[General] Chairlift

Today I am really enjoying the music of Chairlift.


[Technology] GNOME and default programs that just don't work

I love GNOME.  It is my full intent to invest thousands of hours into it after I leave school.  In general, it works great for me.  However, I still can't recommend it to any friends or normal humans, because so much basic functionality in its apps Just Doesn't Work.

A recurring theme for me is trying to use a feature that's been released but doesn't seem to ever work for me.  An old example would be Tracker.  It took half-a-decade before I could run it on a machine of mine without it being utterly crippled in performance.  Now, it seems to work perfectly.

I know part of the answer is: submit a patch.  And I will, when I'm out of school and not working all the time to pay for it. :D  In the meantime, I'll highlight a couple issues.

A few current examples include:
  • GNOME Boxes
  • GNOME Web (epiphany)
  • Bluetooth and files
  • PiTiVi
  • GNOME Music
  • GNOME Photos
Bluetooth: I have yet to have a Linux installation on any machine ever reliably work with Bluetooth for moving files.  Indeed, most peripherals mysteriously just fail.

GNOME Boxes: I try it out once a release to see how far I can get.  I tried version 3.20.2 today, on an image of Fedora 25 Beta.  It managed to boot and log in to the Live user.  However, a weird 'flickering' kept stealing focus away from the Shell's Activity overview, and after a minute or so, it just froze and became unresponsive altogether.  Compare that to VirtualBox which worked.

GNOME Web: Facebook is one of the most popular sites that I use, and consequently its Messenger is also the one where almost all my friends are.  However, whenever I try to type a message starting with a capital letter, that character repeats! https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=764653. I want to use Web at least for it's cool Web App container system, for Messenger (messenger.com), but it's infuriating having to delete the extra character each time.  I will have to wait about 7 months before the fix becomes available to Fedora users.

PiTiVi: I love the design, but I have yet to edit a single video with it.  (Well, maybe I succeeded once a long time ago?)  Last week, I recorded a video of my desktop using GNOME Shell (so cool!).  I then wanted to simply export it to a format I could share it with (mp4).  It was listed as an option, but PiTiVi inexplicably just stalled and did nothing.  There's probably an error message on the console explaining that, but when I'm trying to do something so basic, and it fails, it deters me.  I remember how happy I was when OpenShot finally reached a functional maturity.  However, when I then tried to use it, it looked really bizarre, and didn't work any more.  That's weird: I was just using it regularly a few years ago and it worked great!  I looked it up and ... they changed their toolkit.  That explains why it went from working great to not working any more. 

GNOME Music: it actually has content!  Like, when I open it, I'm not greeted by a bizarre, empty window, without any hint as to what to do next. Instead, it has a stylish "Hey DJ" with a cool music note.  It says that it will show files from my Music folder, too.  It doesn't give me a way to set that Music folder, but ah well.  I thought GNOME Files might give me an option to, but apparently not.  It probably wants me to have a ~/Music folder, though that conflicts with my standard file organisation.  There's probably a config file I can edit, but - wait, I already did that.  Oh! That explains a few things; Tracker isn't doing anything, none of its miners are running.  I wonder when they last ran?  I definitely have some files indexed.  Hmm, "tracker daemon -s" might get them going now.  Good, now we have some music indexed, let's try GNOME Music again and ...
ERROR:grl-net-wc.c:730:get_url_cb: assertion failed: (c == d)
Aborted (Speicherabzug geschrieben)
Neat-o!  Back to Rhythmbox.

GNOME Photos: Yay, it found my photos.  Interesting, right-clicking on an album selects it and ... let's me add it to an Album?  Trying that, I define an Album name, click add and ... nothing?  The new album doesn't exist, and the selected album hasn't moved?  Huh.  There's apparently a "favouriting" mechanism (a star), but when I select something, it doesn't seem to really do anything, except toggle the state of the star at the bottom?  There's a Favourites tab, but nothing shows up there?  Hmm.  One thing I need a photo manager is to help me share and upload my photos, which GNOME Photos does not seem to do.  Back to Shotwell.

