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Trying to be human, to see what the fuss is about. Talking politics, #RedSox, transport, tech, & coffee. With a sprinkling of law and life. Girly swot.
➡️ Este læti. Et mirabiles. Bibite coffeam!⬅️


I drink coffee every morning, usually a couple of double espressos made using my Rocket machine. But the price of coffee beans has been creeping up and I've been trying to decide whether buying 'green' (unroasted) beans in bulk and roasting them myself might make financial sense. So whilst having a nice soak in a bubble bath this afternoon I tried running the maths in my head.

Two+ doubles per day = 750 cups per year
Each cup uses about 20g of beans, so I'm using roughly 15kg of roasted beans per year.
I currently pay £15.40 per kilo of my usual[1] coffee, so £231 per year (or 31p per cup)

Buying green would be about £11 per kilo for a 10kg bag. Losing maybe 5% on roasting would make that £11.55 per kilo, a saving of £3.85 per kilo, ignoring the cost of roasting.

I've roasted my own in the past using a converted popcorn maker but it only does 100g at a time. I'd need a larger roaster really. The Sandbox R1[2] would be great, but it's around £700 including the cooler. That's equivalent to 182 kilos roasted, or a smidgen over twelve years of morning espressos.

Sadly, this isn't going to be viable, is it :-(



WORDS can be really powerful, they can even change the world.
But it takes MUSIC to heal the psyche and feed the soul.


Mail services working again sfaict after being down for nearly a week. Phone my mobile if you are desperate.


I'm a royalist.

2 min read

Initiated by a discussion elsewhare I'm going to admit something:  I'm a royalist. I am also a parliamentarian, but I continue to believe that having a hereditary head of state is a sensible thing and beneficial to the UK. I don't want the position to ever become elected.

Why? Because elected heads of state are totally political operatives, from the disaster of Trump in the USA to Sarkozy in France † being jailed for corruption, and whilst the Tories are clearly corruptly dealing millions to their buddies just imagine how much worse they'd be if they had even more power. So, no thanks. And whilst some countries, like Ireland, have a nominally independent head of state, I don't believe that is possible here; the right -v- left axis has become just too extreme.

I was also in favour of hereditary peers for a similar reason. If you have to get elected then you have to curry favour, raise lots of money, make 'friends' via promises of paybacks. By being hereditary, no matter that you may be 'left', 'right', or 'crossbench', nobody has to guess who you owe favours too, you and your vote can't be held to ransom in the same was as a politician who needs regular re-election (and, lets face it, American senators are regularly the worst in this respect; 'pork barrel politics' etc.)

My personal preference for the upper house would be taking a wider range of people with skills and experience which would be useful to the country. Make a list of them and randomly choose 100 to serve for a fixed, non-renewable twelve year term every two years (yes, the current 800 is ridiculous. 600 would be a start on reducing that). If people don't have to lie to get elected they're going to be more truthful about where they stand on matters. Indeed most people aren't solely 'of the left' or 'of the right', they share beliefs across the spectrum so currently (without the multitude of options which would be available if we had PR) they have to choose a Party (capital P) who they dislike least to vote for.


Deal or No deal

1 min read

Would I vote for this alleged 'deal'?


To do so would be to endorse it. It gains us nothing but confirms the loss of everything that mattered. Our service sector - banking and insurance especially - is being destroyed even though it was 80% of our GDP, and without a rules of origin agreement our goods will also have serious future problems.

To vote against would not even risk a 'no deal' as Johnson has the numbers to ensure it goes through. The Tories own this, voting with them lets them share that shame. Plus 'no deal is better than a bad deal' isn't it?

With this 'deal' the pressure to rejoin will be suppressed. I'd rather it wasn't.


The failure of the British State is not in thinking its methods are the best, but in thinking its ways are the only option.

Great Britain is only exceptional in its belief of its self importance and conceit.

The English Channel is not an impenetrable barrier, it is merely a trade route


Hey, it's December folks! That means cold weather, difficulty in getting food supplies, more Covid19 deaths, and Brexit blockades in a couple of weeks. Hope you laid in stocks to see you through the next few months while truck drivers refuse to queue for days to cross the Channel.


It's way too early.

1 min read

When you "reopen the economy" you force firms to reopen because business interruption insurance stops and government's 80% salary cover stops.

You force employees to return to work and put themselves and their families in harm's way, or to lose unemployment benefits by being declared to have resigned because they know being in close quarters with others might make them seriously ill — or even kill them.

You put the profits of billionaires before their lives.






1 min read

So, yeah, everyone stuck on hold for months kinda takes away the impetus to do stuff. Hopefully to return. In the meantime, we return you to the special programming.


Er... Um.. So... Yes. The replacement for this is completed but as it needs some testing on the webmention, receiving comments, and mf2 front I've not made it the live version. Soon though.


Watching: Stumptown S01E14

1 min read

 I've definitely liked this series, albeit unexpectedly.


Dead links

1 min read

Because I'm currently in a redevelopment phase here, moving code between domains and services, I can see from my Apache logs that there are many 404s being sent out as pages — temporarily — move around.

