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From Google and Apple Photos to Photoprism 25 November 2022

A history of media storage solutions Back in 2021 I blogged about how and why I wanted to switch from Google Photos as a storage solution (and source of truth) for my life’s photo and video libr... (5 minute read)

Tailscale: multi-service HTTPS on a single machine 27 October 2022

HTTPS on Tailscale Tailscale’s HTTPS feature is an excellent tool for adding TLS connections to web services exposed over the tailnet. Although traffic over the tailnet is encrypted anyway due t... (4 minute read)

Note-taking apps: Bear and Joplin 2 October 2022

The Bear notes app has been my go-to notes app for Mac, iPhone, and iPad for some time now. It’s got a great UX, a customisable UI, and is one of those apps that feels like a (clichéd) “de... (3 minute read)

Re-Building my Website with Hugo 3 September 2022

GatsbyJS For several years I’ve been using GatsbyJS to generate the static site content for this website. Gatsby is a great tool and produces blazing-fast websites through the use of an interest... (6 minute read)

Making Tax Digital and Plain-Text Accounting 30 July 2022

HMRC’s Making Tax Digital Making Tax Digital (MTD) is part of the UK Government’s plan for modernising the tax system for both businesses and individuals. For years, HMRC (the Government&r... (3 minute read)

Switching-up my workouts 🏋️‍♀️ 20 July 2022

Starting to workout I’ve worked out every day - pretty much - now since March 2020. The only days I’ve missed were because of illness (Covid), or another reason that made it physically (e.... (4 minute read)

My setup for coding on iPad 12 June 2022

Since getting a Magic Keyboard for my iPad Pro, I’ve been using the iPad for many areas of work for which before I would have needed a laptop. In fact, last week I was able to use the iPad full-... (6 minute read)

Parcel to the rescue 25 May 2022

Earlier this week I needed to make some changes and re-deploy an old Vue app. I hadn’t touched the codebase in over a year, and my experience with the rate of change in the front-end web space m... (3 minute read)

Simple Ledger visualisations using Python 24 April 2022

If you’re a current follower of this blog then you may already know that I’m a bit of a fan of using plain text accounting for managing finances. I mainly use the Ledger text file format a... (7 minute read)

On alcohol 12 April 2022

Whilst my days of binge drinking as a student are thankfully far in my past, alcohol is still an ongoing, yet much more minor, part of my life. Like many millennials (and I’m sure it must be the... (3 minute read)

Self-hosting apps and services using Traefik reverse proxy 9 April 2022

I often talk about self-hosting on this blog, and I’m certainly a big fan of being able to control my own data and systems wherever possible (and feasible). I’ve recently switched from usi... (7 minute read)

Interacting with a Nextcloud instance deployed with Docker 28 January 2022

If you’ve ever run your own Nextcloud before, you may have noticed screens like the following in your instance’s settings pages. The messages advise a number of maintenance procedures to h... (2 minute read)

The future of the decentralised web: thoughts on web0 and web3 21 January 2022

I recently signed the web0 manifesto, which embodies many of the values I consider to be important when it comes to technology - and the web in particular. web0 is the decentralised web… web0 i... (8 minute read)

Completing the #100DaysToOffload challenge 13 January 2022

Twelve months ago - in January 2021 - I started my attempt at the #100DaysToOffload challenge. I had set myself a new year’s resolution to try to write more and, around the same time, I noticed the ha... (7 minute read)

Browser push notifications in a Flutter web application 18 December 2021

🎉 This is post 100 in my attempt at the #100DaysToOffload challenge! For a couple of years I have been writing mobile apps using the Flutter framework, having previously been a React Native advocate. ... (6 minute read)

Moving my Matrix identity to Element One 15 December 2021

For as long as I’ve been using Matrix I’ve hosted my own homeserver on my own VPS and at my own domain. Why I chose to move I previously wrote about how I self-host my homeserver with the ... (4 minute read)

Nextcloud for photos: using cheaper object storage 11 December 2021

Some people may remember my quest a few months back to find a good alternative to Google Photos for image storage and backup. At the time, I talked about Piwigo, Mega and pCloud as potential candidate... (7 minute read)

The Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett 8 December 2021

Dean Burnett’s The Idiot Brain is an interesting insight into why people think the way they do, personality, emotion, and the biology of the brain. The author (who happens to live in the same ci... (1 minute read)

