Weekly Head Voices #236: The surprising power of consistent chipping

This 236th edition of the Weekly Head Voices looks back at the three (sorry!) weeks from Monday October 25 to Sunday November 14, 2021.

What will the beholder think?

First things first: Do you notice something different about me I mean my blog?

I don’t know how most readers respond to this sort of a thing, but I can really appreciat, in a non-professional way of course, good typography on a personal blog.

Over the past few years I’ve been tweaking the CSS here and there to make small improvements to the WHV typography, but I’ve never been really happy with the font.

That is, until I ran into Alexander Obenauer’s blog and just new that I had to have the same serif on mine.

The font is called Newsreader. I’m currently enjoying the subtly new look, I hope you do too.

New diagramming tool of the [insert suitable period here]

Via Hacker News (henceforth just “HN”) I ran into this entertaining and charming review of a drawing tool called “excalidraw”.

Searching a little further, I could see that it had become in a relatively short timespan a darling of the otherwise hyper-critical HN community.

Personally, I’m always on the lookout for any tools which I think could help me visualize some of my ideas or plans better.

Excalidraw is great at boxes and arrows, which is fortunate, since about 95% of my ideas and plans are based on different ways of connecting boxes and arrows.

As an aside: So far, I’ve gotten by far the most use out of Notability on the iPad (with 1st gen Apple Pencil), but I never produce as many diagrams as I keep on imagining that I should be doing.

Upon first use, Excalidraw indeed struck me with how little friction it offers to the act of sketching out stuff.

I especially like how the authors have somehow managed to merge super-easy drawing on the computer with the production of diagrams that look like they’ve been made on a paper notebook, whilst still remaining fully vectorized.

Let me know if you’ve used this for anything interesting, or if you have any other diagramming tricks you’d like to share.

Ok Rust, I give up

Back in July of 2018, in WHV #148, I wrote that after noting the fact that Rust was an expression-oriented language (I love those) and subsequently reading the O’Reilly Programming Rust book, I had filed away the language under “re-evaluate whenever you reach for your trusty C++”.

As a programming language enthusiast, I should have know that that “filing away” was merely a postponement of the inevitable.

Recently, in hobby time, probably because I had not yet selected a new book to read, and because I’m going through a bit of a programming phase (err…), I unfiled Rust and started going through some more of the materials.

My current feeling is: Hot durnit! Rust may just be the fastest functional language I have access to!

I’ve been doing a number of the exercism exercises, and after often pulling out a pattern match for compact yet readable solutions, I’ve been getting a strong wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing feeling.

Rust brings a number of core functional programming principles to an exceptionally performant programming platform.

Sometimes there are still more nuts and bolts than I would like to see (to be expected from a systems language that wants to give you full control), but this mix of low-level and subjectively high-level functional programming is still a remarkable achievement in my book.

Of course I have no real-world applications in mind, unless Advent of Code counts, but Rust currently makes for great programming practice.

Keep on keeping on

In WHV #214 I wrote about writing down that One Main Thing that you’d like to get done every day.

Day job is currently not entirely conducive to this mode of work, and that’s putting it lightly.

Still, on most days I do remember to select and then write that thing down.

Most recently, I was dragging such an item along with me for what felt like weeks.

Every morning I did the Alt-W Ctrl-Y finger dance (that’s Emacs for copy paste), and I experienced the concomitant pang of internally facing embarrassment.

Often there would be no progress (because meetings and other non-maker work), but on some days I would excavate the equivalent of a generously filled teaspoon of dirt. (Doctor Flammond’s tunnel anybody?)

Slowly but surely, the Thing neared completion, until one day (weirdly still to my pleasant surprise) it was done, never to be copy-pasted again.

My happy little mental note was: Just keep on dragging One Main Thing with you. It’s not on the list because it’s going to get completed, but rather because it’s the thing that you just have to keep on chipping away at, especially when progress seems almost invisible.