Hobbyist computer programmer from Melbourne, Australia.

Contributor to and member of Open Live Writer, .NET Foundation member.


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nick [at] nxk [dot] io

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Blog

  • SerenityOS

    For the last few months, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with the SerenityOS project and it’s awe-inspiring rate of progress. For every day that goes by, new features and bug-fixes get merged in, and development screencasts from the creator Andreas Kling are an almost daily occurence. The operating system itself follows a design philosophy that has all-but-disappeared from computing in the last 15 years or so - a philosophy that I, along with every other fan of this project, want so badly to reappear in the modern computing landscape. See below for a screenshot as of November 2019 –

    Screenshot of SerenityOS as of November 2019

    It could be nostalgia, real productivity value, or both that drives my want for a return this kind of desktop computing metaphor. No animations, superfluous UI trinkets, padding or dark patterns. I’d describe it as a snapshot of the personal computing metaphor where the utility value for software developers was at it’s highest; right before a seemingly general pivot from what I’d call ‘focus-on-productivity’ computing to ‘focus-on-consumption’ computing. What we left behind in the early 2000s was, in my opinion, the perfection of the desktop metaphor for computing professionals.

    In a spot of boredom last night, I attempted to get SerenityOS running in a virtual machine on my Surface Book 2. This proved harder than I’d had expected, so I’ll quickly outline the steps I took to get the development build working - in case anyone else can derive some value from my learnings.

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  • Obligatory COVID19 post, life updates and other fluff

    Due to the ongoing pandemic effectively shutting down most of the world as of present, I, like many others find myself with an abundance of free time. Going into this circumstance, I was optimistic. As a software developer, both in career and hobby, one would assume that I would have no issue at all keeping myself busy. And on paper, this would be true - however I think not many people, myself included, could’ve guessed what a toll being stuck inside, alone, has on one’s mental health. Overall and with few exceptions, I’ve found it quite hard to remain motivated. I hope that things will get better with time.

    Moving along, I’ll quickly recap what’s occurred in my life over the past few months.

    • Graduated* from my Diploma of Software Development course at Swinburne. (*: no ceremony yet due to coronavirus)
    • Entered into the role of Lead Software Developer for Automation Acoustics Pty Ltd.; a startup developing a welding process monitoring solution.
    • Switched from a 2015 MacBook Pro to a Surface Book 2. A much needed and appreciated upgrade.
    • Began moving away from music streaming to music ownership. Give me foobar2000 and an iPod over Spotify any day.
    • Animal Crossing, one of the few things keeping me sane as of late.

    Last time I wrote, Open Live Writer was a big part of my life outside of work. I feel like I owe an update in those regards. Since my workload at work began increasing, I’ve very much had less and less time and energy to dedicate towards work on open source and Live Writer. I do wish that I could have more time to put towards the project; to both review pull requests, add features and modernize the codebase. One of my goals over this shutdown is to get stuck back into the project.

    As for this blog, I’m currently writing this post in VS Code and Markdown for a change of pace. Usually I would use Live Writer, but my installation is currently a bit broken, as well as the fact I couldn’t really see the need to use it for a light post such as this one.

    I do have some ideas for more posts kicking around however, so I’ll put my self under an informal obligation right now to get at least one post out a week. We’ll see how this goes 😅


  • Suburban Rail Loop and Melbourne Metro 2–my thoughts…

    N.B. This is my first political blogpost. You have been warned…

    Rail loop map

    Photo credit: Suburban Rail Loop Authority

    An article from The Age regarding the viability of the Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) has recently been brought to my attention… I’ll quote a few sections below;

    A powerful coalition of transport groups, councils and planning academics is urging the Andrews government to prioritise a long-promised rail tunnel connecting Melbourne’s north and west suburbs over its ambitious Suburban Rail Loop.

    …the government said it was pressing on with the Suburban Rail Loop, after it took the plan to last year's election.

    A hit with voters, the project was conceived in secret within an agency called Development Victoria. The state’s transport bureaucracy knew nothing of the plan until moments before Mr Andrews posted about it on Facebook.

    Before I go on, I must disclose that I regularly travel along the SRL’s effectual footprint, but not Metro 2. The SRL would be of enormous benefit to me, where-as Metro 2 would be of little. In saying that, I believe it’s fundamentally irresponsible of the Andrews’ Government to not produce a formal and reasoned retort to the concerns raised by this transport coalition, as from an objective perspective their concerns are very real and valid.

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  • The last day of the 1194 time service and 1196 weather service

    Tonight, Monday the 30th of September, will be the very last evening one can dial ‘1194’ or ‘1196’ from any Australian mobile or landline phone to receive the current time read continuously, or a spoken weather forecast for their nearest major capital city, respectively. Dial either of these numbers, and you would’ve heard an old-timely British male broadcaster voice that easily sounded like it could’ve been recorded in the 1950s or 60s. You can see below a video of both numbers in action on their last day of operation, recorded by ThebusofdoomFSX on YouTube.

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  • First Saturday of September

    Hi all. It’s been some time since my last post, and really I’ve been meaning to write more often. Life has been a blur the past few weeks, with my uni course, a new job and my work on Open Live Writer all underway and happening simultaneously, leaving not much time for really anything else. Right now however, I find myself on a replacement V/Line Traralgon coach after train services were suspended between Dandenong and Berwick, easily adding an extra hour or so onto my journey to my hometown to visit my parents for the weekend. Oh, and it’s raining – a perfect time to jot down some thoughts I guess.

    My work on Open Live Writer has been progressing steadily, albeit slowed by uni and work. Jon Galloway, from the .NET Foundation, has been in touch, supporting efforts towards preparing a new release. We intend to begin transitioning the project to MSIX, providing a much more stable and user-friendly installation experience, as well as resulting in just one package which is distributed through both the website and the Microsoft Store. It’s presented some trouble – with the technology being relatively new, and the Writer codebase being relatively old, I’ve been required to make various modifications to disparate parts of the codebase as to allow the project to even compile to MSIX. Currently I estimate the 0.7 release to be about one-to-two weeks away, but I’m not making any guarantees for the time being.

    It really is quite hard just to sit down and write. I began this post in Dandenong, and I’m nearly already at my destination of Moe, about a 50 minute journey by road coach. I collect rough dot-points for possible future post material in a OneNote notebook, but even then it takes a good few hours to transform any one of those into a fleshed-out blog post. Blogging is very much a skill that I can only assume will become easier with practice.