I’m so happy to see how open source conferences are getting more and more inclusive. Good job, #RubyConf! EBF83775-C45E-4343-9C00-50A0039C6A59.jpg

My shell prompt is already written in Rust. Looks like my next shell might be as well.

Weeknote 46/2019

I use to say that the weather in Ireland is much better than its reputation. But this week, it’s been really, really terrible.

I had this week off and mostly did what I felt like doing. The phrase “Right. Next, I’ll have to…” is how I put pressure on myself. And, as I’ve explained in my talk about resilience at DrupalCon, pressure can slowly turn into burnout. That’s why avoiding “I have to” and not trying to accomplish anything is actually good for me.

Speaking of my resilience talk: This week, I was invited to give my presentation via Zoom to the Drupal Scotland groups in Edinburgh and Dundee. I’m really happy with the outcome and I hope I was able to inspire more people to stop and correct course towards better mental health.

I ended my holiday week somewhat early by doing a pair programming session with Markus on Friday morning. I’m pretty sure we both felt that it was time to work on something as a team again. A “want to”, not a “have to”.

My Bose QC25 headphones got a Bluetooth upgrade and it’s glorious. I’ll write a separate post just on this.

Man, these unknown unknowns. I had no idea of the capabilities my iPad Pro got with its latest upgrade until I watched Christopher Lawley’s iPadOS video.

Good explanation of what refactoring is and what isn’t refactoring anymore: Let’s Not Misuse Refactoring

I guess I’m in a good place when all that comes to mind about the new Macbook Pro is “I guess 2.5k is a bit excessive to spend on a mobile WoW rig”.

You have headphones with noise cancellation. But what about the noise within your head? Here’s a great bunch of tips: 28 Ways to Find the Stillness You Need to Thrive

Weeknote 45/2019

Joining the IndieWeb

After hearing and ignoring the term many times over the years, I finally got the importance of the IndieWeb movement. Which information we find on the web and how others find the information we put on it should not depend on the goodwill of mega-corporations and algorithms. Huh, that sounds quite cyberpunk; maybe it was my recently rekindled interest in Shadowrun helped the coin to drop for me. But it was Tantek Çelic’s talk “Take Back Your Web” that pushed me over. I’ve already left Facebook a while ago and (obviously) revived my own blog. Even though I now wanted to integrate it with others using modern standards like webmention.io and microformats2, I felt I’d rather spend my time writing. That’s why I decided to save time and move my blog to the micro.blog platform. I used this opportunity to give my blog the simpler domain name “geewiz.dev”. Welcome to my new digs!

Writing workflow update

I’m now using Drafts not only for short notes but also for writing posts, email and other text. Most texts start as a quick brain dump of only a few keywords. When I get to write, I flesh them out more and more. When a text has matured enough, I copy it to its final destination such as a Jekyll git repository, the micro.blog web form or my email application. After a few finishing touches, I publish the content. Simple.

“My web team told me about your Drupalcon talk and I watched the YouTube recording yesterday. I just wanted to say that I really appreciated your talk, your honesty, humour, concrete advice, thank you.”

This made my day.

DHH tries Windows, goes back to Mac begrudgingly

I can relate to DHH trying to drop the Stockholm syndrome. Apple machines are a very mixed bag. But they’re still the best desktop experience I can find. I’m now pairing my iMac and iPad with a Linux dev server and get both best worlds (i.e. desktop pleasure and open source power).

Weeknote 44/2019

I haven’t written any weeknotes lately, so let’s catch up with things.

In my old office box, I found the old HP 28S calculator that I bought in 1991 and that converted me to RPN for life. It still works, despite one of the batteries I stupidly left in having leaked a bit. I wish I had more math to do at work because I’d love to use the this nice piece of hardware some more again.

The upgrade of my iPad Pro to iPadOS 13 got stuck and none of the recommended solutions worked for me. In the end, I resorted to restarting it in Recovery Mode and that got things rolling again.

I built my first two custom mechanical keyboards. That’s going to be a separate post.

At work, we’ve been using Notion as our knowledge base for a few months. However, it wasn’t until watching a recent Notion Office Hours video that I realised how powerful this platform can be. The article on the PARA method mentioned in the video inspired me to put a lot more information into Notion than just text content.

