KonMari, part 1

Last night we started KonMaring.

“The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo is a best-selling book detailing the author’s method for decluttering your home and making it a nice place to live in. The short version is, go through all your possessions by category, one by one, holding it and seeing if it “sparks joy”, in effect deciding what you want to keep, and ditching the rest.

It sounds like an enormous task, and it is, but part of the concept is that you only need to do it once, then you won’t go back. Having only stuff you like around, encouraging you to not keep stuff you don’t like.

The first category is clothes, which is broken down into several smaller groups. Clothes I felt I could probably manage, the enormity of Everything Else was entirely too overwhelming for my brain. My poor wife was trying to construct a cheat sheet list of all the categories, and most of the subcategories (except from the last category, which was kind of long). She asked me if there was anything else I could think of that should go on the list.

I looked at the list, and my brain just started shutting down. I already have rather a lot of Things I’m Supposed To Do, with so much of it already falling between the cracks, seeing that much about to be added to the bunch, was overwhelming. I managed to gather enough brain to ask if we could just do the clothes for now.

You’re supposed to grab all your own clothes, and put them in a pile. Mine from around the house weren’t a problem, and we had some boxed in the garage which I brought in. Technically I should have had a check through all my other boxes out there for clothing and accessories (hats, jewellery and so on), but there wasn’t the space out there to do that amount of shunting.

First up was shirts, t-shirts, jumpers/sweaters and the like. Some things were easy to keep, and I was surprised by the volume of stuff that ended up being easy to let go of. There were some points where I just needed to sit and zone out, to recoup some mental energy for doing more.

There was a yellow shirt that I kept. If I remember right where I got it from (I wouldn’t rush to put money on that, if I were you, dear reader), then I got it somewhere around 1998 or ’99. I remember choosing it, because I like yellow, but then for years it wasn’t ever something I felt like wearing.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve been wearing it more. Well, at all would be more, but I’ve chosen it quite a few times, more in the summer because it’s not one of my thicker shirts. It probably would have failed the “spark joy” test for most of its time in my possession (perhaps it would have passed the “spark guilt” test instead), but now it was pretty easy to keep.

Similarly, there was another shirt. It was medium-dark gray. It was a gift from my grandparents. I was a bit disappointed in it when I got it, it’s not a colour that I wore before, and that unfamiliarity brought discomfort. Or maybe I was just an ungrateful little git.. But it was less of a gap, and it became a shirt that I took to wearing quite a bit. I’ve got the feels getting rid of it, but the collar’s started wearing out, so I don’t wear it any more.

By the time I stopped last night, I had decision fatigue. But it was actually nice deciding what I wanted to keep, and letting some other stuff go. I’m looking forward to getting to the socks. I think anything there with holes in the wrong places, will soon be disappearing from my collection.

Encyclopedia Brown

On the basis of an off-topic recommendation on a podcast, I ordered the first book in the Encyclopedia Brown series from the library, for Oldest.

He enjoyed it, then I read it. Call it an “after-the-horse-has-bolted what’s-my-kid-actually-reading” check.

The format is straightforward. Encyclopedia Brown (“Encyclopedia” isn’t his real name, but everyone except his parents call him that because he’s so smart) is the son of the police chief, and is actually the secret weapon reason so many crimes get solved.

There are a bunch of short chapters, set around Encyclopedia, his friends, enemies, and clients, and each time there’s some sort of puzzle, which Encyclopedia works out from the information presented. The answer and explanation are given in the back of the book, to give you a better opportunity to really think about it and work it out.

Oldest enjoyed the book, but he said he didn’t try and figure the answers out, he just looked at the back. I enjoyed it, and did manage to figure the answers to most of them out, and the explanations for most of those answers.

Recommended, I’ll probably look for more in the series, for Oldest, at some point. Not yet, still giving prime time to the new books from Christmas.

A Mausoleum, A Magazine, and Networking

More History Basics today. The post on Bushmead Priory took about a week to concoct. That was the only completed post I had in reserve. So today, I rather anticipated putting up a bunch of researchy links for some posts, to come back and edit later.

But the place I wrote about over there today, didn’t seem to have a lot in the way of work that had been done on it, and there were a lot less Other Things that it was part of, so I surprised myself by writing the whole post in a day (which is kind of the intent).

The post over there was about a 17th century mausoleum. It’s intact, and stuck on the side of what looks to be a functional church. Not much in the way of research has needed to happen around the site, though there has been some. I had a bit of fun when there was a reference to “‘The Gentlemans Magazine’ in Monuments of the Grey Family at Flitton”. What’s a gentleman’s magazine doing there? Turns out that The Gentleman’s Magazine was a twice-yearly publication that went for nearly 200 years, and when I found the volume in question, it turned out there were over 650 pages. Some magazine. The first digitised copy I found was on archive.org, and it was missing those particular pages. Google Books had a scan with those pages intact. The Gentleman’s Magazine also has the distinction of being the first magazine to use the term “magazine”. So while 678 (IIRC) pages sounds like a lot, it just means our current magazines are just slacking.

