2016-05-24 —

Was yesterday's post too negative? It's true, there are technologies I won't miss, but it'll also be great to look at some of those through a new prism - they won't be things I just associate with work. I'll almost certainly continue to use Ansible and might end up structuring my personal playbooks differently when outside of work's influence.

In another, more positive, vein - there is technology that was not useful for my existing/old job that is relevant to my new one. A short list of things I'm excited to get more experience in:

… as well as generally being exposed to "how other people do things".

I've been lucky enough to be able to shape a lot about how my current employer does things, but with a small team we have tended to head towards certain solutions that a different team may not.

We build, we don't buy. We're more in-house, not SaaS. We avoid NIH by using as much off-the-shelf OpenSource as is practicable. We know we have to stand over our 'stacks' for five years or more and that we'll be supporting applications long after the development team has moved on. The new place will share some of these, but probably not all of them. And that's going to be cool.

2016-05-23 —

There are things that I am looking forward to not caring (as much) about. They're largely day-job related and things which may not be as relevant to my new day job. It's not that I hate them, but there's a tax to having to think about them that I'm keen not to pay any more.

A subset:

2016-05-22 —

When someone dies, you - or someone, but it's been me twice - have to go and sort through their possessions. It's a pretty bleak and emotional experience. For one thing your emotions are raw because you've just lost someone, but it _really_ makes you aware of how much the things we have are a reflection of who we are.

Like me, my dad was a tinkerer. As well as the usual mass- market crap that I don't really care about but people have (TVs, phones, IKEA furniture) he had well worn hand tools, unused parts, musical instruments he'd restored and played, part finished projects and a lot of stuff he was keeping 'just in case'.

If you haven't been through it, it's hard to explain how complicated the feelings involved in 'stuff'.

What's normally just a pile of not working electronics becomes a poignant reminder that he thought there would be time to finish that project some day. Some tools he used almost every day of his career take on almost totem-like sentimental value. Even my colleagues know which of my tools were originally Dad's - I treat them conspicuously differently.

These experiences have altered my behaviour. I don't want my loved ones to have to sort through years of unfinished things and to feel sad, so I'm constantly trying to reduce and change my set up. There is a churn of buying, selling, donating and repurposing going on. I'm by no means a minimalist, but I think I've gotten my original hoarding instincts under control.

The test of that is moving house. We all need to go through every single thing we own and decide: is this worth keeping? Is it worth paying to ship abroad, or are we just keeping it "in case"? Is it special, or could I just go out and buy a replacement in any big box store.

It's pretty humbling to see some things you bought for considerable money change hands again for far less than half their price. If I was staying, I might consider those things "not worth selling", because of how much you lose on the transaction.

But, if it doesn't get sold, it's going to get donated or - if the charities don't think they can sell it - recycled or dumped.

Rehousing stuff is part of the lifecycle of things, and it _can_ be a positive thing. I'm happy to see things that I've enjoyed, good tools that are good at their jobs, go to people who will use them and derive value and pleasure for them. もったいない.

It doesn't mean it's easy though.

2016-05-15 —

So, for the third time in my life, I'm going to have to learn to speak English. This time it's Canadian English, which is mostly like British English except when it's not. Combined with the fact that the Hiberno-English that I was brought up with sometimes borrows from American English but in different ways than Canadian English does, I expect I will just devolve into a dialect of my own.

If people aren't wise to it, I might just start throwing in bits of Australian English and plead ignorance, just for fun.

2016-05-08 —

I kept a secret blog for townies starting on 27th April, while I was in Canada. Now that it's public knowledge where I went and where I'm going, I'm reprinting it here. — ~insom


I'm writing this in the kitchen area of the hotel room I'm staying at. It's a residential hotel, which I think is reasonably close to serviced apartments back in the UK. There's a washer and a dryer and actual cooking facilities (and the same dishwasher I have at home!).

It's 7:30am here. ~tahnok and ~marcus were thoughtful to suggest meeting up at 1pm to let me get my sleep and that seemed reasonable to me, too, but given that my body was five hours ahead, I actually woke up at 4:00(9:00), and forced myself to sleep to 6:50(11:50), which is about as late as I would lie in on a Saturday morning with nothing to do.

My head hurts, which I think is caffeine related, so I'm going to go find a Tim Horton's or something and plan my day. As I can see the city is waking up too (it's quite a view from the 17th floor) I thought I'd write some of this down while it was fresh in my mind, and keep things updated over the trip:

Stafford Station

Stafford has had a minor facelift already, as part of the ongoing works, and has a proper waiting room with chairs that have existed for less time than I have. I can imagine being upset to see the, uh, vintage waiting room go, but it was basically very unpleasant.

