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A night in Nuuksio

My hammock by the lake. The cliff on the other side of lake is great for broadcasting your opinions to all the campers.

My hammock by the lake. The cliff on the other side of lake is great for broadcasting your opinions to all the campers.

Last summer, inspired by Rich Hickey and the general trends, I bought a hammock. I didn’t end up using it much: I only slept half a night in it. I had pitched it in the attic of a summer cottage, but there was no sleeping pad or underquilt. Even indoors the convection was so bad that my butt froze. I spent the rest of night in a bed.

Still, I wanted to get a full night’s sleep in the hammock outdoors! I don’t have a tarp and the EN13537 lower limit for my sleeping bag is 9 degrees Celsius (basically it’s a summer-only sleeping bag) so the weather would need to be perfect: warm, no rain, not too much wind.

Last weekend, the weather forecast promised exactly that! The night temperature would be balmy 8 degrees Celsius, the sky would be clear and there wouldn’t be any wind. I’ve never spent a night alone in the forest, but it was time to cross that off my bucket list.

I left home in the evening and after taking a metro, a train, and a bus, and hiking a couple of kilometers, I arrived to the northern Iso-Holma campsite in Nuuksio. It was already past eight o’clock and the sun would set at 21:48. I set up my hammock by the nice little lake and cooked some dinner.

Turns out that the a Trangia lid (at least a one that got bent) sucks for frying eggs. The eggs is stick to it and cook unevenly. I forgot the spatula home and the one I improvised from a piece of wood sucked as well. A lesson learned for the next time: either bring a spatula or learn to carve.

After the dinner, I settled in the hammock to read and to listen to the birds. There were cuckoos, woodpeckers, and woodcocks. I heard some raptors that I couldn’t identify and a black grouse, which I haven’t recognized before! A couple of whooper swans visited the lake, but luckily they didn’t spend the night there – they were extremely loud. And in the morning I heard what must have been a fox. All in all, it was a pretty good night for observing wildlife by ear.

Camping in Nuuksio on a warm spring weekend is not exactly a unique idea. In the national park, you’re only allowed to camp on the designated camping sites and each one I passed was full of people. I’m not sure if it counts as being alone when there are dozen tents in your vicinity. In addition to the birds, I got to listen to a computer science student praising CS and weed on the other side of the lake.

Sleeping in the hammock was… okay. While I didn’t freeze, my sleeping bag was clearly a bit too cold for the weather. They say that you should sleep in a slight angle in the hammock to avoid the banana shape. It was hard to get the inflatable sleeping pad nicely in that angle, so I ended up as a banana anyway. Next time I will try a foam pad - it’s more practical anyway.

Still, it was cool to sleep under the stars1. I’ve always felt that you have to have a tent to sleep in the forest, but that’s just not true.

  1. I didn’t see any stars.

Edit clipboard contents in Vim

Wouldn’t it be handy to be able to edit the contents of the clipboard in a text editor? Yes, it would, or at least I do it all the time. For example, I do it when I want to copy text from one website to another website, but I need to reformat it a bit first. For macOS, I have a script called pbedit. It is super-simple:

pbpaste | vipe | pbcopy

vipe is a small program that launches $EDITOR and allows you to edit the data piped between two programs. It’s part of moreutils, which Homebrew users can install with brew install moreutils. pbpaste and pbcopy are the built-in macOS command-line tools for pasting and copying the clipboard.

Try this, or if you’re a Linux user, fashion its equivalent with xclip. Soon you’ll find yourself using it all the time.

How to write a talk proposal

There’s a tech conference or a meet-up coming up and you want to give a talk. Thus you will have to write a proposal with a title and a description for your talk. What should go into it?

Let’s recap the goals of your proposal. There are at least two:

  1. Convince the event organizers to pick your talk.
  2. Convince the event attendees to come to your talk.

The goals are well-aligned: the organizers want to have a line-up of talks that makes the potential attendees excited.

You will need to do some selling and I’ll leave that part up to you. That said, there’s some basic information that you should always include. When I’m reading a proposal, I’m always trying to answer these three questions:

  1. What is this talk about? This includes how you will talk about it. For example, if you’re going to talk about a technology, I want know to if you’re going to give a conceptual overview or do a deep dive into hairy details, or something else.
  2. Why should I learn about this? It’s cool to learn about new stuff, but I’m not going to be excited about your talk if I don’t have a clue about why it’d be interesting for me.
  3. Who is this talk for? If I’m completely new to the topic, can I still get something out of your talk? Or if I’m an expert, will I immediately get bored?

There’s no magical recipe for the perfect talk proposal, but addressing these questions should get you started. Keep in mind that there are plenty of “right” answers. For example, it’s fun is a legitimate answer for the second question for many events.

A lot has been written about this topic. If you want to read more, I recommend starting with these two links:

For more posts, see archive.