I created a little ReloaderJS script that I use with a couple projects. Upon applying the script, the page is always reloaded and up-to-date any time I switch to the tab or wake the laptop.

The script allows reloading at a period that matches the schedule at which the underlying site is updated. It also doesn’t bother updating when the site is unavailable (down or the client is offline).

It really stands out now when I see a site that’s tried to reload but couldn’t, so it’s showing an error page from the browser when I open my laptop. It feels good to have solved that problem for myself.


I’ve been playing with Hugo for other sites and liking it a whole lot.

I used it to host my next site, the KC3WWC Amateur Radio Blog. I’ll collect all my notes on amateur radio over there. I had been keeping a running document in org-roam, so it’s now time to make it public.

SmartThings Home & Away

I have Samsung SmartThings automatically setting the thermostat and turning things on and off for me based on the location of my phone (and me).

Of course, it stopped working, so I needed to debug. All the other things connected to the hub were working fine.

Things That Didn’t Fix It

  • Restart my phone

  • Wipe the SmartThings app data on my phone and login again

  • Restart the SmartThings Hub

  • Check app permissions on the phone: no optimization, fine location access always on.

The Fix

  1. Open SmartThings app on the phone

  2. Menu

  3. Settings Cog

  4. Get your location from this phone

  5. Turn it off, then back on

  6. Visit my 2 location-based triggers and re-add myself as a member.

  7. Fixed!

Roll Your Own HTML in Clerk

The clerk/table component automatically limits itself to only showing 20 results. Other presentation components, especially text, have configurable elision behaviors, but it doesn’t apply to the table.

After searching, guessing at ways to do it, and even asking in conference talks, I finally realized that we can render our own HTML with clerk/html and hiccup. That HTML is not limited to any size, and building a table is easy. We used to do it all the time.

I wrote my own simple function to render a table, and I used that instead of the clerk/table. It takes the same parameters I was already using.

^{:nextjournal.clerk/visibility {:code :hide :result :hide}}
(ns sample
  {:nextjournal.clerk/visibility {:code :fold :result :show}}
   [nextjournal.clerk :as clerk]))

^{:nextjournal.clerk/visibility {:code :hide :result :hide}}
(defn my-table
  "display a simple table in html.
  :head is the sequence of head labels.
  :rows is a sequence of sequences.
  :limit is the max to display of the rows. (default 100)"
  (clerk/html [:table
                 (for [h (:head params)] [:th h])]]
                (for [r (take (or (:limit params) 100) (:rows params))]
                   (for [c r]
                     [:td c])])]]))

  {:head ["x" "y"]
   :limit 100
   :rows [[1 2]
          [3 4]]})

Update 2023-11-27

As of the 0.15.957 release, clerk tables have a ::clerk/page-size parameter, so I use that now instead of the code above.

Digital Archeology


Nostalgia for Old Code

I’ve been coding for a very long time, so I’ve had lots of projects in various languages, on various platforms, and stored very differently.

I got nostalgic on and off over the past couple years and went digging around to recover the source for some of those old projects. I uploaded the more notable projects to my GitHub account.

Old Floppies

I spent money to buy a 3.5-inch USB floppy drive and an old 386 PC with a 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch floppy drive, so I could ultimately copy files from really old 5.25-inch floppies that I used in the late 1980s and early 1990s to my live storage of today. Among those old files were binaries and source in GWBASIC and QuickBasic.


I found one of the first games I wrote and sort of distributed, Gravity Blocks. I could play the compiled binary with DOSBox and read the main source file, but some of the source code for my common libraries is still locked up in a compressed format from QuickBasic 4.5. I may need to dig deeper into QB64, a clone of QuickBasic 4.5 that seems to be able to read, run, and compile those old compressed files.


I also found source code for the first software I wrote for the local fire company to help track statistics on calls and print reports to submit to the local municipalities we served.

It was written in GWBASIC, so I was able to decode the compressed source where needed to read it. I published my CALL-REP source, so I could go back and have a look at the simple, but useful, things I used to write as a kid.

Copies of Old Servers and Subversion

I continued to build stuff through college (and obviously beyond). Some of it was in C, PERL, and Java.

