Category Archives: Blog

General thoughts on life, the universe and everything. Stuff that doesn’t fit in the other categories!

Double Trouble

One of the great things about WordPress is the community and the number of great plugins that can do amazing things with little effort.

But all that code, as any good developer will tell you, is a liability. How do you pick a plugin that not only meets your requirements now, but will both continue to do so? WordPress advances. APIs change. Plugins need love too.

Many moons ago I settled upon Flickr Gallery, a plugin that allows you to import Flickr images just by adding a short-code to posts. I thought there was value in keeping all my public photos in one place and, at that time, WordPress had poor media management facilities. The plugin seemed popular and well supported.

Flash forward to 2015 and, well, it doesn’t work. It hasn’t been updated for nearly five years and where I should see pictures I only see blanks.

But I’m a developer. How hard can it be to fix?

Groan! Have I ever said how much I hate web development?

Anyway… two hours later I find that there are not one but two problems. I find this after fixing the first problem in a server running on my local machine but find that it still doesn’t work here.

The first problem is that Flickr now requires SSL access to its API. In code terms, open phpFlickr.php and change the following lines:

 var $rest_endpoint = '';
 var $upload_endpoint = '';
 var $replace_endpoint = '';


 var $rest_endpoint = '';
 var $upload_endpoint = '';
 var $replace_endpoint = '';

I found the cause of the second problem when I realised that none of the flickr code was getting called. It turns out that I have the Jetpack plugin and that also uses the “flickr” shortcode, though the syntax for using it is slightly different.

(I find it odd that there’s no error or warning flagging the conflict. This took far longer to track down than it needed to.)

I tried disabling that option in the Jetpack plugin but that didn’t work. In the end, I added the following code to flickr-gallery.php, just before the “add_shortcode(‘flickr’…” line:

if (shortcode_exists('flickr')) {

Very much cheating… but it does work.

I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way of distributing the change in a more user-friendly format.


It’s important to have a Top 10 list. I know this as every other site has one. I don’t want to miss out. So here are the top ten most read posts here this year, with the year they were originally published in parenthesis:

  1. QA Mindf**k
  2. Do Apple take 40% in the EU? (2011)
  3. Learning Swift
  4. iOS Developer Program: from individual to company (2011)
  5. How do I do “X” in Swift?
  6. AQGridView to UICollectionView (2013)
  7. iPhone Dev: Saving State (2010)
  8. NSFetchedResultsController and iCloud
  9. Why you need a crash reporter (2011)
  10. Sophia Smith (2006)

If there’s a lesson here in increasing readership it’s simple: get retweeted by people with lots of followers.

Honourable mentions go to the following as they were written this year but didn’t make it into the “most read” list:

14. Recruitment Tests
15. Two Years
16. Java and Yosemite
21. Starting Coding
23. Swift Hate
31. Lucky number two

I started with the intention of writing at least one blog a week. You’ll note that I utterly failed. I didn’t even get to the end of January with that!

The biggest surprises — since they were both written over a decade ago — were:

17. Italy, 2001
19. Oracle 8i for Linux Installation HOWTO (last edit was 2003)

I’m not going to make any promises or predictions about next year, other than I’ll be moving the site to a new web host (the old one closing down). But whatever happens, here’s to a great 2015.


Furry: not in a cinema near you
Furry: not in a cinema near you

For some reason, when I saw the poster for the new movie “Fury,” I misread it as “Furry” and saw a beard on Brad Pitt that wasn’t really there. I’ve tried to correct these errors.

Lucky Number Two

I’ve been pretty quiet here for a couple of of weeks and that’s because… well, a picture speaks a thousand words.


Junior took his sweet time popping out — we were in the hospital over a day before he made his grand appearance — but for Juniorette we weren’t sure we’d make it there in time! In the end we checked into the delivery suite just after ten in the evening and the birth was recorded just before eleven.

I’m not sure the midwives realised how close things were when we first arrived. They were fussing around and promising to check on progress and then… there’s a head!


Less than an hour afterwards I was alone with the baby and mum was walking around, off getting a shower. The contrast with the birth of her brother couldn’t have been greater1.


Since then things have been (relatively) straight-forward. She’s been remarkably quiet and neat so far. I’m sure she’s saving the worst for when we’re least expecting it!


Her brother has been great. Very gentle and helpful. The day she arrived home he quickly realised that, as a tiny baby, she’d appreciate all his smallest toys. I could see the logic even as I was terrified at the choke hazard…

Soon I’ll be back at work and then the grandparents will leave. We’ll have two under threes to look after and, I guess, that’s when the real work begins.

  1. Okay, that’s a cliche. Certainly Junior’s birth was harder but it could have been a lot worse. []

Two Years

What a difference two years makes. Just a little over twenty-four months ago we were awaiting the arrival of our son. To commemorate the occasion we went to the park and took a few pictures. The bump, after all, would be short lived.


Since then we’ve spent a lot of time in the playground where these pictures were taken.


Last week we did the same thing, now that we’re expecting our daughter in a few weeks. Other than the obvious difference — we had a two year old in tow this time — we had a very different time of year and a change of location — Cannizaro House.


With six weeks to go, the bump is quite possibly as big as it was at the end of the last pregnancy. This is unfortunate as last time there was no need to run after a very energetic toddler…


Make that an energetic, wilful and opinionated toddler. This picture is after chasing him around a flower garden for five minutes!


Still, he stays still for a while when something piques his interest. And, in this respect, you can’t get better than a really good stick.


With him suitably distracted, we managed to take a few more pictures. It was a nice, bright February day. The light was great.


And we had a lot of fun taking them. Hopefully it will be good to look back at them in a few years time.

That was 2013

It’s a cliche to ask where the year has gone but it’s no less true this year than any other. Life has got in the way of blogging more than usual — moving house, a toddler, work — with only 23 posts this year and only one of those making my “most read” list.

Talking of which, these are the most read blogs this year:

  1. iOS Developer Program: from individual to company
  2. iPhone Dev: Saving State
  3. Do Apple take 40% in the EU?
  4. AQGridView to UICollectionView
  5. Old Fashioned

Probably my favourite blog of the year was “What to do?” but I  posted it a little too late to get the readership that I would have liked.

I’m surprised that it’s my more technical posts that have had the greatest readership as, in general, I don’t write very many of them. Maybe I should look to do more of that next year? But with a toddler running around and another baby on the way I largely suspect that 2014, on the blogging front, will look a lot like this year.