A quick update

I’ve kind of let this blog wither on the vine for the past eighteen months, but I’m still elsewhere on the web: I continue to review theatre for both Musical Theatre Review and The Reviews Hub (the new name for The Public Reviews).

But as those who know me are aware, those are my evening pursuits: these days, my full-time job is as a software developer for a company that monitors online discussions about scholarly and academic works.

I used to mix both code and criticism posts on this blog, but now I have a new location for the former – Scott Codes, a Github-hosted blog that currently has a paltry two entries, but will shortly get more.

The blog posts I’m planning for over there will touch on the duality of my working experience, looking at how the worlds of software development and journalism have enough similarities that one discipline can learn from the other. I’ll be kicking that investigation off with a 25-minute session at the next meeting of the London Ruby User Group (LRUG) entitled “Hack like a journalist”:

News reporters are trained in techniques to produce stories that are concise, well structured, easy to follow and with a consistent house style. How can those same techniques help us write better code?

If you’re a Ruby developer, I look forward to seeing you there.

Ten Things… has moved

Over the course of the last full series of Doctor Who, I wrote a series of blog posts here collectively entitled Ten Things About Who, which I then collected into an ebook for Kindle.

I’m going to be doing the same again this series, but rather than on here, I’ve moved such posts to a new blog: TenThings.tv.

The site’s very much a work in progress at the moment, but the first post is ready:

Ten Things About… Deep Breath

 

 

Resolutions for 2013

I’ve had these in my head for a bit. But when New Year resolutions are silent and hidden, it’s easy to break them without having to hold yourself to account.

1. Blog more and take more pictures

Apart from my Doctor Who post about the Christmas Day special, I haven’t really blogged for ages. I should do something about that.

I’m not one for sharing my innermost thoughts, though. That style of blogging just doesn’t appeal to me. However, I do enjoy photography but haven’t done much recently – so hopefully I’ll be able to do some form of photoblogging when I can.

2. See more dance and classical music events

I tend to gravitate towards musical theatre and straight plays when I go out to the theatre – it’s where I feel most confident and informed as an audience member. Dance is one area where I’ve often felt at my most adrift. At times I’ve felt hopelessly out of place (a dance piece at the Barbican remains one of the few events I’ve left at the interval with disgust at its ineptitude) – but it’s also been the source of some of the most thrilling performances I’ve seen.

Similarly, I do enjoy going to the occasional classical music concert, but I can’t remember the last time I went to one. So I’m hoping to rectify that absence in 2013.

3. Support my local theatres

I have been writing several blog posts about trips to my local large regional venue, the Aylesbury Waterside – but I’m going to try and do more, and that’ll involve going to more of their shows and one-off nights.

It’s important to remember that Aylesbury also has a smaller theatre, the Limelight, as part of the Queen’s Park Arts Centre – and I’m going to keep an eye on what’s going on there, too.

4. Be more active

Having a job, and hobbies, which require long periods of sitting down mean that it’s more essential to find ways of being active when not working. I prefer long walks to running, and my long daily commute gets in the way of joining a gym. Neither of these are valid excuses for not doing more exercise, but instead will frame the ways in which I get out more.

5. Finish at least one creative writing project

I have a couple of short story ideas germinating, one of which could potentially expand into a much longer piece. And after being on the Blogger’s Choice panel for the Off Cut Festival over the last two years, I’m intrigued by the festival’s 15-minute stage format. I’d be interested to see if I can transfer my belief about what can work in that timeframe, and what is best avoided, into a practical piece.

So those are my resolutions. What are yours?

…and you’re back in the room

Apologies for this site being offline for the last few days. My hosting provider, the otherwise excellent [Site5](http://www.site5.com), has been migrating clients over and somehow things got a little screwy in the move.

It wasn’t helped by Site5’s initial email, notifying me that my account was being migrated, promising to follow up with additional emails once the migration was complete. Those emails never arrived — and judging by the [support forum set up to cover migration issues](http://forums.site5.com/forumdisplay.php?f=94), that’s something that a number of clients have experienced.

Most of the time I have zero issues with Site5’s service, which is why the failures in transition have been so disappointing. Still, it’s done now, so fingers crossed normal service can be resumed from hereon in.

A 100-word biography

As I mention on my [About page](http://matthewman.net/about/), I’ve recently been lucky enough to have received a commission for my first professional piece of fiction — a short story for an anthology based around a certain TV show.

The story itself has been approved, is currently being typeset and the (small but historic) cheque has long since been cashed. The book itself will be out in a few months, but today, my editor emailed me asking for a 100 word biography for the frontispiece.