I saw off ~wife and ~child at the station as they needed to do the morning school run, and then waited in the platform for the slightly delayed train.

Euston

I got to Euston and there were a series of warning tones followed by "Inspector /Smith/ to the Control Room" over and over again, which finally changed to "Due to an incident all passengers must immediately vacate the station".

Awesome.

I briskly headed out as far as the Cider Tap and struggled with the TFL route planner (which doesn't love Firefox Mobile). It was going to be two changes to go via Euston Square tube station, and behind me it looked like people were just going back into the station like nothing had happened. I headed back, and the station was absolutely normal, like there hadn't been a mysterious evacuation 10 minutes ago.

Tube

I took Victoria to Green Park to change for Piccadilly - the walk between lines at Green Park is p. long. I had to wait for a Terminal 2 train as quite a few terminate earlier (which I guess makes sense it's a really long route).

Heathrow T2

After watching people of a wide spread of nationalities be confused by the lifts at the Terminal 1/2/3 tube station (it has floors -1, 0 and 5) I checked my bag at the self service and drank the rest of my liquids before going through security.

It was a quiet part of the day and the security was pretty brisk and not as mean as it sometimes can be, though I did need to go into some kind of body-scanner because I somehow managed to cause the regular metal detector to beep. (Update after the trip: It's the RFID shielding in my wallet)

T2 is such an LSC terminal. In Birmingham you get a Weatherspoons. The least fancy place I could eat seemed to be LEON.

Once my gate was announced (Google knew before the boards at the airport did, presumably as a measure to stop people hanging around at the gate longer than neccessary) I headed down a super deep escalator and waited for my section to be announced.

The Plane

I've never been on a wide bodied craft like this one, and I dislike flying, but things were basically good. I had the right-of-middle seat in a 2-3-2 layout, so I had the aisle to my right and luckily there was no passenger in the middle seat of my row so it was possible to spread out a little.

Take-off was delayed more than once, and given how that's the part I dislike the most, I was keen to just get it over with. Once we did take off, it was more or less like going up in a 737, but with an extra surge after we broke cloud cover. After the fasten seatbelts light went out, it might as well have been a waiting room that happened to be in the sky: very smooth.

Also: So, so boring. I was so focused on the take off I hadn't really considered how sitting in one place for 7h15m was going to be. I went through several podcast episodes, a few chapters of a William Gibson book, and all of Moonrise Kingdom (which was sweet).

Landing was smooth, though I think it took three circle-arounds. Unsure if that's normal or if there were other flights ahead of us.

The Airport

I didn't quite kiss the ground, but was pleased to be on firm ground. I knew my flight was late and I had a car waiting for me, so I joined the line for passport control, and signed into the WiFi. My phone lit up with notifications and messages, including iMessages from the driver of the car. I didn't know how big the airport was so just filled him in on my status: queuing.

There was a man ahead of me in the line who was 'landing' in Canada for immigration purposes from the UK and he had a really warm welcome from the CBSA man at the country "wow, so are you excited?". rn rn.

I had to explain my reasons for visit, where I was staying etc. to an equally pleasant border agent, got my FIRST PASSPORT STAMP and was let through to the baggage hall, which just had two conveyors. My bag was out quick, I grabbed it, walked out.

As far as I can see, YOW is extremely small. The walk from the 767 to the taxi rank outside was shorter than the walk between Victoria and Piccadilly lines at Green park.

After some confusion with texts (I lost WiFi at this point, but didn't want to turn on mobile data or run up my employers bill with roaming charges) I got picked up by Bart and taken to my hotel. We had some discussions about oil reliance, Alberta, Canada being peacekeepers and a force for good, and how global powers should show more responsibility. Think Bart would fit in pretty well on tilde.

There was no one on reception when I came in so I rang the number and a nice guy arrived to give me my keys (uh, without checking who I was) and offered to show me around the apartment but I was _so_ tired I think I had lost my manners and assured him I'd figure things out, thanks.

~wife also mentioned I should probably have tipped him, so I spent some time looking up customs for tipping in Canada. Like the UK: it's confusing and arbitrary, with the only solid guidelines being food servers, hairdressers, taxis and bar staff - though they also suggest tipping house keeping, which isn't something I'd ever consider in the UK. Maybe we do that? Maybe I've been bad at hotels all these years?

