A 365 day writing project.

This is day twelve of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

For a couple of weeks now I have sat through that Tidying Up program on Netflix with Marie Kondo; it began as a way of spending more quality time with my Wife but the program has a strange charm about it that has meant I have gone out of my way to watch more.

It has made us both look at our own home and ask ourselves why we have so many things gathering dust that we either do not need or do not know that we have in the first place!

Aside from being a catalyst to reducing our ownership of things, the phrase “sparks joy” goes beyond being a method of deciding if you should keep one inanimate object over another and – in my mind at least – puts you in the mindset of discovering what makes you happy.

For me that is thoughts of my Wife and my Daughter and our Daughter to come. They all spark immense joy. When I think about the possessions I own a good 99% do not spark joy, in actual fact I could throw away the majority of what I own and still be happy, maybe more so.

Coming to this conclusion has taught me that I would be happy to live in a tiny home, not only would it restrict the space for possessions to exist but it would actively force me to question their existence in the first place and instead focus more on what does in fact bring me joy.


What sparks joy for you?


This is day eleven of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

Yesterday I came across this weird error while running one of the unit tests I was working on:

PDOException: SQLSTATE[42000]: Syntax error or access violation: 1305 SAVEPOINT trans2 does not exist

It may not look like much but in search of a resolution I ended up taking a deep dive down a rabbit hole of red-herrings and incorrect assumptions.

Having spent a good few hours thinking it was something in my code that was breaking and finding nothing at fault I quickly realised that the tests that were returning the error all had something in common. I was running them individually, if I ran the tests in a batch or all of them then the error didn't show.

It was at that point that I began kicking myself, the problem wasn't caused by anything I had written but instead by my IDE of choice: PHPStorm.

Looking at the console output from running the tests as a batch or all of them I could see that PHPStorm was generating the command correctly with --configuration set. However if I ran an individual file or method it would generate the PHPUnit command with --no-configuration. It was the latter that caused the tests to break.

My issue was caused due to my not setting a default configuration file to be used by the test runner, once set PHPStorm began generating the correct command and my tests began working as expected.

Six hours wasted, all because I didn't know to set an obscure configuration property in a config sub-pane popup of a config sub-pane popup.

Welcome to programming.


This is day ten of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

At the beginning of this project I had an vision of celebrating certain milestones, ten posts, twenty five posts, fifty, one hundred and so on. However having reached ten posts during a two day streak after a hiatus of thirty days it feels a little anticlimactic and honestly not worth celebrating beyond simply being a milestone achieved.

I get a similar vibe from the over-hyped commercial holiday St. Valentines Day. It feels as though many people validate their happiness in the days leading up to and for a number of days after through the materialistic medium of valentines messages. Not that one can blame them, it is a nice feeling to feel loved but I honestly find it upsetting to see good people in distress because they don't have a sweetheart and are therefore in their minds at least unwanted.

Before meeting my wife Valentines was just another date in the calendar, one that I had rarely noticed beyond the increase in chocolate, tacky toys and card marketing when I get groceries. Because of my past ambivalence the idea of buying a card or present felt weird, but I went along with it because I was dating and it's the thing you do and since then we “celebrated” every year with a card, sometimes combined with a meal out.

This year we have both decided not to bother, as a boycott on the commercialisation and waste. The idea of buying a card with all the waste that goes into making it for the purpose of saying something that is otherwise said every day in both words and actions feels wrong.

Valentines day shouldn't be a day where you base your happiness on how desirable you are, it should instead be a day to be extra nice to everyone — if that is you notice it at all.


This is day nine of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

I managed an eight day streak until life events turned things upside-down. Since then thirty days (8.22% of 2019) have passed and while I am still “too busy” to sit down and think for five minutes I decided that leaving it any longer would only result in this project getting shelved.

If I am being honest I did continue writing every day, but not in enough substance to be worthy of publishing. I have a, now rather long, draft document with about fifty draft ideas in various forms of completion most between 60 and 150 words as a first draft outline of something that could be written, or thrown away once I decide the idea has no merit.

Personal life is still super busy, I have a project at work with a very tight, concrete deadline that must be met and therefore I have been burning the wick hard in an attempt to get ahead of things. It's left me with very little time for personal projects but that should change come end of March.


This is day eight of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

I thought it was only just last year (2018) or the year before that when I learnt about It was actually 2014 via this article by Paul Ford on Medium that documents Pauls accidental creation of the ~Tilde network within which I first learnt of their existence.

