Tag Archives: blogging

Family History Project Day 1 of 28

Today was a thinking day. Starting a new project. Well, choosing a new project first of all.

Last weekend I went through the cards I’ve been using for the last 28 days and wrote down what project idea I had for each of them. Just the first thing off the top of my head. Today I looked back over it with a view to choosing something. As I read them I realised that a couple of them had the added benefit of helping me to clear up my physical working environment and that that is quite important to me.

So I chose the Family History one, which I’d written down as “a memorial of some kind to Tony, using the stuff I’ve got of his and about him to make a something, not clear exactly what yet.”

Tony in Minehead 1973

So today I turned this into: cataloguing, digitising and writing about the materials I have from my father (he died six months ago, suddenly and unexpectedly). I have personal documents, letters, notebooks and diaries, but I also have lots of photographs of him playing music, some recordings and then press and publicity materials. And then there are other bits that are from his work as a computer programmer, again marketing materials, but also descriptions of the work that he did for ACT/Apricot in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

So that’s it. He’s not notable enough (I don’t think) for a Wikipedia page, but it would be nice to have some sort of organised memorial to him on the web, working from all the physical evidence I have and helping his descendants know who he was.

That’s it, that’s as clear a project brief and product description as I can muster right now. I think the next thing is to have a think about what might be a realistic product in 28 days, working around existing commitments and the day job, so that I can make a better plan.


Writing this reminds me that not all blog posts have titles. I mean it’s annoying to have to come up with something. Next blog software needs to not have it as a requirement, just let me write man.

Share Something Every Day – Various

First thing is that 13th September is my blogiversary. It’s now seventeen years since I bit the bullet and committed to keeping a weblog at https://perfectpath.co.uk and not deleting it. The main things I thought about this today were how much stuff there is in here and how I’ve never quite achieved the goal I had at the start of using it as a learning tool, it’s been great for recording and capturing and supporting that first burst of creativity but I’ve not managed the double loop stuff. Not on the blog material itself. This is probably a lie and if I went digging I’d find the evidence – the most obvious kind of thing is to see how my thinking does develop over a number of posts, just through the writing down of ideas and arguments and rambling nonsense.

I made some progress today on automating the workflow – especially making a pipe between Drafts and logseq – I’m bored with thinking about it and why it’s important – it’s not that important, but it’s neat.

I was at work this morning and most of the time was at a funeral. It’s an occupational hazard of working with older people that you see more death than the average person. I think so anyway, it sounds right, but then I think of all the people I’ve worked with who died, who were (almost by definition) below retirement age and there’s something about the structure of this sentence that makes it sound like they died because they worked with me. Which they didn’t. I am not a psychopath. Psychopaths don’t keep a blog for seventeen years.

No matter, a Requiem Mass on Monday morning is a sobering thing, whoever you are. None of the silly things floating through my head over the weekend were important compared to the visceral grief of a woman who’s lost her husband and partner in joy and laughter, even in the face of a strong faith in the resurrection. And we got to sing Psalm 23 to Crimond, which is one of my favourite things to do at any time. I’ve always loved belting it out regardless of whatever reedy wheezing and croaking of those around me. I miss Roy, who I met through his attendance at our dementia-friendly café and singing group. He had a great smile and a twinkle in his eye. He was always smartly dressed and loved his bow ties. And despite not being able to remember much about what he’d done earlier in the morning, he loved talking about his working life as a chauffeur for the top brass at British Aerospace. I already missed his face for a while because of COVID when Julia told me that she was having a bed put up in the living room to look after him and that he wouldn’t have long. I last saw them both just after Christmas – there wasn’t any point in them getting excited about restrictions being lifted particularly, they knew that they didn’t have too much longer together.

I scanned this photo of my grandma today. I’m sure she’s in her garden – a middle-aged 1950s housewife. It was taken by my dad on his twin-lens reflex. She couldn’t see without her glasses but she also refused to be photographed wearing them. She’s probably about ten years younger in this picture than I am now. Being in your mid-forties then was not as it is now, her life must have felt like it was nearly over. Her older sister had died a few years previously. Her youngest son was a teenager, her oldest had just come back from Oxford early. She didn’t like her husband very much. She didn’t know it, but in a few years time she’d have a bleed on her brain and almost die. She also didn’t know that she’d got another thirty-odd years to live and would see her first two great-grandchildren. Who knows what she was thinking here.

