Weeknotes - w/c 24 June 2019

/ About 5 min reading time

The Hacker News Effect

As I mentioned in last week’s notes, the immediate reaction to my HTML is the Web article was fantastic. My phone hasn’t stopped buzzing with Twitter notifications and emails from well-wishers and those asking advice. It’s been a lovely experience.

Earlier this week though, that steady stream of incoming chatter exploded as my article hit the front page of Hacker News. Not only did it hit the front page, but it went to the #1 spot, and stayed in the top three for pretty much the entire day, only dropping off the front page 24hrs later (I was keeping an eye on it, dumbfounded). In the two days it’s now been on there, it’s attracted 548 points and 314 comments).

I don’t have analytics on this blog, but my DNS provider, Cloudflare does provide some stats. The day before I posted the article, this site got 130 unique visitors. Every day since the article has been about 1300 uniques. In the day that I was near the top of Hacker News, 45,000 unique visitors came to my website.

This in turn, has led to some great conversations and comment threads. I’ve tried not to get involved on the main HN thread itself, because I know what that forum can be like and I didn’t have time to get embroiled in flame wars, but I have to say that the vast majority of feedback I’ve had has been positive, encouraging and empathetic. It seems it struck a real chord in the industry and I’m honoured to have been able to do that. I really hope the momentum continues and that it encourages others to speak up and hopefully help to make the web a better place for everyone, user and developer alike.

"The author is right, but this comes off very much as ‘old man yells at cloud’ to me. Sorry."

My favourite comment on the Hacker News thread for my article.

Bikepacking

Saturday was a fine day. It was overcast in the morning but the forecast was good for the evening. It was the day after the Summer solstice, so the night was going to be about as short as it could be and the conditions were right. I packed up my bike.

I’ve had all this kit for two years now. I’d been inspired by tales of Microadventures - a five to nine expedition under ones own steam - but despite really having enjoyed buying and gathering all the equipment I would need and honing my setup, I’d never actually got off my backside and taken the leap.

Saturday was the day though. I strapped my bar bag and seat pack to my bike stuffed with a sleeping bag, bivvy bag, mat, and a small stove and brew kit, and I set off in the sun at 5pm. I had a route in mind, and even a rough idea of where I would stop for the night, having been mentally picking out locations on daytime rides for the last couple of years.

The bike was heavy. When you’re used to riding light-weight bikes, loading one up with all this kit makes a real difference. The going was steady as would grind up the climbs in the Howardian Hills in the direction of Helmsley. I stopped for fish and chips which I ate at the foot of monument in the town square, surrounded by leather-clad bikers and their Harley Davidsons (there was a biker festival on at nearby Duncombe Park). I picked up a couple of beers from the shop and added them to my load before carrying on up the hill.

I dropped down into Rievaulx, hoping to see ruined Cistercian abbey lit up in the late sun, but unfortunately it was too low by that point and whilst still magnificent, it wasn’t the glorious vision of which I’d dreamed.

I continued back up the ridge to Sutton Bank, past some dog walkers and a young couple snogging on the bench near the viewpoint over Gormire Lake. I rode along the Cleveland Way until I found the spot: A patch of flat(ish) grass, off the trail by the edge of the cliff. The sun was setting so I downed the bike, took out a beer and just watched. As it lowered, so did the temperature, so I made camp.

And of course, as it was the shortest night of the year, I woke up at 4am with the sun and was home in time for breakfast with my family.

Open Mic

On Thursday I made my monthly trip to Bishopthorpe for the Open Mic night. It’s been a busy four weeks for me since the last one and I haven’t really had time to practice. I had a good idea of what I’d play though and was confident with my selection. The potential spanner in the works though, was that I’d agreed to play a few songs with my good friends and erstwhile band mates, Jon and Dave. We hadn’t actually played together for about 12 years and couldn’t arrange time in our busy lives to get together beforehand to rehearse, so the only practice we had before stepping onto the stage was 20 minutes in Jon’s garden an hour before we were due to play.

Fortunately, it went well. I mean, it was rough - we were doing vocal harmonies that we’d never practiced and songs that I barely knew how to play, but it was fun and that’s what counts.

I stayed on stage afterwards to do a few myself - all covers, because who’s got time to write these days. I opened with a song that I’ve been playing in my bedroom for 25 years but I’ve never been able to muster the courage to perform in public. It was "Round Here" by Counting Crows, but after 25 years of noodling, it sounds nothing like the original. It’s a challenging vocal and a long song (about six minutes). It’s also quite emotional for me to play. I shouldn’t have started with it, in retrospect. I was absolutely shaking afterwards from the adrenaline.

It’s difficult to tell what the reception is like on these gigs. Everybody is so nice and supportive that you can’t tell if they’ve genuinely enjoyed the show. I hope they did because I enjoyed playing it.

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