paritybit.ca

Now

This is my monthly log. It describes what I’ve been up to recently and what I’m currently working on. Learn more about now pages here.

November 2022

Hello there o/

This month was the busiest month of the year for me in other parts of my life so just about everything else took a back seat.

I kind of expected this going into it, and quickly realized that it was indeed a silly idea to try to attempt NaNoWriMo, but that’s okay. I didn’t get any writing done for it, aside from about 100 words worth of narrative ideas, but I’ll keep writing them down for next year’s event or whenever the novel-writing fancy strikes me.

I will be participating in Advent of Code this year with a goal to just do as much as I can and use it to practice my programming abilities. I will probably do it in C again this year, though if I have extra time I think I’ll try Clojure or another language I’m totally unfamiliar with.

Yep, that’s all I’ve got for this month! Until next time o/

Book Log

October 2022

o/

Life has been busy this past while for me, so this update is a bit late.

I didn’t do that much programming work this month, though I went through my GitHub account and cleared out old projects so that account is now just set up for collaboration and I have none of my personal projects over there. Speaking of collaboration, this month I sent off a couple of minor patches to cerca, the forum software for the Merveilles forum, and I handed off maintainership of the Misskey-Extras repository to Johann, who is a much more active member in the Misskey world than I am these days. I also made a small tweak to sbs to prompt the user to confirm when they’re going to overwrite a page or re-initialize a site, since it is easy to do that by accident and it would be irreversible if you’re not working with some kind of version control system. I think the final feature before the 1.0 release would be to support the creation of Atom feeds for Gemini pages, and then it’ll be done.

I’ve also become the editor for the Linux Lads podcast! So far, I’ve edited Episode 15 and Episode 16 (which should be coming out within a few days of this update). That’s been pretty fun and good practice for the upcoming podcast I mentioned last month that I’ll be hosting and editing as well.

This past month I’ve been trying out new task organization and time tracking systems to help keep things in order, and I’ve found that strict systems don’t really work for me and I can’t be arsed to keep meticulous records of how long I spend on any given tasks if my system doesn’t track that for me. The next strategy I’m going to try is the Pomodoro method, which will not only help keep me focused on tasks, but also makes time tracking very easy. As far as todo tracking, I’ve reaffirmed that the age-old method of pen and paper (or a .txt file) works for me better than any other system. A notepad and pencil next to me on my desk is all I need for that.

I think that’s all I have to share for this month. In November I’ll be attempting NaNoWriMo, with a goal to write 30,000 words by the end of the month. I’m not completely sure what kind of a story or text I want to write, but I’ll figure it out :)

Until next time, o/

Book Log

September 2022

Greetings!

There’s not that much to report on this month. Unfortunately I caught The Virus at the beginning of the month which knocked me out for about a week and a bit. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad for me and I recovered quickly.

Throughout the rest of the month I’ve been working my way through my digital garden, cleaning up my to-read list and old set of bookmarks, and taking notes on the things I read and listen to or just shoving links away on various project pages to be picked up and studied again when I get around to those projects. I’ve pretty much cleared out The Greenhouse of things to read and what remains is broad topics and some very recent links I want to look at.

I cleaned up my blog posts too. I removed about 13 posts that I wasn’t happy with and slightly modified several more to fix broken links or reword things that I wasn’t satisfied with. All with the goal of bringing the blog up to higher quality standards. I’m already eyeing a couple other posts that might land themselves on the cutting room floor.

I also harvested a good number of tomatoes from my real garden. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’ll be a good harvest this year due to the plants getting ravaged by downy and powdery mildew due to the incessant humidity this summer and because of early frosty temperatures, but I still appreciate my limited harvest and the environment the garden gave me while it was in full swing.

