Screenshot of GNOME 3 desktop.

After all these years, I can still find no better development environment than GNOME 3, Emacs and Rhythmbox.

A 100% functional desktop environment, that’s way more flexible than macOS or Windows, more secure, more resource-efficient, faster, cleaner, less obtrusive, quicker to navigate, more economic keyboard shortcuts to navigate, and (IMHO) better on the eye too.

Which all matters when you spend whole days looking at code.

Taking off on a wave

I used to typically find New Year celebrations a mixed blessing.

Sometimes they can remind you of all the good, great, sad and bad events of the concluding year, in a way that makes you grateful to be alive and with loved ones.  Other times, the gratitude can give way to pensiveness, reflection and perhaps also regret.

Having One’s Cake

This new year (2015 into ’16) was a little different, though.  Following a very busy but also very rewarding year, the period over Christmas gave me opportunity for reflection and redirection.

2015 was a “solid” year.  And by that, I basically mean unrelenting.  It was a year without a single week off for annual leave, which proved extremely tiring as the autumn months came around.  At the same time, after a gruelling late summer with web projects “galore”, things started a gentle easing towards the end of the year.

It wasn’t to last, but amidst the business of work projects was also a number of social engagements which provided plenty of entertainment and some light relief!  All of which was enjoyed on social media, of course (want to connect? Find me on whatever you use).

Blending cake mix
Always room for a little freshly-made cake, right?

Three Directions

Naturally, life eventually returns to matters of work, which I love.  This year, my focus is on quality and quantity.  Well, if you can have both, why not!

Quality First

My belief is always that there is no substitute for quality [1].  I apply this principle to all the work my company, Warp Universal, is commissioned for by clients, and to all hosting services too.  I’m currently working on some ideas to further guarantee the highest quality project management and delivery to clients, whatever the challenges!

Support Always

Providing quality support is paramount in my eyes.  I have always been proud to offer good support to our customers, but this hasn’t been without its challenges (being forced to quickly reconsider data storage, in the wake of Schrems vs Facebook, being the most recent).

Building Up Organically

Managing a micro business is no mean feat, as anyone who has done so will testify.  At one time, I considered growth to be the largest (and perhaps only) signifier of a successful business.  But this is false, and I’m glad I realise that now.  Many struggling businesses are those that have grown too quickly, without enough consideration, or without the ability to back-off sales satisfactorily.  It’s my intention to grow the business, organically, sustainably and vertically.

2016 is looking to be a very promising year for Warp Universal 🙂

Pushing Forward

Alongside work, 2016 is looking to be a great year for my surfing.  Not because the weather patterns look particularly convivial to it, nor that my free time is that much greater than it was before.  It’s simply that I want to surf more in 2016, and I’m in a position to make it happen.

Along with that, it’s definitely a year to align my media production with media consumption.  A great love of mine is music, and work commitments have often meant I’ve lost touch with newer acts on the scene.  I look forward to reconnecting via a music subscription service.

Take Off!

The year ahead is an interesting prospect.  365 days remaining from today (leap year, remember!) to achieve so many goals.  And not forget that life is short, so a little fun should be had also.

 

[1] A phrase once used by my Grandmother.

Also on:

A simple one, this. Firstly, get to where rhythmbox stores its data:

# cd ~/.local/share/rhythmbox

Then, do this:

# grep podcast-feed rhythmdb.xml -A 5 | grep location | sed -e 's/<location>//' | sed -e 's/<\/location>//'

You should end up with a list of URLs which your podcast feeds are served from.

So, from time to time (read: most of the time) when I’m working I listen to music.  More often than not, it’s electronic in one form or another.

The point of this post is simply to list a few stations I like listening to, to build up my collection.  If it grows over time, I’ll probably divide into genres or something.

Here’s a few to get started with.

Radio Schizoid : http://78.46.73.237:8000/schizoid

PsyRadio.fm : http://streamer.psyradio.org:8010/

Chromanova : http://85.25.86.69:8000/

Digitally Imported Goa-Psy Trance :

After Hours – Trance : http://fr3.ah.fm:9000

PsyMusic UK : http://www.psymusic.co.uk:8010/

Bassdrive :

I recently ‘dented’ (tweeted on identi.ca) a question to a group of software developers: what music do they listen to that is conducive to coding?I received a variety of answers, with just as wide-ranging tastes as you could expect, really. Clearly, I hadn’t conducted a very economic experiment. Perhaps I was asking the wrong question.

The question I should have asked is this: which music do you listen to that evokes a calm, creative and logical state of mind? In other words, I needed to key-word the question to (a) elicit greater impact on the reader and (b) give the question more scope, more context.

The premise of the question is the science behind brainwaves. Apparently, alpha waves in the brain (those which occur at between 8-13Hz [cycles per second]) are the most conducive to creative AND logical thinking. It is commonly associated with a meditative state of mind, deeply relaxed, daydreaming, fantasizing and creatively visualising various scenarios.

This dispels some notion that left brain/right brain dominance exists. I can’t remember which is which, but it is said that the right hemisphere is more creative and the left, more logical/analytical. Or vice versa.

But this alpha wave state could, in fact, also support such dominance, if it allowed for the idea of submission of the dominant region during periods of relaxation. In other words, we will have one personality profile when active, busy, even stressed, and another profile when relaxed, calm, clear.

It follows, then, the people seeking to produce creative works – whether it be software code, writing, visual art or music, should always seek the best environment to create alpha brain waves. Music is just one component; meditation, light scents, lighting, physical comfort and staying hydrated also contribute, as does the avoidance of caffiene and alcohol.

But for me, most of all, it’s music.  And quite often, that’s trance. 😉

Short one today – I was looking for a way of converting all my ripped CDs to an alternative format for portable audio use.

Here’s a useful link for doing scripted, recursive audio format conversion.

Now you can rip all those CDs to FLAC format (which is lossless, unlike lossy mp3CBR or VBR) and then convert the lot to mp3 for the iPod, car, etc.

Oh, and a copy of Fedora or Ubuntu would probably be handy too 😉

Of course, you could pay for a commercial alternative or even – heaven forbid – “upgrade” your iTunes for DRM-de-restricted AAC files (which are still lossy-format files anyway).

So, why bother, when a CD costs the same and has better sound quality?

Forget digital downloads, until they respect your freedom.  Buy CDs!!

Or, if you are 100% sure your data will always be safe and/or don’t have a hi-fi CD player (in addition to CD/DVD-ROM drive) to justify getting physical media, investigate these forward-looking alternatives:

 Enjoy!