Mostly walking the dogs

Micro Desking

Micro Desking

Look at that iMac. So close yet so far.

Had to do some recent further downsizing to accommodate squeezing another person into the house. My desk (which was off to the left of this photo) had to go in the garage to make way for a fridge freezer so I’m now micro-desking on the end of the cabinet storing the dogs’ stuff. I’m (obviously) still in the utility room/corridor with the dogs, washing machine (yay for noise cancelling in meetings) and shower room, but now I’m sat on top of the cat litter instead of half a metre away from it. It doesn’t sound great, but it is actually a nice little neuk.

Before the move was complete I did have an intermediate week when I ended up with the family computer on my desk where I could easily use it whilst “at work” and this meant I did finally get to explore using CSS for the show/hide on my archive page instead of JavaScript. Nothing came of it (I don’t think CSS can do that yet), but it was nice to get to tinker again - like with exercise, it’s nice to know it’s not lack of motivation on my part that is the problem.

I decided to put away my old iPhone and plug my headphones into the iMac instead. Since it is always logged in as me anyway (for AirMessage) I can also leave Spotify running and just control it through my phone. For 6music I ssh (hit exactly this issue) from my phone and use tmux and ffplay. This is cool and fun, but not really any more useful than having my old iPhone plugged in, although does save a tiny bit of space - and space… is short.

For the weekly finance updates I close my work laptop so I can stick the iMac keyboard on top of it, the trackpad in front of it and then swivel the iMac round. It works well enough for occasional use.

LINK: Repeat

The least surprised person is me.

Started as a much longer post, but, you know what? I’ve said it all before.

Brief notes on reading exFAT on macOS

Had to scan some photos recently (on a much more modern machine than the ye-olde Canon LiDE 35 it replaced, but it turns out much more crappy, anyway…) and the easiest option was to plug a SD card into the scanner and scan away.

When I tried to open the images to crop them all I was bemused to find macOS couldn’t actually read the contents of the SD card. Hey, it’s only 2024.

I did not want to reformat the SD card and rescan so I searched around used MacFUSE with exfat (installed via Pkgsrc).

Then I could do:

mkdir -p ~/mnt/exfat
sudo mount.exfat-fuse /dev/disk2s1 mnt/exfat/

And copy the images off.

Switched to Android

I recently switched to Android. I got a Pixel 7a on contract for a steal - I couldn’t get any new iPhone anywhere near the price. I say switched, but I’m not a die-hard iPhone user. I was coming from an original iPhone SE (after switching back to that from a iPhone 8).

Things I miss from iOS:

  • No easy scroll to top by touching the status bar.
  • No unread count badge indicator on apps.
  • No shortcuts app. But I was mostly using this for running some scripts via ssh and changing my watch faces based on sunset and sunrise (more on that later). Maybe I could use Tasker for the ssh stuff?
  • There is no keyboard shortcut popup for adding “”, when entering URLs, just “.com”, etc.
  • Audio transcription doesn’t seem to be as accurate. Has not got my daughter’s name right yet when setting reminders.
  • Notification and vibration settings felt somewhat hidden on Android - took me ages to figure out why Tasks reminders weren’t vibrating. It wasn’t clear from the settings page that I could click/touch on an entry for further settings (I thought it was just a title for a toggle), but that could just be learning Android vs iOS.
  • Not found a good SFTP client yet. But also Panic discontinued Transmit so that was unlikely to remain working forever on iOS. I’m using Ghost Commander which works, is free (and open-source), but isn’t pretty. Definitely had some issues getting ssh keys working.

Things I like:

  • Whoop, I get to use K-9 mail which is great.
  • The Google migration from iPhone is really good.
  • Firefox is better on Android.
  • The Pixel hardware design (camera bump) is my favourite of all phones since the original iPhone SE. All other phones look shite in my professional opinion.
  • 1Password integration seems much better, especially with apps, which is bizarre for an app that started on macOS and iOS.
  • Airmessage is really good. I’m able to use our family desktop iMac for that and I have continued messaging family (all on iOS) via that; I thought I’d have to “meet half way” and use WhatsApp, but nope.
  • I read lots of bad things about the under screen Touch ID, but for me it’s brilliant and way more reliable than the iPhone 8 or iPhoneSE. I am not bothering with the Face ID, maybe I would if I had a Pixel 8.
  • Predictive text seems better (it automatically predicts Gaelic when I’m doing Scottish Gaelic in Duolingo, etc).

