The Value of Time and the Joy of Labour

So this post has been sitting in my drafts an extremely long time, and I’m digging it up now in another half hearted attempt to get some thoughts down on this site (more thoughts in a new post after this, IF YOU BELIEVE ME). I’m presenting it as is. For context, this is around end January 2020.

I’ve had an exhausting, but ultimately satisfying, week! Though before we dive into the juicy flesh of tonight’s title; a quick update of the yolov3-telegram person detector.

  • I fixed a bug in the Telegram code that led to some persistent user data getting deleted and ultimately breaking the live monitor. It is pleasing to know the logical flow of a program well enough to immediately intuit where a non-obvious bug is coming from
  • I’ve modified the Telegram bot to only send, at most, one live detection image per minute. Previously it was 2 every 30 seconds, that was Too Muchâ„¢
  • I’ve shifted to the ultralytics68 weights and added a minimum object size to reduce the impact of false positives, it’s kinda working
  • I’ve not updated any of this to the repo, so think of this as cryptic adventure clues. Or you are reading from the future where everything is better and .org domains haven’t been sold to the vultures

I really do want to continue with a detailed writeup of how the detector works, but suffice to day it has been working well enough, and this evening I have other thoughts brewing under my fingers.

My Week(end)

I’ve had, a very exhausting week. While I love my job there are many frustrating rough edges to smooth away, and unfortunately I often do not have time to sit down and think about how exactly to perform this smoothening (which is kind of my job). Customer delivery has to come first, and delivery is relentless (also my job, but in a more abstract sense).

I’m not even sure if calling it technical debt is correct, but this week the debt collectors came knocking and it took some quick thinking and EVEN MORE WORK to, if not straighten things out, at least get a damn good idea of what we need to do to smooth out the creases. Regardless, we pressed on and ironed out a lot of issues (is this metaphor tortured enough yet?), I feel very optimistic for the next few months of work now that we have some good roadmaps in place.

Of course, it was kismet that the multitude of contractors I had been badgering for the last month to replace some ceilings in my house would choose this opportunity to suddenly all reply. Asking when they can start. Most asking for next (this coming) week.

Oh, did I mention I was maybe likely at very short notice supposed to fly 6000km away to do a project? No? Well suddenly fucking everything was happening and I had told all the contractors I would first want to remove the ceilings before they do the work…

The Dustening: 2 Dusty 4 Life

And you may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house? what possessed me to want to remove the ceilings myself? Well, here is my motivational shortlist:

  • It will save me money
  • I will get to remove all the garbage in my roof at my own leisure
  • I can figure out what the absolute byzantine nature of my house wiring is (spoiler: all of my whats)
  • Only I, can protect my precious new wooden floors from damage
  • Only I, can understand how to mitigate the worst effects of 70+ years of dust and detritus that has undoubtedly accumulated upon my ceiling (spoiler: nothing, NOTHING, can prepare anyone for this)

So starting off I have some old carpets to protect the shiny new floors and significant quantity of plastic sheeting to try and catch the worst of the dust. My initial plan was to remove as much of the old insulation as I could (I had, at this point, naively assumed the majority of the dust would be captured within said insulation) and then vacuum up the remainder along with whatever dust had accumulated upon the ceiling and inside the cornices. It would then be a trivial matter of pulling down the old ceiling and disposing of it.

I did not expect to be able to do this in a weekend (two rooms of about 20m2 each), but I was very fortunate to trick ask my father to help as he happened to be in town. Looking back I can honestly say it is a task that scales well with additional persons. The time required was not halved, but likely reduced to a third or even a quarter of how long it would have taken, had I needed to do it alone.

Now the previous owners had ostensibly insulated the house with a polyester based insulation which appeared to be well applied at first glance. However, hiding under the innocuous green material was a layer of incredibly ancient fibreglass (perhaps rock wool, the provenance is unknown) insulation. While nominally functional, this layer had compressed into a dense mass of dusty and incredibly itchy fibres which we would have to remove. I had foreseen this to some degree and had purchased all the necessary protective equipment, but there is only so much one can do when having to manhandle such a quantity. At the end of the day the insulation, after double bagging, more that filled up the skip I had rented, so a second would be required.

In terms of budget tracking so far, just skip rental and removal at this time would constitute a quarter of the quoted price for ceiling removal. In terms of psychological damage, the price is alas unmeasurable, but the ceilings were removed and the contractors to come and have their turn at making a mess.