Nick Radcliffe's MicroBlog

Hey @danielpunkass @martinfeld. Was just listening to your RSS podcast where Daniel mentioned mentioned that Netflix is nothing like a feed (true). I'd never thought about it but Tivo/DVRs are kind-of like that: series link, subscribe in advance, old episodes. Interesting.

Not sure who we have from Edinburgh on m.b., but if there's anyone here interested in Python or Data, PyData Edinburgh restarts in-person meetings this Thursday Evening. Free sign-up on meetup.

Topic: Data Drift.

I ran across the idea of a "Luck Surface Area" in this blogpost by @swyx. He has a nice visualization of it.

Luck raining down at random on many people, each capturing a little. One 'lucky' person collects more luck by standing under a funnel with sides labelled 'doing' and 'telling'

I've always been interested in the idea of luck. I think this is a useful way of thinking about it.

I ran across the idea of a "Luck Surface Area" in this blogpost by @swyx. He has a nice visualization of it.

Luck raining down at random on many people, each capturing a little. One 'lucky' person collects more luck by standing under a funnel with sides labelled 'doing' and 'telling'/></p>
<p>I've always been interested in the idea of luck. I think this is a useful way of thinking about it.</p>
               <div class= 2023-01-27T19:57:38Z

Test post to see how handles SVG.

Hex Map of 2019 UK General Election Winning Party and Propotions of Votes and Seats.

Hex Map of 2019 UK General Election Winning Party and Propotions of Votes and Seats

This is obvious, but if you love Twitterrific and @chockenberry, and @bigzaphod, and @gedeonm, et al., this would be a great time to purchase great apps like Linea Sketch, Tot, Trinode etc.

TIL that if you use open bar/foo.pdf in a (Mac) terminal, doesn't notice if the doc changes. Whereas if you do (cd bar; open foo.pdf), it does. I'm amazed (a) I never noticed that before, and (b) that it has that limitation.

@martinfeld Great to find you here, and excellent explanatory introductory episode to your RSS podcast. I was going to say you have to interview Manton, and read his book, but I guess you have and, probably, you have!

Fascinating podcast series, Really Specific Stories, from @martinfeld. Includes interviews with our own @manton and @jean among others. It's a kind of meta-podcast on tech podcasting, being done as part of Ph.D. research. Bravo, Martin! 🎙

The Cover of Manton Reece's book, Indie Microblogging, showing Indianapolis Union Station

My review of @manton's book: 📚

Ironically, I can't seem to add @manton's book, Indie Microblogging, to bookshelves on m.b, but I read the whole thing, and it is a thought-provoking tour-de force that really explains why Manton build Highly recommended. ★★★★★ 📚

In case anyone is interested, I've been upgrading the Wikipedia entry for and some related pages. And others could too! If anyone has good authoritative references, please add them or pass them on to me.

@manton @jean The distination for the current Help link feels to me like Support, not Help.

@manton @jean Re. m.b features & discoverability: the Help is great, and the contents lists most features, but the main help link doesn't point to the contents, but to a list of issues. I think it would help a lot if the main link went to the ToC

I don't understand emoji.

On my Mac, the discover pagepage and menu emoji are nothing like the ones in the posts:

Left: Emoji on menu/discover page. Right: Actual emoji in posts. (From Mac.)

Are the ones on the left images from a different platform?

Michael Watts has a new Fretboard Journal podcast called Life on the Fretboard.

Life on the Fretboard Podcast, from The Fretboard Journal, hosted by Michael Watts

Episode one features the incredible Celtic guitarist Tony McManus.

Tony McManus and Michael Watts: episode art for Life on the Fretboard podcast, Episode 1

Highly recommended.


Look what turned up!

Covers of the six Aberystwyth Noir novels by Malcolm Price. Aberystwyth, Mon Amour; Last Tango in Aberystwyth; The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth; Don't Cry for Me, Aberystwyth; From Aberystwyth with Love; The Day Aberystwyth Stood Still


@manton I believe I've read every word in your book now, so my suggestions are complete, though I might proof-read my errata and clarify tonight.