Here are some things that work, though:

GNOME Maps: it finally renders tiles, can find my hometown, and location services now work!  It even gives good directions!

Basically, I love using GNOME because of its clean design and how it helps me focus on my work.  However, that's only part of GNOME.  To actually get work done, I generally need to use other apps: Rhythmbox, Shotwell, GNOME Terminal (to do things that the apps cannot), Firefox, VirtualBox.  Even my beloved GNOME Videos (Totem?) gets bumped for VLC for caption support.

One of the obstacles is the lack of contextual information in a lot of the newer apps.  GNOME Documents, GNOME Photos, GNOME Music, and GNOME Videos, as far as their library functionality goes, are inadequate for daily use.   They're also hard to use, because they show a bunch of unorganised information without sufficient context to know which files is which.

I'm excited to finish school next year and be able to contribute my time and love for GNOME to help ensure things work and that the user experience is both clean and productive.


[General] Doctor Who

There's a lot that I'm not fond of about the Doctor's relationships with other people, however, I like part of the sentiment here:


Basically, the idea that betrayal can be understood and forgiven.  I want to be the type of person that can be lied to, be aware of it, and have the capacity to understand the reason for the lie, and potentially accept it as important or necessary for the other person.

[Technology] Getting my Lenovo Twist s230u to actually go to sleep

I use a Lenovo Twist s230u.  I run Fedora Linux.  It has trouble going to sleep.  It just keeps waking up.  I try to sing it lullabies to no avail. 

After suffering for too long, I sought answers, and found these Launchpad bugs helpful:
For a while, I was just doing the suboptimal:
  • # for i in EHC1 EHC2 XHC; do echo "$i" > /proc/acpi/wakeup; done
after restarting.

I got bored with the 5 seconds it took to run that each time I rarely restarted, so I looked into boot scripts for systemd:
So, now I have:
  • /etc/systemd/system/toggle-wakeup-devices.service
Which contains:


 And I have
  •  /usr/local/bin/toggle-wakeup-devices.sh
Which contains:

for i in EHC1 EHC2 XHC; do
      echo "$i" > /proc/acpi/wakeup;
This still isn't quite optimal.  (Would be nice to work out an appropriate patch to fix this behaviour for all users and submit it, rather than a workaround.)  But I have a Masters to finish, and this is sufficient for me for now. :)
Trying to use vala-mode in emacs:
c-get-lang-constant: Invalid function: "\\s *#\\s *"
I looked for my vala-mode.el and found I was using a local copy I had set up last year,


It was from 2015-05-27, however, that seemed to be the latest copy.  I replaced it anyway, (despite diff showing no differences) and "magically" it resumed working.  Hmm.  Maybe it was also just me restarting my emacs daemon. :D



After a little under two years of (semi) regular practise, I have made it to the bottom of the German language tree in Duolingo!  Now to:

  • Go back and do the new lessons
  • Max out my strength
  • Max out my fluency
  • Start French (for a better 2018)


A functional life

This week, I soaked some black turtle beans for 10 hours (was supposed to be 12) and then boil-then-simmered them for 2 (was supposed to be 1.5).

I call this success.


[Microblog] Word play

mind as a verb: "mind you", "mind the gap", and "remind"


[General] Picasa Web, Google+ Photos, Google Photos, and why I don't share albums anymore

It's because the new one doesn't let me sort an album by date taken.  I could drag and drop all the photos, but that's way too much work.  Now I just post individual pictures to Instagram.  Ah well.

It's harder and harder for me to continue using Google's proprietary services, as the more time goes by, the harder it is to rely on any of them.  So many have been shuttered (e.g. Google Reader) or had features dropped (e.g. Gmail labs I used to rely on).  Sigh.


Stranger Things

I highly recommend it.

I really appreciate the "Netflix-era of television" after the "Reality TV Apocalypse."


[General] Experience, validation, perception, memory, generosity, and imperfection

I like relativism.  It's useful, because I know that my perceptions, memories and reasoning are not perfectly reliable.  Similar people, both intelligent, will disagree.  I like estimating likelihoods, confidence intervals, doing internal modelling that balances my view of information against others.  I have to make decisions all the time that involve favouring some interpretation of reality, but I generally decline to commit to it, or assert it.  Just conditionally accept it, given the information I have at hand.  I want to reduce some types of errors in judgement over others.  I assume that ultimately a lot of things are objectively true, but I'm skeptical of my ability to really know them with certainty.