I've also got an issue to solve in that whilst most of my blogging over the years has used a permalink of site-date-title for a while I used site-title-date. I'm sure I had a good reason at the time, but I can't recall it now.

 Edent has some ideas on how to deal with one's own outbound dead links though. Worth reviewing.


Long day

1 min read

Have been hacking on Known and related stuff all day. Maybe I should give it a rest as it's Sunday...


Mahler 1

2 min read

That could have been one of the great performances of Mahler's First Symphony on BBC Radio 3 just now, as played by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. But it wasn't, not due to the occasional duff notes from the musicians (which were quite lovable actually) but because of the excessive level of audience participation. The coughs and bangs just kept on coming, and we'll not mention the sprinkling of applause after the first movement...

I can still remember the first time I heard the piece: I was attending the Albert Hall Proms, doing the full season in fact, and believing that I didn't like Mahler I'd moved during the interval to the back of the Arena to lie down, close my eyes, and wait for the end of the evening's concert. Instead I discovered an extraordinary visual experience, with jousting, galloping horsemen, villagers dancing around maypoles, and an inn by a crossroads with a cairn of skulls. I was so taken by the music that the following day I bought on LPs Mahler's first through fifth symphonies and the next day the sixth through tenth. Well I say 'tenth' but of course that is Das Lied von der Erde, but there is the incomplete tenth so I suppose I bought one through eleven.

Seems the RLP are undertaking a cycle this year so hopefully Radio Three will carry them all. But less of the audience please!


Stupid git

1 min read

Added an extra line of 'also me' links at the top of the page by the expedient of searching through the code for somewhere to put them! Also added a direct link to my diary and to one of my alternative sites.

For many years I've noted script kiddies trying to break my servers (I have a number of physical boxen running various services for me in my garage) and had been using a couple of methods to block them. Recently though I decided I should be 'better' about blocking them from all my machines together, not just on an ad hoc basis per machine when I remember, so I spent part of today developing a revised system for blocking them on machine 'A' and them pushing that block list out to my other machines at multiple locations.

I was going to detail it at another of my own sites but instead went for the GitHub option, which had its own learning curve! Anyway, it's all uploaded and available to anyone who wishes to try it.

If you want to just have the client end and use the block lists I generate then drop me a line.


Giving the Royal finger

3 min read

I am a Royalist. And a Parliamentarian. I believe that democracy tends to be better than dictatorship though true communism (everyone working for benefit of all) is good too. I believe in people as individuals trying their best to survive and improve their lot. I believe people should have choices; from how to live their life, where to live, who to live with, and about their employment.

I can choose those views, but nobody gets a choice about being born into a Royal Family. Many countries still have Royalty, from the absolute monarch ruling some diving right of kings, like Brunei, through to a titled family with little or no power, like France. In between there are the constitutional monarchs, like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, where the Monarch may be a figurehead for state occasions and maybe some residual nominal power.

Being born into such a family though means you have little of those choices I listed. Especially if you are the first-born child of a monarch you are almost certainly expected to become monarch in your turn when your parent dies, and on the 'heir and a spare' principle you probably have brothers and sisters too. All of you are going to be followed by the media and talked about ad infinitem. And when you decide to get married it will get worse as the press pick apart your intended.

Then we come to the UK's Royal Family; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had a sister, Princess Margaret, who chose to spend most of her time (after being stopped from marrying the man she wanted) in the Caribbean. The Queen's children of heir and spares have had their problems kept in the public eye too, as have their children in turn.

And just like Margaret before him, Prince Harry already knows he will never succeed to the throne (unless something very major happens). His 'duties' as 'spare' are over; his older brother has procreated the next set of royal children. He joined the army and did two tours in Afghanistan.

And so Harry married a woman he loved. She happened to be a divorcée, but thankfully unlike his great-uncle he didn't have to leave the family and be banished to France, but like the press rumblings so long ago about those events his marriage to Meghan (née Markle) was frequently attacked in the British press, usually by the gutter right-wing mass-market redtops the Mail and Express.

And unsurprisingly, he's had enough of them. He wants his life back and, frankly, he deserves to have some peace from the incessant racism the press has promoted. And make no mistake it is racism, as this article comparing the treatment of Harry's wife with that of his brother's makes abundently clear. The papers disgust me.

Three cheers for Prince Harry and his wife Meghan!


Not playing at politics

1 min read

Way back in June 2008 I headed off to Iceland to meet with the developers at CCP, creators of the EVE-Online MMORPG. A couple of months previously I was elected to the 'Council of Stellar Management' they had set up as a player-elected group to liase with the devs in creating new content.

Given there were 66 candidates from all over the world, I was rather chuffed indeed to be one of the nine elected, especially as unlike most of the other successful candidates I didn't have a guaranteed body of supporters from being part of a large player alliance. Probably the most successful election I've stood in therefore!

For such an unusual event the New York Times sent a reporter to cover the five-day meeting. Seth Schiesel's article (with a terrible picture of me) can be read at



3 min read

I've sometimes been asked how I approach life. This is an attempt at a few pointers.

