Weekly Hacks

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For 2019’s Q1 I want to do a ‘weekly hack’. There are many small odd jobs around the house, on my computer, our network, or in my workflows. They often are in my todo lists, but never get done, simply because they never have any urgency attached to them and so the rest of my life goes first. Yet they often do hinder me, and keep nagging to be resolved. Either that or they are the small wished for fixes (I really should have a page for X / I really should make a template for Y).

So 12 ‘hacks’, fixes or odd jobs in Q1 2019 it is. If it becomes a habit after that it will mean doing some 4 dozen small things to make life easier per year. That’s a lot of things done incrementally over time. A first braindump gave me some 20 things to choose from (and the one I ended up doing first wasn’t even on that original list, but came to me later 😉 ).

  • 19#01 Create and use a template for the first read through and note taking of a non-fiction book.
    I made it in Tinderbox, which is an outliner plus mapping tool by Mark Bernstein. The template is mostly based on this WikiHow page on reading non-fiction, with some added questions (e.g. concerning assumptions made by the author)

    (the template in map and in outline view).
    For each book I copy that template. Each element in the outline/map is also a note which can have text, images etc. Tinderbox then lets you export the whole thing as a document, in this case the summary of my reading notes of a book. Which can then be blogged or published in other ways. [Category: workflow, habits]
  • 19#02 Do an edit in Open Street Map. For a long time open data consultant and activist, I actually do very little with data. My focus is on helping government entities change, so that their data becomes available routinely and at high quality. So, while Open Street Map (OSM) is a re-users of large amounts of Dutch open government data I never actually edited something in it. Peter’s suggestion this week triggered me to change that. [Category: learning]
  • 19#03 Export notes from presentation deck. I regularly give presentations, and use the speaker notes to write out the story and to present. Writing up the presentation story afterwards I used to copy by hand the presenter notes to my text editor and then turn it into a blogpost. This is however time consuming (copy and pasting text from each slide). To make that easier I searched for an applescript online and adapted it to my use. Now copying the notes to the clipboard is just one click, and then it is stored in my ClipMenu tool to past into whatever editor or word processor I want to use it in. Available from github.
  • 19#04 Add an ‘on this day’ function. To show blogposts from earlier years on the current day. Added and fixed a plugin, that provides a shortcode.
  • 19#05 Automatically transform bank journal entries into procurement journal entries Made an Applescript that takes the bank journal entries from my double entry book keeping system as csv, and then for the entries that are marked as procurement, creates the correct entry for the procurement journal. Output is in CSV again, which I can directly import into my book keeping system. Script published on github
  • 19#06 I redid my changes to the Semantic Backlinks plugin to display webmentions differently on my site. After an update my earlier changes had been overwritten. So following my own earlier documentation, I fixed it again.
  • 19#07 Fixed the authorization header issue on my site. This was keeping me from using microsub and micropub applications to post to my site. Having tried various things suggested online, in the end the Drupal fora provided the right answer. Adding RewriteRule .* – [E=HTTP_AUTHORIZATION:%{HTTP:Authorization}] to htaccess solved the issue
  • 19#08 Added experimental check-ins to the blog. Ultimately I’d like to recreate the Plazes and Dopplr experience, available to just my network.
  • 19#09 Wrote a new front page text for my professional web presence.
  • 19#10 Redid all the tile stones on the roof terrace, in preparation for putting some plants, berries, there.