The Room

It's rn. It looks like the hotel website so I can't comment too much, but the view is great.

28th April

After updating tilde I left the building, I didn't have a destination in mind so I went left and just went vaguely North and East, so I could get a feel for where I was heading tomorrow. Elgin is a really nice major road and it sort of blew my mind to be walking down a street I'd just been looking at on Google Street View a few days ago.

Once I was happy I knew where the place was, I started to get a feel for the grid system, too. I mean, I was still regularly checking the cached maps on my phone, but even after a few hours I have a strong feeling that I know where things are.

Where I am, it appears shops and commerce are on the North/South roads and houses are on the East/West ones, but that might just be how it's turned out rather than a specific planning idea.

I walked through the City Hall area, park and to the Rideau Centre. Malls are apparently the same the world over - Rideau is part Blanchardstown Shopping Centre (Dublin), part Trafford Centre (Manchester). I got a coffee fix at Second Cup (yeah, it's a chain, but it's new to me), picked up some K-Cups too and sat outside making my list of objectives for the day.

The headache didn't shift so Paracetemol went on the list, and people don't appear to give out carrier bags, so getting a tote bag also went on there.

I spent a bit more time being amazed at just how many shops are exactly the same here as in the UK, then resumed walking.

I'm not sure specifically where I went for the next bit - but I ended up going to the World Exchange Plaza, primarily because it had the logo for a drug store on the outside. I had to ask if Tylenol was the same thing as Paracetemol (it is), and got some chocolate bars to compare with the UK and feed my sugar cravings. (Also, standard Tylenol is 375mg and says to take one, but we take exactly the same stuff as 500mg and take one or two).

I can report: Dairy Milk isn't quite the same, but it's still good.

I found Sparks St., where I was meeting ~tahnok and ~marcus, and went down to find the Bridgehead so I could be sure where we were meeting. Then I had a look around the Parliament (which has extremely pretty gothic buildings), and down to the Bytown Museum and Rideau Canal for a break.

I had my Tylenol and chocolate in the shadow of a statue of Queen Elizabeth II on a horse. I've never seen such a thing in my life. I don't feel she's portrayed as quite that dynamic back in England.

I had about an hour to kill, crossed to Quebec to Gatineau, did a little loop passed the Museum of History and then back across another bridge, through a real nice green area, where there's a statue to the Canadian Navy. Then up a million steps to the Parliament buildings and back down to Sparks.

Canada~Con

I scoped out the coffee shop like a bit of a creep, was pretty sure no-one tilde looking was in there, and waited by the door.

I saw a man with a hat matching the description of ~marcus' hat (the only identifying feature I had to go on) and ~tahnok arrived just after (and looks like publicly available photos, being less of an National Man of Mystery).

After handshakes, coffee and chat, I had my first poutine (traditional, no stuff added, and amazing) and a tour of ~tahnok's offices (which are really pretty cool, in what I think of in a .com way, but we probably use a different word for it now?)

They had just had a Uber Puppies arrive, we could see them outside. What a time to be alive.

Obs I was keeping everyone from their actual day jobs, so said thanks to tahnok, went back with marcus to his car and then pretty much headed back to the hotel for wifi, an hour long call to ~wife, uploading photos to Flickr and recharging my literal and figurative batteries.

Ham at the Avant Garde

Well, I had quite a bit of time to kill (although it turned out I was actually late) so I wandered up and over to the ByWard Market, then the US Embassy, and almost the National Gallery (edit: check the correct name!), then headed back to the Avant Garde. I even circled the block because I was early- I was worried about spotting/being spotted by tahnok, but as there was only four of us (and the bartender) there, it wasn't much of a problem.

I'm glad I went along instead of doing more futile obsessing about my interviews- everyone was really welcoming and I learned a bit about the differences in the hobby between the UK and Canada (and the US, too). It does look a bit harder to get your basic license though, as they don't have a Foundation equivalent here.

After the Ham-talk I talked a bit about my reasons for wanting to move to Canada and it was nice to have a calm talk about the pros and cons, and how the country works politically and also to share in a few anecdotes about travelling.

Interview Day

This is about the time I gave up on adjusting to Eastern time and decided to keep my body more-or-less at late British time. So, I was up pretty early before everything and decided on the hoodie and T-shirt combo as being the most appropriately casual clothes.

I hunted out a McDonalds - I know, the most basic thing you could do while travelling, but I reasoned it would be familiar and I just wanted the minimum of things to think about.