As far as projects go: a minor improvement was made to sbs to overcome a limitation of using shell. I added proper special character escaping for the title and description fields which are used with sed to set some fields in the resulting HTML files so now it’s possible to use characters like ‘/’ and ‘(‘ in titles without sed falling on its sword. Prompted by a post on Merveilles.town, I also created a new Vim colour scheme, vim-dieter-rams, which is inspired by this image of one of Dieter Rams’ industrial designs. I presented it to the person who was looking for such a colour scheme, and I used it a bit and quite liked it (though eventually I switched back to my monochrome light theme ;D).

Following on from the technical stuff, I’m now properly on IRC! I had my username registered in a few places but didn’t spend much time using the protocol since previously I didn’t really have friends or a community on there. However, I’ve since gotten myself properly set up, and I’m now connected to OFTC, Libera.chat, Esper.net, and Tilde.chat and am available for chats on those servers.

Although I didn’t get around to much reading this month, I did come across two new podcasts which I started listening to and have enjoyed: Future of Coding and Live Like the World is Dying. I also started work on show notes for my own podcast which will be focused on digital security and privacy with a strong emphasis on FOSS tools. Website to come soon™. There are about 14 episodes worth of topics so far. I’m trying to not let the podcast fall victim to pod fading and I want it to be of relatively high quality. The intended schedule will be one episode every two weeks, starting whenever it’s ready.

Goals for the month of October include getting started on a time tracking system and figuring out a system for keeping a record of the books I read and the books I recommend. Perhaps another page in The Arboretum would be good for the latter. I also want to finish my blog post on my ideal model of software development. I did some work on it this month but there’s still a lot to go.

Book Log

August 2022

Hello friends o/

About three weeks has passed since I wrote my July 2022 update (I wrote it on August 9th) and it’s time for another!

This month (or, well, these past three weeks), I have:

The digital garden definitely took up most of my time. I had to figure out how I wanted to lay it out and how to make it as easy and convenient as possible to change, then I had to populate it with content which involved repeated braindumping and long notetaking sessions. There was and is still a ton of stuff to be added to the garden; more than what is already listed in The Greenhouse.

I developed the garden alongside making changes and improvements to sbs to accommodate the structure I wanted. Thanks to that, sbs is now much more convenient to use and supports translating Gemini files into HTML files, which means I can easily have my garden available over the Gemini protocol as well as the Web.

On a less technical note: I didn’t get that much reading done this month, though I did take out a number of books from the library. I am hoping to get to these books over the next week since I will be traveling a bit and won’t be taking my computers with me.

In my last update I wrote about my struggles with burnout and losing my enthusiasm for tech, and I’m glad to say things have been continuing to get better on that front. Joining the Merveilles community has been noticeably helpful in that regard for all the reasons I wrote about previously. I still have ups and downs, but I can feel myself getting better. I feel like a train that has started to pick up steam again after sitting still for a long time. I am spending more time doing things I want to be doing instead of distracting myself with YouTube, Reddit and other such things (I did route Reddit to 0.0.0.0 on my system, so that helped quite a bit). I’m also not fighting with myself as much or trying to force myself into this vision of an ideal person based on depictions of success and productivity in media (social or otherwise). Instead I am finding and embracing systems and rhythms that just work for me.

That is to say, I’m trying to let myself be me, instead of constantly trying to be someone else.

(As an aside, here’s a wonderful video I found about that topic: Avoiding Toxic Productivity.)

As I write this update, I am realizing how useful it would be to have a time tracking system. Not to “optimize my productivity”, but to keep track of what I’ve worked on and for how long. So, that’s definitely something to look into this coming month. I am aware of a few systems that others have made that work for them, but I’m going to do a bunch of research and probably end up programming a bespoke thing that works specifically for me.

Book Log

July 2022

Over the past several months I’ve been recovering from being burned out due to, well, probably more things than I know of, but certainly trying to finish university during the pandemic. In hindsight, I can see the signs of burnout were there since late 2018 and they came to a head in 2020/2021. Thankfully I’m in a much better place now, but I think still not fully recovered. Perhaps that warrants a blog post of its own, but that’s why I haven’t been super active with writing new blog posts. I’ve been quite turned off of computing, programming—tech in general really—and I haven’t had the motivation to write about anything even though I have some topics I’d really like to explore.

