Pomodoro timers in i3 statusbar

The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is an awesome productivity technique, one of the few that work for me, consistently, more than five years now. If you have not heard of it, the basic idea is the following:

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task.
  4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1. 1Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

Now playing: Iggy Pop – The Passenger

This works, for me usually 15 / 5 minutes, depending on the complexity of the task. For things that are very hard to do or for times when I don’t feel well at all, switching helps immensely. Usually it’s 5 minutes of a task that requires a lot of willpower, 5 minutes of something easier, 5+ minutes of pause. For tasks requiring more uninterrupted contentration, tasks that are easier for me, and when I feel well and productive, I go for 25 minutes / 5 minutes of pause.

This system is also nice because it implements the age-old rule of “rest before you are tired”. (I found that when I feel tired, it’s probably too late to rest, and my productivity is already impaired. I can force myself through it, but it would mean that I’d pay for it the next day.)  So the best metric I found for the exact ratio is the amount of willpower it takes to do something.

To implement this, I always used https://onlinetimer.ru/, and it’s absolutely perfect. You can even drag and drop individual timers and create bookmarks out of them:

i3 / i3status

But since I use it really a lot, I decided to make another keyboard shortcut for a timer, and visualize it in my i3 statusbar, to have a nice overview.

i3 is a(n awesome) tiling windows manager for Linux. Its statusbar is controlled in .i3/config:

This is the config for my smaller screen, which hides the statusbar except Mod4 (=Win) is pressed. It executes status_command, which in turn generates a statusbar with i3status using a certain config file, and then pipes the output through .i3/wrapper.py

My .i3status-small is not too creative. Maybe the only nontrivial thing is a run_watch which tells me if a VPN is running:

It checks if the file /etc/openvpn/mv.pid exists, if it does – the VPN in running. The vpn is run via the following aliased command:

alias o='sudo openvpn --writepid /etc/openvpn/mv.pid --config'

The result looks like this (click to enlarge)

i3status wrapper for custom commands

Now playing: Les Miserables 10th anniversary version – The Confrontation

First, I researched possible timers. Found utimer, It’s perfect.

Its output looks like this:

I added the following lines in .i3/config. The first line executes utimer, countdown 15 minutes, pipes the output to a textfile and plays a sound at the end of its execution. Third line kills the player.

I needed to prepend the timers to the statusbar, so I cound see how much time is left. For this, I used this excellent wrapper script. It’s built based on i3statusbar’s input protocol, documented here.

I added the following lines, heavily commented:

It’s quite a dirty solution, but it works. When there’s text, it gets outputted on screen after being split. If the timer program finishes, it outputs a \n instead of a ^M, and nothing is shown. They are colored so I know which timer is which.

I also added  a  third timer, which I can run from CLI and which both makes a sound and a popup, with optional text. Heavily based on this forum post. Its file also gets read by wrapper.py.

The statusbar with all three timers active looks like this:

Sometimes they break, probably because of the hack-y way I use to read the files outputted by the timer. Restarting i3 (which does not close any programs and is not a problem) helps, I have a shortcut for that.

The sounds I use are http://soundbible.com/2205-Bells-Tibetan-Large.html and http://soundbible.com/2170-Clock-Chimes-4x.html.




Footnotes   [ + ]

My experiences with Jupyter Notebooks, Pyplot and Sympy

As part of a course at my university, I needed to learn to do semi-basic mathematics in Wolfram Mathematica. I knew that it’s highly unlikely that I would ever use the (closed-souce, paid) program ever in the future if I’ll need to do scentific computation and/or visualization, simply because of my disliking such (closed-souce, paid) programs, and asked if I can do what was required using some different tools. For example, to see if I can use Sympy and Jupyter Notebook to do the same. Both professors agreed to this (which I really appreciated!), and I started. In this post I’ll describe my experience with Jupyter, Sympy and Matplotlib/Pyplot. If you want to follow along, the exact Notebook I use in this post is on Github, in German.

Continue reading “My experiences with Jupyter Notebooks, Pyplot and Sympy”

An early retrospective of 2017

The typical end-of-year thingy will also happen, as it has the last five years! But this spring I stumbled upon this, and I think it has potential! Changing “travel outside the US” and “how many states did you visit” to my cases, also not changing 2013 to 2017 everywhere, but othertwise leaving it as it is.

Now playing: Егор Летов – Про дурачка

1)Was 2017 a good year for you?
Yes, but not exceptionally so

2) What was your favourite moment of the year?
The summer trip to the Carpathians, Shypit waterfall and the Synevyr lake. (Ahaha, sounds so weird in English!)


Most of my camping trips and most of the travelling was absolutely awesome.1

On a professional level, FedCSIS 2017. It made me feel with my entire skin that science is awesome and that I am mostly able to do it, if I apply myself. That it’s one of the few areas where I will be able to capitalize on my strengths and compensate my weaknesses.

3) What was your least favourite moment of the year?
Everything leading to my diploma, my diploma itself, and the horrible results I got. It put me out of balance for more than a month.

4) Where were you when 2017 began? Who were you with?
Lviv, a very nice and small apartment, with M. It was snowing, and it was absolutely wonderful.

5) Where were you when 2017 ended? Who were you with?
Ukrainka, getting and unpacking presents after eating awesomely. It was incredibly nice.

6) Did you keep your new years resolution of 2017?
Mostly not, because I can’t remember any that I did. This year won’t make this error.

From a prev. blog post: “Закінчити КПІ, активно вчитись і вирішити, що мені потрібно в житті (в тому числі в плані магістратури). Отримувати нормальні оцінки, щоб спростити вибір магістратури. Знайти стимулюючу роботу.” Mostly okay, except the “finding work part”. Not disappointed, but could definitely be better.

7) Do you have a new years resolution for 2018?
Unitasking and minimalism.

8) Did you make any new friends in 2017?
Yes, but many more “discoveries” regarding people I technically knew that turned out to be awesome, once I talked to them more.

9) Did you travel outside of the Ukraine and Germany in 2017?
Yes! Quite more than usual. Italy, the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands in February, and hitchhiked through Poland if that counts.

10) How many different oblasts did you travel to in 2017?
Одеська, Закарпатська, Львівська, Черкаська (Умань?), Житомирська, Полтавська (Диканька!)

Thuringen (Ilmenau!), Sachsen (Dresden! … and Leipzig, ofc).

I know I’m forgetting a lot, in the future I will keep better track of my trips. Pictures are nice but hard to navigate through.

11) Did you lose anybody close to you in 2013?
No one died, but I lost one person I care about.

12) What was your favorite book you read in 2013?
The defining decade” (a book I needed ot read earlier, and which influenced a lot of how I see life) and “Napoli ’44” (extremely interesting on many many levels). Honorable mention “The Gifted Adult“.

13) What was your favourite movie that you saw in 2013?
This year I actually watched more movies than before! Best one is definitely “Casablanca”.

