Managing the wastebasket in GNOME

This is more a personal note than anything else, but I’m putting it here on the off chance that someone else might find it useful.

I noticed that the wastebasket on my PC desktop had become rather full. This is both inevitable and unsurprising given that, by default, deleting files sends them to the wastebasket and then leaves them there. Forever.

I want to be able to clear out these deleted files, but not all of them because I sometimes need to go back and recover what I have deleted. Fortunately, a solution exists in the form of trash-cli, a command line interface that allows you to manage the FreeDesktop trash folder.

The package provides several commands, the most useful of which for me is the trash-empty command, which not only allows me to permanently delete trashed files, but also to specify how many days to keep. I played around with it a bit and it does exactly what it promises to do.

Being lazy, I have also scheduled this to run every Monday so that I can start the week with nothing more than a month old in my wastebasket. This should ensure that things remain a bit more manageable in future.

Options

This is good. With hybrid working becoming increasingly established, the Belgian trains are introducing new (and, hopefully cheaper) season tickets to reflect this reality.

I am one of the 60% of season ticket holders commuting fewer than five days a week and, although the season ticket is (just) worth it, I am paying for journeys I don’t take. One of the proposed options is for 120 days travel a year, and this is more than enough for me, and I will certainly look into this when renewal time comes around.

Hybrid working has become the norm for many people and, when it works, it works well. It is nice to see that the national infrastructure is now also adjusting to this reality.

BookWyrm: Federated social reading

I’ve mentioned Mastodon before now, but the great thing about federated social media is that it is not dominated by a single server, or even a single type of software. Multiple applications and networks exist to support a wide variety of social activities. And, because they all use the same protocol, they can all talk to each other.

It’s because of this that I came to discover BookWyrm, a non-commercial alternative to Goodreads on which you can track your reading habits, talk about books and find suggestions as to what to read next.

Of the available servers, I have settled in The Library of the Uncommons, the membership of which leans towards Science Fiction and Fantasy novels in terms of reading preferences. This, of course, is great for me and I have already discovered a couple more books to add to my ever-expanding pile of must-read books.

Because all of these federated services can talk to each other, I can interact with people on other servers regardless of whether they are using BookWyrm, Mastodon or anything else.

BookWyrm is still under development but all of the essentials are in place and working well. I especially like how easy it is to migrate from Goodreads to BookWyrm by exporting your books from one and importing them into the other. The import wasn’t perfect, but the site does tell me exactly which books I need to check, so getting everything set up is a remarkably painless process.

I find I am getting a lot more out of BookWyrm than I was from Goodreads. I haven’t deleted my Goodreads account yet, but I suspect that this is only a matter of time.

You can find me at The Library of the Uncommons. Feel free to pop over and say hi.

The Joy of Parking

Since the Covid restrictions were lifted, I have been going into Brussels two days a week. This commute involves driving into a nearby town and catching a train. The train station has plenty of parking and, once I’m in Brussels, the walk to the office only takes five minutes, so it’s a pretty easy commute overall.

Although the station parking has long been free, it’s been clear for a while that this is going to change. There has been a lot of construction work going on over the past year or so, this involves converting car park into a lager area for buses, closing off most of the entrances to the car park and putting a payment barrier on the remaining one.

And on Wednesday they activated the barrier.

The barrier was down and there was a man standing next to it to tell me that I needed to take a ticket now and pay when I left, of I could buy a season ticket at the station office which would work out a lot cheaper. So I took the ticket as directed, parked and walked into the station office.

I had four minutes until my train was due, and there was a queue of about eight people, all clutching their parking tickets, and clearly wanting to buy a season ticket. So I decided that I would sort this out once I returned from work.

I’m quite glad that I did this because it meant that I was able to look up the parking prices and options during the day and establish that, not only does the season ticket work out a lot cheaper, but I could also get a discount for being a train user. And having done this meant that I wasn’t particularly flustered when I returned to the station to discover that manned ticket desk had closed for the day.

So, to the ticket machine where I discovered that, because I have a MoBIB card (essentially a credit card type thing on which I can store train and other transport tickets), I was able to buy a three month parking subscription (only three months because that’s when my season ticket for the train expires) which was loaded directly onto the card.

After that, it was just a case of waving my card at the parking barrier and I don’t need to do anything more until April.

People often complain about Belgium being a very bureaucratic country, and it is. It is also a very integrated country in terms of digitally accessing various services. But the thing is, the bureaucracy works. As long as you are willing to take a few minutes to understand the process — and this information is generally very easy to find — things tend move along very smoothly indeed.

Wednesday

Over the Christmas period we watched Wednesday, the Netflix series in which Wednesday Addams is sent to Nevermore Academy — the boarding school for outcasts with which her parents have a long history. Here, as well as having to navigate the usual high-school cliches (all given a suitably macabre spin), Wednesday finds herself at the centre of a series of mysteries including murder, a monster and several attempts on her life.

It’s really good.

The series does take a bit of getting used to initially and this is not the Addams family we have come to expect. The family is a little more dysfunctional and I missed the sense of the Addams together, facing the world. And I have to admit that Luis Guzmán struck a slightly jarring note as Gomez Addams: He’s not Raul Julia.

That said, it is nice to see a series that attempts to be something more than a slavish retread of what has gone before, and Wednesday does work well as a new take on the Addams Family. A lot of this comes down to Jenna Ortega’s performance in the title role: She manages to channel all of Wednesday’s signature snark while also delivering enough depth to keep us all caring throughout the series.

And then there’s the dance.

Overall, Wednesday is a very well executed combination of Gothic mystery and school-age soap opera. The series is both funny and charming and is built around a mystery that is both intriguing and satisfyingly concluded.

I do hope that Wednesday returns to Nevermore for another term.

Happy New Year

Often, when I reach the end of the year I start looking back over the past 12 month’s worth of posts as a way of talking about the year just gone. This year, however, posting has been a bit light, to say the least, so I don’t have much to look back over.

So instead of trying to review the year just gone, I will leave you with The Zealot Gene, from the Jethro Tull album of the same name, which just happens to be the song I have listened to more than any other this year.

Happy New Year to all, and here’s hoping we all see a little less zealotry and polarisation in 2023.

Back to School

The school summer holiday in Belgium runs from 1st July to 31st August, regardless of what days those dates fall on. This is why all the kids are going back to school today, even though it’s a Thursday. The first day back is a bit of an easy one: the kids don’t have a full day and will be mainly receiving timetables, directions and other essentials.

There are big changes for us this year. The twins have now graduated from primary school, so all three boys will be cycling into the next town for their schooling. The twins were accompanied by their mum today (just to make sure they have the route correctly memorised), but they will be on their own from tomorrow.

I am still working from home at present and, after having the boys at home with me, the house feels awfully quiet today.