The book is inspiring and superb. I will write a review.

Also, @manton, I loved your opening to the conclusion 'Bare with me', but as a reserved Brit, I'll decline if it's OK, until we know each other better 😉.

@manton I believe I've read every word in your book now, so my suggestions are complete, though I might proof-read my errata and clarify tonight.


The book is inspiring and superb. I will write a review.

"Welcoming new users by hand will always feel more meaningful than an algorithmic suggested users list. No one wants to talk to a computer."

@manton, Indie Microblogging.

Amen to that. Voice assistants: just say no[thing]!

In a world of instant gratification, one of joys of ordering books and CDs from artists and indies is that they often take a while to show up. When they arrive, it's like a wonderful present from past you to present you.

I think I just found the original Articles of Faith for in two paragraphs of @manton's book:

Remember, most Twitter clones fail. With the platform based on blogs, the worst case if doesn’t work out is that you’ve still got your own blog! Instead of being left with nothing, you have all your microblog posts, domain name, and design. You can still cross-post to other social networks and move on to the next thing without starting over. ¶  This is how the web was supposed to work. We’ve gotten away from it and now it’s time to find our way back. The IndieWeb has long been working toward this.

—From Your blog in Indie Microblogging, (Part 4), Manton Reece.

Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver, Faber (London) 2022, First Edition, Hardback

Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver. 📚

@manton @jean Did a bit of New-Year's upgrading of Wikipedia, this time adding (and Mastdon) to the Microblogging page and adding a couple of references to and a quote from Manton's book.

TIL about Aberystwyth Noir, novels by Malcolm Pryce: Aberystwyth, Mon Amour • The Last Tango in Aberystwyth • The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth etc. Sounds great!

Hey @manton: I finished Part 3 of your book, so now has comments/errata up to there. It's all minor stuff you might not agree with, but hope it's useful.

@manton Your book is really good. I knew you'd thought a lot about this, and expected it to be good, but it's really good (Parts 1 and 2, so far, anyway!) Not sure there's another platform with such solid philosophical underpinnings, except maybe the internet itself.

@manton @jean Added as a publisher of JSON Feed in the (JSON Feed) Wikipedia entry, after reading more about it in the book!

I see that the Wikipedia entry for "Blog" — — says that "According to critics and other bloggers, Blogger is the most popular blogging service used today." That feels...dated, and intrinsically silly.

@danielpunkass, @manton, @jean Also updated the MarsEdit Wikipedia entry a bit, mentioning 5.0, Markdown highighting and microposting to m.b.

@manton @jean Added as a notable implementation on Wikipedia's ActivityPub page, with references to the relevant book chapter, help article and blog post.

@manton I've been reading your book, finally. It's great! Just finished part 1. I'm keeping notes on possible errata/thoughts/comments in case they're useful at Will continue updating, but Part 1 is done.

I hadn't seen W3C's Ethical Design Principles before the book @manton wrote — Amazing! The last is great: People should be able to render web content as they want. A bit naïve in places, but a good set of guiding principles.

Rediscovering the notion of "remaindered links" too. Kinda great.

Reading @manton's book, I have just been (indirectly) reminded of the Million Dollar Homepage — Amazing!

In further further news, Apple claims you can disable Private Relay using View ➔ Reload and Show IP Address (; but I don't have that in Safari, even with Option. Firefox works, however, so I can edit Wikipedia.

In other news, I've discovered that you can't edit Wikipedia if you have Private Relay turned on, because it blocks you, even if you're signed in.

@manton @jean In case you're interested, I've just made a few tweaks to the Wikipedia page on Plan to try to upgrade a few things on this and related pages over the break.

