Here’s a website that I came across a while ago that beautifully expresses something that I’ve been passionate about for a long time in web and software design: flags are not languages.Continue reading Flags are not languages
A couple of years ago, I came across an essay by Shubhro Saha, a software engineer at Facebook in California, entitled “Software engineers should write“.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.
“An engineer who writes code should also write essays.
“Software engineers should write because it promotes many of the same skills required in programming. A core skill in both disciplines is an ability to think clearly. The best software engineers are great writers because their prose is as logical and elegant as their code.
“[…] Even if nobody reads your essay, writing it will make an impact on you. It will clarify your opinion on a topic and strengthen– or even weaken– your beliefs. The process alone of putting jumbled thoughts into concrete words is valuable.”
It’s a very good essay with a very compelling argument.
At high school I ‘failed’ my English higher the first time round; I actually got a D pass but the school felt that I could do better. They were right: I sat it again in sixth year and got a C.
It wasn’t until I went to university and studied Hebrew that I really began to understand language better. After that I went back to English and read numerous books about syntax, and grammar and punctuation. And I read widely.
I read well-written books and articles and journals. As I read them I stopped to consider why they had been written that way. I questioned why certain words has been used: what effect did they have. I analysed sentence structure. And I observed how simple the best writing was.
And I wrote. I wrote a journal—I still do. And a blog (this one). And a book, which was published in 2007. I’m currently, and slowly, writing another.
Writing helps me to clarify my thoughts. It helps me to express myself better. And if any of it helps someone else, or makes them laugh, or look at something from a different perspective then that’s a bonus.
I suspect that it does also help me write better code. And at the very least: better comments.
If you are a coder then I encourage you to read the article. If you are a writer and are wondering whether you ought to learn to code then perhaps start here: please don’t learn to code by Jeff Atwood.
A couple of days ago, when I switched on my PC and opened My Computer I was presented with a bright red drive tile icon, indicating that it was running short of free disk space.
I was puzzled as I had only recently run CCleaner to collect unused files, old browser caches, un-required file settings and bin them all. I was sure that I had over 13 GB of free space.
Once installed, all you do is right-click a folder (or drive), select TreeSize Free from the context menu and after running for a moment the application will tell you how large that folder and all its sub-folders are.
This is what it looks like.
What I learned the other day was that four items were taking up the most space:
- Podcasts (14.8 GB)
- Amazon Music (5.3 GB)
- XAMPP Apache server (2.9 GB)
- Adobe CS4 applications (2.7 GB)
I deleted the podcasts and music—I keep the music I listen to on another drive, this is simply where I download them after purchase.
Then I uninstalled Adobe and XAMPP, and reinstalled them on a larger drive.
Now I have a much more healthy 36.0 GB of free drive space.
If you are in a similar situation, I thoroughly recommend TreeSize Free. As they say: if you don’t measure it, you can’t control it.
I wake up most mornings to Planet Rock radio on my beloved Pure Evoke-1XT Marshall DAB radio. But that’s in my bedroom, I don’t currently have a DAB radio in my study and Screamer Radio no longer works for Planet Rock.
Which got me thinking: could I somehow convince my digital music player of choice, MusicBee, to stream Planet Rock? It seems to handle pretty much everything else I throw at it.
The answer is yes; this is how in three easy steps.
1. Find the Stream URL
The first thing to find out was obviously the URL to stream Planet Rock. Thankfully that is displayed very prominently on their listening online page. This is what they currently are (although I guess, they may be subject to change):
Both work, depending on the player you use, e.g. iTunes, Windows Media Player, MusicBee, etc; I use the first one.
2. Play the stream in MusicBee
Next, we need to tell MusicBee to use that stream.
That’s as simple as opening the menu and selecting:
- File > Open Stream.
- Then paste in the URL and click OK.
This may take a few seconds while MusicBee connects to the streaming audio feed and then BINGO! you’ll suddenly be listening to Planet Rock on your PC.
Don’t go setting your watch, though, to the streamed version. It can have a few seconds delay between broadcast and it emerging from your PC’s speakers. (My PC stream is currently 1 minute 25 seconds behind my DAB radio broadcast.) This is due to the software buffering enough data to ensure continuous playback, so that if some data goes missing and has to be re-requested from the server or if there is a local data bottleneck the audio doesn’t suddenly drop out.
What’s nice is if you use the first URL (the one ending /planetrock.m3u) then MusicBee will also display the name of the track currently playing:
3. Save the stream as a playlist
The final thing we need to do is tell MusicBee to remember this station. It would be a bit of a hassle to have to find, copy and paste that URL every time you want to listen to the radio.
Again, that’s simple.
- Right-click the name of the track
- From the context-menu select: Send To… > Playlist > <New Playlist>.
- A new playlist will be created in the Playlists panel, with the edit caret waiting for you to give it a name.
- Enter a meaningful name, mine says Planet Rock DAB.
- Then press Enter to save it.
That’s all there is to it.
While I usually listen to MusicBee using the compact player view, when listening to streamed radio I prefer the mini player view which also pulls in the current track’s artwork.
Me and Google Chrome had another falling out this week. This time it wasn’t about bookmarks but speed.
For some reason, over the last couple of days Google Chrome suddenly felt very sluggish. Whenever I opened a new tab it would take a few seconds to open and a few more to load the page—notably longer than usual.
And a similar experience after closing a tab: the cursor would change to the ‘progress’ cursor (arrow with egg-timer) for a few seconds.
Having put up with it for a couple of days I couldn’t stand it any longer.
Things I tried that didn’t fix it
- Running system file checker (sfc /scannow) from an elevated command prompt.
- Disable all extensions (chrome://extensions/).
- Disable all plugins (chrome://plugins).
- Disable hardware acceleration in settings.
- Uninstall Chrome, reinstall dev channel version.
- Uninstall other recently-installed applications.
- Run Malwarebytes scan (0 threats found).
One forum suggested installing the latest NVIDIA graphics card drivers. Another pondered whether it was related to the recent Windows update. Plenty of people advised switching off hardware acceleration (I’d tried that, it didn’t help).
What I tried that did
The Chrome software removal tool — still currently in beta — is a clever application that scans and removes any software that may cause problems with Google Chrome.
I ran it. I waited, and hoped, and it worked! I have my whizzy Chrome back. I guess that something was corrupted.
As well as scanning for typical malware that can corrupt your installation of Google Chrome it also kindly offers to perform a ‘factory reset’ and return your browser settings to defaults.
In a way I find it curious that Google are only now offering this as a currently beta standalone application when Microsoft Internet Explorer (for all its criticism) has had this built-in for years.
I ran the software removal tool which quickly returned this dialog:
Nothing suspicious found. I clicked Continue and was invited to reset my browser.
That’s what fixed it.
This is definitely another useful tool in my diagnostics toolkit. Thanks Google.
It’s a relief to have had this fixed. That said, I’ve said it before that if there were the same Trello plugins available I would move to Opera tomorrow.