Playing around with DALL·E 2

Earlier today, I got access to play around with OpenAI’s DALL·E 2, it’s a system to generate images in almost anything imaginable by taking in text input and generating a few variations of it. The more descriptive your prompt for the art, the more likely it will get the details.

I’m going to use this post to share some prompts that yielded me interesting results.

My first prompt was:

a dachshund chasing a squirrel as an impressionist painting

I wanted to try something very specific and unlikely to be found on the internet.

an old woman walking through a graveyard in a village in pakistan, digital art

Another one with a Pakistani scene

a busy bazaar on a hot summer day in pakistan with merchants selling fruit on a cart, oil painting

It’s not very good at faces of people or animals, so things as impressionist or non-realistic art can look great. Right when you try to generate a face as the main subject, it has a hard time:

majestic lion looking over the Serengeti, photograph

I’m going to try more things in my spare time but these were some initial prompts I tried.

North, or some reflections on sitting and staring at things in my office

Whenever I listen to “North” by Phoenix, I’m reminded of sitting at my doctor’s office, the quietness only filled with an instrumental that builds and builds until a howl. Right now, I’m sitting listening to it and it’s on my “Upside Down” playlist created by Spotify. And at times like this, I think to myself, is there some feeling that is captured with these songs stitched together to create these moments? The song that comes on after North is “A Story You Won’t Believe” from the Witcher 3 soundtrack.

And thoughts linger in my head, I sit here looking away from the screen, there’s a spider who has built a web near my office right outside the door and it has been very successful in capturing prey, enough for it to breed spider babies which worries me, will they take over my house?

Instead of cleaning up my office, I look at the happenstances that create stories of things present in my office. Like the lota sitting there, having traveled thousands of miles, here sitting in a cardboard box waiting to be used and all I can think of is how the quality of goods has gone down since my childhood in Pakistan. People will justify brittle and uncomfortable things in favor of saving a few percentages.

As each inch becomes a hoarding ground for my mind’s lacking ability to clean up, I think more and more about what is stopping me from getting rid of so many things, maybe there’s a pattern here? I don’t really know. I think I just wanted to type out on my keyboard today and this is what was on my mind.

Finding a good theme for a WordPress blog is hard

I’ve been looking around for a decent theme for the whole time I’ve had this WordPress blog. I’m experiencing a strong case of analysis paralysis, there are so many themes available for WordPress but also there’s a huge hole in the themes available. Most theme authors/creators market their themes as being very design heavy and photo heavy, take a look at the current popular themes on WordPress:

Popular themes on wordpress.com

Most blogs with long form text or just text as their primary form of writing are not considered in these themes. The official WordPress themes are decent, I’m using a Automattic created theme at the time of writing this called “Blank Canvas”. I edited a few things like the header to make the logo size smaller:

Current theme on my blog

A few years ago, when I was working on the Leaf theme, I ran into this weird issue where I was working between the theme and trying to make it as simple as possible but I lacked the design sense to make it appear as nice as I wanted to.

I’m writing this post so that I can distract myself from starting yet another theme effort to make my ideal blog theme.

The things I’d love to have in a blog that would just be a perfect theme:

  1. Prioritizes long form text, posts lacking photos still look good.
  2. Homepage displays blog posts as the primary content, no big images or homepage specific content.
  3. Top header is minimal and present on all pages but is not imposing.
  4. Has legible typography, uses the best readability styling on mobile, desktop, dark mode or light mode.
  5. Has a nav item that shows selected or all pages.
  6. Footer is minimal, post footer can have related posts.
  7. Specific content types are styled and covered, e.g. blockquotes have proper styling, code snippets have fixed font.
  8. Is free and open to contributions.

This idealistic list can be used to create a fairly decent theme in my opinion. After typing this out, I am thinking it might just be best I start working on one. So much for resisting the urge 🤣.

Dave Van Ronk Sings

A few days ago, I got the Van Ronk Sings the Blues record in the mail. It’s a collection of some of Dave Van Ronk songs that he covered.
These are just raw American folk songs sang in his unique style.

If you haven’t seen Inside Llewynn Davis, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s roughly based on Van Ronk’s life and career with some covers done by Oscar Isaac and others in the movie.

Some of my favorites below:

In the movie “Dink’s Song” also known as “Fare Thee Well” has different lyrics, most likely because it’s a traditional folk song with variations in the lyrics, I personally like Van Ronk’s lyrics.

Too much of SPOF

SPOF: Single point of failure. I know the title of this post is grammatically incorrect but bear with me.

I had an annoying issue pop up today. My blog stopped responding to all requests without any changes from me. At first I thought it might be related to digital ocean’s downtime but then that was completely unrelated (was not affecting nodes in SF2 region). SPOF #1.

Then I realized something might be happening at the Cloudflare level.
I love using Cloudflare for virtually any projects outside of work because it combines all the networking related work into one place. SPOF #2.

Now comes all the various plugins I’ve accumulated on my blog over the past 2-3 years that have added maintenance load and cruft that is unnecessary. Each one of those is a point of failure, so I won’t say plugins are a single point of failure but many little issues waiting to happen, dependent on each plugin maintainer.

There’s just too much of this Single Point of Failure waiting to happen. I felt like I was chasing a digital criminal within one system. This is why devops isn’t my favorite thing but often, you’re faced with doing it.

After about 2 hours of debugging, countless restarts, restoring from a backup, I wasn’t able to tell what was happening.

What I am able to tell is that no requests were making it all the way to apache or the wordpress PHP runtime since no logging was happening there and I was able to SSH into the machine. What might have caused all this to happen was some wonky behavior at the Cloudflare level that redirected too many times. This crops up early on when setting up things with Cloudflare but once it gets going, CF works like magic, until it doesn’t. SPOF again.

Keychron’s Q1 vs V1

So I was browsing the Keychron website today and I noticed that there’s yet another 75% keyboard called the V1. It’s launching soon and there’s no info on price yet. The marketing page says it will launch in July, 2022. It’s very similar to the Q1 but there are a few differences.

Below are both keyboards compared, the main difference between the two seems to be the padding to dampening the sound and change the way it feels when you type.

On the marketing page for the V1, it says:

with tray mount design, hot-swappable, frosted black case

I’m looking forward to the frosted black case, hopefully there’s some other color options as well.

Going back on the note-taking options

Awhile ago, I posted about how I was switching away from Notion which uses a proprietary file format to logseq and obsidian. In short, logseq for personal stuff and obsidian for work related things.

Now about 2 months later, I’m back to report that logseq did not work out. It was oddly unusable for me to have a knowledge graph but not really use it in any meaningful or effective way. The UX wasn’t great in the app either. I tried vimwiki for a short minute but then decided to go back to Notion as it had so many of my personal notes.

For work, obsidian has been perfect. It’s isolated and saved to my work account’s git history so I can just retrieve anything in the past easily down the line.

Some photos from my recent trip to Pakistan

In May of this year, I traveled to Pakistan to be with my family for my dad’s funeral. My dad passed away unexpectedly after suffering from a heart attack which was brought on after he fell off of a ladder. This happened on his first day in Pakistan so the shock and timing made it unbearably painful.

I have been trying to write about my dad’s passing and his life but I just haven’t had enough emotional strength to do so. I am writing this as a way to get me to talk about it and share some photos I took while I was there with my mom and my siblings. This post will only contain some photos of things and buildings, I will hopefully post some portraits of family as time goes on.

A beautiful sunset in the village
Stairs going up to the roof
Mango tree, summer night