September 17, 2019

Coffee and other things

I no longer have a coffee machine.

I have a simple plastic cylinder through which I press coffee manually.

I buy coffee beans, and grind them by hand.

I drink less coffee.

Each mug of coffee takes more effort to make, but means more to me.

I also mounted a turntable at home.

I listen to less music.

Each album I listen to takes more effort, but means more to me.

I find this pleasing.

mindful
August 22, 2019

Exercise

The summer holidays are over, and a relaxed attitude to food and drinks has reflected itself around my waist. It is time to get back on the exercise train. I have realized that I am not a big fan of running, so I have been looking for alternatives.

Some time ago I read about rucking, which is as simple as wearing a rucksack with weights, and walking.

As a dog is part of our family, every day I take her out walking, and now I am combining it with rucking. So morning and evening, Brownie and myself now go rucking.

A man and his dog

It is better for the knees than jogging, and I enjoy it a lot. I currently carry 20 kilos (44 pounds) of weights in my backpack, and a brisk, long walk turns into a nice workout. Walking like this also gives me time for thinking and reflection, so I am very happy with the practice.

exercise
July 9, 2019

My favourite rucksack

My favourite rucksack is from an American company called Goruck. I bought my first rucksack from them around 8 years ago, and it has been my daily carry ever since. It goes with me to work, and when I travel for work purposes.

Goruck GR1

After 8 years of close to daily use, the rucksack was finally starting to show a bit of wear, and a hole was developing near the base of the rucksack.

GR1 with a hole

Goruck claim lifetime guarantee on their products, so I decided to send the rucksack to them for repair. I honestly was a bit skeptical, but this is what they have to say about their guarantee:

All GORUCK built gear, apparel, and footwear — everything we manufacture — comes with our Scars Lifetime Guarantee. If there is a defect in workmanship or materials or if you actually manage to wear our stuff out, GORUCK will fix or replace (at our discretion) your item, free of charge. No receipt necessary — we can recognize our own stuff — and your date of purchase does not matter. Hence lifetime.”

After they received my rucksack, I received a reply from them that started like this:

We have determined that we cannot repair your gear given the allotted time and materials needed to do so. There are additional signs of wear and tear around the base of the ruck and the top handle (the Cordura is fraying more than anticipated and there are other weak points on the side panels).”

At this point my heart was sinking, and I thought the worst. Then the next sentence blew my mind:

We would like to send you a new one!”

As I write this, the new rucksack has left the states and has reached the FedEx station in Roissy (France) on its way to Lisbon. I am thrilled to bits to get a new rucksack, and in awe of the way that Goruck stand behind their products. The stuff they sell is not cheap, but when you buy gear from them, you literally get gear that will last you a lifetime, so you get what you pay for.

My hat is off to them!

Gear
June 24, 2019

Reading

Over the last few years I have cut down on social media consumption/participation, and increased the time I spend reading books. They say correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but I attribute increased calm and improved quality of life at least partly to this change.

I now average around a book a week, with a ratio of non-fiction to fiction of about 70/30.

Books
June 13, 2019

Emacs and org-mode

Over the years I have tried different applications for task management, time management, note taking etc. I find myself always coming back to the combination of Emacs and org-mode.

I am not going to write a post on the specifics of Emacs, or the wonders of org-mode, there are plenty of resources available on the details of how they work, but I will touch on the reasons of why I keep using them, and returning to them.

In its bare form, an org-mode file is a plain text file that adhers to an outline structure. There are headings and subheadings (as deep as you want to go). The headings kan have keywords attached to them, which can turn them into action items, agenda items etc.

Org-mode supplies ways to search the files, present the search results in different views, and allows you to act upon the items.

Over the years org-mode has been extended to a veritable swiss army knife of functionality. Within a text file I can have tables and calculations, I can embed code (and execute it), export parts of the documents as nicely formatted PDF files (or any other format for that matter).

Tables with calculations can serve as input to other applications, which in turn can present the results of their processing within emacs. For instance I keep track of my weight in a table in org-mode, calculate trends and averages, and send this data to gnuplot which creates a nice SVG plot which Emacs and org-mode then can present inline.

I can write articles and notes, easily restructure the documents, and export them as a beautifully typeset document using LaTeX and pandoc.

The great thing is that all of these tools are free. Emacs has been around since the early nineties, and org-mode since 2003.

While other applications look more spiffy, and have beautiful bells and whistles, none of them come close to what I can achieve with Emacs and a text file.

I can also have the same setup on my Mac at work and my PC at home.

The one area where the functionality is lacking, is on the mobile side. There are apps to view and edit org-mode files on phones and tablets, but not offering the native experience. Since I spend most of my days in front of the computer, I am willing to take the less-than-stellar mobile experience in return for the functionality I get on the computer.

Text
June 11, 2019

Window management with Keyboard Maestro

Left Half Macro

Earlier I have written about using Keyboard Maestro for starting groups of applications. Another way I use it is to control the placement and size of application windows on the screen.

My usage of window managers is quite basic, I usually want to move a window to one of the sides of the screen, or to have the application fill the screen.

I have created three macros for this that grab the active window, and moves/resizes it to either the left or right half of the screen, or to fill the screen. The image at the top of this post shows the macro that moves a window to the left half of the screen.

I have assigned the same keyboard trigger for these macros, so when I type it, up pops a pallette where I can choose between Left”, Right” or Full” to quickly move the window to the desired position.

Screen Pallette

In a multi-display setup, Keyboard Maestro knows which display the window is placed on, and will will keep the application on the screen where it is being displayed.

I used to use separate applications for window management, but since Keyboard Maestro is highly capable also in this area, I have stopped using other apps for this.

Mac