Weekly Head Voices #113: Science and Creation.

(With this edition of the WHV, I’m looking back through exceptionally forgetful lenses at the period of time spanning from Wednesday November 9 to Sunday December 4, 2016.)

This post has been lying around in draft form since Sunday November 20. However, two of the bullet points I was planning to mention, one making the case for preferring short-form blogging over twitter and the other lamenting the sorry state of security on the Android operating system, somehow grew spontaneously into blog posts and then managed to make their way onto the Hacker News frontpage and various other high-traffic aggregators.

Those of you who know me a little bit, know of my strange little hobby: Getting my blog posts onto the HN frontpage. Anyways, it was a glorious week, and a very good month for this blog.

November saw almost 42000 visitors reading my stuff.

THANK YOU MANY VISITORS FOR ALL OF THE HAPPINESS YOU HAVE SUPPLIED! I TRY TO SPREAD IT AS MUCH AS I CAN!

(At the top of the right sidebar, you can make me really happy by entering your email address to be added to a shiny new weekly blog update email. Every Wednesday you’ll receive an email containing all the posts of the week up to then, saving you time and money! The old email-as-I-post list will also be maintained, but I wanted to offer more options for subscribers.)

Ghost in the Shell

Back in the day, I watched the original Ghost in the Shell anime about 102 times. For a time (picture the 90s somewhere, I’m dressed like Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice, except with really long hair, and utterly metal), the SO and I were seriously planning to use the brilliant GiTS theme song instead of the wedding march. You know, this one:

We ended up doing the wedding march because reasons. (The 90s had enough issues as it was.)

Anyways, fast forward a decade or two and a new trailer for the Ghost in the Shell Trailer live action movie has been released. I can’t help but be very excited about this. Listen, they even put some Depeche Mode in there!

Devil on my arm

(This heading should remind some of you of a certain teenage science fiction dystopian novel of the 80s. Picture me with leg warmers and a head band, exercising to a Jane Fonda VHS cassette, but with long hair and utterly metal.)

That terrible running addiction (it’s not a terrible addiction, but my running itself is terrible, doh.) I mentioned last time conspired with a local daily deal campaign to make me acquire a Samsung Gear Fit 2. This is a rather snazzy-looking (for running watches that is, the bar is not very high) timepiece with a beautiful OLED colour touch-screen, and sporting a 1 GHz CPU, 512GB RAM, 4GB of flash, a GPS, and some apps, including an MP3 player.

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That’s the Gear Fit 2 on my arm. I wear many golden bangles when I go running.

All of this means that I can go running without my smartphone and still get full geo-located stats on my terribleness. The gadget has a suitably terrible robotic synthesised voice that encourages me, without any noticeable feeling, uttering the words <GO ON. YOU CAN DO IT. GO ON.> when I am close to the end of my route. Brilliant.

More importantly, this also means that we can have a really good giggle at the cpbotha of 2003, who wrote in a post about his new Tungsten E PDA:

If I had known 15 years ago that I would one day walk around carrying a cigarette-tin sized computer with a 126MHz CPU, a total of 160MB ram and a colour screen, I would probably have gone orbital.

13 years later, and my watch would karate chop my old PDA into orbit, if it were still around. I’m really curious in what way we’ll be laughing at me (again) in 13 years time. That is, if the Ayn Rand readers / white supremacists don’t screw everything up for us all before then. :(

Image crafting corner

This is the bit where I post carefully selected photos so that you think my life is infinitely better than it actually is.

It’s not!

This is a practical example of what happens when you (deliberately) don’t listen to Uncle Nyquist. My life is filled with ups and downs, and a great deal of flattish bits. Whatever the case may be, I do try to optimise as much as possible for the good bits. Part of this is dwelling on them for a little bit longer, like this:

Parting thought

“Post-truth” was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries. As if we don’t have enough problems in the world today, it seems that we are now in the post-truth era. Apparently objective facts have become less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

Bloody hell.

Somewhere in the future, when we’ve all calmed down a bit, I would like to try and analyse how this could have happened, and what can be done to try and fix it. (My money is on 100% accessible education for ALL (people who can afford it pay, people who can’t, don’t. Really not that complicated.)My money seems to be standing together with the statistics on Brexit and Trump voters. This is obviously completely lost on Brexit and Trump voters. OH THE IRONY.)

Anyways, until that future time when we’ll have that mature discussion about these matters, I leave you with this:

This is what I think of "post-truth".
This is what I think of “post-truth”

Weekly Head Voices #111: A swift hack.

Well hello friends! In this here,the one hundred and eleventh edition of the Weekly Head Voices, I present a personal view of selected events that took place in the time between Monday, July 25 and Sunday, August 14 of 2016.

Post summary: HackerNews FastMail to Gmail retrospective (WARNING NERD CONTENT), Craft Beer tips, Swift Playgrounds (teach your kids to code!) and a tiny bit of backyard philosophy at the end.