I used to be more absolutist.  I was more confident in my ability to acquire relevant information, reason accurately on it, and come to nearly-certain conclusions.  I was arrogant, too.  I thought that I could do this better than many other people.  I was happy.

Regardless of how effectively I may have reasoned, or how close any of my perceptions, memories, or conclusions were to 'reality', I made a fatal error of asserting my imperfect self over the imperfect selves of others.  I would argue with people passionately, like a bulldozer, until they would concede.  In theory, that might be fine, depending on the person.  In theory, they could argue just as passionately about their ideas, and in theory, we might both be open-minded enough to come to an amicable and happy agreement in the end.  That's how I imagined it happening, at least.

I don't believe that people should have to fight to have their ideas entertained, their intelligence, existence and experience respected.  Lately, I think a lot about experiences.

I think about our experiences in the work I do.  User eXperience (UX).  It's a field.  I think about it with the products and services I consume.  I think about it with my education, my student experience.  I think about it with my thesis, the reader's experience.  And, of greatest interest to me lately, is an interest in our social experiences.

Worrying about experience is a bit of a luxury, a privilege.  Arguably, the user experience for software 20 years ago might be considered "awful", except that in many cases we understand the limitations of the time, so we excused a lot then that we wouldn't excuse today.  When you're more concerned about even merely providing a base service or functionality, it's hard to worry about whether it's easy or pleasant.  It's doable, it works, that's good enough.

I sometimes wonder about that in relation to social issues.  Activism broadens to include more and more elements of a subject's experience, as fundamental needs get met.  Doing that incrementally isn't ideal.  Who wants to first worry about the right to live, then the right to vote, then the right to marry, then the right to pay equality, step by step?  Especially when each step isn't atomic, is never fully completed, and never happens in a sensible order.  However, it seems that's practically how society in its multitudinous, diverse population negotiates its change sometimes.  Unsatisfyingly slowly.  I wish some critics of activism would spend less time arguing about it not being necessary, and more time understanding the experience that motivates it.

Lately, I'm curious about the differing experiences two people can have interacting with one another, relative to "reality".  Sometimes I have what amounts to a misunderstanding with others that leads to someone becoming upset.  If it's the other becoming upset, I would have formerly (and sometimes still) insisted that they've misunderstood, and expect them to correct their understanding, correct their perceptions, correct the impact on their mind, correct their conclusion, correct their experience.  And that's bad.  I know how horrible it can be when someone dismisses my own experience, and how it makes me feel about their respect for my judgement and perceptions.  Especially when its recurring.

I really want to change that about myself.  I want to be supportive of others when we differ.  If my intensity is higher than theirs, I want to lower my own to match theirs, to ensure they feel comfortable differing from me.  I want them to feel like their experience is valid.  I want both of us to feel that our perceptions, regardless of how they differ from one another or objective reality are respected.  If there is a systemic error one or both of us are making, I don't want them to feel judged as being worth less for it.  We should both feel comfortable acknowledging our own limitations.  Ideally, we could both acknowledge the imperfection of our own perceptions, our own reasoning, our own memories.  Even if imperfect, these comprise a lot of our identity and experience, and are very important our sense of self-worth. We want to make good decisions for ourselves, and much of our life is spent building our understanding of the world to enable that.  Having those efforts denigrated does not seem like a conductive way to build understanding, or effect helpful change in either of us.  I'm not responsive to belligerence.  I'm not very interested in the opinions of others who don't act respectfully to me.  So why would someone else respond well if I failed to respect them and their experience?

Even if our perceptions are skewed significantly, even if our memories don't accurately reflect history, even if they're all wrong, I think they still matter.  They comprise our experience, which is everything we have.  We may still yet reason logically on bad information and come to meaningful conclusions that might hold general validity even if they don't exactly apply to a specific issue.

