Weekly review: Week ending January 29, 2016

Another week of preparation. I’ve been gradually turning over more and more of my consulting work to the team, and they’re doing a wonderful job. =) So excited! I hope I’ll be able to check back in with them afterwards to see where they take all of this.

This week’s freezer-filling frenzy was all about lumpia. There are 130 spring rolls in the freezer at the moment. I still have some filling and a package of 50 wrappers in the fridge, so I’ll see how many of those I can fit. Not much freezer space left, though!

Helped J- review for her physics final exam. It was a little frustrating when some of our answers didn’t line up with the answers provided on the review sheet. This is the last physics course she needs to take with this teacher, though, so we’re not stressing out too much about it.

More long walks this week, since I’ve been making that a priority – an average of almost 8k steps a day, with slightly over an hour a day of walking at about 2.6mph (according to the pedometer app I have on my phone). I usually go to the library to drop off and pick up items, and then the supermarket to pick up whatever supplies we need. Nice to get out, and layers keep me warm despite winter.

Next week: more walking, maybe some sewing… We’ll see! =)

2016-01-30a Week ending 2016-01-29 -- index card #journal #weekly


Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (15.8h – 9%)
    • Earn (8.1h – 51% of Business)
      • ☐ [#A] Do monthly data dump
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (7.1h – 44% of Business)
      • Drawing (7.1h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (0.6h – 4% of Business)
  • Relationships (11.0h – 6%)
    • ☑ Coordinate lasagna drop-off for Ewan and Jen
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.6h – 3%)
    • Emacs (2.4h – 1% of all)
      • ☑ Do another Emacs News review
      • ☐ Do another Emacs News review
    • Sewing (1.1h)
    • Writing (0.7h)
    • ☑ Buy toner for printer
  • Discretionary – Play (12.0h – 7%)
  • Personal routines (24.6h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (27.9h – 16%)
  • Sleep (70.2h – 41% – average of 10.0 per day)

Helping with physics

J-‘s grade 12 physics exam is tomorrow. She’s been working through the exam review sheets that her teacher gave the class: forces, friction, gravity, relativity. The review sheets give the expected answers, so she can check her work. She asks for help when she can’t figure out how to solve the problems, or when her solution doesn’t match up with the provided answer.

I’m usually the one to help with homework, since I can speed-read tutorials to refresh my memory or dig into a new topic. Sometimes it’s just a matter of nudging her towards one equation or another, or pointing out where she forgot to square a number or change a sign.

Sometimes we’re both stumped, when my calculations show her math looks reasonable and I don’t see why the answer should be different. This has happened a number of times in Physics. We’ve asked her to talk to her teacher and ask him to help her step-by-step, but she hasn’t gone yet. Maybe she feels a little intimidated, or maybe lunch break is too crowded, or maybe he’s hard to track down?

Fortunately, her physics teacher seems to be in the habit of reusing material posted online. When I search for the text of the question, I can sometimes find other people who have asked for help with the same problem, or a review sheet from a different school.

For example, we were getting stuck on a problem that started with “A fuzzy Velcro ball of mass 200 g strikes and sticks to a Velcro block (100 g)…” We solved it in a way that made sense to us, but our answer didn’t agree with the one provided by her physics teacher. The only search result on Google was this sheet of practice questions. It didn’t contain any solutions, though, so I nearly gave up there.

After making some headway on other problems, though, I thought I’d come back to that one and see if we could turn up additional resources. You can sometimes get to interesting places when you start playing around with URLs. The file’s top-level domain https://rosedalephysics.wikispaces.com/ is a public wiki for Rosedale Heights School of the Arts. The exam review on the sidebar didn’t match the exam practice document we were looking at, but a search through the Pages and Files section for June 2014 (which I picked up from the practice questions filename) turned up worked-out solutions. It confirmed that our answers and our methods were correct, and that the answer provided by J-‘s teacher was wrong. Maybe it was a typo, maybe he made a mistake, whatever. I can sympathize; I’ve made my share of mistakes as a teacher! Anyway, I’m glad J- asked for help and that we could clear up that mystery.

2016-01-25d Helping with physics exam review -- index card #studying #tutoring #family #school

We should probably bring it to the attention of J-‘s teacher at some point. Incorrect review answers can lead to lots of frustration, second-guessing, and a lack of confidence. Maybe W- can mention it at the next parent-teacher interview, or J- can talk to her teacher after the exam. Anyway, I guess it’s a good lesson in dealing with fallability, being resourceful, double-checking, and sometimes just trusting yourself anyway.

Calibre and Qt 5.5

A recent apt-get dist-upgrade resulted in the removal of calibre and calibre-bin from my system. I’ve been using Calibre to convert e-books from HTML and EPUB (some developer references, some fanfiction =) ) and copy them onto my Kindle.

It turned out that the Calibre packaged in Ubuntu required qtbase-abi-5-4-2 and my recent dist-upgrade installed Qt 5.5. I needed to upgrade to Calibre 2.49, which wasn’t available on any of the PPAs I checked (despite instructions to the contrary).

Installing Calibre from the Calibre website made it work, though. In fact, the Calibre website says:

Please do not use your distribution provided calibre package, as those are often buggy/outdated. Instead use the Binary install described below.

I wasn’t too keen on piping the output of a wget command to sudo , but a quick scan of the script didn’t turn up anything suspicious. Anyway, now I can convert EPUBs to MOBIs and easily copy them onto my Kindle, yay!