The HackerNews effect

When I submitted my Moving 12 years of email from GMail to Fastmail blog post to HackerNews last Monday, it was after some consideration, and with considerable trepidation. The previous time a similar post of mine was picked up by the HN frontpage (and reddit) in 2013, it resulted in a great number of fairly harsh insults flung my way (the harsh ones seem to hit much harder than the many more constructive ones can compensate for). The problem is not having your work criticised, it’s rather being ad hominem’ed into the ground.

The internet can unfortunately get quite bad that way.

However, this time the internet was in a good mood!

As a Z-list (aka hobbyist) blogger, I already get quite excited when even two people find something entertaining or educational in my blog, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw my blog stats jump into the thousands during the first hour after hitting the HN front page.

646 upvotes, 365 comments (in the HN discussion) and more than 50 thousand blog post views later (!!), my asbestos suit is still in storage, and the box of kleenex (for drying up my tears) is still unopened. I am very happy with the healthy and mostly happy discussion both on HN and here on the blog.

A taste of my secret beer notes

In my travels around the world (ok, maybe just in a few hundred kilometre radius of where I live) I taste many exotic and strange drinks (okay, maybe just the local craft beers). Here’s an excerpt from my top secret beer notes for your reading and hopefully soon tasting pleasure:

Stellies Bosch Weiss
Stellies Bosch Weiss

The Stellies Bosch Weiss is is a refreshing white beer which I can imagine enjoying much more in 35 celsius. However, I find it way too gassy for my taste and thus give it 0.4 on the Celis White scale. As everyone knows, Celis White is the best white beer in the world. I’m also not the biggest fan of CBC’s Krystal Weiss because of its gassiness. This could also be a German vs Belgian thing.

The Darling Brew Bone Crusher is probably a 0.8 on the Celis scale, and scores mega bonus points for choosing such a heavy metal name.

Citizen Beer's Patriot Lager
Citizen Beer’s Patriot Lager

Citizen Beer has a real knack for naming beers; so this weekend I was able to do my patriotic duty (ha ha) by enjoying their Patriot lager. Fortunately, they also have a great knack for making lovely beers. This lager is more than hoppy enough to remind you that it’s a craft, but at the same time it is refreshingly light.

Devil's Peak Lager
Devil’s Peak Lager

Not completely coincidentally, I also tasted the Devil’s Peak Lager this weekend. There are subtle differences between it and the Patriot which I will only be able to describe after more tasting. For now: Same lightness, but with enough hop. Highly enjoyable.

Devil's Peak Pale Ale
Devil’s Peak Pale Ale

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s no coincidence that happiness and hoppiness look so similar. The Devil’s Peak Pale Ale was a superbly hoppy (about 239% more hoppy than the lager) and full flavoured conclusion to the weekend. In spite of its full body this Cape Town beer’s alcohol content is lower than I would have expected: Only 4%.

First impressions of Swift Playgrounds

I might or might not have acquired a new iPad Air 2 with the primary motivation of being able to test the new Swift Playgrounds on Genetic Offspring Unit #1 (now 10 years old). This is a new and attractive iPad-only app that has been designed by Apple to teach kids how to program in Swift. Note that you’ll have to upgrade to iOS 10 Beta to get the app, at least until iOS 10 is officially released. One of the exercises looks like this (image taken from the website):

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 6.25.43 PM

Previous experiments with scratch and with processing have met with limited success but no permanence. However, GOU#1 is an iPad fanatic, and the potential of getting her addicted to the programming bug is just too fantastic to let this opportunity go by.

On the first day, she was already writing functions and for loops in Swift in order to navigate a cute alien solving puzzles on a 3D landscape.  I was looking over her shoulder now and then: The educational content and execution of the app is impressive. Besides the built-in puzzle worlds such as the 3D one pictures above, you can create your own Swift projects from scratch. These projects can use iPad hardware such as bluetooth and the camera, but we’re not quite there yet. Apple has also promised to keep on expanding the educational content.

I’m really crossing my fingers that GOU#1 will keep at it. If Swift Playgrounds helps to get her programming, I might just have to go full fanboy.

∞♥

This past Friday at the breakfast table, Genetic Offspring Unit #2 asked her mom how much she thought GOU#2 loved the baby GOU#3, upon which the mom asked “How much do you love GOU#3?”.

GOU#2 answered: Infinitely much!

My fragile parental unit heart almost exploded with happiness at this point. It’s what I tell GOU#1 and #2 when I put them to bed, and every morning when I drop them at school. (GOU#3 herself does not yet parse our language.)

Ok kids, it looks like there’s an infinite amount of the good stuff to go around. You know what to do!

bettys_bay_somewhere
I went jogging (or rather walking with a two-step now and then). Enjoyment of surroundings and physical activity was quite intense at this point in spacetime: 15:55 on August 7, 2016; GPS coordinates in EXIF data.