Made the switch back from Mac to Linux

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After serving me dutifully for more than 4 years, my MacBook Pro 13″ (early 2015)’s battery died. It was a terrible sight. I was in the mid of a programming spree when that happened. There was a powercut and, whoosh, everything disappeared from the screen. It was puzzling at first. I thought my laptop had shutdown under the strain of my app’s build process. On powering it on again, my Mac appeared to behaved normally. That was until I noticed the battery health icon in system tray. All of a sudden, it was asking me to service the battery and power source was set to power adapter.

CreditMake Tech Easier

I was stunned, to say the least. I immediately googled around and found a few things to try and fix the situation, like tips mentioned in this article (reset SMC and all). Unfortunately, nothing worked for me. I was left with no option but to accept that my MacBook was not going to be the same.

During the next few days, I continued to use my Mac with adapter as power source. With frequent power cuts, it was annoying to see the laptop shutdown suddenly and then waste precious time restore everything. For a while, I considered getting a new battery. What held me back was its prohibitive cost (Rs. 10-12k) and lockdown due to COVID-19. To make matters worse, my MacBook strangely got slow and sluggish. I could feel a noticeable 20-30% reduction in speed and power. Software builds took more time, browsing and scrolling web pages were janky, etc.

For the next couple of weeks, I resorted to using my wife’s old, insanely under-powered laptop. It was hard at first, but when I had set it up with Ubuntu Linux things got a lot better. I could run VS Code, Docker, Firefox, all at once. It took some time and patience to get used to the new speed standards, but at least this thing was presently more reliable than my no battery MacBook.

Days passed by. I continued to do my daily work on the oldie, and found myself not touching my MacBook for days at a stretch. It was a weird feeling – I had never not opened my Mac at least once a day in all of its four years.

In the following days, I started feeling like getting a new laptop. For a professional programmer like me, a laptop was his “tool of the trade”, and it was not wise to keep using an old tool on the cost of productivity. After a couple of days research I settled on Dell Inspiron 7591. It was a far cry from the premium world of Apple laptops, but it was respectably ahead in terms of sheer performance.

I’m typing this post from my new laptop, running Ubuntu side-by-side with Windows. Linux is my primary OS once again, and I’m happy to be back. Although, to be honest, I will certainly miss my Mac’s convenience and premium feel. But the new thing has a lot of good stuff to offset that:

  • way more power*
  • larger screen
  • decently lightweight
  • a nice keyboard
  • I can finally play games again 😎

Intel Core i5-9300H
16 GB DDR4 2666 MHz RAM
512 GB SSD
NVIDIA GeForce 1050 GTX

* My Dell Inspiron 7591’s configuration

Here’s the customary desktop screenshot:

Ubuntu 20.04 running on my new Dell Inspiron 7591

Leaving Accenture (after 9 years)

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Today is my last day at Accenture. I am finally leaving it (for the second and last time) after more than 9 years of giving myself to it. In today’s rapidly moving world, that’s a very long time. Long enough to see so many colleagues come and go until you were the only one left. It’s the rightest time to move out for me. I had a mix of fond and not-so-fond memories during my two stays. I’ll ever be so thankful for all the good ones. Mostly there was a lot to learn, but the learning had dried up since a year or so. I dragged it too far. The learning should never stop! Goodbye, Accenture.

Running + Cycling = Fun + Routine

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Today I completed 23 days of consecutive morning workouts. 23 days… my gosh! It was once believed that the magic number of days after which doing something daily became a routine was 21. I am 2 over. However, recent studies have shown that 21 is a little too less. The actual magic number is 66.

At any rate, I think 23 days is sufficient to make one feel great about a regular morning ‘routine’. I wake up between 4-5 am each morning, do work related to whatever side project or experiment I’m working on, and at 7 am I hit the road.

I’ve been running regularly since 4 months now. But until the end of March, it was not more than 3-4 days a week, sometimes even less. I wanted to be more regular in order to fight and reduce my stupid belly fat. Then one day–almost suddenly–I decided to alternate my morning workouts between running and cycling. It was an experiment to see if a day of hard exercise (running) followed by a day of relatively less stressful exercise (cycling) would help me get into a habit. And of course, I wanted to use that cycle of mine lying around unused since long. Guess what, it worked!

I’d been doing 3 kilometer runs before my new routine. Mixing in 10+ kms of cycling helped me very soon amp it up to 5 kms. Now, I consistently do 5 km running and 13+ km cycling sessions. That’s around 35-40 mins of daily workouts. Amazing, isn’t it? Yesterday, I broke my time record for 5 km run and today I broke my total distance record for cycling. Screenshots below.

I use Nike+ Run Club app for tracking my runs and UnderArmor’s MapMyRide app for cycling. And since I have plenty of ‘free’ time while working out, I listen to a podcast or an audiobook. After having finished The Stories of Mahabharata podcast, currently I am listening to the audiobook The Power of Habit. I am 35% through it, but how much I miss the Mahabharata podcast! Sudipta Bhawmik’s storytelling skills are really something. I’ll soon be doing a blog post on briefing all characters of the famous epic tale as have been covered in the ongoing podcast till now.

Picture of a blackhole

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Being a physics enthusiast, I was perhaps as dumbfounded as you were when I saw the first-ever image of a blackhole in today’s newspaper. I’ve always been fascinated by blackholes: their mind-bending complexity and the various sci-fi theories weaved around them over the years. So it’s obvious that capturing the ‘un-see-able’ felt weird. Like really weird. And what a name of the system of telescopes that captured this image–Event Horizon! I think the following video does a pretty good job in explaining how to interpret the image. It’s intriguing to note that the video was released before the image was actually made public.

Featured image credit: Wired

Presenting My “Brand” New Site

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It’s out. Live. My new website is finally ready for prime time.

A couple of months back, I set out to redefine my online identity. Looking at the websites of some of the coolest developers online, I felt low. Kinda left-out. For a software developer, their website is a key ingredient of their ‘brand.’ My brand was an oldish blog with a home page cluttered with unorganized posts. Don’t get me wrong. I am an organizing freak. My WordPress blog was in pretty good shape before. But it did not represent my brand. It just looked like a random collection of blog posts by a guy who does not care too much about keeping it up-to-date. So, I changed all that.

I am happy that I was finally able to find time in my busy schedule to complete all changes I had planned to make. These were:

  • A static home page that briefly talks about me, and acts as a doorway to the rest of the website.
  • Better organized blog posts. I’ve successfully reduced the number of categories to just 8 (from 55!).
  • An about me page that is the frankest and the most open description of myself.
  • Dedicated pages for things I am proud of — books I’ve written (I’m an author, yay) and tweets I’ve blabbered.
  • A new, simple, uncluttered theme.
  • A focus on what I am and love the most — computers & software.

So far I’ve received rave reviews for my new revamped website. Though I should probably disclose that I had only two reviewers: my sister and my wife.

Talk to you in the next one.