One of my challenges involves insecurity and how it affects my perceptions of other people's behaviour towards me.  Sometimes, this issue flares up, when experience upon experience seem to compound in the same direction: rejection.  If it compounds enough that I speak out, I usually find out that my perceptions don't correspond to other's intentions.  I appreciate friends who don't just dismiss my skewed perceptions, but also consider how they contributed.  I want to be that generous.

So, going forward, I hope I can better acknowledge and appreciate other people's experience.  Even if I disagree with their conclusions, I hope I can help validate their experience, and not bull-doze them with my own, or make make dangerous, biased assumptions about the superiority of my own.  I remember fondly walking home from high school once, furious about how dumb something my friend F had said, when in my fury, reasoning why he was wrong, I realised he was right and I was wrong.  It was a revelation.  I hope to have less fury and more revelations. 


[General] Defenseless

It's pouring.  The first time in months.  I am unprepared.  A friend lost one umbrella, another traded the other up for paisley and kept it.  I have no shield against the rain.  In German, an umbrella is ein Regenschirm (m).  A rain shield.  I try to put on my armour, a German wind breaker I got when visiting my dad's friends Wolfgang 5 years ago.  What a weird trip that was.  I didn't always even use umbrellas.  I used to protest against them.  On the basis that the average person kept the spokes at my eye level.  Dangerous.  Instead, I prefer embracing the wet, getting soaked.  If something is uncomfortable, don't shirk, but embrace. 

That philosophy was partially my own, but partially that of one who hiked onto a glacier in New Zealand and said something like "I am the Earth and the Earth is me."  Or maybe "I am the cold and the cold is me."  When the stories stop getting retold, the details' space in my brain slowly gets eaten away by new memories for new events, more or less memorable, just new.  Anyway, I liked that philosophy.

I started using umbrellas 2 years ago.  I was on my way to work, and got soaked during a rainy summer, as usual.  I liked it.  I didn't like sitting in my chair shivering.  I started keeping a change of clothing at work.  However, I suppose I also started to question my philosophy and its origins and contributions.  Then, one day, I saw it.  The perfect umbrella.  It was firm, sturdy, broad, and a rainbow of colours.  It was amazing.  The last I saw it, a friend was carrying it in a woody park, and apparently they set it down to take a photo.  Good bye, my love.  My perfect Rain Shield.

So today I donned the wind breaker.  I am out of practise.  Last year, or the year before, I would have remembered that it was ineffective against the rain.  It can survive a light rain for 15 minutes, a heavy rain for maybe 3.  A 7-minute late bus and a moderate rain was all it took to make me soggy underneath.  I kind of like it.  I didn't like that I was actually out of bus tickets.  (I usually bike.)  I didn't like the thought of walking to work in the wet.

The bus driver smiled and told me to get in anyway.  I adore him.  I adore Guelph Transit.  I adore Guelph.  I need to leave it, and soon.  A friend wants me to move to Montréal in October.  I could.  I could work remotely.  I could come back for a defense date.

My defense date.  I've drawn this degree out far too long.  A few years of crippling depression (hey!) and slow "recovery" (thanks, Zoloft®!), and for the last 6 months I've been sitting on a written thesis without scheduling a date.  Largely, it's financial.  I need to pay for school, so I need to work, so I need this leave of absence.  It's refreshing.  It's lovely applying my skills in a way that directly benefit people.  I'm glad I have some expertise.  Still, I need to finish.  I need to move on and on and on.

Where to next?  The smell of the rain reminds me of Vancouver.  This is annoying, because it surfaces both positive and negative memories and thoughts.  The last time I visited there, I started to hyperventilate, a rarity for me.  I like the smell though.  Briefly, I imagine standing in the rain on Granville St., or waiting for the 22 Knight bus.  (Or was it 55?)  I cut myself short before I dwell too long on things that are past, and open Pokémon.  The screen is quickly covered in droplets, and I quickly catch yet another Pidgey (I love them) before drying it off inside my jacket and re-pocketing it.

Finally, I'm at work.  Start the clock for another day.


I've recently had the leisure of thinking about how I'd like to "grow" for work.  What I would most like to "improve".