14) What was your favourite TV show that you saw in 2013?
A couple of weeks ago binged through ~12 episodes of Rick and Morty at someone’s house and enjoyed it much more than I would have expected, and actually finished watching it at home, all the 3 seasons. Since it’s the only show I watched, let it be it.

15) What was your favorite music that you heard in 2017?
This year I discovered and thoroughly enjoyed Отава Ё.

16) Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2013?
About as much as the previous years. Nothing I would consider unhealthy.

17) Did you do a lot of drugs in 2013?

18) How many people did you date in 2013?

19) Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
Definitely, mostly related to abandoning and ignoring people, disappearing when there were things I needed to do, etc. I can’t do otherwise. But I want to write all of them before the end of 2017 and say sorry.

20) What was the biggest lie you told in 2017?
Nothing I can immediately recall. I might have changed some parts of some stories I told to make the people unrecognizable and to make it harder to connect the dots, but I don’t consider it immoral or wrong. (Even though some people would).

Oh, okay, there’s one though. Won’t write it here for now.

21) What was the worst lie someone told you in 2017?
Nothing I can recall.

22) Did you treat somebody badly in 2017?
Yes, again because of my disappearances. Some people were hurt.

23) Did somebody treat you badly in 2017?
Also no. I seem to have a talent to hang out with the right people.

24) How much money did you spend in 2017?
More than needed on certain occasions. Will keep much more track of it in 2018. It’s one of the areas I’m least happy about this year. The week in Prague was much more expensive than needed.

25) What was your most embarrassing moment of 2017?
TODO. Anything related to avoiding people and the floors they are on for months and accumulating guilt about it and then meeting them would fit here. Not many of such moments though, I’m good at avoiding people.

26) If you could go back in time and change one thing in 2017, what would it be?
Spend more time on my diploma and get a different advisor for it.

27) What are your plans for 2018?

Mental health:

  1. Sleep well.
    1. In bed by 2230, no phone after 2300, eyes closed by 0000 max.
    2. At least 8h of sleep.
    3. Wake up and stand up by 8.
  2. Eat well
    1. Avoid sugar.
    2. Everything else balanced.
  3. Sport.
    1. Gym or BWT when that’s not available.
    2. Jogging.
  4. Buddhism+Mindfullness+Meditation. And go deep with it.
  5. Concentration and unitasking.


  1. Genetical Algos and Comp. Linguistics — know them at a level where I can honestly say “I know them” and understand papers about them.
  2. And learn Python+R+Java much better than I do now
    1. And have something to show for it!
  3. Comp.linguistics, linguistics, symbols, writing systems, data visualization, cogsci, HMI, design and their intersections.
  4. At least five small finished passive income projects in the first six months. Move fast and break things.
  5. At least two published papers.
  6. At least 5 “serious” art pieces, any kind.

Life in general:

  1. Disappear and avoid people less often.
  2. Minimalism and uncluttering in as many areas of my life as I can manage
  3. As much unitasking as possible.
    1. When you rest, REST and do nothing else.
  4. More time with my (extended) family.

Draw and develop my creativity more.

28) What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Went to a scientific conference! Published a paper!
Hitchhiked through a country that is not Ukraine!

Made a keyboard layout!
Created my own shorthand system and I keep developing it!
Made a website that is mildly entertaining to someone else but me!
Worked at a bar as an Engel at 34C3! And worked in a cloakroom there.

29)Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope. My former best friend got married to a friend of mine, though, which is nice 🙂

30)What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
Time with my family. Depends just on me though.

31)What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
19-20 March, when I got into a small-ish car crash and reevaluated by life values just a bit. Ditched Escitalopram after a couple of days.


32)What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Wrote and published a nice small not-revolutionary paper, but still, fwck yeah! Felt absolutely awesome

33)What was your biggest failure?
My B.Eng diploma.

34)What was the best thing you bought?
This camping mat. Exceptionally multiuse and nice. Made my life and travels better.

35)Whose behaviour merited celebration?

36)Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
A(.) friend of mine.

37)Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Same
ii. thinner or fatter? 2kg fatter. And this is a good thing!
iii. richer or poorer? Same

38)What do you wish you’d done more of?
Concentrated reading. Concentrated learning.

39)What do you wish you’d done less of?
Spent time in bed with my phone.

40) How did you spend Christmas?
NA, but probably in Leipzig with R

41) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 21. I didn’t want to do anything for anyone and keep it to myself, as is my right 🙂 and I went for four days to Amsterdam. It was really nice.

42) What was your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I stated getting heavily in polo shirts and the colours gravitated to blue, dark blue, and black almost completely. Also got a really nice blue coat <3

43) What kept you sane?
“Stay calm and stay with people”.

44) Which celebrity figure impressed you the most?
none at all

45) What news story do you remember most from 2017?
None at all

46) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
Rest before you are tired. Balance your energy strategically. Do the things that are right to do before you feel tired and unbalanced.

47)Quote a song lyric or poem.

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That’s fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.

They say there’s no future for us. They’re right.
Which is fine with us.

— Jalaluddin Rumi

Кто-то стучится в тюрьму, не зная к кому,
А преступник ушёл во тьму,
Кто-то, плача, зовёт из темноты,
Но не меня и не ты.
Это холодная ночь пустоты,
Это холодная ночь пустоты —
Мокнут кусты, капает с крыш, падают звёзды,
Ты, если не спишь, позови меня из огня,
Если не поздно…


“I met a bird with strange eyes”: My adventures with Image Streaming

Now playing: Santiano — Bis ans Ende der Welt

This is a “stream” I got a couple of months ago as I was doing Image Streaming before sleeping. It was much more interesting than usual and I copied the recording to another place on the phone to find it later, but I seem to have lost it. All this from memory, so none of the many details that accompany an ISR sessions, just the gist.

The question at the beginning was “Will I ever be able to live a life I am happy about?”

The vision

I was lying on my back in a really nice meadow. You know, the type of places one can have in memories of childhood, something almost Blake-like, but a bit darker and with higher contrast.

Image source.

The meadow

It would have been a really nice meadow, but the sky was black, without a moon or without stars. The ground was emanating light from the inside (from bottom?), there was a really nice glow on everything.

I was lying on my back, trying to enjoy it all, but I just couldn’t. “I am in a meadow and people usually lie on their back and rest and feel happy, I should feel happy, I am supposed to enjoy this, why am I not enjoying this.” I couldn’t understand what was wrong. Then I tried to stand up but couldn’t, I was glued to the meadow. I kept trying to stand up, but the meadow held me tight. The gravity was very strong.

Then I felt knives “growing” from the ground. They were the size of pens, made out of an aluminium-like1TIL that both spellings are okay, aluminum and aluminium metal, and they went through my body, and I felt them disturbingly realistically. With them passing through arteries and blocking the flow of blood, which I felt flow in my stomach and through my tissues. I felt them in my mouth, through my eyes, it was absolutely horrible. (I assume in real life shock would have set in and I wouldn’t have to feel it all).

