Five months have past since my last post about personal projects.
Books & Podcasts
Explanation: This is probably what I’ve done the most in the past month: reading and listening to podcasts.
- L’étranger - Albert Camus
This was a quick 2 days read. An insightful critic of nihilism.
- Philosophie minute - Marcus Weeks
This is my daily quick memo read.
- Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness - Philippe Rochat
I was already halfway through this one in my previous post. It’s a epic read about the researches that go into the development of the self and how there are many different types and levels of being into the world.
- Immunity to change: How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization - Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey
In continuation with my series on behavioral change, this book was a nice addition. It discusses practical techniques to reach change as adults, a topic that is rarely discussed.
- The Black swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I didn’t know what to expect when starting this book. I don’t regret going through it, there are so many new ways of interpreting events and probabilities I haven’t thought about before.
- A short history of nearly everything Bill Bryson
This one I’m a quarter into. I’m not great in physics and this is an absolutely tasty start into the subject. At the same time I’m sparingly watching the well known “Cosmos” series to complement.
- What Every Programmer Should Know About Memory - Ulrich Drepper
Apart from the countless technical articles and papers I’ve read for the weekly newsletter, I’d like to mention a single one that I would recommend more than anything. It was the hardest research paper to go through.
Moreover, I finally got my university alumni access card and so I have access to the research papers there.
Since the last post I’ve added quite a bunch of new podcast in my feed.
Some series related to history.
- A History of the world in a 100 objects [All]
- The Rhine [All]
I’m done with those two and started with the next two though I didn’t really like them.
- The ancient history [Started]
- The history of china [Started]
Others are about philosophy.
And the rest about new opinions and ideas.
- Modern Love [All]
- The Intercept [Started]
- All in the mind [Most]
- CMV podcast [Most]
- The psychology podcast [Most]
Learning from scratch
Explanation: I’ve worked on two small projects to get acquainted with some technologies and concepts I could only hear about and not have any practical use for.
One is about file system and the other about CPU caching algorithms. For the first one I’ve implemented a small part of a FAT12 file system, you can find it here. As for the second one I’ve done a mini cpu cache simulation using a simple algorithm, you can find it here.
Overall those projects gave me some good insights.
Making the web better
Language: internet tech
Explanation: I’ve revived an old project about stopping ads.
I’ve also updated this blog to make it more friendly and faster.
- I removed all analytics. I already know who the readers of my blogs are and so it has done its job.
- I ditched disqus and instead started using isso
- I stopped using google fonts and removed unused glyphs to make them smaller.
- I arrange the vertical alignment of some posts. Made the text justified and more.
- I rechecked the color contrast on the blog to make it friendly.
- I made sure the page was accessible at 200% zoom level.
Explanation: In the release pack of impure 67 and 68 I’ve published two new series of ascii. In 67 I’ve released the insect series and in 68 the dragon series. For the dragon one I wanted to focus on folklore.
You can always find them all in my ascii art section.
Explanation: This is my current focus. After the podcast about the font stack on unix and the one about X11 and others I kept wondering if I couldn’t fill the gap of documentation and fonts for xcb and generally X graphic programming.
And so I started with the aim of bringing Xft-like capabilities to XCB. You can find it on Github: https://github.com/venam/fonts-for-xcb. I’m making some really good progress linking both fontconfig, freetype2, Xrender, and xcb together. Although I’m finding more and more intricate difficulties like choosing if I want to add a shaping engine or not and if I want to include a font as fallback to come along the library.
So far so good, I’m able to display the font I still have to link the pieces together. I’m planning after that on posting more articles and projects related to this topic to fill the gap, though I’m also lacking knowledge. This will be an excellent learning experience.
Scavenger Hunt, Podcast & Newsletter
Explanation: I’m still pushing stuffs for the community of nixers! We had one new scavenger hunt for the new year which was quite fun. It included intriguing technical things that mixed both the world of hacking and Unix. From filtering inside big process lists, to learning about weird C features, to setting up client side certificates, querying DNS, analyzing font files, digging inside object files, mounting broken file systems, and much more.
You can also find the solutions of all the previous scavenger hunts in this thread: https://nixers.net/showthread.php?tid=2184.
As far as the podcast goes I only released one new episode entitled Tools, glue, scripts, and automation on Unix. In it I wanted to go over some of the oldest Unix tools and what was the ideas and stories behind them.
The newsletter now has 198 subscribers reading it every week and 73 issues published as of this post. You can find the archives here. It is turning into a resourceful page full of amazing links.
So now what?
I’m posting this on the 6th May 2018, election day in Lebanon. With a bit of hope for the future I think the country will move forward. I’m taking next week off to refresh on everything and spend time working on projects I care about, think more, write more, and simply just relax.
I’m in the process of adding illustrations to a lot of my technical posts so that they become approachable. I also want to write an explanation of what I’ve been doing related to the font project, sum it up in an article so that it’s, again, approachable. I have been thinking and hunted by the idea of leaving information for others, of passing on the flame. Kudos if you’re doing that yourself in your field of expertise - you don’t have to be an expert even to share what you’ve learned.
This is it!
As usual… If you want something done, no one’s gonna do it for you,
use your own hands.
And let’s go for a beer together sometime, or just chill.
If you want to have a more in depth discussion I'm always available by email or irc.
We can discuss and argue about what you like and dislike, about new ideas to consider, opinions, etc..
If you don't feel like "having a discussion" or are intimidated by emails then you can simply say something small in the comment sections below and/or share it with your friends.