“Carnival Jump” by Sandy Bull

I’ve been listening to Sandy Bull since I first discovered his music through a now defunct music service called Songza. It’s a tragedy that Google shut down Songza because their expertly curated playlists were top notch. The playlist I found Sandy Bull and similar artists was part of a genre called American Primitivism or “America primitive guitar” which was majorly influenced by John Fahey. Both, Sandy Bull and John Fahey, worked with Vanguard Records which sort of led me to hear a lot more music like this.

I’ve listened to this one song over 200 times since I first heard it and I wanted to share it here for everyone else to hear it:

A better shortcut for emojis on macOS

I just saw the new MX Keys Mini, it’s a $100 non-mechanical keyboard but one of its primary marketing touts is that it comes with an emoji key:

The emoji key as F7 on the MX Mini

I love to use custom keyboard shortcuts for basically everything and of my least favorite shortcuts is the ⌘ + ⇧ + Space to bring up the Emojis & Symbols floating menu.

So if you’d like to change your emojis menu shortcut follow the steps below:

  1. Open up the Keyboard settings (in System Preferences)
  2. Go to “Shortcuts”
  3. For “App Shortcuts” add a new one (using the + button)
  4. Set it for “All Applications” and then type in “Emoji & Symbols” and for the shortcut, set whatever you’d like it to be. 😊

My favorite photo subjects

I’m attempting to pick up my camera more often and take photos of things around me. And I realized, my two favorite subjects to shoot are my pets. I’ve always liked taking photos of them as having a gray cat is the perfect gray card to have around. Having a black dog is not the same, his photos become a bit more tough against bright backgrounds.

Here are photos from today:

Heisenberg outside in the yard
Samson relaxing in the hallway

Bonus

I’m working on a theme for my blog that will replace this theme because I am looking at making my blog more photo friendly.

Neck pain

In the past few weeks, my neck pain has been more of a mental burden than a physical one. I’m writing this as an exercise in therapy for myself and hopefully to remind myself (and anyone reading this) to sit upright, take breaks, and don’t take your body for granted.

I’ve been thinking about what has caused my neck pain. I sit at my computer for many hours a day, some days even after work, I’m sitting here gaming.

The main cause has been the passiveness about the position that I sit in. Whenever I am on the computer, it has been due to extending my arms too far out and leaning my neck over the keyboard to get closer to the monitor. So, moving the monitor and keyboard+mouse closer to me has helped a lot.

Next, my chair, Kristen helped me find an aeron chair from craigslist about 3 years ago. I’ve had it throughout the pandemic and as my neck pain was becoming more annoying, I never gave it a thought that maybe my chair was incorrectly adjusted. Turns out, it was a combination of my desk being too tall which caused me to lift up my chair even more and eventually not touch the floor with my feet. Dangling feet meant I had to rest them somewhere, what better place than on top of each other on top of the chair’s legs? Well, that meant my whole lower body was stiff and tense the whole time I sat on the computer. This led to fatigue in a short amount of time. So, lowering the chair and desk helped.

Taking account of how long have I been sitting in this position helps, I have gone a couple of hours in a row of just sitting here. Which just sounds bad writing it out. And it’s clearly true, I was fatiguing my whole body.

So, a few things to check:

  • Adjust height of chair, desk, and monitor.
  • Monitor should be eye level, a bit higher so you’re not looking down.
  • Mouse and keyboard should be within arm’s reach comfortable, elbows bent about 90º while resting on the arm rest of the chair.
  • Neck and back are straight, resting against the back of the chair.
  • No headrest needed, this will signal if I’m getting tired looking to rest my head should instead mean I should take a break away from the computer.
  • Feet should touch the ground comfortably.

Gardening my projects

For a long time, I’ve attempted to work on side projects outside of work and I have either lost the motivation or strived to build something too big to keep the momentum going. This did result in some sort of a weird burnout feeling within me. I have often felt like a project with good intentions, a lot of motivation, and even decent planning was still run off track because I did something ‘wrong’. This ‘wrong’ feeling I was getting kept alluding me because once the intense motivation went away, I would let the project rot. Either the planning was not done properly or the technologies used were missing something. Needless to say, it had nothing to do with what I was working on, it always was mismanaging my time and motivation, motivation wears out quickly.

Recently, I found a post called My product is my garden, the author talks about how there are moonshot ideas or unicorn startups where growth is the only thing that matters, but then there are projects that are niche, small, and focused on something particular. For me, I’ve spent a long time thinking about how I would go about building a product. It usually boils down to a simple to use product (reduce complexity and resist adding features for the sake of adding features), respectful of the user’s data (don’t track everything), and slowly evolving (no sudden pivots).

The blog post really resonated with me, I had not heard of an analogy similar to this before so I’m fully embracing it now. Step one is trying to build something but step zero is to not build something huge, start it up just like you would start a garden.

Following this approach, I’ve decided to pick up work on Bookends (again, for the 5th time or something). And some other projects I have been neglecting even starting. My hope is that if the trend of the past few months continues, the gardening approach could yield some satisfaction. Satisfaction from my projects will first be achieved by just continuing work on them and also by launching them for my own sake. I don’t have large ambitious goals for my projects becoming the best of the best, just the best I’ve done.

Summer 2021 projects

The past few months have been a mix of productive and lazy days. Some days, I got up and was focused for most hours, got some work done and also some personal tasks done and others were a wash. But overall, I think the pandemic’s languishing feelings are starting to subside as I try to figure out a schedule for myself and a routine that works best for my mental health, physical health, and other factors that contribute to my well-being.

I wanted to recap some projects (of various kinds) that I’ve worked on in the past few months.

GMMK Pro keyboard

This project has been the most relaxing thing I’ve worked on in a long time. Taking apart the switches and the keyboard was new to me. Overall, I would probably build another board but not for awhile since this board is great for now.

Quotes project

I wanted a simple to use quote saving program, this does just that in the command line. I think I spent 2-3 days working on it in total.

House refinancing

Not a technical project but I spent a bunch of hours working on a house refinance. My original interest rate on the house was 3.75% and now it’s 2.5% which is a fairly nice reduction in interest. On top of that, my original loan to value ratio (LTV) was around 90% which required a PMI on that house, now that the value of the house has increased, the LTV ratio was below 80% (the mark which banks considered okay to not require PMI payments) so I’m saving an additional $175 a month on that.

Now Playing for Last.fm

This project is one of my favorite projects I have worked on. I originally built this as a way to learn Svelte and then it turned into a real useful project (I use it almost everyday now). I’ve marked this project as “done” on github because as it sits today, it works as intended and I don’t want to add more features to it.

Using styled-components with next.js

I’ve been trying to learn some typescript and as part of building something with it, I’ve also started using next.js for easier react set up. I ran into an issue where styled-components were not loading in the browser but they were not throwing an error in my editor or the build log. So after some googling, I found a page talking about including the styled-component as a plugin into the next.config.js file. Like so:

module.exports = {
  reactStrictMode: true,
  plugins: [["styled-components", { ssr: true }]],
};

This seemed to fix the issue for me.