30 Days of Geek #11: Favourite hacking environment – music, light, seating, etc

I’ve decided to partake in Jethro Carr’s 30 Days of Geek challenge, so I’ll be writing a post a day on my geekiness for an entire month! You can find all the posts in one spot here.

First up, music. 99% of the time I have iTunes playing a random mix of songs from my collection. Around 60% of my collection is older stuff like Pink Floyd (the best band ever), The Beatles (the second best band ever) and Eric Clapton (he’s just this guy, you know?). The rest is made up of albums from the mid-90s onwards, most of which has been heard on Triple J at some point. The other 1% of the time I’m listening to Triple J itself via an Internet stream. Normally I just listen to it in the car.

As for lighting, I prefer the evening, but I’ll work during any sensible time of the day. There’s a particular time in the morning where the sun shines directly onto my face through the window when I’m sitting at my desk. This is when I have breakfast. My day is usually spent doing interesting stuff that doesn’t involve computers. The evening is when I get my geeking done.

As for the physical environment involving desks and chairs and beds (oh my!) I have two favourite spots:

My Desk
My Desk. Humble apologies for the awful photography.

The desk is from Officeworks, and is brilliant. The chair is a moderately comfortable loan (I’ve had it almost 18 months now though) from my father.

My Bed. "Lost Ears" is sitting comfortably.

This is where the thinking happens. My fountain pen and Moleskine notebook (I’m a brand whore) sit on the desk just to the right of the picture.

Trip to Berlin: Part Three

This is part three of my trip to Germany, for part two click here. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve done tonnes of new and exciting things, and seen some pretty cool things. Here are the highlights.

On Monday (the 9th) and Wednesday (the 11th) we went to see movies and had dinner afterwards. The first was the movie Revolutionary Road, which was (like another movie by same director, American Beauty) a great film. I’m going to have to look out for more of his films. After the movie we had dinner at a 60’s themed diner, named, for some strange reason, ‘The 60s Diner’. On the Wednesday we saw one of the films in the Berlinale competition, It Might Get Loud. We were seeing this mostly for Stephanie’s benefit (a fan of Jimmy Page and guitar music in general), but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie too. It turned out the people sitting next to us were Australian too; the chances of that happening must be pretty small. After the movie again we went and ate, this time at a restaurant called ALEX, under the Berlin TV tower.

On Thursday (12th) we went ice skating in one of Berlin’s public ice skating rinks. The fact that they were outside amazed me, of course being winter and constantly below freezing there is no need for them to be covered and artificially cooled. I managed to only fall over once while trying to skate backwards (not hurting myself at all), and then tripped over Stephanie (who had stopped to tie her shoe) just outside the gate of the rink, tearing skin off both my hands (after removing the blood everything was fine).

On the Friday we spent one of the most fun afternoons I’ve had in ages: we just went train hopping. We started off catching a train into central Berlin, and caught random public transport (using the rule of whatever came first) all over Berlin. I really liked being on one of Berlin’s regional express trains (which are double decked with really comfy seats), though winding through the eastern suburbs in a tram was really cool. This afternoon we also caught a bus through central Berlin, which enabled Stephanie to take a few pictures of things in Berlin on my behalf.

On Sunday we went and had a look at the Spandau Citadel (a castle), which dates from the 16th century. I took a few photos, mainly because I’ve never seen a castle before in real life, and the towers and cannons were cool. In addition, I knew my brother would kill me if I didn’t take some. We also had a look at one of the churches in Spandau, which was very impressive, from the 12th century. It looked like something built in Hobart in the late 1800s.

The Monday (16th) saw us walking through the Berlin Cathedral, which had some really cool things in it. Under the floor of the main church was a room full of the tombs of the old monarchs of Germany. After that we went for a walk through the courtyards near Hackescher Markt. I bought a new Moleskine notebook, as my old one (a gift from my sister) was worn out.

We woke on Tuesday morning to a huge dump of snow, so (being an Australian) the only thing to do was go out and jump around in it. We took a Sled up to the top of the hill near Stephanie’s house and rode it around the park. After a couple of rides I stirred up enough courage to ride down alone. After a while I decided (in a spot of male hot-headedness) to ride down the steepest slope I could find in the park without first learning to brake. This is, if you are interested, a stupid thing to do. We also attempted to build a snowman but the snow was too soft. We also threw a heap of snowballs, naturally.

On Friday we headed out to the German Technical Museum, Berlin. First we headed to look at the trains. The museum is situated in an old railway station, so they had a huge amount of space. In addition to the locomotives, they also had some of the rolling stock, which was interesting. In particular, a goods wagon used in the second world war for transporting people to concentration camps. I also paid interest to the classic steam engines from the 1930s. Then we went onto the computer section, where they had a display on the Zuse computer company from the early years (1940s to 1960s) of computing. After a quick peek at some of the aircraft they had on display (including one of the U.S. cargo planes used in the Berlin airlift), it was on to what we were both at the museum for: an exhibition on the history of Maths, and Maths in nature. One of the coolest pieces in the exhibit for me was three books: each a volume of a few million digits of Pi. Needless to say, I’m now on the lookout for my own book of Pi. I think if you wanted to, you could fill at least 2 days looking around the whole museum properly.

Today is Saturday the 21st, and tomorrow I leave Berlin heading back to Hobart. I’ll be wrapping up the trip with a few of my thoughts after I’ve recovered from the jet lag.