7 reactions on “Weekly Hacks

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  1. Having spent the weekend after Christmas in Freiburg, in southern Germany, we drove to Lake Zug in Switzerland on Monday. There we celebrated New Year’s Eve with dear friends. We stayed with P and B. P, like H and R who were also there for NYE as they also live in Switzerland, is an old room mate. This new year we’ll have known each other for 30 years. We stayed for a few days, with our little one enjoying jamming on P’s digital drums, and Elmine going to Milano in Italy for a day together with B and M. We drove back on Thursday, and spent the weekend at home.
    The coming week is the first working week again. This week I did a few small things:

    Made the Q1 planning
    Did some preparatory work for doing the 2018 accounts
    Made a mind map for January as a braindump of everything that needs attention and to specify what might hold me back
    Worked on my first ‘weekly hack‘. I plan to do something small every week this quarter
    Bought several books, after asking my twitter network for tips, on digital distribution. I have a personal perspective on digital transformation, but not much insight into how others see it. What does stand out to me is that many organisations claiming to be at its forefront to me seem rather lackluster in embracing the consequences of digitisation, and the results seem rather dull. To my mind mostly because the focus is on digital only, not first or even only also on networked structures and processes and how that mirrors human behaviour.

    After days of clouds, we only got to enjoy the full view and some snow the morning we left Switzerland

  2. Alan Levine recently posted his description of how to add an overview to your blog of postings from previous years on the same date as today. He turned it into a small WordPress plugin, allowing you to add such an overview using a shortcode wherever in your site you want it. It was something I had on my list of potential small hacks, so it was a nice coincidence my feedreader presented me with Alan’s posting on this. It has become ‘small hack’ 4.
    I added his WP plugin, but it didn’t work as the examples he provided. The overview was missing the years. Turns out a conditional loop that should use the posting’s year, only was provided with the current year, thus never fulfilling the condition. A simple change in how the year of older postings was fetched fixed it. Which has now been added to the plugin.
    In the right hand sidebar you now find a widget listing postings from earlier years, and you can see the same on the page ‘On This Blog Today In‘. I am probably my own most frequent reader of the archives, and having older postings presented to me like this adds some serendipity.
    From todays historic postings, the one about the real time web is still relevant to me in how I would like a social feed reader to function. And the one about a storm that kept me away from home, I still remember (ah, when Jaiku was still a thing!).
    Adding these old postings is as simple as adding the shortcode ‘postedtoday’:
    There are 3 posts found on this site published on January 18
    January 18, 2009
    On the Real Time Web This post is triggered by Fridays posting on RWW by Bernarnd Lunn ‘Sorry Google, You Missed the Real-Time Web!’. In it Lunn rightly describes how keeping track of things that are happening right now is a new area of innovation, where big incumbents like Google don’t have much to bring to the table. (Consistent with […]

    January 18, 2007
    Jaiku As Story Teller (or: Jaiku Works) Mark Wubben posted this great and telling screenshot, which precisely shows what Jaiku does. (just as this one about what Plazes does) Today a big storm is crossing the Netherlands. On behalf of the police the national railsystem has been halted. As I was on the other side of the country today I am stuck […]

    January 18, 2004
    Jay Allen’s Spam Filter Added After having been hit with a considerable amount of commentspam starting on New Years Eve, I’ve finally took the 15 minutes it costs to install Jay Allen’s comment and trackback spam filter. Tested it, and it works fine. A big thanks to Jay Allen for this effort! Latest developments in the fight against spam in […]

  3. Alan Levine recently posted his description of how to add an overview to your blog of postings from previous years on the same date as today. He turned it into a small WordPress plugin, allowing you to add such an overview using a shortcode wherever in your site you want it. It was something I had on my list of potential small hacks, so it was a nice coincidence my feedreader presented me with Alan’s posting on this. It has become ‘small hack’ 4.
    I added his WP plugin, but it didn’t work as the examples he provided. The overview was missing the years. Turns out a conditional loop that should use the posting’s year, only was provided with the current year, thus never fulfilling the condition. A simple change in how the year of older postings was fetched fixed it. Which has now been added to the plugin.
    In the right hand sidebar you now find a widget listing postings from earlier years, and you can see the same on the page ‘On This Blog Today In‘. I am probably my own most frequent reader of the archives, and having older postings presented to me like this adds some serendipity.
    From todays historic postings, the one about the real time web is still relevant to me in how I would like a social feed reader to function. And the one about a storm that kept me away from home, I still remember (ah, when Jaiku was still a thing!).
    Adding these old postings is as simple as adding the shortcode ‘postedtoday’:
    There are 3 posts found on this site published on January 18
    January 18, 2009
    On the Real Time Web This post is triggered by Fridays posting on RWW by Bernarnd Lunn ‘Sorry Google, You Missed the Real-Time Web!’. In it Lunn rightly describes how keeping track of things that are happening right now is a new area of innovation, where big incumbents like Google don’t have much to bring to the table. (Consistent with […]

