A large crater to dump my thoughts

Archive for January 2013


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I’ve packed up my guitar, my books and my ridiculous shoe collection. Today I’m leaving the motherland to live abroad.

Written by aristillus

January 31, 2013 at 13:39

Drifter’s Escape

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JWZ has published a backup of “… she’s a flight risk”:

These memoirs begin “On March 2, 2003 at 4:12 pm, I disappeared. My name is isabella v., but it’s not. I’m twentysomething and I am an international fugitive.” I suppose that this could be seen to imply that my departure from “my life before” was something other than voluntary. I may have many regrets in life, and perhaps- on occasion- I even regret the decision I made in March of 2003 to flee. Despite this I would do it all over again.

No idea how true the story actually is, but who cares? I’d forgotten what a remarkable tale it is.

Written by aristillus

January 29, 2013 at 14:02

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I hate being interrupted by phone calls, and I’m annoyed by people who expect quick replies on instant messaging or SMS. Harald Welte expresses it so much more succinctly than I ever could:

It is simply impossible to get any productive work done if there are synchronous interruptions. If I’m doing any even remotely complex task such as analyzing code, designing electronics or whatever else, then the interruption of the flow of thoughts, and the context switch to whatever the phone call might be about is costing me an insurmountable amount of my productive efficiency. I doubt that I am the only one having that feeling / experience.

So why on earth does everybody think they are entitled to interrupt my work at any given point in time they desire? Why do they think whatever issue they have rectifies an immediate interruption in what I am doing? To me, an unscheduled phone call almost always feels like an insult. It is a severe intrusion into my work-flow, and has a very high cost to me in terms of loss of productivity.

Written by aristillus

January 17, 2013 at 21:42

Code is expression

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Besides a mathematical inclination, an exceptionally good mastery of one’s native tongue is the most vital asset of a competent programmer.

– Edsger W. Dijkstra

I write a lot less code now on a daily basis than I used to. For years I pumped out a few thousand lines of code a day on average. Since I quit my job in October I have slowly reduced the amount of time I spend programming – just temporarily, I’m sure. I haven’t seriously harmed any source code since Christmas.

To my surprise I find that as I spend less time producing text in programming languages, I feel more inclined to write in human languages. The same urge to program that used to get me out of bed in the morning (or early afternoon) now drives me to write. Programming is as much an art as it is a craft, it seems.

Written by aristillus

January 17, 2013 at 01:26

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Reading update

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Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson plays with some interesting concepts in this book. What is the next step after the internet? Does language determine the way we think or is it the other way around? How much alike are literature and code?

It is refreshing to read a book written by somebody who actually knows what hacking is and how computers work.

The underlying plot of the book is interesting, but the story is a fair bit harder to follow and less enjoyable than in some of Stephenson’s other work.

What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto by various authors

This is called a Radical Collective Manifesto, but it is more like a loose collection of manifestos . The authors have all written articles related to their respective specializations, but there is not really a consistent style or view. In many chapters the language is quite woolly; some of the authors would do well to (re-)read Orwell’s “Politics and the English language”.

Almost all authors take the oversimplistic “us versus them” approach to politics. If only things were as simple as that. Left versus Right. The proletariat versus the conspiring evil power-hungry capitalist elite that have the media in their pockets. Not that I am deluded enough to consider the press accurate, but the media are sensationalist, superficial and simplistic rather than structurally trying to misinform (with some minor exceptions, perhaps).

There are some chapters that have interesting analysis or propose interesting new ideas that are worth thinking about. But no more than that; while there is a lot of rage against the excesses and problems of capitalism, liberalism and social democracy, there is hardly any attention for the issues with the suggested alternatives. Perhaps it’s a bit too dreamy and not concrete enough for my taste.

Recommended: “Why Do We Obey?”, “Post-Capitalist Desire”, “Participatory Economics from Capitalism”.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Another dystopian novel – most of what I read these days appears to be about bleak and grim societies. A good book, though it feels a bit dated – more so than e.g. 1984. I don’t think I quite agree with Rachel Bloom, but maybe The Halloween Tree will convince me.

Written by aristillus

January 13, 2013 at 20:39

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In the last week I have…

  • … travelled roughly 100km by snowmobile
  • … seen several dozen reindeer
  • … spent more than 24 hours in trains
  • … met a lot of nice Finns
  • … roamed through 6 Finnish cities
  • … visited 6 saunas
  • … seen an average of 5 hours of sunlight per day
  • … met up with 4 old friends
  • … read 3 books
  • … played 2 new boardgames
  • … bought 2 new pairs of boots
  • … had 1 crash course in Finnish cocktails
  • … written 0 lines of code
  • … not seen the aurora borealis once
  • … and experienced temperatures as low as -15 °C

Written by aristillus

January 12, 2013 at 15:52

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

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I like being in the sky, free as a bird, hanging under a kite or a couple of hundred kilograms of plastic. I detest travelling by jet engine airplane.

I hate waiting for security checks, for boarding, for customs, for luggage, for delayed flights.

I hate being squeezed into an uncomfortable chair with not enough leg room, in a small aluminum tube with several hundred other grumpy people.

I hate the conditioned low-quality air in jets. It causes that annoying greasy feeling on your skin and makes you feel like you badly need a shower.

I hate the impact the extravagant kerosene consumption has on the environment.

I hate having to plan my travel around pre-booked non-changeable flights.

I hate having to spend hours of layovers on airports with overpriced kiosks, fast food chains and book stores that sell nothing but John Grisham paperbacks.

I hate the silly security checks at airports. I hate having to take off my shoes and belt every time I go through a checkpoint. I hate having to watch what I pack to prevent my drinks or tools from getting confiscated. I hate having said items confiscated when I inevitably forget.

I hate jet lag.

Yet – for the moment – you will still find me in one of these metal tubes every couple of weeks. There is only one good thing about modern air travel: it gets you places, fast and cheap.

Written by aristillus

January 6, 2013 at 19:02

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