Turns out I was wrong! An Egg McMuffin is substantially different here (no sausage, just ham) and the multiple queue ordering and collection system confused me. There was no WiFi or I'd have told ~wife we were going to have to call off any move - sausage patties are a hard line.

I went over the place, signed in, and my schedule had been tweaked a bit. There was a new paper schedule and a basket of snacks waiting the in the office though, which was great.

I don't want to talk about the interviewing itself, that seems kind-of wrong, but it was an enjoyable process. I bumped into the recruiter I had first talked to on my way out, in what looked like a chance encounter - which put a nice cap on the day.

Maaan, was I tired after all of this. More than five hours of talking and answering questions and planning how you would build things - while fun - is basically work. I spoke to my wife and then to my mother about how everything had gone. rn, I hope.

I was back at the hotel, logged into tilde, and debating skipping dinner altogether. In the end, I gave in and trundled down to El Camino, but I gotta say I felt defeated. I ate, rebased a pull request on ansible and went to bed.

Am Samstag

I was booked into the free tour at 11, so talked to the family again (it being quite a personable time in the UK when I'm kicking around the hotel room before going out), made a list of areas to visit off the back of ~wife's property searching back home and then headed off to find a Tim Horton's for breakfast.

I ordered a very Canadian sounding Maple Chill, probably the single sweetest thing I've ever imbibed as an adult. Sidebar: I have a deeply held lifelong dislike of maple syrup:

Back in Ireland when I was a kid, it snowed on pancake day. I went out and played in the snow, built a snow man, threw snowballs and generally did the stuff kids do. When I came back in, my mum had made pancakes, and covered mine in maple syrup, which I ate.

I then had the worst headache, seering pain that wouldn't shift. It's probably not the syrup's fault (and this was probably some weird Irish analogue of maple syrup, full of E-numbers and additives) - it's far more likely to have been caused by the sudden change in temperature as I came in, but it took many, many years before I would eat or even be near the smell of maple syrup again.

So, yeah. Picked a great country to move to :)

It's okay, me and maple syrup have made up, esp since my step-son brought some of the good stuff back from Canada on a trip - it seems like the stuff I've been hating all my life isn't really like real maple syrup anyway.

The Tour

The tour was great! Our guide Danielle was accompanied by her mom and grandmother who were visiting from the Niagara region (French Canadians, too) so I guess it was a little awkward for her, but everyone in the group was chatty with each other and Danielle, so it didn't feel like a lecture: more like a discussion that was lead.

We met at the bear.

Everyone else was Canadian, from other parts of Canada, so all the history was pretty new to me, and there were lots of names of former Prime Ministers etc. and references to Flag Day. It was cool, I learned things - more cool anecdotes than a serious treatment of Ottawa's history.

Also, as the token Irish person the the trip, I got a few good-hearted jeers about Fenian assassinations and how they had to import more prostitutes from Quebec to Bytown to keep up with demand from the lumberjacks and navvies (Irish/Catholic/Poor) there.

(Go Team .ie)

Not all who wander are lost

I was a bit foot-sore by this point, and a sensible person would have stopped or found something nearby to do, but instead I embarked on my trip out to the East down Daly St., looking for rental apartments and houses, down through Sandy Hill, Ottawa East and South and back North through Glebe — this'll mean nothing if you weren't familiar with the area, but it was a lot of miles.

Having realised I was exhausted at pretty much the furthest point from the hotel I had been, I had to trapse back, and I was pretty damn wretched looking by the time I got back. I stopped for a Subway on the way, which actually _was_ comfortingly similar to back home. (Though I didn't know if I should say gherkin or pickle).

I got to take in the houses and streets. It's hard to describe: Ottawa is really clean, in that there's almost no litter or graffiti anywhere, but also all the pavements and roads seem in worse repair than I'm used to. I guess this is probably due to the extremes of weather that we don't get in the UK.

People seem just fine with having garbage in bags by the sidewalk, or things piled up outside their houses ready to be disposed of - in England I would feel glared at by my neighbors for not taking my wheelie bin back around the rear of the property soon enough after the collection happens.

Things are just different. That's part of the experience, I suppose. If I wanted things to be English, I could just stay in England.

In the core areas, everything feels really safe. Stafford is a safe place too, and I've also lived and spent time in … less safe places like Dublin and parts of London/Manchester/Birmingham. I think that the very wide streets helped make me feel safe: if you're widely observed, sometimes in several directions, no one is likely to try anything.