I recovered these bits of source code laying around in backups and copies of old Linux servers I’ve run over the years. This source was in old Subversion repositories that used old versions of Berkeley DB. Initially, This BDB version mismatch kept svn checkout from working, but the current Subversion tools have an svnadmin recover command that could fix the repository for normal reading today. I’m sure some of those old SVN repositories had previously been migrated from CVS.


I found the source code from my final project in the Java class in my last year of college in 2000.

Pop-a-Prof is a clone of my favorite puzzle game, Bust-a-Move. It’s a Java Applet that ran in Netscape allowing any number of players, and it coordinated everyone’s play with a shared public server, Each round lasted 5 minutes, and any time you topped-out, you’d lose some points, and start over, so no one needed to sit around watching the last people battle it out.

After school, I started on Pop-a-Prof 2. This one ran as a plain Java application, and implemented rebounding balls in the game. It was more of a proof-of-concept for the new game mechanics, and it never got network play.

Java ME

I liked running little bits of code, like applets did, so I continued into writing Java ME (J2ME) for my feature phones around 2005.

I did a gas-logging app that stored fuel-ups and drew graphs to show fuel economy.

I also wrote a quick little game called Ben’s Backhoe to give the kids a little something to do on my phone. By the time I was building this sort of thing, though, I’m a decent Java programmer, so it’s not the fun mess that we see in the other old project.

Still More

I spent most the day poking around at various old BASIC files and trying to tweak them a bit to run in PCBasic or QB64. I used lots of weird graphics modes from the Tandy 1000 and didn’t think much about portability. I may post more projects over time.

The Friendly Orange Glow

The Friendly Orange Glow


The Friendly Orange Glow tells the history of a piece of educational software, PLATO, that grew into a whole microcosm of the internet and cyber culture years before the internet we’ve known for the past 25 years.

Brian Dear attributes the obscurity of PLATO to it having been built and developed at University of Illinois in the Midwest and not at a school on the coast. The PLATO system also used dedicated client hardware with integrated slide projectors, and it ran on a single mainframe. Everything was coded in a programming language called TUTOR, which was primarily designed for authoring interactive lessons using the orange gas plasma display, a rudimentary touch input for the screen, the keyboard, an slide projector integrated into the display, and even occasional peripherals like some sort of synthetic woodwind sound device. It was all very specialized from the beginning.

I loved the time the author dedicated to describing technical details, like how the orange gas plasma display was developed: the grids of wiring, pockets of noble gases trapped between them, and the way accidental contamination allowed them to discover a memory effect they could use to keep each pixel lit. Fixing the contamination lost the memory effect. He presented a wonderful level of detail for my interest.

Cyber Culture

Donald Bitzer showed off PLATO to anyone who would take a moment to try it. He wanted people to learn and get creative, seldom shutting down experiments. He’d embrace the high school and university hackers who would wander into the labs, and he put some of them to work building hardware or testing. These people would go on to build all sorts of multiplayer games and other software to be used by other users on the system. Bitzer recognized the value in observing what people did with the spare cycles of the system at night. From that freedom sprung an entire hacker culture similar to what I found in my youth, so I felt great nostalgia for this work. Again though, I was discovering this culture in the 1990s with bulletin board systems and the internet in college, and Bitzer’s revolution had already happened in the 1970s. We were always pushing the limits of what we were supposed to do with these systems. It looked like wasted time, but we learned the most.

Discovering new lessons or software on the PLATO system seemed akin to our exploration of BBSes via our modems in the 1990s. We’d stumble around trying to find some new phone number or new corner of an existing BBS, and these kids in the 1970s were exploring PLATO to find games or long threaded discussions in notes that others were developing.

PLATO started as a way to display some slides and teach a self-paced lesson, but grew into games, forums, and email before such things existed. It could have grown into one of the great online services that followed, but they may have gotten too tied up in their centralization and specialized hardware. The management of their commercial partner may not have helped either, because they just wanted to sell mainframes, and didn’t recognize the value of community that had been built around the system.