Parse and process incoming emails in a web application 5 December 2021

Most applications include some sort of outbound transactional email as part of their normal function. These email messages could be to support account-level features (such as password-resets) or to no... (6 minute read)

Open-sourcing projects 2 December 2021

I maintain a small number of projects in my spare time. The amount of time I get to work on and maintain these varies depending on my other workloads. The projects were never designed to be a means of... (1 minute read)

Server back-ups with Restic 27 November 2021

A while ago I posted about how I back-up my personal servers to Backblaze B2. That approach involved adding all of the files and directories into a single compressed archive and sending this up to an ... (5 minute read)

Nightfall City 25 November 2021

From the hills of Dusk’s End to the small alleys of Main Street, you feel drawn to the lights of this vibrant metropolis in an uncharted internet territory. The sign reads “Nightfall&rdquo... (2 minute read)

Webzines 20 November 2021

I’ve really enjoyed my recent discovery of a couple of traditional-style webzines. Webzines (sometimes referred to as online magazines, or - in this instance - simply “zines”) are a ... (1 minute read)

Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed 17 November 2021

I feel that this book really resonated with my own thoughts around the importance of diversity in groups and teams. Matthew Syed’s Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking is a book that exami... (2 minute read)

On websites and creativity 13 November 2021

I’ve recently been reminiscing about the “old” days of the web. They felt much more like expressions of personality and creativity. These days, most people have social media accounts... (2 minute read)

Our DIY bathroom project 10 November 2021

I’ve recently posted about our home, in which we’ve completed a few DIY projects, such as renovating the garden and building a small loft conversion (amongst other things!). Today I’... (5 minute read)

Automatically scanning for malicious user-uploaded files 6 November 2021

If you run a service that accepts file uploads from users, and then subsequent re-download by other users (such as images), then your service is potentially at risk of becoming a system for distributi... (5 minute read)

A little trip to A&E 3 November 2021

On Sunday I slipped and fell in the pouring rain. I landed hard on my side and ended up dislocating my shoulder. I didn’t really want to try risking it and putting it back in myself (sensibly, a... (1 minute read)

Thinking positive 30 October 2021

It’s been a weird 18 months. Before pandemic-initiated changes, our daily lives might have involved getting up and travelling on some form of commute (either by walking, public transport, car, o... (5 minute read)

Taking FreeBSD for a spin 29 October 2021

Background I’ve recently noticed (and read) more and more posts discussing *BSD systems. Creations like the new (and excellent) OpenBSD Webzine and blogs (such as Rubenerd’s and Solene&rsq... (5 minute read)

A mini loft conversion 24 October 2021

Following on from my previous post about renovating our garden, I wanted to write an entry about another project we’ve recently completed. Our home is a Victorian townhouse over three storeys, b... (3 minute read)

Extraterrestrial by Avi Loeb 23 October 2021

I often enjoy books that try to take a different view on known events. I don’t mean consipiracy theory - more around thinking laterally or “out of the box”. Such ways of thinking oft... (2 minute read)

This Week in Tech (TWiT) 17 October 2021

Another podcast I frequently listen to likely needs no introduction of its own. The This Week in Tech (or just “TWiT”) network’s flagship podcast - also called TWiT - must be one of ... (1 minute read)

Giving a talk at the BSV Wales meet-up 13 October 2021

Last week I gave a talk at the Bitcoin Association BSV Meet-up for Wales, hosted by Tramshed Tech in Cardiff. Before learning about this meetup, I had not heard of BSV - either from a technology or cu... (1 minute read)

Dotty 11 October 2021

A few years ago I was in the position of needing a solution to backup and sync dotfiles (configuration files for various pieces of software) across my machines. Specifically, I had Mac computers and L... (2 minute read)

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay 6 October 2021

Having recently read The Secret Barrister, which I loved, I was recommended to also check out This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay. The book is similar to the Secret Barrister in that it’s a collec... (2 minute read)

Pinephone: Manjaro and Phosh 2 October 2021

It’s been a few weeks since my last post about the Pinephone. Since then I have been playing further with a different graphical shell and have been trying out new applications. In that previous ... (3 minute read)

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken 30 September 2021

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken is an oustanding book. In my opinion it is easily the best book I have read in the past year - certainly the most interesting. The bo... (2 minute read)

Two months with Duolingo 25 September 2021

English speakers’ privilege I’ve always been crap at learning languages. From an early age my parents would encourage me to learn French, and I picked up Spanish and German at around the G... (4 minute read)

