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App updates that amuse. Booking.com: “Now you can book taxis…”

Thanks, mates. Get back to me when that’s useful again.

Returning Blogs

Here’s a reason (another reason) why feed reeders are great: Tom Coates of PlasticBag.org has written his first post in seven years. There’s no reason to unsubscribe from blogs that haven’t posted for a while — no reason even to notice that fact normally — so up it pops in NetNewsWire1 today.

The post itself is good — a bit meta (entirely meta) — but there’s nothing wrong with that.

I keep seeing suggestions that blogging is undergoing a renaissance, and I think it might be true. Of course, lots of us never went away, either as readers or writers. But it’s good to welcome Tom back.


  1. Other feed readers are available. 

No More…

Sad to hear of the death of Dave Greenfield from Covid-19. The Stranglers were not really like other punk bands. But they were the band that got me into punk. I heard ‘No More Heroes’ on the radio one weekend, after hearing my school friends talk about punk, and I never really looked back.

I never saw them live, and I didn’t follow their career after the first three or four albums; but there’s a lot of good stuff in those early ones.

Greenfield is, I think, the first musician of that generation to die from the pandemic.

Ayoade On Top by Richard Ayoade (Books 2020, 6)

This is Richard Ayoade’s detailed analysis of the 2003 film View From the Top, directed by Bruno Barreto and starring Gwyneth Paltrow. It is, by all accounts, a masterwork.

By Ayoade’s account, at least. I haven’t seen it. Ayoade is a comedian. The book is pretty funny. The film, I suspect, is quite bad.

Static Leads to Static

I’m almost beginning to wish I hadn’t switched my site to static generation. Not really, though. I’m very pleased with the way the site is performing, with how it looks, and with how easy it is to change things.

It’s just the non-static parts that I want to get working that are complex. By which I mean comments, of course, and Webmentions.

Comments are obvious. And the “obvious” way to make them work with a static site — and one that has good support built into Nikola, the generator application I’m using — is Disqus. But Disqus is known to track its users and show ads, and I don’t want that for anyone who might comment here.

So I’ve been trying other options. But none of them work as easily as you’d hope. There are always complexities, difficulties, bits you have to glue together or even build yourself.

So far I’ve tried:

  • Isso: you have to run a service on your site. I couldn’t get the service to respond.
  • Staticman: I couldn’t get its service to start. A problem with configuring the private key setting.
  • Remarkbox: at the time of writing this is still active, but I’m not sure I’ll keep it. It works like Disqus, in that the comments are hosted on a third-party site, which is not really in keeping with the whole static site/indieweb ethos. It’s not advertising driven like Disqus, but it behaves a bit strangely, at least on here. We’ll see, though.

Lots of blogs manage without comments, of course, including many of the most successful and long-running ones. But I’ve always had a fondness for them. They were building communities online long before there was a Facebook or a Twitter.

The other way to join the conversation is to send and accept Webmentions. I won’t try to explain those here, but again, there’s a certain amount of infrastructure needed to get them working, and I’m not quite there yet.

Still, it all means I’m learning things, which is good. And my posts and pages are just text files, which is as they should be.

Repairability Is Good

It’s good when you can repair things. We had a problem with the switch on the kettle the other day, and I was able to open it up, put various bits back in place, and get it working again. It tripped not one but three circuit breakers in the house and blew the fuse in its plug, all while it was failing, but that’s what safety devices are for, I guess.

And today I’ve just fixed the switch on our hoover. Actually it’s a Miele, and this video by an Australian repair person was really helpful. He’s dealing with a different model, but it’s the same problem — the switch wouldn’t stay on — and the same construction and even part number.

I was able to get the footswitch off following what he did, and order a replacement part online. It arrived today, and all went back together really smoothly, and now our hoover Miele vacuum cleaner1 is working again.

Oddly the part number on the replacement is different from that on the broken one, which matched the number the video guy quotes.

Anyway, while I’d have tried these repairs under normal circumstances, it’s especially useful at the moment, when it’s not like you can go shopping, or get someone to come in and fix things.2


  1. I’ve never taken to calling them “vacuum cleaners.” I grew up with Hoovers, so that always seems like the right word. 

  2. If there even are still people who do that. 

Of course (following on from my previous post), I neglected to mention that Little Britain was never very funny.

In my humble opinion, of course.

Matt Lucas was much better in Doctor Who, and David Walliams was beter in… well, Attachments, if anyone remembers that.

Tate and Tennant Killing It

I see that, unlike Little Britain, Catherine Tate is still very funny when she brings back old characters for charity. Especially with David Tennant’s help.

Being Scottish is not an underlying condition!”