The book was an exciting listen, and I blasted through the whole thing in about 2 days, because I just couldn’t put it down. It reminded me of my childhood and the all the potential of the systems of the day and the creativity that came from the limitations of the day. PLATO evolved in an alternate universe in the middle of the country away from the technology hubs.

Podcast List for November 2022

I have 73 feeds I currently follow. I have a whole system of prioritization, so I can listen to important things first. I’ve listed them alphabetically here:

My COVID Timeline

  • 2022-08-03 Wednesday

    • Saw Ani Difranco at XL Live in Harrisburg

    • Didn’t think I stood so close to people, but no mask.

    • Show was great.

    • Helped a stumbly drunk guy find a seat, so he could stop bumping into people

  • 2022-08-04 Thursday

    • Had a work day

    • Ran ben around to sports practice

    • Helped with fixing the well pump at parents'

    • Got home at 12:30am or so

  • 2022-08-05 Friday

    • Woke with a sore throat and stuffy, not a big deal

    • Took a Covid test in the afternoon - negative

    • Went to Penn Cinema drive-in to see Goonies

      • Marie and Emily in the car

      • Doug, Sarah, Fizz, and Sarah in other cars

      • Rained and cut short

      • Took Marie home

  • 2022-08-06 Saturday

    • Woke with sore throat and whole-body soreness

    • Covid test again at emily’s suggestion: positive

    • Notified kids, movie friends, and parents

    • Tried online appointment, but no one available but receptionist

    • Ran to Penn State Health walk-in clinic, got Paxlovid RX

    • Sat around all night watching Love, Death + Robots

  • 2022-08-07 Sunday

    • Noon: Emily picks up Paxlovid and groceries and drops them off

    • Paxlovid day 1

    • Watched lots of Love, Death + Robots

  • 2022-08-08 Monday

    • Sore throat

    • Stuffiness

    • Aches

    • Paxlovid day 2

  • 2022-08-09 Tuesday

    • Terrible sore throat

    • Start trying throat spray

    • Stuffiness

    • 2 Ibuprofen every 4-6 hrs seems to manage throat pain

    • Paxlovid day 3

  • 2022-08-10 Wednesday

    • Terrible sore throat. Is this Strep?

    • Call nurse line at doc: this is fine.

    • Paxlovid day 4

  • 2022-08-11 Thursday

    • Slept fine!

    • Throat not bad!

    • Bad taste in mouth sometimes for past couple days: like bitter, old tea

      • Gargled full-strength white vinegar. emily then informed me it should be dilluted.

    • Paxlovid day 5, last day

    • Last dose, then went to bed pretty early: tired and cranky

  • 2022-08-12 Friday

    • Slept well

    • Feeling fine

    • Tested (slightly) positive today

    • Test expires today, so i’ll use them all over the next couple days

  • 2022-08-13 Saturday

    • Listening to "attack surface"

    • Finished 30 Days Lost in Space Arduino kit — pretty cool

    • Tested negative at 7pm or so.

  • 2022-08-14 Sunday

    • Finished "Attack Surface"

    • Finished Love Death + Robots

    • Tested negative again at 11am

  • 2022-08-15 Monday

    • Worked normally

    • First bike ride in over 2 weeks: 28 miles on Northwest River Trail

Podcast Addict

I’ve used BeyondPod for over 10 years, since my first Android phone, to download, organize, and play podcasts. For at least the past 4 years, maintenance and updates to the application have slowed to a crawl. I had paid a one-time fee for the application, so I guess I couldn’t think they owed me updates forever.

I would try to find a replacement every once in a while, but the other podcatchers always lacked some feature upon which I relied. Even Podcast Addict fell short the last time I tried it about 4 years ago, but it’s been getting lots of updates.

BeyondPod: The Good Parts That Kept Me Coming Back

  • SmartPlay allowed me to organize my 74 podcast feeds into 3 or 4 tiers. This allowed me to ensure the quick, timely podcasts were played first before the longer podcasts that could wait for days or weeks. I even managed to create one tier that played chronologically, which is opposite of all my other podcasts.

  • For each podcast, I could boost the volume, adjust speed, and have it only keep the latest so many episodes.

