Spring Cleaning

I keep telling myself that “boring is good”, and yet things have been so far from boring that a moderately calm week like the past one is an outlier. I’m still mostly from work, but some geekery has taken place, albeit not particularly exciting stuff.

For instance, I spent a few hours upgrading portions of my personal infrastructure and remedying various changes in the upstream container images, which was a good reminder that containers aren’t magical (particularly when upstream maintainers decide to break existing authentication and security mechanisms).

Desktop Computing

That reminded me that I have to start planning for my next desktop setup, hopefully for year’s end. My current setup is still with two extra displays, which makes for the most outrageous “thin terminal” ever (I use it daily to work via the corporate WVD/VDI farm, alternating with my for video calls).

This provides me with huge screen real estate (5K + 2x4K, all driven from the iMac), and is impossible to reproduce with M1 Macs, so my current line of thought has been roughly this:

  • I hope Apple has a decent M2 iMac able to support more than one external display
  • If not, I’ll just move back to a Mini and get a 49” ultra-wide display, which will give me roughly 2/3 of my current real estate at the expense of Retina sharpness
  • Either way, I will likely either move back to my desk or swap it for a brand new Intel Gen 11 NUC to put alongside any new Mac, so that I can have a Windows machine (or a VM) directly hooked up to a webcam

Since I don’t game (and am still quite happy with ), both the Mac’s integrated GPU and Intel Xe integrated graphics should be plenty, and the only real question in my mind is how Apple will try to cater to the desktop market. and the mini are OK, but definitely not enough for my needs.

Music Gear

Speaking of needs, I’ve been trying to find a 61-key MIDI keyboard that would not completely swamp my desk (or dent ).

I (finally) updated my , which had been unable to talk via Bluetooth to my iPad since iOS 13 – this because the firmware updater only runs on Windows, and I still don’t use Windows outside work (other in a VM, that is). It is a 37-key “mini” keyboard, but quite comfortable and has the additional benefit of not taking up much depth or height (meaning that I can still tuck it under my iMac), and replacing that with a “big” keyboard might be too much.

But for some reason the desktop MIDI controllers I’m interested in don’t seem to support Bluetooth, which would make it a little simpler to use an iPad as DAW/sound module when I am away from my desk–and I am actually considering moving to the iPad exclusiverly for music making, so that’s becoming a pretty strong requirement.

The ideal piece of kit probably does not exist (and I might have to compromise and go for something with USB and less keys like the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49, which is nice if still a tad bulky), but at the very least searching for something suitable will keep me distracted from work.

Stop

After plodding through I decided to take this last Friday off, with the not-quite-amazing outcome of spending most of it sleeping and reading The Economist in an exquisitely sunny living room that I had a vague recollection of having in our house.

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Pause

Over the past few months, the 10h-a-day pace that became a constant during the pandemic started creeping up as I took up a new role1 and needed more and more time to get work done after a day’s worth of meetings. I ended up working the last couple of weekeends as well, so this one was almost exclusively devoted to downtime.

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The OP-1

A week or so before went online, I was banging my head on some metaphorical walls in much the same way Wily E. Coyote keeps going up against up road signs and needed something completely different to deal with, so I clicked over to Thomann and spent a small fortune on a Teenage Engineering OP-1, which I had had my eye on .

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420-ish days later

After on the COVID-19 topic, there hasn’t been much to add, but a short update seems to be worthwhile now that we’re taking some steps out of lockdown.

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No Breaks For The Wicked

I ended up having to work for a few hours this weekend, but in order to avoid saturation I also ended up doing a bit of spring cleaning–the kind of long, slow-paced chores I just don’t have the time to do during the weekday hustle.

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The Strange Case Of The Illegal Instruction

Here’s something I do often, which is to go off into the weeds and try to fix something that suddenly broke. Except this time it’s not cloud (it’s on-premises) and it’s not someone else’s (it’s mine, through and through, although most of the dependencies and stack are in widespread use).

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Daylight Annoyance Time

As pandemic limbo continues we’re on the verge of loosening lockdown here in Portugal next week. There are already too many discussions about Easter break, family visits and, of course, how long/effective vaccination will really be, so setting the clocks kind of snuck up on me.

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