Quick test of desktop calendars for XFCE. Maya from elementary os didn’t sync properly with caldav (and didn’t show recurring tasks). Orage doesn’t seem to have anything other than it’s tiny view. Evolution seems like best to go with for now. Working pretty smoothly with caldav. A bit slow to open windows (e.g. new calendar appointments), and very ‘GNOME’ styled, but it’ll do.

I like that Kobo e-readers are pretty hackable. I’ve added night mode and Wallabag integration to mine, and didn’t have to do anything too extreme in order to do so. No rooting etc – just copying a few files into the right locations.

Having a chat and learned that art students often learn about a particular painting by copying it. The act of trying to recreate makes you focus on the details you wouldn’t do otherwise. Got me thinking that something similar could be useful in code. Trying to recreate a well-known program, to really understand how a technique works.

When you get notified that the file has changed on disk, and is different from your current buffer:

file has changed since visited or saved.  Save anyway?

Then

M-x diff-buffer-with-file

is very useful for seeing what has actually changed.

I tend to get this when I’ve changed something org-related via orgzly on my mobile while I was also changing something on my laptop.

Population of Newcastle is around 300,000. For a point of reference, the population of Manchester is around 500,000.

Although I’m never really sure what the difference is between city, urban and metro populations.

Catching up with my good friend Ben from EASy, and really interesting to learn there was a stream at the most recent ALIFE conference on the socio-technical aspects of alife. The practical and societal applications always interested me so it’s great to see it’s a current of thought in the field.

Seems like there’s quite a lot of crossover between the doughnut diagram and the sustainable development goals. Or at least I recall quite a few of the planetary boundaries and social foundations being discussed in the sustainable development MOOC I did a while back.

Arriving in Newcastle on a Saturday night you learn that it’s a destination for a lot of stag dos and hen nights.

Looking forward to getting out today on the quayside and seeing the Tyne and the bridges and some of the cultural quarter.

Been watching The Big Life Fix recently. I like the premise – using design and technology to help solve problems for people – usually physical so far in the series. I find it a bit hokey sometimes in the way it’s produced, they try to make dramatic tension more than needed I think.  The human side is really interesting, but I think they could just focus on one challenge per episode, and include more info on the technical challenges and solutions. It’d also be cool if they presented it more of a collaboration than the kind of ‘star’ designer way it is now. That said, it’s uplifting to see tech being used for positive human purposes.

I liked the recent hack for the chap who is deaf, to help him follow group conversations. I think a Raspberry Pi and an Amazon Dot were involved.

Listening to the episode on economics. Starts off making the same point as Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics, that the majority of economics education focuses only on one very narrow view of economics (neo-classical).

Listened to Owls at Dawn episode on the accelerationist manifesto. Good stuff. Good discussion of how the left should organise, horizontal vs vertical, how the left should use tech.  But with a bit more philosophical chat, for example what do they even mean by tech?

Also a bit on what they actually mean by accelerate, as that’s kind of an overloaded term now.

A mix of both horizontal and vertical seems like a sensible conclusion. I keep in mind Kevin Carson’s rebuttal to Inventing the Future though, maintaining that they straw man folk politics.

Watched The City & The City

Final episode of The City & The City was really good.  David Morrissey really grew on me as Borlu.  I read a few reviews after finishing, quite a few a bit sniffy. But I really liked it.

I guess a point if criticism, it didn’t really explore the whole idea of ‘unseeing’. There’s a lot in that, but we ended up more focusing on the mystery and the personal relationships.

If you work with PHP, and are looking for an MVC framework, I would very highly recommend Laravel.  I came from a background working with ASP.NET MVC, and if anything I am finding Laravel more enjoyable to use.  I much prefer C# to PHP as a language, but for some reason I find Laravel incredibly feature-complete and easier to use right out of the box.  The wider ecosystem is great too – for example, we needed some auditing functionality, and lo and behold, there’s a FOSS auditing library that does 99% of what we need already.

I know that in PHP land there is something of a Symfony vs Laravel debate.  From my peruse of the discussion on that, Symfony could be seen as a more rigid and principled framework, while Laravel allows you a little more flex.  In our case this made sense, as we were migrating from a bespoke MVC framework, so a little bit of flexibility helped us reuse a lot of the existing code.

Been doing some reading about lexers and parsers in PHP.  Some useful resources:

Watched The City & The City

The City & The City is really good. Just watched episode 2 and getting hooked. It’s a really interesting concept of a mental border. A means to segregate people psychologically even when there is no physical border.

Plus, loving all the Northern accents.

My fiction book at the moment is Blue Remembered Earth by Alistair Reynolds. I’m enjoying it so far. The characters are a bit flat, but it’s got an interesting mystery in it. One thing I really like is the background world, it’s around mid-22nd century, and Africa, China, and India are the big world powers. It’s not discussed at all in the narrative – but it seems like a very possible future. It’s relatively peaceful and quasi-Utopian, although it’s hinted at that some of that peace seems to come from authoritarian-sounding mass surveillance.

Watched The City & The City

Just watched the first episode of The City & The City. I enjoyed it. It’s a great book and they’ve done a good job of capturing some of the atmosphere of the book. It didn’t look 100% how I pictured it, but I got into it really quickly. It’s a fascinating story.

On a side note, did a street called Gunterstrasse actually feature in the book? It feels like a blatant reference to old divided Berlin, and I don’t recall the book being quite so explicit about that, but maybe I’m just forgetting.