Weeknote 37/2021

A big chunk of my work time in recent weeks has been going into getting Netdata set up to monitor our server fleet. Where we already have it in place, it’s an amazing help in investigating resources issues and bottlenecks. I’m looking forward to getting alerts about issues that might occur soon. Well, I don’t look forward to getting alerts, but I’d rather be alerted about risks when they’re building up than when they already hit.

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Weeknote 34/2021

I’ve just returned from our summer vacation. I spent two weeks visiting friends and family in Germany; my wife and kids are staying for one week more. On one hand, it’s always nice to see people again. On the other hand, I spent even more time in between get-togethers alone in our guest room than I usually do to recharge my introvert batteries because of the ongoing pandemic and the dubious behaviour of so many people.

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dotenv and direnv for better developer QoL

The latest RubyTapas tutorial taught me the difference between the dotenv and direnv tools. While they have significant overlap, they complement each other quite nicely. dotenv simplifies both development and production ops by importing environments variables either from a .env file or the application hosting platform. direnv on the other hand augments the dev environment even further; not only can it add dev-only variables but also modify shell settings like extending $PATH on a per-project basis.

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System upgrade complete. πŸ’‰

Verify your assumptions

That’s what I keep preaching to my team but still fail at myself every so often. This week, I wasted a whole day implementing a fix for a bug that wasn’t there. My task was to add one line to a configuration file in a Chef cookbook. When I ran its test suite, it surprisingly failed and it was clear that my simple change couldn’t be the cause. I assumed it was due to recent changes in software packages installed by the cookbook.

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Switching keyboard layouts easily on Windows 10

It’s fun to follow in the footsteps of @isotopp getting acquainted with Windows 10. In a recent post, he explained how to set up multiple keyboard layouts, a necessary task when you’re switching between ANSI for coding and German for writing. I’ll add a nifty shortcut for reconfiguring your keyboard with your keyboard: You can switch between layouts by holding the Windows key and pressing Space.
After all these years, it still doesn’t stop being fun when articles like “How I navigate tmux in 2021” teach me a few tiny bits to improve my setup.

Challenged by a blogging challenge

Friend and colleague Markus inspired me to join him in the Daily Blogging Challenge. Since my wife got ill two weeks ago, I didn’t get to deliver a single substantial work result. The clear objective of publishing an article every day seemed like a good way to get a sense of achievement back. Alas, this new ambition might end right where it started. The writing prompt for today, “routine”, got me thinking how my daily routine fell apart when I had to take over running our household.

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It’s far too cold to even consider buying a barbecue set. But it’s a good time to think about reclaiming the web. ➑ Why the Indieweb?

Automating my desktop with Hammerspoon

After my unsuccessful attempt at adopting a tiling window manager, I was looking for a more flexible way to arrange my windows efficiently on macOS. In the past, I had tried dedicated apps like Mosaic or more generic ones like Keyboard Maestro and BetterTouchTool to assign window movements to hotkeys. The problem with this approach is that you’re going to run out of key combinations quickly even if you set up a special Hyper key.

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Weeknote W5 2021

To tile or not to tile Looking at Twitch streams and Youtube videos around Linux, it seemed to me that everyone was into tiling window managers. This week, I decided to finally try this approach of filling and subdividing the whole screen area. On macOS, I installed yabai, and on Linux (more on that below), I chose the popular i3. After a few days of the tiling life, my conclusion is that I don’t see much benefit in forcing my application windows to fill up all the available screen real estate.

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Weeknote W2 2021

Re-launching my live stream This week, I started live coding on Twitch again. I had planned to get going on Tuesday but didn’t have the energy; more on this later. On Thursday, I was ready to launch. It took only a few minutes of being online until many familiar names started popping up in chat. It felt so good. This year, I’m trying a different strategy. I’m going to focus on an area in which I have lots of experience: IT training, starting with a Ruby course.

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Time to leave WhatsApp

If you're using WhatsApp, you've probably received a notification that the messaging service is updating its terms of service, notably their privacy policy, effective February 8th and with no option to opt out. It has prompted me, like thousands of other WhatsApp users, to switch to a more privacy-oriented service. Since WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, it was to be expected that eventually, the internet behemoth known for its gluttony of personal information would extend its tendrils to WhatsApp user data.

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Weeknote W1 2021

It's the new year, and look, already COVID-19 is not dominating the headlines anymore! πŸ˜†πŸ˜­ This week, I've started to use my home office for work again, not only for fighting bosses in Castle Nathria. Getting myself Sorted Back in October, I mentioned that I was using TickTick for time-boxing my work. Since I didn't like the apps's UI, I returned to using Things for tracking my tasks, and manually blocked time slots for each of them in my calendar.

