I’m speaking on Monday, August 12th

I briefly mentioned it in my post about my WordCamp Belfast talk, but since it’s all definite and being advertised and there are pictures and everything, I thought I should post about it here.

So.

Monday, August 12th.

At Antenna.

Starting at 6:30pm.

Caching and Documenting.

My talk is titled “You Are Not A Precious Snowflake: Document Your Work”. I’ll get into why you should document, what makes it good for you (and other people), and easy ways to get started. Plus ancient complaints, lost gold mines, and, for once, no Elmer McCurdy.

(It was touch and go on that last bit. He might pop up.)

Samathy Barratt is talking about algorithms and caching, so if you’re hoping for good techie talk, she’s definitely going to bring the code. I’m going to bring the soft skills, and I think it’ll be a really nice combination.

I’ll put the slides and my notes up here afterwards, so you don’t have to worry about missing it if you’re not in Nottingham, but if you are, it’d be nice to see you.

The Talking Pictures TV podcast

You already know how much I love Talking Pictures TV. And you know how much I love the podcast.

Well, I’m happy to say that I am now a reviewer on the podcast, and you can find me on the July episode talking about Dilemma, a delightful little 1962 thriller about a man who discovers his wife missing and a dead guy in the bath.

So if you want to hear my annoying American accent talking about a random film, you can listen to that. And then you can subscribe, because I’ll probably do more over the coming months.

Using GraphViz for fun and nerdity

A lot of people I know program. They have pet languages, they develop things, they do all good things. (Well, except for those who program in JavaScript. What. No. That’s for making pop-ups. Stop doing things.)

I don’t really know any languages, but there is one language that I love playing with.

GraphViz.

GraphViz is pretty much exactly what it says – it’s a language that produces visual graphs from code.

Which means that instead of oh-so-carefully trying to make a circle and draw little lines to and from, you can just type, and then the system makes all the circles and lines and colours for you.

And it’s pretty easy to work with too. Arrows = arrows, words = boxes, colours are in word format, and you can get some lovely things done just by typing a few things:

digraph G {
     node [ shape = oval, style = filled, fillcolor = pink];
          One;
     node [ shape= square, style = filled, fillcolor = lightblue];
          Two;
     node [ shape = diamond, style = filled, fillcolor = grey];
          Three;
     One -> Two -> Three;
}
A example of a GraphViz graph - going "One" (a pink oval) -> "Two" (a light blue square) -> "Three" (A grey diamond)

There’s even a web version, so you can make quick and easy graphs in like seconds.

I like using it for flowcharts. This is one I did for people donating stuff to my local local hackspace:

A flowchart focusing on donating things to the local Hackspace.  "Can I donate this?" goes to "Is there a consumables box for it?" and "Do not donate". "Is there a consumables box for it?" goes to "I suppose" and "Not really". "I suppose" goes to "Put it away then". "Not really" goes to "Do not donate".

But this isn’t all I do with GraphViz, even though flowcharts are so much fun and easy and beautiful and I love them.

I also obsessively play The Sims 4. Obsessively. Like, whenever I’m bored and boring and just want something to do, I play Sims.

I also like doing legacies, where I stick with a family and just keep going with them through births, marriages, deaths, pets, new jobs, whatever. I start with a single woman, she ends up with a townie, it goes on and on and on and then the next thing I know…

I’m on my 14th generation with my current family.

My current Sim, Lyric Marshall. She is a young woman with light brown skin and red hair with a blonde ombre effect, and is wearing a hippie shirt, ripped up jeans, a bright turquoise necklace, and a pair of trainers.

This is Lyric Marshall. She’s a young adult, working as a sous chef, living in a nice house in Strangeville. Pretty laid back, likes to cook, has a toddler, a cat, and a small dog.

This is Cherish Marshall, the toddler daughter of Lyric Marshall. She has bright red hair in two ponytails, light green skin, and is wearing a blue tank top, grey jeans, and brightly coloured trainers.

This is Cherish Marshall. She’s the toddler and she’s the 14th generation of Marshalls. She’s green, because her father’s an alien.

