Shifting priorities

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I suppose part of the problem is feeling like every post needs to be lengthy and insightful, however I usually don’t have the bandwidth for that (this’ll be a running theme today). It’s also hard to fight the feeling that I’m merely putting more noise out into a very noisy world. But my blog should primarily be for myself. If I frame it that way, a post like this can spill out organically.

A lot has changed for me since I last posted, but let’s start with what’s not changed.

I still work remotely at Unsplash, writing functional TypeScript with some Nix, Haskell, PureScript, and Rust thrown in. I’m still happy here. That’s nice to say two years in.

I still love pure functional programming, though I increasingly don’t have the energy to explore its niches outside of work. At work I had a ton of fun working on intlc, written in Haskell, which uses recursion schemes for stuff like traversing and annotating ASTs. I’ve come to realise that as much as I can make objective arguments for it, my love of this style of programming is first and foremost for my subjective enjoyment. It’s a continuation of my childhood love of mathematics.

I still use a split ergonomic keyboard, a custom keymap based upon Colemak, and sit in a Herman Miller chair, all of which now given plenty of time I’d heartily recommend. Any wrist and back pain I was previously developing are now gone. To be replaced as it turns out by other joint pain owing to hypermobility, but at least my desk and my work are no longer contributing factors.

So what’s changed?

In 2022 I switched from Arch to NixOS. Nix is awesome, and by extension so is NixOS. Its development shells are so helpful that I’d recommend adopting these with flakes in all projects even if they’re still considered experimental. Having said that, I’m now in the process of switching back to macOS for development (I still use NixOS on my homelab and have no desire to change it). It’s a bit of a meme at this point, but Bluetooth on Linux was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And now I can enjoy the perks of being in Apple’s walled garden whilst both their hardware and software are really rather good.

Gratefully Nix works well on macOS, and my Home Manager config could be ported with almost no changes. Window management is a mess on macOS, best exhibited by Stage Manager which doesn’t seem to support gestures, which have always been Apple’s bread and butter. I’ve settled on a nearly stock setup but with tmux for shells, which is what I care about organising the most.

Seeing how much code I could delete by switching to macOS was liberating. This motivated me to make a slightly impulsive move from Neovim to Helix, which has gone extremely well. Helix is about 90% the same as my previous Neovim setup out of the box, but perhaps a bit less buggy since everything is a first-class citizen here. Perhaps I lucked out that the authors evidently have a similar view on the scope of a text editor as myself: no file browser in sight! The only thing I’m eagerly missing is jumping, but that’s got an open PR with plenty of activity, so fingers crossed.

Away from technical matters I deleted my Reddit account this year. That’s a site I’d spent more than a decade on; six digits of karma without fishing for it as many do. Their behaviour with Apollo and co was too much to accept, and a milestone for their ongoing enshittification. I’ve since switched to RSS and am finding that, shock, I actually read the articles now. It was a bit dysphoric for a few days but the grass is greener out here, really. Reeder is a great client for Apple devices if anyone wants to dip their toes in.

I lost my beloved childhood cat last year. After a long period of grieving and rest - he’d been unwell for a while - my partner and I recently adopted a dog, now also much beloved. Pets are really wonderful things. Said dog is demanding in terms of walks, which is really healthy for our physical and mental wellbeing, but has come at the expense of free time for things like gaming or ricing. I imagine parents of pets and humans alike can relate to this.

Not long after my last post here I started therapy, which has been in the best way possible very draining. I think most of us would benefit from therapy, but I really needed it for reasons that are a bit too personal to write here. This unexpectedly led to the discovery that I’m autistic, which explains a great deal of strengths, weaknesses, and “quirks” I have, such as being a glass cannon for productivity, or my very strong preference - need, really - for remote working. (Look at me hiding this disclosure at the bottom of the post.)

In general I seem to be on a journey away from my computer in a lot of ways after having grown up very much living on and in it. More and more I see it merely as a development terminal, and spend my free time doing other things - human things which can occupy more than just my critical mind. As an aside this happens to jive very well with how Apple is beginning to market its products, which is as much about them getting out of the way as anything else. Meanwhile.

Until next time, hopefully not two years from now.