    January 18, 2007
    Jaiku As Story Teller (or: Jaiku Works) Mark Wubben posted this great and telling screenshot, which precisely shows what Jaiku does. (just as this one about what Plazes does) Today a big storm is crossing the Netherlands. On behalf of the police the national railsystem has been halted. As I was on the other side of the country today I am stuck […]

    January 18, 2004
    Jay Allen’s Spam Filter Added After having been hit with a considerable amount of commentspam starting on New Years Eve, I’ve finally took the 15 minutes it costs to install Jay Allen’s comment and trackback spam filter. Tested it, and it works fine. A big thanks to Jay Allen for this effort! Latest developments in the fight against spam in […]

  4. Wrote a script that will cut back the time I need to do quarterly book keeping and VAT tax returns. It takes bank journal entries and creates the right procurement journal entries from it. An earlier script automates pulling transactions from my online banking environment and put them into my banking journal. These two steps are the most time consuming in doing the books each quarter. As in the coming week I will do the 4th quarter books of 2018, I will find out soon how much time exactly it will save me.
    I’m trying to do weekly small hacks this quarter. This week I did three. One because I came across it in my feedreader, and two because they were of immediate practical use this or next week. So I’m slightly ahead of schedule with 5 hacks in 3 weeks.

  5. Today I gave short presentation at the Citizen Science Koppelting conference in Amersfoort. Below is the transcript and the slidedeck.

