Guilty Expression

Having previously been the anonymous benevolent dictator of Guilty Expression I have decided to become non-anonymous and I’ll just have to make sure what I write there is either acceptable or I’ll have to log out before I write it. Guilty Expression is a web site for people who want somewhere to express the thoughts and feelings they have about God and Christianity that they can’t express in their church (if they have one) or with people in real life.

I set up the sire after talking to several of my friends who used to be church-going Christians, but were hurt in one way or another (by their church, or by God in the sense of things happening to them) and are now almost-Christians, or ex-Christians but who still think a lot about these things and want to talk about them without being branded unsound or a heretic. A couple of these people have very genuine relationships with God, which, by their very messed-up-ness are very real, but they obviously suffer from not being part of a community. GE is supposed to provide a way back in to talking to people like them and people who feel more confident in their faith (but are very tolerant of those who aren’t).

GE is also a place for Christians to complain about their churches and the attitudes of other Christians, and other people, and almost to let off steam about things in a way that does not have very bad consequences in terms of hurting people or causing division in their church or group.

We’ve had articles written by people of lots of different ages and backgrounds (from pastors to non-Christians) on loads of topics (from anorexia to the bible to science) and lots of different viewpoints.

My excuse for writing about it on what I hope to be a mainly technical blog is that it presents an interesting challenge in terms of how to build a community. The site is supposed to be for people who are feeling disposessed and out of it, and so they’re not likely to be looking for it. The vast majority of visitors and contributors to the site are people I have told about it personally, and it has spread a little from there by word of mouth. My being anonymous has not helped, because it has made it difficult for me to spread the word through my other web presences, and that ti why I’ve decide to own up. If you have any ideas about where it might be useful to spread the word, let me know by email.

If you’re interested in GE, go to the site: and consider signing up for the mailing list to hear every now and then when a new article is published.


I really should provide an RSS feed. Does anyone know of a good reference on the simplest form of RSS that I can use to auto-generate some RSS from the HTML of this page? I’m prepared to do a little python coding to make it happen. Give me an email if so.

Speaking of giving me an email, wouldn’t it be great if I could have a proper blog that allowed comments? Well, I’d need a web host that allowed PHP or something, and that would cost money. If anyone knows of a good free hosting service (built on Free Software, preferably) let me know. I’ve registered on but although I have finally managed to work out how to post to a blog, it doesn’t allow comments, so the only benefit it offers is an RSS feed, and the lack of control is not worth that to me yet. I may get frustrated with my home-grown HTML/FTP solution, but for the moment I’m quite enjoying it.

A real job

Getting used to working is an interesting thing. I haven’t been as tired as I thought I might be, probably partly because I got into a routine of getting up at 7am with my wife (she was working while I did my PhD). However, the weirdness of how much of a job is to do with social pressure is interesting. What I mean is that it takes a lot to get fired (in my job, anyway – I hope…) and you could probably get away with being pretty mediocre and keep your current salary. The things motivating you to do well and work hard are mainly desire for promotion (and within reason your salary will probably increase over time even if you’re mediocre) and social pressure. The main way in my work you are motivated is that if you don’t do what you were supposed to do one week, you have to survive a difficult moment on Monday when we have our status meeting.

Anyway, none of this is relevant to me because I am really motivated by how fun it is to be working with other people on something that I am reasonably good at, and also because I never have to read or write academic papers again.

Except, of course that I have my viva later this month, and I will have corrections out of that. But I’m trying not to think about it.

What is going on with FreeGuide?

I thought I’d write a little bit about FreeGuide, since I’m planning to link this page off the FreeGuide page.

I’m the lead developer on FreeGuide, and having just started a new job (which so far is excellent) my free time is seriously limited, especially as my commute is 1.5 hours at the moment. I expect as I settle in I’ll find more time, and I also hope my commute may reduce in a few months. In the meantime I’ve had to fall back into maintenance mode, but fortunately there are several contributors stepping up to add long-requested features. The most prolific contributor has been Alex, who has been working on a number of excellent new features in our development branch. That branch started when Risto refactored the code into an MVC style and optimised the display to speed up massively operation with more than about 10 channels.

That branch has been around _far_ too long, as it’s a maintenance headache to look after 2 quite different branches, and it causes confusion when people send in patches against old code.

I really want to make the development branch reasonably bug-free and then declare it stable and retire the 0.8.x branch once and for all. I hope we can do that pretty soon.

Meanwhile, Alex is adding more features, the most notable of which is the plugins system. That will eventually allow you to download and install new listings grabbers without upgrading FreeGuide itself, and plug in loads of other things like exporters, recording schedulers, and loads more. Also excitingly soon to go in is the recording scheduler system developed by Reuel and integrated by Alex.

I want to make 0.10.x stable next release, then get those features in (probably under a 0.11.x name), stabilise them, go through the TODO and make a _short_ list of things to do before 1.0, do them and NOTHING else, and then finally release 1.0. It would be great if the plugin system turned out to be flexible enough to handle all the new thigns people suggest, but if not I plan to keep the 1.0.x branch stable long term, and allow further changes in a 1.1 branch.

The features I think are needed for 1.0 are:

  • Recording (through a TV card) while FG is running
  • Scheduling recording
  • Coloured favourites
  • A manual and help

Hopefully not a lot else…


Can’t decide what to think about Google. I was very suspicious about gmail, and this whole portal business is very boring, and _so_ corporate, but you really can’t argue with sponsoring open source contributions, can you? If doing this kind of thing starts being seen as the way to impress the developer community (and therefore recruit the geekiest geeks) then everyone wins, and world domination is one step closer.