Todays post is inspired by this toot by @dirtycommo on their ~Tilde club

While I am not old enough to have enjoyed the BBS networks of the late 80s to early 90s or the vibrant technology home-brew scene. I do get pangs of nostalgia at the thought of low-tech online communities of people working together. It's for that reason why I believe ~Tilde clubs resonate with me on a personal level. They are small, vibrant communities made up of people from many different geological locations and social backgrounds. You could say ~Tilde is a BBS renaissance, albeit sadly an small one.

There are several other ~Tilde clubs that have sprouted up since Paul's creation of (with a few similar projects that had been around in the years before.) Their creation speaks to me a shared feeling of people wanting to work together, people wanting to build a community. We are after all a social species.

The Fediverse and the ever increasing list of software that interoperates with it, while not a ~Tilde club, speaks the same energy of community building. Of providing a space where people can communicate with one another, build things, share and come together to build something better than the sum of its parts.

In many ways my creation of Wordsmith shares that narrative. Wordsmith isn't a ~Tilde club, it is a privacy-first publishing platform that communicates with the Fediverse. I want Wordsmith to become a vibrant community, full of interaction between creators as they use it to publish their essays, poetry, articles, stories, notes or anything at all.

Much like a ~Tilde club Wordsmith is dependant upon me to keep it operational, however unlike a ~Tilde club I am also dependant upon the Write Freely project spearheaded by a single developer: Matt Baer.

I have high hopes that Matt will drive Write Freely in a direction that is in line with how I see Wordsmith growing, however if at some point in the future those ideologies diverge I am not against forking the project and writing the features myself.


This is day seven of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

For as many months as it has taken me to forget how long it has actually been. I have been one of a handful of moderator admins for Trunk, a community driven effort to provide lists of people on the fediverse (primarily Mastodon) organised by topic.

The idea is that people new to Mastodon (other federated software is available,) can look up lists of people to follow by topics they are mutually interested in. For example Writing contains a number of accounts operated by people who are writers and/or interested in writing.

The lists can either be subscribed to wholesale or the accounts within followed individually with each of the people contained within having been included voluntarily at their request.

That is where I and the other moderators on the team come in, it's our role to vet requests to make sure that they meet the requirements of the lists they have asked to be added to. For example we don't necessarily want an account added to the Programming list that toots once in a blue moon about programming, it should be a list of programmers or people interested in programming whom communicate that mutual interest regularly.

Often people requesting to join one or more lists will also spark conversation asking about adding a list for a subject they are interested in that they believe isn't already covered by those we include. This then often prompts a discussion about how detailed we want the lists to become.

For example we recently had a request for a new list to be created for “GNU”. After a long discussion the request was eventually declined as being too meta because we already have Free Software, Linux and BSD lists. That request actually opened further related discussion on if we should add tags shared among lists given that GNU would be a common one shared between all three of the aforementioned.

With #Trunk I am quite proud of what we and those who came before us have helped build. If you would like to be included in one or more of the lists in the project click here to request to join.


This is day six of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

When we moved into our house the one part that I was most excited about was being able to work on the garden. It's not a large overwhelming space at just eight meters by five in size but it is ours and mine to do what I want with.

Nearly four years later and aside from having dug up, levelled off and seeded a lawn very little else has actually changed. We did manage last year (2018) to grow a number of bean, potato, carrot, chilli, tomato and courgette plants however even now as I look outside the pots are untouched with the dead, rotting remains of that effort mocking me.

Honestly it was mostly my wife Debbies effort that prompted such a bountiful harvest and we would both like to repeat the success together this year. Taking what we learnt from this previous attempt we will be growing courgette, chilli and tomato plants again but we are unsure what else to grow.

Now that our little one is older she will be making more use of the garden as the days get both longer and warmer. Therefore it would be nice to, in addition to the vegetables, have the area looking nice so we can all spend time enjoying it as a family.

Neither myself, nor Debbie have too much imagination for landscape gardening. This is probably what has contributed to nothing much happening to the garden in the past four years. However this year we are going to make a joint effort to make the space look nice as its bigger than anywhere else in our home and very much under-utilised.

Roll on Spring so we can begin planting some nice vegetables.


This is day five of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

Five days into my 365 project and I have hit a wall. Not with the project itself but with both physical and mental exhaustion. During last December I had been working towards relaunching my blog anew for 2019 and got so far as completing the majority of the new theme and dropping in all of the content.

Yet we are twelve days into 2019 and it is still not live. I'd argue that Christmas came first and after spending a good few months burning the midnight oil I decided to hit pause on all my extra-curricular activities and spend some time enjoying family and the season itself.

