Setting up a development environment with Nix and Home Manager

geekery nix

Remember when I played about with installing NixOS on an old MacBook Air? Recently, I decided that I would have a go at using Nix as a package manager on an ordinary macOS machine, in much the same way as using homebrew to install software, but more declarative and (hopefully) more reproducible. You may also recall that I tried this before with — shall we say — mixed results. Here’s how things went this time.

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Gravitas Pocket Pen

geekery pens

I find it hard to resist an interesting fountain pen. I can’t remember where I saw them reviewed, but my interest was piqued by Gravitas Pens, and specifically by their range of pocket pens. As I got some generous gifts of money for my birthday a few months ago, I decided to buy one, and — spoiler alert! — I love it.

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Larks to nightingales in one day

nature life

Today is International Dawn Chorus Day, so in my own typically awkward style, I will talk about a recent experience of an evening and night chorus. Over Easter Mr Bsag and I went on holiday for a few days to Lewes in Sussex, which is on the beautiful South Downs. It’s an area that’s reasonably familiar to me as I grew up not far away on the North Downs, but I always forget how open and spacious it feels. We spent every day walking on the Downs, and on the Saturday of Easter weekend, I heard the songs of skylarks and nightingales in one day. It was the most wonderful day I’ve had in a while.

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Rest

I don’t think I had realized until recently how much the past two years have taken out of me. It was my birthday this week, and since it was the first birthday I’ve had since 2019 not in strict lockdown, I took the opportunity to take the day off and go out for the day. It was wonderful.

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Back to BEAKL

keyboards geekery

Since I last wrote, I have been busy tinkering with the layout for my Ferris Sweep in spare moments.

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Ferris Sweep keyboard and layout

keyboards geekery

As Jane Austen might have written (had she been a geek with a keyboard obsession), it is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of keyboard they have built will soon want to build another. Having built three Corne keyboards (two from conventional PCB kits, and one handwired), I was keen to try a different style. I definitely wanted a split, ortholinear keyboard, and one that supported Kailh Choc key switches.

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Weekend sounds on BBC Radio 3

life

At some point during the pandemic, Mr. Bsag and I switched from waking to BBC Radio 4 on the radio alarm to Radio 3. If you’re not based in the UK (or not a radio listener), that’s a switch from news/current affairs programmes at breakfast to (mostly) classical music. We still listen to Radio 4 at other times of day, and to news and current affairs, but first thing in the morning it just got too… much.

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Hi Ho Hi Ho it's back to Doom I go

geekery emacs

It will surprise no-one (least of all me) that I am back in the arms of Doom Emacs again (not for the first time), after playing around for a while with a configuration built from scratch. It was a really fun experiment again, and I had a chance to play around with some of the packages that weren’t (at the time) included in Doom Emacs. Once again, I learned a bit more about configuring packages, and also thought about what features I really need. It is tempting with Doom to just enable all the things. That isn’t a bad approach exactly, but it does make it more difficult to figure out where there are conflicts and inevitably it can make things a bit slower.

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Building a hand-wired Corne keyboard

geekery keyboards

It seems that building keyboards is addictive. After my first attempt, I made another, this time a version with LED lighting. At least, that was the plan. While the soldering for the keyboard itself went smoothly, soldering the LEDs (SK6812MINI 3228 LEDs) was enormously frustrating. These LEDs have tiny contact pads on the back of the unit, so to solder them into the openings in the PCB so that they shine through the switches, you are supposed to create solder bridges from the back of the LED to the PCB.

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Emacs from scratch again

geekery emacs

I’ve been here before, but I find myself back here again. I think that many people who start off with one of the big frameworks (like Spacemacs or Doom Emacs) eventually circle around to thinking, “hey, why don’t I just build my own Emacs config that includes the best bits of Spacemacs/Doom?”. Usually, that is followed some time later (as happened in my case last time), by the realization that those frameworks are really well crafted, and getting anything like that degree of polish and sleekness yourself is very difficult without basically replicating the entirety of those projects. However, I’m playing with configuring from scratch again, just for kicks.

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