Tim Retout's www presence

Sun, 01 Jan 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Apparently I failed to write a blog entry in all of 2016, and almost all of 2015. Probably says something profound about the rise of social media, or perhaps I was just very busy. I bet my writing has suffered.

I have spent the last few days tidying up and clearing out clothes, bits of paper, and wires. I think there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Posted: 01 Jan 2017 23:17 | Tags:

Fri, 02 Jan 2015

Decluttering

Kate's been reading some book or other by KonMari. Hence we've rehomed lots of clothes, books and DVDs to charity and various places.

I am told the key is to ask, "Does this item bring me joy?" Then if it doesn't bring you enough joy, it goes. The nice thing was, it was actually exciting to reveal the gems among my bookshelves, which were previously hidden by a load of second-rate books.

True story: I was sitting downstairs deciding whether to splash out £25 for a particular book. Was called upstairs to make some 'joy decisions', and saw the very same book on the shelf already. Fast delivery!

Posted: 02 Jan 2015 21:52 | Tags:

Thu, 01 Jan 2015

Looking back at 2014

I have a tendency to forget what I've been up to - so I made a list for 2014.

I started the year having recently watched many 30c3 videos online - these were fantastic, and I really should get round to the ones from 31c3. January is traditionally the peak time for the recruitment industry, so at work we were kept busy dealing with all the traffic. We'd recently switched the main job search to use Solr rather than MySQL, which helped - but we did spend a lot of time during the early months of the year converting tables from MyISAM to InnoDB.

At the start of February was FOSDEM, and Kate and I took Sophie (then aged 10 months) to her first software conference. I grabbed a spot in the Go devroom for the Sunday afternoon, which was awesome. Downside: we got horribly ill while in Brussels.

At work I was sorting out configuration management - this led to some Perl module backporting for Debian, and I uploaded Zookeeper at some point during the year as well. We currently make use of vagrant, chef and a combination of Debian packages and cpanm for Perl modules, but I have big plans to improve on that this year.

Over a break from work I hacked up apt-transport-tor, which lets you install Debian packages over the Tor network. (This was inspired by videos from 30c3 and/or LibrePlanet, I think?) Continuing the general theme of paranoia, I attended the Don't Spy On Us campaign's day of action in June.

Over the summer at work I was experimenting with Statsd and Graphite for monitoring. I also wrote Toggle, a Perl module for feature flags. In July I attended a London.pm meeting for the first time, and heard Thomas Klausner talk about OX - this nudged me into various talks at LPW (see below). Pubs have a lot to answer for.

At some point I got an IPv6 tunnel working at home (although my ISP-provided router's wireless doesn't forward it), and I had an XBMC install going on a Raspberry Pi as another fun hack.

In August and September I worked on packaging pump.io for Debian, and attended IndieWebCamp Brighton, where I delivered a talk/workshop on setting up TLS. (This all ties in to the paranoia theme.) I stalled the work on pump.io, partly because of licensing issues at build-dependency time (if you want to run all the tests) - but I expect I'll pick this up in 2015 once jessie is released.

November was the London Perl Workshop, where I presented my work from the summer on statsd/graphite and Toggle, and a Bread::Board lightning talk. LPW was more enjoyable for me this year than previous years, probably because of the interesting people discussing various aspects of how feature flags ought to work. Simultaneously was the Cambridge MiniDebConf (why do these always clash?) where I think I fixed at least one RC bug.

This is not an exhaustive list of everything I've done this year - there are more changes now lined up for 2015 which I haven't shared yet. But looking back, I'm pleased that the many small experiments I get up to do add up to something over time, and I can see that I'm achieving something. Here's to another year!

Posted: 01 Jan 2015 21:38 | Tags:

Wed, 01 Jan 2014

2014

So, happy new year. :)

I watched many 30c3 talks via the streams over Christmas - they were awesome. I especially enjoyed finding out (in the Tor talk) that the Internet Watch Foundation need to use Tor when checking out particularly dodgy links online, else people just serve them up pictures of kittens.

Today's fail: deciding to set up OpenVPN, then realising the OpenVZ VPS I was planning to use would not support /dev/net/tun.

I'm back at work tomorrow, preparing for the January surge of people looking for jobs. Tonight, the first Southampton Perl Mongers meeting of the year.

Posted: 01 Jan 2014 18:02 | Tags:

Sun, 16 Jun 2013

Sophie

It's my first Father's Day! Sophie was born 2 months ago (3345g or 7lb 6oz), and I've been on a blogging hiatus for quite a bit longer than that. She's very cute.

