April 2020

Hi, welcome to the first monthly update. It was just April 2020.

It’s been a weird time for everyone, I think, in a lot of ways that are hard to talk about.

This blog is very much inspired by the Tom 7 radar, which has been running in some form since March 2000. Now, a little over 20 years later, I’m starting mine; so, if you’re reading this from May 2040, welcome.

Who is this for? I don’t know! Some folks might be interested in the parts of this article that discuss software engineering; others might enjoy the part where I talk about the two additional surfaces to sit on that I’ve acquired this month. If you feel your eyes start to glaze over, please feel free to skim.


I published another blog post with tiny reviews of songs which came out recently, which you can find here. Here’s the playlist:


I bought an office chair. It’s not the sort of chair you sit in and think “dang, this is comfortable,” but it is the sort of chair that I look at and think “dang, that looks great.” I think I prefer the former over the latter.

Marshall & PB in my new desk chair

I also got a couch for the back deck. In the years that we’ve lived in this apartment, I’d been considering getting some sort of additional furniture for out there — we have a table and chairs, which is nice for a cuppa or a meal, but not great for extended comfort for reading and the like. The weather’s been pretty miserable in Philly, but I did get to have one lovely post-work reading session out there while wearing a jacket, and I’m really looking forward to taking a nap outside on my outside sofa.

Lana and I enjoying the sunshine


This month, failbetter published three works:

By Anna B. Sutton, “Wilmington” and “Garden of Earthly Delights,” two poems which are gorgeous slices of Americana that I find have a very slightly sinister something in them.

“A Good Hour” by J.R. Angelella, a relatively short, punchy scene in a short fiction piece.

Check ’em out!


In the world of literature, I’m started reading 2666 by Roberto Bolaño just before the start of this month. It’s good so far, but I’m having trouble justifying the more violent sections and it’s probably not the best thing to be reading right before bed.

For software, I’ve read some of the books which comprise You Don’t Know JS Yet, which is very detailed and very opinionated. I’ve also poured over many wikipedia articles on software design patterns, which I’m considering a sort of textbook, and it has really helped plug some gaps in my general knowledge of computer science.

Software projects

Word Rectangle

I redid my solution to the word rectangle problem, which you can now find here.

From my description on Github:

“Uh……… what is this?” I hear you ask. Great question.

A word rectangle is a rectangle of letters which comprise words when read horizontally or vertically. Behold:


This is a brute-force solution to this problem. It runs on a Raspberry Pi on my desk.

You can read more about the word rectangle and its history on Wikipedia.

This version reduces the amount of work for each iteration and also has some tests.

That last sentence is seriously an understatement: I’m reusing a lot more work now, and the tests exist and are useful (though incomplete, of course). The raspberry pi on my desk is still happily occupied, looking at some words. At time of writing, it’s checking to see if there are any 14-character-long squares where the first row is the word artificializes. I would bet that there won’t be.

Weather Dashboard

I have given up all pretense that my personal weather dashboard is for anyone but myself. You can see the code here, it’s live at https://wttr.joewoods.dev/. It’s still broken in many of the same delightful ways, and honestly, I just sort of glaze over it now. If any of the precipitation or air quality charts look strange out of the corner of my eye, I might take a deeper look, but I don’t really look at the wttr.in corner of the page anymore (the text-based forecast) because I’ve started using iStat Menus again, which has a very good weather thing that I might write more about later.

I also added the most recent GOES-East composite image, which is basically a snapshot of what one half of the planet looks like, updated every hour in surprisingly close to real time. They even have a 118 megapixel version that you can find if you click don’t care about how large this file is and want to click this link.

A surprisingly up to date image of one half of the planet. Roughly 18% of humans live in this image!

I won’t lie and say my main goal here wasn’t to make a homepage for my browser that looks cool.

It is really nice to have another sanity check on top of the other ones I have (a discord bot, questions from other people) to let me know when one of my sites inevitably goes down for a new and exciting reason.

Some other stats

This month,

  • I typed 770,391 keys and clicked 159,417 times.
  • I listened to 2,151 songs.
  • 27 albums escaped from the Album Gauntlet.
  • I wrote 20502 words in my personal journal.

I used to wear a Fitbit every day, which this section would have been perfect for, but I’ve stopped wearing it because I phased out a lot of its features from my life over time: I turned off the notifications so I wasn’t encouraged to feel like I needed to respond to every message immediately, and I stopped looking at the number of steps I took each day because I’ve been socially distanced and walking far less than I normally do.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. Feel free to get in touch with me any time at joewoods@fastmail.com.