Things I am indifferent about:

  • Navigating the UI is mostly the same (despite coming from a ye-olde button iPhone, I’m aware of iOS’s gesture navigation because of A’s iPhone).
  • Most apps are the same. The only unique to iOS apps I used were Panic’s Prompt and Transmit (which as mentioned they discontinued).
  • Siri / Reminders. I now just use Google Assistant and Google Tasks for ad-hoc reminders. This is literally the only thing I ever used Siri for.
  • Connectbot is “good enough”. Had some issues creating ssh keys when I wanted to share those with Ghost Commander. Basically ended up creating a key elsewhere and copying to the phone.

I think basically, nowadays, everything is gravy. Android and iOS are both great. Pixel and iPhone are both great. You are basically being a dick if you hate one over the other.

Apple Watch

Having an Apple Watch did make me think twice about switching, but the main two things I’ve used it for are:

  1. Pagerduty alerts and being able to ack in the shower.
  2. WorkOutDoors (still superb).

Thankfully 1 is no longer a requirement: I have saner on-call rotations now. And for 2 I can carry on using it as I always have, which is mostly using it as a sports watch instead of a smart watch.

I still have my iPhone SE plugged in as a “desktop” phone (with headphones taking advantage of that headphone socket) so whilst at home (which is most of the time) my watch still works exactly as it did before, giving me double the iMessage/Airmessage notifications.

And actually, when out and about, connecting my watch to the Pixel’s hotspot works pretty well and means my watch mostly just works as it did before. The only issue is that sometimes it randomly disconnects and then the hotspot turns off.

My thoughts were that my watch is four years old now. It’s stuck on WatchOS 8 and so abandoned by Apple. The battery is still pretty good though and I can see it lasting another year, but I’d be surprised if it lasts much longer than that. And this Pixel I can use until 2028. So when my watch dies I plan on getting a cheap running watch (Garmin Forerunner 55, Coros Pace 2, Polar Pacer, etc), especially as I don’t do that much running anymore anyway. As long as I undercut the Apple Watch SE price I’m winning (for my needs); I still think the Apple Watch SE is superb value especially when coupled with WorkOutDoors (also superb value); The watch is Apple’s best product in my opinion. But I can do Pixel plus Garmin, etc cheaper.

And the Pixel 7a is really a superb bit of kit for the price.

Running Taskwarrior via launchd

As (somewhat*) recently mentioned I switched back to Taskwarrior. On my server I just re-enabled my cronjob to rollover incomplete tasks each day. On my work macOS machine I was doing this manually to start with until I found time to figure out launchd (it had been a few years). I ended up with this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">
	<false />

And not that I needed to for this case, but if you want to run at multiple times then you need to use array:


(I needed this kind of setup for something else, but might as well include it in these notes/post).

Anyway, the script I was calling was just:


/opt/pkg/bin/task $(/opt/pkg/bin/task rc:/Users/simon/.taskrc status:pending due.before:today ids) rc:/Users/simon/.taskrc rc.confirmation:no rc.bulk:100 modify due:today

I couldn’t figure out getting it working without a wrapper script.

Also, to get it to actually load and run properly I couldn’t use the (deprecated?) load/unload commands:

launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.taskwarrior.rollover.plist
launchctl unload ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.taskwarrior.rollover.plist

I had to do:

launchctl enable user/501/~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.taskwarrior.rollover.plist
launchctl bootstrap gui/501 ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.taskwarrior.rollover.plist

The 501 you can get from running id. Then you should see the launchagent listed via launchctl list.

To run it once:

launchctl kickstart gui/501/org.taskwarrior.rollover

To disable:

launchctl disable user/501/~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.taskwarrior.rollover.plist
launchctl bootout gui/501 ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.taskwarrior.rollover.plist

You need to disable and re-enable if you make changes to the plist file. I like how Apple streamlined that from two unload and load commands to needing four commands. Thanks to stumbling across this Reddit post for those.

Also, the StandardOutPath and StandardErrorPath didn’t actually help at all with debugging why it wasn’t running so those can be removed.

Give me the simplicity of NetBSD’s cron any day.

* - I wrote this up ages ago and forgot to post it

Rust Notes

I finally got around to writing a teeny Rust program. As ever for me, I needed a itch that I could scratch before I could write something. I’ve dabbled in Rust before, but mostly as build fixes for NetBSD. Unfortunately/stupidly I wrote this at work so I can’t share it in full here, but I can write up my notes much like I did my Golang ones.

