Weekly Head Voices #132: Potato deadline.

Fragment of potato skin, taken with phone camera through GOU#2’s microscope at 100x.

We have a serious deadline coming up on Tuesday, so I’m going to make these few WHV minutes count.


  • Day zero has again been postponed, this time to June 4. We continue with our water saving efforts.
  • That unexpected side-project I mentioned in last week’s post did end up going live that very night. Armed with the Django Rest Framework and plenty of battle scars, it took about 17 hours from idea to fully deployed REST API, a large part of which was debugging the paper’s math and spreadsheets.
    • Django might be a slow runner relative to some of the other kids on the block (go with any of its web frameworks, nginx with openresty (lua right in your web server!), even apistar with uvicorn), but the completeness and maturity of Django and its ginormous ecosystem are hard to beat when it comes to development velocity.
  • There’s a whole blog on the nature of note-taking. I arrived there via interleave and org-noter, both emacs packages for keeping text (orgmode) notes synchronised with PDFs, both found via irreal, a great Emacs blog.
  • In the extra lessons I have with GOU#1, we studied electrical current from basic (atomic) principles. As I was getting all excited about the outer electrons being passed on from copper atom to copper atom (Khan Academy and I tag team these lessons), GOU#1 had to laugh at the goose flesh on my arms.
    • The Khan Academy lecture seemed to imply that Benjamin Franklin started us down the not-quite-correct path of conventional current (from positive to negative), whereas the electrons being passed on imply current flow from negative to positive, aka electron current. However, this physics StackOverflow answer more completely explains that current is defined as the flow of electric charge, with electron flow being one example, and hence both directions are correct.
  • To be honest, I became ever so slightly irritated with an episode of one of my favourite podcasts, CPPCast, as the guest said “like” so often that I had trouble following what he was actually like trying to say. This like led me to using Google’s machine-learning-based speech to text API one night to like transcribe the audio of the podcast to speech so that I could like count the number of like utterances. There were not as many as I thought, but still a whole lot. If you’re curious as to the stats, I wrote everything up in this nerdy vxlabs blog post.
    • On the topic of note-taking: Because I make lab notes of everything in my Emacs, including late night speech recognition experiments, publishing a blog post is a question of some copy pasting, and then telling Emacs to publish to the blog.
  • On Thursday, some dudes came to my house and, after somehow switching seamlessly from pick-axe to optic fibre splicer and back several times, left me with this (and more):
Two fibre strands into my house. They tell me one is for backup.
  • These are strange Gibson-esque times when there’s now permanently a laser transmitting all of these packets to you via the network of glass strands encircling the Earth, whilst many of us are still struggling to grasp the difference between fact and fiction.
    • “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”, William Gibson, probably ’93.
  • We have a new president: President Cyril Ramaphosa! He was Mandela’s choice to become president of this country, but it was Thabo’s turn, and then things went pear-shaped with Zuma. Years later, the situation is quite dire, but so far there are many indications that Ramaphosa has the makings of a great leader (I have become convinced that we humans, all of us, need great leaders to advance as humanity; I hope to write a post about that some day). After Friday’s state of the nation (SONA) address by present Ramaphosa, I, along with many fellow South Africans, are hopeful for our future.

Ok peeps, have a wonderful week! I’ll see you NEXT TIME!

Weekly Head Voices #82: Tiles and platitudes.

The reason I’m behind with blogging, is because I’m currently working on three products. One of these is already being used by real live people (!!!), and another will shortly be quite intensively interacted with by quite a large number of people, if it doesn’t melt under the load that is. The third will hopefully soon also go live in some form or another.

I might currently be at peak Django people. Peak Django!

(It also seems that my lust for programming is unnaffected by all the deadlines. Estimation on the other hand… just eeuw.)

With the time I save by not blogging that regularly, I still get to hang out with friends, drink local craft beer, and scorch meat. Here’s a photo to prove it:

During a different pleasant encounter with a different old friend at Triggerfish Brewing, enjoying some super strong locally-brewed IPAs, abovementioned old friend somehow managed to convince me to try i3. i3 is a tiling window manager. This means that it forces you to think (mostly) in a single layer on the desktop, meaning no overlapping windows. After a false start (Unity does so many things right out of the box) I’m now the happy but conflicted owner of a finely hand-tuned i3 configuration. Here’s a screenshot:

This also means that my neckbeard is probably invading my brain.

On the more wholesome front, after reading this article on the creative benefits of walking, I’ve been taking more walks at work (often with a really great old friend I have the privilege of sharing an office with these days). I can report, entirely unscientifically, that this activity has made a huge difference, especially when performed in the middle of those painfully long afternoons when one’s brain starts to feel like slowly sloshing chunky peanut butter sauce in a skull-shaped dip bowl. (oh come on, you know the feeling)

So recently a picture of the Dalai Lama with the following quote was circulating on Facebook:

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, ‘Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.’

Now we all know the rule for pictures with famous people and quotes on them, and especially those circulating on facebook: It’s probably BS.

In this case I was conflicted, because I secretly liked what this platitude-in-sheep’s-clothing was trying to tell us: Remember to focus on the important stuff, remember to focus on the now.

However, that rule felt nothing for my conflict. It looks like the quote is not by the Dalai Lama, but by a fellow named Jim Brown, see here and here. Take that, you quotes on pictures of important people!

Fake quotes or not, focusing on the now fortunately is still real. Have a great week kids!