That said, many locked up bikes appeared to have been stripped and there are fairly sturdy places to lock things up. /r/ottawa seems to suggest there's quite a bit of theft, but it's hard to get a baseline - it is a city after all: this kind of thing happens.

Brothers

~tahnok had sent me messages but I only got them when I was back at the hotel and within WiFi range - I'm not using roaming data. I was wrecked and not /super/ hungry, but I'm all the way out here and the chance to hang out and talk about stuff was too good to pass up. Brother's Beer Bistro it was!

I was pleased I could estimate how long it would take me to get to Byward from where I was. I really do feel familiar with the core of Downtown Ottawa, considering it's just been a couple of days.

We talked about work and partners, lasers, beer and Europe. I had 6x6oz of different ales and beers (we had to ask how much 6oz was though... I thought this country was metric!) and followed my meal up with a sweet and smooth Crown Royal whisky (like Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve?)

He had to go, and it was late by my body clock so I wanted home slightly worse for wear, but safe all the same.

Last day

I'm typing this on the last day. It's a bit drizzly out, so I wasn't planning on going anywhere much, but I'm also aware that spending 12 hours in your hotel room and then 8 hours travelling and then another 3 hours travelling is going to be pretty boring.

My lunch was at Union 613: good music, nice people, welcoming despite being hipsterish.

I've left reviews on most of the things I've done here on TripAdvisor - partially out of boredom and partially as a way of remembering what I've done when I come to look back at the trip.

I was interrupted by housekeeping coming in while I was on the phone and in my pyjamas, that was a little embarassing.

When I came back from lunch my keycard wouldn't open the door, so I started to think that I was … supposed to have checked out? Eeek. But it looks like it's fine: there was a note on my booking that I'd be checking out late, it just hadn't been applied to the keycards. I got fresh ones and I'm back in the room - literally.

I've mostly packed - except for things I would need to unpack over the next few hours - and I've checked in. It's all over bar the waiting, 20 minutes of terror while we take off, and then a long dark flight and much boredom.

I can't wait to be home and see everyone again.

2016-05-04 —

What she said.

2016-04-21 —

Picked up one of those new cameraphones.

2016-04-17 —

If you were procrastinating recording your own nowertb, what better way could there be than stop to build a microphone pre-amp first?

2016-04-14 —

I've given spacemacs a whirl for a bit and I like it, but the attraction of emacs, for me, has never been as a general purpose text editor (which I find vim just fine at, thanks), but for all it's elaborate modes, especially ones that would be nearly impossible to simulate in vim – like CIDER and SLIME.

But there's no denying it: spacemacs is a pretty emacs. I'm deconstructing what I like about it: good themes, built in MELPA, integration with Helm. I don't dislike the modal aspect: it's a very good implementation. It's just that I have an editor like that already.

I want emacs for the emacs-only things, and generally I find that means having to "spacemacs-ify" an existing module, or do away with modal editing when using those modes.

I'm aware that you can run spacemacs in an emacs-key-binding mode, which is probably closer to what I want, but now that I've seen that emacs can be nice, I'd like to build it up to where I want, and not have to strip it back from spacemacs.

Totes.
Puking I have Known #1

Content Warning: Gross.

A rough time that I had when I was in London in February has reminded me of times I was dreadfully and unexpectedly (or violently) sick. I'm not often ill, at least, not seriously – I'm more of a low-level malaise kind of person.

I've been inspired to write a post of how these few events happened at such different times in my life. My life in puke, if you will.

#1

I was nine years old, and I remember leaning forward from the sofa and just being sick on the floor. The whole lumps and carrots thing. Our carpet was old and threadbare — a few years later we'd replace the whole front-room decor — but my mother was pretty furious with me for making a mess. It wasn't on purpose: I didn't know I was going to be sick until it more or less happened.

I can even remember it "through my eyes", like the effect they use on Peep Show or films. I remember being shorter and with dangly legs (a pretty accurate idea of me at 9). In my memory I'm aware of my own body and the surroundings, but only where my eyes swept over.

2016-04-07 —

Hi Town. It's been such a turbulent week, capping a pretty mad month. Some things are good, some things are bad, and I don't know how to feel.

I created a lot of pressure on myself with maintaining those uninterrupted streaks - I can see the awesome power of creating a habit, but it's not without emotional downsides, especially if you miss it for external reasons like illness.

There's research out there for how streaks motivate people, but is there for how breaking a streak can lead to just giving up?

2016-04-04 —

Lovely Duck

Finally learning some useful French phrases.