It would definitely be in estimating how long things will take, identifying their priorities, and scheduling them well.

Too often my approach is reactive lately.  I respond to crises a lot.  It's part of the nature of the problem I work on.  But we're making progress.  I manage to find more and more time to pre-emptively identify and fix problems.  However, what I dislike most is when I become aware of a problem in hibernation, and time goes by, and it suddenly becomes a current issue, and despite learning about it earlier, I didn't manage to fit a fix in in time.

It's nice having the opportunity to improve these things.


The Ever Changing World

Do people still blog?

I know I barely read blogs any more.  When Google Reader died, so did my blog reading.  My reading would have probably died anyway.  There's too much information for me to manage.  I barely use Facebook or Google Photos.  I stopped using Google+, Reddit, Google News, and tumblr.   Now I mostly just e-mail, text, and ... Instagram!  That's new for me.

I want more undirected time.  My habits are a cycle.  I oversubscribe to activities and people, then I purge, and repeat.  I would like some equilibrium.  However, I have improved over past habits.  I am good at mitigating stress and being aware about it.  I focus on my priorities.

What are they these days?  Past ones, like kendo, jodo, and iaido are all hibernating.  I go climbing now, these days, though.  I actively try to game a bit more, something I shunned for a while.  Playing Skyward Sword by myself, Pokémon Go with friends (of course), and Splatoon/Metroid with Frank.  (Thanks, Frank.)  I bike and walk a lot.  I exercise.  I like to organise things.  I like to talk to friends.  I like to travel.  I also work a lot.



I spent spare time sometimes catching up on work.  I get paid for it, so it's not bad, but I question the division of my time.  After work, I should probably shut out all thoughts of it.  Instead, I go through notes and e-mails and organise my work life.  There's too much work to do at work.  It's nice.  Generally, there's enough understanding about the situation, that I don't have to suffer for past mistakes.

Maybe I should blog about work.



Best Canada Day ever? O_o


Time Travel

I used to believe various  things.  My beliefs were skewed to start with though, and eventually reality shattered them.  That was actually on a Canada's Day, and I've spent the past five years travelling through time to effectively review where I went wrong and to rebuild myself.

Actual time travel, people.  Ninja turtle actions figures, 2D Mario Games, swords, a lot of fun, childish stuff.  More silliness.  More adventure.  More saying "Yes!" to everything, trying on different mes to find out what fit and where I belong.  I've re-engaged with academics, restored some structure and routine to life, listened more, revisiting my identity a decade and more ago, reviewing my childhood and young adulthood.  I'm looking for meaning and explanations for what I am all over the place.

As you might guess, I have found very few answers, and have raised more questions, but over the past half year especially, I have come to feel much less loss, though perhaps more apart.  I wouldn't say I've found anywhere I belong since, especially not in any way I once did, and I wonder whether I might never.  But that's more OK now and less terrifying than it was for the first ... 4 years?

Today is the first Canada's Day I've looked forward to in five years.  Past ones I've sometimes enjoyed, sometimes fell apart, but even if they went well, they were accompanied with a dread and preoccupation.  I don't feel that now.

This might all be the effect of Zoloft®, though I'd like to think that it's also the natural effect of time travel on the mind.  The more distant you grow from a point in time, the smaller it appears in your rear-view mirror. 

I like Donnie Darko.


Thoughts and Thinking

Randomised thoughts from today.

It's nice when people can be generous in their interpretation of one another, rather than pedantic.  It's stressful when you feel each statement is subject to criticism.  #lessonslearnedtoolate

When someone has trouble working with their computer, it's because they're too smart, and their computer is too stupid.  They can handle and work with ambiguity just fine.  The computer can't.   But they're learning.

My heart is guarded by fortifications stronger than Fort Knox.

Disney's Zootopia is a better Bugs Bunny story than any Bugs Bunny story Warner Brother's has produced in the past decade (or two?).  It also indulges in some bad relationship behaviour.

Sometimes I feel as though the longer I'm around someone, the greater the probability that I'll be annoying.  I should be less afraid of that.  Today, in response to greater nit-picking by someone, I just gave them more space, and all was well.  Yay, lessons.