  • As a rough guide for my brain I like to think of Rust as an imperative version of Haskell, specifically Haskell via Stack
  • …because when creating new things you should use cargo to get started. I.e. cargo new my-project instead of just creating a new file with a *.rs extension and trying to use rustc.
  • The error messages when trying to build/compile are very Haskelly - yes, they probably do tell you exactly what is wrong, but in general they aren’t any help (and you will just end up searching) unless you are an expert and then you probably aren’t making those mistakes anyway; rustc --explain is cool though.
  • Need to use the keyword mut if you want a mutable variable.
  • The amount of dependencies scare me a bit. I used reqwest. Just adding that one dependency to my project resulted in about 90 crates being compiled. Maybe there is something lighter-weight than reqwest? Perhaps ureq. Nothing built-in? Also, I had to explicitly enable a blocking/non-async client by setting reqwest = { version = "0.11", features = ["json", "blocking"] } in the [dependencies] section of my Cargo.toml because I didn’t need the complexity of async; Although it seems difficult to actually escape.
  • A lot of Rust examples are out of date. This can be true for any language, but I guess Rust has evolved rapidly. E.g. I started looking at this example reqwest code, but found out error_chain was no more.
  • Box<dyn Error> is super useful, specifically using fn main() -> Result<(), Box<dyn Error>> otherwise you can’t get out of complier errors as you can’t appease all the expected error types.
  • The ? operator and error propagation stuff makes me think of Haskell’s Data.Maybe.
  • Related: the use of unwrap() for quick/lazy getting at of values is like Haskell’s fromJust. In both cases you probably shouldn’t really use it, but it’s fine for quick/little programs.
  • serde_json works really similar to Haskell’s Aeson. I like this a lot.
  • Especially using the #[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Debug)] stuff:

      use serde::{Deserialize, Serialize};
      #[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Debug)]
      struct NotificationRuleList {
          total: i32,
          notification_rules: Vec<NotificationRule>,
      #[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Debug)]
      struct NotificationRule {
          id: String,
          #[serde(rename = "type")]
          rule_type: String, // Needed to rename this field as `type` is a reserved keyword
          start_delay_in_minutes: i32,
          urgency: String,
          contact_method: ContactMethod,
      #[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Debug)]
      struct ContactMethod {
          id: String,
          #[serde(rename = "type")]
          method_type: String, // Needed to rename this field as `type` is a reserved keyword
      let response = client
      .header(AUTHORIZATION, format!("Token token={pd_token}"))
      .header(ACCEPT, "application/json")
      let notification_rule_list: NotificationRuleList = serde_json::from_str(&response)?;
      # Maybe there is probably a way to use `.json()` instead of `.text()` and go straight to `serde_json`?
      for mut notification_rule in notification_rule_list.notification_rules {

    These examples are for parsing the PagerDuty notification rules response.

  • Using Debug is handy for printing out the structure: println!("deserialized = {:?}", notification_rule_list);.
  • I still don’t understand String vs &str. I just know you can’t pattern match on String so have to do match method_type.as_str().
  • The wiki page is a really good introduction and I should have read that first.
  • The book is also very good (already linked to bits of it here).
  • Cross compiling doesn’t seem to be as easy as Golang, although this could be because I was trying to go from macOS arm64 to NetBSD amd64:
    1. Need(?) rustup
    2. rustup target add x86_64-unknown-netbsd
    3. cargo build --target=x86_64-unknown-netbsd (rustc --print target-list is handy as wasn’t sure what it was called, had tried with amd64-unknown-netbsd)
    4. But then I hit errors with openssl
    5. So then I tried rustls-tls, but then hit:

       error occurred: Failed to find tool. Is `x86_64--netbsd-gcc` installed?`
    6. I gave up

That’s it for now, hope I manage to find reasons/excuses to do some more.

[EDIT: 2024-02-15] Added some further notes on cross-compilation.

LINK: Practice Guide for Computer

Would do well to remind myself of this.

Helix Editor

Some brief (and somewhat belated) notes about Helix.

At about just the time I managed an extension for Nova I started using Helix daily; You know how it goes, always with the shiny.

Coming from quite a few years of using Vim there are some things I struggle with or miss:

But some things I really like:

  • The idea of selection —> action over Vim’s action —> selection is great.
  • More consistent and logical keyboard commands if sometimes a little longer: Adding gs, gl and ge to Vim’s gg for instance.
  • The built-in space+f file-name search.
  • The built-in space+/ file contents search.
  • The overlay for shell commands.
  • The default purple theme
  • Sane defaults, a simple configuration file, and most of what you need is built-in

I’m going to keep playing with Helix. Financially it’s going to make more sense than paying for Nova every year; Although really I owe a few years of Vim sponsorship; And I supposed I should sponsor Helix if I do start using it all the time; One day.

Related: If I had a computer I would be doing more to get Pkgsrc’s package updated.

Making do, mending, getting by (redux)

Of sorts, although things aren’t that bad.

