Like many programmers, I am a night owl. Also, as many other programmers, I have
a day job that forces me to be there at 8. These two characteristics interact
badly with each other.
For most programmers, this is the type of problem normally solved with coffee. But
not being a coffee drinker in general (I think it's just okay) and with what I
can only assume is a natural immunity to caffeine, my to-go alternative solution
is music: a good pair of headphones and epic, upbeat music makes wonders for my
concentration until lunch time, when all productivity dies.
2019 was a great year for me to both catch up with songs I didn't listen to in
many years and to discover new ones. The following is a list of songs to which
I return every week, divided into three sections: Full albums, Instrumental
songs (no words), and Individual songs (with words).
There are two full albums that I have often listened entirely during long
coding sessions, and that I definitely recommend:
- For no one's surprise, Daft Punk's
soundtrack for TRON: Legacy
makes the list. Too bad the rest of the movie was not as good.
- I haven't seen The Exorcist yet, so I never considered this album "creepy",
but if you have seen it then you might recognize the opening of
Tubular Bells. I found that
the song's rhytm perfectly syncs with my internal rhytm, and it is not
unusual for me to realize that I need to take a break right as the album
comes to an end.
It has been common knowledge for some time now that movie music is ideal for
focusing on a task - you don't want the music to pull you out of a movie, the
same way I don't want my music to pull me out of my work. For this reason alone,
the first three items in this list are pulled straight out of Hollywood
Moving onto TV, the next two songs are taken from the Japanese series
"Kill la Kill": Naming Sense Gata Boshi Gokuseifuku,
which I could swear I never heard in the series itself,
and Nui Harime's theme.
Finally, and cheating a little bit, the theme from "The Good, the bad, and the
ugly" as performed by the Danish National
Symphony Orchestra is the one
piece of music that got me to actually, physically buy music in many years.
Individual songs are always tricky, because it takes a lot of listening to them
before you learn to ignore the lyrics and let them blend in the background. That said,
if you are looking for songs to listen over and over again, here's a bunch:
- The least controversial song in this list are The greatest show
on Earth and
Ghost Love Score, both by
Nightwish. They have long instrumental-only sections, and they are epic enough
to give you an extra push while working.
- Both Heldenzeit and
Guten Tag by the German band
"Wir sind Helden" are the perfect example of a great band that you discover
long after they have disbanded. If you are a geek, the videoclip for
Analogpunk (performed by the
singer of "Wir sind Helden") is full of easter eggs.
- The theme of "Revolutionary Girl Utena",
Rinbu Revolution, is really
good. There are not that many series where seeing the opening over and over is
a plus, but Utena manages it.
I feel John Butler's "Ocean" deserves a spot in this list. It didn't make it into
the official selection simply because I couldn't decide which version to include.
I'm partial to the live version
because it's the first one I heard, but the 2012 studio version
is not bad at all.
It is tradition to start every new year with a blog post lamenting why I haven't
posted more. Instead, I have decided to kickstart 2020 with a list
of the changes I've made to the blog to ensure I write more, why I've made them,
and what interesting tools I've found along the way.
A big problem in my blog has always been how difficult it is to actually get
something published. As I've mentioned
in the past, my blog is powered by a bunch of
command-line tools and Bash. This works fine when I want to work from home, but
makes it very difficult when I want to blog something spontaneously: writing
a post involves SSHing into my server, and there's exactly one computer from
which I can do that. Converting an entry to the final HTML is not
hard, either, but is friction enough that I need to be really
motivated to get into it.
Enter 2020. I am more and more concerned about the state of the modern
web, where "the internet" has become a synonym for Facebook, Google, and
not much more. At the same time, I realize that I'm part of the problem: I may
not be putting content in Facebook, but I'm not really putting content
anywhere. The little content I'm putting out is not particularly useful,
either. Clearly, something had to change.
And thus, a plan for 2020 was born. In order to simplify blogging, I have now thrown
away my custom blog engine and moved to Pelican.
I've also embraced Markdown as
document format, meaning I no longer have to worry about things looking ugly after
I've written them down. All my previous content has been migrated from .html to
.md using Pandoc.
On the content generation side, I've also decided to try something new.
Rather than wait until inspiration strikes, I'll try to blog weekly about
small problems and how I solved them. This will often involve talking
about Bash and Python, so I'll have to pay special attention to other
topics that could be interesting.
In the meantime, here are some changes you'll notice from the migration:
- Some entries will look a bit different. My custom footnote CSS no longer
works with Markdown, so I'll probably substitute them with regular,
- A couple entries with custom html will look weird for a while. It
will take a bit to get them looking like before, and I'd rather avoid
delaying the update until then.
- The RSS feed will probably break a little bit. Seeing as the RSS will
now be generated by Pelican, I imagine your RSS reader will panic a
Next in the pipeline: a showcase of my now-almost-defunct blog engine.