Moana reminds me of my time in New Zealand, and of Wind Waker.

I like doing some things that are inefficient and impractical for their own sake.  I like washing dishes by hand.  It's relaxing.  It's not someone else's responsibility to accommodate me by inconveniencing themselves, and I can enjoy it solo.  Or sometimes doing boring data entry.  Mundane repetition can be soothing, and the only justification I need to so something suboptimally is because I want to, and it doesn't really matter.

Once I wanted to live in a high rise condominium, drive a Toyota Celica, and work for a big software firm.  Then I met people and now I want none of that, and none of its associated stress.  I want to lie in Preservation Park with the deer.

I finally actually like board games.   I like acquiring tastes.  Fake it till you make it?


[Technology] Spending all of my disk space

I used to save a lot of content to my computer that I thought was cool.  I, however, almost never access any of it.  Consequently, I'm trying to stop being such a collector.  Good bye decade old wallpaper collection. (* HA!  I'm not actually going to DELETE it.  I'm just going to risk having it stored on an external hard drive. :P)

Another recent problem is that my system uses GNOME Software and PackageKit to manage packages and updates. However, for correctness, it wants to only update packages during a restart.  (https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Features/OfflineSystemUpdates)  Of course, I almost never restart my computer, and end up just using dnf ("Dandified Yum" (yum: Yellowdog Updater, Modified (replaced yup: Yellowdog Updater, which was the update manager for Yellow Dog Linux, which focussed on PowerPCs, GPUs, and high performance computing).  So, GNOME Software uses PackageKit to pre-download updates, which wait to be applied during the next update.  However, I end up installing them separately before that using dnf.  Then, GNOME Software and PackageKit by default just leave them there in the cache, FOREVER.  Over 4 months, that consumed 5GB of space.  If I had to pay for all that data, that would be a huge redundant waste.  So much effort with delta RPMs to conserve data used in updating, only to waste it like that, by having double-downloads?  That's a bug: https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=80053
Replacing libraries and files while the OS is running can cause problems ranging from application crashes to inconsistent system states where processes are using different versions of a library at the same time. By installing system updates 'outside' the normal system operation, we avoid these problems.
- https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Features/OfflineSystemUpdates
One of the commentators on the FreeDesktop bug report uses a cron job for the command:
pkcon refresh force -c -1
I haven't done much with cron for a while, so I used Arch Linux's great documentation on cron and the man pages, before deciding that I'd actually give the Future (er, present) a try with systemd timers.  A combination of the documentation, Arch Linux's page on it, and this random blog post by Jason Graham, I ended up adding a pretty minimal .service and .timer pair of files.

Yay, problem worked around.

Proper solution?

This probably would have entailed trying to write and submit a patch that would have done one of the following:
  • cause packagekit to discard superseded packages in its cache, or
  • cause GNOME Software to let you choose to do risky, online updates, or
  • cause dnf aware of packagekit's cache so we don't have to re-download and waste data (seems kind of dumb), or
  • cause multiple solutions to share the same package cache directory, or
  • use something like ostree to make 'online' updates safe
 Who knows.



I've tamed social media!  I rarely log into Facebook or Tumblr anymore.  Yay?


Fixed Bike Frames

Wonderfully, I can listen to the Frames again!  Yaaaay!


Amazingly 80

I am almost in disbelief but here I am, having just celebrated my father's 80th birthday.  Since I was 13 I've had a fair amount of fear for him for apparently no good reason.  I'm quite lucky to have him.


Deutsch sprechen

Thanks to a year of practise on Duolingo, I can now read German news articles.  Yaaay.

Firefox for Android

Firefox for Android on my Nexus 6 is so sluggish, and has brought my whole phone to a crawl twice today, requiring restarts (memory issues?), yet they boldly describe it as "fast". What brave marketing.



I don't like Instagram much.  I can't upload images by the web, uploading multiple photos by phone is slow, it loses my captions or claims they contain content that is not allowed, and it doesn't reliably remember who I asked to follow.  And yet almost all my friends use it. O_O


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