You learn something new every day.

I’ve been thinking about doing Facebook pages for this site and History Basics. On the plus side, if I invite my friends to like those pages, that’s an initial burst of awareness. On the negative side, someone going back over their feed isn’t guaranteed to see all that they are subscribed to, unless you pay Facebook. And, maybe it’s down to the time of day that I post that I’ve blogged here, but I don’t get a great deal of interaction on the stuff there. I’ve been considering using Ello, as they don’t hide content that you’ve subscribed to see, the drawback there being that I don’t think many people I know are on there. If you are on Ello, follow me at https://ello.co/commander_frog, and I’ll start doing more stuff over there.

The New Site Is Live!

Let me start by saying a little about what I did.

I installed the plugins. One to help with site administration is Google Analytics by Yoast, and one to help with content presentation is Geo Mashup.

The site I unveil today, is History Basics.

Sometimes, information about the past is very forthcoming, and sometimes it’s not very forthcoming at all. There has been a lot of archaeological work that has happened, but sometimes finding out about it is non-intuitive. Documentation may be in a local, national, or international publication, or in a book, or perhaps it may be entirely unpublished.

There are frequently articles about archaeological finds, and it seems that a lot of them do not mention who’s doing the work.

Also, what we do have isn’t necessarily safe. Sometimes finds corrode or erode quickly after they’ve been discovered. Sometimes care isn’t taken with objects: how much more might we know about ancient Egyptian practices if rich Victorians hadn’t had a penchant for mummy-unwrappings. And in the riots in Egypt a couple of years back, some mummies were destroyed, museums in Iraq were looted during the Coalition invasion, Joseph’s tomb in Israel has been attacked several times, a proposed high-speed rail line in England has archaeologists scrambling to find out what might be in its path.

And so on.

Also, conclusions are drawn from findings, and sometimes new findings generate new conclusions (sometimes new conclusions arrive all by themselves). The conclusions might not manage to accommodate all the available evidence. Like life, it’s kinda messy. So I don’t mind presenting conclusions, but I do want to emphasise that on which the conclusions are based (and that which the conclusions ignore).

So, a disorganised field to organise, a world to save (in the “archive” sense of the word, like Donna Noble in the Library). And hopefully make research easier for anyone who wants or needs to (I’m trying to aim the writing so it can be engaged by teens in school, and anyone older than that).

I’m not strictly limiting myself to archaeological sites, as the messiness rears its ugly head again: there’s a 12th-Century church I know of that’s still in active use, and there’s certainly many archaeological sites contemporary and much more recent, so while I intend to have an archaeological focus, it’s not a criteria I will rigidly adhere to.

So that’s something in the way of the underlying idea behind the project.

I spent much of today cleaning up the showcase entry on the site: I noticed surprisingly little spelling that needed cleaned up, but some bolding, italicising, and rather a lot of making links look not-dorky. It’ll take you a while to read it, but check out the entry on Bushmead Priory over there, to get the feel of what I’m going for.

Why Bushmead Priory, you may ask?

When I was looking for a starting point, I found a list of sites that would make a great base to build from. It was Wikipedia’s list of English Heritage properties. I went through the whole list, finding the co-ordinates on Google Maps (and occasionally Bing, when Google’s image wasn’t quite adequate). Then I started over, gathering the PastScape data. And a few months ago, when I decided I really needed to get a full-fledged post done, that was quite literally the top of the list.

After I got that entry all finished, I had a bit of a battle of wills getting the forum set up. I don’t want to start with too many sections on the thing until there’s a bit more of a demand, but I got some sections set up and described, and a couple of threads started. Such is the state of things, though, that I’m using the Admin account and another account that I’ve set up for myself, and I’ve had to use the Admin account to approve the posts that I have made with the other one (one more to go).

So there, we go, this actually feels like a start, now. To invert a line from a movie (the original line including the movie’s title), “we must go forward… to the past!”

Installing Sections Of The Site

Watch out, today’s going to be technical. I’ll try to not make it too obscure, but I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid all the technical stuff.

So, with the domain name and hosting bought yesterday, and the Internet caught up to the fact that there’s actually something at the web address, today I started turning it into one of those website thingies I’ve been hearing so much about.

First up was the WordPress install, for the bulk of the actual content on the site. WordPress is what this site is built on. Now an issue I have been running into, but haven’t been troubled enough by to fix, is the url. The web address. You’ll notice that on this site, rather than being http://www.thelimeyfrog.com, the site shows as straight http://thelimeyfrog.com. I’m not sure that there’s functionally a lot of difference, but I think the www is more familiar to a lot of people.

