Week of 2023-02-19

📷 Photography

The snow gave and the snow took away this week.

We had a winter storm here a few nights ago, so Al and I put on the YakTrax and took a walk around the neighborhood. It was beautiful.

Monochrome. A Space Age gas station lit brightly in the night snow.

But we also didn't get out on some morning walks because it was just too cold and windy to consider.

✏️ Writing

I wrote a pretty long post about my MOCA and Edgerouter makeover. For not a ton of money or time the house feels more competently networked than it ever has: The MOCA drops bring gig speeds to all the wireless access points, and the Edgerouter has made the PPPoE connection to CenturyLink feel much more solid than it did with the Eeros.

As I wrote I was reminded of my time in charge of Practically Networked. I would have lived off the project for weeks of tutorials and guides.

More on this down below.

📚 Reading

I picked up Nnedi Okorafor's Remote Control. Evidently it is part of a larger collection of Afrofuturist science fiction. Based on the strength of what I've read so far, I'm going to run down the rest of the work. Here's a nice, short summary.

🕹️ Gaming

I took a detour into Titanfall 2 this past week, and stuck with the single player campaign to the end.

I enjoyed the whole "giant battle robot" premise, and I like the way you both play in the robot and play as a super-capable soldier/ninja thing. I get the impression the game's heart is really in the online multiplayer, and that's just not my thing.

On the game overall:

Fun, but there is a technique they invented for character motion -- wall running -- that goes from "oh, that's an interesting idea that could add some interest to the basic fps mechanic" to absurd in the form of dozens of contrived situations where you have to do assorted kinds of wall-running as what I can only think of as some sort of hazing/dexterity test.

Wall-running is basically just running up a wall then running along the wall. You can bound over to another wall. That's about it. I used it in a few firefights to drop into stealth mode, scramble along a wall, and flank enemy soldiers.

The campaign, however, is chock full of these situations where you have to use wall running in, for instance, a giant factory that makes wall-shaped slabs that hang from cranes. So you have to traverse this giant, cavernous factory with your wall-running skills. It's fine a few times, but I think every phase of the campaign involves some sort of wall-running challenge or puzzle. It gets old.

Worse, there's a contrived holo-ghost thing you can invoke to show you how to do the wall-running in tight situations, which serves to bleed some of the scenarios of a sense of urgency or drama.

Fun enough, and I played it all the way through, but I kept thinking of the 1985 travesty Gymkata.

⚙️ Organization

Last year I did an inventory of all the organizational tools I use. I wrote them all down, asked myself what value I got from them, and committed to the idea that I wouldn't add a tool to the inventory without thinking about why I was doing it and what I hoped to get out of it.

That practice has helped in a few ways: One, just the thought of writing down some notes on something is usually enough to get me to realize I just wanted something to play with. Two, I have notes to go back to when I've found a frustration with something to help me remember what problem it was supposed to help me solve (lest I throw out the baby with the bathwater).

This past week I got into a tussle with an app, and after chasing it around a few times I got frustrated and asked myself "why are you even using this thing?"

When I couldn't find it in my notes I realized it was just one of those things I had a license for and started using without thinking about it much. I wanted to play around with it, I guess. Knowing I hadn't picked it up for any particular purpose made it easier to just set it aside.

I am giving TickTick a spin, though.

In the process of using Obsidian to track a lot of todos and tasks using its kanban view, I realized I really don't like Obsidian's phone experience. It's fine for pecking in notes, and I guess you could use it for Markdown todos, but it feels fussy and delicate.

I have also wanted to add some sort of habit tracking. That's something else Obsidian can do, but I've been down a similar path with Emacs and other "could do it" apps over the years, and I never like the experience.

So I looked around and came across TickTick, which does normal todos and habit tracking, and sort of blends them together in some views. It does the whole "do this on an interval" scheduling I really appreciated from Sciral Consistency for habits, and it has a nice journal popup when you complete one for the day. It also has pomodoros.

I think it might be in danger of trying to do too much: There's a note feature I keep glimpsing and I am not sure how it fits in. But it also presents a very clean and basic list, has tons of keyboard shortcuts, and is available as native apps for everything I use.

In the best world possible I'd just be using Apple's built-in Reminders, but it is not great ergonomically.

🫥 How are you feeling?

A little down this week. The snow made it hard to get out and do the brisk daily walk I like to get in, and that always effects my mood (and sleep).

On the other hand, I had a lot of fun with my networking makeover. I've written a few times here about play and rest over the past couple of months, and this is connected.

Fine-tuning a home network is a kind of play. It was fun to learn how to do a few new things (like work with coax cables, configure a more complex router, or re-learn how to automate things I'd done differently in the past). It's a low stakes kind of thing to do and you get some benefit in the form of stuff working better and faster.

So, you know, okay.