@manton I'm sure we could do more, actually... I really did the bare minimum. But we should possibly (as a user community, rather than you) upgrade the m.b page itself, reference your book, possibly highly m.b as a different bit of the Fediverse on the main Fediverse page. Generally try to make it top notch. Maybe a hobby for me (and others???) over xmas.

Looks like the m.b entry on could use a bit of expansion too. Might do some of that over the next couple of days. Also not sure the world's best (draft) book on Microblogging features on Wikipedia...

@manton Why are the access dates in the citation for yesterday, you ask? Well, Wikipedia won't let me make 'em today. Maybe because I did it just before 08:00UTC, which I suppose is yesterday in California!

@manton and I added to Let me know if I screwed anything up (or fix 'em!)

@manton I can't believe I didn't notice m.b was missing from the Wikipedia Fediverse page when I was linking to it. Will add. doesn't support OStatus or Zot (or Diaspora), right? (They're not mentioned anywhere I can find.)

@manton I'd hate the prompts less if they said something like "Prefer apps? We have apps! [link]" rather than the typical passive/aggressive "Install our native app: [OK | I'll do it later]"

@danielpunkass Great track and, of course, a great song. Amazing how few words there are; makes every one count. Somehow reminds me of Stuck in the Middle with you (Gerry Rafferty/Stealer's Wheel):

@danielpunkass Such a great track (Life's Been Good). It's been too long since I listened to it. Thanks for the reminder!

@manton Thanks! I hate those "download our app" prompts too. Don't have to do those. But maybe make it slightly easier for people to know they exist!

@jean Sounds good. Sent you an email; hoping I guessed your address right! Doesn't seem to have bounced...

TBH, @jean, after listening to Manton and Daniel talk about what you’ve done elsewhere, my main hesitation in writing this was that you might have it all covered and resent unsolicited advice. Hope it’s helpful/useful/positive!

@manton: My post of 09:15 is from Blogger's RSS feed (it still exists!), which I have hooked up to But it seems to have linked the RSS not the post. Is that a known problem?

@jean: Ran out of characters or would have tagged you too: Marketing

Marketing @manton @danielpunkass

  • Byzantine

Test post 2022-12-17. Given the slightly bizantine way I post, wondering if this still works.

Managed to break posting to in my weird, home-grown system for doing that. This post is just a test post to check that it's now fixed.

If you use launchd/launchctl, but don't know its history, I found a great talk from its creator, Dave Zarzycki, explaining its philosophy. "Launchd: One Progam to Rule Them All". Highly recommended.

The biggest Swift surprise so far is that while variables are strongly (statically) typed, values are not. It's not a huge surprise that 1 can happily be any numeric type. But I'm amazed that [1, 2, 3] can be a set as well as an array. Wild!

The two worst things so far in Swift would have to be string handling (which seems wilfully verbose and unpleasant) and error handling, which also seems very clunky.

One thing I thought looked weird/clunky in Swift from afar, but on using seems quite nice, is optionals. They definitely take a little getting used to, but once you do, they're quite elegant.

Overall, I'm really impressed with Swift. Lattner & co seems to have managed to combine loads of the features of modern dynamic languages into a strongly-typed, statically checked language, resulting in something that can be fast, expressive and "safe".

Starting back on Swift again after [consults blog] ... a couple of years. Obviously the language has moved on a bit; as have I. Quite impressed with the language design so far...but with some gripes. Will probably start posting at again.

Steve Richards brought his Rock'n'Roll Politics to the Edinburgh Fringe. He essentially stands and talked about politics for an hour (Brexit, mostly, of course). He's both insightful and articulate, and well worth hearing. There's a sporadic podcast version too.

The Edinburgh Fringe also had a new solo show from Rowan Rheingans, called "Dispatches on the Red Dress". This was music, dance and storytelling from her German grandparents during and after WWII. Powerful, brave, humane and unusual.

The Edinburgh Fringe is just winding up for 2019. Too many of the people I've been to see over many years have died, so I made a conscious effort to find new people this year. Westward the Light, Camille O'Sullivan and (not so new) Archie Fisher were all excellent.