Olive Davis in her garden c1958-60

Time passes.

Share something every day – weekly review

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Today was my wedding anniversary – we walked over to Watt’s Gallery along the North Down’s Way and had lunch. I was glad to see my friend Debbie Davies’s artwork “Belonging” is still hanging in one of the oak trees outside. It looked great today against the blue of the sky and the green trees, summer came back from the dead today and it should be sticking around for a while.

So this was the week that I made a film, a podcast (even if I wouldn’t share it), chopped up some candles and learned a lot of programming.

There are two main improvements in this week’s review – one is to keep focusing on the sharing rather than on reporting the making. The making is going on, but it isn’t driven by the need to write about it.

The other is that I’m being a bit more systematic about my non-medication ADHD treatments. I’m keeping an eye on my daily practice of: meditation; exercise; diet and dietary supplements; art; reducing physical clutter; sleep, rest and other self-care activities. The last three days, for example I’ve started the morning with meditation and exercise before breakfast and made sure I got to bed at a reasonable time.

Share Something Every Day – Coding 002

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I went for a nice long walk this morning, about 5 miles, before breakfast. It was warmer than it has been lately but still cloudy. It’s supposed to get warmer this week.

It was a good space to think about things – especially my desire to make some very simple automation for my blogging. Everything is so complicated and dominated by the various silos. I really ache for the kind of #indieweb vision of a server, under my control, running software that I understand fully and which only does the things that I want it to do, so that it serves me, rather than me having to bend my style of writing and capturing into someone else’s way of thinking.

I walked for 45 minutes and then turned round (took a photo to remind me of how far I’d gone – above) and walked back, talking into my phone about the things that I’d been thinking about. It works so much better for me to record like that. I haven’t listened back to it. It’s likely to be atrocious quality, but it gives me the chance of getting something done before breakfast that I haven’t done for a while. I’ll see if I can get better at doing that – and better at grabbing bits of audio as I go, to avoid the gross feeling that comes when I think about making a podcast. In the meantime, I think I’ll feed it to otter.ai and see what kind of transcription it can make of it.

I spent the rest of the day reading up and making notes on node.js and how it works. Patiently just plodding through the Hello World examples and seeing where I could break them or find ways that they didn’t work as I expected so that I could see how they do work. Standard.

That gave me a bit more confidence reading some other people’s code on GitHub and I realised that I have looked at similar things before, just given up when my brain started hurting and run away screaming. Much better these days. I got a couple of examples running on my Mac here and then spun up a cloud server to prove to myself that it really would work over the net 🙂

Still very early days and baby steps, but I’m much more confident that I can make something work. And that I can strip away pointless stuff in other people’s software to just provide the functions I want – really old school, but also using the computers to do the hard work that they’re suited to and not being dominated by some silo providers business model.

Nothing to show yet, but a good progress day.

Make Something Every Day – Coding 001

04102008325

Today, I was more gentle with myself. I pulled “coding”. Now I definitely don’t have any coding projects all set up and ready to go. But I am interested in how to automate my workflow for blogging on Hive. The process for wordpress is straightforward and handled by lots of different clients. I currently post straight to a draft post on my wordpress.com having given draftsapp my credentials a long time ago. I’d like to be able to compose in one place and then click one button to send it to wordpress and another to send it to hive. I don’t want to be copying and pasting or doing something so automatic that it reduces my flexibility.

So today, I’ve poked around in the developers documentation for Hive. That makes it sound very efficient. Of course what I’ve actually done is googled stuff and then decided I needed to set up my own testnet and then realised I didn’t and wondered what I did need to install and then started going through the examples on the development portal and realised I’d forgotten how node.js works exactly and you know, it dawned on me that I’d started in the middle with the bit about posting rather than starting at the beginning and working my way through methodically, so no wonder…! Once I did that, I found the example for Hivesigner and by that time, either because this did what I wanted, or just because I’d looked at so much that wasn’t and so was getting my javascript-reading-eyes back, I understood mostly how it works and felt able to have a go.

