Posted by & filed under Quotes.

You will not fail if you stay the course and hold true. Don’t cede your values for temporary comfort or notional control. Don’t panic. Eventually great books are written, great cities are built, and difficult times are overcome.

History is filled with examples of people who pushed the order button too soon… but few instances where people stuck with their principles for too long.

Seth Godin

Read this quote in its original context: Seth’s Blog: Law and Order.

Posted by & filed under Website.

This site now uses the excellent WP-Bootstrap theme. The theme delivers the Bootstrap look via the Bones theme/framework. It’s responsive and scales well from mobile to desktop. This means that the site has a consistent and unfussy look no matter what device you’re using. It’s meant to be modified with child themes but I like the default look. I decided to change two things: the way the featured image of each post is cropped to 780 by 300, and the way that a custom gallery shortcode breaks the tiled galleries you get from JetPack.

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Hero image for review of All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Posted by & filed under Books.

Cover of All The Birds, Singing by Evie WyldI recently finished reading All The Birds, Singing, the second novel by Evie Wyld. It’s about a woman called Jake who lives alone on a farm with a dog called Dog on an island somewhere off the coast of Britain. She has sheep to look after but something keeps coming in the middle of the night to kill them.

Meanwhile, as the narrative on the island moves forward in the present, a second narrative peels off backwards to explain her past. This takes place in Australia. Jake is still working with sheep but there is a confrontation with a fellow farmhand who threatens to expose a secret from her past. As this second strand unfurls, we begin to see why Jake is jumpy and convinced that the deaths of her sheep represent ill-portent. However, because this second story rolls backwards in jumps, we have to wait until the end for the terrible events that set her on this path.

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Picture of commuters at Shinjuku station used as a hero image in review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami

Posted by & filed under Books.

Cover of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki MurakamiColorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage is the latest novel by Haruki Murakami. It comes with free stickers. Perhaps that tells you everything you need to know about this book, which is slimmer than Murakami’s recent efforts. The plot begins with an intriguing premise. Tsukuru is part of a group of close friends and is one day expelled from the group for no reason. Unfortunately, the development of the plot is uncontrolled and by the end of novel too many holes have developed for it all to hold together.

It is a pleasant read but a familiar one. You can play Murakami bingo with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. Will there be Jazz or classical music? (Or, potential spoiler, both?) Will the character at the centre of the action make pasta? Or drink Cutty Sark whisky? Will they have an infatuation from childhood that will haunt their adult life? Will a strange dream-like world enter into our reality at some point? Will the books that Murakami’s been reading all-too-obviously force their way in to the narrative at some point? Will there be an endearing cat simile?

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Hero image for useful ulysses post

Posted by & filed under Software, Writing.

What it is

Ulysses III is a markdown editor for the Mac. It has a simple drafting model that makes it easy to organise ideas and move between them. Pieces of writing are represented as sheets that can be tagged and grouped together – the grouping can be made manually or using filters. There are no files, the sheets are entries in a single database that is synced with iCloud. Because everything is plain text it won’t eat up your storage space. Individual sheets can be archived for use with Mac OS X’s versions feature.

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Hero image for understated classics 27, comprising the many covers of a ghost is born by wilco

Posted by & filed under Understated Classics.

I have already given some of the personal background to why I love this album and now it’s time to give a bit of love to the music itself so I’ll stick to giving a track by track account of “A Ghost Is Born”.

If you are familiar with Wilco’s first few albums, you’ll know that A Ghost Is Born is on the line of best fit through Being There, Summerteeth, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It continues its predecessor’s experimentation, but also gets reined in a little. Great songs – some of my favourite Wilco songs – were left off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (“Venus Stopped The Train”, “A Magazine Called Sunset”) so the follow-up could easily have been more of the same and everyone would have gone home happy.

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Hero image for the joy of typing post

Posted by & filed under Writing.

I find that lots of interesting jobs require you to know the Python programming language. It’s useful, famously easy to learn, and quite a fun language to boot. I decided to work through the Python course on Codecademy because the Ruby and JavaScript courses were excellent. It’s partly the fault of my Latin American Macbook but I found I wasn’t typing out the exercises very well: my brackets were always coming out wrong. Open/close brackets are over 8 and 9 on this keyboard but on the English layout they are over 9 and 0, and for the life of me I cannot train myself out of following the labels on the keyboard. This was confirmed by a site that I’d meant to check out for ages called, which lets you type over examples of code – I was slow but accurate, I did OK on everything except for brackets.

At this point I decided that it would be best to improve my speed — if I were not bothering to look at the keys at all, perhaps I would type the brackets automatically as well. I discovered a site called Typing Study which will teach you typing for free. It works the same way as most of the typing training software ever has by telling you where to put your fingers and then making you perform repeated drills.

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