Weeknotes #44

in weeknotes

  • The iPhone 12 Pro Max arrived on Friday. It largely feels the same as the XS Max it replaced and part of me remains disappointed that there weren’t additional changes to the hardware (mostly an improved Face ID that worked with masks). I am relieved that the phone feels good in the hand and that I like the texture of the back. Perhaps if I’d had a chance to hold the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, I’d desire the ‘glossy’ texture that a number of reviewers mentioned but fortunately (?) the pandemic has prevented that from happening and ignorance is bliss.

  • The previous paragraph involves a little bit of sandbagging (I’m probably using that term incorrectly) because I am ecstatic with the performance of the cameras. With both the 7+ and the XS Max, the subject of photos often seemed not to be perfectly in focus. Not so with the 12 Pro Max. As Eugenia said when I sent her a shot of John sitting on our sofa: ‘Ooh crisp as fuck’.

  • Setting up a new phone was mostly painless with the exception of my Japanese banking apps. Both apps require you to go through the process of registration again from scratch. In one case, I was sent an e-mail on Friday saying that my request had been received and that a follow-up e-mail would come when it was processed. I thought it would be a completely automated thing and yet here I am on Monday and still nothing.

  • While I’m complaining, I’ve been having issues over the past two weeks with the Smart DNS service I use to allow us to use various services with the Apple TV. The three most important are ABC iView (which needs to make it look like I’m in Australia), Disney+ (which needs to make it look like I’m in the U.S.) and NBA League Pass (which needs to make it look like I’m in Europe). Disney+ and the NBA both stopped working and despite a long back-and-forth with the Smart DNS provider’s customer support, the problem still isn’t properly resolved. Disney+ has mysteriously started working again (which customer support declined to explain) and the NBA app keeps saying I’m in the wrong region.

  • On Saturday I finally took John to get a haircut. He hasn’t had one since late last year and his hair had grown to a frankly silly length (although it did show off his reddish curls). I took him to a hairdresser that specialises in cutting children’s hair and… it didn’t go well. At least not at first. John freaked out as soon as a hairdresser came near him with scissors and it took about 15 minutes or so for him to calm down.

  • Sunday was Eri’s birthday. We had a lot of cake!

  • Of course I started a new Janet project. It’s at least related to one of the half-finished things I’d been working on: my static site generator, Ecstatic. As dedicated readers may remember, one of the things I really wanted Ecstatic to do was offer a development mode in which it would both act as a web server (serving the static files) and as a ‘live’ generator (recreating the static files when there were changes to the source directory). This requires the ability to watch a directory for file changes but since Janet doesn’t have this capability built-in, I had to look elsewhere for a solution. My first attempt was to hack at the Janet bindings for libuv. That sort of worked, but the ergonomics of how the functions worked always bothered me. What I wanted was an API I could design myself.

  • And so I started Watchful. All I have at the moment is a proof-of-concept using macOS’s File System Events API but it does ‘work’. (‘Work’ in this context means detect a change made inside a given directory and call a function after this detection happens.) As mentioned, it only works on macOS at the moment and given Janet’s commitment to cross-platform support, I really want it to work on Linux (probably using inotify) and Windows (using IOCP).

  • A couple of months back, I started following Eliezer Yudkowsky on Twitter. Yudkowsky is a leading member of the ‘rationalist’ community and is most well known for his concern about the risks posed by artificial intelligence. This isn’t particularly admirable but I took perverse pleasure in watching him grow increasingly frustrated with the responses he was getting to a question about vaccine production.

  • I’ve started to let the episodes of my various shows back up again. I did somehow find the time to devote two hours (not a typo) to an incredibly deep video essay by Harris Brewis (AKA Hbomberguy) about the game, Pathologic. It is two hours so I can’t really recommend it to most people but if you are interested in video games as an artistic medium, it’s something you should watch.

  • In a recent episode of the podcast Hemispheric Views, host Jason Burk mentioned the song ‘Don’t Falter’ by Mint Royale (Apple Music). Nothing clicked at first but after a few seconds, I realised this used to be one of the most played MP3s I had in my teenage collection (but which got lost along the way). Without the nostalgia factor, I don’t think it’s especially good but it was just such an unexpected way to rediscover an old song that I had to link to it as my final item this week.

Michael Camilleri @pyrmont