We sold our car today

Most of you probably don’t know, but about 5 months ago, Karolina and I bought a beautiful, red, 2013 Seat Leon coupé. We sold it today, because of our upcoming move to the Netherlands where we won’t need it, and also because it’s a major hassle moving a car to NL (a proper European federation cannot happen soon enough). It was our first car and despite the fact that we’re both pretty left-leaning, bike-riding, train-loving hippies, we were surprised how much our car–a petrol-burning, city-clogging thing–grew on us. Here is a couple of observations we made about it.

Continue reading “We sold our car today”

ECM is finally streaming, and I’m here to tell you what’s good

As some of you might have heard, the legendary Munich label ECM finally jumped on the streaming bandwagon. Yes, Manfred, I wholeheartedly agree that the beautiful music your label publishes demands to be listened on CDs and LPs, but these are harder and harder to take on a plane. With iPod Classic not sold anymore and iTunes morphing into Apple Music, music lovers will soon be left with only 3rd party solutions to keep actual music files on their smartphones. So thank you, herr Eicher, for allowing us to stream your whole catalog in 96 kbps Ogg Vorbis Spotify streams. (Did Keith Jarrett sign off on that btw? Nevermind, I know he didn’t. )

The New York Times recently published a list of their 21 “essential” ECM albums, and I agree with many of their picks. But at the end of the day they are just The New York Times, so what would they know? Here are my favorite ECM albums, which you should listen to at once. My list is of course highly subjective, but my taste is known to be notoriously better than NYT’s. Continue reading “ECM is finally streaming, and I’m here to tell you what’s good”

“And the Weak Suffer What They Must?”

I always slightly disliked Yanis Varoufakis. Strike that, actually I always thought he’s a bit of a clown. Motorbike-riding, leather-jacket-clad, attention-seeking, populist, arrogant clown. Worst of all, he was part of that annoying movement of European politicians that rejected the narrative I believed in, namely that:

  1. One must always pay ones debts.1
  2. EU and its institutions always know what they’re doing.
  3. Countries must be extremely careful with public spending and apply strict austerity measures when facing economic difficulties.2

Varoufakis, an outspoken critic of European Union and its institutions, and a prime minister in a populist government was in stark opposition to that narrative, and thus to everything I knew about public-sector economics (gives you an idea of how deep my knowledge was). I really hated the man, and felt sorry for the Greek people that they had a politician like this, in as critical a function as their finance minister, in the midst of such an enormous crisis.
Continue reading ““And the Weak Suffer What They Must?””

Jazz Music in 2016

2016 was, as The Verge put it, “a good year for weird jazz.”1 I’d go even further: both 2015 and 2016 show that jazz is an evolving genre, and that it became more exciting than ever before. Influences of hip-hop and electronic music are becoming more visible, new artists pop-up in places you’d never expect (I’m looking at you, LA) and push music into new territories. So while I do appreciate The Verge’s recommendations (especially Shabaka and The Ancestors),2 I had to add some of my own. All of them represent that very shift in jazz’s esthetics, so if you’re looking for a review of Redman & Mehldau duo, you’ll be a bit disappointed. If you enjoy fresh sound, however, read on. Continue reading “Jazz Music in 2016”

bora—an AWS Cloudformation wrapper

Last weekend I spent some time working on a small project: bora.1 It’s a simple wrapper around AWS Cloudformation, so obviously everyone’s question is: why the hell would I want yet another Cloudformation wrapper? tl;dr answer is: because all the ones which are available suck. But let me elaborate.

  • Troposphere-based tools are inelegant. Troposphere itself is poorly documented, and I dislike how the Python code mixes with actual Cloudformation JSON code in it. It’s also very often non-lintable (or gets unreadable after linting).
  • I ❤️ Python just like the next guy, but it’s not very well suited for things like CI/CD pipelines. I see this a lot in clients’ setups: first your jenkins job needs to pull the code, then create a virtualenv and pip the requirements, then lint (hah!), and then, hopefully, run. With compiled languages (and Golang especially), you only need to download a binary and run it. The only thing you have to care about is the underlying architecture and OS (which, in 99% of the CI/CD cases, is elf x86_64).

  • I want to embrace Cloudformation’s new neat & clean YAML capabilities. JSON is ugly. Troposphere, as mentioned already, is ugly too. Combining YAML with some Jinja-like markup for variables and loops, we could end up with something very elegant and readable. Continue reading “bora—an AWS Cloudformation wrapper”