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 building a metalworking bench, and will soon be about a set campaign-style drawers that's in the works. I've a good-sized workshop because I don't have a car.

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, and take photos for Wikimedia Commons. Sometimes I ride my bike to get there, or walk, but more often it's planes, trains and ferries.

I'm currently reading the following books: A Puritan Bohemia (Margaret Sherwood, 1896), and Arrowsmith (Anon), and Doctor Thorne (Anthony Trollop), 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.

WikiClubWest meetup 81


· Freotopia · meetups · Wikimedia ·

The first meetup for about six months happened today, at the museum cafe in Perth. There were five of us there; a few regulars missing and no newcomers. We talked about Freotopia/Freopedia/FreoWiki a bit (and related things). It seems that the general feeling is that Freopedia was a project that's now finished, and that to resurrect the name and use it for a new website might not be the best idea. There's also some great ideas about how Wikimedia Australia might support people who use MediaWiki in Australia — I think that stuff is a bit exciting, so will try to do more with it.

The cafe is a reasonable place for meetups, big enough and not super noisy, although you do have to avoid the pigeons that are flying around indoors a bit. It's corporate enough for us to not feel bad about taking up space for too long.

So I'll carry on with preparing the Freotopia pages for import (the file import is running now, should be finished soon). Just a few more hacky regexes to sort out.

Freotopia files and text


· Freopedia · wikis · Freotopia ·

I've been having a nice time this afternoon setting up a couple of scripts to go through the Freotopia files, and uploading them into a MediaWiki wiki, in preparation for getting the new Freopedia wiki online. It's great working with a dataset that's really almost completely orderly and sensible. The only issues so far have been a single zero-byte icon file, a bunch of JPGs that were actually PNGs and other things, and one file not encoded with Unicode (which turned out to not be needed anyway).

I'm now waiting for the file (i.e. JPGs, PDFs, and PNGs) upload command to finish (there are 9,621 of them). While I'm waiting I'm sorting out the HTML to wikitext conversion: using Pandoc for the bulk, and then various bits of regex hackiness to sort out the last bits and pieces. Hopefully the text pages will be ready to upload later tonight.

The weirdly stuck glass stopper on the bottle of gin I bought in Perth is still stuck, but if I can get into it then I might leave the actual running of the last bit till the morning. Doesn't do to surf the Ballmer wave into the shallows. Or something.

Rubustification of web links


Resisting linkrot, Web archiving starts at home, 22 Jun 2024, Claudine Chionh:

Having lived half my life on the internet, including the early, wild days of the web when only spooks, nerds, and weirdos early adopters were online and we had very different (or absent) notions of security, privacy, and anonymity, I face competing impulses to preserve everything I can, and to hide or disavow some of my past.

I can definitely relate to this!

Also linked in the above post is the idea of Robust Links, which I think I'll have to now try to add to my websites.

ZBW press archives


There is an an interesting post on Diff about the 20th Century Press Archives that are being integrated into Wikidata. The bit that caught my eye was about how they're generating and hosting the archive website:

The project uses the Wikitech infrastructure to maintain code and the PM20 master database. In addition, it established a workflow to return dataset enhancements to ZBW, where they are integrated into the actual PM20 website in a largely automated process.

The collaboration has proven to be a win-win situation: the ZBW has been able to replace its previous highly sophisticated but hard-to-maintain web application with a much more sustainable site of static pages, interlinked with Wikidata and continually improved by volunteer community work.

The site is at pm20.zbw.eu, and it looks like it's being generated with Pandoc (it's got a generator metadata key), but I haven't find any code yet.

This makes me more keen to continue looking at moving Freotopia into a static site (currently, seeing what it'll take to combine it with github.com/samwilson/freo). There will be about ten thousand pages, so I think build time might be frustrating. But most of a website's life is lead not being worked on!

Don't read the Wikipedia docs


A 70-year-old Wikipedian (3) Started Wikipedia, 18 June 2024, by Yuriko Kadokura:

It also said that there were ‘five pillars’ for Wikipedia to be a trusted free encyclopedia. Each of these had detailed explanations, which I also read carefully. Reading that far made me wonder if I needed to know a lot more before I could actually write, but there was no one to consult to see if that was really the case, so I had to be clumsy to get on. Much later I realized that there seem to be a lot of people who write articles without actually reading that much.

It's always good when people read the docs, and especially when they find issues that aren't explained enough.

WikiCon 2024 will be in Adelaide


· WikiCons · WikiCon 2024 · Indian Pacific ·

I'm excited to see preparation for this year's WikiCon is starting to take shape. It'll be in November in Adelaide, and I had thought that perhaps I'd be able to get the Indian Pacific (for the first time since 2007), but no it's out of even my "I'll pay more because it's a train" budget. $2,600 one way?! I think last time I went it was more like $450 (sitting up for three days from Sydney).

Anyway, there's some info being added to meta:Event:Wikicon Australia 2024.

Photos of streets


· photography ·

I was walking down South Street this morning and wondered if I could get some photos of streets for their Wikidata items and Freopedia articles. But I think it was too early and the shadows still too long.

Freotopia transfer


· Freopedia · wikis · archiving ·

I've been this evening to pick up the entire content dump of https://freotopia.org from Garry Gillard. He's donating it all to Wikimedia Australia so that we can incorporate it into https://freopedia.org (or rather, so Freopedia can expand to include a new wiki that will contain Freotopia and other material).

At first glance, there are 4,254 HTML files and 9,218 JPEGs (out of 28,476 all up). Here's a random sample:


My plan of action is something along the lines of:

  • Upload an as-is zip file of the whole lot to the Internet Archive, as a point-in-time archive. (Edit: now done, see Freotopia_2024-06-17.)
  • Filter out all actual files that are part of Freotopia (e.g. there are lots of files, I think created by Dreamweaver, starting with ._ — and a few that don't relate to Fremantle at all).
  • Create a list of all the wanted files (HTML as well as images) on Freopedia, and map these to the page names that they'll end up with.
  • Use pandoc to convert the HTML to MediaWiki markup.
  • Upload all images.
  • Upload all pages, with a {{freotopia}} header that'll indicate their source and link to the project page.
  • Progressively go through all the pages, tidying things up and bringing it all up to date.

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