The last post (probably)

After 11 years and 925 posts, it feels like it’s time to stop blogging. Long past the time to stop, if I’m being completely honest. So I am going to stop. This is the last post. Probably.

I suppose there’s always a chance that I may start up again (never say never) but it feels unlikely at the moment for a variety of reasons.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my progress through two psychology degrees, a mantle cell lymphoma diagnosis and treatment, not to mention all the sundry other things that have caught my attention over the years.

Be seeing you.

Be seeing you

WordPress 5.0 – “Take no small slips”

Like many others, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of WordPress 5.0 and its new Gutenberg editor. The project, however, appears to have run into problems. The release date has been moved twice – it currently sits as “TBD”.

WordPress 5.0 Release Schedule
WordPress 5.0 Release Schedule

I’m hoping that the people running the project have read “The Mythical Man Month“. To get the release back on track, Brooks recommends:

  • “Take no small slips … allow enough time in the new schedule to ensure that the work can be carefully and thoroughly done, and that rescheduling will not have to be done again.”
  • “Trim the task … In practice this tends to happen anyway … only alternatives are to trim it formally and carefully, to reschedule, or to watch the task get silently trimmed by hasty design and incomplete testing.” (No-one in their right mind would want the last type of trimming to take place).
  • To not add more people into an already late project. “Brooks’ Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”

I’m looking forward to seeing WordPress 5.0 in the wild, but I’m happy to wait. In the words written on the menu of the Antoine restaurant in New Orleans:

Good cooking takes time. If you are made to wait, it is to serve you better, and to please you.


Lovely, lovely grudges

I hold many grudges. Truly, I do. There’s the grudge that I hold from way back in infant school, where a teacher falsely accused me of the crime of walking on the newly planted flower beds. She moved to South Africa a few weeks after the incident. (The incident that didn’t happen, except in her mind, I hasten to add). I still held onto that grudge even as she was weeping her goodbyes at a school assembly. And guess what? I started to hold a grudge against South Africa – just because they were letting her move there. I haven’t revisited that particular grudge recently, but I suspect that it’s still there, fueled by their many recent cricketing victories over England.

I hold grudges against people who I’ve never met and don’t know. For example, there’s the one that I hold against the English O level examiner who had the temerity to ‘only’ award me a grade B. The aftermath caused me immense pain, both at school and at home. The confidence I lost in my academic abilities on that fateful winter morning as I was handed the results slip has taken me the best part of a lifetime to recover from. Well, not really, but I’m not going to let a nebulous concept like “truth” get in the way of me and my grudges.

However important these issues may have seemed to me at the time, neither could be said to have had any lasting impact on my objective well-being. Yet the hair still stands up on my neck when I think about them and the blood courses furiously in my veins.

So just imagine for a moment the strength of the grudge I hold for the dissembling politicians who lied and conned the country into supporting a vote to leave the EU. It’s almost as strong as the one that I now hold for the politicians who half-heartedly supported remaining, but who are now doing everything in their power to make sure that we leave on any terms – good or bad. However, I definitely don’t hold a grudge towards the growing number of leave voters who feel (rightly) that they were duped by these folk. I’m looking forward to seeing them punish this “elite” at the ballot box for many years to come as their lies are exposed.

But perhaps these feelings about the liars for leave aren’t really grudges. For me, a grudge that I can brood over and milk for years has to be completely irrational and relate to circumstances that I can do nothing about. A bit like the feud in Romeo and Juliet between the Montague and Capulet families perhaps. That’s a proper, irrational grudge that none of the protagonists understand the origins of or can fix unilaterally. But, I am, at last, starting to do something positive in politics again, to try to change things. It’s been a few leaflets here and there in 2016, but now the MSc is out-of-the-way and provided my health holds out, I hereby resolve to become rather more active in 2017.


This rant was brought to you courtesy of the 105th Post 40 Bloggers writing prompt. Please don’t hold it against them.

The 12 posts of Christmas (part 2)

The sixth most read to the most read post published during 2015 (12 – 7 are here).

6. Welcome back – the OU re-launches psychology masters degrees for 2016. Too late for me, but many former and current OU students are happy that these courses are to be re-introduced at last (It now looks as if these courses have been postponed until October 2017).

5. Benchmarking the original Raspberry Pi Model B. A follow-up to the most read post of the year.

4. Spondon Garage in 1952. Two black and white photographs of motoring in days gone by.

Pump attendants at Spondon Garage, 19523. Spondon in colour 1956: Before the Borrowash bypass. The picture below shows the view from near Spondon Methodist church. Today, the A52 leaving Derby runs through the field in the foreground, bisecting Kirk Lees Avenue.

Kirk Leys Avenue 19562. The construction of the A52 at Willowcroft Road, Spondon, 1956-57. A collection of black and white photographs showing how the Borrowash bypass was built.

