Welcome to the 235th edition of the (secretly bi-)Weekly Head Voices!
This one looks back at the period from Monday October 11 to Sunday October 24, 2021.
(Yet Another) New Keyboard #YANK
You might remember my previous semi-accidental keyboard acquisition, namely the Keychron K1 with low profile brown, no I mean red!, Gateron switches all the way back in June.
Well, the K1 turned out to be not my favourite keyboard.
Perhaps a bit more surprising, at least to me, was that I only discovered a week or so ago that the keyboard had RED low-profile switches and not BROWN as I had ordered.
As everyone knows, reds are usually linear and browns usually have a tactile bump.
However, this confusion, that my brain expected a tactile bump all this time and never got one, only partially explains my not-liking of this keyboard. I think the low profile reds have too muc bounce at the bottom for the way that I type.
Anyways, this discovery came just after I had already accidentally ordered another keyboard, namely the Varmilo VA87m with Cherry MX Speed Silvers.
The accident was partially caused by the fact that this keyboard was available from a local retailer named inexplicably Ctrl.Shift.Esc, who dispatched the board in record time. (Super happy with their service, and of course joking about the name)
Having discovered that I really don’t like the red switches in the K1 with the new keyboard in transit, I was in trepidation that it would arrive and that I would not like the Speed Silver linears at all…
Well, it came as yet another surprise (that’s the world of mechanical keyboards for me, it seems) that the new switches actually felt quite amazing in this new board.
TaeKeyboards, a YouTube keyboard reviewer whom I rate highly and I believe many others do too, called it one of the best prebuilts he’s ever reviewed, so it seems I’m in good company.
I think that it’s probably due to the sensitivity of the keys, but I tend to swap characters (a friend from work gave me the tip to “just type better” haha).
Other than that, my only other criticism of the board is that the backlight, which I often need in the evenings, does not shine through the lettering on the keycaps, a specific example where function should perhaps have triumphed over form.
At this moment my fingers seem to be luxuriating on this keyboard. If they can start “just typing better” soon, their owner would be pretty chuffed as well.
Programming languages: Is this the best we can do?
I really love programming.
It’s a large part of my job, but it also often features during hobby time (often the same languages and tools, just different projects, somehow refreshing!).
That being said, I wonder if this, i.e. “programming languages”, is really the best we can do in terms of enabling creative folks to construct reliable software systems.
Aspects of this topic came up during a recent local meetup, where I (perhaps ironically) presented my blog post comparing API construction using three different programming languages, namely Python, Go and C#. (This too was the output of a hobby project.)
The discussion was about the fact that it is increasingly more difficult acquiring and especially retaining programming talent.
There are more issues at play here, notably the fact that remote work has really opened up the market (this has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic), enabling programmers from around the globe to work for employers anywhere else on the globe.
Whilst I think this is a healthy development, it has really exacerbated the effects of the scarcity of good programmers.
Some of my business owner friends, who really do their best to create great working environments, are feeling this crunch.
As programmers on the fortunate side of this see-saw, we could just call it a day at this point and continue cashing our pay cheques.
However, as science-minded humans, we should also be thinking about the larger space of software construction.
While programming skills can certainly be learned, there is a certain specific set of personality traits that is almost required to become really good at programming.
My contention is that whilst these traits often correlate with programming ability, they don’t necessarily correlate with the broader sort of structured creativity required to construct software systems.
Empowering more humans to be able to construct reliable and delightful software
In fact, the world of so-called no-code and low-code has been heating up for a few years now and is… so hot right now. Friend and reader of this blog, who goes by the codename of KB, works on what looks like a pretty good entry in this arena.
Is this the conclusion of that line of evolution, or is there more that can be explored?
How can software construction be further democratized? Are there perhaps software construction modalities that we are currently completely blind to?
Could it be that one day (maybe even soon) that we just explain to the AI what the new (AI) software construct should be able to do?
The power of fika
Thanks to the High Priestess of Fika and #scicomm, I have learned about the amazing Swedish custom called “fika”.
It seems that in Swedish companies, employees from all levels in the organization take a morning and afternoon break from work (called fikapaus or fikarast) to eat cake and drink coffee together.
Hej Sweden tells me:
Among the consensus-oriented Swedes, fika is a great way to exchange knowledge, opinions about what’s going on in the company, and generally bond with your colleagues. Resulting in better productivity for the company and better wellbeing for each employee.
… and then drops this sweet nugget (I see what I did there):
Swedes spend in total 9.5 days each year having fika.
Besides that this sounds like great fun, I think the idea of having an equalizing cultural institution like this where folks from all levels of the organization get to bond in a more social setting would contribute substantially to knowledge and culture dissemination in the organization.
In neurological terms, this reminds me strongly of the growing understanding of the role of long-distance, interareal connections in the brain.
You could almost imagine your neurons having coffee and cake together every day at 10:00 and 15:00.
On some days, it feels like my neurons do nothing but drink coffee and eat cake the whole day, while on other days, it feels like they decided during fika to push my analogies far too far.
Folks have a really great week, and please beware those exploding analogies!