High Standards

The notion that “you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution” is an impossible standard that impedes actual social progress, which always happens incrementally. A much better way to make a difference is to contribute as little as possible to the problem while contributing as much as you can to the solution.

It’s important to hold yourself and others to a high standard, but when people try to do good and you punish them for not doing enough, it makes it hard for them to try again.

Max Temkin (via Pwnmeal Extreme Gaming Oatmeal, via waxy.org)


You know how A Bug’s Life and Galaxy Quest share the same plot? (Naive representative of downtrodden civilization mistakes a troupe of down-at-luck actors/performers for the heroic characters they play, and hires them to fight off the oppressors. The troupe finds courage and strength within to succeed against hopeless odds.)

Well, it recently struck me that the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost film The World’s End and Robert Charles Wilson’s novel Burning Paradise both tell the same story, just with differently-coloured goo. In Burning Paradise the simulacra bleed green; in The World’s End they explode in chunks of blue goo. But it’s the same mostly peaceful oppression-for-the-greater-good secret alien invasion scenario.

Mixed media, 20-27 April 2014

Watching Agents of Shield (we’re up to episode 9, “Repairs”), reading Jonathan Kellerman’s Over The Edge (good), playing Tomb Raider (very good), and listening to the mesmerizing St. Vincent by St. Vincent (going to have to see if I can time my trips to Scotland to catch their gig in Glasgow on 26th August).

I had a part-time week off this week to match the kids’ Meivakantie. Fiona was off on Monday, and had a half day on Friday, with the morning being taken up by the Koningsspelen; Alex had the whole week off. Abi’s mom is visiting. I showed Alex how to make grilled cheese sandwiches. (The mix of cheeses is key.)

I spent a couple of days fighting procrastination to get our taxes straightened out, and eventually won. Haircuts for Alex and me on Thursday. I don’t like taking the time to get haircuts, but I much prefer the way I look with short hair. This leads to me being semi-permanently dissatisfied with my appearance. (Come to think of it, that’s the way I feel about shaving, too. I exist in a mostly disheveled state. Fortunately I do enjoy taking showers.)

Since we got the exterior woodwork of the house painted, we’ve been conscious of how scruffy the garden looks. So we’ve been doing some trimming and weeding, and on Friday we placed edging stones around the triangular plant bed in the back garden, to stop the dirt from overflowing onto the paving. It looks much tidier now, and should stay that way for a while.

Yesterday was Koningsdag. It was a fine day, and Abi, Fiona, Susan, and I wandered to the village centre at lunchtime. There were no activities in Oostzaan, so we sat around and had an ice cream. When we got home, we jumped on our bikes and cycled to the street market and vrijmarkt in Poelenburg, just at the edge of Zaandam.

I also spent some time upgrading our Mac Mini. I replaced the old Core Duo CPU (32 bit) with a Core 2 Duo (64 bit), and installed Lion. Plex is much happier serving 1080p video now. Apparently it’s possible to upgrade the 2006 Mini’s firmware so that it can take 4GB of RAM instead of the normal 2GB limit, which is intriguing, although I’m not sure what good the extra memory would do. (We use it just as a media and file server.)

Also: Abi with kitty in her lap.

Abi with kitty
Abi with kitty
Abi with kitty
Abi with kitty

Update: I forgot that on Wednesday morning we also went out and got Alex a new (second hand) bike. (This is why I write these things: if I don’t put effort into remembering what I’ve been doing, my memory is like a sieve.) We made a tour of bike shops in the area North of the IJ, and found just the right bike in the last shop on our list, Dral in Landsmeer. Solid frame, disc brakes, built-in dynamo for front light, front suspension, eight gears, and a full chain guard. Alex had his last bike for about…three years? He was getting far too big for it, and it was time for a full-size model.

Koningsdag food

Preparation for King’s Day are in full swing. Pavements are sliced up with tape or chalk to reserve space for people to put out their stands. Fiona just came back from her school’s King’s Day sports day, with orange tube scarves for each of us. All the food has turned orange.

Orange custard slices, orange donuts, orange peanut M&Ms.
Orange custard slices, orange donuts, orange peanut M&Ms.

Linode wow

Last week, Linode announced hourly billing for their servers; this week they announced that they’re putting SSDs in all their servers, doubling RAM for all plans, upgrading network capacity, and slapping in hot new CPUs as well. This is just…wow.

For the one essential service I run (not this blog), I use a Linode server for production (because of performance), and have backup and test servers on AWS (because of hourly billing). Because I have the server setup all scripted with Chef, getting a new machine up and running is easy, but having two different control panels is slightly annoying. With hourly billing on Linode, I’ll just move the backup and test server over there. And moving from spinning disks to SSDs is going to make some of the DB queries a lot faster. Very nice.


Although this has been in the works for some time, I haven’t mentioned it until now, because the ink is still fresh on the contract. I am now working as a software engineer at FanDuel, the market leader in one-day fantasy sports. I had been working with them last year on a contract basis, but as of a couple of weeks ago I’m on board as permanent staff. This is why I’ve been in Edinburgh so much recently. We have no plans to move house. FanDuel is based in New York, but the engineering staff are (mostly) all in Edinburgh. With that kind of distribution, the company operates mostly in the cloud anyway. I’ll continue to work from my office in Oostzaan most of the time, with a few days in Edinburgh every fortnight.

Oh yeah, and we’re hiring.