A Brief Respite

Taken with Obscura

The Red Dress

Praça do Comércio, Lisbon

Summer Heat

Summer has arrived in earnest (it’s 44C outside), and with it a certain detachment from having sleek, powerful (and warm) computers nestled on one’s lap for extended periods of time, and a renewed interest in using smaller, less imposing machines for photography and other forms of entertainment. That has been taking place mostly outdoors, thanks to the past week’s string of bank holidays (a local peculiarity that effectively puts the entire country on hold a few weeks before Summer break, in a sort of warm-up for doing nothing of any real consequence during August).

Given my day job’s continued lack of interesting technical challenges, I spent the past few days looking for interesting puzzles to solve and going over my personal backlog, which is full of tiny little chores that I never seem to get around doing. Most of them are either non-coding-related or the kind of stuff that needs more runway to get done, but there was some satisfying low-hanging fruit, like adding support for full-screen image posts to this site.

After all, with Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo (and the probable demise or disbanding of Flickr looming closer), having to host my own photo gallery again seems quite likely, so to get the ball rolling I did the simplest thing that could possibly work and tweaked this site to render the occasional photograph in a more appealing fashion.

That’s already working and taking full advantage of all the image handling logic that was already in place, so the hardest bit turned out to be fleshing out a simple workflow to post directly from my iPad. Wall clock time for everything, including testing across most of my devices in various browsers: 1 hour.

Not much of a challenge, really, but enough distraction to forget the heat for a while. Next up, I’m rebuilding my web page screenshot engine to take full advantage of the new headless mode in Chrome 59, and Chromy looks like a promising way to do that, so I’m building a Docker container to package the whole thing as an easy-to-update solution – and figuring out how to pre-install extensions and other provisioning details in the process.

Let’s see what else I can do in the day and a half of vacation time I still have left.

A Story To Tell

The Paula Rego Museum, in Cascais

On a Road To Nowhere

The old train tracks in Caparica


Okay, that was impressive. I was surprised that there were this many hardware updates, and I’m very sad that the Mac mini didn’t get a refresh (at all), moderately impressed with the new iMac Pro and slightly miffed that my almost brand new laptop is now obsolete, but the new iPad Pro and the new features coming in iOS 11 pretty much stole the show.


Postponing Azure VM Auto-Shutdown From Your iPhone

I normally use Azure Devtest Labs for managing the remote environments I work in, but now and then I have to set up standalone VMs outside a lab, and the first thing I do in the case of a cost-intensive resource (like, say, a GPU-enabled machine where I’m training a neural network1) is set up an auto-shutdown timer (usually for around dinner time).


The MacBook Pro, My Mid-Life-Crisis Laptop

I’ve been using the late 2016 MacBook Pro (13” Touch Bar) for around five months now, so I think it’s about time I gave it a review of sorts. I like to think of it as my mid-life-crisis laptop: it’s hideously expensive for what it does, comes with flashy, useless trimmings, and is more than a statement than practical because I can’t actually use it as my primary machine – and yet it is nice and oddly fulfilling.