I still could not move, the knives were going through my body and bones, cracking them, it was horrible.

The Bird

Then I saw a bird, looking like an ostrich, about a third bigger in height than me. It was flying in my direction, and landed about 2m to my left, in my field of vision. It was gray, with long legs that looked like wood, and it looked pretty haggard. Not in a “I’ve flown though a thunderstorm on the way here” haggard, but more “I lived for two hundred years and this is how I am, and I’m old and wise enough not to care much about what you think about my looks, I don’t think about them at all, in fact”. Basically, the difference between dust that accumulated over the summer in an unused part of a country-house and dust that accumulated for millenia in an underground cave.

As cliche as it sounds, I felt it was older than time itself. I would write that it had something of the old wise owl in it, but it was also deeply inhuman. Not necessarily evil, but just impossible to understand. Not above human morals, not lacking human morals, but slightly to the left of human morals. Something cold, distant, rational, immensely old, immensely wise, and utterly incapable to be interested in anything. 2If it was clear that the bird was male or female, I would still have used it. On a scale from 0=male to 100=female it was purple, as the quote about writers’ life goes.

It wasn’t transcendentally old, scary and incomprehensible like the Lovecraftian Old Ones, a bit less transcendentally old, scary and incomprehensible than they. It wasn’t an emanation of some god, it actually lived in that body, and the body was completely material.

The most striking were its eyes. They were completely black and blank. Not “existing but black”, not “existing but too dark to see”, not “absent”, but it’s almost like they were an interrupt of the spacetime continuum. I’m not sure if it was looking at me or not. I’m not sure if it could see me. I’m not sure if it could see in a typical meaning of the term.

Now playing: Oh my dear Ukraine

Suddenly I felt it invited me to ride it, the knives immediately retreated to the ground, my wounds instantly healed, and I found I could stand up. I climbed on its back and we flew. The feathers felt dirty and plastic, and its neck felt like wood. It carried me under the glowing ground. Everything around me looked kind of like a glitch in a videogame, when you fall under the textures.

Source. Falling under the ground looks like this.

We were flying lower and lower. It didn’t use the wings, it somehow slid through matter, and it was a very strange feeling. Imagine you are a point in a Cartesian coordinate system, and your coordinates are natural numbers, and then you start riding a function that belongs to the set of real numbers, you had no idea this was possible.

The Sphere

Lower and lower, and it was getting darker and darker, because there was no matter around us to reflect light, but a really strong light source shone below us. It was a white-blue energy sphere, and it had inside all the energy, all the matter in the world. It was the opposite of the empty eyes of the bird. The eyes had no matter and no place for matter, no place for emptiness, because emptiness still needs a place to exist, and the sphere had somehow more matter than matter itself. The closer we got, the more I felt it on my skin and inside my skin.

0082b8850cf88e67b136a1152392ba40I felt/saw/understood that all geometry and matter in the world is connected to frames, wires, whatever you want to call them, they are the ones that hold them in place, like a net holding everything together, a net of meta-matter. And that sphere was the center of the coordinate system, where all the (radial) wires started. The sphere was holding them all together and was the source of energy the frames used to hold the matter. And the closer we got, the stronger was this energy field, almost meta-energy field, and the denser was the framework.

Framework_of_Flatiron_BuildingThe bird also seemed to be also affected, it felt this energy as much as I did. I was happy that at least something connects us. Though the Bird is so strange and incomprehensible, we have some things in common.

We flew really close to the sphere, the sphere full of raw energy, of life, of vitality, of connectedness-between-matter, reality. The density of the matter itself was the same, it’s just that the matter itself (and my body, and the bird) were much more matter-like, more real than reality itself. (God, I sound like Haruki Murakami this entire post, but no other way to describe this.)

The Bird wanted me (=”it felt right, natural and logical to”) to touch the sphere. I closed my eyes and touched it.

A current went through my body, and I saw the grid, I saw the relativity of space-time (only after touching it I understood that the sphere was controlling time the same way as it did matter), I touched Absolute Reality. I didn’t feel any other external reality, I didn’t feel that our reality was somehow “less important”, I didn’t see God or gods, I didn’t see any Lovecraftian timeless monsters, I knew that it was the deepest level that’s possible in this reality, and that this reality was probably the only one existing.

Even in regards to “this reality”, I didn’t “see everything”, everything that was or will be, didn’t feel enlightened, didn’t feel the suffering of all the creatures in the universe, or whatever cliches might apply. I maybe expected to feel OH WOW OH GOD NOW I UNDERSTAND. Even though I felt that I was touching something deep and fundamental, I felt underwhelmed.

Now playing: Оргия праведников – Сицилийский виноград, … though Bach would be the most fitting music when writing about touching Absolute Reality.

Oh, wait, I’m the one telling the story.3Stolen from the Simpsons, “this would have been the perfect moment for it to start raining”, can’t find the episode.

Now playing: J. S. Bach – Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 – T. Koopman

Then we flew back.

Back to the meadow

I didn’t get any deep knowledge, didn’t get the ability to manipulate matter, or keep feeling the wires holding it together. 4 It wasn’t a level of abstraction that was possible in daily life. An old metaphor I used a couple of ago when discussing logic: you are a car made out of this constructon set. You exist and move only where the set allows you, since it’s an inherent limitation of the construction set you are made of. You can conceive only changes that are possible using your universe of screws and holes. Nothing else can exist. Then someone sprays some paint on you with a brush. You won’t see it and notice it, it is none of your concern and nothing you are able to understand. Or someone bends one of your pieces — going absolutely against the rules you thought holy and the only possible. Or are the king in a chess game, then someone takes you and hides you in his pocket, one turn before checkmate.

After I returned to the meadow, I didn’t see or feel any wireframes, and didn’t need them. But I felt empowered and able if not control, than to at least navigate the space around me. The meadow didn’t have any power anymore, I could walk, thought I remembered that the knives are there somewhere below. It has a heavenly meadow like it was supposed to be, and I felt happy, and could enjoy the meadow and its dark sky as I thought I should.


I’ll spare you all my analyses on the topic. I feel like I got some kind of answer (whatever credibility this has), but it’s not the one I wanted, and somehow I don’t like it and don’t want to accept it, but I still find it positive. The entire vision is somehow uncomfortable and underwhelming and torn, which personally makes it a bit more real for me. If I got a classic “vision” about the True Essence Of Being ©®™, complete with alchemic-Jungian symbolism and ecstatic enlightenment at the end, it would have been much less fun.

ISR as techique is pretty interesting. It heavily intersects with lucid dreaming and with all the bursts of creativity I get right before falling asleep. (When I think of things as I’m falling asleep, it’s always easy to see when I’ll lose touch with reality — it’s when my thoughts start getting really weird, and though I still feel the bed and my thoughts and can think critically, I know then that sleep is maybe 40 seconds away.)