I somewhat recently dropped my (now old) new old phone and cracked the screen. It was still usable, but I’d been toying with getting the battery replaced via a third party since it was at 45% battery health, but with the screen broken I’d have to replace that first and at that price might I might as well get a second hand SE 2020 instead. If I had that much money. Which I don’t. So I switched back to my original iPhone SE (85% battery health). I was amazed at how much better and brighter the screen is. I can use Apple Pay without it freezing the screen. It’s so light and small I don’t even notice it in my pocket. The A9 processor is still fast enough. This was the peak of phone technology.

In hindsight I would have not bothered with the iPhone 8, I got that because I anticipated the iPhone SE going out of support, but it actually took a year longer than I thought it would until the latest iOS wouldn’t run on the SE, plus Apple pretty much do support the previous iOS for another year anyway (iOS 15 just got an update so really it’s only going to be right about now as iOS 17 is released that it is unsupported). I’ve decided it can last a little bit longer still and then maybe I’ll have to get something on contract - I’m paying £10 a month anyway for data/minutes/sms, if I got a contract at around £20 a month then that seems really quite reasonable.

My plan for one pair of running shoes a year is not going to work out. I’m not even at six months and I’ve had to re-glue the sole on one shoe and stitch a tear in the upper in the other (to be fair, the tear is exactly where I’ve removed the internal reinforcement cage, because it gave me a blister). I had not factored in all the dog walking, and what’s more the shoes getting constantly soaked from dewy grass which I’m sure has weakened the uppers. I hope they can keep going a bit longer (more glue, more sewing) and then I think I’m going to try some cheapish Decathlon trail shoes (£40 for the Evadict Easytrail to £60 for the Evadict TR2) which can do the combo of road, trail and dog walking; I slipped over at the weekend on a muddy trail run in my “road” shoes so it’s time for something with more grip.

And this was going to be a separate post, but actually there isn’t that much to say so it makes sense to be part three here. I’ve sadly given up using Teuxdeux (again) and have switched back to Taskwarrior. It’s going to save me a bit of cash and I wasn’t thrilled with the direction the preview was going in: Function over fashion, whereas I really appreciated the fashion of Teuxdeux, if I want pure functionality… well, there’s Taskwarrior. Since I last used Taskwarrior the bugs that impacted my reports have gone so I don’t need any wrapper scripts, etc and I can have simple reports like so:

#Custom report - Teuxdeux
report.teuxdeux.description=TeuxDeux style
report.teuxdeux.filter=(status:completed or status:pending) and due.after:sow-1min and due.before:eow and -BLOCKED

#Custom report - Teuxdeux
report.roll.description=TeuxDeux rolling
report.roll.filter=(status:completed or status:pending) and due.after:-2days and due.before:5days and -BLOCKED

I am trying to use it mostly like Teuxdeux, but with:

  • annotations for links, etc instead of markdown in Teuxdeux
  • sometimes using tags instead of short prefixes like I would in Teuxdeux

I.e. just keeping it as simple as possible. I also resurrected my crontab entry for rolling over incomplete todos.

I never finished off updating Haskerdeux for the new Teuxdeux API, but using Taskwarrior means I could easily update my Apple Watch shortcuts so I can once again see and complete todos from my watch. I thought about setting up a sync server, but I might as well just have my home todos on my server and my work todos on my work laptop and separate things that way. Simple.

[EDIT: 2023-10-30] Turns out the daylight saving bug is still there in Taskwarrior. Almost nine years since I provided a patch. For now I’m not going to update my patch and rebuild from source because I’m using on my work macOS machine and my NetBSD server so it’s easier just to use the binary. I’ll just modify tasks after daylight savings occur using task $(task +TEMPLATE uuids) modify due:'due + 1 hours', etc; At least I just use recurrence.limit=1 now; I did think about just setting my recurring tasks to midday, but this other old bug screws up my report grouping.

[EDIT: 2024-04-01] Can also do task $(task +INSTANCE ids) modify due:'due - 1 hours', etc to modify the child tasks. I would reapply my patch, but 1) Lazy / no time and 2) Just that really.

LINK: Rip Bram Moolenaar

A few days late mentioning and linking to this, but what a legacy to leave.

When I first started using Vim it took me so long to learn h,j,k,l over the cursor keys that I thought I would never get it, but now it’s ingrained: I use Vim mode in Nova, Vi mode on the command line, etc. And It’s jarring when I can’t*. And I know that’s technically more Vi than Vim, but I would have never have learnt Vi if it were not for Vim.

Anyway, I emailed Bram once and he replied far more quickly than I ever manage to and was amazingly gracious in just a few lines. I did feel suitably awed and humbled.

* - Related, I’ve been playing about with Helix which I actually really like, but it’s so hard unlearning x for d, etc.

These are the ten most recent posts, for older posts see the Archive.