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Words and bits from Michael Flanagan

June 6th 2018
The Internet is utility. It's the electrical network. It's drinking water.

It's not the thing. It's the progenitor. It is what allows the thing to exist.

From it can be enabled, or aided, systems like the world wide web. Like git. Like blockchains, and bit-torrent. Open source can thrive on, in, and around these systems.

Open source software.
Open source communities.
Open source thought,
and literature.

This is the thing.
April 10th 2016

Seeing and hearing recently...

Plenty of great podcasts recently. I've been going through the back catalogues of a number of new-to-me podcasts, most of which have tended to be quite interview-centric.

  • Future Thinkers. A discussion on the future of humankind and consciouseness by a couple of people (and occasional guests) with an interest in technology, free thinking, and psychedelics. The two-part interview with Viney Gupta is a highlight.

  • Joe Rogan Experience. Rambling chats with Joe Rogan and guest. This has been around for a while, I've only started giving it any time. If there's a guest you're interseted in, that's the episode to download. (It's a long list of episodes!).

  • Distraction Pieces. Scroobious Pip interviews people. Tends to be insightful and interesting.

  • Adam Buxton Podcast. Adam Buxton interviews people. Tends to be funny .

  • Internet History Podcast. A look at the recent history of the Internet, from the first web browser to the iPad. I've listened to about half of this so far and really enjoyed it. Recommend starting from episode one and listening sequentially.

A few good albums.

Some films worth seeing.

And a brilliant web series from Louis CK.

February 14th 2016

To Pimp a Butterfly (Medley).

February 8th 2016


April 24th 2013

Four Tet Twitter re-mix playlist

Four Tet tweeted the tracks he'd put on a 2nd remixes CD over on Twitter.

These are the tracks:

And here's a YouTube playlist of it all I put together:

April 19th 2013


Podcasts I've been listening to recently. Links are direct to the feeds.

  • Talk

    • Radiolab – very enjoyable show from New York public radio. Each episode investigates a different topic, often science related.
    • Kermode & Mayo Film Reviews – weekly film news and review podcast from Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's BBC 5Live radio show.
    • On The Media – looking at different aspects of the media.
  • Tech

    • /dev/hell – web development (with a leaning towards PHP) talking and ranting from Chris 'Grumpy Programmer' Hartjes and Ed 'Funkatron' Finkler.
    • PHP Town Hall – php related talk with Phil Sturgeon and guests.
    • The Talk Show – the Daring Fireball podcast.
  • Tunes

April 16th 2013

SlackLoader PHP — Static File Blog Loader

I've created a bit of a static file / blog manager, or loader or whatever you might call it.

It is, by design, very very simple. I was a bit sick of dealing with the plethora of unused features lurking in the WordPress admin panel, while simultaneously lacking the freedom to tinker with my own website, so I created something to cover the bare essentials of routing to pages, loading blog posts and creating syndication feeds (just rss for now).

Blog posts are loaded from JSON files, partly because I thought it might be fun to plug it into a remote REST source in future — although for now the files are stored on the server.

Pages are simply .php files. It could be a snippet of html to fit between the header and footer, or it can bypass the template altogether and do something unique. Up to you. Blog posts may also be assigned a 'page' to overwrite the default post template.

There's an awful lot of things it doesn't do which you might otherwise expect from something introduced as a "blog manager" but, aside from adding an easier way to create JSON files (which I will get around to), that's pretty much by design. There's actually some pieces I wrote over the weekend which I've since taken out — with an aim to impose as little as possible upon the author of each new page or post, while still providing something basicly useful.

I've named it SlackLoader because things need a name. The code is over on GitHub and it's currently powering this site.
April 11th 2013

Mass Effect

Playing Mass Effect 2 at the moment. It’s impossible to have same sex relationship because the devs wanted a “PG-13 action movie” feel. Other relationships are fine. Jokes about “not taking a shower” on the prison planet are seemingly OK too. I am disappoint.

So far, ME2 is just mostly disappointing though. Think I read too much about it being the best in the series before I played. Just seems like more of a generic over-the-sholder shooter, compared with the depth of the first one. Not bad… just not as good.

Case in point, I didn’t stop to think or care about the lack of same-sex relationships while I played through the original Mass Effect.
March 29th 2013

An Analogue Camera

Watching a professional photographer at work today. All digital, of course. I'm not sure anyone argues the case for using film in still photography anymore. At least not for anything beyond sheer appreciation.

Although I remember clearly, in the beginning, they did. To the extent that not only were the tools of the day insufficient in comparison to "real" photography (they were) but also that digital could never reach the same levels of quality nor, consequently, acceptance as the analogue counterpart.

Anyone with an understanding of technology might see the issue of image quality as being only a matter of time, but it's interesting that winning that battle wasn't really the great triumph that made digital as ubiquitous as it is today. That most triumphant victory over it's predecessor turned out to be all the things you never could have dreamt of.

It's difficult to fathom the idea of instant previews or the freedom to shoot everything and edit later without having a frame of reference. Instagram, Twitter, and instant publishing, or the notion that a point-and-shoot will one day rival the quality and features of an SLR – and a mobile phone rival them both – would have been all but inconceivable in the world at that time. In today's world, it's simply difficult not to take all those things for granted.

I can remember similar sentiments, some still being expressed to varying degrees, around music, video, books, magazines and I'm sure others. In each case there's an argument of quality or something lost in the transition, and in each case technology has or will improve to equalize and compensate where it has to. But again, I believe the real value comes from the possibilities. From what's new, not from the few bits comparable to the past.

Digital photography isn't better because we've got more megapixels now. It's better because the journalist on assignment can beam her shots around the world the instant they're taken and publish live from the field. It's better because I can do that too! Image quality doesn't mater a half next to that. That's exciting.

Today that analogue camera comes to mind when I listen to people talk about education and politics. A digital revolution in these areas needn't result in a like for like replacement of established norms to be successful or worthwhile. It's foolish to think that they would. The established norms in education are incompatible with a world where Wikipedia and Udacity and GitHub exist. Politics is something else when everyone really can have a voice.

As a tool in our current system, and mindset, the Internet can only do so much to improve upon what's already there. But as an abstract, taken as something new and unique from the old, the possibilities are untold.

And that, I think, is really exciting.
March 28th 2013

Working. Please Wait…

Recently, I've been working on two projects.

GetHealth is a start-up I joined as CTO last year which "is helping people become more healthy every day", with game-play incentivised mobile applications and health challenges for companies and groups.

Anseo is a mobile application by Diaga, which in turn is a web and design shop I helped establish to work on various projects. Anseo is a location-aware chat and discovery application for Irish speakers and the Irish language community.