Archive for June, 2012

Slow Web

While combing through my WordPress dashboard this morning I was pointed by Matt in the direction of Jack Cheng’s article on The Slow Web.

The concept really captured my imagination; struggling in the present day and age to keep up with the ever increasing demand both to consume and generate online content I regularly find myself simply desiring escape rather than engagement as the agony of deciding often seems worse then the effort of doing.

By adopting a “batch, refine and consume at leisure” approach it genuinely seems that not only will the pressure to keep up dwindle but that quality and enjoyment will rise at the same time.

Take blogging. I’ve posted in the past about getting my blogging back on track but evidently this hasn’t happened. It’s not for lack of material, or indeed motivation, but the simply overwhelming number of possibilities and equivalent perceived value attached to each prevent suitable desire being channelled into the generation of even one finished item.

Speaking at WordCamp in Manchester three years ago I proposed a solution to this which, in retrospect, I believe was wrong. I stated that as the web sped up, our time available to each task was smaller and thus we should leverage the fast tools available to us (phones, cameras, GPS tracking) and push or pull all of this content automatically into a location (such as a blog) that used to require time, labour and love to maintain, thereby bolstering our web presence and preventing personal burn out.

The sad thing is, this approach is a fraud, a cheap imitation. After all, the nature lover desires not to merely see the sunset and the fact I was there but to catch a glimpse of the poetic thoughts that may have passed through my mind as I gazed upon the vista and compare them to his or her own.

I’m not sure these thoughts and ideas translate easily into a course of action but perhaps that’s the point; given the time and space to merely think, positive and decisive action will surely follow.

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French Row

Photo of the the roof tops of French Row in St Albans, taken from the top of the Clock Tower


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It will not be a surprise to some that I have bought yet another domain name, but this new one is a little bit special.

When tweeting we’re all accustomed to the shortening of URLs, most commonly using, but in this day and age, personalisation is all the rage and can have important implications.

Lets say for example that someone posts a link to the BBC on twitter via Their service helpfully translates their URL so that it appears as followed by the short code. That way everyone knows, that when they click on the link, they will end up at a site owned and operated by the BBC.

As well as inspiring confidence to click the link, origin is also transferred through re-tweets. What do I mean by that? Well, say I post an article and tweet about it using a link. It is only once a user has clicked the link that they necessarily know it’s my article. Before that in the mind of the user, the article could in fact have originated from any twitter user who happens to have included the link in their tweet. Thus by having my own short code domain, my linked-to content can always be traced back to me, however a reader may have stumbled upon the link.

All well and good you might say, but does this really justify the expense? Well perhaps not, at least on it’s own. You see when you own and control a short code domain you can do clever things with it. For example, if I post a video on my site and link to it with a short code, the user must first traverse from short URL, to site, then in turn to video. What I can do if I own the short domain however is to make the short URL the actual permanent link for the content and save the user some hoop jumping. While I haven’t got a strategy for implementing this kind of thing yet, it’s certainly nice to have the option of doing so in the future.

The question you’re all asking then, why the .sh extension? Well, seeing as the .uk extension is not available for registration as a TLD I needed a suffix that both identified myself with the United Kingdom but also which was something related to me or my field of work; .sh does both of those things.

The domain suffix belongs to the island of Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory and as an added bonus the .sh file extension is well known in the Linux and Unix world to denote a shell script which is quite possibly the most versatile way of accomplishing both manual and scheduled tasks on the platform. As an avid supporter of open source and long time Linux user, this fitted the bill perfectly.

So finally then, when you see a link, view it with trust – it will ALWAYS link you to a site under my control and you have my personal assurance that content served up from such sites will be safe. The root of the domain with no short code attached will form a permanent link to this article thereby explaining to the uninitiated who the short domain belongs to and proffering an explanation as to how and why it came into being.

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Hanging Basket

A couple of weeks ago I put up this colourful hanging basket outside my parents house. Let’s hope it’s bright appearance can keep the sun shining!


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Thought on Technology

I’ve owned this Nitin Sawhney track on CD for some time but as it’s good food for thought I’ve found the associated music video and posted it up here.

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WordPress in Education

Always keen to post when I find someone who’s using my Calendar plugin for something big or exciting, this week I received an e-mail from Adam Scott informing me that Calendar had received a mention in his book, WordPress for Education. If you work in academia or have an interest in expanding the focus of your WordPress work, this book may just be worth a look.

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Programmers vs Users

I was sent this amusing cartoon the other day, never have truer words been spoken!


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Diamond Jubilee Street Party

Diamond Jubilee Street Party

While in St Albans for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend I passed through a street party on Fishpool Street and sank a few ales

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Sunset on the JOG start line

As we set sail at the start of the JOG race we watched the sun set over the deck of Overlord


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Custom linux service at boot

So you’ve created a service in Linux, written a start/stop script for it, stored it in /etc/init.d/ and now you want it to actually run on boot/restart. This little line of code at a root terminal will do the trick for you.

update-rc.d <script> defaults 98 02

The <script> should be replaced with the file name of your start/stop script in /etc/init.d/ the 98 ensures it’s (likely) to be the last script to start and the 02 ensures it’s (likely) to be the first to stop.

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