When I was a child, I remember hearing songs before falling asleep and in my dreams, songs with actual nice background music and rhymes that were created in real time. I remember remembering the songs and rhymes in the morning, and they were actually quite nice. Also my dreams back them were very long and complex, with multiple story lines. It’s sad that I never wrote them down.

I still feel my subconscious is able to do amazing things, and is even better at creativity and divergent thinking than I am.

After QS, the next big area of things I want to explore would be learning to use my subconscious to generate ideas or solve problems. This sounds like something out of the New Age Bullshit Generator, but  in my case, I was shown multiple times what my subconscious is capable of. If only I could remember it all as I did when I was a child.

The world is a really interesting place.



Footnotes   [ + ]

1. TIL that both spellings are okay, aluminum and aluminium
2. If it was clear that the bird was male or female, I would still have used it. On a scale from 0=male to 100=female it was purple, as the quote about writers’ life goes.
3. Stolen from the Simpsons, “this would have been the perfect moment for it to start raining”, can’t find the episode.
4. It wasn’t a level of abstraction that was possible in daily life. An old metaphor I used a couple of ago when discussing logic: you are a car made out of this constructon set. You exist and move only where the set allows you, since it’s an inherent limitation of the construction set you are made of. You can conceive only changes that are possible using your universe of screws and holes. Nothing else can exist. Then someone sprays some paint on you with a brush. You won’t see it and notice it, it is none of your concern and nothing you are able to understand. Or someone bends one of your pieces — going absolutely against the rules you thought holy and the only possible. Or are the king in a chess game, then someone takes you and hides you in his pocket, one turn before checkmate.

Ideas for Quantified Self experiments

Once I will be reasonably confident that I have a semi-OK-baseline, it would be great to actually start doing stuff.

How to do self-experiments:

I’d also like to make predictions at the beginning, and to ask myself some question (how hard was it, do I feel deprived or tempted, etc). This will keep me focused

Those are the ones that I suspect will be very interesting and easy to do and formalize and with the biggest possible impact:
  1. Eliminating caffeine (ABAB)
    1. Semi-regularly but tracked except for tea (right now)
    2. Use caffeine+L-theanine systematically and see how (and when) does it influence the following: (for two weeks)
      1. CBS
      2. DNB
      3. typing speed
      4. General wellbeing(=mood)
    3. Phenibut 2-3 times in the middle of those two weeks
    4. Eliminate both caffeine and phenibut totally after that, for two weeks
  2. Jogging/exercise on sleep and mood the following day/night (I think I can do it at the same time as 1.)
  3. Creatine and citrulline on workouts and jogging (keep them consistent, 2-3 times a week, and just either take them or not, and see what happens)
    1. The workout/run itself
    2. Muscle soreness next day
  4. Food on cognition, especially a lot of it, especially junk food
    1. Not as experiment, just record it, and see what happens.
Not a priority but very interesting:
  1. No caffeine or alcohol for 30 days
  2. ISR every evening for 2 weeks
  3. Vegan for 30 days
  4. Intermittent fasting
  5. Mindfullness meditation every evening for 20 days
More abstract:
  1. Recite affirmations every day
  2. Activity alarm every 30 minutes
  3. MINDFULLNESS and outside
  4. Eat only on response of hunger
  5. Write 1000 words a day for two weeks

Over and out for now

Pchr8board (third update to the Dvorak Mirrorboard layout)


Now playing: Машингвери, штурмгевери


You might remember the last two posts about the Dvorak Mirrorboard layout. Well, I’ve updated it for the third time, and it’s gotten different enough that I think I can call it Pchr8board, just to have a better name and to reflect the fact that it’s made for my own personal use and not as some kind of general-purpose layout, though it could be a nice starting point for further changes.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pchr8board:


Keys without a legend have the same letters attached.

Otherwise, this is how you read the picture above:


The layout uses left alt as a Latch key, that, when pressed with left thumb, switches the letters to their corresponding right-hand letters, as per original Mirrorboard, but for Dvorak.

Other important changed keys are highlighted.

  • Enter and BackSpace are on the Tilde (“~”) key.
  • The Tab key allows to type forward slashes (“/”), mostly for searching, and diaereses (ümläüts) on the letter immediately following Shift+Latch+Tab (awkward at first, but not more so than the typical compose key approach).

The layout is usable as a typical Dvorak one, and I wanted to add a couple of more keys that I miss. For the right hand, there are:

  • Direction keys on the Latch+”htnc”, which are the base keys for the right hand
  • A Backspace key on Latch+r

I sorely needed both of those, since they required too much movement in a traditional layout. What’s also nice is that all the keyboard shortcuts still work, that is for the OS it doesn’t make much difference. Selecting words word-by-word using Ctrl+Shift+right_arrow as Ctrl+Shift+Latch+n still works, for example. In practice such chords are much less complicated and easier to get used to than they seem. Honest.

At first, I wanted to add the arrow keys to the left hand, but didn’t find a not-awkward way to do this. Next version, maybe. Another logical change would have been using hljk or someting, since this is what I use for my i3wm shortcuts, but, again, I think keeping it classic in this aspect would be more beneficial.

Installation instructions:

  • Copy to your key definitions folder (usually /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/)
  • Either just setxkbmap left3 or integrate it in whatever you are using (e.g. setxkbmap -option 'grp:rshift_toggle, compose:rctrl' left3,ru,ua)
  • In case you want to edit it, copy it every time to a new name. The layout gets cached to the DE, and for it to read the new changes you would have to reload X, unless it’s a new file. Or just during editing do xkbcomp mirrorboard.xkb $DISPLAY 2>/dev/null as recommended in the original post, maybe removing the last part to see any errors.

The layout is on Github.


The following resources helped me:




Exporting Cambridge Brain Sciences data

Now playing: Ry Cooder – Jesus on the Mainline

Cambridge Brain Sciences is a nice way to measure brain health. After quick (~10 minutes) tests, it gives you your score in three main areas (Verbal, Reasoning and Memory) and your C-Score, which is “the summary of your cognitive function”. It’s meant not as a semi-static measure (~IQ), but as a “how are you feeling today” kind of thing.

I use it both as a way to track/manage some depression symptoms, and as an objective way to measure how various things influence your mental performance (think exercise/nootropics/sleep/…). I wrote a bit about it and how I use it here.

It’s pretty awesome, but lacks a CSV export, or even just a way to get the data in a readable format, without having to hover on their charts. I wrote them (they are pretty responsive and open to suggestions, by the way) and they said that they will add that as a planned feature. I  didn’t want to wait (patience is not one of my virtues) and wanted to start running some analyses on the data I have, but didn’t want to it down manually. Hovering over the data points in their chart to get the individual data points would have been very very tedious.

