Weekly Head Voices #152: A small but highly trained team of 11 year olds.

GOU#2, age 8, made this for the blog, super special.

This edition of the Weekly Head Voices covers the period from Monday August 6 to Sunday September 2.

Somewhere during this period, I experienced my 44th birthday.

More than once since then, my partner has had to endure my brand-new joke / half-truth that I’m now as clever as a team of four smart 11-year olds. (Hey, it took a team of four smart 11-year olds to come up with that joke!)

On the big (for me) day, I cooked for a super tiny group of friends. I experienced the ritual of preparing dinner for friends to be an honest one, and filled with human warmth. 12/10 – Would do again.

The next morning, ever-so-slightly in recovery mode, I was surprised by my little brother and my little sister (in-law). MY FAMILY HAD CONSPIRED AGAINST ME WITH SUCH SUCCESS!

Somewhere during this period, I also had the fantastic privilege of going back to my other home (the one with the cheese, and the clogs, and the social democracy FTW) and spending time with my family there.

So much celebration. So much warmth.

(There is also some bitter-sweetness, but that’s the price one has to pay for having roots in different hemispheres.)

I would have liked to say more, but this is one of those WHAMPSAMP* situations.

(As part of a deal I made at AfrikaBurn with a brother, I went fully vegetarian from the Friday to the Monday. It was actually really good!)

(* WHAMPSAMP = What Happens At Mysterious Place Stays At Mysterious Place.)

Music (nerd) and/or plain nerd section.

Somewhere during that period, Evil Charl went ahead and implemented that Spotify2AppleMusic chrome plugin that Responsible Charl mentioned in a previous edition of the WHV with the explicit purpose of getting it out of our system.

It’s out there now, and it’s free, so you might as well try it the next time that you need to convert any public (or private in your account) Spotify playlist to the corresponding Apple Music playlist.

I wrote this one in TypeScript where the type interfaces were a fantastic help in writing correct code for the parsing of the various APIs that this plugin has to inter-operate with.

Nerd section: BitBar with Lua, Hammerspoon, nerd motivations.

Also somewhere during that period, but in a slightly more surprising twist, I added lua support to the open-source macOS utility called bitbar, purely because I wanted to write a network bandwidth plugin that consumed less memory and was faster than the built in shell + awk versions.

That means I’m now also an official bitbar plugin author, which I find strangely satisfying.

Well, maybe it’s not so strange. I do have a thing with producing artifacts that other people (might) use in some way. There’s even more vagueness on this topic at the bottom of this post.

(BTW, the Python version of the same plugin consumed 8 times as much memory as the lua version, which itself consumed about 30% less memory than the shell+awk version.)

(BTW, if you’re on a Mac, and you know a little bit of lua, Hammerspoon is an amazing tool for automating your desktop via its lua bindings to the mac desktop API. In a few lines of code, I was able to throw out Spectacle, which itself is a great app, but Hammerspoon, the successor of Mjolnir, scores highly on the nerd street-cred scale and has MOAR FUNCTION.)

Au revoir

I am grateful that you are here reading this, thank you!

I have recently acquired a new side-project (Evil Charl: “HELL YEAH!” BRRRAAAAAAAAMMMM <— crashes straight through office wall to the great outdoors on big motorbike. Responsible Charl: “sigh.”) which is currently sucking up a great deal of my creative output.

We all know what usually happens to side-projects. I guess the high probability of failure may even add to their attractiveness.

In either case, high or low probability outcome, I’ll eventually spill the beans over here. Suffice to say that I do seem to have a thing for setting things up and then calling them universities, and in this case it’s even allowing me to produce reasonably sized packets of usefulness that might just magically add up to a valuable whole.

I am ever-so-slightly excited.

The Lowlands Tooth Fairy #37. [Weekly Head Voices #55]

In this week’s Weekly Head Voices, looking back at weeks 33 and 34 of 2011, there are three important topics that I’d like to discuss. For your convenience, I’ve arranged them in order of increasing significance. This has the added advantage of guaranteeing that this post ends, at least technically speaking, with a sort of climax. Oh yes, the theme of today’s post is dry.

Photo of the Bravo tent during Lowlands 2011, taken by Andreas Terlaak for NRC Handelsblad. I hope they don't mind me linking to their picture. You can see more of Terlaak's Lowlands 2011 work by clicking on the photo.

One

I turned 37 very recently. This is the last prime number I’ll have the privilege of gracing before shooting past the big four-oh. I remember when I turned 32. Amongst other defects which I believe I’ve gotten more or less under control, I was extremely smug, and I would probably have irritated the living daylights out of 37-year-old me. I’ve been very much desmugged in my search for harmony and balance in life, although I’ve been told that I tend to be self-congratulatory, an observation that I personally think might have been triggered by my extroverted optimism. Whatever the case may be, I’ll take 5 more years to de-self-congratulatorise myself as well. It’s really a small price to pay for harmony with the universe.

On my birthday, many wonderful people left sweet messages on my facebook wall, in my email inbox, in my SMS whatever and even to my face. It can’t be understated what a positive experience this was. Thank you wonderful people.

