September 2017

September is done, which means we are officially three-quarters of the way through 2017. I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone by. I’m finishing up writing this on a flight to Cleveland, where I’ll be visiting CWRU for a week before heading to Rochester for some R&R. I have to say I’m very much looking forward to both.


Virtually Coasting

I forgot to mention this in the August roundup, but at Cedar Point, they had a new attraction. New, at least, since the last time I’d been, which was over a year ago. They’ve incorporated virtual reality into one of their coasters! It was really, really cool. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

My one complaint, though, is the turnaround time. The wait was forever, and this seems to mostly have been due to the fact that they have to wipe off the headsets at each iteration of the ride.

Inbox Zero

I switched from using Gmail to Google Inbox for all of my emails. It’s so much better! I love the bundling, and by virtue of mass-sweeping emails as “done,” I frequently achieve the mythical Inbox Zero.


I wrote a hacky little script for how I use tmux sessions. It’s actually really useful for me. It may or may not (depending on the similarity of your tmux usage to mine) be useful for you.

You invoke it with goto <my-project>, and it works as follows:

It also includes zsh tab completion, which was pretty fun to write. Since writing the script, I’ve aliased it to simply j for even more saved keystrokes. I chose j as the alias as a pneumonic for “jump.” I considered g (since the original command was goto), but I didn’t want to confuse it with git.

The script lives in my dotfiles repo.

Another Round

I was oncall and onpoint again, which is my current excuse for why August’s roundup was so delayed. This time was pretty rough - I felt stretched in too many directions at once. Also, this was the first time I’ve actually thought I need a vacation during my onpoint rotation. Consequently, I’ve been thinking about coming up with a burnout-alleviation strategy. I’ve got nothing concrete on this so far, but I definitely want to keep thinking about it.

Seamless Refactor

I did some sweeping changes to the blog. Hopefully you didn’t notice anything. If I did things right, the only way you would notice is if you were watching the git repo, which I would find odd, but hey - you do you.

My homepage is actually formatted in markdown now, which makes editing it far nicer. Mucking around with HTML was starting to become annoying for me. I’m hoping that getting to write markdown for that will help me keep the page more up-to-date.

In the process, I learned that jekyll allows sub-directories for _include files. This came in handy for me at least for grouping related _includes together. Also, I’m making much better use of default values in my _config.yaml, which has been very helpful Finally, it occurred to me to use an include file for dropping in side notes. When I switched over to Tufte CSS, I talked about how I liked the side notes, but could never remember exactly what markup to type out to add a side note. Now, I don’t have to! My life is simpler (as far as side notes in my blog posts go), and I’m much happier for it.

All the Updates

Apple released iOS 11 and watchOS 4 this month! The iOS update took forever to download. This may have been a WiFi issue, but I can’t be sure at this point. I was a bit worried about the update bricking my phone, like the beta did, but luckily I was able to update successfully. Things appear stable, but my one complaint is that Medium won’t load. I’m assuming this will be fixed shortly.

As far as the watch goes, I was pretty excited to try out the Siri watch face. I set it right away, and my general reaction was meh. It mostly just fed me upcoming calendar appointments. My calendar is extremely regular, so I already knew all of this information. Also, there were fewer “complication” A stupid name, by the way. slots, making it less configurable. It’s also possible I just didn’t give it enough time, and I’m too used to my current watch face. I’m going with the devil I know, for now.

Scan Complete

I heard back from 23andMe this month! The data has been really fascinating to peruse. Most of the traits seem accurate, but there were definitely some discrepancies. I’ll write up this in its own post, as there’s quite a bit of information in there.

Some highlights, though. I’m unlikely to go bald, which is good news, as all the living adult males in my family are bald or thinning. Yes, I am highly skeptical of this prediction. I’m at risk of my vision getting worse as I age. This checks out; everyone - and I mean everyone - in my family is blind as a bat. Unlike bats, we don’t possess echolocation skills.

Finally, I’m predisposed to weigh three percent less than average for my height, which is exciting I guess?


In addition to fiddling with my phone, which I’ll talk about in a separate post, I’ve been tinkering with my desktop setup. The main inspiration behind the change was this set of screenshots that Michael Gattozzi shared. I love the vim configuration, the status bar at the top, and the idea of the transparent terminal.

First, I changed my desktop background, using the Black Series, which came across my radar while listening to an episode of Cortex. For a bit of variety, I’m currently using Black IX on my home laptop and Black II on my work machine. The artist offers phone wallpapers as well, but I haven’t settled on a phone background to use. For the time being, I’m still rocking the classic Cortex grid wallpaper.

Next up, I made iTerm2 maximally transparent, so I can look on my beautiful background while I work. This required me to clean up my cluttered desktop. This was entirely screenshots that had accumulated over time, so I just moved them to a Screenshots folder. Also, I noticed that my zsh prompt colors were getting munged by the increased transparency somehow. Enabling the “Keep Background Colors Opaque” option fixed this.

Next up, the vim color scheme “industry” for the curious. I had been using was setting a background color. This meant that despite being able to view my background from the command line, as soon as I entered my editor (which is where I spend the majority of my time in iTerm), vim would snag my background, making me sad. I haven’t yet found a color scheme I like that doesn’t mangle the background, Suggestions welcome. so I’m using the default color scheme for now. This way, I can edit files Including this one! while still seeing my beautiful background, thus restoring my happiness.

I also added some barebones tmux configuration, mostly just to put the status bar on the top. In addition, I made the status bar colors a bit gentler, and added a pretty lambda (λ) for fun.

Etiquette (Commits and Otherwise)

Last week I published a post about authoring detailed git commits. Then the trolls arrived in the comments. I flagged a few as spam, but captured them in a tweet first. The Internet makes me sad, sometimes.


Pod or Bluetooth

My bluetooth headphones finally kicked the bucket. I’ve grown used to not being literally tethered to my phone at the gym, so I wanted to replace them quickly. The question, though, was whether to shell out the hundreds for AirPods or to buy another cheap(er) pair of off-brand bluetooth headphones.

My concerns about the AirPods are: (1) they’re expensive (2) I’ll probably lose them and (3) they tether me (metaphorically this time) to the Apple ecosystem. On the other hand, I’ve already dug myself deeper into Apple when I bought an Apple Watch last month. Also, I would expect that the super-expensive Apple-brand headphones will both last longer than a cheap off-brand and work more seamlessly with my current Apple products. To my now amusement, despite ‘wanting to replace them quickly,’ I have not yet reached a decision, so I’ve been working out the old-fashioned way. Yes, I’m joking.

Read Early, Read Often (Read Broadly)

“I am a part of everything that I have read.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

If you didn’t know, Teddy was an avid reader, but I never heard this quote before. I really, really like it, and it’s a fantastic reason to read more. You are the sum of your experiences, so go read! It’s an easy way to broaden your experience.

To that end, Book Riot has a great reading challenge. It’s called the Read Harder Challenge, and it’s specifically designed to “help you explore topics or formats or genres that you wouldn’t otherwise try.” You can find others participating in the challenge by searching for #ReadHarder on Twitter.


10XXX Developers

These came across my Twitter feed early in the month, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is a real thing. I’ll just leave the links to the Amazon books here, and move on. Click if you wish.

The End

And I think that’s gonna do it for this month! Have a great final quarter of 2017!

Written on 04 October 2017