Anyway, long story short, because yesterday what I really learned was that I don’t have to present something here for approval or be thinking of the audience at all, I’m writing for myself… long story short, I posted a little test post on the tuttleclub blog which I haven’t really used since I used it as an experiment in setting up a second account.

Notes on yesterday…

It wasn’t really a fail, because I did make something. I think I need to spend some time, not only reviewing what I’ve done, but also planning what I might do next. I’ve got lots of ideas in my head, but if I’m going to continue with this approach, they really need to be committed somewhere so that I can pick them up when I need them. So that I’d have something to start with yesterday morning (or today for that matter) without having to think almost from first principles.

In the case of podcasting, what’s notable is that I don’t have lots of audio clips stashed away, in the way that I have bits of writing, film or photography all ready to pick apart and put back together in a new form. Or if I do have a stash, it feels old and stale and a lot of work to breathe new life into it. I also feel like I’ve done the mumbling, bumbling improvised ramble character to death. It was so 2005 for me and, man, that was sixteen years ago – a different world and definitely a different me. And I’m not really interested in two-hander interviews either. There’s a new form of podcast out there that will excite me but I don’t quite know what it is yet. And making it will take more than a day’s sprint.

Writing Exercise… and cars!

#blogclub writing warm up

I ran Blog Club in London today with an exercise from the most awesome Lynda Barry. If you want to play too, here’s her blog post with instructions and words from the fine woman herself. I’ve done it with groups a few times and it’s really good warm up for getting into the writing space and, in my experience, getting you back into your body, memory, imagination rather than the dry analytic space I often find myself in when sitting down to blog.

Now I found myself with the word “car”. Despite never having owned a car myself, never having taken a driving test, but getting the basics bashed into me at the age of 17 and then settling for passengerhood for the next 35 years, I still have lots of stories about cars and driving in me.

The time my father brought home a new “jelly-mould” Ford Sierra; then my mother learning to drive in her little purple Mini; the time I first sat in the driving seat for real and set off with my first horrible driving instructor; the boot of our old Vauxhall that used to fly open randomly; the time I was waiting for a lift by the side of the M5 after drinking two bottles of Martini the night before and throwing up behind the crash barrier; me getting another driving lesson after I’d moved to London, the horrors of the Chelsea Embankment and the terror of crossing Albert Bridge; the time when we were driving through the Lickeys and a stone flew up and shattered the windscreen; the time the steering went on the Volvo and my first wife managed to get us over onto the hard shoulder safely; the time she wrote off the lovely Renault 16; my son at the age of five or so, in the back of the car, waking up after a long drive to see my mother and, when her face appeared at the window he shouted “Fucking Hell! It’s Granny!”

I didn’t get to write any of these today but they’re all incredibly rich and it’s astonishing that they’re all in me, just a few moments away from a random word drawn out of a bag.

Blog Club: Six things I hate about Headlines

Birmingham Evening Mail, Moonday July 21st 1969

So yeah, hate might be a bit strong but we’ve been talking this morning about titles for blog posts. You’ll remember that last week we fired off as many headlines as we could. Today we’ve talked about crafting them a bit more.

My things are:

  • It’s one of those things again that falls too quickly into conversations about SEO and “making” people read your shit.
  • I tend to be too clever about it – the post rarely lives up to the anticipation.
  • If I can’t think of anything to write, then just writing a headline can get me started.
  • Sometimes it’s just a placeholder for getting me writing. I will often come back and edit the title after I’ve finished the post.
  • If you look back, you’ll see that I often include twitter handles – this means that when it gets automatically shared the person I mention sees it in their mentions.
  • Six things I hate about… is a lazy, innacurate and more likely to make people skip over it anyway.

Blog Club: Thirty blog posts I’ll (probably) never write

Bridlington Leisure Centre.jpg
Bridlington Leisure Centre By Martin Dawes, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

At today’s Blog Club we did an exercise to kick off with. We had ten minutes to write twenty-five titles of blog posts we’d like to write. I ignored the “like to” bit and just wrote as many off the top of my head titles I could think of. I came up with thirty-five. The thing is, when you let go of actually having to do anything with them, you can come up with a lot more than you’d imagine.

The next bit of the exercise was to choose five to actually write (one of which was “Ten blog posts I’ll never write” which I’ve turned into this one).

