I was out sick for a while, with severe symptoms of RSI (repetitive strain injury) making it nearly impossible to use my keyboard or mouse. I’m still not fully recovered, but I am back to work.
I think I also caught another bug in the mean time — so this might’ve not been just RSI. Muscles all over my body were hurting, I was coughing and had a headache. At least the COVID-19 test was negative.
It’s interesting to see my creativity and passion bubble up when I’m off work for a while. It happened in my sick leave this time around, but it’s been the same for other times that I was out (especially when I’m on holiday, and not sick).
The idea of becoming an independent software developer and pursuing my own projects is still appealing to me. It’s tough to make a reliable living that way, but perhaps it is worth thinking about a bit more in detail.
Speaking of software, I’ve stunned by how complex software development has gotten, and how it is still becoming more complex. What used to be possible with one software developer now requires a dedicated team of people with different skill specializations.
Closecontact was a nice break from all that. With a super lean team, we managed to build something that ticked all the boxes. I wish more software were created this way.
Let’s mention the gremlins:
My macOS notifications stopped working again, and I ran late by eight minutes for a meeting. Notifications were working just fine minutes earlier. When I went to debug the problem in System Preferences, all the missing past notifications showed up in unison. Then the notifications stopped working again. Then the notifications started working again, but now my calendar is running 15 minutes late what the heck is going onnnnnn
At work, the security update required me to update to macOS 12.3.1, but Software Update said I was up to date on 12.3 and no newer version was available. I restarted my laptop, after which the 12.3.1 update showed up, but when I tried to update, it reverted to saying that 12.3 was the latest version after all and I was fully up to date. Have you ever had the feeling that technology is mocking you? I alerted the IT department, told them that my computer is cursed and that I needed an exorcist. They didn’t take me seriously but I know better.
Slack was showing an error message “Couldn’t sign in” even though I was already very clearly signed in. Slack also showed me that I had unread messages… from myself.
The good news is that my laptops have not had a kernel panic in months! The bad news that this is not true for my phone anymore.
I had a video call where the audio simply wasn’t working, despite having verified my audio setup minutes earlier. More strangely, my video call partner arrived 5 minutes late and claimed that it was me who was late. He also claimed I was in the list of attendees but wasn’t really there. (Someone please confirm that I am real and alive and not a ghost.)
The built-in audio output of my MacBook Pro stopped working. Or rather, stopped existing: “no output devices found” is what System Preferences tells me. I can connect an external speaker, though.
The amount of effort that I require to work around all this broken software leaves me with so little energy to get actual stuff done. (On the topic of notifications, coworkers have suggested keeping a window with mail and calendar open and visible at all times, or manually checking my mail, Slack and calendar every 10 minutes or so. Absolutely none of this should be necessary!)
For my web site, I’ve customized the Iosevka monospace font (using the Iosevka Customizer, and so now the font I’m using on denisdefreyne.com feels a little bit more me. I like it. It more closely reflects how I myself write letter and number forms by hand.
I’ve not been doing much in terms of side projects. I started over with the bytecode VM for Lox (the language from Crafting Interpreters). I was previously using Rust but switched to Crystal, because it’s just so much more convenient for me.
Crystal doesn’t allow compiling to code that can be called from other languages. It’s explicitly a non-goal (see this comment on crystal#921). That is unfortunate, but not a blocker. Rust can do that, with
#[no_mangle], which makes it quite possible to create code that can be called from C (and thus also e.g. from Ruby through FFI).
The draft for the article on implementing equality in Ruby is finished and handed over to the editors. Progress!
I did make bread during my time off work. Doing so with RSI is tough, but I had the glutinous desire and couldn’t not make bread.
In the past, I’ve tried moving my bread-making days to weekends, but that limits the opportunities for meeting up with others. Making sourdough bread takes a lot of time — starting one evening and finishing the next afternoon. I’ll try to use weekdays for baking and keeping my weekends free.
Have I mentioned that RSS is fantastic? I use NetnewsWire for my RSS reader, and I find RSS to be a fantastic way to stay up to date with what people are up to. RSS is a much saner way than Twitter of keeping up to date with what people are thinking and doing. (See also: How I organize my RSS feeds).