  • It had a button to skip the rest of a podcast to quickly get to the next one.

Downsides of BeyondPod

  • It liked to just stop playing and crash occasionally.

  • It was increasingly abandoned and unmaintained, so I didn’t trust it would continue to work when Android 13 hit my phone.

  • I could export my OPML file, but it went to a private filesystem that can no longer be accessed by file managers in newer versions of Android.

  • BeyondPod never updated to use the standard media controls and kept its old notification-based player.

  • There was a race-condition bug when skipping forward through the end of an episode: it would skip way into the next episode.

  • The catalog of podcasts has stopped working, so I could only add podcasts by URL, which is fine, but less convenient.

Enter Podcast Addict

  • Podcast Addict can play at even faster speeds, though I’ve not taken advantage of these speeds: I’m still listening at 2-3x speeds.

  • For each podcast feed, I can set custom volume boost, speed, and auto cleanup by age or count of episodes.

  • When an episode is finished, it automatically moves it to a Recycle Bin or 24 hours, so I can go find it again if I want to refer to it again, or completed it by accident. In BeyondPod, I had to "delete played" occasionally for myself to give myself time to review and recover what’s been played.

  • I can assign a numeric priority to the podcasts and sort by it, so I can easily ensure my favorite podcasts play before others when they’re available just like BeyondPod’s SmartPlay, but even more conveniently.

  • "Smart Priorities" automatically increments a podcasts priority when I manually click an episode to play before others. In practice, this moved things around more than I wanted, so I disabled it and fine-tuned the priorities by hand as I saw them slightly out of order.

  • I can see artwork for each episode. I didn’t even know there was per-episode artwork.

  • I also never knew chapters were a thing in podcasts. Now I can see chapters for the couple podcasts that provide them.

  • Skip silence works well, but it’s super-weird for story podcasts, since it eliminates all hints of punctation.

  • These latest features are working really well, so I’m excited everytime I get to see the software in action. I expect to see even more features showing up in the frequent releases of Podcast Addict.

  • There’s a Getting Started guide which intuitively walked me through the things I’d likely want to configure, and I immediately recognized all the features I wanted. I was confident Podcast Addict would work for me, so I set it up completely, and signed up to pay the annual subscription fee to help make sure they keep updating it.

I made the transition, and I love Podcast Addict. Listening to podcasts is easily my #1 pastime, so it’s important that I found the perfect software.


  • 2022-09-23: Player→Settings→Controls→Skip Outro=95% let’s me hit the forward skip button in the last 5% of a podcast and finishes the whole episode instead of skipping only 20 seconds as it usually would. This saves a couple taps to get past the last bit of credits or closing music.

WiFi Drops Again

I had previously flailed around trying to fix occasional WiFi drops on my Pop_OS(Ubuntu) laptop. The intermittency made it hard to know if I really fixed it or not, and it turns out I hadn’t.

I installed Arch Linux on another computer here on my desk. While it sat around idle, I found it one day having lost its internet connection just like the Pop_OS machine does!

Now I knew this problem with the network connection wasn’t isolated to one machine. To recap:

  • the wired connection is fine

  • the Mac on the wireless network is fine

  • the mobile devices are fine

  • the 2 linux machines drop their connections every couple days

I started the search again for a solution with more information. I found some hints about power-saving options in NetworkManager.

On the Pop_OS machine, there’s a configuration file, /etc/NetworkManager/conf.d/default-wifi-powersave-on.conf, that I changed to disable powersaving:

# 0: default, 1: leave untouched, 2: disable, 3: enable
wifi.powersave = 2

I had to add a file to the Arch machine in the same location to hold this configuration. Now these machines have been maintaining their connections for days.

Design First, Measure Second

My objects repository is full of OpenSCAD code. At the top of each file you’ll find a collection of variables in the code: the measurements of the model.

We don’t need to get bogged down with those exact values to start modeling, but we know that we’ll want to identify certain parameters to size our models. We can start banging together some shapes (with union and difference), and any time we’re tempted to guess at a measurement and plug it into the code, we want to first see if we can give it a name (a variable name, that is) and use that instead and define a rough value for that variable at the top of the file. Next we can think about that value and decide if it’s related to any other values we already have. Often, one value should be calculated relative to other values: overall_width = inside_width + 2 * side_thickness. Once a measurement is defined in terms of other values it’ll automatically update as we start providing more precise measurements.

