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Master one skill at a time instead of learning many at once

Every skill has both a cost to maintain and a cost to learn. Take the case of learning a language: You need to spend some time every day rehearsing vocabulary and grammar you already learned so you don't forget (maintain), then you can also study new words and grammar points (learn).

The maintenance is a fixed cost - you need to spend this time just to not forget what you already know. As you get better, this cost goes down. Either because you can integrate the skill in your normal routine - read news in foreign languages - or because it has become …

xmodmap and Umlaute

If you speak German but prefer using an English keyboard layout for programming (dvorak in my case), then you will frequently face the issue of how to conveniently enter Umlaute.

Luckily, there's an easy solution with xmodmap, just add the below to your .Xmodamp config:

clear mod1
keycode 108 = Mode_switch
add mod1 = Alt_L

keysym a = a A adiaeresis Adiaeresis
keysym o = o O odiaeresis Odiaeresis
keysym u = u U udiaeresis Udiaeresis
keysym s = s S ssharp

Where 108 is the keycode returned by xev for your Alt key.

Remap Caps Lock to Tab

Don't want to waste prime keyboard real estate on a key you never use?

First, find out the keycode of your Caps Lock key: run xev, repeatedly press Caps Lock, note the keycode you see in the logs.

Next, create or append to the .Xmodmap file in your home directory:

clear Lock
keycode 66 = Tab

Where you replace 66 with whichever keycode you saw in the output of xev.

Finally, load the map: xmodmap .Xmodmap.

You can of course replace it with any other key as well, not just tab.

Ubuntu and Japanese Input

This is more a note to myself, but to easily type japanese on Ubuntu, install ibus-anthy (sudo apt-get install ibus-anthy), make sure ibus-daemon is running.

Then you can add Japanese in Anthy's 'Input Method' tab, make sure to select 'Japanese - Anthy'. If you use dvorak like me, also make sure 'Use system keyboard layout' in the Advanced tab is checked.

Cooking Recommendation: Serious Eats

If you like cooking (or eating), I recommend Serious Eatscache. They have many great recipes that are easy to follow as well as delicious - for most of the new dishes I've tried recently, I've followed recipes from Serious Eats.

Two of my favorite dishes for a lazy day are Gyudoncache, a simple rice bowl heaped with beef and onion simmered in a mix of soy sauce, sake and dashi:


And Salmon Teriyakicache, another rice bowl with seared salmon on top of a bed of cucumber and avocado:

Salmon Teriyaki

Both are easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Despite the …

Breaking the Rules to Improve Society

Recently, I was talking with some friends about the increasing power of technology, and how it is being applied to ever more accurately enforce laws. In just one example, facial recognition is now used in China to automatically identify and fine jaywalkerscache.

One common concern is that these technologies are easily abused for more sinister purposes - mass surveillance, identification of political dissidents, etc.

However, I think there's an even more direct danger: Too rigid enforcement of laws stops society from improving. Until 1967cache, homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment in the UK. If it had been possible to always …

fitbit v3

Good news! My attempts with wearing the fitbit in reverse, i.e. with the sensor at the underside of my arm, were successful:

Chart showing heart rate as measured by Polar H10 vs fitbit alta HR

This time the fitbit alta HR and the Polar H10 agreed much more closely, even during an hour of running! It also correctly detected the drop in heart rate in the middle of my run when I stopped for a bit.

So while not accurate enough for serious heart rate tracking during exercise (for that I still recommend a chest strap like the Polar H10), the fitbit is definitely good enough for 24/7 monitoring and more …

fitbit v2

As promised in the previous post, I made another attempt at getting more accurate readings from the fitbit. The good news is that wearing it tighter does seem to improve the sensor readings. The bad news is that I'm not sure if this tightness is comfortable in the long run, we'll see.

The following was recorded while grocery shopping, cooking and eating Salmon Teriyaki bowls and some reading:

Chart showing heart rate as measured by Polar H10 vs fitbit alta HR

The two peaks in heart rate correspond to me walking to and from the grocery shop. Curiously the fitbit once again exaggerated my actual pulse; this time though there was definitely no …

Heart Rate Trackers

Recently I acquired one of the new fitbit alta HR bands, mainly because it promised to track my heart rate 24/7 without the need to wear any chest strap.

I always expected this to be less accurate than a chest strap, but how much less? I also happen to have a Polar H10 chest strap (which I use when running), so I decided to record with both for an extended period today.

The results are below (click for the full image):

Chart showing heart rate as measured by Polar H10 vs fitbit alta HR

The fitbit is in blue, the Polar strap in green. There are a few gaps in the data …

Linux on the Alienware 13 R3 (2017)

I recently bought a new laptop because my trusty old Thinkpad (x230) finally got a bit too old for my taste (apart from the battery it still works perfectly though!).

After a lot of searching around and gnashing of teeth - how can current laptops be barely faster than my 4 year old Thinkpad?! And what do you mean, the laptop comes with at most 16 GB of RAM and I can't even upgrade it?!

Finally, I settled on the Alienware 13.

As a gaming laptop, it has a quad core i7 - 7th gen Kaby Lake - and a great GPU, the …

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