If you can’t beat them

After a year wandering through the internet wilderness, I’ve returned to WordPress, paid for an account, sat down heavily in the corner, and let out a huge sigh.

I’m done trying.

I’m settling for the easiest way out, and the most trustworthy place to just write, post, and not have to think about anything else.

Along the way I’ve tried out both Medium and Substack. Medium is full of people mansplaining how to make money on Medium (a story that gets old really quickly), and Substack is full of journalists hoping to monetise. I had hoped it might be more.

As you may have read yesterday, Tumblr deleted my account. I’m not sad about losing content – more the friendships and connections I have no way of recovering. I sent out a few private messages on Facebook this morning, but they were a small part of a once huge community.


I’ve paid for WordPress – for the next year at least. I’ve transferred my domain name back. They’re busy wiring up certificates and whatever else while I’m writing this – it could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. If you’re reading this, it’s already happened.

In other news, I had something of a nothing day today. I spent the morning doing chores before everybody else got up, the afternoon helping my youngest daughter find her bedroom floor, then cooked dinner, washed up after dinner, and am now up to my eyeballs in this blog re-engineering idiocy.

There’s a bottle of prosecco in the fridge with my name on it, but it’s already too late to open it. Fizzy wine should be accompanied by friends, stories, and laughter.

Right. I’m going to sign off for the night. If you receive this in an email, you’re already subscribed – not need to worry (not that you were worrying, but still…)

I’ll shut up now. I’m tired.


Walled Gardens and Bullet Journals

A message from a friend struck home today – encouraging me to stop trying so damn hard. To stop trying to spin so many plates all the time. To stop trying to be everywhere, doing everything, all the time. She was right of course – she invariably is. A whispered voice of reason, arriving at just the right time.

I guess this means retreating somewhat from the walled gardens of the internet, and just “being” for a while. Slowing down. Gathering my thoughts. Disconnecting.

Which leads me rather neatly on to the little paper book on the desk behind me. The bullet journal that I stopped using a couple of months ago – and which I started back-filling to bring it back up-to-date earlier today.

I’ve been playing with all manner of solutions that don’t really work over the last few months – clever software, apps, websites, and what-have-you – that promise a “second brain”. I suppose – if I’m honest with myself – I always knew the paper notebook was better. I wanted the clever doo-dads to be better than they are.

I think perhaps the failing of all the oh-so-very-clever productivity apps is that at some point you have to start using them – not just dick about with them – and that’s when they turn into work instead of fun.

Maybe it’s a character trait thing as well. Or a character failing?


For the next little while – maybe for the foreseeable future – I’m going to stop the cross-posting madness, and concentrate a little bit more on me. If you’re subscribed over at substack, or already able to whisper straight into my brain via Messenger, or Telegram – those are probably the best ways to reach me.

You never know – I might finally start writing that damn novel.


Unexpected Discoveries

Once upon a time I wrote some programming (I’m a software developer in the daytime) to brute-force the problem of finding interesting blogs to read.

I reasoned that if I liked a particular blog, I would probably also like the blogs of people that commented on the blog I liked. So rather than obsessively follow the breadcrumb trail out to every commenter of every post of a given blog, I wrote some programming to do it.

It loads a page you give to it, then finds every page descending directly from it (the posts), and loads them in turn. For each page it has discovered, it looks for any addresses of blogs in the comments (e.g. – and compiles a list of them all – before spitting it out as a CSV file that can be perused later.

Here’s where the unexpected bit happens.

While doing some spring cleaning on my own WordPress account yesterday, I started to scratch the “find new and interesting people to read” itch, and pointed the old programming at a somewhat famous blog. After looking through the links for a while, I discovered something really quite strange – that most of the commenters – people who had posted comments very recently – had not written on their own blogs in years.

Rather than wade through the endless stream of inactive blogs, I improved the programming to go visit each blog it discovered, and find out exactly how long it had been since they last wrote. The scale of the discovery was enormous. At least 90% of those that had commented had not written anything themselves for years.

I started scratching my head, and thought “I wonder if there’s some way I can improve my program to cast the net wider”.

After half an hour of tinkering, I turned the program into a “spider”. You can start it out on one blog, and it follows the comments from one blog to another – to a maximum depth noted on a piece of paper in it’s pocket. As it clambers through people’s blogs, it maintains a list of all the blogs it has discovered along the way that have posted in the last 30 days.

I pointed it at my own blog this morning. It’s busy churning through all of the people that have commented on my blog recently, then all the people that have commented on their blog, and so on – diving further and further down the rabbit hole. Or jumping from one rabbit hole to the next.

It’s still churning now. I imagine Sauron’s eye, high atop the WordPress tower is turning to face me – wondering what I’m doing – wondering why I appear to have been asking to read blogs at several pages a second for the last hour.

Let’s hope I don’t start talking about the program as “my precious”.