Accessibility is for everyone 22 September 2021

For many developers, the notion of adding accessibility features - such as image alt text attributes to web page images and integrations with host usability enhancements, such as screen-zoom and text-... (3 minute read)

Pacman: signature is unknown trust 19 September 2021

I was performing a standard system upgrade on an Arch server this morning and received the following messages (maintainer details redacted): $ sudo pacman -Syyu ... # Download of packages (159/159) ch... (1 minute read)

Twitter Learnings 18 September 2021

I recently wrote about reviewing my Twitter usage, with the aim of discovering any constructive takeways I get from the platform that warrants me keeping it installed as an app on my phone. The up-sho... (2 minute read)

Columbus Day by Craig Alanson 12 September 2021

Having recently read Project Hail Mary - and rated it highly - Goodreads suggested I try Columbus Day by Craig Alanson. This is the first book in the Expeditionary Force series - one that I hadn&rsquo... (2 minute read)

Using Telegram bots to receive updates from your automated systems 9 September 2021

The need for notifications I self-host several services on various servers - for both some professional and personal uses. I use automated backup scripts to periodically sync data to Backblaze (which ... (4 minute read)

Twitter is still too addictive 7 September 2021

TL,DR; I’m starting a Twitter diary to log interesting findings, and to measure its value to me. Twitter is pretty much the last bastion of mainstream centralised social media that I use (aside ... (4 minute read)

SSO Tools 2 September 2021

Another project I try to maintain (when I can!) is SSO Tools. This is a simple web service that aims to help developers test their own services’ single sign-on (SSO) functionality. The motivatio... (1 minute read)

Darknet Diaries: True stories from the dark side of the Internet 29 August 2021

Another of my favourite podcasts is Darknet Diaries. Created and presented by the excellent Jack Rhysider, Darknet Diaries releases new episodes fornightly. Each episode contains a true story from the... (1 minute read)

Stripping sensitive EXIF data from uploaded images 28 August 2021

The problem with image uploads Many services - including web and mobile apps - allow for their users to upload imagery. This could be to enable users to upload an avatar image or perhaps create a gall... (6 minute read)

Adding 'dark mode' and dynamic theming to your React websites 21 August 2021

Adding theming and the choice between “light” and “dark” modes to your website can enhance your site’s accessibility and make it feel more consistent with the host operat... (8 minute read)

Starting out with BookWyrm 20 August 2021

For several years I’ve been a user of Goodreads. It’s a very popular platform, and I primarily use it for keeping track of the books I’ve read, for receiving suggestions about new bo... (2 minute read)

Fixing up our outside space 14 August 2021

About 18 months ago we bought a new home. The house is an 1880s (ish) Victorian building, and many of its original features - such as tile floors, cornice, and fireplaces - had been retained, which is... (3 minute read)

Treadl 13 August 2021

I don’t tend to talk much about the projects I’m working on, but thought this would be a good opportunity to write a post about one such project - Treadl. Treadl is a web app (and more rec... (2 minute read)

Pinephone update: the first few weeks 9 August 2021

Back in April, I bought a Pinephone. I used the phone quite consistently for the first few weeks and I meant to write an update here a couple of months back, but work (and other things) got in the way... (4 minute read)

My development stack 4 August 2021

Some people have complex development processes and flows - making use of tools such as heavy editors and IDEs, Docker for running and building locally in development, or even develop entirely remotely... (2 minute read)

Our first few months with a dog 3 August 2021

About nine months ago - at the end of November last year - we adopted a dog. Although I’ve always grown up with and around dogs owned by parents and siblings, I’ve never been a huge &ldquo... (2 minute read)

Code syntax highlighting in Gatsby 28 July 2021

Providing code snippets on your website or blog can be a great way to convey meaning for technical concepts. Using the HTML pre tag can help provide structure to your listings, in terms of spacing and... (2 minute read)

Capsule.Town 27 July 2021

The Gemini protocol has gathered even more momentum in the few months since I last posted about it. Its popularity is largely driven by its privacy-focused and content-oriented design. It doesn’... (2 minute read)

Accidental Tech Podcast 26 July 2021

I listen to a number of podcasts each week. One of these is ATP (Accidental Tech Podcast). This is one of my favourite weekly podcasts. It’s humurous and full of cutting-edge discussion from the... (1 minute read)

