in Projects, Thoughts

Since I left Etsy

Here’s what I’ve been up to since I left Etsy on August 2nd. This post is a work-in-progress that I’m updating along the way.

I’m taking some time to relax and reset and enjoy myself!

Drinking a lot of Pu’er Tea

Pu’er tea is a fermented Chinese tea.

I still drink coffee too. I got into tea slightly before leaving Etsy.

The backstory is:

  • Whoppers Malted Milk Balls taste amazing
  • “What else tastes like malt?” turned into lots of Googling
  • I started by drinking a lot of Yunnan Gold tea, which tastes very malty
  • I got a sample of pu’er tea in one of my orders

Dirt. The pu’er sample tasted like dirt, so I ignored it and went back to my yummy Yunnan Gold.

I went to try the sample again because pu’er seemed so popular online. Still dirt.

Angrily tried the dirt-tea a third time. It tasted like dirt, but there was a mild hint of plum.

So now I own a lot of pu’er tea. That is how you get hooked to pu’er tea!

Thinkpads: Linux on the laptop

For the last few years, I was using my work Macbook Pro laptop at home.

When I decided to leave Etsy, I bought my first Thinkpad. I got it on eBay for under $200.

It’s a model T420, which is from 2011. I installed Fedora 30 on it.

Running Linux on the desktop is SO DIFFERENT from running Linux servers! It has been a fascinating learning experience.

The last time I did something like this was in high school — I tried to install Slackware and failed. I eventually got Ubuntu running, and then went back to using Windows for anything important.

Anyway, I bought another Thinkpad. It’s another T420. It was $100 and I met someone off a Reddit sales post in the middle of Manhattan.

I wanted a second one so I could try to install coreboot on it. You have to take the machine apart to do this. I’m excited.

So now I own a lot of Thinkpads.

Switching to Void Linux

I switched Linux distributions on my Thinkpads! Instead of using Fedora 30, I’m now using Void Linux.

Now that I have time to soak in new things, I wanted to force myself to try something new.

I found Void by filling out a survey of questions from a site called Distrochooser. You say what you like and don’t like, and it suggests a distribution for you.

For me, it suggested Void Linux. The features I like the most are that it uses musl instead of glibc, and that it uses LibreSSL over OpenSSL.

Mom’s birthday

I am able to spend a longer time with family right now, which is really great.

Being a part of Jason’s wedding

My friend Jason had his wedding, and I was a groomsmen in it! It was a really wonderful time.

Playing many video games

When I left, I told friends that I planned to spend at least the first month playing games. This was partly a joke to emphasize how I wanted to focus on relaxing.

But I have played games! I’ve played lots of Overwatch, Minecraft, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and plenty of other games. I’ve tried out some of the free PS4 games like Darksiders 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight too.

Spending time with my partner

This is a great time of life to be able to enjoy NYC with my partner and explore the city together!

Actually making a dotfiles repo

I’ve finally made a dotfiles repo! This is so small, but also so huge??

I used to just tarball my files up and send them around to new machines. This actually worked well enough for a while.

After time passed, I was going out of sync though. It’s annoying to merge everything.

I didn’t feel the pull to make a repository when I was using a Mac, but now it feels smarter to do. My configs matter more when they control how I use the laptop.

Right now I am using rcm to manage them and it seems fine.

It’s not open-source right now because 1) github made private repos free and 2) I’m only 95% sure that I’ve not added anything sensitive to the repo

Having this repository and a second laptop makes it nice to test changes. It also makes me want to solve the problem of bootstrapping the laptop!

Open-sourcing my tech notes repo

At Etsy, I kept a git repo of markdown files with various notes in them.

Back then, I just used the automatically suggested name from Github for the repository.

So that repo was named “super-waddle”. The new one is called verbose-spoon.

Opening this actually took a lot of effort! I had to scrub any Etsy-specific notes I had.

(Come back to this point, because it’s not actually open yet)

Replacing the thermal paste on my Thinkpad CPU

(Come back to this with graphs)

When I got my Thinkpad, I treated it like a weird Linux server.


Running “dmesg” showed a wall of messages about throttling the CPU due to high temperature. I had never seen a message like this before.

After researching, I found that this is a common occurrence on older Thinkpads. The thermal paste is old and needs replacing to help the CPU effectively shed heat.

I followed this imgur gallery and was able to successfully re-paste my CPU. Temperatures dropped down so low that I can’t get a copy of the original logline from dmesg!

I did record temperatures for a before-and-after graph, but haven’t visualized it yet. TODO

Replacing the hard drive in the new Thinkpad

The new Thinkpad came with a spinning-disk, which is partly why it was cheap.

I didn’t intend to replace it at first, since I just wanted a donor device to put Coreboot on.

The problem is that used SSDs are cheap! $35 got me a 120GB drive and the installation is actually very simple. I thought it’d be harder or more involved and it wasn’t!

Switching to a tiling window manager

I used to space out the second I heard the phrase “tiling window manager”.

It sounds boring. I don’t even really know what it means. Boring. Uninteresting.

It’s actually great though, and I don’t know how I would have gotten past-me to care. So I have low expectations for other folks that were in my spot.

Anyway, on Mac, I used to use software called Phoenix. Combined with a config file that I stole from Daniel Schauenberg, it let me move windows around with the keyboard.

I could make a window take the left-half of the screen, or the right-bottom corner. That is all I want, mostly.

That is basically a tiling window manager.

I started with i3, which is a famous one. Then…

Switching to Wayland and Sway

The world of the Linux desktop has so many bits and pieces…

Okay, so Linux has to draw stuff on your screen. Wayland is the new kid on the block. It’s a protocol that’s replacing the current-used-thing, X Window System.

The actual work to switch to using Wayland can be simple. Especially if you ignore the 500 things I had to read to be able to summarize this bullet item on the list!

You need something that implements the Wayland protocol, which makes sense. This is called the “compositor” and you’ll just need to accept this before being able to read more documentation.

Then you need to be able to run all your applications that already exist. They can either all be adjusted to talk in the Wayland protocol, or they can run over a piece of bridge software called XWayland.

So the simple transition is to install your new compositor and run everything under XWayland.

The harder one is to find Wayland-native versions of the software you use.

The Wayland compositor I’m using is called sway. It speaks Wayland, so clients can coordinate (either with the help of XWayland or directly) with sway to draw pixels. This is a loaded sentence.

Sway is also a tiling window manager that acts as a clone of i3.

So for me, I can install sway, and run things just like before, but now it’s under Wayland.

Is it better? I don’t know. My only prior use of X was to occasionally run “xeyes” remotely from my Linode.

Trying to make Dropbox work in Musl Void Linux

talk about gcompat

Making VLC cast by editing xbps files

need to push this upstream

Attending Gitlab Commit with lbot

highlight talks, afterparty

Overwatch Finals

This weekend!!

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