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w/e 2021-01-03

“2021” Every year is going to sound impossibly “futurey” now isn’t it.


§ On the one hand I like to keep the website technologies I use up-to-date so that they’re secure and will keep running as long as possible. On the other…

The week before Christmas I updated a couple of my personal sites hosted on Heroku from their soon-to-expire Heroku-16 Stack to Heroku-20. I had, and have, no idea of what the difference is and just hoped it’d all be fine. It mostly was, and is, except I had to update the sites to use a more recent version of Python, which didn’t require any code changes, so that was no problem.

I wanted to use the same version of Python for development on my laptop so I set about updating the Pipenv virtual environments but pyenv, which manages the versions of Python, didn’t seem to know about the version I needed.

I thought that maybe I needed to update pyenv and so set about updating it using Homebrew, which I’d originally used to install it. That took a long time, and a lot of downloading, and it looked like Homebrew was updating an awful lot of things. But, still, it seemed to work and I could move on with my life.

Until this week when I wanted to tweak something on my site and I realised my local development website couldn’t connect to the database. After a bit of poking around I realised that doing that brew upgrade pyenv had upgraded… everything? Maybe? Anyway PostgreSQL was now updated and all my old data had been moved and I was hating computers.

Maybe I could have tried to copy the old data to the new database? Or import new data? Or start from scratch? But maybe I should just start using Docker for local development of personal projects like a grown-up, and like I do for most clients’ sites? I used to use Vagrant but decided it was too much hassle for my hobby projects and that’s what had led me to use only Pipenv and a database installed directly on my laptop. But, now, here we are.

So this week I spent a lot of hours over three days cobbling together another Docker set-up based on previous projects and a collection of googled tutorials and examples, all of which do things slightly differently for little apparent reason. I can’t remember the last time I did something like this and found one example that did exactly what I needed. There are always too many moving parts.

As usual I also came across a problem that, apparently, no one else had ever had and I ended up solving it myself on Stack Overflow with a solution complicated enough that I assume I’m doing everything wrong.

So, a couple of weeks after upgrading some server thingy I now have a working development site again, one that’s much more complicated and more of a hassle, and this boring story is why you should never update anything ever.


§ This week we watched season one of The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s 2012 drama based around a primetime TV news programme hosted by Jeff Daniels’ anchor Will McAvoy. A lot of it is really good and I enjoyed the usual Sorkin-esque rapid and funny dialogue that’s familiar from The West Wing. But, also, it is often unbearable.

First, every episode will have at least one scene in which a speech, interview, or event is hilariously inflated with pomposity. Maybe it’s a long moment of “God Bless America” patriotism that seems so odd to British ears, especially from characters who otherwise seem so reasonable and middle-of-the-road. Or maybe it’s Sorkin shoe-horning some pet peeve into a rousing argument about how the world should be, knocking down conveniently-impotent opponents at every step. Or maybe it’s the characters’ self-belief in the critical importance of what they’re doing, which was bearable in the The West Wing – they were at least running the most powerful country in the world – but it was over-the-top when transferred to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’s topical comedy show, and it’s nearly as silly here.

Second, the characters are a bit disappointing, especially the women. On the face of it the three main female characters are strong professionals doing well in a largely male world. Yay! But when confronted with difficulties in the office they often end up shouting and working themselves up into a frenzy in a way that the calm, mature, male characters don’t.

And the two women who have, or had, personal relationships with men in the office are both in weaker positions than the men, on the back foot, never in control.

And while Olivia Munn’s economics correspondent has to remind people she is very qualified, with two PhDs, she also often acts like a bit of an idiot, or in stereotypically “ditzy woman” ways, including a huge outburst when she’s worried that someone thinks she has a big bum.

Given the men are (almost dully) competent, calm, serious problem-solvers (but, of course, always hiding their true feelings when it comes to personal matters), couldn’t we have one competent woman who always behaves professionally?

While lots of it is fun, the fact the Serious Moments are so clunky, and the white maleness is so tiresome, I keep thinking, “Do I want to watch the next episode?” So far, yes, but with excessively rolling eyes.


§ That’s it. Haven’t done much else.


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