Pither.com / Simon
Development, systems administration, parenting and business

Journal, ISO week 2018-W31

last week

Car (child) trouble

Monday morning challenge this week was a flat battery in the car - apparently due to cabin lights being left on, presumably thanks to a small person!

I've previously fixed this by removing the battery and charging it in the house. But removing the battery from a Prius Plus is not very easy and I have no idea where the charger is. Rather than spend hours looking for the charger and more hours and scuffed fingers extracting and replacing the battery, we decided to order a jump start booster battery. It should arrive tomorrow and charge in a few hours. Then I just have to hope it starts the car and think of somewhere to drive for a while to recharge the car.

... The battery arrived in the morning and came fully charged. The cables were too short to connect to the recommended (in the Prius manual) negative point so I had to use an alternative bit of bare metal - a bolt above a wheel arch. With that adjustment it worked brilliantly. Connection was easy, the device/battery took a few moments after being connected (apparently to work out everything was OK) before it turned on the power; by the time I got into the car it was alive again and switched on just fine. Going back to the bonnet, the jump starter had already switched itself off again and was flashing to say it had almost no charge. I took the car for a drive and (so far) it's been fine since.

Vim spell checking

My other time sink this morning was trying to work out why Vim on my main computer has stopped highlighting spelling mistakes - which I blame for any previous spelling mistakes in these journals!

After much fiddling and searching it turned out to be an issue in the colour theme I was using - the actual highlighting was working all along but it just wasn't showing up.

Reverting to the default Vim colouring solved the spell checking issue but my goodness is it ugly, not to mention that it made things really hard to read. Obviously this meant a fresh search for a Vim colour scheme, I've eventually settled on PaperColor Theme.


I subscribe to the excellent DevOps Weekly and a tool they mentioned in the last email particularly caught my eye - managing containers, clouds and more as code.

On multiple projects I seem to have spent half my week fighting pip! It may very soon be time to invest in learning a suitable replacement. Please let me know if you have any recommendations?

I previously mentioned some online tools that allow you to put screenshots into screens to help them feel more real, this week I've come across an open source screenshot mockup tool.

Apparently some podcast apps have started reporting subscriber counts - such an incredibly simple solution to a question that seems to have been unanswered for years.

I made my first Flutter mobile app on Friday evening (when I should have been going to sleep!). Flutter, and Dart were both new to me (although I've made Java based Android apps before). Going from the template Flutter app to finis hed code took about 1.5 hours. It's a super simple app with just three screens and no persistent data between runs but even so I'm extremely impressed with Flutter - both the simplicity of getting started and the docs that made it possible.


My theme this week has been unexpected issues, nothing really major just quite a few, ranging from a few minutes to a few hours (about three separate unexpected things in the "hours" bracket). So that adds up to being behind with scheduled tasks by quite a bit!

Despite this, it's been a very productive week with lots getting done.

Base rate increase

The Bank of England increased the base rate this week - it's a shame our fixed rate home mortgage is due for renewal in October!

It looks like David Whittaker's interest rate prediction from the Landlord Investment Show in June has started coming true. Mark Carney even mentioned that part of the reason for the 0.25% increase was to provide a Brexit buffer. I wonder if he'll stay correct with the Bank of England continuing to increase the rate before March next year.

Fort(s) for sale

Another property (or set of) that I wish I could afford to buy - forts between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Weekend Joust

We spent our Sunday visiting Loxwood Joust and apart from the temperatures being rather hotter than I like (I'm quite surprised all the people dressed in full armour managed to stay standing!), it was a really good event.

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