Weekly Head Voices #116: Nothing much to see here, please move on.

This WHV is all about the weeks from Monday January 30 to Sunday February 12, 2017. I’ve mostly been in heads-down mode on two projects, so this post will be shorter than is usually the case.

I had my very first beer after the 30-day long Experiment Alcohol Zero (EAZ) on Friday, February 3. It was a good one:

EAZ has taught me that it would not be the worst idea to limit alcohol consumption slightly more.

As with many other enjoyable things, there is a price to be paid for this enjoyment. If paying that price interferes with the other enjoyable habits in your collection, it makes sense to evaluate and adjust the balance.

That reminds me of one of my favourite electronic music productions of all time: Balance 014 by Joris Voorn. He blew everyone’s minds when he decided to paint these fantastic soundscapes by mixing together more than 100 tracks, often 5 or 6 at a time.

Right at this point, just after that not-quite non sequitur, I wrote a far too long section on the relative performance of Android and iPhone, with a big “nerd content ahead” warning on it. Fortunately for you, I came to my senses before publishing and copied it out into its own little blog post: Android vs iPhone performance: A quick note.

Last weekend I dusted off my trusty old mu4e, an unbelievably attractive email client, again. This means I’m reading your mail and sending you beautifully UNformatted plain text emails right from my Emacs. As an additional bonus, I put all of the boring details about my configuration into a completely separate blog post, which you don’t have to read, titled: mu4e 0.9.18: E-Mailing with Emacs now even better.

What I will mention here and not in the other post, is that the current situation is subtly different from my previous adventure with mu4e: Where I previously synchronised all 60 thousand emails to process locally with mu4e, I am now following a more mellowed approach where I’m only synchronising the current year (and perhaps the previous year, still considering) of email. I use the fastmail web-app for searching through longer term storage.

I’m happy to report that so far it’s working out even better than the previous time. I really enjoy converting HTML emails (that’s what everyone sends, thanks GMail!) to well-behaved plain text when I reply.

Finally, after the Nth time that someone shared a clearly bogus science news post on Facebook, instantly bringing my blood to the boil, I decided to write a handy guide titled: Critical Thinking 101: Three super easy steps to spot poppycock on the internet.

This guide is 100% free, and really easy to send to your friends when you think this is necessary. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement.

Ok kids, that’s it from me for now. I wish you a great week ahead. In the words of Yo-Play: Come on Mitch, don’t give up. Please try again.

Weekly Head Voices #68: Harsh Autumn Weekends.

Noeska’s new weekly status update blog posts inspired me to get mine back on the road again. To be more precise, the observation that I really enjoyed being updated in this fashion with a far-away friend’s exploits hints at the possibility that, somewhere out there, there might be someone who finds it similarly enjoyable to read mine! (Long ago I learnt the trick from Swimgeek, who is still going strong with his weekly updates.)

You know the rules: We write short summaries of our week’s activities, often in the form of bullet lists. I’m going to break both rules this time by rambling on about the past three weeks, and by showing you a bunch of photos I took on the weekends.

I’d like to show you how the autumn weekends here in SA can be quite harsh, but first I need to geek out for a bit (do not fear non-nerds, there are pictures after this brief interlude!):

  • I’m back with Emacs. <3 <3 <3 On my continuous search for the ultimate information organizing system I have now arrived editing the Markdown files contained in a git-backed Gollum wiki with my Emacs 24.3. I even wrote a (nerdy) blog post explaining how you to can configure your Emacs to do language-specific fenced code-block syntax highlighting. Somehow Emacs and I are just getting along much better than we did before my Vim period (dark dark days). I think it’s because I’ve decided to embrace the Lisp, which brings me to:
  • In my copious amounts of free time, I was searching for a functional language to learn. The Erlang tutorial was enjoyable, but I was not too crazy about what I read about the details of deploying Erlang systems. I bought Learn you a Haskell for Great Good and started reading it, but somehow Haskell didn’t tickle me enough. Then, probably infected by having to look at Emacs Lisp again, I picked up the Clojure Programming book. Now that pushed all of the right buttons! I haven’t this much fun with a new language since I picked up Python, and my mind has been expanded at a few points as well (what do you mean the code that I write IS the AST?! (Picture my Neo face saying: “Whoa.”)). Clojure is a Lisp dialect that does a pretty good job of walking the line between beauty and pragmatism. Built on the JVM (and having full interop with the rest of Java) it also has STM (software transactional memory), agents, and async channels all built-in. As if that wasn’t enough, I get to use Emacs with the CIDER package to play with it. (M-x cider-jack-in starts up the Clojure REPL and then… JACKS ME IN.)

Err, I might have exhausted my nerd quota for the week. Let’s do the rest of the Weekly Head Voices in pictures!

Three weekends ago I went to visit the Spice Route farm in the Paarl with family and friends. Besides the coffee roastery, the chocolatier, the winery and the two restaurants, this farm also houses the Cape Brewing Company, a magical place that produces delicious craft beers, which you can taste, and take home with you. The view is not too shabby either:

The view from the Spice Route farm is Not Too Shabby(tm)

On the topic of delicious craft beers, THIS, my dear readers, is The Darling Bone Crusher, another super tasty white beer constructed with much love in the town called Darling:

The Darling Bone Crusher white craft beer
The Darling Bone Crusher white craft beer

… and this is the sun setting on some Milk and Honey, crafted in Knysna (this one is quite good, but their other ale called the Old Wobbly is even nicer):

Craft beer from the land of milk and honey
Craft beer from the land of milk and honey

Lest you think all we do is drink craft beers around here, here’s a photo of the vicious river delta I had to cross during my afternoon fitness activity (this was before we started drinking craft beers again):

Vicious river delta
Vicious river delta

… and here’s a pretty butterfly moth (thanks Stéfan) I just had to take a photo of:

Pretty butterfly in Betty's Bay
Pretty butterfly in Betty’s Bay

On the way back home after another harsh weekend, we were stuck in some sort of traffic jam. After a few minutes inching ahead, we ran into the culprits causing our delay:

Baboons on cars!
Baboons on cars!

(Yes, those are baboons sitting on people’s cars. “Oh, were you planning to drive that sir? You’re going to have to wait until the baboon decides it’s time to go home.”)

The road we were on (the R44 between Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay) is one of the prettiest I know. On another of these autumn weekends, it looked like this:

R44 between Gordon's Bay and Betty's Bay.
R44 between Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay.

The End.