    Open Data for Citizen Science at Koppelting Conference from Ton Zijlstra
    I’ve worked on opening data, mainly with governments worldwide for the past decade. Since 2 years I’ve been living in Amersfoort, and since then I’ve been a participant in the Measure Your City network, with a sensor kit. I also run a LoRaWan gateway to provide additional infrastructure to people wanting to collect sensor data. Today I’d like to talk to you about using open data. What it is, what exists, where to find it, and how to get it. Because I think it can be a useful resource in citizen science.
    What is open data? It is data that is published by whoever collected it in such a way, so that anyone is permitted to use it. Without any legal, technical or financial barriers.
    This means an open license, such as Creative Commons 0, open standards, and machine readable formats.
    Anyone can publish open data, simply by making it available on the internet. And plenty people, academics, and companies do. But mostly open data means we’re looking at government for data.
    That’s because we all have a claim on our government, we are all stakeholders. We already paid for the data as well, so it’s all sunk costs, while making it available to all as infrastructure does not increase the costs a lot. And above all: governments have many different tasks, and therefore lots of different data. Usually over many years and at relatively good quality.
    The legal framework for open data consists of two parts. The national access to information rules, in NL the WOB, which says everything government has is public, unless it is not.
    And the EU initiated regulation on re-using, not just accessing, government material. That says everything that is public can be re-used, unless it can’t. Both these elements are passive, you need to request material.
    A new law, the WOO, makes publication mandatory for more things. (For some parts publication is already mandated in laws, like in the WOB, the Cadastre law, and the Company Register)
    Next to that there are other elements that play a role. Environmental data must be public (Arhus convention), and INSPIRE makes it mandatory for all EU members to publish certain geographic data. A new EU directive is in the works, making it mandatory for more organisations to publish data, and for some key data sets to be free of charge (like the company register and meteo data)
    Next to the legal framework there are active Dutch policies towards more open data: the Data Agenda and the Open Government action plan.
    The reason open data is important is because it allows people to do new things, and more importantly it allows new people, who did not have that access before, to do new things. It democratises data sources, that were previously only available to a select few, often those big enough to be able to pay for access. This has now been a growing movement for 10-15 years.
    That new agency has visible effects. Economically and socially.In fact you probably already use open data on a daily basis without noticing. When you came here today by bike, you probably checked Buienradar. Which is based on the open data of the KNMI. Whenever in Wikipedia you find additional facts in the right hand column, that informations doesn’t come from Wikipedia but is often directly taken from government databases. The same is true for a lot of the images in Wikipedia, of monuments, historic events etc. They usually come from the open collections of national archives, etc.
    When Google presents you with traffic density, like here the queues in front of the traffic lights on my way here, it’s not Google’s data. It’s government data, that is provided in near real-time from all the sensors in the roads. Google just taps into it, and anyone could do the same.You could do the same.
    There are many big and small data sets that can be used for a new specific purpose. Like when you go to get gas for the car. You may have noticed at manned stations it takes a few seconds for the gas pump to start? That’s because they check your license plate against the make of the car, in the RDW’s open database. Or for small practical issues. Like when looking for a new house, how much sunshine does the garden get. Or can I wear shorts today (No!).
    But more importantly for today’s discussion, It can be a powerful tool for citizen scientists as well. Such as in the public discussion about the Groningen earth quakes. Open seismological data allowed citizens to show their intuition that the strength and frequency of quakes was increasing was real. Using open data by the KNMI.Or you can use it to explore the impact of certain things or policies like analysing the usage statistics of the Utrecht bicycle parking locations.A key role open data can play is to provide context for your own questions. Core registers serve as infrastructure, key datasets on policy domains can be the source for your analysis. Or just a context or reference.
    Here is a range of examples. The AHN gives you heights of everything, buildings, landscape etc.
    But it also allows you to track growth of trees etc. Or estimate if your roof is suitable for solar panels.This in combination with the BAG and the TOP10NL makes the 3d image I started with possible. To construct it from multiple data sources: it is not a photograph but a constructed image.
    The Sentinel satellites provide you with free high resolution data. Useful for icebreakers at sea, precision agriculture, forest management globally, flooding prevention, health of plants, and even to see if grasslands have been damaged by feeding geese or mice. Gas mains maintainer Stedin uses this to plan preventative maintenance on the grid, by looking for soil subsidence. Same is true for dams, dikes and railroads. And that goes for many other subjects. The data is all there. Use it to your advantage. To map your measurements, to provide additional proof or context, to formulate better questions or hypotheses.
    It can be used to build tools that create more insigt. Here decision making docs are tied to locations. 38 Amersfoort council issues are tied to De Koppel, the area we are in now. The same is true for many other subjects. The data is all there. Use it to your advantage. To map your measurements, to provide additional proof or context, to formulate better questions or hypotheses.
    Maybe the data you need isn’t public yet. But it might be. So request it. It’s your right. Think about what data you need or might be useful to you.
    Be public about your data requests. Maybe we can for a Koppelting Data Team. Working with data can be hard and disappointing, doing it together goes some way to mitigate that.
    [This post was created using a small hack to export the speaking notes from my slidedeck. Strangely enough, Keynote itself does not have such an option. Copying by hand takes time, by script it is just a single click. It took less than 10 minutes to clean up my notes a little bit, and then post the entire thing.]

  6. Weekly Hacks

    For 2019’s Q1 I want to do a ‘weekly hack’. There are many small odd jobs around the house, on my computer, our network, or in my workflows. They often are in my todo lists, but never get done, simply because they never have any urgency attached to them and so the rest of my life goes first. Y…

    Dank je wel Ton! Dankzij jouw bericht op de Indieweb Chat en de link naar je eigen hack, heb ik mijn eigen probleem weer op weten te lossen.
    Het blijkt dat de mogelijkheden voor het Indieweb op WordPress ook nog niet zo uitgewerkt zijn als we zouden hopen

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