2016-03-27 —

I agree with ~sanqui's approach: when your tilde accumulates too much, you move it out of the way and start from a new seed.

2016-03-25 —

The oscilloscope I built from a kit, in the PCB vice I printed, debugging a program I wrote, on the computer I built.

2016-03-24 —

My various streaks are working out well. My whole household is on Duolingo now: everyone is rocking badly prounounced French. Realtalk: it's astonishing how quickly ~child has picked it up! Putting together whole sentences in French like it's no big deal.

2016-03-23 ½ —

Guess who just fucked up basically every single security question on his account while trying to book plane tickets? This guy.

2016-03-23 —

Feeling pretty good today. My streak is continuing, and I've started a streak on Duolingo, too (French). ~wife, who speaks French, has added me to her leader board, where she has automatically earned 980XP (vs. my 30XP) because she speaks French.

Seems like cheating to me.

2016-03-21 —

What a weekend! I started off in a bad mood because I felt so behind on everything and that I wasn't getting anything done. So, I've made up for that:

2016-03-19 —

Just wrestled KiCad enough to go from idea to schematic to Gerbers in one sitting. Almost certainly guaranteed to have forgotten this all by the next time I need to make something. First time using OSH Park, so let's see how that goes!

2016-03-18 —

Today we're listening to Owl Maps and some ambient music to inspire dread. Just iWeb Things.

2016-03-13 —

ICYMI– the UK is holding a referendum on whether to stay in or to leave the European Union.

The two major campaigns seem to boil down to "Europe sucks, we want more sovereignty, we're financially better off outside" and "Europe sucks but we've secured an opt-out from Ever Closer Union and we face financial ruin outside".

There appears to be no place in the debate for people who actually think Europe is pretty great. Flawed, yes, but so are most democracies– we tweak our own all the time, redrawing boundary lines, modernising the House of Lords and putting alternative voting systems to a referendum. All governments waste money, too, but when your government covers more than 500 million people who speak a dozen languages, it wastes a commensurate amount.

There's more than a financial argument (I intend to be a "remain" voter, if that wasn't clear) - the EEC was created to avoid future wars in Europe by targetting the causes of those wars: European countries saw each other as competitors and not collaborators.

Later behaviour from the EC and EU targetted poverty and the economic problems which sow the seeds of disharmony and potentially war. Over half of the EU's budget goes into support for poorer countries and agricultural supplements.

Opt-ing out of Ever Closer Union appears to be a PR stunt as much as anything else– it's not clear what this term could have compelled a country to do, but it's a clear statement on how the UK views the EU politically: as a trading bloc to get things out of, and not an international project to contribute to.

2016-03-10 —

I'm going to be engaging in some full on LSC soon. CVs will be buffed. GitHubs will be contributed to. Blog posts will be written.

2016-03-09 —

My first tattoo. Good experience. Excited to get it coloured.

2016-03-04 —

Last night I had the strangest dream. And after calming down from it, I had the BEST idea for something to put on my tilde. It was a bold and witty statement. I can't remember what it was, though. Shame.

2016-Feb-26 —

Two days ago I unfollowed everyone on Twitter, protected my account and deleted the app from my phone.

It's been weird. Twitter has been my go-to 'Social Network' since I joined in 2007. I briefly used Facebook, felt it was too intrusive, I used Tumblr for a bit, got increasingly annoyed by it - but stayed with Twitter.

When I've enjoyed Twitter the most it's been with friends and colleagues, but recently my feeds are heavily skewed towards brands and power users - it's felt like consuming a broadcast medium far more than participating in a conversation.

Twitter was the first Internet place I felt community after IRC, so it's no surprise that, now I've found ~irc, I've returned to my roots.

2016-Feb-23 —

What can I use it for?

In the 80's and 90's, this was a legitimate question about owning a personal computer, or even a home computer (a distinction that's now really lost). The answer was often "you can play games!" or some really optimistic "you could balance the household accounts!" "you could store recipies on it!".

Realistically, unless you were the kind of person who enjoyed computing for its own sake, or was really taken in with the basic games of the day, there wasn't a good reason.

The Internet (and "comms" the generic term for BBSes and connecting one computer to another) changed all of this. It was worth owning a computer because you could talk to other people who owned computers - which eventually became almost everyone in the western world and most of the rest of the world to boot.

As someone who lived through the above, and also has interests that cause me to own very specific tools - I think about this a lot. I've built a retro-computer - a little Z80 board. What can I use it for? Well, it's thousands of times slower than any modern computer, I can't connect to the Internet with it, and it's far more difficult to program than a modern computer. So. Not much? I can use it for the joy of computing, and once-upon-a-time that was enough to sustain me.

