Blog: August 2021

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Survivors: new chapters

In the late 1970s there was a BBC series, created by Terry Nation, called Survivors. A devastating plague has ravaged the world, killing almost everybody; the show follows small groups of people who survived that only to have to cope with the new state of the world. I enjoyed the show (much later, when I came across it on Netflix), though it started to meander as time went on. (I later learned that Terry Nation had left the show after the first season -- probably related.) Later there was a remake of sorts, with some significantly different plot points. Both versions ended before being resolved.

Terry Nation wrote a novel, presumably the story he had intended to tell. I read the book during this current pandemic, and yes, it's a much tighter story than the TV show. I enjoyed it. It has an ending. I will not spoil it in this post (no promises about comments if you click through to the source).

A few months ago I learned that there was a sequel to that novel, not written by Terry Nation. Genesis of a Hero, by John Eyers, logically follows Survivors and shows other parts of this post-apocalyptic world. I thought some things in it happened too quickly and too tidily, that real people are more complex than some of the ones we saw in the novel, but it was worth reading -- I enjoyed spending time as an observer in the world it portrays. It ended in a good place.

Forty years passed. And then John Eyers wrote a sequel to that, called Salvation, published a few months ago. If you liked Survivors, and if you read Genesis of a Hero, then, I implore you in the strongest possible way, stop there.

I don't know what led the author to return to the series after such a long time. I don't know why he decided to, essentially, tell a related-seeming story in a different world -- a problem which did not become apparent until after the halfway point. Much of this latest book deviates far too much from the baseline, some key plot points just do not make sense, and the story, characters, and writing are nowhere near compelling enough for me to overcome those faults.

He should have stopped at one sequel. Since he didn't, I should have stopped reading this one at the first improbable left turn instead of reading on to see how he would resolve it because surely he would, right? Uh... if you do start reading this book (or if you already have), when you get to that left turn, I urge you to close the book and do something you'll find more rewarding, like scrubbing your kitchen floor.

For want of a nail, the kingdom was...delayed

I have an open-source project I am very enthusiastic about (Codidact). Mostly my role does not involve the code directly: I'm the community lead (i.e. primary talker-with-people-who-use-it and triager of feature requests), and I do some design of features, workflows, wireframes, internal documentation, and stuff like that. And I beat up on the test server a lot when there's work in progress to poke at. We have infrastructure to support all that.

But sometimes I'd like to get a little closer to the code, mostly for my own education and partly so I can maybe help do smaller things because our team is pretty small still. And there was that one time that I really wanted to fix a front-end bug that I admitted was limited in scope; it was bothering me, but not something to drag a developer off of something else for. And it was in the Javascript code, which I can bumble my way through, so ok, I figured, I can do this. (And there was that weird thing about dates in Javascript, but I digress.) But I didn't have a dev environment to test it with, and ended up putting it in a userscript to test and then asking somebody else to plug it in for real, which meant I needed help from one of the developers after all, and I shouldn't be that lame. Read more…

How it started / how it's going

Remember this tomato plant from the end of May, when I thought the cage was overkill but they didn't have the next size down? Read more…