May 11th, 2021 · 1 post

The hush of interstellar space

 After several months of combing through the data with a finer and finer-toothed comb, I noticed a faint line in the PWS spectrum, which appeared to follow the plasma frequency and persisted for almost three years, beginning in 2017 and ending with the most recent publicly available data. This plasma line was unlike anything I'd seen before, extremely narrowband and so weak that it was only detectable in the absence of plasma oscillation events. Anxious to determine whether this signal was real or some kind of noise artifact, we consulted with the PWS PI Don Gurnett and Co-I Bill Kurth at the University of Iowa, who performed independent checks of the data and confirmed the validity of our detection. After much discussion with our colleagues at U. Iowa about the origin of this faint plasma line, we concluded that this signal could be used to infer the plasma frequency. For the first time, we were able to regularly trace the plasma distribution of the very local interstellar medium over almost 10 AU of interstellar space, with a spatial resolution less than 0.05 AU.

— Voyager 1 hears the hush of interstellar plasma
I think it's amazing that the Voyager 1 probe, launched in the same year as I was born, is still relaying information back home and pushing the limits of what we know about the universe around.
Permalink / Tags: Voyager 1, space, NASA

May 2nd, 2021 · 2 posts

Trying something a bit different tonight, chicken parm in marinara sauce and mozzarella.
Permalink / Tags: food, cooking

Going back to Apple’s own apps

Over the last few weeks, I've been gradually moving back to using some of Apple's apps. In particular, I'm talking about Calendar, Notes and Reminders.

In the past, I've used the Fantastical app for scheduling, but with the thought of an upcoming subscription renewal hitting my wallet, I decided to try and move back to Apple's own app, Calendar.

Okay, so it lacks a few features that Fantastical has, but I can create as many calendars as I want and share them quickly enough if needed. That's all I need.

As for note-talking, I was a long-time subscriber to the Bear app. Even now, I still think it's a great app to use for note-taking, but I started to find that I wasn't using it as much.

With Apple's Notes app, I have folders as pinned notes available, and sharing folders and notes with others is easy.

Last but not least, the Reminders app. I was using Basecamp primarily as a task manager, but I realised it was overkill for my requirements. Last week, I migrated the last of my to-do lists over to Reminders.

The common blocker with each of the apps I have migrated away from is getting others to use them when you share something. If you want others to use the same app, they usually have to install the same app. And even if you do manage to do that, there's no guarantee that person will find it easy to use.

Apple's apps usually don't have the feature set or polish that their competing apps have. What they do offer is just enough features to get by. They also make their apps simple enough to use that many people just run with them and don't even consider looking at alternatives.

As for Apple's other apps, some alternatives are the better option for me.
  • Overcast is far too good a podcast app to consider me switching.
  • Hey continues to be my preferred email app.
  • Cardhop is an excellent alternative to Contacts.
  • Hello Weather is a valuable forecast app.
  • Spotify is still my go-to music streaming app.
Maybe in the future, another app will appear that will catch my eye, or perhaps I'll outgrow Apple's default apps. For the moment, they're ideal for me to be getting on with things.

Permalink / Tags: Apple, apps

Apr 29th, 2021 · 1 post

Trying to find the positive

I'm struggling to find the positive in any form of any publishing platform these days, my blog included.

The Basecamp policy change has highlighted how volatile and quick to react Twitter is. Couple that with the generally negative posts that I see on Twitter, I will start distancing myself from Twitter once again. I'll be scaling back who I am following down to the absolute minimum. remains a more positive place to be than Twitter, but even here, I've been mostly inactive. As for my blog, it remains mainly static also.

I would love to change this, but my interest in being online in any form remains low.

Permalink / Tags: blogging, Twitter

Apr 27th, 2021 · 2 posts

I want to use HEY World, but I don't think I have anything that I would consider suitable for it. Everything has and will continue to come through my blog first.

If I had a niche topic that I wanted to build an audience around though, I would definitely use HEY World.
Permalink / Tags: Hey, writing, email

MacStories has everything you need to know about Apple's iOS and iPadOS 14.5 release. 
Permalink / Tags: Apple, iOS

Apr 3rd, 2021 · 1 post

Perfect end to Saturday

Is there anything better than coming home to lemoncello mojitos and pineapple chicken tacos?

Apr 2nd, 2021 · 1 post

Boys night

Me and my sons hit the golf course tonight for a few holes. Good practice for me for my first Saturday medal of the season tomorrow. I definitely need it more than my boys do!
Permalink / Tags: golf, Paisley Golf Club

Apr 1st, 2021 · 1 post

Summer here we come

We’ve got the drinks, the food and the weather is getting better. Here’s to many summer nights sitting in the garden.

Mar 18th, 2021 · 1 post

Walking again

We’re getting a bit more daylight now, so me and Jen have started up our mid-week walks again. Lockdown or not, we’re going to keep this going.
Permalink / Tags: walks, spring

Mar 16th, 2021 · 1 post

Master & Commander, a masterpiece

I completely agree with Michael Wade. Master & Commander is a masterpiece.

I never got round to seeing Master & Commander at the cinema. If I'm honest, I don't even remember much of seeing Master & Commander being advertised at all at the time. I do regret not seeing it on the big screen, but at home, maybe with a good set of headphones, it is as close to the cinema experience as I'll ever get.

