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w/e 2021-11-28

I spent a lot of Monday finishing off improving my Docker-based Django development environment which is the kind of start to a blog post that will drastically filter the readers. I gave up on getting VS Code to interact with Docker in any way – more trouble than it’s worth – but I am otherwise pleased with the small improvements I’ve made to it.

I like to have a stable basic set up, now used for this site and Pepys (both on GitHub), which I can quickly re-use for future projects, whether for myself or the increasingly-rare clients. The only tricky aspect is, if I find a way to improve things, whether/if/how to improve all the other projects’ set-ups in the same way.

I also improved the interface for writing blog posts on this site which, aside from removing a bit of JavaScript (that was apparently designed to always bring back older versions of posts), and adding an “off” button to disable a different bit of JavaScript (that is apparently designed to make it hard to edit text on touch-based devices), mainly involved increasing the font size of a text box.

There’s probably a business in that. “Yes, we have a patent-protected secret process for increasing your firm’s productivity by at least 110%. In layperson’s terms we turn off JavaScript and increase the text size but ha there’s cough a lot, lot more to it.”

I spent a couple of days at the end of the week starting to write code to send and receive Webmentions (Trackbacks for Millennials) on this site. I looked at a couple of existing python/Django packages but none were quite what I needed so I thought it would be a great idea to spend days writing code to do something that will get very little use.

But it is very satisfying to be writing some new code for myself, which I haven’t done for a while. The satisfaction is only hampered by my desire to Do It Properly and write lots of tests, which always makes progress much, much slower for me. I’m probably getting better at it but there’s always something that puzzles me and seems so difficult I’m convinced I’m doing it wrongly. This week it was how to test a model mixin class.

A photo looking across green fields and brown and orange autumn trees, to a ridge on the horizon covered with a dusting of snow.

§ The biggest achievement of our week was moving a wardrobe.

We had a narrow wardrobe, the same height as me, in an upstairs bedroom which we no longer needed. So, having found it a new home on Freegle, we had to get it to the front door. Between that bedroom and the front door was a low door, an awkward corner, a low lampshade, a flight of stairs, another corner, an even lower ceiling with a smoke detector, an even even lower doorway, another lampshade, and a door.

There were several points along that journey where it seemed physically impossible to advance further and I was worried we’d end up with a wardrobe version of Dirk Gently’s sofa. But each time, with the removal of a lampshade or smoke alarm, and some backing up or precarious leaning, we managed to ease it gently to the next stage. It was a series of seemingly-impossible puzzles, each one eventually solved. It still doesn’t seem achievable and yet the wardrobe has now gone away, in one piece, inside a nice man’s only-just-long-enough estate car.

A view across a green field towards a green hill dotted with bare brown trees casting long shadows, under a clear sky

§ This week we watched The Billion Dollar Code on Netflix, a German drama miniseries based on ART+COM coming up with a way to zoom into a globe of satellite photos in the early 1990s and then, in the 2010s, suing Google for doing the same thing in the same way with Google Earth.

As Jeremy said:

It’s no Halt and Catch Fire, but it combines ’90s nostalgia, early web tech, and an opportunity for me to exercise my German comprehension.

If I’d got my code finished this week I’d totally be webmentioning the hell of Jeremy’s post right now. Anyway, we really enjoyed it. I very much loved the 1990s hackers and setting so it’s recommended on that front alone if you’re of a similar vintage.

Netflix also has a “making of” documentary, interviewing the real people involved about the story, with little actual “making of” at all. That was very interesting and I could easily have watched a lot more of it.

A view across a short green field at a hill rising up to the blue sky, covered in autumn trees in various shades of brown and green

§ We started watching the western The Harder They Fall (Jeymes Samuel, 2021, also Netflix) which was promising, and looked fun in a Tarantino-ish style, but we stopped part-way through; we were both tired and realised we didn’t really care who succeeded or failed.

But we very much enjoyed The Rhythm Section (Reed Morano, 2020, Netflix again) which as Lee said, is “a decent La Femme Nikita / Bourne riff if you like that sort of thing”. Recommended if you do.

§ I had my Pfizer booster shot this week so I am now willing it to transform my DNA or whatever in time to help fight off this next wave of baddies.

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  1. If you're interested in more about Terravision and training your German skills, there is a 3,5 h deep-dive podcast in German with two people who where involved in this project:…

  2. Ooh, thanks for the tip!

  3. Well, even without webmention-sending happening automatically, there’s the good ol’-fashioned manual method of pasting a URL into a form field. So, webmention received:…

  4. Thanks Jeremy – I always forget manual mentions are possible. That format does seem quite geared towards briefer mentions – I feel bad that I now have an entire long blog post on your site when only a small part of it is relevant.

    Or it's possible my format of weeknotes isn't great, as opposed to each section being its own blog post. Which I often think.

  5. Oh, that displaying of the whole post is entirely my decision–I could truncate or just show a description, but I made the call that if someone’s gone to the trouble of marking up a post as an h-entry, I’m going to display the whole thing. So definitely nothing to alter at your end!