Looking at the source code (and hoping to find some “data.json” or something similar), I saw that for their charts they use Highchart. After skimming the documentation, I wrote small and extremely basic javascript snippet that would output the dates and datapoints of the currently open chart:

To use:

  1. Open the CBS dashboard
  2. Open the developer console.
  3. Paste snippet above


Then, if you need the verbal/memory/reasoning data, just switch to that tab and repeat the process.

For individual tests the process is very similar.

The snippet is the same, but you need to change the “chart” parameter. Switch to the “Tests” page, then right-click on the needed graph, “Inspect element”. You are looking for the data-highcharts-chart parameter:


This is the number you need. Set it in the first line of the snippet (chart=” “) and run.

To work with the data, I pasted it into LibreOffice calc with the following settings.


You need the “Separated by space” and “Merge delimiters”.

That way, it gets outputted to different cells, and you can copy the ones you need. I’m sure Excel can do something similar.

To merge the AM/PM on the other cell, I used the following formula to convert the time:

with B37 as cell with the time, and C37 as cell with AM/PM.

I hope I’m not infringing any terms of service, it’s not even scraping — just accessing the data already in the graphs. And I am not doing a tool or Greasemonkey script out of this, because I think that I won’t need to do this often (I add the data manually at the end of each tests if I do them), but if there’s interest, I could do something more “beautiful” and portable — let me know!



Quotes for today

Straight from my quotes file, with sources mostly missing. But all of those are easy to Google.

“Experience by itself teaches nothing… Without theory, experience has no meaning. Without theory, one has no questions to ask. Hence, without theory, there is no learning.” ― W. Edwards Deming, The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education

Home is where the water tastes normal

You don’t need the cow to get the milk

It might be best to let go of finding meaning in life from your job. Try to find a low-stress slack job that pays the bills and leaves you energy to do other things, and then find meaning in life from those things. This will also allow you to shift from one interest to another.

The best thing about being a hybrid – you don’t have to be particularly good at either yet people are constantly blown away by the simplest things.

My personal belief (and mantra of creativity/slacking) is that if you do something people have never seen before, you will always exceed their expectations.

“It’s easy to pretend expertise when there’s no data to contradict you.”

В ДНР ожидаются серьёзные кадровые перестановки.  Но не те, о которых вы думаете.  Ожидающиеся перестановки будут сделаны, чтобы оттянуть те, о которых вы думаете.

“Hack Like Nobody’s Watching (because it is highly likely that nobody is watching)”

Pay more attention to what the losers do wrong as to what the winners do right

Title: somethingsometing (should be avoided)

And I will deny that I ever said this, but …
Aren’t you a little worried that there’s a hell?
Your original research was thought-provoking, although it would be considered felony in most states.
Generally you want your alibi not to be a witness at the scene of the crime. (Daria)

LPT: When you’re thinking about buying something you don’t necessarily need, imagine the item in one hand and the cash in the other. Which one would you take?

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.   ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.   ~ HH Munro
What is said when drunk has been thought out beforehand.   ~ Flemish proverb
If you buy the why, the how is infinitely bearable.   ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Seek, above all, for a game worth playing.   ~ Robert S. de Ropp
The best use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.   ~ William James
Only the simplest mind can believe that in a great controversy one side was mere folly.   ~ AJ Kane

Practice choosing discomfort

Real men don’t need either condoms or antivirus

Welcome to the Internet. Consider this a threat.

My friend is epileptic. One time after her seizure I asked if she knew me. She looked up at me and eventually said “Mom?” in a very uncertain tone.  I’m a little younger than her and I have a beard.

Notes about making my own calendar for 2018

My current small calendar is far from perfect, but has immense potential and I’ve been using it for almost a year. Next year (or month?) I will print out (on very think paper) a custom-designed one.

  • It will have the holidays important for me, birthdays important for me
  • Numbered days, weeks
  • Highlighted Sat/Sun
  • Some place over the months columns for ideas and more abstract plans
  • Probably basic contact information and basic phone numbers.
    • Ha, I can print it on A3 with fold-outs and just cut it out and fold it to А4?
  • I have time to think what else.

Solutions I found in 20 minutes of Googling:

  1. Time and Date has a very customizable generator – but not customizable enough for me (ha, what a surprise.)
    1. It takes care of all the math and basic holidays
    2. I can set most colours
    3. Can’t remove ()s in day numbers
    4. I’d need to treat it as image when leaving spaces etc etc
  2. This excellent LaTeX template, with most of what I could want but not full-full-full customization
    1. Holidays, Birthdays, other events defined in separate files
      1. I can see quite a lot of opportunities to use this
    2. Colours defined during generation, but some of them hard-coded in the class file (black border colour)
    3. Class file editable — after learning some Tikz I should be able to fit it to my needs perfectly.
    4. Colours: http://faculty.lagcc.cuny.edu/tnagano/research/latex/docs/xcolorManualExcerpt2.pdf
    5. Would need some more math and care to make it start from another month — but do I need this?
  3. Doing it via one of the two variants above, then manually editing
The LaTeX template

Should take a couple of hours, but the result will be worth it. Leaving it like this for now, but in September will take care of this.

I can also envision different calendars for different purposes, if I will need them, and this would mean the possibility to create a “backup” calendar in case I lose my main on.

We’ll see.

EDIT: I did it! Using the modified LaTeX script.With color-coded and numbered 1-week sprints, color-coded holidays in Germany and Ukraine, and birthdays of some of the people I care about. No screenshot for privacy reasons.

Plans for the summer + state of my projects

Now playing: Эй, ухнем!

This summer I would like to finish a couple of projects, or at least to bring them to some level where I can leave them alone. С глаз долой – из сердца вон, в общем. See what I can do with the others.



  1. Reasons for living
    1. I don’t think that the website as envisioned at the beginning would add value; keep it as random images/text pairings and nothing more
    2. Cleaner code, cleaner system for quotes (still textfile-based, but maybe with tags; or at least two textfiles, sfw-positive and nsfw-random?)
    3. Review the quotes and images
    4. Credit the persons who wrote the glitch scripts I use in the glitch version for images and text.
    5. Find as many sources for the quotes and the images
    6. Use-case: тупо залипать, Господи.
    7. Add there the current “take me somewhere interesting” thing from sparksara.net
    8. All this before the end of the summer
  2. Gutena.men
    1. Get back the domain
    2. Use as many scripts from SS as possible
    3. Generate names using various methods
    4. Check domains
    5. Not a priority
  3. Mirrorboard ☑ Here: https://www.pchr8.net/blog/2017/07/27/updated-left-hand-dvorak-mirroboard-keyboard-layout-now-pictures/
    1. Fix []s ☑
    2. Add arrow keys
      1. Or add a right-hand version where there are more keys available to the right