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Why I chose Obsidian over Notion for my PKM

After posting my recent weeknote mentioning that I use Obsidian for my personal knowledge management, my former teammate Andy asked why I didn’t use Notion like we do for our company wiki. I had to think for a minute and decided that I’d answer his question in another post. Let me start by saying that these decisions are usually not clear-cut and a matter of preference. I could have used Notion for my PKM with ease and success.

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Weeknote 50/2020

Taking notes Writing my weeknotes will be easier from now on. It makes me terribly sad that I didn’t learn to take proper notes decades ago. If there’s one thing the current note-taking craze has finally taught me, it’s this: If you want to get value from your notes collection, you need to be able to easily retrieve and process information when you need it. My previous attempts, however, were nothing but Write-Only Memory.

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Weeknote 42/2020

Going Marie Kondo on my desk – My desk sparks joy in me. That’s because I was able to give my IKEA BEKANT a new lease on life. More than a year ago, it lost its standing desk function because suddenly the motor wouldn’t lift the top more than a centimetre before giving up. I found out that this was a common issue caused by a faulty power supply. After filing a warranty case, it took many months and repeated phone calls to get a replacement unit delivered, but a few days ago, it finally arrived.

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Weeknote 31/2020

My second week off work is coming to an end. I’m not sad; actually yesterday I started missing work. Thanks to my business partner manning the fort, I got to really switch off and recharge my batteries. Last week, my family and I spent a few days at a Slieve Aughty, an eco-friendly equestrian and activity leisure centre near Galway. Mere minutes before leaving, my daughter broke her arm; not by falling off a horse but by jumping off a swing.

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How not to drown in too many Discord servers

Discord has become a popular community platform far beyond gamers. Recently, the number of Discord servers I’ve joined has grown quite a bit. I have whole folders full of Discord servers grouped by Live Coders, Mechanical Keyboards, World of Warcraft, and application software support. The downside of how easy it is to create or join a Discord server is keeping up with the amount of chatter that’s happening. That applies especially if you are a member of multiple servers that have overlapping interests and/or “general social” channels.

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Clean Chef code: Depend on public cookbook interfaces

For about a year, we’ve been cleaning up the Chef Infra code for freistilbox to make updating dependencies, Chef versions and even operating systems easier. It’s a lot of work because our early code is functional but not pretty. There have been many instances of “we didn’t know better”, and that’s what refactoring is for. But I also came to realise that we were missing a critical fact: Common software engineering principles and practices apply to infrastructure code like they do to any other type of code.

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Typing with Jazz

I do my work using keyboards and I make music using keyboards. This clever web application brings it all together.

Making the step from being non-racist to being anti-racist

For decades, I’ve lived a sheltered life as a person whom MLK describes as “the white moderate who is more devoted to β€œorder” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice” All this time, I stayed in my comfort zone and considered justice someone else’s problem, probably something the state needs to take care of via foreign aid or policy.

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DIRECT - The seven core topics of remote team communication

Pick any guide on remote work (oh, there are so many…) and it’ll tell you that communication is essential when you work in a distributed team. The problem is that it’s not obvious where exactly the centre of balance is between sharing too little and sharing too much. That’s why I’ve created a framework that uses a simple acronym to remind you of good opportunities to keep your distributed team in the loop.

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Weeknote 20/2020

Back in Azeroth I will certainly not remember the current World of Warcraft expansion “Battle for Azeroth” as my favourite one. After months of frustration with its storytelling, I stopped playing in February. I didn’t expect my exodus to last only three months, but I also didn’t anticipate that I’d be stuck at home for an eternity. So this week, I converted some of my in-game gold into play time and took my Tauren druid out of cold storage.

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Finished my cyberdeck

GMK Night Runner, one of a few keycap sets I ordered last year, finally arrived, completing my cyberpunk-themed keyboard. The case is a Keyboardbelle Nouvelle limited edition. I used tactile T1 switches with 67g springs, lubed with Tribosys 3204. They’re mounted in a carbon-fibre plate over a hot-swap HS60 PCB. Because the case is 3D-printed, it sounded a little bit hollow. I was able to mitigate that by putting a thin foam envelope (previously used for packaging a plate or PCB) into the bottom of the case.

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If you have any questions or would like to discuss a topic, tweet me @geewiz or join the chat on my Discord server!