Avoiding coffee namespace collisions


Speaking of coffee shops, I noticed something else fun recently.

I was ordering takeaway for myself and a few others, like a gentleman. Two of them wanted a skim flat white, and another wanted soy. As the barista was writing the orders on the cups, she wrote B for me, S on two more, and Y on the other.

The meaning of these eluded me for a moment… B might be for Black coffee, and S was for either Soy or Skim, but what was Y? But then the caffeine hit, and it became as obvious to me as I’m sure it is to you reading this right now.

It got me thinking what other drinks might be. They probably abbreviated Soy to Y instead of Skim to M, because that’d be reserved for Mocha. The only coffee I could think of that started with Y was a Yeeted coffee, which I strongly doubt most coffee shops would be willing to sell for liability reasons.

I get a kick out of decoding and overthinking basic stuff like this. You can take the boy out of being a DBA, but you can’t take the DBA out of the boy.

DBA… Doppio, Black, Affogato? Decaf, Biscotti, Americano? Wait, biscottis are what you have with coffee. A DBA coffee, served on a table. Don’t drop it! Thank you, I’m here all week. Weak?

Spam about emotional intelligence


I got an email this morning describing a new management course. It was a bit eye opening:

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is now widely recognised as the fundamental quality of effective leadership and management.

Delegates explore topics that fall under the two main areas: social awareness and social facility. Within these two areas a range of EI competencies are explored such as empathy, attention, rapport building, understanding others, influencing, acting and more.

The course provides a series of exercises that helps delegates to practice communication skills by focusing on specific EI competencies.

You’d think wanting to be a good human would be sufficient, but I’m also not surprised courses like this need to exist. The problem is, are the people who need the training receptive to it?

I thought the ethics courses I did at university were excellent, but most of us were already primed for thinking about the impact of what we do. A vocal minority dismissed them as being a waste of time, which for them was likely accurate. I know one of those people now has a senior management position.

Getting frustrated at inanimate IT objects


I had a bit of an epiphany today. I’m not frustrated at my computers for not doing what I want, or for behaving unexpectedly, or for having increasingly-hostile interfaces and design. I’m frustrated at the people who designed them, made them, and/or signed off on them.

Frustration by proxy?

Music Monday: Paul McCartney, Take it Away


It’s worth its own post, but Clara and I were chuffed at the number of incredible second-hand music stores in Japan, especially vinyl. We got immaculate Japanese Odeon pressings of Rubber Soul, and Paul McCartney’s 1982 masterpiece Tug of War, for half of what JB Hi-Fi in Australia are charging for a single re-issue! There’s something special about having an English album with Japanese inserts and sleeves.

Every song on Tug of War sparkles, but this is the one that’s been living in my head for the last month. My musical theory that “everything sounds better with brass” is on full display here. Ringo even supplies the drums!

Play Take It Away (Remixed 2015)

Hales on PCIe over USB (or lack thereof)


Last Friday I talked about the potential to repurpose Wi-Fi card slots on motherboards for other uses. This would be silly on a regular motherboard, but on a slot-constrained environment like Mini-ITX it offers a rare potential for internal expansion.

Using M2 Wi-Fi card slots for other things

One of the connectors I found passed PCIe over USB, or I so I thought. Hales emailed with a correction:

Surprisingly these actually don’t use any USB signalling or do anything USB related. They use USB 3 cables because they are a convenient and cheap set of wires for sending PCIE signals over a short distance (they have some matched pair wires in them that are good for high speed digital signals). It’s PCIE all the way down, USB is merely an illusion.

Huh! It reminds me of those HDMI-over-Ethernet devices.

Would I be showing my age to admit that I’ve used INTERLNK/INTERSRV and EGA on the same cables too? If so, please disregard.

Coffee culture in Australia and Europe


I met up with my dad a few days ago for coffee and lunch, and we got to talking about his recent trip to Europe. It was fun hearing his first-hand experience having coffee in Italy, which he’d always wanted to try.

Australia brands itself as a country of easy-going rural larrikins in tourism ads, but we’re one of the most urbanised countries in the world, and we do take certain things extremely seriously. We get tea and phrases like “put the kettle on” from our English colonial past, but just as serious is our coffee culture, which was moulded from decades of Greek and Italian immigration. Coffee in Australia is spectacular, eclipsed only by New Zealand across the pond.

CNBC on why Starbucks failed in Australia

My dad’s impressions of coffee in Europe, particularly Italy, were they were just as good as what we had here, provided you knew where to go. But most interestingly was what he called the milk hour, which occurred late in the morning. Ordering anything with milk after this would be met with bewilderment; like asking for a bowl of cereal at 16:00.

I tend to order black coffee because I crave that sharp taste, and for someone who drinks 1-3 cups a day, I didn’t need all that extra dairy in my diet. But occasionally I treat myself to a cap. If Clara and I ever go to Italy, I’ll need to keep this in mind!

Another comment was that espressos are far more common over there. Our part of the world literally invented the flat white to make a commute-friendly beverage one can sip, but it’s far more common over there for people to order a shot or two, drink it in one gulp, and move on. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Australian order an espresso.

Dutch milk bread and spreads

I wonder how the Low Countries do coffee? Again, given Clara’s and my current obsession with the place. You would think the Dutch could make great coffee given there’s so many wonderful beans from Indonesia and South Africa, but maybe not. If I’m going to warm a stroopwafel over a brew, it’d better be good!

