The Noonday Sun

Emacs outshines all other editing software in approximately the same way that the noonday sun does the stars. It is not just bigger and brighter; it simply makes everything else vanish.

Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning was the Command Line (1998)

Published
Categorized as Quotes Tagged

Rust is Hard

I’m not a Rust expert by any means, but I’ve spent enough time with the language that I can write reasonable code with a bit of effort (and a lot of DuckDuckGo). However, I’ve found that I often hesitate to use it for my personal projects.

Rust is a large language. The sheer number of features and their complexity introduce so much cognitive overhead while writing code that I can’t always muster up the mental energy to use it for things I’m simply tinkering around with after work. It’s just not possible for me to keep the whole thing in my head.

If I was writing Rust for my day job, it would be a different matter. Using it to build production software every day would let me internalize it to the point that it would become mostly automatic. It would let me cement difficult concepts in my brain so that I wouldn’t have to go looking for explanations every five minutes (lifetimes, anyone?)

Sadly I only get to use Rust for one-off side-projects, which means I spend maybe two hours a week using it. This gives me barely enough time to get my code into a working state, let alone dive into things like the Rustonomicon or even macros.

I love Rust, so I’m going to continue using it despite my issues with it. I’ll just have to lower my expectations of the level of proficiency I can hope to attain with the language.

PS: somebody please give me a Rust job 😭

Emacs Sparks Joy

Much like how some people enjoy tinkering with motorcycles, electronics, or craft projects, I enjoy tinkering with software. If my computing environment stays the same for too long, I start getting restless. I crave constant change.

Emacs is a tinkerer’s dream, an infinite sandbox that can be molded into something entirely different each day. I can dive into the manual and discover new features, try different combinations of packages to see what’s most comfortable for me, glue together packages to make them do things they was never intended to do, write snippets of ELisp that help me get my work done faster, and so much more.

In this way Emacs is not only a tool that lets me do my job, but also a creative outlet that provides endless hours of entertainment and joy. I consider it one of the best pieces of software ever written.

Of course, there are other reasons for using Emacs — longevity, efficiency, ubiquity — but these features can be found in many other tools both free and commercial. Only Emacs is good at being Emacs.

Week of 2 November, 2020

  • Biden won! This is great news not just for America, but the entire world. It’s a ray of hope for those of us who have been disillusioned the democratic process in recent years.
  • Now if only we could get rid of our own knock-off version of the Orange Man. Sadly, we have to endure until 2024 before we get a chance to vote him out.
  • In more good news, I finished the first part of Crafting Interpreters! I used Python for my implementation, which you can find here. Next step: do it all over again in Rust 🦀
  • The medication I was initially prescribed for anxiety had been working well for me until three weeks ago, when it inexplicably started giving me brain fog and putting me to sleep for most of the day. I was put a different medication last week, and this one makes me wired. Fun. Funfunfun.
  • Since I wrote my last weeknote, I’ve really gotten into Emacs. Like, really really really gotten into Emacs. Besides programming, I’m now using it to read RSS, take notes, keep a journal, manage files, and read email. I’ll maybe possibly probably write a longer post about this later.
  • Even though this has been a terrible year for musicians, a surprisingly large number of good albums were still released. My favorites so far are RTJ4, SAWAYAMA, how i’m feeling now, Saint Cloud, BOSS, and Ultra Mono. There’s still a few weeks to go before the end of the year, so I’ll probably end up expanding this list pretty soon.

We do bones

Her adept said: “I’ll keep it off you. Nav, show them what the Ninth House does.”

Gideon lifted her sword. The construct worked itself free of its last confines of masonry and rotten wood and heaved before them, flexing itself like a butterfly.

“We do bones, motherfucker,” she said.

Tamsyn Muir, Gideon the Ninth

Published
Categorized as Quotes

Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television

There is skill to it. More importantly, it has to be joyful, effortless, fun. TV defeats its own purpose when it’s pushing an agenda, or trying to defeat other TV or being proud or ashamed of itself for existing. It’s TV; it’s comfort. It’s a friend you’ve known so well, and for so long you just let it be with you, and it needs to be okay for it to have a bad day or phone in a day, and it needs to be okay for it to get on a boat with LeVar Burton and never come back. Because eventually, it all will.

Abed Nadir, Community S06E13 “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television”

Week of 27 July, 2020

  • I barely remember what I did this week. Whenever I wasn’t working, eating, or sleeping, I was playing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked on the 3DS. The last game to hook me like this was Fire Emblem: Awakening, also on the 3DS. There’s something about RPGs on handheld devices that makes me want to pour my entire life into them. Maybe it’s because the experience is similar to reading a book — a book where you can choose your own outcomes and fall in love with the characters over a period of weeks rather than days.
  • It’s becoming clear to me that the only games I care about enough to see through to the end are story-driven RPGs, especially turn-based JRPGs. After I’m done with SMT, I’m planning to play through all the other RPGs I own until SMT V comes out next year: Yo-Kai Watch 2 (3DS), Dragon Quest 8 (3DS), Final Fantasy VII (Switch), Disgaea 4 (Switch) and Child of Light (Switch). I only have the time to play through one or two games each year so I doubt I’ll be able to finish all of these, but that won’t stop me from trying!
  • Mentally, I’ve been all over the place. I don’t feel anxious anymore, thanks to the medication, therapy, and exercise. However, the SSRIs still make me drowsy enough that some days I barely want to move from my couch. My doctor has asked me to try taking the medication at night, but it’s too early to tell if it’s making a difference.
  • I have now been writing in my Bullet Journal for a whole month. I’ve filled over sixty pages with tasks, notes, events, observations, and way too many lists. Looking back at what I’ve written, I’ve found that my perception of time is hilariously skewed. Things I could have sworn happened two or three months ago actually only happened two weeks ago. Conversely, things that happened at the start of the month feel like they happened just yesterday.
  • Incidentally, I only realized today that August has thirty-one days and not thirty, so I guess I need to be sent right back to Kindergarten.
  • For someone with a brain like mine, social media is a bigger health hazard than cigarettes or alcohol. I owe a large part of my professional success to being Very Online™, but I’m at a point where the negative effects it has on my mental health are far too nasty to ignore. I still check my social media a few times a week, but I rarely read anything outside of my replies or DMs, and most of my posts are jokes or pictures of my cats. Most of all, I immediately unfollow anyone who shares political posts, even if they’re a close friend.
  • I’m now part of a book club! We discussed Blake Crouch’s Recursion last week, and next up is Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s Hugo-winning This is How You Lose the Time War. I’m having a lot of fun.
  • You know what else is fun? Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure. It might not be as intense as working out at a gym, but it’s more than enough to get me sweating. I’m starting to feel healthy again after months of not moving my body.