1. Benchmarking the Raspberry Pi 2. <geek> Running ancient FORTRAN benchmarks on a brand new £30 computer. I haven’t yet got hold of the £5 Raspberry Pi Zero to repeat the feat, but it’s probably only a matter of time … </geek>

Double Precision Whetstone Benchmark Results, RPi 2A Happy Christmas to all my readers. I look forward to seeing you again in 2016.

The 12 posts of Christmas (part 1)

Thank you to the 40,000 or so visitors to this blog during 2015. I hope you found something that you liked in the 85,000 pages that you viewed! While statistics definitely aren’t everything, these are the 12th – 7th most popular articles that I’ve published during this year.

12. Underneath the arches – five of my favourite bridges in Derby. I guess if nothing else, this post demonstrates the somewhat random nature of what appears here – particularly as the first bridge that I photographed (or rather, didn’t photograph) hasn’t been there for a number of years.

11. Manifesto promises about adult education and lifelong learning. What the Conservatives, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP said about this topic before the May 2015 general election.

St Helen's House Derby10. Star Trek game – a Python port from Tiny BASIC. A functional, if poorly written version of a Star Trek game that I re-created. There’s a link to a github repo for it in the comments.

9. The symptoms of lymphoma and what to do if you have them. The infographic from this post, courtesy of the Lymphoma Association, is reproduced below.

Lymphoma symptoms8. British Celanese and the Queen’s visit to Spondon Station, 1957. A number of black and white photographs from my late father’s archive showing the site (currently being demolished) during its heyday.

7. OU student numbers decline by a further 10.3% in 2013/14. The figures for 2014/15 are due to be released by HESA in January.

OU Student Numbers 2008-09 to 2013-14

So farewell then, Teads top blogs

Teads (formerly Wikio/Ebuzzing) has been producing blog rankings for many years. Sadly, they’ve now decided to stop doing this as their business model has moved to focus purely on video advertising. The last blog rankings were compiled in September 2015, with this blog standing proudly at 98 in the ‘Other’ category (just 50 places behind a far more important and influential Tim) and at 710 in the overall UK table.

For posterity, here’s the progress of this blog over the years. Statistics aren’t everything, but sometimes they’re interesting to look at. Farewell Teads – it was fun while it lasted.

Teads blog rankings, September 2015

My 10 most read posts of 2014

With the end of the year looming, I thought I’d do what I usually do at this time of the year and see which my most read posts written during the year were. Looking back on 2014 is personally quite challenging. Five of the most read posts are about a topic that I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d be writing about this time last year – being diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma.

1. It’s lymphoma – My initial diagnosis of nHL in August.

5. Overcoming my fear – “… if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”

6. Hello to the end of the beginning – “MCL is difficult to treat successfully. It is not considered curable.” But I’m not going to say goodbye just yet – and hopefully not for decades.

8. A change of speed? – Having prepared myself to start chemotherapy immediately, further tests showed that I was better off waiting until the lymphoma had progressed a little further … and the good news is that I’m still waiting now.

10. Uncomfortable – Certainly one way of describing a bone marrow biopsy

A couple of new Open University related posts are in 2nd and 3rd places:

2. OU Student Numbers 2008/09 – 2012/13 – The HESA numbers indicating a 16.4% decline in student numbers between 2011/12 and 2012/13. It will be interesting to see what the 2013/14 numbers look like, especially as UCAS have recently reported a recovery in full-time mature student enrolments.

3. Good news – OU psychology MSc courses to get a reboot in 2016 – This really is good news, albeit rather too late for me. With my lymphoma still dithering (and long may it do so), I’m hoping to make a return to masters study with the University of Leicester earlier in 2015 than I’d originally been anticipating.

Two posts about my trip to see the Tower of London Poppies also made it into the top ten, aided by my friends at post40bloggers:

7. The Tower of London Poppies – Three photographs from my visit on 1st November, when the installation was nearing completion.

Poppies at the Tower, 01-11-2014

9. The Tower of London Poppies should be dispersed as planned – And I’m very glad to report that they were, rather than the intent of the installation being subverted by the media or politicians with an eye on the general election next year.

And finally, the fourth most popular post was one consisting of contributed photographs of PAFEC’s offices in 1986/7 and 1990 at Strelley Hall and Nottingham Road, Stapleford.

Thank you for being one of my 33,242 visitors in 2014 and I hope to see you again next year.


Top of the Pops (well, kind of!)

Ebuzzing April 2014 Other Blog Ranking I’m very pleased and surprised to have broken into the Ebuzzing top 100 ‘other’ blog rankings for the first time this month at number 94. I see that I’m in good company too, as I’m only one place behind the British Psychological Society’s excellent Research Digest blog and a mere three behind John Leech MP.

So thank you all very much for visiting and linking to me!