Category Archives: General

Smiffy Returns

I will start with an excuse: I have been busy. This is why there have been no updates to Smiffy's Place for a couple of weeks. I have been mostly tied up with work, but much has happened, some worthy of comment. I will report on significant things out of sequence and in due course.

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

When I started Smiffy's Place, my idea was to produce a diary for myself, friends and family. However, looking back, I find much of the early content trivial and of very limited interest. Since literally anyone could access the content here, I have decided to try to improve the overall quality of material presented so that what is posted here is either interesting or useful (or both).

To this end, I have excised a few early posts; they are gone from the database and won't be coming back. I have also re-edited some posts which I thought could have been better written.

For those who like the spontaneity of the web log, sorry, I like a cleaner edit.


Last night, I finished a weeks sample of our rainwater consumption, which I am taking to be the mean. Here are a few facts and figures for your delight and delectation:

  • Our rainwater consumption in one week is 1.86 kilolitres (cubic metres).
  • We harvest 1.86 kilolitres for every millimetre of rain that falls.
  • Even if we assumed two kilolitres of water consumed every week, this only equates to 104 kilolitres per year.
  • 104 kilolitres equates to 186 millimetres of rain harvested.
  • We have had approximately 150 millimetres of rain this year, equating to a harvest of about 84 kilolitres, or approximately 80% of our annual consumption, based on two kilolitres a week.
  • Rainwater is used for everything apart from:
    • Horse troughs
    • Toilet flushing
    • Outside taps
    • Lawn irrigation
  • All water used in the house is re-used for irrigation after passing through an aerobic wastewater system.

This isn't a perfect situation, but I am pleased; our rainwater system is virtually self-sustaining, even with a below-average rainfall.

Flash! Boom! Bang! Rumble!

At last – we are really getting some rain! We are also getting a fair amount of lightning – I hope it does not hit the power lines again as they take ages to fix when it does and I have got a chicken in the oven! Just had one brief outage – glad this machine is on UPS.

Accessibility Statement

This web log aims to comply with Priorities 1,2 (at least) of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. Evaluation and repair is work in progress. This posting discusses the current situation.

OK, it seems like this static page can’t take comments! I will delve into the PHP code that forms this site and try to correct this at some point. If you would like to comment on the accessibility of this site, please do so on the post for the initial evaluation, above.


Like so many others, my daily spam intake (UBE rather than the product from Hormel Foods) was becoming beyond a joke and was consituting the greater part of my incoming e-mail.

Having had far too many false-positives from SpamCop, I was at a loss until an associate, Joseph Burford, pointed me at some alternative blacklists. Since re-configuring Sendmail late this afternoon, I have had only one spam message; my server logs told me that the Spamhaus blacklist had let me reject 10 messages (I used Let's see what tomorrow brings – hopefully much less spam!

About Smiffy

I am a thirty-something (the something now being a number greater than 9) IT professional, Open Source and Accessibility advocate, of English birth, who recently (2001) moved from the second wettest county in England (Devon) to the driest state of the driest continent (South Australia).

Professionally, I am a freelance web applications developer and technology consultant through my business, Smiffytech. My full professional Curriculum Vitae can be found at LinkedIn.

I live with my wife, several dogs, two horses, innumerable venomous spiders, mice, and birds* on a small farmlet within heavy artillery range (somewhat more than a stone's throw) of the Spencer Gulf. This distance may be subject to change due to polar ice melt. As the house is over 50 metres above Mean Sea Level, we shouldn't be getting our toes wet just yet.

* That's just the spiders; the mice and birds aren't venomous, to the best of our knowledge, although some of the birds can get pretty stroppy.

Nethack and Slashem players may be interested to know that our house looks a bit like this:

Nethack-style graphic of house

Over the last 4 years or so, I have been impaired by ill-health which practitioners are referring to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (it sounds more grand than "I don't know"). This has presented certain challenges like only being able to work 12-15 hours per week and not being able to drive. Despite the impairment and the restricted hours, working from home has meant that I can be productive to the fullness of my ability by working when I can, even if this does mean some quite odd hours. I have commented on this in my article Going to Work – Time for a Rethink? Being constantly tired has also lent me a new outlook on web accessibility as described in a presentation given remotely to the OzeWAI 2006 conference. Although it created a few challenges – especially at the outset – Chronic Fatigue has not prevented me from doing Weight Training over the last year as my series Weight Training and Chronic Fatigue describes.

Smiffy Facts

  • Smiffy is the same smiffy as identified by NickServ and is occasionally spotted on #SWIG
  • Smiffy is the CPAN author SMIFFY Don't go rushing off to look – I have only published one module and that was ages ago.
  • Smiffy was a childhood nickname, still used by a few friends; recent usage started as an IRC nickname (recently changed to msmiffy), now a general nom de clavier.
  • Matthew Smith is not the Matthew Smith that wrote Manic Miner and Jetset Willy, although he did own a ZX Spectrum 48k
  • On Yahoo, Smiffy is known as Heoroweard and Prisoner39013. Go figure.