I'm very excited about getting a 3D printer, like quite a few lab and 'making' tools that I own, I'm already having to think up reasons to use it. Most things can be mass produced for far less than I can make them for. This has been the case with knitting and sewing too, it's not just an issue in technology. Helen would need to charge you an eye-watering amount for a hand-made jumper just to earn minimum-wage.

I think the key to being happy about my situation is recognising that things are an indulgence. No one needs a 3D printer. In the 80's, my parents didn't need a microcomputer. In the 90's barely anyone needed a PC. Sometimes you shouldn't try to justify things, just accept that they are a treat. They're a way of seeing the future where all of these things will be useful, and the world has caught up.

2016-Feb-12 —

It's cold in the office most of the time. I have a hoodie that I keep here which is my, you know, "formal hoodie". For when that's not enough, I warm my hands on the 3A power supply on my desk. This isn't a way that things should be.

Also today: this Windows 3.1 install on Internet Archive comes with Trumpet Winsock and old copies of Eudora, mIRC and Netscape, but I can't get it to connect — I've downloaded it to try later on my own PC. That would be the ultimate tilde experience - connecting through the computing environment that I had when I first found the Internet.

2016-Feb-08 —

The photos that my son takes are my favourite pictures of me.

2016-Feb-06 —

I'm looking down into a pit of despair that is getting back into old hobbies.

2016-Feb-05 —

When you're buzzed and you have ideas you want to write but you don't want to write because you're practically about to fall asleep so you don't but then when you have energy you're not feeling creative.

2016-Feb-03 —
Sometimes when it's wet out but I'm pressed for time I make a snap decision on whether I need to put waterproof gear on or not.

Today I made the wrong decision.

2016-Feb-01 —
First of the month! That means a bunch of new jobs and things which 'tick over' at work. Also, because I was pretty excellently stupid at the weekend, I've had to buy brake fluid and syringes to bleed my hyrdraulic brakes.

To be fair, as I basically caused a bunch of it to dribble out in a lacklustre fashion when I moved the piston too far, bleeding doesn't seem like a strong enough term. That's what you do when air gets into the system. I was pretty sure there was more air than brake fluid at this point.

It was actually an interesting experience: I'd already looked up how to do it on videos online but they didn't really prepare me for some of the things that are specific to my bike (like having a reservoir for air bubbles or overheated fluid to build up). I'm actually kind of surprised that it's done. Still, we'll see.

The last time that I wrote such a glowing smug sentance about how pleased I was to adjust my brakes they seized the next day and I went over the handlebars. That was how I broke my collar bone. I'm hoping that, as it's the rear brakes, the most I'll do is slide to a gentle halt if they lock on.

2016-Jan-29 —
I just spent two hours being bitten by, and then finding the cause of, some incredibly insane behaviour in OpenSSH client (but only on Debian derivatives).

I'm a little sad because it was a cool thing to figure out, but I don't know many people who would understand or care, and the circumstances are so incredibly rare to cause it to occur that I only found one other person on the Internet who had been bitten (and all the advice that they got was condescending and basic and incorrect).

I couldn't replicate it on my workstation (OSX), and if I used a different key and added it to the same machine *that* key worked.

Even though I rarely write C and I'm not very good at it, there's just no substitute for being able to read C when weird things happen and you need to figure out exactly what causes an error to appear.

(p.s. if you're unable to log into a machine with an SSH private key that you know is correct in the .ssh/authorized_keys files make sure you don't have a id_rsa.pub file from a different key lying around.)

2016-Jan-28 —
Hey town – what's good?
2016-Jan-25 —
Full weekend! I have a working boiler again, which meant an early start, too. Then I took advantage of the early start to do lots of stuff off my list: some electronics, trying out a terracotta / tea light heater, sorting out my office, backing up my 'negatives' from Lightroom, installing new fonts, preparing two meals, backuping up the PC, swapping the wireless card in my Thinkpad and more I can't remember. But, not "update tilde", which was on my list but I failed at. Sorry~.

It's not all good- after a couple of hours moving D's headphone summing mixer to strip board and a nice case, it doesn't work quite how I expect so I think I need to put it away and come back to it with a clear head later. It's so upsetting to go from what-you-think-is 95% done to not actually working at all.