By starting with some guessed values and later plugging in real measurements, we prove that our parametric model is being correctly calculated from the measurements. We should be able to use this code time and time again to generate variations on the model based on new measurements. Our SCAD model with all the parameters at the top is ready to upload to Thingiverse and the Customizer can let users easily provide their own measurements to generate new models from our code.

CX to Gravel

2015 Redline Conquest Elite

I bought my first new bicycle in December of 2020. I had been using my previous bike much more through 2020, so I figured I had proven I’d use an upgraded bike. Ben and I had been aggressively researching gravel bikes for a while, but any bike had been hard to find in stock.

We found a used cyclocross bike, the Redline Conquest Elite, that looked enough like a gravel bike. It luckily was a good size for me, a small. The drop handlebars were exciting and different for me.

Over the year I’ve had the bike, I’ve added lots of parts and swapped others. I made the carbon fiber bike heavier but it met my needs and made it look more like a gravel bike:

  • I replaced the stem to shorten it a bit.

  • I switched to a suspension seat post.

  • I added a top-tube bag, a tool bag behind the saddle, a phone mount, a bright headlight, and a clamp-on rack in the back.

  • It came with 35mm CX tires, so I purchased other gravel tires from Vittoria in the same size. The new tires were smoother, but clearance seemed a bit tighter. I’ve very recently swapped to a narrower 31mm rear tire to have better clearance for mud.

  • The original groupset on my bike was built for a stronger road rider: 36T/46T chain rings paired with an 11-28 cassette. I needed a little more help climbing, but I liked the speed of the faster gears. I first replaced the 36T ring with a 34T, and then I found an 11-34 cassette. This goes about as slow as I need to go up a hill, but retains those high, fast gears for me.

I know the bike’s not really a gravel bike, but I think I have myself convinced enough that it’ll work for me, and I don’t need to shop for the next bike. I’ve already ridden over 200 miles in the first 2 months of this year and 1100+ miles in 2021. I’m feeling pretty strong with this current configuration.

Google Can't Reach SmartThings

My Google Assistant on my phone has been refusing to turn on and off the 2 devices I have on smart plugs: "Can’t reach SmartThings."

I found an article about the Google Home doing the same thing. Fortunately, the advice there worked: go into Assistant’s settings → Devices → Add Devices. Upon clicking on the SmartThings entry that was already there, it gave me the option to re-link. Once I authorized access, I could again ask Google to control those devices.

Wireless Drops on Pop OS 20.10 and Later

Upon the release of Pop OS 20.10, my System76 laptop and my Arris router started having some disagreements. The laptop would drop connection every couple hours and not reconnect itself. I’d see the little question mark in the WIFI indicator, and I needed to manually turn WIFI off and back on to restore the connection.

I found mentions of this behavior in Ubuntu and in Pop OS forums, and supposedly newer NetworkManager from Gnome would fix it, so I suffered and waited for the beta of Pop OS 21.04 to be available. That didn’t fix it, so I started digging around some more in System76’s page for Troubleshooting Wireless.

I picked my way through the tips and applied some of them. Disabling band steering in the router finally seems to have fixed the problem. I’ve kept my WIFI connection up and running for days now. I didn’t need to name the 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks differently.

No Suspend on Desktop Server

I have a desktop server running Debian Unstable in the house, and I occasionally reboot it without logging back into the local desktop session. If I don’t login, I’d later find the machine mysteriously inaccessible — asleep. It’s set to never sleep, but that’s when I’m logged in.

To disable sleep in the GDM3 Greeter, I edited the /etc/gdm3/greeter.dconf-defaults, found the "Automatic suspend"/[org/gnome/settings-daemon/plugins/power] section and followed the comments to add:


Now the machine will act a little more like it’s a server.