Update: Just as I was about to post this, a friend told me about this coffee shop back in South Australia. I need to head back there one day :).

Dutch Coffee Lab in Adelaide

A β€œread more” link in GoHugo


Hugo supports the WordPress-style <!--more--> tag in blog posts, which split your text into a summary and body. What if you wanted your template to always show the full text of a post, unless you provided a manual summary?

Define this in your index.html template:

{{ if .Truncated }}
    {{ .Summary }}
    <a href="{{ .Permalink }}">Read more…</a>
{{ else }}
    {{ .Content }}
{{ end }}

This almost works. Hugo automatically generates summaries for posts that don’t include them, so .Truncated always evaluates true by default.

The trick (hack?) is to define a massive default summary length in your site config, so it will (practically) never autogenerate them:

summaryLength = 999999

Now the template will show a summary for posts that have them, otherwise they’ll default to showing the whole post.

Science and art: Bens Worx casts a dichroic cube


Australian artist and video creator Ben from Bens Worx has been hitting it for six lately with all his projects, but this latest episode might be among his most impressive and beautiful works yet.

Bens Worx: Turning a Dichroic Cube into a Sphere

Play Turning a Dichroic Cube into a Sphere

Clara’s and my favourite moment was seeing the prism shining through the unfinished, translucent blank as Ben polished it on the lathe. It was as though he’d embedded an LED, it was that vibrant. Ben expressed worry that the resin would hinder the refraction, but if anything it accentuated it!

As an aside, my irrational urge to buy a light prism set has only intensified. Some of my favourite experiments in high school science classes were splitting, mixing, reflecting, and playing with light. I’m sure Pink Floyd and my SLR would agree.

Getting stuck in the middle of a stroad


Stroad is a deliberately-ugly portmanteau given by Strong Towns to thoroughfares that fail at being streets and roads. Roads are high-speed connections, and streets are complex environments with driveways and pedestrians. Trying to be both, they argue, makes stroads ineffective, expensive, ugly, and dangerous. And they have the data to prove it.

Strong Towns website

From personal experience, Australia’s stroads aren’t as scary as those that blight North America or Malaysia, though they’re not far behind. It’s common for Australian stroads to at least have a median strip of concrete, and our cars are (currently) much smaller than American monster trucks. But they’ll often not have pedestrian crossings on all sides, and they’re just as miserable to live and work near.

Play Stroads are Ugly, Expensive, and Dangerous (and they're everywhere) [ST05]

Recently I was crossing a six-lane stroad in the Sydney suburb of Mascot, like a gentleman, and I ended up in a sticky situation.

The pedestrian light went green, so I started crossing. About halfway along, I heard the siren from a fire truck and stopped. To everyone’s credit at the busy intersection, the truck was able to zip through despite having a red signal, and the cars began flowing again soon after. Having lived and travelled through a bunch of places, I’d rate Australia close to the top for respecting emergency vehicles; it’s always an honour to witness.

The problem was, I’d run out the clock for the pedestrian light waiting there for that fire truck. I then found myself perched on a concrete median barely half a metre across, in the middle of the stroad, with a red pedestrian light, and six lanes of peak-hour cars flying behind and in front of me. Scarier still, much of the traffic were large articulated trucks carrying containers for the nearby freight terminals and airport, which displaced enough air to almost wash me off the median. I even felt something lightly brush against my backpack, which I couldn’t even reach across to take off because there were cars flying past me!

It was loud, smelly, and I feared for my safety.

It probably lasted less than a couple of minutes before the pedestrian light went green, but it felt like an eternity. As I made it to the other side, my fear changed to frustration; not at any one driver, but at the situation, the structure, and all the dull bureaucrats who commissioned and signed off on this lazy infrastructure.

Much as poverty is a policy failure, these stroads represent a failure of urban planning and design. They fail motorists, they fail pedestrians, and they fail the environment. I don’t drive, but I can see why if I had to navigate such roads on a regular basis I’d want to start, instead of being a pedestrian or cyclist. Yay, induced demand!

That’s a huge number of folders


I use a Mac for the technical sales side of my work, for the uninteresting reason that I need Microsoft Office. The internal SSD was starting to get full, so I ran GrandPerspective to surface where the space all went.

Screenshot showing the detection of 229,759 folders

Wait… that’s almost a quarter of a million folders! On a MacBook Air with a stingy SSD? That’s more virtual folders than I’d suspect all but the largest physical archives in the world would have.

It’s at this stage I would lean back in my chair, fall over, pick myself up, then regale you all with tales of my childhood DOS days. I’d mention that I tried maintaining a clean directory structure, but would also limit the number of nested directories to a few dozen, given it’d be tedious to traverse anything complicated on a command line. I’d contrast this to my modern FreeBSD desktop and laptops having orders of magnitude fewer folders than this Mac despite having full KDE Plasma desktops, or my classic NetBSD systems sporting Fluxbox. Then finally, I’d attempt to make a point about the state of modern computing, and the never-ending spiral of complexity, and whether even the metaphor of a folder is even meaningful anymore.

There are a bunch of reasons why, but it only reinforces my feeling of merely being a guest on macOS. In 2023, I could still tell you where almost everything is on a FreeBSD or NetBSD system (and even Linux, despite their best efforts of late). On a Mac? I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of anything outside my home directory, /usr/local, and /opt.