My basic starting point is that "There are always options"

I may be somewhat Daoist, in that I believe there is always one way, but tempered by the certainty that many other options will produce an acceptable result. It is a task for each of us to learn the possible different solutions to each range of problems so that we can recognise a problem when we see it and have an approriate starting arsenal of options to resolve the issues and improve.

This follows into my management style: Never micro-manage!

When I was a programmer and analyst - starting out in the late 70's - I had some great managers. They asked me to solve a problem, gave me a budget (time and money) and left me to get on with the task but providing the security net of support from them and colleagues when it was needed. The greater the challenge to meet targets the greater the personal reward when you do. It worked for me and I believe it works for others. Of course, in some cases there will need to be more hand-holding, but give someone a lead and they'll do wonders, stand over them and demand hourly updates and their work rate and quality will suffer. I've followed these rules for my staff ever since and found them to be appreciative, indeed at Capital Radio one had given her notice in before I arrived there and, when she actually left about six weeks later, said to everyone that had she known the new department head was going to be like me she wouldn't have resigned!

The more you learn the more you want to know

In some countries the title "Generalist" is an expression that this person can turn their hand to many things and be successful at each of them. For some reason in the UK it seems that it means someone can't do anything well. Robert A Heinlein put it best:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, co-operate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialisation is for Insects."

If you are only an 'expert' on one subject there is a danger that you will try to make that skill apply where it shouldn't, but by having abilities in many areas the right choices can be made. Having demonstrated 18 of the 20 skills listed here I am proud to call myself a 'Generalist'!

and finally...

Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well!


Diary matters

1 min read

I've kept my calendar online since around 2003, forward events publicly available throughout. Initially it was file-based with a two appointment records per day* in a text file per month, a few years later moving to a MySQL database, where it still resides. Currently at the domain has changed occasionally depending on which ones I happen to own at the time (!) and though the Internet Archive says it existed in 2005 their earliest copy - looking very similar to the current edition - appears to be from 2007**.

In the past it's been useful for family, friends, and lovers to check where I am (I used to travel a lot) and for me when booking appointments / finding out what I'm supposed to be doing.

* day, evening

[ Reply to post on ]


ULEZ Expansion

1 min read

For the zone 1 CC/ULEZ area I think things are fine; a flat rate makes sense as it's a comparatively small area.

The extension of the ULEZ next year though *as a flat rate* is, imho, a big mistake, firstly because existing residents don't have any choice in getting included, and secondly because it's such a large area that charging £12.50 for a few miles at the edge is very different to spending the day driving around continuously.

I'd therefore like to see the extension as a per-mile or per-hour charge, not an all-or-nothing.


Into a new decade?

1 min read

Yes, imho. A "decade" is *any* period of ten years. Whilst usually a reference to the period between YYY0 and YYY9 inclusive it is also applicable to each ten years of a person's life, eg their twenties, their fifties (but note *not* their teens.) 🤔😁


Like many developers I use a number of sources to locate where an IP address might be in order to select a default language, character set, and currency. It just got more difficult...


If your child suddenly develops an allergy to your dog, feel sad and leave it by the roadside. Dogs are for life, and you can always make another child if you really miss it.


Proud moments

2 min read

A friend on FB asked Friday morning what things are people proud of doing. It's not how I tend to think about things, but I then realised there was something.

Back in the early 90s I was appointed Chief Electrician at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff. That's the person in charge of the lighting and sound department, btw.

So the venue said it was signed up to the union agreement but they'd been illegally stopping the staff from joining, which I only found out when one of the stage crew commented about their excessive hours.

Within an hour of my handing out membership forms I was called to the venue director's office and asked to resign (which I wanted to do anyway as I found I didn't like Cardiff much). I negotiated a 'leave immediately' fee equal to two months' salary (which was how long I'd been there), said my goodbyes, and departed. By the time I'd got back to my nearby digs to collect my stuff my partner had come down from London and we went off to Edinburgh for the weekend.

The following week I went to the BECTU (union) head office, chatted to Gerry with all the details, and he sorted it all out. The Sherman became a properly unionised house and I went back to London — a great result all around!


And available on my tablet too..


I've had a number of blogs, sites, infodumps and everything online for around 25 years, this is just the latest in that long line.
My main blogs used to be based on a version of Chryp which I tried to continue maintaining after it ceased being active more widely about eight years ago, and though I added some really great functionality to it the product was desparetly showing its age. Casting around for alternative light-weight FLOSS solutions I found Known [1] so I've forked it to play with and see it will suit my current purposes.





1 min read

Back in the mists of time I was Chief Electrician (in charge of lighting and sound) at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff. One day we had loads of kids in and were giving classes as part of a Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. I'd just been demonstrating how a gobo works - thin sheets of metal placed in front of a spotlight which project designs onto a set via cutouts in the metal - when I went to change the design and unthinkingly took hold of it with my left hand.

Unsurprisingly it was excessively hot and burnt two fingers and my thumb, in fact the design - the New York skyline - got embossed onto them. I yelped and stuck my hand under the cold tap, except... just at that moment Prince Edward walked in, representing the Duke. Thankfully I could shake hands with my right hand and three minutes later plunge my left hand back in cold water again.

The embossing was still visible on two fingertips over a month later.