It is for this reason that Max Böck’s article The Return of the 90s Web resonates with me. I have a blog with an RSS feed (and I send out my weeknotes via email). I have got the idea of adding a blog roll, perhaps as an OPML file.
It is as if we are entirely capable of building a decentralized web that doesn’t use the blockchain. Gasp.
Let’s talk entertainment!
I (finally) replayed Full Throttle in its remastered version. I played it originally as a kid, as it came with the Macintosh Performa 6200 or 6400 we had at the time. I’ve got good memories of this game, and I think the game holds up well.
It is short though: it took me about two hours to replay it, but then again, I remember nearly all the puzzles and their solutions! It doesn’t quite have the same experience because I don’t fool around and try to figure out a solution; I already know the solution.
Also, from the Full Throttle soundtrack, the track Chitlins, Whiskey & Skirt has been stuck in my head for a while now. I did not understand the humorously dark undertones as a kid, though:
The population is greatly decreased
And now the odds are greatly increased
That I may someday get the chance
To kiss your lips
I thank the lord each day
For the apocalypse
The rest of the soundtrack is by The Gone Jackals, whose web site is still up, in its 90s glory!
I was surprised that Mark Hamill — Luke Skywalker, you know — voices three characters in this game.
Speaking of soundtracks: that Macintosh Performa also came with Descent, whose Mac-only soundtrack is fantastic (low quality YouTube link, sorry). The soundtrack is composed by Allister Brimble, who also did the soundtrack of Overload, which is essentially Descent reimagined with modern technology, and so it plays very much like Descent. Recommended!
An Alan Wake remaster was announced last year, but now Max Payne is getting a remaster as well. I read the Max Payne remaster news as I added “PAINKILLERS!!!” to my shopping list — for my RSI, of course. I love both games and am looking forward to playing them again.
I’ve not played games much, but I have recently watched an ungodly amount of Let’s Play videos. For Cities Skylines — a game I’m really not very good at — I’m enjoying the quite entertaining Biffa’s New Tealand build, and there’s also City Planner Plays who’s play style is more realistic but no less enjoyable! Why would I be playing Cities Skylines myself when I can just watch these Let’s Play videos?
I enjoyed the third season of Snowpiercer, but my mind is a blur and I don’t even remember too much about it anymore. I really liked Snowpiercer because of the continuous tension, and the claustrophobia of being forever in an enclosed space. The characters all have their own motivations, and it’s expected for them to clash.
I watched all of Foundation and oh my, it is fantastic. This series gets science fiction right in a way that other shows don’t: it revolves around characters, while technology and science provide the setting for these characters to inhabit. This is something other shows (modern Star Trek for example) fail at.
Speaking of Star Trek, the last season of Star Trek Discovery is just fine. It continues the trend of trying to tell bombastic stories and it feels like every season needs to be even bigger. It’s getting boring.
Star Trek Picard season 2 is good so far. I’m not typically a fan of Q as a character, as its omnipotence gives the writers the freedom to do whatever they want, though in this series I like how Q is taking more of a back seat.
I enjoyed watching Thermae Romae Novae. It’s surreal, absurd and anachronistic, but relatable and wholesome.
Interesting articles and videos:
The Man Who Broke The Internet By Deleting 11 Lines of Code (Half as Interesting): This is quite a good explanation of the
The Return of the 90s Web (Max Bock): As mentioned earlier in my weeknotes.
Exit Interviews Are a Trap (Jacob Kaplan-Moss)
A few articles on AI, computing and ethics:
Dutch scandal serves as a warning for Europe over risks of using algorithms (Politico): “The Dutch tax authority ruined thousands of lives after using an algorithm to spot suspected benefits fraud” — yikes.
Ethical limits of computing (Daniel G. Siegel)
The Side Effects of Tailored Digital Experiences (Jim Nielsen)
On the topic of blockchain:
Tech Won’t Save Us – Web3 is Not Going Great (Molly White, Paris Marx)
De-anonymizing Bitcoin (Bruce Schneier): It is no surprise to me that blockchain transactions can be de-anonymized, but it’s interesting that it is already happening.
Man who paid $2.9m for NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet set to lose almost $2.9m (The Guardian): Ha. Is the cryptocurrency bubble finally starting to burst?