My Macbook is Ill

Google Photos reminded me that my Macbook Pro is 5 years old as of this week! I got it in the summer between my high school graduation and freshman year of college. How time flies…

Unfortunately, that model of Macbook has persistent battery issues. A few years ago, I noticed the battery swelling, and the OS reported that the battery was beginning to fail. Fortunately, Apple was able to service it without charging me. Over the last few weeks, the replacement battery began to swell in a similar way.

I've almost entirely been using that laptop in “clamshell” mode during the pandemic, so I didn't notice the extent of the swelling. This week, I discovered that the battery had swelled to the point where the case couldn't close completely, and the trackpad and keyboard were beginning to bulge and deform. Not good!

Battery so swollen that the case can't shut

Battery so swollen that the case can't shut

That Macbook is overdue for a refresh, but I'm not in the mood to purchase a new machine right now, so I'm going to try to get the battery replaced (again).

Trying out the Windows Linux Subsystem

While I'm without my Mac, I've been trying to do my normal workflows on my Windows desktop. I mostly use Windows for gaming, but I'd heard that the Linux Subsystem had improved substantially in the past few years, so I decided to give it a shot.

The installation process for the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) was easy – I just had to make sure that my Windows 10 installation was up-to-date enough before the install. I was surprised to see that there are a number of Linux distros available: Ubuntu, Debian, Kali, etc.

I was not a fan of the default terminal that came with WSL. It's “fine”, but not as nice as iTerm. So, I switched to Fluent. I'm fairly satisfied with Fluent – it supports tabs, windows, color profiles, custom fonts, etc. The only notable feature that it lack is mouse support in CLI apps (it's a known issue). So, unfortunately no mouse mode in vim or tmux. Also, no system clipboard support in vim. 😔

I haven't used Windows regularly (as my primary/only computer) since ~2015, so this should be an interesting experiment.

Farmer's Markets in a Pandemic

Our local Farmer's Market has been open since early July, albeit in a very different format. For me, nothing feels like summer quite like visiting our local market. However, this year's market is almost unrecognizable: All the sellers’ stalls are distanced away from each other, the “aisles” have a designated one-way walking direction, there's no live music, the number of vendors was substantially reduced, and food vendors can only sell produce or packaged goods – no “ready to eat” food.

The first time we went was, frankly, depressing. Our local market is being held in a parking lot to accommodate the additional space needed for social distancing. While this is practical, it's a far cry from the much nicer space its usually held in a small park downtown.

This weekend's market visit was much nicer. It was a perfect Seattle summer day – mid 70s, not humid, sunny – and it seems like the vendors have had a few weeks to figure out how to still have something more closely resembling a normal market within the constraints of the public health guidance. Generally, people did a good job of being masked up (there were volunteers checking that people had face coverings before entering), and most sellers had setup contactless payment. Anecdotally, I noticed that many vendors transitioned to those wireless Stripe card readers, which were often attached to the end of their booth so that you could pay without having to hand over your card, or get within 6 feet.

The atmosphere is still quite different. Whereas normally the market is a place to hang out, grab lunch, and chat, this year's iteration is (understandably) more transactional: everything is laid out to nudge you to buy what you came for and leave.

With all that being said, the US is still very much in the “this is why we can't have nice things” stage of the pandemic, so I'm grateful to have our market be open at all. And, of course, we were quite cautious: we wore masks, used hand sanitizer, and went at a time when the market was least busy. Strange times.

  • “Google to Keep Employees Home Until Summer 2021 Amid Coronavirus Pandemic”
    • This was announced just as I was going to publish this post, so I haven't fully digested this news yet. My first impression is that: I can't say I'm surprised by this, but I'm both thankful and frustrated. I'm, of course, glad that Google's leadership is taking the pandemic seriously, and it's welcome that this announcement was made now so that people can adjust their living circumstances for the next year. But, wow. Every day it becomes increasingly evident that the US is far from being done with this pandemic.
  • “Write code that is easy to delete, not easy to extend."
  • List of generic and genericized trademarks
    • I think it's interesting that product names can become so successful and ubiquitous that they come to stand in for the idea of the product category, not just the specific instance made by the initial inventor.
    • Some interesting examples: AstroTurf, ChapStick, Coke, Dremel, Freon, Photoshop, Q-tip, Tarmac, Ziploc.