The Man Who Explains Italy

The New Yorker, in The Man Who Explains Italy: The Italian podcaster Francesco Costa thinks that the foreign press’s fixation on creeping Fascism in the country is overblown and unhelpful. If the center-right coalition wins, “Will Italy be a police state? No,” he said. “Will it be very badly run? Yes.” Full article is available here. I’ve been following Francesco Costa for a few years. He’s talented, conscientious, brilliant, and gifted with good humor. »

Eve 2.0.2 released

Eve 2.0.2 was just released today. It fixes a problem introduced with v2.0 in which ETag generation failed if uuidRepresentation was not set in MONGO_OPTIONS. See issue #1486 for details. Many thanks @tgm for reporting and then contributing the fix. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow @nicolaiarocci on Twitter »

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

In my early morning stroll, I sometimes listen to audiobooks. This was the case with The Count of Monte Cristo. Rai Radio 3, the third channel of the national broadcasting service, has been airing Ad Alta Voce (Aloud) for many years. In the program, top-tier actors read old and new literary classics. The quality of these productions is astounding. Audio editions are often edited, which was the case with The Count, as the unabridged edition surpasses the 1200-page count (a little-known fact is that most printed editions are also edited for brevity). »

Software quality is systemic

Jacob Kaplan-Moss’s hot take on software quality: Software quality is more the result of a system designed to produce quality, and not so much the result of individual performance. That is: a group of mediocre programmers working with a structure designed to produce quality will produce better software than a group of fantastic programmers working in a system designed with other goals. This leads to the insightful conclusion: »

Motorcycling the Dolomites with the club

Last weekend I went on a motorcycle trip with my club. Our goal was to visit the beautiful Dolomites in the Italian Alps1. We had twenty motorcycles on the road, evenly split between modern classics (Bonnevillles in all their variations) and adventure bikes (Tigers new and old). A great turnout considering that the weather forecast for the weekend wasn’t exactly great. Of all the TOMCC members who registered, only two were missing because they tested positive for COVID. »

Book Review: Smiling Bears

My perception of zoos has always been of prisons—places of suffering where animals are held captive for human entertainment. Smiling Bears offered a new perspective. Some (hopefully most) zoos provide a safe harbor to abused and rescued animals who could never return to their natural habitats. Zookeepers like Else Poulsen care for these creatures, accompanying them in their rehabilitation process. I imagine not all zoos and zookeepers meet these standards, but it is reassuring to know these things happen. »

FatturaElettronica v3.4 released

Today I released v3.4 of FatturaElettronica, a .NET open source project that allows validation and de/serialization of electronic invoices adhering to the standard defined by the Italian “Agenzia delle Entrate”. It’s doing very well for such a niche project, with downloads now well beyond the one hundred thousand mark. Be aware that this release anticipates support for v1.7.1 of the specification going into effect on October 1, 2022. For more information, see the appropriate ticket and the changelog. »

The Docker Event Monitor

I added a new tool to my amateurish DevOps toolbox. Developed in the open by Tom Williams, the Docker Event Monitor is a “tiny container that monitors the local Docker event system in real-time and sends notifications to various integrations for event types that match the configuration. For example, you can trigger an alert when a container is stopped, killed, runs out of memory or health status change.” At its core sits a simple python script that monitors the docker. »

Eve 2.0.1 released

Today I released Eve 2.0.1, which contains an essential fix if you’re using MONGO_URI to connect to your MongoDB instance. See the relevant ticket for details. I’ve also pinned Flask dependency to v2.1, as v2.2 brings some breaking changes that, you guessed it, break our CI runs. If you think you can help wiht that, please do so. The complete changelog is available here. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow @nicolaiarocci on Twitter »

How I stopped Spotify from draining both my RAM and CPU

A few days ago, I was browsing my Twitter feed when a suggestion from my friend @flaper87 caught my attention: On my “comfortably old” MacBook Pro1, Spotify has been an absolute hog. The simple act of opening it will require three hundred MBs. That’s a remarkable amount of memory for staying idle and doing nothing useful. Let it play for a few hours, and have fun glancing at CPU and RAM usage ramping up like there’s no tomorrow. »

