• Oxford Punt listening notes

    Select quotes from this month’s Nightshift so I can work out who I’m seeing at the Oxford Punt tonight

    Purple Turtle

    • 7pm Moogieman & the Masochists (are cleverer than you or us and have songs about the murder of Rosa Luxembourg, astronauts leaving their phones on the moon, and Wolf-Rayet stars)
    • 8pm The Aureate Act (smart enough to realise there’s nothing wrong with teenage musicians declaring a love for Genesis, Pink Floyd and King Crimson)
    • 9pm Being Eugene (purveyors of metalcore of a particularly virulent strain)
    • 10pm Drore (a malevolent, doomy crustcore supergroup)


    • 7.30 Great Western Tears (roadhouse country-blues)
    • 8.15 Slate Hearts (grunge riffage)
    • 9.15 Kanadia (Radiohead/stadium pop)
    • 10.15 STEM (electro duo, Portishead and Sneaker Pimps)


    • 8pm The Beckoning Fair Ones (tightly reined-in rage)
    • 9pm Cherokee (mighty heavy rock songs)
    • 9.45 Crystallite (big ol’ 80s stadium rock and blues given a goodtime grunge kick up the backside)
    • 10.30 Too Many Poets (in-your face gothic rock)

    Turl Street Kitchen

    • 8pm Charlie Leavy (hints of soul, jazz and even funk, Alicia Keys)
    • 9pm Coldredlight (frankly astonishing emo-blues)
    • 10pm Little Red (twist folk music into sublime new shapes, Imagine Nick Cave leading First Aid Kit into the forest to have tea with the Big Bad Wolf)
    • 11pm Crandle (lo-fi cabaret duo armed only with the cheapest Casio keyboard in the shop)

    White Rabbit

    • 8.30 Kancho! (lo-fi, high-octane two-man hardcore assault, At The Drive-In, Shellac)
    • 9.30 These Are Our Demands (taught, Sonic Youth-flavoured rockabilly ruckus)
    • 10.30 Lucy Leave (energetic and lo-fi noise approach, underpinning tigerish Pixies pop with bulldozing Hawkwind basslines)
    • 11.30 Brown Glove (Victorian gothic and dark sexual themes)
  • Boaty McBoatface and barriers to involvement

    my take: you want opinions, but you also want committed opinions. Your poll/survey/vote will erect (or fail to erect) barriers to participation, and those barriers represent a measure of commitment. No barriers = lots of votes, but high risk of Boaty McBoatface. High barriers = few votes, but from those who care.

    Nat Torkington’s very astute take on Boaty McBoatface.

  • SSL Only

    Thanks to a lovely bit of integration work by Bytemark that automatically integrates Let’s Encrypt with any servers that are running their Symbiosis system (like this one), this site is now SSL only, along with another 7 domains I look after.

    And all it took was about 10 minutes on the command line, and a cup of tea.

    If you want a system that is easy to manage, but gets out of your way when you want to tinker, Bytemark are fantastic.

  • David Bowie RIP

    Today, listen to “Hunky Dory” and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”

    Tonight, watch “Labyrinth” and “The Man Who Fell To Earth”.

  • Top albums and films of 2015

    Continuing the semi-regular (i.e. not at all regular) list of my favourite films and albums from this year.


    (It’s been a fantastic year for music, and it’s been tricky to narrow this down to ten, so I didn’t)

    In no particular order:


    Again in no particular order:

    • The Force Awakens
    • Ex Machina
    • Whiplash
    • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
    • Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
    • The Martian
    • Sicario
    • Inside Out
    • Mad Max: Fury Road
    • Superbob
  • Hello Pluto

    10 years ago, I and 434,737 other people, filled out a form on the NASA website, submitting our names for inclusion on a CD that would be attached to the New Horizons probe for launch on January 19, 2006. Sent off to the outer Solar System to study Pluto.

    Today, 9 years later, at 12:03:50 UTC, those 434,738 names streaked past Pluto at over 36,000 miles per hour.

    Congratulations to everyone on the New Horizons team, and Hello Pluto!

    Pluto by LORRI and Ralph, 13 July 2015.jpg

  • Christopher Lee RIP

    We don’t always get the kind of work we want, but we always have a choice of whether to do it with good grace or not.

    Christopher Lee


  • Being more human at work

    If the process insists that humans act more like machines/robots/spreadsheets than real human beings, challenge that process.

    Leisa Reichelt

  • On performance

    There needs to be a cultural change in how we approach building for the web. Yes, some of the tools we choose are part of the problem, but the bigger problem is that performance still isn’t being recognised as the most important factor in how people feel about websites (and by extension, the web). This isn’t just a developer issue. It’s a design issue. It’s a UX issue. It’s a business issue. Performance is everybody’s collective responsibility.

    Jeremy Keith

  • Time

    Today, on the 13th May 2015, I stood at the top of Elizabeth Tower, next to Big Ben as it struck 3pm.

    Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament…

    Sometimes our memory can be fuzzy about where we were, or what we were doing, at a particular moment in history, but I will always know exactly where I was at 3pm on the 13th May 2015.

    That’s a moment in time that hadn’t happened before, and won’t happen again, and it’s mine.

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