Borderline IT + Soft sciences

  1. Sparksara
    1. I still would like to make a creativity and divergent thinking tools website out of it
    2. Implement basic tools to help me learn some front-end scripting
      1. Research creativity
      2. Design that stimulates creativity (colors, sounds, combinations, …)
      3. Find existing methods, formalize them, and implement them
        1. Linking to the literature and studies supporting it all
        2. Be mindful of copyright?
        3. Tools like these, or like these.
        4. Examples of what exists:
          1. This
      4. Link to relevant resources and get links from relevant resources
    3. Think really well about the structure
    4. Not-so-basic tools and auth for possible monetization sometime later
    5. Have a niche blog about what I learn to learn to write and learn to make niche websites with ads.
    6. Before the end of the summer at least make a review of existing literature and a sketch of what exactly will make sense to implement
  2. WriteLikeLennon
    1. Would make sense only in VK as experiment
    2. Not too interesting technically and done before
    3. Kill it prolly?
  3. Gesturehand
    1. I can imagine it as a developed standard? Or a specification. Think RSS 1.0. Used as a semi-common language for gestures in many different contexts. Like there are certain expectations
    2. Think about ideating / writing a generalized system
    3. Probably the thing I’ll me concentrating on the most, and the one needing the most work
    4. Excuse to learn AI and ML?
    5. Try to at least get a shorthand system out of it.
  4. My shorthand system
    1. Create a name for it
    2. A small writeup on how it works and basics
    3. Intersections with Ithkuil
    4. Again have it as a version.
    5. It’s own /project page on pchr8.net
    6. All before the end of the summer


Soft sciences

  1. Pentachronological.
    1. I really have no idea.
    2. I could frame it as excuse to learn CSS3/frontent, to use my medium as much as possible, to express my creativity, whatever.
    3. Before the end of the summer see if I want to keep it up, if yes — definitely think about a plot and at least a direction.




Don’t forget all the many small ideas I get.

And when thinking what to do exactly, think more along the lines of “is it interesting personally for me” and “what is the potential for learning” more than “does it have an audience” and “will it earn money”?

And lastly, don’t work on too much at the same time. Priorities atm are Gesturehand and Sparksara.

Also think about that colored font for small screens.

Vim, empty and blank lines, executing commands on regexes, ^M

It’s been quite a while since I wrote something in the Bits and Pieces category. I’m forgetting that the goal of this blog was partly documenting my own knowledge for my own use.Definitely need to hide this category from the front page and use it often. Or even better, make it a category on the wiki.

That said:

Vim digraphs

^M is how vim shows the 0xD character, which in Windows is a newline character. A more complete list of such characters is here: http://vimdoc.sourceforge.net/htmldoc/digraph.html#digraph-table

One way to insert such characters would be: ^M is entered by holding down Ctrl and typing v followed by m, and then releasing Ctrl. 1https://stackoverflow.com/a/5843561/3597501

Interestingly enough, the keys above are represented via the <kbd> tag, which apparently is a thing:2 https://developer.mozilla.org/ru/docs/Web/HTML/Element/kbd

The HTML <kbd> element represents user input and produces an inline element displayed in the browser’s default monospace font.

Vim removing empty lines & executing a command on lines matching a regex

:g will execute a command on lines which match a regex. The regex is ‘blank line’ and the command is :d (delete) 3 https://stackoverflow.com/questions/706076/vim-delete-blank-lines

Also interesting is the distinction between blank lines and empty lines. They could be defined as just '\n' and as a line with various spaces, but on visible content.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. https://stackoverflow.com/a/5843561/3597501
2. https://developer.mozilla.org/ru/docs/Web/HTML/Element/kbd
3. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/706076/vim-delete-blank-lines

A translation of “Переведіть мене через майдан”/”Переведи меня через майдан”

Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan?

the last wish of the old kobzar1Blind street musicians playing the Kobza, a Ukrainian folk music instrument, for our purposes kobzar=lirnyk=banduryst

“Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan3For now “city square”; More about the connotations of this word, as I see them, further down
To the far side, there is a field,  I reckon
The bees hum quietly, a little piece of heaven
Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan

Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan
Where there’s laughter, fighting, feasts and food on shelves 2“shelves” almost makes me cry, but the third line is perfect, haven’t found any other normal rhyme….
Where no one hears, neither me nor themselves
Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan

Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan
There cries a woman; in the past we were together 4 Formerly “we’ve been together” but this would imply they are /still/ together
Now I’ll walk past, won’t even recognize her
Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan

Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan
With pain, regrets and love, still not forgotten
Here I’ve been brave, and here I have been rotten 5 sounds too much like passive and therefore weird, but whatever
Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan

Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan
The drunken clouds, they seem to touch my arm 6Adding meaning that was not there, but “Maidan” is hard to rhyme with anything. I also can see something like “Where drunken clouds are floating in the trees”
Now it’s my son who sings on the Maidan
Please, would you help me crossing the Maidan 7 Four identical rhymes – it’s a feature! increasing the DRAMA and stuff

Please, help…” The Maidan took him in
and led him by the hand,  and he kept walking
As he fell dead, right in the Maidan center
Not knowing there was no field anymore

Continue reading “A translation of “Переведіть мене через майдан”/”Переведи меня через майдан””

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Blind street musicians playing the Kobza, a Ukrainian folk music instrument, for our purposes kobzar=lirnyk=banduryst
2. “shelves” almost makes me cry, but the third line is perfect, haven’t found any other normal rhyme….
3. For now “city square”; More about the connotations of this word, as I see them, further down
4. Formerly “we’ve been together” but this would imply they are /still/ together
5. sounds too much like passive and therefore weird, but whatever
6. Adding meaning that was not there, but “Maidan” is hard to rhyme with anything. I also can see something like “Where drunken clouds are floating in the trees”
7. Four identical rhymes – it’s a feature! increasing the DRAMA and stuff

Da chto vy /voobsche/ znajete pro metamodernism?


Laaaadies and gentlemen,
дамы и господа


Someday this may become something useful. It actually started as something useful. Like a website where you go and find positivity and stuff

I’m surprised that I’m surprised that given my current state it descended into post-meta-modernistic madness pretty fast

Anyway, it’s random images from L.’s “saved images” and random quotes from my quotes file (a bit sanitized, I admit).

Ты не доживешь до тридцати

Oh, and as a bonus to the readers of this blog, here’s the old design, with the pictures and text absolutely separated.

Залипаю уже минут 20



2017-03-26-233353_686x662_scrot 2017-03-26-233851_923x773_scrot 2017-03-26-234000_631x658_scrot

O, да, если уже началась такая пьянка,


Тупо тырит ссылки с моей вики, у которых оценка >=6, рендомно выводит.

EDIT 1: а еще можно вот так: http://reasonsforli.win/glitch.php

Glitch + фразочки из исходника файлика, без фильтра на счет “позитивности”/”оптимистичности”/”интересности”.2017-03-27-004050_611x783_scrot

Mildly related:

Dvorak Mirrorboard layout (Based on Randall Munroe’s Mirrorboard)

Update: New version of the layout can be found here; it has a number of improvements and visuals. History & Rationale remain in this post, though, along with installation instructions.