Generating video previews in webapps 19 July 2021

Many web apps have support for uploading video files. Whether it’s a media-focused platform (such as a video sharing service) or just offering users a chance to add vlogs to their profile - vide... (2 minute read)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 14 July 2021

Every now and again it’s nice to dive back into a young adult book. I recently read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The book is a sort of dark romantic/fantasy mashup. It’s about a t... (2 minute read)

Syncing RSS feeds with FreshRSS 12 July 2021

I enjoy reading my RSS feeds across my devices - whether it’s on my phone when out and about, my Mac in between bouts of work, or my iPad when in downtime. Being able to sync feeds across these ... (2 minute read)

The '5AM Club' 7 July 2021

Recently my colleague was talking to me about the concept of the “5AM Club”, as defined in the book by Robin Sharma. The “Club” is focused around starting your day early, with ... (2 minute read)

How to resize images client-side in your webapps 6 July 2021

The problem Image processing and resizing is a common task in many types of applications. This is made even more important by modern phones that take photos several megabytes in size. For example, if ... (4 minute read)

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir 5 July 2021

Andy Weir has become renowned over the past decade for his science fiction novels. The Martian (and its movie) was hugely enjoyable and successful. I wasn’t so keen on Artemis, but still did enj... (2 minute read)

Using Blurhash to create placeholders for your images 30 June 2021

Loading indicators In user-facing software, loading indicators are extremely important to let your users know that something is happening. This is the same no matter whether your software is a CLI pro... (6 minute read)

Self-host your web searches with Whoogle 24 June 2021

Google and DuckDuckGo It’s common knowledge that part of Google’s business model is to use the data it knows about you, your searches, and browsing patterns in order to more effectively se... (3 minute read)

Joining a panel at Wales Tech Week 23 June 2021

Wales Tech Week is an annual event held by Technology Connected. The 2021 event is running this week, aiming to bring technologists together from a wide range of businesses and organisations across Wa... (1 minute read)

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman 19 June 2021

Anxious People is a book about an attempted bank robbery in a Swedish town (not Stockholm!). It is written by Fredrik Backman. The story involves a would-be bank robber arriving unexpectedly at an ope... (2 minute read)

Tmuxinator: simple terminal workspaces for your projects 18 June 2021

Living without workspaces IDEs and richly-featured text editors - such as VS Code and Sublime Text - support many great features. One of these is the notion of projects or workspaces. Such workspaces ... (5 minute read)

RSS: include your entire posts in your feeds! 12 June 2021

Recently I’ve noticed that some of the RSS feeds I subscribe to have become more and more restrictive. A post might contain just a title, or perhaps a short snippet or introductory paragraph, wi... (5 minute read)

City-centre beekeeping 11 June 2021

Getting and “installing” the nuc For his birthday a few years back, I bought my (now-)husband a beehive and a honeybee nucleus. Some might see this as a strange gift, especially given that... (14 minute read)

Married 10 June 2021

Just a quick post to say that I recently got married! By coincidence the event was three years to the day after our engagement. It was a lovely day - great weather and really nice to see those that co... (1 minute read)

I can't play games anymore 2 June 2021

Growing up and the “Warcraft years” In my earlier years I was fairly into gaming. I was definitely only ever a “casual gamer” in the scheme of things today, but I would play at... (4 minute read)

The H.G. Wells Classic Collection 26 May 2021

The Classic Collection of H.G. Wells novels contains five well-known stories: The War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau. De... (3 minute read)

The networking mall 23 May 2021

Someone non-technical recently asked me the question, “what actually is a server?”. They knew it was just a type of computer that runs somewhere that can be accessible over the internet, b... (5 minute read)

How I back-up my personal server 18 May 2021

For a couple of years now I have been using a self-hosted Nextcloud as a replacement for iCloud and Google Drive. I won’t go into the details as to why (especially given the additional upkeep an... (5 minute read)

Running 12 May 2021

The effects of working from home The UK went into its first proper COVID-induced lockdown back around March time last year. At this time, our company locked its office doors and we all began working f... (6 minute read)

Self-hosted notes and to-do lists 9 May 2021

In this post I will talk a little about how I handle my digital notes and to-do lists. In the spirit of my last post on data sovereignty, the focus will be on self-hosted approaches. To-do list manage... (5 minute read)

Data Sovereignty 5 May 2021

The term ‘data sovereignty’ is something we hear much more about these days. Increasingly I’ve also heard it being mentioned in different contexts. We’ve seen it more in the wo... (2 minute read)