2016-01-25 Emacs News

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the Emacs commit log, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending January 22, 2016

It’s been a good week of transitions and following up. The new members of the team at my main consulting client are doing an awesome job at the things I used to do, yay!

The Asian grocery store near us has closed, so we’ve been looking for a different source for pork belly. There are a few promising candidates. More freezer preparation, too. This week: tonkatsu!

Minor panic over something I ordered not being the right size, but fortunately we were able to swap it for something that was. Yay return policies!

I’ve been going for more walks. I’ve loaded up my Kindle with fiction and developer references, and that seems to be a good fit for the cold. Lots of drawing, too, now that I’ve gotten my old-sketch review process sorted out. =)

Next week: more prep work, maybe some sewing…

2016-01-23a Week ending 2016-01-22 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (25.2h – 15%)
    • Earn (9.4h – 37% of Business)
      • ☑ Document scraping
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (15.3h – 60% of Business)
      • Drawing (12.7h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
        • ☑ Issue T4
    • Connect (0.5h – 2% of Business)
  • Relationships (8.4h – 4%)
    • ☑ Clear out old medications
    • ☑ Greet my dad happy birthday
    • ☑ Coordinate lasagna drop-off for Ewan and Jen
    • ☑ Look for a new source for pork belly
  • Discretionary – Productive (13.4h – 7%)
    • Emacs (3.6h – 2% of all)
      • ☑ Host 2016-01-16 Emacs Hangout
      • ☑ Do another Emacs News review
      • ☐ Do another Emacs News review
    • Sewing (1.1h)
      • ☑ Check on snaps
    • Writing (6.3h)
    • ☑ Work on sketch browser
    • ☑ Call TD to change dividends to cash
    • ☑ Rebalance RRSP
    • ☑ Clear out bonds in locked RRSP
    • ☑ Figure out how to get the Org Mode Manual onto my Kindle
  • Discretionary – Play (11.5h – 6%)
  • Personal routines (30.9h – 18%)
  • Unpaid work (13.8h – 8%)
  • Sleep (64.8h – 38% – average of 9.3 per day)

Building a simple sketch navigator for myself

In 2015, I built the habit of drawing daily index-card-sized thoughts. Some days, I reached (or blew past!) my target of five index cards a day. Other days, I backfilled my daily journal entries based on fuzzy memories and my time logs. In February 2015, I started using a yyyy-mm-dd<letter> naming convention so that I could easily refer to individual cards. For a while, I tried to be fairly disciplined about organizing sketches into outlines and building up chunks into blog posts. That fell by the wayside when I found it difficult to concentrate, but I kept drawing anyway. I saved the images to my hard drive, started tagging them with keywords in the filenames, and uploaded my sketches to Flickr as a way to back up and share my files.

I’ve recently been exploring ways to take advantage of the Samsung tablet that W- bought some time ago. It works wonderfully as a second screen that I can use to review an old sketch while I draw another one. The FlickFolio app lets me do a random slideshow of the past 2000 images in my photostream or in an album. This turns out to be an excellent way to jog my memory and prompt me to revisit questions or decisions.

2016-01-22d What do I want from my idea pipeline -- index card #zettelkasten #ideas #thinking #questions #index-cards

2016-01-22d What do I want from my idea pipeline – index card #zettelkasten #ideas #thinking #questions #index-cards.png

Now those fragmented thoughts are starting to pay off. Many of my old index cards are on topics I haven’t thought about in a while. It’s fun to see what I’ve learned in the meantime, or to follow up on things I’ve forgotten. It’s like I’d been filling an idea pipeline or seeding an idea garden. I get this steady stream of questions, decisions, observations, memories, ideas, and notes, and I can build on those prompts instead of having to start from scratch.

2016-01-18g How do I want my sketches to help me think -- index card #drawing #sketches #zettelkasten #notes ref 2015-11-18a

2016-01-18g How do I want my sketches to help me think – index card #drawing #sketches #zettelkasten #notes ref 2015-11-18a.png

I want these index cards to help me shuffle ideas and possibly see serendipitous combinations. They’re small, so capturing thoughts on them doesn’t require as much effort as, say, writing a blog post. They’re a good way to smooth out and organize thoughts, and I can chunk up those thoughts into longer posts. The sketches are easy to review, too, so they work well as digital footprints. I re-read the year’s blog posts as part of my annual review and sometimes I reread my posts on a monthly basis as well, but it’s not as immediate or as wide-ranging as flipping through a random selection of images.

A random slideshow is a good start, but I’ve been meaning to make a sketch browser that’s a little more tuned to what I want.

2016-01-18d What do I want in a sketch browser -- index card #drawing #coding #plan

2016-01-18d What do I want in a sketch browser – index card #drawing #coding #plan.png

I wrote a simple NodeJS server that I can run on my laptop and access from the tablet (or other devices) while I’m on my home network. At first, I was trying to figure out an interface that would let me navigate by month/week/day, but then I realized that something simpler might be a more useful way to begin.

I started off by making it display random sketches:


Then I extended it to let me browse by tag:


And then to see a list of tags by frequency:


Or by alphabetic order, since that might be handier if I’m trying to look for something specific on a mobile device


I like distinguishing between daily/weekly/monthly/yearly reviews and non-journal sketches, too:




It’s nice to be able to build custom little tools like that. =)

Here’s the script on Github, in case you’re curious or you want to build on the idea.