2016

Partly inspired by txanatan’s weekly roundup that just came out right now, I’ve decided to start blogging a little bit more! The first thing I noticed while opening my blog folder is how little I’ve done so in the past two years:

2015-dec-01
2015-oct-12
2015-sep-03
2016-aug-28
2016-dec-10
2016-feb-13
2016-jul-10
2016-jun-06
2016-nov-13
2016-sep-23


That’s it! Exactly 10 posts, counting this one, for the entire 2015–2016 period… awful. So, a New Year’s resolution is to try to write more. But, you see, I don’t believe in having New Year’s resolutions take effect in the new year. That’s just asking for trouble. Instead, I spend the last month or so of a year reflecting and figuring out what to do better, then start implementing the changes right then. That way, all I have to do the next year is keep on doing them, i.e. the hard part.

Last year, I took the decision to have my eyes fixed permanently around this time, and then the big day happened early this year. Guess what: it’s been great. (Okay, this time last year was also when I broke up with my then-SO, so it wasn’t all happy times, but lemons, lemonade, etc.)

So, end-of-year resolutions, then:

• I want to improve my accent/speech. I’ve identified that not being confident with my English pronounciation is actually a fairly big source of anxiety in accomplishing some tasks. I’m considered fluent, but I do have an accent and sometimes that makes it hard for people to understand me, especially if they’re not used to it or distracted or, and this is the critical bit, when there’s no body language or lip reading to help me. That is, I’m much better at speaking with people face to face than on the phone or even over VoIP. So I’ve contacted a speech therapist. I don’t know yet whether this is something that will actually happen, because it’s quite dependent on the right specialist being here in Whangarei and having time in their schedule, but I’m hoping something will be going on sometime next year.

• I want to lose some weight and be more fit. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, in very good physical shape. I’m not a total wreck; I can do an hour of moderately strenuous activity and be fine about it. I do walk five or ten kms every so often. In mostly flat country. With no weight on my shoulders. Yeah, so not great. Recently I did about 3–4 hours of kayaking down an estuary and back up, and it killed me. I did it, but for two days afterwards I hurt so bad all over that it was keeping me awake. So I’ve started hiking up the forest behind home. Twice a week, probably will be increasing that as I go. It’s a 30-minute hike there and back with about 50m altitude difference. It’s a start. My goal is to do the Tongariro Crossing once again — I did it last in 2011, and it erupted since, so I’d like to see how it changed.

• I want to write more. Not only in this blog, but also fiction. I give a fair push every year during the NaNoWriMo, but it’s not really my mode of writing. I like to take my time, outline things, work out the direction and the details and all the little back references into the story. I’ve got a few outlines and a bunch of story starts. And I want to write monthly updates of what I’ve been doing. Weekly is a bit short, given I do most of my other-than-work stuff on weekends, but monthly could work. So I’ve started this blog post. And I have that one story I think I really like on a front burner. We’ll see how it goes.

Now, as to what I’ve been doing in the past month or so:

Notify

I’ve released version 3 of my Notify library, and started planning for a next big refactor. There’s a few features I’d really like to get in that require a completely different architecture than is there right now, and I’d also like to improve the testability of the entire thing. Notably, I’d like to be able to use several backend APIs simultaneously, something that I believe would be fairly unique among other notify libraries and tools. I’m also inspired by the (general) way nftables is done: instead of providing interfaces that provide what I think people want, allow them to write filters that are run in the engine and allow them to get exactly what they mean without me having too large an API surface.

But really, while I have interesting plans, I don’t have enough time to work on it. It took me a full week to release 3.0.1 with some needed fixes. I’m terribly grateful to the other contributors who’ve made this library much stronger than it was originally. I had no idea, when I started, that this would become my most starred project to date, by far. It’s been pretty cool.

Conlang

I’ve created a script that I now call “Legola”. It’s the latest iteration in my efforts to create a script that can be read the same way no matter the orientation or direction of the page. Consider latin script (the one you use reading these words): put it upside down, right to left, or even mirror it and it becomes much harder to read. Sure, you can train yourself to read in all directions nonetheless, but still.

This time, I went for something extremely compact: a single glyph is an entire word. It’s based on a line: it starts somewhere (this is clearly marked) and then as you follow it it turns this way or that way, or encounters some obstacles. A counter-clockwise turn is the sound ‘ey’. A clockwise turn is the sound ‘oh’. Two turns one after the other is ‘ah’. A bar crossing the line is the consonant ‘L’. Two small parallel strokes on either side of the line mark the consonant ‘F’. And it goes on.

It’s inspired not just by my own previous efforts, but also by two other constructed languages: the Kelen Ceremonial Interlace Alphabet, and Hangul (better known as South Korean). Kelen’s provided the “line” concept, and Hangul is I believe one of the only scripts that combine several subglyphs to form larger glyphs in 2D space. I’ll do a longer blog post on it when I’m done hammering it all out.

Hardware

I’ve acquired a HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, took out the Tessel 2 I’d ordered and finally gotten a few months back, and have started on wiring them up together with the intention of creating a gauge for our water tank, so we can accurately and easily track our water levels. So far I’m stuck in the actual detecting-the-signal phase, or is it the is-this-wiring-diagram-right phase? I can’t recall.

Etc

I’ve done other things but I think that’s the big stuff; the rest is mostly work-related so does not really belong here. Not a bad month!