Hello! I made a blog. It has CSS. I have no idea what I'm doing.

part of the interior of a Viewliner train roomette, showing a raspberry pi and an amazon fire tablet precariously plugged in beside the fold-out sink.

My absolute favourite thing to do is to go places on sleeper trains. People love to hate on Amtrak, but I’ve taken overnight trains in four continents and its sleeper experience as good as most and better than some. The food’s surprisingly decent, the conductors are lovely, and you can’t beat looking out the window and watching Colorado or Utah or the Hudson Valley go by.

Today it’s mostly trees and Georgia and Alabama, but that’s good too! The sun is streaming in the window, the Crescent is chu-chunking along, and I brought along my raspberry pi to see whether pygame could make the touch screen do something more interesting than displaying cats. Well, so far I’ve mostly just fought python3 (print is a function now!), but eventually I’ll internalise the differences and make things work again.

I love coding on trains. It’s peaceful and pretty, and you get a good long distance to stare into when you need to think.


A picture of a raspberry pi with an attached screen displaying an image of a sleeping cat.

The problem with shopping at Adafruit is that you go there to buy a battery and three days later when the box full of your impulse purchases arrives, you realise that you forgot to buy a battery. Haha, whoops! But such good impulse purchases they were! The best was this 2.8” PiTFT capacitive touch screen, which I’ve been having a lot of fun with this morning.


Four Amazon Dash buttons aligned vertically on a wooden wall with musician names written on them on sticky labels.

Amazon Dash is a neat idea. When you’re running low on teabags or detergent or whatever, you push a little button and Amazon sends you more. 

Sonos speakers are also a neat idea. They’re speakers that sit on your wifi network, and you can stream music to them from your phone or Spotify or whatever. They have a nice, low-drama interface and mostly just work. We’ve got two.

A while back, my excellent friend and crossword buddy Rob showed me how he’d set up a Dash button to start and stop his wife’s favourite radio station on their Sonos. This was extremely relevant to my interests! My kid has very strong feelings about the Moana soundtrack and it plays in our house almost constantly. It occurred to me that if she had a way of starting it herself, without needing an adult, then that would be the four year old equivalent of getting car keys or internet access for the first time. Who can imagine having such independence and power! So I made her a Moana button.


This blog has existed for three months, and so far I think Jekyll is pretty good. You kind of have to work to make it do things, but usually the work is fun and not too annoying. And it forced me to learn some CSS, which was, well, hilariously awful, but interesting.

But it’s a bit annoying to have to get to my github account every time I want to post something. This evening it finally occurred to me to look for an Android app


Here’s what I saw on day two of SRECon! I wrote about day one over here. These summaries come from a mix of handwritten notes and things I remembered; if I got something wrong, please let me know and I’ll fix it.


A lined A5 notebook with a lot of scrawled handwriting inside

Although it’s existed for three years, SRECon (Americas) 2017 was my first SRECon. I’ve been to LISA a bunch of times and wondered how SRECon would compare. Mostly, I liked it about the same (i.e., very much). The majority of the talks felt like they would have fit at either conference, though there were a couple of deep architectural discussions that I might not have seen at LISA.

I enjoyed the emphasis on chaos engineering and intentionally breaking things. And (like I said about LISA a few months ago) I like how much our industry is waking up to ‘humaning’ being a difficult and important skill.

I took a lot of notes during the sessions. Here’s my summaries.


Here I am on Virgin America 29 to San Francisco, excited to be on my way to SRECon. I’ve got a 20 minute speaker slot first thing on Tuesday morning, and the last time I timed my talk it was around 21 minutes. That’s down from 45, so I’m doing pretty well, but I need to shorten it more, especially since the first session (8:30am!) might start late.

I’ve been planning to fix it on the plane, but my laptop will stubbornly not get on the wifi. So it’s debugging time.


Christmas Pi

My sister, ever organised, asked me in October what I wanted for Christmas. I’m completely rubbish at delayed gratification, so it was a tricky question: I didn’t want to suggest something I actually wanted and then have to wait two months for it. So I chose a potentially interesting toy instead. “A Raspberry Pi”, I said. She searched online. “The little board thingy?” “Yep!”. “O…kay.”

I know everyone else got on the Pi train four years ago, but Christmas day was my first time holding one.


A few days ago I posted about how to get the email address for a Google Calendar user from inside a Chrome extension. It turns out that that’s not the whole story.


I’m making a chrome extension that watches Google calendar and warns me when I forget to invite the second person to a two person meeting. Is this is a thing that happens to other people? I’ve done it a bunch of times: set up a meeting called myname:someoneelse, futz with locations and times, then save the meeting without actually inviting the other person. Well, it’s a good excuse to learn some JQuery :-)

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