Some searching on the issue yesterday didn’t yield any results, to today I went straight into experimentation, installing to some subfolder that, long story short, didn’t to what I wanted it to. So I deleted the folders, deleted the database, tried to start over. This second time, the installer ran, but loading the site threw up some errors. So I deleted files, deleted the database, tried it again… and the installer threw up errors.

Now this installer is some automatic “we’ll set it up for you” program that the hosting service provides, but that’s not the only way to do it. The easiest, if you don’t overthink things like I do, but not the only way. The other way is to download the WordPress program, edit a configuration file, and upload the whole shebang to where you want it. Then you point your browser to the installation file, and then it’s all set up pretty quickly.

I started uploading the files via a couple of web-based file uploaders that the host provides. There are two File Managers that let me do this (hence the trying with the plural), but they only let me select one. file. at. a. time. Well, to borrow a phrase, “that ain’t working”.

The other way to do it is via FTP, which stands for “File Transfer Protocol”. Practically, this involves downloading a program and installing it on the computer, which you have to set up with the right settings to actually connect to the web server (second time lucky, there), then it’ll let you drag-and-drop files onto the server. But not from the Explorer window you already have open, you have to browse to it again in the program.

In the end, this worked fine, and stood me in good stead for a bit later on in the story. And then I implemented the solution I found to the www issue that I’d found in the meantime.

There’s a setting in WordPress, in the General settings, where it gives you a couple of fields to enter the site URL and the WordPress URL – you can just add the www to it. Which in hindsight should have been obvious, but I was somehow still expecting it to be a folder-based problem.

That part all sorted out, I turn my attention to the other big install that needed doing: the forum. I’ve spent a bunch of time on phpBB forums, and I’ve played around with them a bit, so that seemed like the obvious choice. I set up the subdomain (forum.[I’m not telling you what the site is yet].com), then used the site’s automatic installer to install it there. Worked just fine.

But.

Going into administrator settings revealed that there was a newer version of phpBB (if I remember correctly, it was on 3.0.12 and there was a 3.0.14), so I went to get that. Going to download the newest 3.0.x, it asked me if I didn’t really want the newest 3.1.x. I tried having a look into what the difference was, and a cursory look suggested that the main reasons to keep 3.0.x was that a bunch of add-ons that work on 3.0 wouldn’t work on 3.1.
Not being that interested in these add-ons at this point, I looked up how to upgrade from 3.0 to 3.1. It involved downloading the files (unzipping them and all that), there were three folders and a file to delete from the download, then on the server delete all the forum files except those three folders and the file, then upload everything else. This is where the FTP program came in handy a second time.

Next on the list of things to do for the site, is to add some plugins to WordPress, and set up how I want that to be displayed, and fiddle with some basic settings on phpBB so that at the very least it’s branded as my site, and not the generic defaults.

After that: enough content that I’ll be happy to give people a link to the new site.

A New Year, A New Start

So I’ve taken a little break from blogging since the night before Christmas, and today is the day I start back.

I am also starting to make an extra effort to bring the website that I’ve been doing research for, kicking and screaming into reality. It’s really time to bite the mullet on this one. I’ve been gathering various parts for this one for a long time, but without the work being out in the wild, it doesn’t outwardly look like I’ve done very much. So today I bought the domain, I bought some hosting, and I transferred some money from the Old Country (England, of course) to America to cover it.

It may have been easier to have paid straight from the English account, but the hosting I got would have added $35 just for EU VAT (“value siphoning tax”), and it looked like the transaction was still in dollars, so chances are that the bank would have slapped some extra currency conversion charge on top.

No point paying money that I don’t have to. I used TransferWise, which I discovered a long time ago (probably via moneysavingexpert.com), which charged a pound to send the money (covering 3 years domain name and hosting), using mid-market rates (the kind of exchange rate you see on xe.com/ucc, and you never get that good a deal with your bank).

There is a podcast I listen to regularly*, and the host has an adage that he repeats from time to time, which would seem to be embodied in this case. “Money goes where it’s treated well.” Is my money better treated with a tiny part going to TransferWise, or with a larger proportion being skimmed by banks and taxes? I’m in a position where I’m able to make this decision without any obligation to the EU.

Incidentally, between the time I last had to transfer money, and this time, a friend of mine was in some ads for TransferWise. Seen a photo of him on the London Underground, underneath his picture on the advert. Funny old world.

I won’t say anything about the new site right now. I’m looking forward to it, of course, and there have been some vague hints in my writing so far. I’ll say more when there’s actually a site to look at.

So, yes, in wording slightly different from the title of this entry, new year and new beginnings.

Let’s see where we end up this time in 2017! Potential for a lot to happen.

*I say “regularly”, but, like all the other podcasts I listen to, I download frequently, then binge-listen.