The Women Who Built Grunge

This week the “Sunday Morning Reading Award” goes to Lisa Whittington-Hill, for her The Women Who Built Grunge on Longreads: Bands like L7 and Heavens to Betsy were instrumental to the birth of the grunge scene, but for decades were treated like novelties and sex objects. Thirty years later, it’s time to reassess their legacy. More here. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow @nicolaiarocci on Twitter »

G.K. Chesterton on fairy tales, actually

Robin Rendle quoting Neil Gaiman, who is quoting G.K. Chesterton: Fairy tales, as G.K. Chesterton once said, are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated. I read somewhere that he based the Gilbert character from The Sandman on Chesterton, so it’s no surprise to find Gaiman quoting Chesterton in Smoke and Mirrors. Wanting to find the work in which the quote first appeared, I did a little research only to discover that G. »

An account of the mother of all demos

As part of his captivating Hidden Heroes series, Steven Johnson publishes an account of the mother of all demos. More than 50 years ago, Douglas Engelbart gave the “mother of all demos” that transformed software forever. The computer world has been catching up with his vision ever since. More here Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow @nicolaiarocci on Twitter »

A stunning visualization of John Coltrane's 'Giant Steps' solo

Open Culture shared a “jaw-dropping visualization of John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ solo.” Indeed, it is stunning, beautiful and valuable. A visualization like this makes music much more accessible. Quoting Open Culture: Coltrane’s complexity is daunting for the most accomplished musicians. How much more so for non-musicians? It can seem like “you need a doctorate of music to go anywhere near his recordings,” Nicholson writes. But “nothing could be further from the truth. »

The indictment against Sparta

Bret Devereaux has long been my go-to source for all things ancient and military history. One thing I somehow missed reading from his incredibly resourceful website is the This Isn’t Sparta series. He recently published a three-year-anniversary series retrospective which promptly surfaced on my RSS feed, giving me a chance to catch up over the holidays. The whole thing is a very long read, with some installments more engaging than others but overall very enjoyable, eye-opening, and information dense. »

Book Review: A Captive West or the tragedy of Central Europe

Adelphi1 prints in book form two unpublished speeches by Milan Kundera, one from 1967 and the other from 1983, in which the great Czech writer reflects on the fate of the small nations in central Europe and the cultural drift of (western) Europe as a whole. As we read along, thanks to Kundera’s acumen and depth of analysis, we find many surprising ante-litteram references to today’s critical situation (Russian-Ukrainian war). »

Book Review: Just an Ordinary Day

As a Shirley Jackson fan, I couldn’t pass on this new collection of unpublished short stories. A good chunk of these was unheard of for thirty years until someone unearthed some cardboard boxes in a Vermont barn and then sent them to her heirs. Unlike The Lottery, where all tales followed a distinct theme, Just an Ordinary Day has little to unite the stories. Several genres are represented: classic family stories, supernatural, horror, and unsettling accounts of day-to-day life in the fifties all make up the list. »

Book Review: Italica

Suppose you are looking for a juicy and thought-provoking read on Italy’s twentieth-century crucial moments. In that case, I heartily recommend Italica by Giacomo Papi, a significant collection of short stories by prominent Italian writers of the period including the likes of Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, Beppe Fenoglio, Natalia Ginzburg, and Giorgio Scerbanenco. A short essay introduces each tale. I thoughtfully appreciated these introductions, sometimes even more so than the story itself, as they are quintessential to comprehending the tale’s historical background. »

I'm a Microsoft MVP once again

I am happy and humbled to have been awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for the seventh consecutive year. July 1, the award assignation day, always comes with curiosity and a bit of trepidation. Being a member of the MVP community has been a very positive experience for me, especially in the years before COVID, when the MVP Summit, the main MVP event, was held in person in Seattle at the Microsoft HQ. »

"A project you maintain has been designated as critical"

Last week, I got a mail from PyPI, the Python package index. They informed me that one of my open source projects had been designated as ‘critical,’ and I was therefore required to enable two-factor authentication. If I didn’t oblige, I would soon lose the ability to add new releases or modify the project. The project in question was Cerberus. The ‘critical’ designation happens when a project has been in the top 1% of downloads over the prior six months. »