Since starting to recover, I’ve been on a bit of a journey to figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life outside of my current full-time job. To that end, I’ve been exploring different spaces and ideas: listening to a wide variety of podcasts, reading blogs, engaging in online communities, and watching probably too much YouTube. I still don’t have any firm ideas, but I do have vague notions of “simplicity”, “analog technology”, “sustainability”, “village-like community”, and so on. This led me to the Merveilles community, around which I had been circling practically since I started using Mastodon all the way back in the summer of 2020. The values and virtues that are embodied in that community resonate with me, and so I’ve decided to make that my new home on the Fediverse (@jbauer@merveilles.town is my handle).

Aside from being a supportive and active community, it is filled with people who are generally on the same wavelength as I am about the vague notions I listed above and, crucially, they are actively engaged in pursuits along those lines. I feel that surrounding myself with people who are doing things, who are filled with a myriad of ideas, and who can give valuable feedback will help lift me out of the slump that I am in and help me find the motivation to work on the things I want to work on. An idea I have heard time and time again is that there are generally two kinds of people: those who inspire you and those who drain you; one of the best things one can do for their mental health is to cut out people who drain (often called “energy-vampires”) and surround oneself with people who inspire. I have certainly surrounded myself with far too many of these so-called energy vampires over the past 3-4 years and I’ve been working on changing that.

In terms of what I have planned for the future, well…

I have several blog post ideas I’d like to flesh out regarding my ideal model of software development, more fun explorations of tech and certain aspects of the computing/software industry, what it would take to develop a software stack from the ground up these days, and more.

I need to organize my wiki and start using some kind of system where I can accumulate knowledge, links, and ideas in a much more effective way than I currently have.

I want to get back into programming because I have several ideas I want to realize including exploring making my own kernel, OS, several different client programs (email, IRC, etc.), programming language, and so on. I’ve been having some fun learning Raku recently, so that’s a good sign.

I also want to read more books. I have acquired several very interesting books including K&R’s The C Programming Language, A Collection of Essays by George Orwell, The Design of the UNIX Operating System by Maurice J. Bach, Operating Systems - Design and Implementation by Andrew S. Tanenbaum, and Domesticate Your Badgers by Michael W. Lucas, among many others. And, while I am actually quite interested in reading them, I also have to work on my attention span which has been damaged by the dopamine-drip-feed environment of the modern internet. It has been hard for me to concentrate on reading books for any extended period of time.

One final thing I will aim to do is update this Now Page at least once per month. I’d like to do something similar to 100r.co’s Monthly Log and detail what I’ve been up to over the course of a given month. Not only will this be helpful in seeing what I’ve actually accomplished (celebrating victories is also quite important for one’s mental health), it might also hold me to account if I feel like I have some kind of deadline where I need to have something to show (within reason, of course, because I don’t want to push myself into burnout again). I tend to be a lot more effective at doing things when I have a deadline.

So, I know that was a huge update, but there was a lot to be said. I am looking forward to the future and to getting started on doing the things that I actually want to do. If you want to talk to me more about anything I’ve written here, feel free to send me an email :).

Book Log

January 2022

I’ve been exploring more topics for the blog, getting further immersed in interesting online communities, and trying to figure out how I work best.

I’ve also recently changed the theme on this website. I’ve added a light theme and made the dark theme more accessible to those with vision issues following the new APCA contrast guidelines.

I’ve been migrating back to and setting up more services on my home network. I’ve ditched hosting Matrix because of the hassle involved, and have started hosting a personal wiki over at gemini://wiki.paritybit.ca.

I have recently been trying out the Apple ecosystem (MacOS and iOS in particular) so I can have more well-informed opinions about it.