An email recently informed me that “You’ve been on Drupal.org since 10/10/2008”. Wow, it’s been a while! And I still enjoy being a member of the Drupal community.

I’ve downloaded all the videos of RailsConf 2019 to my Plex server so I can watch them at the office or, thanks to Plex Sync, anywhere I have my iPad with me. Right at the top of my list was “Programming Empathy: Emotional State Machines” by Coraline Ada Ehmke. Reflexively, I was about to skip that one because I remembered that listening to her on podcasts had made me feel uncomfortable. But I decided to challenge this reaction and I’m glad that I did. I learned a lot about empathy from her talk and recommend watching it.

Weeknote 38/2019

At the end of last week, I was feeling pretty exhausted. That’s why I’m publishing this weeknote late on the following Monday. I have to have high expectations of myself, otherwise I’ll easily fall into slacking off and looking at keyboard porn all day. But I have to stop put too much pressure on myself. That’s the best recipe for burnout because I’m setting myself up for frustration despite of all the stuff I actually get done.

Speaking of keyboards, I’m still not sure if it’s self-improvement or self-sabotage, but on top of the previous changes to my keyboard layout, I’ve now adopted also the other important improvement of the HHKB layout by swapping the Backspace and Backslash keys using Karabiner Elements; now it’s much easier for me to reach Backspace with my right pinky. I was even about to buy an actual HHKB, but faced with its hefty price, I’ve decided instead to build myself two custom keyboards (one with a plastic case for travelling, one with a heavy aluminium case for my desk) that sport the “split backspace” (Tilde and Backslash) at the top right, with Backspace below, and a “split right Shift” with a small Fn key at the right edge. Until then, I’ll retrain my muscle memory with a software-defined layout. So, in short, I’m obsessing over mechanical keyboards as a way to combat both RSI and Alzheimers (that’s what I tell myself anyway). You can find my Karabiner rulesets in my dotfiles repository, by the way.

After returning from my holidays on Ibiza, I had lost all interest in playing World of Warcraft. And it still hasn’t returned. The parts of the game that I enjoy the most require group play, and good groups are hard to come by. Especially for me with my very narrow window of disposable leisure time. And people focusing on WoW Classic didn’t help my frustration either. Last month, I canceled my WoW subscription (it’ll still run for a few months) and took the opportunity to buy the three Shadowrun RPGs on Steam when they were offered as a Humble Bundle. Being able to play at my own pace is neat but I admit that I haven’t played SR much either.

Somehow, I’m finding live coding much more appealing than playing any games. In one of my streams this week, I did for the first time answer a question that someone had posted to my Discord server. That was fun and I’d like to make this kind of live-coaching a regular thing. If my brain wasn’t more or less fried come dinner time, I’d even do a few evening sessions on top of my regular slots on Tuesday and Friday morning. My next goal in this space will be to build myself an efficient toolchain that lets me churn out screencasts that aren’t live but instead more polished.

Embracing the dystopian future

1984 is just a bit late.

Weeknote 36/2019

Weeknotes could be an easy way to get back into writing more regularly. Friday will now be weeknote day.

  • Karabiner-Elements is an amazing tool for remapping a Mac’s keyboard. It not only provides me with a more useful keyboard layout, it now also forces me out of bad habits. Among other things, it turns the useless Caps Lock key into an easier to reach Esc (or Ctrl if held with another key). My right Command key has been promoted to Hyper (Ctrl+Shift+Option+Command) for a whole new layer of hotkey definitions. And as of today, the left half of my alphanumeric block doesn’t work with the left Shift key anymore.
  • Speaking of keyboards: If you’re looking for me, I’m down the custom mechanical keyboards rathole. This morning, I swapped the springs and lubed the keys of the Cherry MX80-11900 I got cheaply from Ebay. Now I can finally type on it for longer than 5 minutes. Lots of soldering and waiting for group buys in my future.
  • This week (geez, that T took me three attempts), I finally got to do my personal retreat for this year. For two days, I booked myself into a hotel, disabled most notifications and roamed the Mount Usher Gardens thinking about the really important stuff. I’m very happy with the results.
  • Doing my live coding late in the day to reach more viewers was a stupid idea. The quality of the little code I was able to produce recently (when my weary brain wasn’t blanking completely) is embarassing. From next week on, I’ll be streaming right after my morning coffee.