Go Time 4 May 2021

I listen to a number of podcasts each week. One of these is Go Time. The Go Time podcast releases episodes every Thursday. Its format is mostly comprised of panel discussions and interviews with found... (2 minute read)

Starting out with the Pinephone 27 April 2021

As you may know, I recently purchased the beta edition of the Pinephone. It arrived last week in the Pinephone Beta Edition box shown below. As mentioned in my previous post on the subject, I bought t... (3 minute read)

My appearance in the Wales "35 Under 35" 26 April 2021

This is a bit of a vanity post, but back in December I was lucky enough to be included in the 2020 WalesOnline “35 Under 35”. This list aims to present the “best young businessmen in... (1 minute read)

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson 25 April 2021

I was recently asked whether Steve Jobs was someone that inspired me. It’s a difficult question, I find; he’s definitely an inspiring person in the sense of his work ethic, the products he... (2 minute read)

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes 18 April 2021

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes tells the story of a young English woman - Alice - who marries an American man and moves to a small town in Kentucky in the late 1930s. Not long after arriving in Kent... (2 minute read)

Reporting business accounts using Ledger 17 April 2021

As is the case with many countries, all businesses in the UK must report the state of their financial accounts to the relevant inland revenue service at their year-end (in the UK, this is HMRC). This ... (4 minute read)

Six months of Invisalign 12 April 2021

Back in November I started an Invisalign course to help straighten my teeth. Invisalign works like traditional braces, but is instead formed from transparent teeth “trays” that others can ... (4 minute read)

Is Facebook scraping the Fediverse? 7 April 2021

I don’t use Facebook often. In fact, I only have an account currently because our company uses the “Login with Facebook” functionality in order to offer an additional single sign-on ... (2 minute read)

From Apple Mail to Spark to Thunderbird 4 April 2021

Like many people, I own and manage multiple email accounts - for example, some are for work, for home, or for specific projects. I used to be a strong user of solely web-based email clients (such as G... (7 minute read)

The simplicity and flexibility of HTTP for APIs 31 March 2021

Simple and RESTful HTTP APIs The HTTP standard is an expressive system for network-based computer-computer interaction. It’s a relatively old standard - it started life as HTTP/1.0 in 1996 and t... (6 minute read)

PinePhone and PineTime 27 March 2021

Pre-ordering the PinePhone Beta Earlier this week I ordered a PinePhone, which recently became available as a Beta Edition. I’ve been excitedly following the progress of the PinePhone for some t... (2 minute read)

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah 23 March 2021

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is a book set out in the Alaskan wild. It tells the story of a young family that move in order to live off-the-grid after the father returns from being a prisoner of ... (2 minute read)

Running your own Matrix homeserver 22 March 2021

Why use decentralised communication services Centralised communication services, such as Telegram, Signal, and Whatsapp, offer convenient means to chat to friends and family using your personal device... (7 minute read)

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier 17 March 2021

This post contains some of my thoughts on the book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier. This book contains a number of stories about how some of the most well-known (and other less well-known) ... (2 minute read)

The Tildeverse 15 March 2021

The last twenty years of internet evolution Although I was still somewhere between being of single-digit age and a young teen back in the ’90s and early ’00s, I still fondly remember disco... (5 minute read)

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy 10 March 2021

I recently finished reading The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. This genre of novel (sort of military thriller fiction) is not usual for me and this is the first Clancy book I have read. That bein... (2 minute read)

Thoughts on minimalism, and what happens when I get mail 8 March 2021

Minimising possessions Like many people I these days try and live a minimal life when it comes to possessions. Having more stuff means there is a greater level of responsibility required to look after... (6 minute read)

Easily set up discoverable RSS feeds on a Gatsby website 4 March 2021

RSS has had a bit of a resurgence for personal websites and blogs in recent years, especially with the growing adoption of Small Web and IndieWeb ideologies. Many static site generators - including Hu... (7 minute read)

Making your Python Flask app serverless 28 February 2021

Python’s Flask framework is an easy and excellent tool for writing web applications. Its in-built features and ecosystem of supporting packages let you create extensible web APIs, handle data an... (8 minute read)

Migrating from Google Photos: Nextcloud, Piwigo, Mega, and pCloud 24 February 2021

By now I’m sure everyone has heard the horror stories about people (seemingly-) randomly losing access to their Google accounts. Often the account closures are reported to have been accompanied ... (8 minute read)

