unavoidable, because of the nature of restores like that — it's not really the business of the backup software to know what you want. But it could be quicker: mounting archives to date-named directories currently requires me to copy and paste the name of the archive. I'd rather have some sort of menu thing.

Mapping QEII


Another Geogeeks' OpenStreetMap mapping party today. Only three of us (a fourth signed up but couldn't make it). We met at the café under the carpark, with the intention of spending a few hours mapping Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, around -31.96837/115.81595.




Seeking share URLs for every platform:

Every Mastodon instance has a URL like: [domain]/share?text=

Does Micro.blog have a share URL? How about WordPress installations? Ghost? Bluesky? And platforms like Lemmy, etc?

I’m on a mission to collect them all.

I've been wondering about adding an easier way to quote web pages in MediaWiki, perhaps by importing with the PandocUltimateConverter extension; I've opened a task about that. Then the share URL would be something like [domain]/Special:PandocUltimateConverter/import?url=.

New coworking space in Fremantle


It looks like there's a new coworking space in Quarry Street, called Hybrid Warehouse. Seems cheaper than some, although like others I do wonder how that big tin shed will fare in the heat of summer. It does provide wifi, coffee, electricity, spring water, kitchen facilities, and cleaning. Presumably toilets too, so all the essentials really. I'll go and visit it I think, and at least add it to OSM.

You should build an 'expert' website


· websites ·

Beyond the Wikipedia Silo Suggestions for Your Next RetroWeb Site, posted on February 17, 2024 by Brad:

I see lots of personal websites and personal blogs both of which I enjoy. But I don’t see as many expert websites like existed in the old Geocities days: these are sites, created by an individual, where he/she shows their expertise on some subject, and I’d like to see these comeback.

People would create a site about whatever they were passionate about and had some knowledge about. There was no Wikipedia, so if you had knowledge about a topic you created a website about it and shared with others. For example, there was no end to: Star Trek sites, TV show episode, character and shooting location guides, fan sites, hobby sites, how to sites, history sites, cooking sites and sites about so many subjects it’s hard to count them all. These websites were more than just animated GIF’s, these sites were the stuff and substance of the Web. They were also the “street fair” of the web as they enlightened and entertained us.

Resources tours


In the golden age of railway the WA government ran affordable holidays to show off the state's attractions, by Emma Wynne 18 February 2024:

"Fundamental to the reso tours was that the passengers would sleep on the train rather than a hotel or other accommodation."

A few trains are still operating, the Prospector to Kalgoorlie and the Australind to Bunbury, but there are no more sleeper cars and no more reso tours.

It seems reso tours were a thing elsewhere in the country too.

UAM building being demolished


· Fremantle · buildings ·

Demolition of the old UAM office in Beaconsfield has started. The office I worked in for seven years is now exposed and smashed up, and it's a bit weird to see!

The office and hardstand is heritage-listed as the site of a former Transperth bus depot (which I think might be wrong anyway because surely it was MTT?). The entry says that it's "DEMOLISHED — retained on MHI database for historical information purposes only." Which will be true soon enough.

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  1. I say 'about' because I've experimented with about three dozen different systems.