Have a great weekend!

Keeping the old gears grinding

Video games good for building focus create environments that are fast-paced, interactive, adaptive and have complex reward and gaming structures. Like a brain playground.

So at my age it’s basically mandatory to keep playing WoW!

Stephen Wolfram's productivity systems

I’m amazed, especially by the amount of things you can do with Wolfram Notebooks.

How to automate posting to Jekyll from iOS

I am so stealing this clever workflow using the Shortcuts and Working Copy apps.

Star Trek TNG intro, the missing lyrics

Wil Wheaton:

When we worked on Next Generation, Brent Spiner and I would sit at our consoles on the bridge, and make up lyrics to our show’s theme song. I vaguely recall coming up with some pretty funny and clever stuff, but nothing that held together as perfectly as this

Expect me to sing along from now on.

Live coding on Twitch

After migrating my blog from WordPress to Jekyll (which was long overdue), I’m going to pick up writing again. This first new post is easy, because I’ve already written it for my company blog. It’s about my live coding stream on Twitch that I’ve been doing for a while now. It’s called “Full Stack Live”, a fitting name (I think) for a stream that covers all kinds of DevOps topics from Rails coding to operating Kubernetes (coming soon!).

If you’re interested in why I’m taking my daily work to the digital stage, you can read all about it in my article “Turning ‘Working Out Loud’ to 11: Live coding on Twitch”.

So, if you’re interested in DevOps topics and/or would like to watch me struggle and (sometimes) succeed, hop on over on Twitch and follow my channel! When I’m back from my holidays in late July, I’m going to be live coding again every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

Assembling the plane on the way down

Managing people is an ability that requires practice and learning, just as any other. As the German proverb goes, "No master ever just fell from the sky."

Regardless of how much you've thought about the topic, how much you've read about it or even taken courses, it's a fact that no amount of theory can compensate a lack of management practice. As Jason Fried says in "On being a bad manager":

"Sure, you’ve listened to music for decades. But your first day on guitar sucks. Just like you may have watched people be managed — and you were likely managed yourself. That doesn’t prepare you to pick up the management instrument and strum a beautiful melody."

People are messy. That's why leading people is messy, too.

The problem with getting better at management is that there's no --dry-run option. It's like learning the guitar on stage. You'll get better over time but it comes with screwing things up in public, getting critical (or even devastating) feedback, and leaving the place feeling ashamed for not meeting your own expectations.

Getting better as a manager is like assembling the plane after you've already jumped off the cliff. You might land as a master. Or crash spectacularly.

There are people who are willing and able to deal with this kind of challenge. They're the right candidates for switching from being an individual contributor to a management position. For all the others (probably the majority), we'll have to provide other avenues for growth.

Friendly, stretchy, prescient

Ms. Marvel is awesome.

I say we should reach higher

In "Who can blame Melania for resisting her Easter egg role?", the Irish Times suggests using the vacant East Wing of the White House to install a First Shrink. I suggest launching a Center for Megalomaniac Studies. He did promise lots of new jobs, didn't he?

Computer science to be Leaving Cert option

The Irish Times reports that computer science gets an upgrade in secondary education. That's very good news.

Simon Sinek on the game of empathy

I have a man crush on Simon Sinek. I consider his book "Start with Why" essential reading for every entrepreneur and leader. I also did his Why Course and found out amazing things about what drives me.

He's even better in person. Go watch his talk "Understanding the Game We're Playing" at Creative Mornings and get some inspiration to practice empathy:


Here's the follow-up Q&A, too:

Keyboard One

Marco Arment:

“What I hadn’t considered was that even though I had common tasks that could fit within the MacBook’s limited specs — email, writing, chat — all of them required a lot of typing. Oops.”

That’s one of the reasons why I decided to go for a Macbook Pro 13" as replacement of my old MacBook Air 11", despite of the weight. All my work has to do with typing, be it in a browser, a terminal or even in Word.

These podcast thingies seem to be all the rage

In recent weeks, I've seen articles about how podcasting is the new radio popping up everywhere. What has happened? It’s been years since I’ve unsubscribed from Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code after years of listening to it. Over time, I’ve spent my children's college fund on buying every new podcatching app I could get my hands on. Has podcasting really been that obscure that mainstream publications now regard it as a new sensation?