Bruce of all trades

My personal side has been blowing his trumpet:



System down in Sao Paulo

I’m not sure why but AppleMail on my slaptop keeps crashing. Email on my phone is so far unaffected. Email on my main Mac in Edinburgh also appears to be unaffected. (Pause to worship Teamviewer.) Accessing email via webmail or my university’s VPN also works, but these are rather slow.

So if you need to send me any files to work on, please let me know first so I can find wifi then log into webmail.

Looking ahead

I’m leaving Napier for 6 months at the end of tomorrow to pursue some personal interests. However, it’s very reassuring to know that I have some work to come back to. I’ll be working with Peter Cruickshank and Hazel Hall, investigating levels of digital and information literacy within Scotland’s Community Council system in a project entitledInformation Literacy for Democratic Engagement (IL-DEM). The award has been granted by the CILIP Information Literacy Group.

Hazel has blogged about the project’s aims and objectives, so it only remains for me to say that I’m looking forward to venturing into a slightly different research focus, while still working on aspects of Scotland’s hyperlocal democracy.

There may be some different research methods too, thus increasing my research skills, although the work will centre on understanding how people learn to use technology away from conventional education. In that sense, the work is likely to of interest to anyone concerned with helping people who struggle to make the best of their personal IT.

So I’ll be working with great colleagues, on interesting and practically useful things. What’s not to like?

Speed demon, but cheap and cheerful

My 2009 Mac Pro is getting long in the tooth. IGGY still works just fine of course I feel the need for speed. I don’t want to replace him with a garbage can. No matter how many cores and Thunderbolt ports they have, they only have one storage unit. The base model has 256 GB of PCI-E-based SSD, and I need at least two units of 1TB each. (One for normal use, one for CarbonCopyClones).

Continue reading

Personal storage conundrum

The computer storage devices in my flat are

  • My desktop mac
    • 1 TB SSD for boot drive
    • 640 GB HD for clone of boot drive
    • 500 GB SSD for secondary boot drive
    • 500 GB SSD for clone of secondary boot drive
    • 2 TB HD
      • 1 TB for extra clone of boot drive
      • 1 TB scratch drive (video-editing etc)
  • My laptop
    • 120 GB SSD for boot drive
    • 250 GB external HD for clone of boot drive
  • My partner’s desktop mac
    • 500 GB HD for boot drive
    • 500 GB HD for clone of boot drive
  • two 2 TB time capsules
  • a pile of smaller external HDs and SSD

Sometimes it feels like too much, sometimes too little.

The next addition will probably be a 1TB SSD for cloning my desktop mac’s boot drive. Then I can devote all of the 2TB HD to scratch disk.

Storage becomes /dev/null

A terabyte HD in my main Mac (‘IGGY’) has died, so now the Mac has only four storage devices. Fortunately it’s no threat to my data – this HD was used until a few months ago for TimeMachine backups of this mac but now all the Macs here do TimeMachine backups to a very new 2TB TimeCapsule.* The TM sparsebundles were copied to the new TimeCapsule so we’ve not lost any backup history.  Continue reading

2014_02_22: almost a day off and hubris

So no project work today – instead meeting up with spinning folk to finalise details for our trip to Bolzano next month. Because some folk will be off road-cycling before we spin, I thought it might be worthwhile everyone having everyone else’s cellphone numbers. The trip is being organised though FaceBook. It’s a worthwhile tool but there’s no way I’m giving it such contact details. So I suggested I set up a secure website on my domestic web-server, an old mac laptop.

So I dragged out the code from my web-design module and copied it across, intending to hack it down to a simple DB where people could enter names and numbers and view previously entered details, then set about ensuring PHP and MySQL were running. Not much work to find and install the latest versions of PHP and MySQL that will run under MacOS 10·4. Tiny bit of work (remembering how to use nano) to hack the apache config file to enable PHP. Even found GUI tools for MySQL. All fine and funky – except the mysql_connect command fails at the first fence. I know it’s deprecated, so I try mysqlreal_connect. This version of MySQL is too old to understand that command. Over and out!

And of course the simple solution, suggested by the lead spinnerette, is that she knows everyone’s cellphone numbers and can just email them around…

HUBRIS in large lumps.

Monkey magic

Code Monkey

As of Friday morning, there is a verbal agreement between a client and Edinburgh Napier University that the university will create some code for the client. And I’m to be the main code-monkey! I’ll even be paid. Not much, which is fitting because I am a very new code-monkey and this will be my first ever paid coding project, and because the project is really quite small – just proof that the concept can work and that Napier can do things the client wants. Nevertheless I’m very pleased.

Domain devilry

It’s also pleasing that 1&1, the providers of the domain to which I’ve mapped this blog, have finally fixed the fault which was preventing this domain mapping. I bought the domain on 12 January and it’s taken until today to get the issue sorted. There’s also an email address (bruce AT but it’s simply a forward to my main personal address.

Community Council news 1

I’ve had another meeting with the community councillor who wanted to set up a website for his CC. There appeared to be two copies of http://<name of CC> and one copy of http://<name of CC> Each of these had bits of the most up-to-date material but none had all of it. So we copied the most recent content to separate text files on his laptop, deleted the errant blogs from WordPress, started a new blog at http://<variant of name of CC>, reset the them, remade the pages, tags and categories, then remade the posts. Setting up widgets went quite quickly. He was very pleased to see that WordPress blogs can include Twitter widgets. While his CC doesn’t yet have a Twitter account, he has a personal Twitter account and a personal blog. Adding the widget for the former to the latter took about 2 minutes.

He now has to take his efforts back to his CC for their approval, comments etc. We’ll then implement any desirable changes, set up and train a co-editor. Then I’ll keep a watching/mentor brief as the site develops. I’ve also interviewed the community councillor about his aspirations for the website, his level of ability and similar. In a few month’s time, I’ll interview him about what actually materialised – and that should be the basis of a research paper. It will also be of interest to others who need proof that the CC system is worthy of further investment in training.

Community Council news 2

I’ve been asked to take minutes for another Edinburgh CC. It will pay a small amount but will knock out one Wednesday spinning session a month, but that’s not a problem – I could replace it with a spin on Tuesday or thursday evenings. This CC also wants a website similar to the one I help run for Leith Central CC, so that should be easy enough to start off.

Research news

On Tuesday I’ll meet with my supervisor to plan some further research into community council websites. This will be an update of research we did in summer 2012. We’ve won a small grant for this research, enough to pay me for about 8 weeks. This should lead to a couple of research papers, I believe.

Physical space

My old G4/800 now has a new home way out west. It’s good to keep old silicon running.

Not yet started

  • a good practice guide for community council websites
  • writing papers based on my MSc dissertation
  • a serious attempt at setting up a domestic server

Watch this space.