Weekend sounds on BBC Radio 3

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. Apart from the odd decidedly unnerving piece of programming, it has been a lovely way to start the day, particularly at the weekends when we get to hear the breakfast programmes presented by Elizabeth Alker (Saturday) and Martin Handley (Sunday). Both feature segments of what you might call ‘field recordings’. There’s Found Sounds on Saturday, then Sounds of the Earth (Slow Radio) on Sunday, and we have come to look forward to hearing both.

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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. Since the LEDs melt at temperatures quite close to those needed to melt lead-free solder this — to put it mildly — is quite a challenge. On one half of the keyboard, I got some of the underglow lights working, but none of the per-key lights. On the other half, none of the lights worked. I finished the keyboard and was pleased with the low-profile build, but the situation with the lights quietly nagged at me. Through a combination of curiosity and stubbornness, I felt compelled to have another go, and this third Corne keyboard is the result.

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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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Learning stenography with Plover

geekery

I mentioned in my previous post that one of the reasons I decided to build my Corne keyboard was to make it easier to learn stenography with Plover. Why would I want to learn stenography? Well, part of an honest answer would be that it seemed interesting, and I enjoy learning new things, but I was also motivated by the idea that I might be able (in time) to substantially increase my typing speed, while typing in a more ergonomic way.

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Building a Corne low profile keyboard

geekery

I managed to build my own keyboard!

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Ginger jeans number 4

sewing

Jeans are among my favourite kinds of garments to make. I’ve had particular success with Closet Core Pattern’s Ginger Jeans pattern, and made a low rise version, a high rise version, and even a pair from waterproof softshell for walking and cycling. Pair number 2 (the high rise pair) have been worn so much that the denim has worn through at the thighs, so it was time to make another pair. I’m getting better at keeping sewing notes with each of the patterns so that I can document how I’ve adjusted the pattern and what techniques I’ve used each time, so that I know what to do again and what to change next time. This time, I also had the blog post I wrote for reference, so I was confident that things would go fairly smoothly.

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Apparently I collect sewing machines now

sewing

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that I’ve collected a few sewing machines over the years. I have a modern Janome DKS100 and a Brother overlocker which I use for most of my sewing, and two vintage Singer machines (hand-cranked and treadle operated) that I use when I just need a beautiful straight stitch and I want to enjoy the serenity of non-motorised machines. Actually, I have another tiny Singer 99 which was the first I bought, but I don’t often use that one these days. When I learned more about the unique features of different brands, I really wanted to try a Pfaff machine. Sewing enthusiasts tend to have their favourite brands, but Pfaff (and Bernina) fans tend to be very loyal to their chosen machine maker. However, when I bought my Janome, the problem with that plan was that both were really expensive to buy new. I think I made the right choice with my Janome at the time. It is a very capable and well-made machine for the price, and I have thoroughly enjoyed making a wardrobe of clothes on it. However, I’ve kept an eye on eBay from time to time to see if any used Pfaff machines came up at reasonable prices, and about a week ago, I spotted one. Reader, I bought it.

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Exporting references from Zotero to Tiddlywiki

geekery

Regular readers will know how much I enjoy a good tinker with my system. I have been playing with Tiddlywiki recently, partly as a result of admiring Jack Baty’s rudimentarylathe.wiki instance of Tiddlywiki, and partly because of Soren Bjornstad’s Grok Tiddlywiki book, which I think I also found out about via Jack. I had tried out Tiddlywiki before but never quite got it. Soren’s book helped me to see how flexible it could be and how I might be able to use it in a similar fashion to the way I have been using org-roam. While I still enjoy org-roam, things feel (to me anyway) a bit up in the air with it at the moment, as there are big changes coming in version 2 which will probably involve a bit of backwards incompatibility. I couldn’t decide whether to wait to make the changes, or transition to the new version now, and that indecision made me reluctant to add to my collection of notes. In addition — for reasons too long and boring to go into here — I have also moved (reluctantly) from Bookends to Zotero. I like the flexibility that Zotero offers to those of us having to live in a dual Word/Pandoc citations world, but I really miss Bookends’ speed and UI.

Anyway, this change in the tools I depend on left me with a puzzle: how could I export references (with metadata) from Zotero to Tiddlywiki so that I could make notes (known as ‘tiddlers’) on each journal article of interest? There’s a vanishingly small possibility that anyone else might want to solve a similar problem in exactly the same way as me, but in case anyone is curious, this is how I made it work.

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Singing with nightingales

life nature

Back in the mists of time before Covid, Mr Bsag and I booked tickets for a Singing With Nightingales event (hosted by the folk singer Sam Lee) for April 2020. I had wanted to attend one of these events ever since I had heard about it, and the tickets were a 50th birthday present, partially funded by kind gifts from friends and family. I don’t need to tell you what happened next, because you were all there: lockdown happened, events were cancelled, and all of our lives contracted. I booked again for April 2021, determined not to be denied my fix of folk song and bird song, and once again, plans had to change. Luckily, this time the event was just postponed, rather than being cancelled, so last week, we set off for Sussex to attend the event. After all the waiting, all the pent-up need be somewhere other than our local area, it could have all been a huge anti-climax but (spoiler alert!) it was not. It was one of the most magical evenings of my life.

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