My monitor diet; a belated new years resolution

I work with an abundance of screen real estate, wrapped around me like grandstands of a stadium. However, with over 10 million spectators each filling their own little space with colour and contrast, I have increasingly found that I become overwhelmed; I choke.

Pair that with some torsional neck pains as the day draws to a close, It seemed appropriate that I was increasingly becoming aware that maybe, just maybe there was too much. Inaction by overstimulation? Whatever it is, it was frustrating me. Always jumping back and forth across the screen, distracted, crowded and in all just using space for the sake of it.

So I went cold turkey. Just one day so far, but its been an interesting experience. My laptop usually on its pedestal sits dormant, only powering a single display seemingly lonesome as its twin also lies quiet. And when I think about it, it feels odd, like when a painting on a wall is removed, or when furniture is rearranged. Luckily, I only had time to think about it emerging from a strong focus, unbroken by visual stimulation by too wide a gamut of possible interaction.

It was nice.

Lets see how the journey continues.

Running a script on linux boot as a user

As a part of getting build services for a project up and running (GitLab is freaking cool by the by), I decided it might be a good idea to set up a local NPM cache to help speed up restoration. Yeah, I know there is a local cache as well, but thats not as fun to tinker with!

Firstly, I set up an internal cache as per the instructions by Alex. Then, once I was happy with the now snappy restore process, looked into getting the service to start on boot.

First, switch over to the root user, as we will need this to create, and register our script

sudo su - root

Now, head over to the init.d folder

cd /etc/init.d

Now, we create our startup script. This can be anything, just as long as it is descriptive! Some sources suggest creating a single script for all your custom actions, but I am a fan of atomicity;
vim npm-cache.sh

Now that vim is cracked open, throw the following contents in

#!/bin/sh
su - username -c "~/.npm-packages/bin/forever ~/.npm-packages/bin/npm-proxy-cache -e -t 600000 -h http://your-endpoint-here/"

I found that when running su with a command, my distro (Ubuntu 16.04.2 64) required the command in the format su - -c "". Your distro may vary.
Also, I found that at this stage, $PATH may not yet be instantiated, and set, so I just used the direct path to where I knew the package would be.

Next, we need to make the script executable, and register the init script with the startup service

chmod +c ./npm-cache.sh
update-rc.d ./npm-cache.sh defaults 100

And there we go! We should now have our cache running on startup.

Work harder, not smarter.

We all know the phrase. Touted more often than not by the types who also employ buzz words like “Dynamic” and “Synergy”, the phrase “Work smarter, not harder” has always been one that I have particularly had trouble with

By Corn, Jack, 1929-, Photographer – Wikimedia commons Link

Don’t get me wrong, it makes a very valid point; a very targeted and payoff driven work ethic is nothing to hold skepticism over. I even would aspire to hold that quality one day. My only problem is that it seems to skip a rather large step in professional development; failure.

The art of practice is built on top of failure upon failure, and through small consistent steps of improvement and reflective criticism, a person can hone in on their trade and build skills. This goes without saying for technical skills, but also one that I feel personally I have quite a bit to develop on; identification. It is easy to consider this as simply scoping out a problem and applying a set of skills to solve it, but there is more to it. I don’t know how to explain it other than lack of experience and picking your fights. Spending time on the right things. Knowing when good enough is good enough. And most importantly, when to take a break and when to call it quits.

Maybe this is just speculation on my part, but it’s as if the only way to really develop perceptive skills like this is to spend time at the coal face, making mistakes, burning out and working hard. To work smarter, you must first realise what it is like to work clumsily.

Initial Commit

I got the blog writing practice backwards. Full circle here I am again, spinning up another WordPress site, configuring more themes, thinking of another catchy, yet inevitably unoriginal title that will drape over the gates of another attempt at writing fallen into disrepair.

No.

Not this time.

Too long I was hung up on what to write; some technical approach to a problem, practice I outline in detail with my own spin, or even an interpretation of another, more credible source. Maybe one day, but for now its about writing about everything. Declaratively, this is the post that served as inspiration for me to start over, but with a new perspective. Let this be a transcription of my life as a developer; technical, political, conceptual. It all influences on what we do, and how we do it, and there is no better time to improve upon it than right now.