Christmas aside I do feel exhausted. In fact, I have felt tired for most of 2018, or at least as much as I can remember. I initially put it off to being a new parent combined with often working late into the night on personal projects. However even after cutting out all late night activities for a number of months and getting at least 8 hours sleep verified by a monitor I still felt exhausted.

Doctors have done various tests and diagnostics are currently ongoing however that doesn't stop the fact that most days are a battle with keeping my eyes open. However while I often feel lethargic, when pushed I could run a decent 10k or dance with our little one for an hour. This fact lead me a little while ago to wonder if my physical exhaustion was more a symptom of being mentally exhausted as I noted in 2/365.

It will take time, these things normally do, but I will work towards improving my surroundings in order to help with my head-space. In addition to that I will also make time for more exercise and organise my task list into three distinct groups: to-do now, to-do later and never to-do.


This is day four of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

During this years season of George Clarke's Amazing Spaces aside from the usual showcasing of inspirational small builds, George and friends are taking an old Ford Transit and turning it into the ultimate luxury small build inspired by Van Life, living.

This season has so far resonated with my Wife and I because we both enjoy watching van life videos on YouTube. You will quite often find us both cuddled up on our sofa watching Van Life videos together on the TV. All the while dreaming about the day when we sell all our unnecessary possessions, buy an old transit van to do up and set off into the sunset to live out the rest of our days travelling Europe and spending an inordinate amount of time living like a Druid in various forests.

Van life isn't glamorous, it's demanding both physically and mentally. It's not compatible with having a traditional stable employment and it will likely be a point of contention with some family and friends.

Yet, still every time we watch a video we collectively romanticise about doing it ourselves before coming to our “senses” and deciding better of it. This quandary has made me wonder:

  • Firstly, what is so bad about our lives that the idea of camping in the back of a Ford Transit in the middle of a nature reserve feels better?
  • Secondly, what is really holding us back?

We have a lot of answers to the first question and nothing really to counter the second. While watching the latest episode of Amazing Spaces we both agreed that we should look more into how we can get started. If not jumping immediately into the Van Life, life. At least cutting down on all the unnecessary possessions and distractions that have made our home environment feel so claustrophobic that the idea of living in the back of an old van is appealing.

It has made me realise that there is a constant pressure from advertising to fill a void in your life by purchasing things. Or rather, the advertising is selling you the void and showing you how to “fill” it. We have both found that we are at our most happiest when out in the New Forrest exploring the woodland, having picnic among the wildlife or enjoying the sea breeze while sat on the beach.

Society seems to have concluded that you can only enjoy these things as leisure activities, reserved only for the weekends and the holidays that everyone looks forward to.

I don't want to be stuck inside a hot, stuffy office when the sun is beaming down outside. I don't want to be chained to this life where we are sold things we don't need to fill a space we spend less than a third of our time inhabiting.

2019 will be a year of positive change.


This is day three of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row.

Do you remember when technology just worked? Maybe I'm letting out my inner Steve Rogers but I just don't need my television, thermostat, light-bulbs, door bell, security cameras, refrigerator or car to be what is currently marketed as “smart”.

I agree that on the surface a lot of technology marketed as smart can be pretty cool – being able to see who is ringing your doorbell from the comfort of your sofa via an app on your phone is quite convenient. Five year old me would have been ecstatic with joy over the prospect of using a voice controlled, digital assistant to switch on and off the lights in my home.

What troubles me with these, and especially the various home assistants, is that in exchange for a small amount of convenience we are giving up mountains of personal data to companies whom have time and time again shown that they can not be trusted with it.

Even more troubling is that a majority of these smart technologies should not require any data being transmitted to their corporate overlords, or for their manufacturers to continue existing in order for them to work. Yet when Samsung’s SmartThings had an outage in 2018 it was reported that things like Philips Hue light bulbs stopped working and when the Kickstarter-backed startup Emberlight folded their products stopped working altogether.

I refuse to invite many of these technologies into my home with the only device that could be called smart being the TV and only because it can run apps like YouTube and BBC iPlayer. Still with that said I am not completely against having an internet connected home so long as I am in absolute control of that connectivity and own or manage the infrastructure it runs on. There are for example smart heating, lighting and security systems that can be entirely self hosted and operated from your phone remotely. They just tend to be in the minority at the moment.

In time I will likely write some more about this subject as I haven't even touched upon the security, or lack thereof in IoT devices or things like the proof-of-concept worm that could have caused a chain reaction to hack Philips Hue light bulbs.

For now I am tired, so good night.