It's the 12-Volt

The Symptoms

It’s the 12 volt

In the BMW i3 Worldwide Group on Facebook, there are a few recurring jokes, and one of the most popular is the 12-volt battery causing every little weird issue. One could wonder why it has a 12-volt battery at all, since the 400-some-volt battery should be able to power the accessories. Additionally, BMW cars have a complicated charging system that requires registration when the battery is replaced, so it’s easy to understand why one might put off dealing with it. The dealers can charge crazy amounts of money for replacement.

My 2014 i3 has an occasional annoyance I attribute possibly to that little 12-volt battery: sometimes forgetting its presets and bluetooth pairing. The more obvious warning is that the battery has discharged while sitting, and while it’s not clear on the screen, it means the 12-volt battery. Mine did it for a couple cold days, so I figured I was due to replace the battery, but the warning stopped, so I thought I might have had some more time.

Over the weekend, I got to see the spectacular (and expected) failure of the car due to the 12-volt battery going very low. I opened the back hatch, stowed all my worldly possessions in the back, closed it, and then the alarm started whistling, and I could not get anything unlocked or stopped by the key fob. The alarm stopped on its own, but I still couldn’t get into the car, and I could see the taillights lowly blinking, so it seemed to be the dreaded 12-volt battery.

The alarm went again and later the horn while I worked. Nothing inside the car would respond either. This was the failure about which the group warned: it can’t do anything, and you’ll need it dragged onto a rollback! The car charges the 12-volt battery when running, but without the 12-volt battery, the car can’t get any of its smarts going to even power up the car. They’ve managed to engineer a problem of old cars into the new.

The Familiar Fix

I learned to pry off the cover to use the mechanical key and to manually pop the hood. I figured I may as well try to get it power with one of those Lithium Ion jump-starter packs I had on hand. (I carry it in the car, so I can still be helpful when others need a start.) I pulled the velcro covers and removed the allen and star screws from the bin and removed the bin, so I could mostly get to the battery. I could just barely fit the little battery clamps in place on the battery terminals. I turned on the battery pack, the car clicked, and everything came back to life. I knew I couldn’t drive with that battery pack there, so I let it charge for 10-15 minutes, turned it off, and found the car still functioned, so I removed the battery pack, and hit the road to drop the car at my local independent shop to have the battery replaced.

A jump-starter did turn out to be useful with the i3, and it saved me a tow for a problem that shouldn’t be so catastrophic.

Java Joyless

Mr Haki has a Java Joy article about transforming a stream of strings into a map using functional Java. I’m having a bit of trouble embracing it enthusiastically, since each example is 81 lines of Java code and a pointy pile of type declarations!

I dashed out the same functionality in 4 lines of Clojure, and I can understand it a whole lot easier. I’m not even sure this is the fewest forms, but it’s still nicer.

    ["language" "clojure" "username" "john"]
    (partition 2)
    (reduce (fn [m [k v]] (assoc m k v)) {}))
  ;; => {"language" "clojure", "username" "john"}

Update 2021-04-14: It can be done in one line of Clojure.

  (apply hash-map ["language" "clojure" "username" "john"])
  ;; => {"language" "clojure", "username" "john"}

Written with Clojure 1.10.2.

Fixes for Overtone and SuperCollider on PopOS 20.10

I took the update to PopOS 20.10, and my Overtone setup stopped working. When I’d try to boot up the internal SuperCollider server from Emacs or from the leiningen repl on my music projects which all (:require [ :refer :all]), get an error in native libraries. I could also try to start the server with (boot-internal-server) or (boot-external-server), but it gives the same error.

