10 years of Cantabits…

Apparently 10 years have passed1 since the switch from the self-written2 “Mark’s Blog” to the WordPress-powered “Cantabits”. 10 years is a long time for something to continue with little change on the Internet, so this is both a happy moment (10 years is an achievement) and a sad moment (the end may be on the horizon).

What does the future hold for Cantabits? I am not sure. Initially a place to experiment, learn and showcase in the “Mark’s Blog” era and a creative outlet in the “Cantabits” era, a blog seems less useful as my interests evolve. The current trend will probably continue in some form for now: increasing quietness with posts once every few years on topics of interest to me (e.g. building new homes, soundtracks and transport). However, maintenance overhead may eventually make quiet freezing or deletion of Cantabits an attractive option.

Will I continue to maintain a public presence on the Internet regardless of the future of Cantabits? Most likely, yes. A static webpage linking to some of the services on which you can find me is relatively unburdensome and useful.

To those who have occasionally visited over the last 10 (or more!) years: thank you for your time. I hope you’ve found the content here interesting and wish you all the best for the future.

  1. The 5 year mark passed almost unnoticed! []
  2. Initially Blosxom-based, but the comment system I wrote for it in PHP eventually grew to replace Blosxom. []

Website of the month, August 2014…

The website of the month for August 2014 is The Window & Door Repair Shop. Normally when purchasing items online I stick to established channels (e.g. Amazon, eBay) or sellers (e.g. Domino’s, Argos, Marks & Spencer). However, I recently needed to purchase a replacement part for a locking system that wasn’t sold by any household names. Despite looking questionable (notice the domain name change as you try to buy something) The Window & Door Repair Shop provides plenty of information on what it sells, allowing me to select the correct part based mostly on pictures and measurements.

It is on this happy note that I am ending the website of the month feature on this blog. Initially intended to highlight cool and useful websites that it would be easy to miss, there are now websites dedicated to (and far better at) this purpose. It’s also increasingly becoming a restrictive format for me – I have something like 30 links built up for future posts which would be better dealt with in a shorter format (e.g. a tweet) than with a full blog post. Indeed, sharing any non-original content on this blog contributes to the problem of information overload – a problem that I am trying to reduce in my life and appreciate that others may be trying to reduce too.

The (best) website of the month feature has been running since late 2005, and there was also briefly a ‘worst website of the month’ feature. It seems a shame to end the longest-running thing I’ve been doing on the Internet other than this blog (which, essentially, is just an organised way of uploading random stuff), but the spirit of the website of the month shall continue through links I will continue to share on this blog more sporadically and in various formats.

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The Cantabits tree…

As you may have noticed over the last few years, since becoming Cantabits the image at the top of this blog rapidly evolved into a monthly image of a particular tree near Cambridge. As the seasons changed, so did the image. Recently, I decided that it was time for a change – since December 2013 I’ve been uploading different images. Already, with photos of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway1, the East Coast Main Line2 and a road leading into Thetford Forest3, a transport theme seems to have emerged. However, I expect this to evolve further over time and there’s no longer a need to keep updating the image regularly.

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  1. See this here. []
  2. See this here. []
  3. See this here. []

Welcome to Mark’s Blog, Cantabits…

…the latest incarnation of my blog. It is very much a continuation of my old blog, but hopefully with some improvements. Below are some related questions that you may want the answers to. I hope that you find this blog interesting and/or of some use.

Various improvements (e.g. theming, plugins, etc.) will come in time.


Cantabits has four intended roots/meanings. Cantab refers to members of the University of Cambridge, residents of Cambridge and the suffix indicating a degree from the University of Cambridge. Bits refers to the nature of blog posts (bits – fragments, some might say – of information on the Internet). Bits also refers to the literal nature of these posts and my knowledge, experience and pursuit of computer science. Finally, and slightly accidentally, cantabit is the third-person singular future active indicative of canto which, deriving all of the way back from Proto-Indo-European, is the Latin verb “to sing”. This reflects my knowledge, experience and pursuit of music and music technology, recently culminating in a project, dissertation and Android application investigating and demonstrating ad-hoc acoustic networking between phones.

Why did I give the blog a name, rather than just call it Mark’s Blog (like the previous incarnation)? The idea occurred to me when planning the details of what was going to happen to my older blog. Essentially, it is a much better idea to leave my blog where it is which, unfortunately, means that I can’t reuse g400.co.uk/blog.

Is anything going to be different?

The name (see the question above for more information).

Now that WordPress is taking care of the hard work, hopefully there will be richer content in posts and more frequent posts. Comments will probably have to be approved by me and I hope to integrate things like my public Twitter account into the blog in a less separate way.

The subjects covered by the blog will not be changed significantly (the website of the month will stay, for example), and will continue to drift with my interests (and the interests of the admins). On the subject of admins, I’m happy to re-add any of the old admins but will not do so by default as there’s probably some overhead to that and they haven’t posted in a long time.

Of course, unlike my old blog, this one will not necessarily have valid XHTML, CSS or RSS. But I’m sure you’ll get over that.

Why a new blog?

Two reasons.

Writing your own blog software as well as posting to and maintaining the blog contents itself is very time-consuming when you’re doing it in addition to work, school or university, and life. Consequently the first reason is time. While I did have the time to write the code powering my old blog, I concentrated on university work at university and am now devoting all of my coding time and effort to my job.

Writing a comments system around simple but unusual blog software and then replacing that software with your own, keeping the same comments system, does not lead to well-designed software. All of this was also done in languages I had no prior experience of. Consequently the second reason is the need for the code powering my old blog to be refactored in order to significantly change the design and add features, to keep it up-to-date.