It's definitely one of my favourite movies of all time.
Permalink / Tags: movies, Master & Commander, Michael Wade

Mar 15th, 2021 · 2 posts

Some class golf over the weekend

Last night's final round of The Players Championship was a fantastic watch and highly entertaining. A great win for Justin Thomas, although I was disappointed for Lee Westwood. I would have loved for him to have won. The cherry on the cake was Helen, Lee's fiancee and caddie, collecting the 18th flag for Justin Thomas.

A great display of sportsmanship and respect. I can't wait for The Masters now.
Permalink / Tags: golf, the players, Justin Thomas, Lee Westwood

Permalink / Tags: Nicholas Bate

Mar 13th, 2021 · 1 post

A productive Saturday

It was one of those Saturdays where everything through the day just fell into place.

A code and coffee session early this morning yielded another milestone met. I managed to close off another couple of widgets for my CMS product. There's just one more to go to switch out the old widgets for my new ones that offer better flexibility when it comes to putting pages together.

It was then off to the hardware store to get a few things for the garden. We missed out on a few things last year as we left it too late to get a couple of things, so we were quicker off the mark this year.

Back home, I spent a couple of hours getting the back garden into some shape for the summer. The next few Saturday's are going to be similar as we get a few more things done, but the hope is that we put in the work now, to enjoy the fruits of our labour when the sunshine and good weather really kicks in.

It not often a Saturday just falls into place like this, but its been great having a productive day. I can kick back a bit tomorrow knowing I've got a few things done today.

Mar 8th, 2021 · 1 post

The not so fun weekend of debugging code problems

It's been a while since I last posted here. I've been getting my head down and working on my CMS product, which has left not much time for blogging.

Over the last few weeks, I've been putting in place a feature that should allow for more flexible page designs so that customers can use a series of widgets to build up pages. It's a three-level form with a page with many sections on it, and each section has a single widget. The thinking is that the sections can be re-ordered regardless of what type of widget it holds. It hasn't been without its issues, though. It took several attempts to get this overall widget design with the page in place.

Thankfully, that part of the feature is done, but I'm still working out some issues with this.

The main issue is when I add a new section and widget to the page, it clears any input elements that I have changed on any other sections widgets on that same page. The merry-go-round of possible sources of the problem includes the usual areas when things like this go wrong on the front-end—namely Turbolinks and Javascript.

The biggest problem just now is that of time, though. I don't get much more than a couple of hours at a time working on this, and when I do, I feel that I am problem-solving the same things over and over again. It's just as well that we're still in a national lockdown here in Scotland because it does afford me some extra time to work on this.

Hopefully, I can make progress with it this week.
Permalink / Tags: Rails, coding

Feb 22nd, 2021 · 2 posts

Reminiscing of days with Sublime Text

Over the weekend, I decided to re-install Sublime Text to see If there have been any substantial updates to it. I haven't used it in a few years now since moving to VS Code.

The text editor remains snappy and fast as I navigated through a large codebase and made a few changes. Sublime Text was never a slouch when it comes to performance. It was always fast for me, even on larger codebases.

Intrigued, I turned to Sublime Text's package control to see if there were packages there for Ruby and Rails and general web development. While I don't really need these, there are nice to have in the text editor. What I found was quite disappointing.

Most of the packages that I have used in the past on Sublime Text have not seen much in terms of updates, with a few packages listed as missing. Clearly, VS Code has impacted the number of actively maintained packages as developers migrated from Sublime Text to VS Code when it first hit the scenes.

Although I'm pretty much baked into the VS Code ecosystem thanks to its huge library of extensions, I wouldn't be against going back to Sublime Text. Maybe one day I will. For the moment, I'll leave it on my Macbook and see what I get from it as a wee change to VS Code.
Permalink / Tags: tools, coding, text editors

Permalink / Tags: music

Feb 21st, 2021 · 1 post

First hit of the year

First hit of the year for me and Drew at Paisley Golf Club today!

A glorious afternoon of weather and a welcome change to the snow and rain we've had the last few weeks. I was a bit rusty but Drew has managed to find some extra yardage to his drives over the winter. I've got some catching up to do!
Permalink / Tags: Drew, golf, Paisley Golf Club

Feb 17th, 2021 · 1 post

Don't forget that text is everything

Graydon Hoare suggests we always bet on text.
Text is the most socially useful communication technology. It works well in 1:1, 1:N, and M:N modes. It can be indexed and searched efficiently, even by hand. It can be translated. It can be produced and consumed at variable speeds. It is asynchronous. It can be compared, diffed, clustered, corrected, summarized and filtered algorithmically. It permits multiparty editing. It permits branching conversations, lurking, annotation, quoting, reviewing, summarizing, structured responses, exegesis, even fan fic. The breadth, scale and depth of ways people use text is unmatched by anything. There is no equivalent in any other communication technology for the social, communicative, cognitive and reflective complexity of a library full of books or an internet full of postings. Nothing else comes close.

Always bet on text
I wholeheartedly agree. You can keep video clips, online meetings, voice memos and all the stuff. Text is the ultimate form of communication.
Permalink / Tags: communication, plain text

Feb 15th, 2021 · 1 post

Hello Dingbats

In a change from my regular Leuchttrum notebooks that I use, I wanted to try something different. Last week I ordered a Dingbats Wildlife notebook.
It’s a bit bigger than the Leuchttrum notebook which I don’t mind. It also includes a single bookmark as opposed to the Leuchttrum’s three. Hardly a deal-breaker as I can add my own bookmarks.

Aside from being eco-friendly, the notebooks come in many colours. 
Permalink / Tags: notebooks, bullet journaling

Matthew Lang

Freelance web developer specialising in Ruby on Rails