--> Booting internal SuperCollider server...
Cannot read socket fd = 107 err = Success
CheckRes error
Could not read result type = 22
Client name = Overtone conflits with another running client
Cannot connect to the server
JackShmReadWritePtr1::~JackShmReadWritePtr1 - Init not done for -1, skipping unlock
JackShmReadWritePtr::~JackShmReadWritePtr - Init not done for -1, skipping unlock
JackShmReadWritePtr::~JackShmReadWritePtr - Init not done for -1, skipping unlock
could not initialize audio.
# A fatal error has been detected by the Java Runtime Environment:
#  SIGSEGV (0xb) at pc=0x00007f5eec0e9ba7, pid=30517, tid=30605
# JRE version: OpenJDK Runtime Environment AdoptOpenJDK (15.0.1+9) (build 15.0.1+9)
# Java VM: OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM AdoptOpenJDK (15.0.1+9, mixed mode, sharing, tiered, compressed oops, g1 gc, linux-amd64)
# Problematic frame:
# C  []  World_WaitForQuit+0x7
# No core dump will be written. Core dumps have been disabled. To enable core dumping, try "ulimit -c unlimited" before starting Java again
# An error report file with more information is saved as:
# /home/john/workspace/music/hs_err_pid30517.log
--> Connecting to internal SuperCollider server...
[thread 30576 also had an error]
# If you would like to submit a bug report, please visit:
# The crash happened outside the Java Virtual Machine in native code.
# See problematic frame for where to report the bug.

Since it can no longer start the server internally from within Overtone, I start the server manually. I wrapped a script around the start up, so I can set the environment variables for configuring jack and starting up the synth:


# automatically connect up jack ports
export SC_JACK_DEFAULT_INPUTS="system:capture_1,system:capture_2"
export SC_JACK_DEFAULT_OUTPUTS="system:playback_1,system:playback_2"

scsynth -u 57110

To get Overtone going again, I disabled the automatic boot of the server within Overtone by switching all the requires in each file from to overtone.core, and I connect to that external server from my REPL manually with (connect-external-server) before doing anything else.

Finally, Overtone was consistently failing to find my MIDI keyboard. When things were working well enough a couple months ago, it still had required a little dance of killing off jackd and restarting Overtone, since something had been tying up the MIDI interface. This workaround was no longer adequate, since scsynth and jackd needed to already be started. I disabled MIDI connection in jackd by removing the -Xseq option from my ~/.jackdrc.

I’m back in business, and it’s probably more robust with these manual steps now. I think I’m also seeing some other odd little things working with the external server that didn’t previously, like using (mouse-x) for reading mouse positions into the synth values. The built-in piano synth is also working where it hadn’t previously.

Update 2021-02-13: I had lost the ability to send desktop audio (pulseaudio) through to the Jack Sink with this setup, so I figured out to start qjackctl before my That gets the Jack Sink available again to pulseaudio and the desktop sound menu.

Escape with Spacemacs in Tmux

I’ve occasionally been using a SSH session from my Pixel phones for years to login to my servers and write Clojure code in Emacs. I’d often run into an issue where I find myself having a weird time switching between NORMAL and INSERT modes when I’d hit ESCAPE quickly and try to move the cursor.

Googling my random problems is a favorite pastime, and I’ve finally stumbled upon an article about tmux and vim escape key. I learned that it’s probably been tmux sporadically eating my ESCAPE key, so I’ve tried disabling the built-in delay by adding to my .tmux.conf:

set -g -s escape-time 0


A recent New York Times article exposes that Donald Trump paid no income taxes for 10 of 15 years . To some, that sounds like neglecting a duty to the public and the nation that makes so much possible for us. To just as many, that sounds like an ad for the next big tax preparation service they need to hire. Read the article, and you’ll see it’s a complicated shell game of write-offs, profits, losses, and fees shuffled around from year to year, even to past years as tax laws changed.

Will this change anyone’s view of anything? No.

Do I benefit from public spending? Absolutely.

Do I pay for it in taxes? Of course.

Do I like the way some tax dollars are spent? No, so maybe I should want to reduce it, but really we need to fix the way it’s spent.

Do I take deductions I can find? Yes, I pay a tax professional to tell me what to deduct and how I can save money. Why is this not simpler? Why is it so hard to know what we really owe? Why is there an entire industry built around avoiding our responsibility to pay taxes? Tax laws are changed and complicated to sweeten the deal for some lawmaker who’s signing, or in some cases, the complication or loopholes are often unintended consequences that were supposed to help someone else in need.

I’ll not sing anthems or salute a flag, but I’ll pay taxes and vote for people who spend the money to provide more stability for people.

As the shells continue to shuffle the margins will tighten, so I really hope we get him out of office before his debts come due and he’s selling off our futures.

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