Initially, I couldn’t really think of what to include. My name, of course. Great. Only 98 words to go. Beyond that, though, what? It’s not like I can do what many other writers do, and wax lyrical about their wife, three kids (mention them all by name, it all adds to the word count) and sounds-palatial-but-I’m-a-writer-so-it’s-rather-more-squalid-than-that house somewhere in the Home Counties. And as this will be my first fiction work, I can’t list any previous achievements in that field.

So I figured the best thing to do is to concentrate on what writing achievements I have made (establish my credentials), make a passing reference to the subject matter at hand (signifying that I do, in fact, know what I’m talking about) and end on a joke (so that it’s not completely dull).

So this is what I came up with:

> Scott Matthewman is Assistant Editor of The Stage, the British newspaper covering all aspects of the performing arts. In 2004, his website covering gay issues was named Best Political Weblog by The Guardian, and he now contributes on a regular basis to TV Today, The Stage’s blog about British television. He specialises in coverage of Saturday night entertainment, even when it doesn’t involve a time-travelling police box — although he remains convinced that musical theatre reality shows are part of a devious plan for world domination by aliens with jazz hands.
>
> Tell Me You Love Me is Scott’s first published fiction.

Fingers crossed that’ll do.

Mint statistics and a ‘406 Not Acceptable’ error

This blog is hosted on a [Site5](http://www.site5.com/) server, and earlier today suffered a major outage when the shared host it sits on had a severe hardware problem.

Thankfully, that problem was rectified with the technical team’s usual good speed. Everybody’s home directories had to be restored from an earlier backup, but this blog is so low usage these days that it wasn’t really affected.

The only that troubled me was that, as soon as it was back online, my [Mint](http://haveamint.com/) installation, which collates web statistics locally, was failing to register any page impressions. I also have web bugs installed for [Sitemeter](http://www.sitemeter.com) and [Google Analytics](http://www.google.com/analytics) — yes, three is overkill for a small blog, but it helps me field test changes on a site that doesn’t matter before I do anything too meddlesome on commercial sites that do — but those were still picking up page impressions.

Safari’s useful (but often ignored) Activity window showed that Mint’s web bug was returning a response of ‘unacceptable’ — double-clicking the request’s line in the Activity window passed me through to a standard window showing that the full response was a `406 Not Acceptable` error.

A quick google, and I found [this thread on the Mint forums](http://haveamint.com/forum/troubleshooting/76/dwindling_stat_issue), which provided the solution of adding the following lines to the Mint directory’s `.htaccess` file:


SecFilterEngine Off
SecFilterScanPOST Off

which did the trick.

I’m not sure why I need that fix now, when before the failure I didn’t, but I’m at least relieved I found it. And I’m mainly blogging here to increase the chances of anybody suffering the same fate easily finding the same fix.

Adding back some golden oldies

So since I [relaunched the site](http://matthewman.net/2007/08/10/starting-from-scratch/), I’ve been monitoring which pages have been triggering the most `404 Page Not Found` errors, and have ported a selection across to the new site. I definitely prefer doing it this way, even though it’s more labour intensive: I’m ending up with a clean blog with much less cruft.

Unfortunately, as part of the whole cleanup operation I’ve scrapped my original Feedburner feed, which was sharing an account with various feeds I’d set up for [The Stage](http://www.thestage.co.uk/). So it means I’m effectively going to be building up a regular audience from scratch, which I suppose is no bad thing in its own way.

Anyway, to celebrate this blog being back on its own two feet, I’ve published [Requiem for a Songbird](http://matthewman.net/2007/08/14/requiem-for-a-songbird/), a _Doctor Who_ short story I wrote for Big Finish’s open submissions competition a couple of months ago. A previous draft of the story has previously appeared on this blog as _The Nightingale’s Song_, but this pass took on a number of notes I’d received from various authors in the intervening years. I hope you like it.

Starting from scratch…

Apologies that this blog has been so quiet of late. I do still have all of my old posts, but to be honest most of them are either out of date or were never read by anyone else anyway…

Apologies that this blog has been so quiet of late. Most of my spare time has been taken up with either TV Today, or research for the same (yes, yes, that means watching TV). Also, I was recently commissioned for my first piece of professionally published fiction. It’s only a short story, but it’s taken a lot of my time and that isn’t over yet. I had my first set of notes from my editor today, so I have another weekend of rewriting to look forward to. More on that project anon. In the meantime, I do still have all of my old posts, but to be honest most of them are either out of date or were never read by anyone else anyway, so there isn’t much to be lost by trashing all the old links and starting from scratch…