April 6, 2021
Greening your website

As we re-evaluate our lifestyles in the face of global climate change, it’s not just how we heat our homes, how we travel, work, rest, play and consume that needs a major re-think. Our websites also consume carbon, and we need to deal with this. As Tom Greenwood (see below) says, “If the...

by Eliot Higgins
March 14, 2021
We are Bellingcat by Eliot Higgins

If you’ve been following the work of Eliot Higgins, you’ll not need to read the accounts of his exposés of Syrian, Libyan and Russian atrocities in this seminal book We are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People. If you aren’t familiar with it, then every...

by Merlin Sheldrake
January 16, 2021
Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrak

When Hamlet admonished Horatio by saying “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”, fungi could well have been one of them, as Merlin Sheldrake’s scintillating book Entangled Life: How Fungi Make our Worlds, Change our Minds and Shape...

by Patrick White
December 17, 2020

As the near-blind matriarch Elizabeth Hunter, the central character of Patrick White’s 1973 The Eye of the Storm, lies dying for five hundred and fifty pages of this long and complex novel, we are also reading about the writer’s own mother, Ruth. After all, both women - one...

by Dave Eggers
November 1, 2020
The Captain and the Glory by Dave Eggers

Anyone familiar with George Orwell’s Animal Farm will appreciate how satire shifts the reader one remove away from a subject to gain a better appreciate of that subject. The farm’s animals, bitingly depicted by Orwell, illuminated the political landscape of the Stalinist era...

by Ian McEwan
October 11, 2020
The Cockroach by Ian McEwan

Franz Kafka comes to Downing Street in Ian McEwan’s glorious satire The Cockroach. A comic parable, the novella inverts Kafka’s 1916 Metamorphosis in which Gregor Samsa ‘awoke’ to find himself ‘transformed’ into ‘a gigantic insect’ so that contemporary Jim Sams ‘...

October 8, 2020
Can a web page have too much white space?

Can a web page have too much white space? It’s an innocent question and may even appear to be impertinent given how much white space is embraced, even revered, by web designers - myself included. White space is at the heart of the less is more design philosophy where a...

by Patrick White
July 29, 2020
The Vivisector by Patrick White

Patrick White’s The Vivisector, the writer’s longest novel, explores the nature of artistic creativity and the link between a painter’s character and the work that it gives rise to. As with all White’s novels, scenes from the author’s own life serve as mini...

June 20, 2020
Adding a scroll indicator

Scroll bars have been with us since the first GUI. They help us navigate content that is taller - or wider - than the window in which it is displayed. They come in various flavours, suitably modified as operating systems evolved, but invariably they consist of an arrow-shaped button at each end...

by Patrick White
June 2, 2020
The Solid Mandala by Patrick White

In a letter to the writer Ingmar Björkstén in early 1973, the Australian novelist Patrick White wrote that he felt very close to The Solid Mandala “because it conveys a certain nightmarish quality of life which I have experienced, though the incidents in the novel are hardly parallel to...

May 8, 2020
Newtimber Hill and VE Day

The vault of heaven was almost discernible from under the skies above Newtimber Hill in Sussex yesterday. It is six weeks into a ‘lockdown’ trying to stem the advance of the coronavirus pandemic and it was our first venture by car anywhere in that time. Grief lies heavy on the land. Gratitude to...

by Patrick White
May 2, 2020
Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White

Compassion. Compassion towards the outsider, the foreigner, the misfit, the ugly, the plodder: this is the central theme of Patrick White’s 1961 novel Riders in the Chariot. Read it for his view of Australian culture emerging from the Second World War; read it too for an early and...

by Patrick White
March 17, 2020
Voss by Patrick White

Towards the end of Patrick White’s novel Voss, White observes for one of his characters that only “the supreme torturer would have tweaked the curtain of illusion” (and thus caused her to imagine her childhood garden to be reflected in the face of her cousin Laura). The image is...

by Patrick White
March 2, 2020
The Tree of Man by Patrick White

It was quite possibly the recent Australian bushfires that subconsciously put Patrick White’s extraordinary fiction back onto my reading list. Those terrifyingly vivid tongues of fire and crisped lives were images I’d already encountered in his writing. Whatever the cause, from the...

by Herman Melville
February 15, 2020
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

I have just been floored by Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. It is a novel wrought of elemental stuff with a style honed with so much more craft than ever I had expected. It’s not a what-happens-next page-turner; that’s already known. I felt that my progress through the...

February 3, 2020
Ightham Mote

The name Ightham Mote - whose four-consonant apparent tongue-twister contributes to the surprisingly easy Item Mote - may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon words eyot and ham, meaning island home. True or not, this medieval Kentish home does indeed arise from...

by Ursula K. Le Guin
January 21, 2020
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin book jacket

Placing this book in the ‘science-fiction’ category probably deters many people from reading it. Yes, it’s a story set on an imaginary world (the paired planet of Urras and its moon Anarres). Yes, there’s something arguably scientific in the form of ‘the Principle of Simultaneity’,...

by Robert Macfarlane
January 19, 2020
Underland by Robert Macfarlane

I have previously written that I consider Robert Macfarlane to be “able to assess risk before exposing himself to it” but having now read his immensely impressive Underland, my fears for his safety have increased. Blame my cossetted lifestyle maybe, but I can’t help the hair-...

January 2, 2020
Site migration with Backdrop CMS

With Backdrop CMS being a fork of Drupal, you could be forgiven for thinking that everything in Backdrop will be similar to everything in Drupal 7. It mostly is - and that makes it a delight to work in if you are familiar with Drupal 7. Views is there after all - and in core, so what...

November 25, 2019
The i360, Brighton

It has been difficult not to glimpse the Brighton i360’s pencil-thin outline from the South Downs, showing it black against the sea below it or flashing sunlight off its aluminium and glass surfaces as the coast curves round from Worthing’s staid and matronly position some 10 miles away....

November 24, 2019
BBC Sounds

Rants don’t usually contain reasoned explanations. Although this may sound like one, it therefore isn’t - as you will see. The BBC Sounds app (for Android) is so unfit for purpose that one reviewer on Google Play described it as “a gigantic steaming Turd of an app”....