The Glamour of Cyberpunk and the Road to Solarpunk 20 February 2021

A few months ago I stumbled across this article: Beyond Cyberpunk: Towards a Solarpunk Future. It was posted on the excellent blog Tales from the Dork Web, by Steve Lord, which I can certainly recomme... (5 minute read)

A Year Without Answering my Phone 18 February 2021

This month marks a year from when I decided to (mostly - see below) stop answering my phone. This was not because I wanted to be antisocial (quite the opposite), but because it’s become the wron... (3 minute read)

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 13 February 2021

Last week I read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The book won the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction. “Set” in Bedford, England, the story starts by introducing the main character ... (3 minute read)

SSH Jumping and Bastion Hosts 10 February 2021

For many small or personal services running on a VPS in the cloud, administration is often done by connecting directly to the server via SSH. Such servers should be hardened with firewalls, employ an ... (4 minute read)

Using Monica to Help Manage your Personal Relationships 7 February 2021

Many people no longer feel comfortable using Facebook. Whether you were never a member to begin with or you’ve had an account but chosen to remove yourself from the service, or you’ve simp... (5 minute read)

Add icing to your websites using pattern.css 6 February 2021

Shapes and patterns can be leveraged in user interfaces to guide your users, draw attention to content, lend weight or emphasis, or just for aesthetics and decoration. Layout and styling on the web is... (2 minute read)

React State Management with Zustand 5 February 2021

React state React state management is what gives the library its reactiveness. It’s what makes it so easy to build performant data-driven applications that dynamically update based on the underl... (5 minute read)

RSS: The Rise and Fall... and Rise Again 3 February 2021

Many people would consider RSS - Really Simple Syndication - to be a relic of the past. However I think it has been making a comeback. RSS is a mechanism by which people can automatically receive upda... (9 minute read)

Blogging for Devs 2 February 2021

A few months ago I discovered Blogging for Devs - I think through Product Hunt when it made it to #1 Product of the Day back in August last year. At the time blogging was something I had been thinking... (4 minute read)

Why not SQLite? 1 February 2021

If you need a database for your next project, why not first consider if SQLite might be a good option? And I don’t mean just for getting an MVP off the ground or for small personal systems; I me... (3 minute read)

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain 31 January 2021

Recently I finished reading Dirty Little Secrets. This is the first book I have read by Jo Spain and the first time I have known of the author. The book first appears as though it’s a typical mu... (2 minute read)

Out with the Old: Moving to Gitea 30 January 2021

If you’ve visited my geminispace (gemini://g.wilw.dev) you’ll have noticed that I’ve recently been on a mission to decentralise the every-day tools and services I use, and will under... (4 minute read)

100 Days to Offload Challenge 29 January 2021

I know that I’ve been a bit crap at updating my blog properly and consistently over the past few years. One of my new year’s resolutions this year is to get into the habit of writing more,... (1 minute read)

Project Gemini 20 January 2021

Over the past few months I have been trying to use centralised “big tech” social media platforms less and instead immerse myself into the more community-driven “fediverse” of d... (3 minute read)

Scaling serverless apps: some lessons learned 3 January 2021

Building apps on serverless architecture has been a game-changer for me and for developers everywhere, enabling small dev teams to cheaply build and scale services from MVP through to enterprise deplo... (6 minute read)

React Query 15 December 2020

If you write React web apps that interface with a backend web API then definitely consider trying React Query. The library makes use of modern React patterns, such as hooks, to keep code concise and r... (1 minute read)

JS Tidbit: Nullish Coalescing 20 November 2020

This short post introduces a useful JavaScript operator to help make your one-liners even more concise. The specification was added formally in the 11th edition of ECMAScript. It is implemented as a l... (1 minute read)

JS Tidbit: Optional Chaining 10 October 2020

JavaScript has lots of handy tools for creating concise code and one-liners. One such tool is the optional chaining operator. The optional chaining operator is useful for addressing an attribute of a ... (2 minute read)

Command-line bookkeeping in Animal Crossing 23 May 2020

I recently stumbled across an article on Hacker News discussing the pros of basic personal accounting using GnuCash - a free and open-source desktop accounting program. The article was interesting as ... (26 minute read)

Kubernetes Cluster: Essentials 2 February 2020

This note documents the set-up of a k8s cluster from scratch, including ingress and load-balanced TLS support for web applications. It’s mainly for myself to revisit and reference later on. The ... (6 minute read)

