Toddy, tools and end sems.
A toddy shop, Hoode Beach, Udupi, 2019
For those new here, I aspire to write about what is happening with me on at least a weekly basis. To quote my older post
I hope I keep this up and eventually I can publish my future memoir of my wildly successful life with this a reference.
In that spirit, I had decided to rename this series to “My memoir”, but I don’t think I like the name anymore. Unfortunately, I don’t have a better name right now. I hope to retitle this in the coming weeks. But for now, read the rest of my memoir here.
Apart from this, all my chapters end with “Notes on the epigraph” where I give more context on the photograph in my frontmatter.
Shaped by tools.
Structure determines everything. For me, the most fascinating result of this is the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, the idea that the language that we speak and think in changes our cognition and world view. Language is the most primitive structure of thinking. I strongly believe that we are cognitively limited by language, and conversely, cognitively augmented by language. This, I suspect, is part of the reason why some of the smartest people1 are prolific writers. While I can go on and on about the incredible implication of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, I am going to curtail myself to draw parallel to this - we can only be as productive (or unproductive) as our tools. For anyone who expected profundity, I am sorry, you landed on the wrong blog.
The implications of this mundane observation are something I experienced only in the past few weeks. Spending time learning about the tools I use has boosted my productivity. There is true joy in using the right tool properly. Being tied to a computer for both money and leisure, I end up using lots of tools. I am fortunate2 enough to have a huge chunk of my life ruled by ones and zeroes. This means that most of my life and habits are open to being augmented by said tools. Despite this massive opportunity, I end up misusing most of the tools I use. Tools get in my way. This is because I have rarely ever spent time in really learning the tools. One could say, most of my life I have been a bigger tool than said tools.
I have decided to make a more conscious effort to learn how to use tools - to read about them, understand them. I can confidently say, so far, there is not one tool that I have mastered. But here are some tools that I have recently got better at using which have changed, for the lack of a better word, the game.
I have said it before and I will say it again, anything Jetbrains touches turns into gold. My daily driver is Goland, Jetbrain’s IDE for Go. Learning it’s shortcuts and features makes development a truly pleasurable experience. I have tried VS Code, Doom Emacs, Vim and even Sublime. Nothing has come close the the Jetbrains experience. Everything just works, right out of the box. The only thing I had to tweak was to add IdeaVim support for Vim key bindings. I can confidently say, nobody at work can fly3 through the code base like I can, all thanks to the good folk over at Jetbrains. I am a customer for life.
Okay, this is an embarrasing one. Only in the past few months I have really been using git properly. Git patch has become my favourite command. The motivation to make meaningful, atomic commits has improved my code quality and the way I think about a feature. It has also help me cleanly revert particular features and bits of code. For everyone who codes - please learn good git hygiene.
I loved hating on Jira, until I learnt how to use it. It’s beautiful for getting work done. The ability to make tasks, create epics, logging hours, creating branches and a whole lot more is incredible. When it all works, it’s beautiful.
This is something I started recently using to manage parts of my personal life. The simplicity and elegance of using these boards are what I love about them the most. Using a kanban board is forcing me to think of tasks and their state on my board. It’s truly helping me structure my thoughts in translating them into actionable tasks. My current tool of choice is Trello, only because it was the first tool in the DuckDuckGo search results that I recognized. I think everyone should try using kanban boards for it’s extremely low barrier of entry and extreme customizability. My current kanban board has the following states
- Todo: Have to do
- Doing: Am doing
- Recently Done: Things I just completed, but don’t want to move on from until their results really solidify.
- Done: An archive of tasks I have done.
Notes on the epigraph
November 2019 was the last month I lived in Manipal. It was during this month that I was giving the last series of examinations for my bachelors degree. They say that Manipal has two kinds of climates, hot and dry, and hot and wet. November was hot and dry and suffused with nostalgia. We all knew this was it - our time living in this small student town was coming to an end.
This picture was taken during the thick of our end semester examinations, one day before my “ML with Big Data” finals. It was not the hardest subject we had, and more importantly, we were nearing the end of our Manipal life. We had to make the most of our final days here. It was with this mindset that we decided that it was a good idea for us to go a quick road trip to Toddy Shop in Hoode, a small fishing village near Manipal. Also, I didn’t miss an article there; we didn’t make a trip to a toddy shop, or the toddy shop. It’s just Toddy Shop, a very avant garde name name for a gentlemanly establishment.
My two flatmates, Rahul and Vishnu along with Jetin, another of my college mates 4 made our pilgrimage to Toddy Shop to experience fresh toddy. It would be an abomination if we never tried fresh today despite spending our college years surrounded by coconut and palm trees.
Toddy Shop was absolutely picturesque, tables strewn by the beach with coconut trees everywhere. There was a tiny shanty that hosted the two men who ran the joint. All the toddy was freshly brewed and harvested from the trees on the property. It was all very organic, and dare I say, rustic.
The beach, coconut trees and a shanty aka 7th semester nostalgia in a picture
For those who aren’t toddy connoisseurs, toddy is palm wine. It is prepared by fermenting the sap from palm trees. The sap starts getting fermented naturally due to the presence of yeasts soon after it’s extracted. Little containers are hung atop these trees which keep collecting the sap and letting it ferment in-situ. In about 2 hours, the drink gets mildly alcoholic (about 4-5%) and by early evening, it gets really boozy. By the end of the day, it becomes a vinegar of sorts.
The toddy we got must have been 5-6 hours old, freshly harvested from trees. It was fruity, yeasty and quite refreshing. We paired our toddy with a couple of fish and some calamari. We stayed till the sunset.
PS: I still got an A grade in the ML for Big Data end sem.
“Smartest” is a very subjective measure. Even if you take a very rough heuristic of people who have a reputation for being “smart” like in this list, you’d notice they have an absolutely prolific publishing history which I think is a good proxy for grasp on language. ↩
Or, in many ways unfortunate. ↩
And I mean absolutely blaze through the code base. Out of the box support for tests, debuggers, Docker and a 100 other things are just the cherry on top. ↩
Who recently got an admit to Georgia Tech’s Online MS CS program, shoutout! ↩