So that leaves the other thirty, which I didn’t want to throw away, so here they are:

  1. Eating dinner with Chris Brogan
  2. How to play the violin if you’ve never done it before
  3. The hypocrisy of babies
  4. Jelly – my part in it’s downfall
  5. How to have hope
  6. Using household objects to make a movie
  7. How huge is this artichoke?
  8. The three types of people you meet at an unconference
  9. Is there anything bigger than this experience?
  10. The view from Clee Hill
  11. Eating out in Rhyl
  12. How I turned my bedroom into a cinema in 2 weeks
  13. On the bus
  14. Calamari
  15. How much coffee is too much?
  16. When caring goes bad
  17. The dark side of Jaffa cakes
  18. Dear Lazyweb, please recreate Posterous.com
  19. A man on a train in West Texas
  20. Apricots: what’s the point?
  21. Fifteen amazing people in Bridlington
  22. How corned beef saved my life
  23. Twenty-two things to do with a bottle opener
  24. Crazy golf without the crazy
  25. When did you last see your Aunty Beryl
  26. Eating shellfish: a primer
  27. If you can’t do this thing, you’ll never do anything
  28. Don’t wait, keep it moving
  29. Primary School Blues

On second thoughts, I probably will write some of these.

But what were the other five?

  1. Great tube journeys in Zone 3
  2. Ten (thirty) blog posts I’ll never write.
  3. Stop thinking!!
  4. Today I shot a gun for the first time
  5. The devil makes work for idle hands

Watch this space.

 

Blog Club: Creating Conditions for Productivity

#achievementunlocked

“Productivity and the conditions that we need for it” was just suggested and settled on as today’s topic at Blog Club. In the few minutes that we were talking about it, I noticed on my phone that scientologylondon had just liked this photo of mine on instagram, so I screenshot it and instagram the notification. Bam! I just created some new content and put it out into the world for my followers! I’m so productive! Take the rest of the day off, Davis.

Well yes, and…

I had, only moments before, been preaching about social media addiction, how things like pinterest and insta can swallow my time and take me to a place that’s a bit dark and definitely poor. So, my sermon continued, for me being productive is much more connected to creating engaging content that connects me more intimately with people and helps build good business relationships. Blah!

This is my problem with the P word – it assumes a whole raft of things about what I’m doing, why, and how I get things done these days. The lines between having fun, being seen to be having fun, being seen, getting to know people who might be interested in what I’m doing and making mutually valuable connections with those people are all getting waaaaay blurred.

Sometimes we need black and white rules in order to deal with the bazillion shades of grey in everyday life. So my black and white is currently no new shiny things in work hours, focusing on being real with people and building relationship here and now, really, with you to see how you can help me and I can help you – and in order to do that I have to put down (sometimes one minute at a time) the Trump stories, the Brexit saga and anything else that starts with “OMG I can’t believe they just did that” get quiet and chat with you over a coffee.

What gets me there? Self care, self care, self care. Knowing myself well and forgiving when I screw up; connecting with love and support with everyone I know, taking a good look at myself regularly, not taking myself too damn seriously, oh some self care (a walk at lunchtime, a healthy meal, a good nights sleep). You know, all that stuff.

PS ultimately, I hope for the time when I can say “my productivity is not dependent on my conditions” but, well, probably not today!

Come collaborate with me at @WorkHubs

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From this Monday, I’m going to be hanging out (as full-time as I ever do such a thing) and working in the Euston co-working space atworkhubs with the lovely Philip Dodson and Bernie Mitchell.

I’ve been to a couple of Blog Clubs on Wednesday morning and there’s also a Write Club on Thursday mornings (short planning session, get into writing for an hour and a half, quick group review). And I think Art Club too but I can’t find a link for that!

It’s a nice convenient space, right next to Euston and Euston Square stations with just the right balance of people – not too mad noisy, not too dead quiet.

They have an affordable and flexible range of membership options including day passes so if you’re looking for somewhere straight off the train at Euston, it’s a real goody.

Anyway I’ll be there and it would be good to see you too.  Ping me if you’re nearby and up for a coffee or something.

At the moment, I’m expecting to see some 1:1 clients there; run some workshops; hold some evening or breakfast events etc., but I’m open to suggestions, let me know if there’s something you think I should be using the space for.