Go backends on Now 20 August 2019

ZEIT’s Now service is great for deploying apps and APIs that are able to make use of serverless execution models, and I use it for many of my projects (including this website, at the time of wri... (2 minute read)

Hue: Security Lights 18 August 2017

A previous note about Philips Hue bulbs got me thinking that the API exposed by the bridge might be used to warn if the house lights are left on too late at night, or even if they get turned on at une... (1 minute read)

Alexa, ask Sherlock... 19 July 2017

I have recently posted about CENode and how it might be used in IoT systems. Since CENode is partially designed to communicate directly with humans (particularly those out and about or “in the f... (4 minute read)

CENode in IoT 26 June 2017

In a previous note I discussed CENode and briefly mentioned its potential for use in interacting with the Internet of Things. I thought I’d add a practical example of how it might be used for th... (3 minute read)

CENode 22 June 2017

Whilst working on the ITA Project - a collaborative research programme between the UK MoD and the US Army Research Laboratory - over the last few years, one of my primary areas has been to research ar... (5 minute read)

Two Year Update 16 March 2017

I haven’t written a post since summer 2015. It’s now March 2017 and I thought I’d write an update very briefly covering the last couple of years. I finished researching and lecturing... (3 minute read)

Android: Consuming Nintendo Hotspot Data 27 May 2015

I recently blogged about Nintendo Hotspot data and mentioned it could be more usefully consumable in a native mobile app. As such, I wrote a small Android app for retrieving this data and displaying i... (1 minute read)

Nintendo's Hotspot 'API' 12 May 2015

Since getting a DS, StreetPass has become quite addictive. It’s actually pretty fun checking the device after walking through town or using public transport to see a list of Miis representing th... (3 minute read)

Using Weka in Go 1 May 2015

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about wrapping some of Weka’s classification functionality to allow it to be used programmatically in Python programs. A small project I’m current... (1 minute read)

Media and volume keys in i3 28 April 2015

As is the case with many people, all music I listen to on my PC these days plays from the web through a browser. I’m a heavy user of Google Play Music and SoundCloud, and using Chrome to handle ... (2 minute read)

Web and Social Computing 18 February 2015

his week I begin lecturing a module for Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics’ postgraduate MSc course in Advanced Computer Science. The module is called Web and Social Computing, w... (2 minute read)

Developing Useful APIs for the Web 5 February 2015

Yesterday, I gave a talk about my experiences with developing and using RESTful APIs, with the goal of providing tips for structuring such interfaces so that they work in a useful and sensible way. I ... (1 minute read)

NHS Hack Day 27 January 2015

This weekend I took part in the NHS Hack Day. The idea of the event is to bring healthcare professionals together with technology enthusiasts in order to build stuff that is useful for those within th... (3 minute read)

End of an Era 20 January 2015

I recently received confirmation of my completed PhD! I submitted my thesis in May 2014, passed my viva in September and returned my final corrections in December. I was examined internally by Dr Pete... (1 minute read)

Talk on Open-Source Contribution 26 March 2014

Today I gave an internal talk at the School of Computer Science & Informatics about open-source contribution. The talk described some of the disadvantages of the ways in which hobbyists and the no... (1 minute read)

Node.js Contribution to Heroku's Dev Center 17 March 2014

I recently wrote a new article for Heroku’s Dev Center on carrying out asynchronous direct-to-S3 uploads using Node.js. he article is based heavily on the previous Python version, where the only... (1 minute read)

Seminar at King's College London 28 January 2014

Last week, I was invited to give a seminar to the Agents and Intelligent Systems group in the Department of Informatics at King’s College London. I gave an overview of my PhD research conducted ... (1 minute read)

Direct-to-S3 Uploads in Node.js 17 January 2014

A while ago I wrote an article for Heroku’s Dev Center on carrying out direct uploads to S3 using a Python app for signing the PUT request. Specifically, the article focussed on Flask but the co... (1 minute read)

Workshop Presentation in Germany 5 October 2013

Last week I visited Karlsruhe, in Germany, to give a presentation accompanying a recently-accepted paper. The paper, “Inferring the Interesting Tweets in Your Network”, was in the proceedi... (1 minute read)

CasaStream 14 September 2013

In my last post I discussed methods for streaming music to different zones in the house. More specifically I wanted to be able to play music from one location and then listen to it in other rooms at t... (3 minute read)

