No. 2 with Green Olives

In the distant past I used to perform several minutes of dynamic stretching before using my body for basketball games or long runs. Today I found myself going through wrist warm ups to prepare myself for a business meeting where I'd need to shake hands.

While this is sad, I was happy with my wrist's performance today. I forgot my ergonomic mouse AND my rolled up beanie that I use for ligament padding, but I got through a day in the office using the default mouse setup that all the normal people were using without any pain! Maybe this was because my lower back and hamstring tendon origin were on fire! You can only suffer so much.

My lunch plans got cancelled and despite forgetting my ergonomic equipment I had remembered to bring my backup lunch - 2 Minute Noodles. But given the conditions I left those in my locker and treated myself to what is apparently an Adelaide institution and its best panini.

Well, it was no All’Antico Vinaio, but it's a lot closer to my house.


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If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?


Outlooks

Every work week I have to manage four different Outlooks to do my job. For this long weekend I got to enjoy four new and relaxing outlooks instead.




The long weekend concluded with whatever work-related application is synonymous with driving for kilometers down a blacked out hill dodging fallen branches and trees.

Living in the Present

I watched a video the other night about new co-pilot features coming in November for the Office suite. The demonstration included summarising the unread contents of an Outlook inbox to find pertinent information about a specific topic, scanning Teams meeting recordings to extract actions and key information, and turning raw data in Excel into reports with visualisations based on a prerogative.

As someone with access to multiple O365 enterprise licences, and working on many, many projects I saw a lot of potential being demonstrated and I figured I should aim to be on the bleeding edge when it came to AI augmentation of my workload.

Edge has a built in Bing AI query these days, which is available already, so I decided to hone my skills by asking it a question about the client credentials plugin for the HTTP Request component in Mule to see if it could solve a configuration problem I'd spent the past day trying to resolve.

Well, blow me down, it came back in thirty seconds with a solution that sounded exactly right, and it included some source code that quite simply added the missing custom JWT claim I was trying and failing to find a place for through the wizard.

I was not surprised when I added this code and received a compilation error. This is not the first time an AI LLM has blatantly lied to me when it comes to code. Earlier I was experimenting with possibly building a Svelte app and I didn't want to learn the Wikipedia API, but after Chat GPT kept inventing new query params I realised I would probably have to.

It was a sunny afternoon today so I decided to make a coffee smoothie after lunch. Normally I prepare this in the blender by starting it on power level 3 for 30 seconds, then increasing the level by 1 every 45 seconds or so. About four minutes later this typically results in two litres of thick, creamy and consistent smoothie. For some reason today I was compelled to press the pre-programmed "Smoothie" button and I watched in horror as the blender separated the ice from the liquid, and created a half glacier half ice-melt half-filled jug. Again, AI had let me down. I guess I'll have to keep using my brain and wrists for another few months yet.


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Syndrome

I've been wanting to journal lately. There is a lot happening in life, but nothing that fits neatly into a few paragraphs with some narrative structure plus a pun.

The last two times I have ordered a flat white at a café I've received a cappuccino. This kind of made sense on a sunny Sunday after our walk around St Clair and viewing of moorhen ducklings (henlings?) among the mosquitos. I phrased Vanessa's cappuccino order as size, then variety combo, whereas when I ordered the flat white I started with variety and ended with size. This could have caused confusion. Whatever. I'm not afraid of a little chocolate sprinkled on top of my frothed milk.

Today there was no Vanessa or second order. I handed over my keep cup like it was 2019 and I paid $4.50 for a flat white like it was 2019. There was no size specified because they just give you whatever amount of coffee fits in your keep cup. Again I received a cappuccino. Also I'm not sure, but I think they called my order out as "Brett" rather than "Brad". But what are the chances that someone with a similar name to me and the exact same recycled aluminium keep cup ordered a coffee at the same café as me? And no Bretts yelled out "Hey, that's my keep cup!" as I walked out, screwing the lid on to cover the thick layer of chocolate powder sprinkled across the top.

Am I subconsciously sabotaging my own coffee orders, and requesting chocolate on top without even any memory of it? Or does my deep voice in a noisy café saying "flat white" sound like - when half-drowned out by the milk frother - I'm saying "cappuccino"?

Well, powered by caffeine and cocoa, I picked up where I left off yesterday in trying to improve the performance of a flow that needs to generate a 700MB file with 96MB of java heap. And I did make a lot of progress. I had to pause mid afternoon for my follow up with the rheumatologist, who confirmed that I don't currently have rheumatoid arthritis. I worked this out during our initial consultation when he was poking around at my bones. My finger still swells up when it's cold, and despite no almonds since autumn I am now entering my seventeenth spring of chronic back pain. Neither of these things are caused by an autoimmune condition or lupus. That's good. He did say I have a remarkably straight thoracic spine. He said people would "kill for it". I hope not, it would be worse than back pain.

I googled it later today, and maybe it is not a good thing. There's something called flat back syndrome (not cappuccino back syndrome) that can cause lower back pain and/or heart conditions. Am I going to need to spend another $400 on specialists to get told there's nothing to worry about again? Maybe.