I am getting into the swing of fatherhood - lots of nappy changing. :) I took my two weeks of paternity leave, but spread the second "week" over two weeks by working just afternoons, which gave me lots of time with mummy and baby. We watched a DVD called "The Happiest Baby on the Block", and mastered the techniques therein (mainly swaddling and white noise). So all things considered, we're getting quite a bit of sleep.

Sophie is very curious about my typing, and leans towards anything she's interested in... so she's currently suspended at an angle besides me. Maybe she'll be interested in what her parents do, when she grows up. :) But for now, we're enjoying that she's learned to smile.

Posted: 16 Jun 2013 22:45 | Tags:

Thu, 03 Jan 2013

New Year

Another year. 2012 was busy - I got moved house twice, changed jobs, and got married. In 2013, I should become a father, fingers crossed (due mid-April). Change is a familiar friend now.

I just listened to Tom Armitage speaking about coding on Radio 4 - I /think/ the podcast mp3 link will work for people outside the UK, but the iPlayer probably won't. If you can get hold of it, it's worth the 20 minutes of your time.

If I had to make a New Year's resolution, it would be to listen to more Radio 4 - there's such a lot of it, though. I'm going to try subscribing to some of their podcasts and listening to them on my commute - timeshifting some of the best bits. Might work.

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 23:09 | Tags: , ,

Sat, 06 Oct 2012

Wedding

Today, Kate and I got married!

Thank you to everyone who sent best wishes. A big wedding party will follow in the next 18 months or so (when we've saved some money!), to which many more people will be invited. This was the minimum viable subset of wedding - we got the product to market early, and both stakeholders are very satisfied.

We had dinner at the Caribbean restaurant in town which is always busy - turns out there's a reason for that. They do these one-pot meals in enamel dishes, which tasted amazing.

It is a strange new feeling to be a husband. :)

Posted: 06 Oct 2012 21:00 | Tags:

Tue, 08 May 2012

Engaged!

Following on from the weekend of change, I've got engaged to Kate. :)

We now need to organise a combined housewarming/engagement party...

Posted: 08 May 2012 20:52 | Tags:

Sat, 22 Jan 2011

Grandma

My paternal grandmother died a month ago today - I may have been quieter than usual since December.

The most vivid memory I have of her is helping to collect runner beans from her garden - apparently this had been going on since the World War II "dig for victory" campaign.

Her funeral was in Hastings on 10th January, and she was buried in Fairlight, in the Roman Catholic area of St. Andrew's - it was a very peaceful setting.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011 20:33 | Tags:

Fri, 11 Dec 2009

Moving

I'm now a Debian Developer. :) My thanks go to Ben Hutchings, gregor herrmann, Chris Lamb, Christoph Berg, Steve McIntyre, Brad Smith, Jonny Lamb, Chris Boyle, everyone at credativ, and everyone else who helped me with Debian over the last... almost six years?

Actually, I've been a DD since the weekend, but have been too absorbed to write about it.

In other news, I'm moving house today... I'm more or less packed now. My internet access may be intermittent at home for the next few weeks. (Home is now Southampton, UK.)

Posted: 11 Dec 2009 03:47 | Tags: , ,

Mon, 26 Oct 2009

The story so far

I spent the weekend in Rugby, not doing very much. I had this morning off work to travel back to Southampton, and it was surprisingly busy.

This afternoon I put the transaction scope guards I'd researched on Saturday into my project at work, and then refactored bits of it. According to the project plan I'm meant to be finished soon, but I keep finding more important things to do than implement the final SQL functions.

For instance, at the end of last week I found and fixed a small but nasty bug that was causing corruption of the database. Now that's out of the way, my life becomes much easier, in theory.

Posted: 26 Oct 2009 21:18 | Tags:

Thu, 19 Mar 2009

Organization

Suddenly I am very organized - a series of tedious tasks seem to have completed themselves, and I'm teetering on the brink of productivity. But that way lies madness.

Today at work we finally deployed the new django-based website. It uses the same HTML and styling as the old website, but reduces the URL duplication, which will help with optimizing for search engines. We now need to add better content, and then perhaps work on the style. (I am now able to link directly to a page about PostgreSQL training, but the content is not yet too informative. And we still have nothing on Nagios.)

Next tedious task: the last of the Debian NM questions.

Posted: 19 Mar 2009 00:00 | Tags: ,

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