May 29, 2023

Super Mario snags

Frustrating low-energy workday today. The kind where I could just not seem to really focus and move forward in a way which felt effective no matter how much I tried. Tired and somewhat annoyed summed up the day quite well, and I was left with the feeling of having got very little done despite having the best of circumstances. (Except that tiredness, but I do not know if that was cause or effect.)

Tomorrow: Time to do better! There will be plenty of potential disctractions tomorrow - in the classic style of Tuesdays - so I can rest assured that the situation will not be similar to today in any way.

As I sat down to finish the last pieces of Kodsnack the Super Mario pattern hit me right in the face with full force. You know what can stop you deader in your tracks than slow networks and file transfers?

How about discovering you need to use a terminal program, which will not run because at some point in the past you apparently deleted Xcode to save some space?

For those happily unaware, Xcode is Apple's developer tools package and environment. It is both a large download and possibly the slowest software install known to mankind. Any amount of file transfer hassle is faster than waiting for Xcode, so I ended up doing a series of awkward transfers back and forth, enduring a incredibly slow upload due to (I think) wifi flakiness, and then the confusion of editing the podcast information in two generations of Libsyn user interface.

The new interface is much nicer, cleaner, and even does a few things automatically which used to be manual, but I could not find places to enter post information for Facebook and Linkedin and so went over to the old interface to add that. Looks like they maintain compatibility between versions just fine.

Now I am sweeping up the various podcast pieces as the Xcode install is trundling along. Cleaning up the mess and getting the mini set to do the whole process will be worth it, because it is already much nicer to do all the steps there - with all the screen space, wired connection, and so on - than it is to do it while wrapping myself around my laptop.

With all the boxes of the day checked, I think I will now watch the rest of Lars' Elixirconf EU video. It started really nicely before I had to pause as I got derailed by Mario.

(Spoiler: that review device is arriving sometime tomorrow evening, yay!)

May 28, 2023

The Super Mario pattern

I am ever so slightly and slowly trying to turn my Mac mini into my main work machine when it comes to podcasting.

I am already running into snags related to trying to spread things across multiple machines. And the main snag is of course and as always what I hereby dub the Super Mario pattern:

I am sorry Mario, but your stuff is on another computer.

"Stuff" is often files, but it can also be software, and of course setup and settings. I have never attempted to keep my computers as up to date clones of each other, and so they merrily drift in what is available where and how it is set up.

Since my main move has been to do more podcast work on the Mini, the most common problem has been that I think of doing a little bit of something on my laptop, only to discover that the required material is on the other machine.

Strange as it may sound, trying to improve my network speeds could be a big part of a solution. After all, I never actually work on two machines at once, and if I can only get to the things I need quickly it does not really hurt to make copies. But my network can be slow, sometimes a lot slower than I think it should be. Despite gradually covering more and more corners with wifi mesh points, some otherwise very laptop-friendly spots still get surprisingly poor speed, whether it is to the internet at large, or to the wired NAS only a few handfuls of metres away diagonally.

Sometimes our actual internet connection seems flaky as well, but it strikes me as I type this that I have never tried to eliminate our man network hub as the source of those problems. Perhaps I should try adding some more networking equipment and see if that makes a difference?

Side track finished

Okay, back from networking complaints.

Even if I could achieve amazing network speeds and copy things around instantly, I would probably benefit from actually keeping tasks to separate places. It is nice to feel that sitting down with all the screens means focusing on one type of work. (Even if I am certain to always be sneaking some more work time in by doing things on the laptop when I have time but lack the opportunity to duck into my office.) It is also easier to focus on other things when not at the work desk, whether it is doing completely other things, or thinking about and preparing what I should do next time I sit down. Sometimes having a few ideas and jotting them down can be a great benefit I would not have had if I just dove in and started without a plan (and without a large screen and all the tools connected to it).

I think the path forward, then, is to embrace doing different things on the different machines and see what falls out of that.

And copy files back and forth every now and then.

May 27, 2023

Big review boy

I have a hardware device coming for review, and I am childishly excited by it. I am having way too many ideas about what and how I might create as a result. Normal life will, after all, be going on completely undiminished the whole test period, and I - at least - should know how much leftover creative time that usually leaves me with.

No matter the results: it will be fun!

I can not wait to see what I do with it.

May 26, 2023

Abstract coding

In modern development, it is very easy and powerful to get into immediate feedback loops. Write a little bit of code, compile or equivalent, evaluate or fix errors, repeat.

But I think there is something to be said for breaking out of that loop every once in a while. To build something from start to some amount of finished without the constant helpful distractions of seeing whether the current inbetween state is even runnable. I just spent a large part of my work day adding a feature to a code base I am unfamiliar with. For most of the time, I was not even trying to run the code. I was reading, thinking about how the feature should work and where it should be, making changes and thinking about how they might interact with their surroundings.

On more familiar ground, I would have been constantly reloading, clicking around to find good data to test with, running into lots of intermediate errors, and of course spent time waiting for rebuilds getting distracted by other things.

I still got plenty distracted of course - I am still human - but I do feel I succeeded in better reasoning about my problems and the small amount of architecture involved rather than blindly trying things and running off on side tracks of premature polish. Helpful tools draw attention too, especially when they try to be helpful just because you hit save midway through a thought.

May 25, 2023

Comfort food

Podcasts are my comfort media.

Currently, a single podcast is my comfort media.

Some people watch and re-watch TV series.

I, apparently, listen and re-listen to Cortex.

Needless to say, my imagined project of doing somehow better things with the time freed up by emptying my podcast queue is not going all that well. I still want to do more of not-podcast listening, but I guess I also want some amount of familiar voices to listen to as they discuss timeless and semi-timeless topics related to getting your work done in good ways.