Two

I had the awesome privilege and unbridled pleasure (when last did you read about unbridled pleasure in a blog post?! hmm?) of spending 3 sunny days at Lowlands 2011, an alternative reality where it’s sunny (if you were in NL this “summer”, you would know that sunny weather is a purely theoretical concept) and you get to hang around on the grass drinking beer or in tents experiencing Amon Tobin doing ISAM, or Little Dragon being absolutely gorgeous on Sunday morning, or Trentemöller and his band being superbly Danish. Of course you get to do this with a group of Exceptionally Wonderful People (EWPs). There is one thing you should take into account before starting to hang out with EWPs: They attract even more EWPs, resulting in huge groups of like-minded EWPs that renders linking up with your favourite EWPs (a subset of the larger group) an interesting challenge, further complicated by the fact that 65000 people SMSing at the same time in the middle of nowhere tend to clog up the few available cellphone towers, which in turn delays any SMS by a random amount from a few seconds to a few hours.

Whatever the case may be, I had an awesome time and am already very quietly counting down until August 2012. EWPs, get ready!

Three

Genetic Offspring #1 lost her first milk tooth and this is of course a major life event. So the Tooth Fairy, or the Tooth Mouse as we call it (GO#1 has ascertained that fairies don’t exist, but she has visually confirmed that mice in fact do, so she’s willing to play along for now), or actually just Yours Truly, had to sneak into her bedroom and exchange said tooth for a sizeable (compared to what my teeth went for back in the day) amount of cash. Remember that this is her major life event, but I did spend a few moments pondering the fact that I’m now someone else’s Tooth Fairy. That’s just huge man…

Conclusion

That’s (almost) all I have to say kids. This is my fourth blog post of the weekend: I also wrote one on Django testing with selenium, one on getting a Windows console that doesn’t suck, and another pre-dated one on my newest toy.

I really liked writing them all, but I enjoyed this one the most.

Happy returns! [Weekly Head Voices #29]

Dearest readers,

I’m truly sorry that you’ve had to endure three full weeks without any Head Voices. I’ve been in full-on Crisis Mode(tm) for the past weeks, doing my best to complete a number of projects, most prominent of which has been the brand-spanking new TU Delft first year CS course TI 1100-a. During Crisis Mode, all but the most critical of tasks have to spend some time on the back-burner. Almost like the adrenaline-fueled mammalian fight-or-flight response, when even one’s digestion is temporarily halted in order to divert all energy to for example bounding over trees whilst evading some sharp-toothed predator, even my GTD processing more or less came to a stand-till. TNR’s pomodoro suggestion, however, was a life-saver. There’s nothing like a succession of 25 minute periods of being completely in the zone for flattening mountains of work. If you’re not continuously zoning yet, I can’t more firmly recommend giving this a try.

In any case, here I am, a slightly debauched weekend drawing to a close (thank you L and friends!), joyfully writing a special anniversary Weekly Head Voices.

Photo taken of the magical entrance to Lowlands, taken by my mysterious and resourceful friend fpixel.wordpress.com

TI 1100-a (which I plan to write a detailed blog post about; the short version: All TU Delft CS first years spend their whole first week doing a single project-oriented course, which I, with much help from my friends, completely redesigned during the past months) concluded with, as far as I could surmise, some success. Fifteen groups of enthusiastic students demonstrated fifteen working augmented reality music instruments in a room packed with 140+ people, and much fun was had by all. With this more or less concluded, I still have more than enough to do, but the decrease in shoulder-weight is considerable and very welcome.

Reaching slightly further back in time to a different slightly debauched weekend, I was one of the 55000 exceptionally privileged human beings spending three life- and humanity-affirming days in the third week of August: Lowlands is not so much a music festival as a fantastic and sizeable post-human community that meets once a year to enjoy each other’s happy presence.  I had the further privilege of also being in the company of a slightly smaller group of exquisite friends. Hello there exquisite friends! Due to our still-strict policy of What happens at Lowlands, stays at Lowlands, I’m not able to give you much more information than the photo of the main festival entrance above. Please do note the huge “Welcome Home” sign at the centre, it’s quite telling.

Those of you who’ve been with this blog for slightly longer, might remember that the very first edition of the Weekly Head Voices was posted directly after last year’s Lowlands. This means that the WHV has now lasted one whole year! Astute readers will note that the actual frequency of my posts might dictate a name-change to Bi-Weekly Head Voices, which is nice (it has “bi” in there!), but is still not going to happen.

Whatever the case may be: Happy birthday Weekly Head Voices, I wish you very many happy returns!

On the topic of happy returns, and my hobby of somehow managing to string together disparate paragraphs in an almost convincing fashion, the animal that houses my consciousness also turned one year older in week 34, three days after Lowlands. I’m not mentioning this so that you can send me presents (although these are always welcome, especially if they’re gadget-related), but rather to dwell briefly on the unexpectedly fabulous day. In spite of the deadline-related stress dominating at that stage, being the happy target of a day-long deluge of such positive facebook messages, texts, email and telephone calls was just beautiful, thank you thank you thank you! I really do love being the gregarious human that I am, right in the middle of this information-age.

Alright boys and girls, it’s now time to get some rest, then to wake up bright and early, and then, then to continue on your life mission of creating value.