So how does my obsessive playing of the Sims match up with my love of GraphViz?

Well, like this:

Ovals are Marshalls and octagons are townies. The colours are unnatural skin colours. As you can see, there are blue aliens and green aliens and then it gets paler the further down you get.

Yeah, okay, there’s a bit of crossing the streams, but that’s also because I like to know whether or not alien genetics change depending on whether or not you’re a blue alien or a green alien. Also, apparently, once you hit second cousins or first cousins once removed, you can totally have kids together. Before that, you’re too related.

This is just the direct descendants too, tracing up from Cherish all the way to Clare.

This is how the family actually is:

The full Marshall family lineage, from Clare to Cherish, all 14 generations and multiple families.
Click to see the full version.

Big families! A whole family of vampires (who are diamonds)! So many lines! Lines lines lines!

But the code is so easy to work with!

digraph Marshalls {
     splines = compound;
     edge [arrowhead=none,arrowtail=none, color=grey];
     node [ shape = oval, color = pink];
          Clare Star Cataleya Makenna Kyla Cleo Aurora Rebecca;
     node [ shape = oval, color = lightskyblue];
          Lucas Mason Demarcus Yusuf Harrison Orson;
     node [ shape = octagon, color = lightskyblue];
          Johnny Solomon Argus Jimmie Joaquin;
     node [ shape = octagon, fillcolor = azure4, style = filled, color = lightskyblue];
          Patrick;
     node [ shape = oval, fillcolor = azure3, style=filled, color=pink];
          Poppy;
     node [ color = grey, shape = circle, label = "", height = 0.01, width = 0.01];
          cj1 ss2 sa2 cp3 cj3 cjo3;
     {rank = same; Johnny -> cj1 -> Clare};
          cj1 -> Star;
          cj1 -> Lucas;
          cj1 -> Mason;
     {rank = same; Solomon -> ss2 -> Star -> sa2 -> Argus};
          ss2 -> Makenna;
          ss2 -> Cataleya;
          sa2 -> Kyla;
     Kyla -> Demarcus;
     Makenna -> Cleo;
     Cleo -> Yusuf;
     {rank = same; Cataleya -> cp3 -> Patrick; Cataleya -> cj3 -> Jimmie; Cataleya -> cjo3 -> Joaquin};
          cj3 -> Harrison; 
          cp3 -> Poppy;
          cjo3 -> Aurora;
          cjo3 -> Orson;
     Aurora -> Rebecca;
} 

So this is what I love doing in my evenings. Me, the Sims, and GraphViz.

You, me, and Talking Pictures TV

Talking Pictures TV Logo

I adore Talking Pictures TV. It’s a bastion of independent television, an treasure trove of oddities and wonders, and a place where I can watch a lot of bad movies.

It’s the kind of station where you can watch a 1960s’ kitchen-sink drama, a 1930s’ murder mystery, a 1950s’ giant radioactive insect B-movie, a five-minute film-reel of someone riding the Big Dipper at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and then finish off with an 80s’ psychological horror, all in the span of a lazy Saturday afternoon and evening.

It’s where I saw Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Spellbound for the first time, as well as The Trollenberg Terror and Nomads. Not to mention regular rewatchings of The House on Haunted Hill and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

It also has one of the easiest-to-read online schedules I have ever seen. No need to navigate around complicated tables! No fancy scripting or barrages of advertising! Just clean, clear, and understandable listings I can go an entire month ahead and plan out what I want to record.

(I have a lot of movies from TPTV on my Tivo. I can quit any time. Really.)

I just don’t love it because it gives me a chance to catch movies I’ve heard about but have never seen. I also love it because it reminds me of my childhood, sitting around watching old movies on AMC or TCM or the local UHF channels, where you got weird local ads and weirder random films. Or the late late movies my dad would tape alongside Popeye cartoons and random music videos.

It’s obviously run with love, and it also has the only podcast I’ll listen to that runs over two hours per episode.

So there we go. You, me, and Talking Pictures TV.