Zoned Network Sound-Streaming: The Problem 2 September 2013

For a while, now, I have been looking for a reliable way to manage zoned music-playing around the house. The general idea is that I’d like to be able to play music from a central point and have ... (3 minute read)

A rather French week 31 August 2013

I recently spent a week in France as part of a holiday with some of my family. Renting houses for a couple of weeks in France or Italy each summer has almost become a bit of a tradition, and it’... (2 minute read)

Gower Tides v1.4 31 July 2013

Last week I released a new version of the tides Android app I’m currently developing. The idea of the application was initially to simply display the tidal times and patterns for the Gower Penin... (2 minute read)

Magic Seaweed's Awesome New API 3 July 2013

Back in March, I emailed Magic Seaweed to ask them if they had a public API for their surf forecast data. They responded that they didn’t at the time, but that it was certainly on their to-do li... (2 minute read)

Accidental Kernel Upgrades on Digital Ocean 20 June 2013

I today issued a full upgrade of the server at flyingsparx.net, which is hosted by Digital Ocean. By default, on Arch, this will upgrade every currently-installed package (where there is a counterpart... (2 minute read)

WekaPy 12 June 2013

Over the last few months, I’ve started to use Weka more and more. Weka is a toolkit, written in Java, that I use to create models with which to make classifications on data sets. It features a w... (2 minute read)

Gower Tides Open-Sourced 26 May 2013

This is just a quick post to mention that I have made the source for the Gower Tides app on Google Play public. The source repository is available on GitHub. From the repository I have excluded: Image... (1 minute read)

Contribution to Heroku Dev Center 7 May 2013

The Heroku Dev Center is a repository of guides and articles to provide support for those writing applications to be run on the Heroku platform. I recently contributed an article for carrying out Dire... (1 minute read)

eartub.es 25 April 2013

Last weekend I went to CFHack Open Sauce Hackathon. I worked in a team with Chris, Ross and Matt. We started work on eartub.es, which is a web application for suggesting movies based on their sound tr... (2 minute read)

flyingsparx.net On Digital Ocean 23 April 2013

My hosting for my website has nearly expired, so I have been looking for renewal options. These days I tend to need to use servers for more than simple web-hosting, and most do not provide the flexibi... (1 minute read)

Trials of Eduroam 16 April 2013

I’ve been having trouble connecting to Eduroam, at least reliably and persistently, without heavy desktop environments or complicated network managers. Eduroam is the wireless networking service... (2 minute read)

Cardiff Open Sauce Hackathon 11 April 2013

Next week I, along with others in a team, am taking part in Cardiff Open Sauce Hackathon. If you’re in the area and feel like joining in for the weekend then sign up at the link above. he hackat... (1 minute read)

AJAX + Python + Amazon S3 5 April 2013

I wanted a way in which users can seamlessly upload images for use in the Heroku application discussed in previous posts. Ideally, the image would be uploaded through AJAX as part of a data-entry form... (2 minute read)

Decking Building 30 March 2013

I managed to turn about two tonnes of material into something vaguely resembling ‘decking’ in my back garden this weekend. It makes the area look much nicer, but whether it actually stays ... (1 minute read)

Gower Tides App Released 7 March 2013

A few posts back, I talked about the development of an Android app for tide predictions for South Wales. This app is now on Google Play. If you live in South Wales and are vaguely interested in tides/... (1 minute read)

ScriptSlide 18 February 2013

I’ve taken to writing most of my recent presentations in plain HTML (rather than using third-party software or services). I used JavaScript to handle the appearance and ordering of slides. I bun... (1 minute read)

Research Poster Day 21 January 2013

Each January the School of Computer Science hosts a poster day in order for the research students to demonstrate their current work to other research students, research staff and undergraduates. The e... (1 minute read)

Delving into Android 13 November 2012

I’ve always been interested in the development of smartphone apps, but have never really had the opportunity to actually hava a go. Whilst I’m generally OK with development on platforms I ... (3 minute read)

Seminar: Retweeting 10 October 2012

I gave a seminar on my current research phase. I summarised my work over the past few months; in particular, the work on the network structure of Twitter, the way in which tweets propagate through dif... (1 minute read)

DigiSocial Hackathon 20 September 2012

We recently held our DigiSocial Hackathon. This was a collaboration between the Schools of Computer Science and Social Sciences and was organised by myself and a few others. The website for the event ... (2 minute read)