Rexpy for Generating Regular Expressions: Postcodes

Given my recent decision to start learning Swift "properly" (hence the CLI-Swift blog, I am watching the WWDC livestream with an even more interest than usual!

Dates. 'nuff said.

Probably most people here with any interest in Swift already know more of it than I do. But if you are starting out, and particularly if you like command-line tools and have experience in other languages, you might like my new blog cli-swift.

I spend a lot of time devoping on Macs, but I am not a Mac Developer. Thus far, for me, the Mac has been the best Unix box you can buy, with a good GUI. But I'm starting down the slippery slope of learning Swift.

@hartlco Finally, (very minor point). It says "18 following", meaning that I am followin 18 people. But I think the language suggests 18 are following me. (Word order matters more in English, without cases, than German.) "Following 18" would be clearer.

@hartlco Secondly, Any plans for a dark theme? Especially a really beautiful dark theme like Twitterrific's? I know these things are superficial, but they affect the experience a lot, imo.

@hartlco First is sync (of position), at least between icro on different devices, but ideally with @manton's app too. Any plans? (It's not there, right?)

@hartlco Been trying icro for a week or so, iPhone and iPad. You've done a great job, and it's great to see @manton being so supportive (in contrast to Twitter's current relationship with 3rd-party developers). Will post some thoughts.

So, are there any Pythonistas or data (scientists|analysts|people) on I'd like to follow y'all.

Here's a PyData London 2018 Debugging Duck.

PyData London Debugging Duck

Hey @manton: I just tried to follow @coreint, but struggled, especially in the app. Ended up going to, on the web, which seems hard. Have now found the search icon under Discover in the app, but it's kinda hidden. Maybe it should be in more places?

  1. Notice my post times are an hour out on MicroDB.
  2. Think: hah, @manton's screwing up DST.
  3. Check RSS feed just in case.
  4. Realise actually @njr is screwing up DST.
  5. Sigh.
  6. Add to to-do list.

Linea Sketch is an app so good it might get you to buy an iPad + Pencil. Ged Maheaux, one of its developers, is interviewed on Tim Chaten's iPad Pros podcast. Go listen!

A happy side-effect of posting my iPhone home screen here a few weeks ago is that after having to set up my phone as a new device (don't ask...), it acted as a handy reference.

The problem with passwordless logins is that I don't record them in a password safe. So when asked hard questions like "Email address", a guessing game begins!

I hereby resolve to make entries for passwordless logins!

WSGI, WSGI, so good they named it twice.

—with Apologies to The Beautiful South and their excellent song, Liars' Bar.

Tamara Lindeman (a.k.a. The Weather Station) discusses her latest album on the Kreative Kontrol podcast #384:

Really compelling, insightful discussion.

Bruce Schneier's cogent take on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica:

First post from MicroDB since the clocks went forward here in Scotland.

I wonder if my handling of daylight savings time is any less buggy than Apple's always seem to be?

The pitch for unlocking with Apple Watch: you sit at your keyboard; it unlocks.

The reality: ~30% it unlocks; ~60%, it spins for ages then says the connection is too weak; ~10%, it looks like it's failing but isn't and you type your password into Terminal/Emacs/Slack...

Went to Glasgow yesterday for a DataFest event, Delivering Industrial Value from Data Analytics, organized by Stephen McArthur of University of Strathclyde. Passed this street art on George Street.

Glasgow Street Art, George Street

As a lover of dictionaries in general, and the OED in particular, I really enjoyed this Guardian Long Read Inside the OED: can the world’s biggest dictionary survive the internet? and podcast by Andrew Dixon.

Leaving Cleartune in its rightful place, even though it no longer runs, is my message to the developers that I'd really like them to update it!

iPhone Home Screen

@manton: Here's an example.


