Week 3: Work Notes

Welcome to the Random Mutterings Archive here you can find past copies of Tim Nash’s Random Mutterings Newsletters. For more information and to subscribe see Random Mutterings.

What, another newsletter! I’m enjoying the weekly cadence so am going to stick with it, though going to iterate on the style each week a bit. Feedback is always appreciated, and just to avoid confusion, these emails are always written a few days before they are sent to give the amazing Bab Saul a chance to edit them.

Oh, this issue has a few images in it, so you might want to make sure you have images on.


How are you doing?

We genuinely don’t ask that enough, and we don’t seem to sit down with a cup of tea and have a natter. I really miss just chatting over a cup of tea or your brew of choice.

Zoom just doesn’t replace the feeling and while meetups have done a super job adapting, I’m missing just chatting.

This week has been fairly solitary. I tried to pack the early part of my week with meetings as I was expecting to be doing a client project for the later part, which hasn’t yet landed on my desk so instead I have been working on my new site.


New site? 

The goal is to launch in the first week of December with fresh paint for timnash.co.uk. You may have already seen my new logo appearing in places, including this newsletter.  The site is going to be bright and, I think, quite snazzy. Here is a sneak peak of the mockup done by Phil Morrow. 



Developing the site has been fun, I could, and many would say should, have passed the responsibility on but I wanted a little development project and it has been so long since I have done web design that I relished the challenge.


The site is using TailwindCSS as the CSS framework; I’ve really enjoyed working with Tailwind though I will be honest it took a long time to get my head around it, and Tailwind + Gutenberg is interesting. I have cheated, and posts/page content is done with Tailwind Typography. I’m not a designer or a front-end developer however I do understand CSS. If you are in a similar position and might have traditionally reached for Bootstrap then have a look at Tailwind.


Random Scribblings

Other things I did; I published a couple of articles on my site:


Rebuilding trust into automatic updates was an opinion piece on how we should be putting our trust into automatic updates and how recent issues shouldn’t cause us to lose that trust. It finished with something of a wish list of what I want to see from automatic updates in the future.


Hammering Ross’ site! I mean there is a fine line between being keen and committing a denial of service attack. I don’t judge where that line is. This post was really more about taking a simple PHP script that makes use of a cron and replicating it in Hammerspoon.

Hammerspoon has become one of those tools I’m now using constantly. For example, within my site redesign, I have a Hammerspoon filewatcher to “build” my tailwind on file update in the src folder. Yes I could use webpack/Gulp but this is 4 lines in Lua and no external dependencies.

Appifying !?!

I have also been playing around with Electron, which takes your webstack and makes a native application. For my playing around I built a very simple app that combined VueJS and InkJS which is a JavaScript implementation of Ink which in turn is a simple markup for interactive stories. I have never really used Electron before and I didn’t massively use its features. I have however used one of its competitors a fair bit recently Tauri; obviously Tauri borrows heavily from Electron. I think for a couple of up and coming projects I am going to stick with Tauri over Electron but it was interesting to dabble. Especially as I suspect virtually all of Tauri users will be coming from Electron, not the other way round.


Does this podcast bring me joy?

I’ve had a little clean out of podcasts; without a commute for much of 2020 my podcasts were backing up into the 100s. So I culled all but the few I regularly listen to, however in doing so I removed some great podcasts. I have picked a few “cyber” crime ones you might like:

Darknet diaries, even if you're not heavily technical or into security the darknet diaries is a great series. You will not be disappointed. I recommend Jeff from Marketing as a good starting episode. I’m pretty sure Darknet diaries have been recommended before in a newsletter.

The Missing Cryptoqueen, this is a BBC podcast following the story of OneLife a “cryptocoin” scam, it’s a 12 part serial and I suspect you will be hooked.

Cyber Crimes Investigations, Geoff White is a UK journalist, his cyber crime podcast is an ad hoc podcast with each “season” being a specific incident. I would recommend the Billion Dollar Bank Heist as a good starting point. Warning, these are real incidents and some of the subjects might be upsetting; I couldn’t make it through the episodes on child grooming.

Even though I have cleared out my podcasts I am looking for new voices to listen to, so if you have some recommendations (not just cyber crime) I tend to listen to technical podcasts when out walking.

Food for thought!

Finally a little food for thought, I spent an hour or so optimising a little bit of JavaScript to reduce CPU usage and also get its file size down. I probably worked on it for a couple of hours. I was happy at the end of that time, not only was it a little more performant but every byte saved saves the planet right?


Then I started to think about the time I spent on it, the power draw from my computer, monitor, the two cups of tea, the numerous tabs I had open. It suddenly dawned on me that optimisation might have cost more than it will ever save. I would have been better off, turning off my laptop and going for a walk for a couple of hours.


However when I did go on that walk, I spent a few minutes thinking about how enjoyable that optimisation work was, and how it might take years to come to fruition it was still a positive step. I also, a little bit further on, realised I could do what I wanted without any JavaScript at all, so when I got home deleted the code.

I’m not sure what moral you take from that, but answers on a postcard (ideally made from recyclable card). 


That’s it for this issue, as always feedback is appreciated, not just through the thumbs up/down but do use it, and thank you to those who voted last week. Feel free to hit reply; I read every email! 


If you know someone who would find this sort of newsletter interesting, please forward the email and if you wanted to tell the world, they should subscribe; the url to do so is https://timnash.co.uk/newsletter.


p.s yes I appreciate the animated gif, were just a waste but they brought me joy, and we need to balance.
p.p.s I include the newsletter when working out my carbon footprint to offset.