Bee Hotel

Our nearby park has a bee hotel. This structure, filled with drilled logs, hollow sticks and dried mud, provides a home for native bees. There seems to be lots of different varieties of bees living together in the hotel. There are the usual black and yellow striped bees around, but also some big, fuzzy ones, and tiny, shiny, black ones.

Bee hotel with central garden
Bee hotel with central garden
Hollow canes in a bee hotel
Hollow canes in a bee hotel
Bee hotel filled with different materials
Bee hotel filled with different materials

They are fun to watch as they go in and out of their little shelters, and on a warm, sunny day they are very active. They’re not aggressive; I got really close to take photos as they buzzed around me. Here’s a short video of them.

A Little Coffee

I caught up with a friend for coffee one morning this week. We met at a local square, wandered along the restaurants that encircle it, and sat down at a quieter one. We perched ourselves on stools at one of the high tables on the terrace outside, the ones reserved for people having coffee, while the regular tables were set for the lunchtime crowd. This is a fairly familiar scene, especially as the weather warms up; people dotted around restaurant terraces to have a quick coffee, or to linger a little and watch life pass by in the square.

Cafe tables in the square
Cafe tables in the square

My coffee was an equally typical little espresso. If you order a coffee, or are offered one when visiting a client, you get an espresso. Sugar is usually available to go with it; milk almost never. Of course you can order other types of coffee, with hot milk for example, but it is not the default.

I realise that I have come to take both the little espressos and the restaurant-lined squares for granted. Those tiny cups of coffee were intimidating when we first arrived. I wasn’t sure I liked them. They were strong, and they were gone in a few sips. The idea of sitting to have a coffee seemed almost pointless when you finished it two minutes later. Now, I have come to prefer them. And just because you have finished your coffee, doesn’t mean you can’t stay and finish your conversation while you watch the world go by.

Delays and Page Shuffle

It has been a frustrating few weeks. We are working our way through the legal steps to secure our future home. Last week we learnt that there would be an additional delay.

The delay was not entirely unexpected. We saw it coming but others did not heed our warnings in time. After months of getting our side ready, even transferring funds into escrow, the meeting to sign was cancelled at the last moment.

A critical document was missing from the seller’s dossier. Without the document nothing can be signed and sealed.

Born of Annoyance

The funds have been returned and we await a new signing date.

Rather than sit impotently by, I channeled my energy into something I could control. I wrote and published a new application.

Shuffling Pages

A while ago Megan asked me how she could shuffle pages within a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. She had teaching resources that she wanted to reuse but the order and content of the pages was becoming predictable.

Had these been printed bingo or flash cards, she could have easily jumbled them up herself. But these were not physical cards. They were PDF documents on her tablet computer.

Over the following hour, I learnt that needing to shuffle pages within a document is rare enough to be difficult to do. Reordering or moving pages is possible but only one move at a time. OS X even includes a shuffle Automator action but it does not shuffle, it interleaves.

I put together a small command line tool to perform the shuffle. Since then, that tool has been good enough for Megan but not ideal. Having to use the Terminal.app is not a great experience.

With the changing of the signing date, it messed up my schedule. I found myself with a short gap in my schedule and too much personal distraction to focus on anything too demanding.

I looked through my list of possible future projects and settled to write Page Shuffle.

Page Shuffle's icon
Page Shuffle’s icon

Page Shuffle is not a complex application but it serves a purpose and does it well. I picked it because of that clear purpose and the few decisions that needed making during development.

Screenshot of Page Shuffle on OS X
Screenshot of Page Shuffle on OS X

To spice the application up a little I included an Automator action that actually shuffles PDF pages, rather than interleaves them. I also included a command line interface. I doubt either will see extensive use but they are available.

Channeled Creativity

Looking back this has been a response to not having control over something very important to me. Yet, being able to see oncoming problems with no influence to avoid them. The combination feels toxic.

Page Shuffle has been a silver lining. Not what I expected from this period, but a positive when all could be seen to be stagnating.

Hopefully this delay will not be for too much longer.

A Sunny Sunday

While Graham has been keeping you up-to-date here, I’ve been in something of a hibernation. So, I thought it was time I came out of my cosy little corner, and reconnected with the world, if only to share these photos from our walk in the park this afternoon.

Cherry Blossom
Cherry Blossom
Tulips in a sea of blue
Tulips in a sea of blue
Three little ducks
Three little ducks
New goslings
New goslings
By the lake
By the lake