@manton: I've just been experimenting with posting code fragments to Multimarkdown produces a code element inside a pre element with a few lines, but the apps don't seem to obey the linebreaks. Is that deliberate?

import datetime

d = datetime.datetime(2018,3,16)









TIL that ISO 8601 supports not only plain dates, "naïve" datetimes and datetimes with timezone information, but also weeks (like 2018-W30), week-based dates (like 2018-W20-2), dates without years (like --04-17) and ordinal dates.

The "hd" in "hd-json" isn't high-definition: it's "human-friendly, date-aware json".

Proposal for hd-json:

Any valid json + unquoted date/time literals in ISO 8601; trailing commas on lists and in dictionaries are ignored.

I was working with some textual data yesterday that included right-to-left characters in amongst left-to-right ones.

Like these: أبوظبي

The results were stranger than I expected!

The web can be weaponised — and we can't count on big tech to stop it.

— Tim Berners-Lee, today's Guardian.

Very relevant to Open/Indie Web.

A few years ago, I was working informally on a centralized tag-based database called Fluidinfo, brainchild of Terry Jones. Now I'm trying to re-invent Fluidinfo in distributed form, as MicroDB.

Introducing MicroDB (blog post).

A Distributed, Tag-Based Database for Annotating Anything and Everything.

Very interesting (re. 1Password to Pass).

Might follow suit.

I’m currently 100% Apple ecosystem (except Linux servers), but I suspect those days are drawing to a close. Thanks for writing up, @jack.

TFW you think you're connected to your test server but nothing is working, and then all your test posts show up on the real server!

(Sorry for the line noise.)




short-sighted (hyphen)

3–4 (en-dash)

the whole shebang—finally (em-dash).

Enjoyed this week's Core Intuition: good discussion between @manton and @danielpunkass on various developer topics.

Surprised how civil they both were about Slack though—a scandalously buggy resource hog of an app.

£240 for a "depot repair" of a just-under-two-years-old Apple Watch whose battery would no longer consistently last a day.

Replacement died c. 18:30 first day :-(.

"Rather, as in all good science, the evidence comes from careful observations, in this case done by Edwin Hubble, who continues to give me great faith in humanity, because he started out as a lawyer and then became an astronomer."

— Lawrence Krauss, A Universe from Nothing.

"Everyone (with the exception certain school boards in the United States) now knows that the universe is not static but is expanding and that the expansion began in an incredibly hot, dense Big Bang approximately 13.72 billion years ago."

— L. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing.

"It is commonly assumed that Einstein worked in isolation in a closed room for years using pure thought and reason, and came up with him beautiful theory, independent of reality (perhaps like some string theorists nowadays!)"

— Lawrence Krauss, A Universe from Nothing.

I'm always amazed Apple doesn't use iPad Pros with Pencils to get people sign work authorizations etc. in their stores.

I think think they'd make the cost back many times over as more people saw how fantastic the Pencil is.

You can tell a lot about a web company’s priorities from its front page.

If there’s a huge sign-up box and you have to hunt to log in, it’s not really interested in its customers.

BackBlaze & iCloud get it right; @Github, Slack, Flickr, Dropbox, & Twitter, not so much.

Proposals for PyData London submitted with hours to spare. If you like Python & Data Science, it's the place to be. CFP closes tomorrow.

I remember hearing physicist Neil Turok explain cosmic strings as being "missing angles in the universe", but I've never actually seen one before. (Source: Guardian iPad app, 2018-03-01). John Major and the Cosmic String

@manton That's weird. My post appeared twice on, but it only seems to be there once in the RSS. I wonder if this one will double too?

@manton Really like what you've done with Joined a while ago but was keen to add support for to a crazy tag-based database I'm playing around with. It's just starting to work!

I've been playing about adding a feed to a little tag-based database I've been building. It (cough) took a few attempts to get it right!

In the unlikely event that anyone's been listening, apologies for the noise.

Maybe this will be bold?

Is this thing on?