Now playing: Shia LaBeouf by Rob Cantor.

It all started when I was looking into options for one-hand typing, simply because it seemed like a pretty interesting thing to learn. (I love the feeling of the brain rewiring, haha.)

I stumbled upon this blog post by Randall Munroe about his Mirrorboard layout.

The key moment was when I realized that the brain command I use to type the letter ‘e’ is very similar to the one I use to type ‘i’. I found that if I held my right hand away from the keyboard and tried to type “the kitten parked the hovercraft”, it came out “tge dettev qarded gte gwvercraft” — I was doing the same motions with my left hand that I’d normally do with my right.

Mirrorboard is a keyboard layout that lets you type simple things on a QWERTY keyboard with only the left hand. It works by mirroring the layout between the left and right hands when you press caps lock. “asdf” becomes “;lkj” — the entire keyboard is reflected. To press a key on the right side of the board, you hold caps-lock with your pinky and then press the corresponding key on the left side.

Which is actually really fascinating and true.

After Googling around, I did not find any Dvorak version of the keyboard layout, so I decided to make one. Learning quite a lot about xkb and Linux’s handling of keystrokes in the process.

Another reason to change it a bit was because I use a pretty complex keyboard setup, with dvorak+Russian+Ukrainian, a compose key, and multiple remapped keys on my keyboard, and I wanted to integrate left-hand typing seamlessly in my workflow.

Changes made from the original Mirrorboard layout:

  1. Made it Dvorak-friendly
  2. Left-alt is used as modifier key, instead of Caps. (Which is remapped as Ctrl on my keyboard).
  3. Return is Modifier+Tilde
  4. Modifier+Tab is “/”
  5. Modifier key is a Latch-style key instead of Shift-style key. (Basically, the difference between the two is that Shift-style keys work only when pressed together with the key that’s being modified, while Latch-style keys may be pressed before the key, or at the same time, or twice to “Lock” it until the next time you press it; Here’s an excellent explanation)
  6. Adapted it to contain only the modified keys, so it can be put in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/our_dvorak_mapping and later used as just another keyboard layout, say,  setxkbmap -option 'grp:rshift_toggle, compose:rctrl' dvorak,sh-mirror3,ru,ua (right shift to change keyboard layout, right Ctrl as compose key)
  7. Maybe some other things I have forgotten

Additional resources that helped me in the process have been this excellent post on how to create your own layouts and the legendary Arch linux wiki.

The layout is on Github.

To use:

  1. Fit it to your needs
  2. Copy to your key definitions folder (usually /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/)
  3. Either just setxkbmap sh-mirror3 or integrate it in whatever you are using (e.g. setxkbmap -option 'grp:rshift_toggle, compose:rctrl' dvorak,sh-mirror3,ru,ua)
  4. In case you want to edit it, copy it every time to a new name. The layout gets cached to the DE, and for it to read the new changes you would have to reload X, unless it’s a new file. (That’s why sh-mirror3; same number of tries as it took this person I learned this fact from). Or just during editing do xkbcomp mirrorboard.xkb $DISPLAY 2>/dev/null as recommended in the original post, maybe removing the last part to see any errors.

Then I did a couple of changes to my i3, cvim and keynav configs, to make them easier to use with just the left hand.


Keynav is an excellent little program to avoid using the mouse. I divide the screen in 16 areas, and decided to move the lower ones to my left hand, used with shift. Relevant fragment is:

On my keynav 0.20170124.0 the areas seem to be numbered vertically, not horizontally as mentioned on the page linked above.


Cvim is my favourite extension that adds vim-like keybindings to Chrome.

I added a keystroke to change the hint characters to left-hand ones and back, which conveniently was exactly the example given by the author for JavaScript mode:

All of this is definitely a work in progress, but it was really interesting.

Current left-hand typing speed is 12WPM, compared to my usual 80, I wanna see how and if it will improve. It’s really not about actual use, but because it seems something cool to do. Something like shorthand-writing, which I’ve almost learned. I wonder what comes next. Dozenal counting, perhaps?

Updated Fiamma “Add link” bookmarklet (now there are _two_ of them!)

Now I have a bookmarklet that gets triggered when I’m on a page I want to bookmark. It window.open()’s to the wiki page named after the page title and passes two parameters to the template: the title and the URI of the page. The template gets preloaded1More here: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Creating_pages_with_preloaded_text .

The template itself looks pretty trivial. (Note to self: Templates are case sensitive?!)

Then we get a page with an URI and a title. I fill the additional values like this:

Then I run the bookmarklet, which transform it to the following:

Then I could add something, and then save it.

The new bookmarklet now understands an unlimited number of keywords and categories.

The updated bookmarklet:


Make it check for bad characters (think “|”, which mediawiki doesn’t like in names and parameters, and everything else here: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Page_title; make it do something for empty titles, so I don’t get redirected to the main page; put together all of this and upload it to github?

The final bookmarklet looks like this:

Unrelated to the above:

Apparently, after N years of studying programming and tweaking/optimizing whatever incarnation of my workspace, I’m getting it. Like, you can really solve your own problems by writing your own code?! Wow!

What happens next? I’m gonna go around writing extensions and stuff? How was the quote: “Be a man, write your own drivers!”

Regardless, this small and dead-simple bookmarklet that solves my own problems has done much more for my motivation than anything else I’ve ever tried in the last couple of years.



Footnotes   [ + ]

Semantic Mediawiki for personal knowledge management, using templates and a custom userscript

Here I’ll try to document my current setup for links management, which is slowly starting to take form.

Как мы пришли к такой жизни

Since the social bookmarking site Delicious (old links page) is seriously falling apart (which is very sad, I liked it almost as much as I liked Google Reader) I started looking for other alternatives. For some time, I used WordPress LinkLibrary plugin until I felt the hard category system lacked flexibility (you can see on the “Links” page of this blog how cluttered and repetitive it is), I needed tags and more ways to organize the links and, possibly, the relationships between them.

Then for a very short time I set up a WordPress installation specifically for links. I was not the first one who attempted this (https://sebastiangreger.net/2014/01/own-your-data-part-1-bookmarks/ as an example), but it did not work out well for me.

As for the existing social bookmarking services, for example http://pinboard.in or http://historio.us/, I did not want to pay and wanted control of my data (thank God the export feature in Delicious worked more often than not, but I don’t want to risk it anymore).

As for the need to “share” it, I want to have access to it from various places and, since there’s nothing private, putting it in the cloud and putting a password on it sounds like an unneeded layer of complication. Lastly — who knows — maybe someone will actually get some use out of it.

Semantic Mediawiki

Mediawiki is the software Wikipedia runs on. Semantic Mediawiki is an open-source extension for it that adds the ability to store and query data on a whole another level.

Semantics means, basically, meaning. The difference between “60”, “60kg”, “My weight is 60kg.”

