Three Good Books I Read in 2021

This year I’ve read twenty-one books or 5903 pages. That’s fewer books than last year (28 / 8064), the year before (25 / 8394), and the one before that (30 / 8447). Heck, I must look back at 2014 to score a win in my very own yearly reading challenge. What surprises me is not much the number of books but the pages I read, which constitutes a more relevant metric. »

Book Review: Consider the Lobster

I found a Consider the Lobster review on Goodreads that almost precisely matches my thoughts on DFW and the book. Hence, given the lazy Christmas-break mood I am in right now, I am conceding myself the right to copy-paste and edit David’s review right away. I know of nobody else who writes as thoughtfully and intelligently as DFW. That he manages to write so informatively, with humor and genuine wit, on almost any subject under the sun is mind-blowing – it’s also why I am willing to forgive his occasional stylistic excesses. »

System Shock is Back Home

When The Digital Antiquarian released his System Shock retrospective earlier this year, I was in awe. System Shock was one of my favorite games back in the day, and yes, in the quarrel between id Software’s DOOM and Looking Glass’s System Shock, I was siding with the latter. I was so much more for immersion and storyline than shoot ‘em-ups. The Antiquarian article is excellent. If you’re into gaming history or, really, into computer’s history, I urge you to read it all. »

Book Review: About the Meaning of Life

I’m not a regular philosophy reader, much less of self-improvement guides. I’m wary of the latter and too ignorant for the former. Yet, theologian Vito Mancuso has intrigued me for some time. I followed his podcast on the “Four Masters of Life”1 and found it excellent. In it, Mancuso discusses his four tutelary deities: “Socrates, the educator. Buddha, the physician. Confucius, the politician. Jesus, the prophet.” I also listened to some TV interviews where I always found him fascinating. »

Migrating a Windows 10 VM to Windows 11 in Parallels Desktop: a story of TPM chips and BIOS upgrades

This weekend assignment was to upgrade a couple of old Windows 10 VMs to Windows 11 in Parallels Desktop 17. I couldn’t do that right away because Windows Update was complaining about the lack of the TPM chip. A little research revealed that TPM chips only work on UEFI BIOS. To check which BIOS version was being used in my VMs, I used the msinfo32 (System Information) application. It showed the BIOS to be of “Legacy” type. »

A big nail in the coffin of MySQL

After five years in Oracle’s MySQL team, Steinar H. Gunderson resigned a few days ago. On the same day, he dropped the bomb on his blog: let me point out something that I’ve been saying both internally and externally for the last five years (although never on a stage—which explains why I’ve been staying away from stages talking about MySQL): MySQL is a pretty poor database, and you should strongly consider using Postgres instead1. »

On the incredible opportunities offered by Starship

Space-junkie me is back, this time reading about the innumerable opportunities that SpaceX’s Starship will offer once it becomes operational, hopefully no later than this year or the next. In his Science Upside for Starship, the exceptionally knowledgeable Casey Handmer makes a case for Starship relevance in the future of space exploration by listing an astounding number of reasonable use-cases for the vessel. I think it is relatively straightforward to think of cool things to do with SpaceX Starships, so recent posts have focused on trying to understand the more mixed consequences for incumbent industrial organizations that are not ideally positioned to exploit the coming advances. »

Book Review: A useless man

Sait Faik Abasıyanık is an acclaimed Turkish storyteller. A useless man is a collection of short stories that spans nearly two decades of the author’s output, offering a glimpse into his imaginative and troubled mind. His overflowing love for others (even sensual, with a preference for street kids) combined with a “mal de vivre” that pushes him towards self-destruction are apparent. His passion for the most popular areas of Istanbul and, in contrast, the atavistic nostalgia for the simple life of the nearby fishermen islets exudes from these stories, which often run similar one after another. »

Chet Baker, born to be cool

A great piece of writing on jazz has recently been posted on The Smart Set. In Born to be cool, Matthew Duffus writes about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, reporting about his troubled life, musical prowess, influence, and legacy. Some facts are well known, like the reception and then the competition with trumpet legends such as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie; other tidbits are less known (to me at least). On Baker legacy: »