I returned to an office in glorious sunlight. I was walking fast so I could get back to benchmarking, and also because I forgot my headphones when I left. I realised when I was in the elevator down at 2:20pm and I didn't go back up because my appointment was at 2:40pm. I arrived at 2:39pm, and the doctor called my name (not Brett's) at 3pm. So I could have gone back to get the headphones. If I'd done this my ears would have been a lot warmer though by the time I got back.

I spent the rest of the afternoon testing and tweaking acknowledgement timeout settings, before a call at 5pm which delayed my bike ride home until 5:30pm. This made me a little uneasy, as the sun felt a lot darker than it actually was - especially in the canyons of Adelaide's central business district, and I didn't want to get hit by a car. I felt my usual sense of relief when I reached the Torrens path where I would be out of reach for most cars for the rest of the way home. Every time I had a view to the north I felt a nice, warm breeze. The sky, in the golden hour, was all sorts of vibrant shades of orange, pink and yellow. Fluffy clouds lined the horizon, which looked beautiful. But I was wearing my sunglasses the whole way because I don't want any more bugs in my eyes. However the polarised lenses muted the colours quite a bit and made the clouds look like the plain, frothed milk on the top of a flat white.

Context Switching

The biggest challenge associated with multiple clients isn't remembering all the business capabilities and enterprise architectures of each organisation. It's not different project domains or Oracle Integration vs Boomi. It's not even having to have four different O365 accounts and always having to sync up my calendars. The biggest challenge is the distinction in tap pressure in different bathroom sinks. Door handles that you turn versus door handles you push. Detergent that shoots out watery or in thick, soapy gel. Remembering the names of multiple stakeholders that are some variation of "Jason".

All of these offices have one thing in common at least. Every time I sit in their shitty chairs for a day my back ends up fucked.

Contributor

I've officially contributed back to the Cake PHP codebase as of this weekend. This is possibly a sign that it is time to move away from PHP after nearly 20 years... Why do I keep using PHP? It can't be laziness because I spend so many hours using it. I have taught myself React over the past few months and even invested in ways to make that work nicely on a PHP server with a PHP backend. Today I updated my database with imported data and when the react app automatically reloaded and it all looked so nice and smooth and the PHP API was responsive and powerful. I felt like I hadn't wasted the weekend after that. Even though I suspect that if my new site is even remotely successful I might have to rewrite all that PHP to something more performant. At least I have decoupled the front end.

This week I will be trying to set up some virtual network resources in Azure, so things should balance out.

Turning Points

On Sunday I finished reading Metronome by Lorànt Deutsch which was about the history of Paris over the past twenty-one centuries. It wasn't a heavy book in any sense of the word, but I did feel lightheaded at the conclusion of the final chapter. I could feel the spirit of like a billion people living and dying, ebbing and flowing through history on the same island in the same river adjacent to the same marshes, cathedrals, and Roman ruins. Life took on a surreal vibe where fortresses were now cobblestones and chapels were found five layers of a parking garage below ground.

The inebriation of history that washed over me was definitely not because I've been at Flinders University lately, ebbing and flowing all over the same campus I lived and died on two decades ago. The weird feelings that being back there triggers in me are solely narcissistic.

I do think that appreciating history gives you a viewpoint on your own existence that differs from the average person. I took my shirt off in the Flinders' car park yesterday afternoon so I could don a more lightweight outfit for the drive through peak hour traffic to home. I don't think my self consciousness would have let me do that in 2003, but as a student of history I now think to myself, "What would a Middle Ages Parisian being slaughtered by a Viking care about seeing my nipples in public in 2023 right now?" And if they conceivably wouldn't give a fuck then I don't either. I presume they'll forgive any implications I'm a heathen because they are too busy dealing with plague or famine or civil unrest.

I mean ironically I was a student of history in 2003 at that actual university, but that was in the humanities building and not the car park. Maybe it's not my perspective on life that has changed since then, it's my perspective of my nipples.

In Bocca al Lupo

I have been in a good mood these past two heatwave mornings in January 2023.

Yesterday I walked to the supermarket to buy pitas for pizzas, as well as cheap salad ingredients.

Right after the three gigantic cucumbers I'd selected were bagged at the checkout I felt a sneeze coming on. Even with the sneeze barrier and the checkout girl's facemask I did not feel comfortable sneezing in public in 2023. Every muscle in my face did its part to prevent my diaphragm from propelling. I don't know what expression this suppression left on my melon, but the guarded way she said "have a nice day" after I'd paid made me suspicious that my lips had curled in an mis-interpretable way.

This morning I walked to a different supermarket, a bit further away, to buy beans and corn. On my way I crossed path with a woman walking a pug. The tiny dog was adorned with plastic fairy wings. As I passed I was going to say, "good morning" and perhaps remark, "nice wings" - as I thought that no one would dress their dog like that without hoping for a compliment or comment. But perhaps there was something to my stride because as we drew nearer she stepped off the footpath and onto the road to avoid me. The pug didn't see this coming, nor consent, and the force on its lead sent the tiny creature skywards up and over the gutter - briefly airborne. And I understood then the intention for the wings.

I also may have fortunately prevented a potential cyber security incident this week, so overall a pretty good Friday.