Traditionally, Mediawiki allows the pages to link to each other, but the exact nature of the connection is not clear, and you can’t use the connections much. Semantic Mediawiki allows to define additional data for every page, and allows to define relationships between pages. The data “Benjamin Franklin was born in the USA in 1706” suddenly becomes searchable, for example as “Give me the people born in America before 1800” and “Give me the list of countries where people named Ben were born”. A link “Benjamin Franklin -> Philadelphia” becomes “Benjamin Franklin was (BORN IN) Philadelphia”.

This is awesome.

After looking at it, I understood that I have immense power in my hands, and that I have no idea how to use it. As in, how to create an architecture that was both meaningful and easy to adhere to.

Seeing all this, I thought it would make sense to upgrade my “Link database” to something much more interconnected and useful, a personal knowledge management system.

And here it is.


The system

Take this page.

Every page has 5 values:

  • l: The actual URI
  • t: the title
  • c: the complexity (how easy/hard is it to read; sometimes I just don’t want to think too much), 1 to 10
  • r: the rating, also 1 to 10
  • o: If it’s a page with only one link, around which the content of the page has been built. (As opposed to “Here are 5 links about X”)

Plus, of course, any additional text.

Properties can be set:

1) In the text itself, for example like this:

2) Invisibly:

which can be used like this:

My main goal for this was that it should be fast, and fast for me. I can type the above much faster than I can multiple input boxes in a hypothetical GUI.

Then I decided to write some bad javascript to simplify it even more.

The bookmarklet/userscript

An actual bookmarklet would be definitely the next thing I’m doing, until then I’ll be adding the pages manually.

But I wrote a small script (two years since I’ve used any Javascript, haha), to minimize the text above to just this:

The (badbadbad) Javascript code is the following:

The minimized variant of the above now sits nice in my bookmarks bar, and is bound to a keypress in cvim. So I can fill just the URI, and it sets everything else to some default values and adds the Mediawiki template formatting.


  1. Getting the page title automagically (see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10793585/how-to-pick-the-title-of-a-remote-webpage), I’ll need a PHP backend. It would be also interesting to check from the PHP if the IP making the request is currently logged in in my wiki, and get the title only then, to prevent abuse
  2. Making a bookmarklet which populates automatically most of the fields, like my old Delicious bookmarklet (sigh.)

Searching the wiki

The search in Semantic Mediawiki is explained pretty well here. Now I can do neat things like “Give me the pages in the Category ‘To read’ with complexity < 4”. And lastly, categories can be inside other categories. If X is in category  A, which is a subcategory of B, it still shows up in searches for category B. (example) Pretty nice!

Knowledge Management

Things I want to learn or will probably need pretty often will have their own pages, like the Formulating Knowledge page. Simply because interacting with the material always helps much more than just reading it. Also I like that it will be represented in a way relevant for me, without unnecessary data and with additional material I think should be there.

For the link pages, there will be the link + very short summary (it has been working pretty well) + a couple of thoughts about it, + maybe relevant data or links to other pages.

TODO: Quotes + Move there my “To Read” / “To Listen to” lists. Also think of a better name for it.


Warum einfach, wenn es auch kompliziert geht? (A nice German phrase about avoiding the unbearable simplicity of being: “Why simple, when it can be complicated as well?”)

On a serious note, I don’t have any doubts that in the long run I’ll be thankful for this system.

Firstly, I control all of this data. Feels good. Take that, capitalist ad-ridden surveillance corporations!

Secondly, working with a lot of information has always been something I do often and enjoy immensely, and it would make sense to start accumulating everything in one place. Every day I stumble upon a lot of material on the Internet, of very different nature, and with not-obvious connections between them. I have more interests than I can count.

Organizing everything like this so far looks to me the best alternative, and I’m reasonably certain it will work out. There’s a lot that can be improved, and I think in a couple of moths it will morph into something awesome.

Finding ways to use all the accumulated data is a topic for another day.


A couple of nice relevant inspiring places:

http://yourcmc.ru/wiki/  – in Russian, a person using Mediawiki as central hub for everything.

http://konigi.com/wiki/  – personal wiki, mostly design.

http://thingelstad.com/2012/bookmarking-with-semantic-mediawiki/ a much more advanced version of what I’m trying to do, also using Semantic Mediawiki. I should drop him a line 🙂

Improving concentration, working memory, fluid intelligence, etc. etc. etc. + overall life satisfaction

A couple of thoughts of how I could improve my concentration and working memory, since it’s the main mental “block” that I feel and apparently it doesn’t qualify for ADHD.

  1. Dual-N-Back
    1. http://lou.wtf/banal-duck/  is currently my favourite one; also https://www.brainturk.com/dual-n-back
    2. Gwern’s DNB FAQ is very comprehensive
    3. Length
      1. “Aim for 20 sessions per day (about 25 minutes), 4 or 5 times per week. […] Intensive training every day may not be optimal because the brain needs time to learn, adapt and reconfigure itself. A training schedule of 4-5 days per week seems to be the most efficient.” 1http://brainworkshop.sourceforge.net/tutorial.html
      2. 20 hours in no more than 6 weeks2http://www.iqmindware.com/iq-mindware/training-strategies/ — that would be more than 30 mins every day or about 1h 4 days a week
      3. ~45 minutes two times a week seems to be the most effective 3https://www.gwern.net/DNB%20FAQ#spacing
      4. I’ll do 1h two days a week divided in periods of two + every time I’m bored or need distraction (basically what I did with aoeu.eu)
    4. Strategies
      1. Focus is to improve overall functioning, not just dual-n-back performance
      2. Rehearsal (basically throwing the letters in the phonological loop? Sounds very counteproductive for me) is the only one that helps 4http://www.iqmindware.com/iq-mindware/training-strategies/
    5. Creating lists in the mind and working with them could work too
  2. Mindfullness meditation
    1. Self-explanatory.
    2. Probably twice 20 mins a day?
  3. Image-streaming
    1. From Project Renaissance; short version
    2. 10-30 minutes, describing in as much sensory detail as possible (not just sight)
    3. Describe as fast as possible without thinking or judging if something’s worth being mentioned
    4. “Why are you here as part of my answer?”
    5. “What’s the same?”, “Relate” (how does it relate to my question?), “Debrief” (listen and make a short summary)
    6. 2 times a week, 30 mins before bed
  4. Spaced repetition
    1. Anki
    2. Language
    3. Studying
    4. Random small things
  5. Sport
    1. Something like this, but 3×12
      1. Every day 30 mins
    2. Running
      1. twice per week

To actually succeed with this, I’ll need to create, finally, stable routines.

In my next post I’ll take care of this.

Also relevant, for sometime later, potentially promising, also by Win Wegner:

  • http://www.winwenger.com/ebooks/bright.htm
  • http://www.winwenger.com/ebooks/guaran.htm

Footnotes   [ + ]