Book Review: Endurance, Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Of all the stories of maritime adventures I’ve read, that of the Endurance, masterfully told by Alfred Lansing in this book, is the most incredible and shocking. Unbelievable to say, given the premise (a crew of 28 men stranded on the Antarctic pack, camped on floating slabs of ice hundreds of miles from any human settlement, at the gates of the Antarctic winter), but the story does not end in tragedy. »

I'm a Moka guy

I’m a Moka guy, always have been. Admittedly, I also like so-called American coffee and, of course, espresso. But every day at my place, I’ll have a Moka-brewed coffee. Twice. As I wake up, and then in the afternoon before getting back to work. I’ve been observing the pods frenzy spreading all around me with curiosity and bewilderment in recent years, with dedicated retailers opening (and often closing soon after) everywhere in my town. »

Book Review: Mathematics is politics

Mathematics as the study of relationships: in this aspect lies the similarity and affinity with politics. And then the need in both cases to proceed with stubbornness and trust, without fearing error which, as in all difficult things, is not only lying in wait but inherent, and often, when it is discovered, it is the stimulus and engine of new successes and goals. Hence the need to respect rules and (not or, mind you) the compelling need for revolutions. »

How to automatically pull and deploy updated Docker images

We want our test and production stacks to be automatically updated every time something new is pushed to the test or release branch. CI builds the docker image on successful test runs, then stores it in our private registry. But how do you automatically pull and deploy those updated images? I looked into the Watchtower project, which is interesting. You add Watchtower to the stack, and it will diligently check for new versions of the images used by the containers in the stack, pulling, building and deploying as needed while the stack is up and running. »

Learn in public

Today I searched the internet for something, and the first result I got from @duckduckgo was a note I wrote months ago to my future self; how meta is that. Learn in public, it gives superpowers1. Also, in recent years, adopting POSSE was the best thing I did for my personal development. Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow @nicolaiarocci on Twitter I should do better. Post more TILs, for example. »

My ASP.NET 5 migration to .NET 6

I spent the last few days migrating our ASP.NET REST services, MVC web applications and Blazor server apps to .NET 6. Overall the process was pretty straightforward. The few issues I went through were easy to solve and well documented. Things got more involved with the EF Core 6 transition, especially with the Npgsql Entity Framework Core Provider. The official ASP.NET Core 5.0 to 6.0 migration guide was my first stop. »

The posthuman dog

Flo, our dog, spent her whole fifteen-years long life with us. Many, many times after she passed away, I wondered if she lived a happy dog life or not. In The posthuman dog (Aeon), Jessica Pierce poses a fascinating question that somehow helps find answers to my troubling question: If humans were to disappear from the face of the Earth, what might dogs become? And would they be better off without us? »

Is Eve still maintained?

Tonight someone opened a ticket on the Eve repository. I jotted down a quick reply and was about to hit the Comment button when I thought a more articulated reply was in order. I also want it published on my website. So the question is: Is Eve still maintained? My reply goes like this: Hello, yes, Eve is in ‘maintenance mode’, as I call it. I don’t actively develop new features anymore. »

Book Review: King and Emperor, A New Life of Charlemagne

In this scholarly biography by Janet L. Nelson, Charlemagne is stripped back from the years of mythologizing and idolizing that have occurred since his death. He is presented as distinctly human, and this book is the first time I have felt I could reasonably understand Charlemagne as the man he was, not the man he has since been painted to be. Moreover, Nelson is excellent in her discussions of Charlemagne’s wives and their roles. »

Book Review: Language of the Spirit, An Introduction to Classical Music

In this introduction to classical music, Jan Swafford explains the different musical periods and their differences. Each period has its introductory chapter, followed by chapters dedicated to the most influential composers of the era. The choice is comprehensive and well cared for, with the most relevant names well-investigated both in biography and works. For each composer, Swafford also offers some listening suggestions. Biographies thicken as we get into the contemporary era. »

I met with the wolves

I sit under a wild apple tree at the edge of the clearing. Like a plant, I absorb the mild October sun. At the same time, I attentively listen to the sounds of the forest. Suddenly I hear a stomping of dry leaves about twenty meters ahead of me, slightly to my right. A wolf emerges out of the thicket. He stops for a moment, glances around, then starts crossing the clearing. »