Weeknotes #6

I wasn’t expecting this exercise in weekly updates to endure, but here I am, six weeks later, with another weekly roundup.

But before all that, a brief meta diversion on the topic of weeknotes. I’m enjoying the discipline this format provides and think it’s helping to improve my overall writing speed. I’m also finding that it’s dissuading me from posting short notes during the week, instead saving things up for reflection on a Sunday, which is probably for the best.

My weeknotes have garnered more attention than I imagined they would. Not having analytics on this site means only emails and Twitter activity give me a sense of how far my words have travelled, and writing about the trials and tribulations of my job hunt seems to have touched a nerve. I’m also encouraged to see the format adopted by people I follow. Dave Rupert cited my weeknotes as inspiration for his, which is funny because I include a digest based on his first weeknote (née ‘RSS Digest’), which in turn was inspired by Reagan Ray. Weeknotes are by no means a new idea, and I was compelled to start them thanks to people like Phil Gyford and Alice Bartlett. Watching this format spread, with each person adopting it to their own needs, is heartening and very web-like.

Okay, on to this week. Aside from two trips to London concerning my job search — a conclusion to which should hopefully appear in next week’s note — I spent much of this week working on the Micropub endpoint I mentioned last week. Drawn into the weeds of attempting to fetch a file from GitHub and cache it, I realised I needed to step back and think about what I was building. Reaching for scraps of paper, diagramming tools and pseudo code, I eventually managed to figure out the underlying flow, from accepting a request, pushing a file to GitHub and returning a response.

Compared to that exercise, writing the programme itself has been straightforward. I’ve encapsulated parts of the Micropub specification into functions that I can call throughout the app, in particular, those regarding error, success and query responses. I’ve built a flow that validates an access token with the IndieAuth token endpoint and adapted a portion of Pelle Wessman’s node-micropub-express app to normalise form-encoded and JSON bodies into valid Microformats 2 JSON objects which I can use to render strings and templates with Nunjucks. With apologies to my upstairs neighbours for the occasional loud whooping!

A goal for this project is to ensure the code is fully documented and tested. Having reacquainted myself with SpringerNature’s front-end playbook, I’m writing descriptive variables to avoid writing lots of inline comments. Wanting to test the endpoint locally, I discovered Postman, an application that lets you construct HTTP requests with different header and body values — much easier than trying to do the same using cURL. I’ve written a set of tests using Ava and Supertest, recreating some of those provided by the Micropub Rocks! validator. I’m also using Istanbul to ensure sufficient test coverage. Frankly, I’m shocked to have achieved any of this. While I’ve certainly felt my brain ache on occasion, the process has been immensely rewarding. Building this software from scratch rather than hack away at existing projects was the right decision: I’m learning so much about JavaScript, Node and programming more generally. Exciting!

Between trips to London and writing code, I’ve decided to rewatch episodes of Friends on Netflix. Much like listening to Radio 1, this could be seen as a further attempt to retain my youth seeing as this show is now popular with teenagers who weren’t born when it first aired. Back then I think I watched the first few series before losing interest; only so much of the Ross and Rachel will they/won’t they storyline could be tolerated, and perhaps I’ll reach the same conclusion this time around. Like watching the original run of Cold Feet, for a show that’s 25 years old, it appears remarkably contemporary. Well, at least until Ross pulls his pager out. Speaking of Cold Feet, I’ve been enjoying the latest series, an improvement over the previous which, having only returned to our screens in 2016, already felt prosaic and predictable. This series recaptures some of the magic of the original run, with David’s destitution particularly enjoyable. But both shows are surpassed by Catastrophe whose final episode aired on Wednesday. It’s metaphoric final scene was typical of Rob Delaney and Sharon Hogan’s twisted writing style which made the show such fun to watch.


Noteworthy articles I’ve read over the last seven days:

  • Why Amazon buying Eero feels so disappointing

    Dieter Bohn on the consternation, concern, and exhaustion of watching large companies acquire anything interesting and independent:

    Eero was different. It was a tiny little company that made a great little product. Something simple, elegant, and reliable. Would it have been too much to ask that it stay independent? Perhaps, but we don’t know Eero’s financial situation. But it’s getting harder to find independent hardware startups that can scale up to something big without getting bought.

  • CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild

    This is such a great little project, hard to believe it was built over the course of a week:

    In February 2019, in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the development of WorldWideWeb, a group of developers and designers convened at CERN to rebuild the original browser within a contemporary browser, allowing users around the world to experience the rather humble origins of this transformative technology.

    I’m pleased to see that this site renders reasonably well, although seeing it in such an environment is making me question some of my markup choices (for example, the social links in the footer aren’t visible in WorldWideWeb).

  • ‘We’ve had a love-hate relationship’: Steve Coogan on bringing Alan Partridge back to the BBC

    Coogan says Partridge’s lack of a mental gatekeeper is the gift that keeps on giving. “The way I’m talking to you now, I’m being careful about how I’m phrasing things because it’s me talking. But as Alan, you can sort of let the dog off the leash.” And off it runs, knocking over tables and soiling the studio floor like a Blue Peter elephant.

    While expectation management is in full force, I’m glad to see Partridge riding the BBC gravy train once again.