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Latest revision as of 01:28, 10 January 2020

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 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).



I want a full screen distraction free writing mode for MediaWiki. Like WordPress used to have. Like FocusWriter is (I think... or was).

Self-contained websites


It's Friday afternoon (nearly beer o'clock) at the end of this first week of everyone working from home and all the events being postponed. It's strange, but not that strange from the point of view of someone (me) who already works from home and doesn't really go to many things in person. I am missing the Riff coworking space and Thursday night meetups in Perth, but there's something nice about having an empty calendar. Actually, my calendar is more full than ever, with lots of new online meetings; which is great.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I'm pondering how a MediaWiki installation can reinforce the self-contained nature of a website. Because it doesn't support hotlinking images or embedding off-site things like Twitter cards, it means that all text and resources required are kept in the wiki. This means nothing gets lost as a result of other people changing their sites (or, rather, everything or nothing gets lost, because wikis do go off the air often enough). I like this attribute of MediaWiki. It's super annoying sometimes, but it makes for more robust websites, that can be archived wholesale and restored down the track in their entirety.

One key way that self-containment is broken is with InstantCommons, because files included from Commons can be deleted there and the local wiki would never know. There are some ways around that, and I've been meaning to see what it'd take to get the Commons Deletion Notification Bot working on 3rd party wikis, but it is at least a single point of failure. One workaround is to make sure every Commons file used on a wiki is on ones watchlist on Commons. On my own wiki, I have InstantCommons turned off — because I used to use it a fair bit, but then something happened and I got grumpy about it and turned it off. Now I copy some things across (with appropriate attribution and linking, of course), and am generally happier knowing that the pages here are not going to be broken when other people change things elsewhere.

Keywords: MediaWiki · wikis · Wikimedia Commons ·



Self-Hosted Show


I'm not sure why I've never found it before, but the Self-Hosted Show is a really good podcast!

Keywords: podcasts · self-hosting ·


I wonder if there's any sort of indieweb:Homebrew Website Club in Perth?



I've switched to msmtp from ssmtp. It's actually maintained; that seems good. With some help, I've got a super simple setup to get it working with Gmail:

In /etc/msmtprc:

tls on
tls_starttls on
tls_trust_file /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

account default
host smtp.gmail.com
port 587
auth on
user serveraccount@gmail.com
password foobar123
from serveraccount@gmail.com
aliases /etc/aliases

And /etc/aliases (with my own email address):

default: admin@example.org

Set it up as the default sendmail:

sudo ln -s /usr/bin/msmtp /usr/sbin/sendmail
And lastly, test it with something like echo 'test'|sudo sendmail -d -t www-data



I am in a café in Perth where for the first time I've heard a flat white called a 'flatie'. I guess that's a thing.

I'm heading to the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute's National Bushfire Recovery Map-a-thon. This is a national event that's happening today, at a bunch of office locations in cities around Australia and with lots of other people taking part distributedly. I'm looking forward to it, especially if the waiver comes through soon to enable the use of new Nearmap imagery for OpenStreetMap tracing. I've not looked at it yet, but I've heard that it's really high resolution.

There's been a bit of discussion about how SSSI have handled this thing though: it sounds like they originally thought they could use OSM tools but not contribute the data back to OSM. (I mean, that's quite possible, but not without hosting the tools yourself; to use them as found on the web, all the data needs to be open.) This is such a common thing — not just with OSM, but also the Wikimedia universe. It sounds like there are lots of great people on the case (on both sides) and I'm so grateful for the people who do this sort of work. I love contributing, but I've no head for the interminable discussions that are such a crucial part of shaping the direction of things.

Keywords: coffee · OpenStreetMap · copyright · data · open content ·

Typing pain


Today is a painful day. No more than yesterday, and enough to be annoying. It's the typing that does it! Of course. So I'm typing this... hmm. I guess I don't learn.

Well, anyway: mostly I'm excited about EMWCon in April (there's lots of discussion about it going on in the #emwcon:matrix.org room. And also general wiki stuff, like getting on top of a few sysadmin tasks on my own server and that of WMAU. Good to feel like things are organised; that's the fundamental idea of wikis I think. Not that blathering on a blog is much 'organisation'. Someone was asking on Reddit the other day about using MediaWiki for blogs, and it got me thinking again about what's missing here.

The biggest thing is commenting, of course, but I don't know if that really matters... I never get any comments anyway (I mean I didn't when I used WordPress and had them enabled). I think mostly I'd like a webmention system that could list at the bottom of a wiki page all incoming links from out on the wide web. Surely that's possible? When I've sorted out the twenty things on my todo list I might look into that...

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