2016-Jan-21 —
Every now and then I say something which sounds perfectly normal to me and confuses people around me. I'm foreign and we do use English a bit differently where I'm from so that's to be expected. But — have I really taken advantage of this? I can just wave it away with "oh, it's something we say in Ireland", and no one ever calls me on it.

So, I think I'm going to branch out into made up phrases. "That's very new-hat of you". (Just something we say in Ireland).

2016-Jan-20½ —
This article about the BBC replacing a NICAM codec from the 80's with a new FPGA driven design made me a little sad. It's a really cool article with pictures of rack cabinets and electronics, so that's a win in my book, but I can't help but wonder if the new device will last a fraction of the time that the old one has. Maybe it doesn't matter, as the cost of developing custom logic goes down?

I think maybe I'm just channelling my worries about Linux SoCs going into lots of inappropriate devices with no real thought about how these devices will be updated over their lifecycles - obsolescence and security problems are going to fill our future.

(I realise that may suggest I think that Linux is running on on the Zedboard that the BBC is using. IDK what they are running, I'm just opining in general.)

2016-Jan-20 —
Being still feels so unnatural.

I watched a few videos last night after enjoying dinner and picking up D from Cubs and I kept having to remind myself that (like reading a book) being still and watching a video is just fine. Not everything needs to move toward ticking a box off a to-do list.

Also after buying some prints and frames out of my own pocket for the office I learned that people will complain about basically anything. We literally have 8 rawlplugs in the wall I was hoping to cover up but my pictures were commented on as being “inconsistent” with our other wall hangings.

2016-Jan-19 —
An unexpected family visit yesterday was actually quite fun (although it had awkward lulls – Connor was on his way to work and kind of killing time with us).

Today I'm updating our work asset register, so you know it's gonna be good. Still, I actually don't mind it because we have so little process I kind of low key support it wherever it shows up. Most people have too much beaurocracy but I sometimes think we don't have enough.

Pony Island or electronics for lunch?

2016-Jan-18 —
I had the thought to get back into film photography again – you know, after selling my cameras again last year. I blame this article that ~baty linked to.

Then I look at what I can do with digital and maybe calm down a little. I try and tell myself it's about taking the photo, not emulsion vs. CMOS sensors. It doesn't help that some of my best photos are actually on film.

2016-Jan-17 —
Our central heating is broken. After two separate repairs, it seemed fine for a while but it isn't. Some percentage of the time the burner won't light fast enough and the firmware in the boiler stops trying, presumably for safety reasons.

Almost every morning I wake up and the air outside my bed-covers is approaching the temperature of the outside world (there's snow out today, so that's getting pretty cold). I layer up, go down to the boiler and reset it. It gives a pleasing but menacing thunk and then I boost the water heating because the timer will have tried to heat the water while the boiler wasn't lit.

We all know it needs fixing, but because there's a simple but neccessary workaround we've spent around two months putting off getting it sorted by the landlord. Without being a tilde-philosopher, I wonder how many other things in my life I 'hit snooze' on regularly instead of just solving the problem?

2016-Jan-16 —
Up early today, for a weekend at least. I've been sleeping in too late and then being in a bad mood about not getting enough done - but not today. I've already paid my tax, read a comic (thus moving it from my 'to-read' pile) and taken some photos with some new, terrible, lenses I got to go on my camera. I'm hoping at least one of these is Friday postcard quality. I'd like to start contributing to that again.

I'm generally feeling a need to contribute more. The Snowball mic (avec pop guard) reminds me that I need to find a nowertb to call my own and record it.

What I am happy about is that I've got the mixer I've been working on for D ready, it just needs to be put into a nice case and soldered up on some strip board. This is the part of a project where I usually wander off and find something more interesting to do, so I'm having to fight that impulse.

Did I share this? My youngest's first HTML, by hand in a text editor, and it's pretty tilde.

2016-Jan-15 —
Is it worth doing something every day if you have nothing to give? It's snowing today. Fun on the way in, while it's crunchy powder. Less fun on the way out, where it'll be refrozen ice.

Wow. Cryptsy is hacked and has no money. I did well out of them as an exchange during my Dogecoin peak, but I never had that much confidence in them. Still a shame, can't imagine how it feels.

2016-Jan-14 —
Writing something is better than nothing. New year: new tilde page. And new tass tilde.town users. If nothing else I have a prettier X11 install than I did before.

~ <journals> ~

Oct 2015 – Jan 2016
Aug 2015 – Oct 2015
Dec 2014 – Aug 2015

~ </journals> ~

~ fin ~

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