week in review 2023-48

Notes on the week

Two weeks in a row. I’m honestly a little surprised, but I think that this format actually helps building a writing habit quite a bit. Adding some structure to the task of regularly writing makes it so much easier. What happened in life, what have you read, what links did you find interesting and what are you listening to? Easy questions to answer, and make for a (maybe) interesting weekly update.

It’s nearly time to head home for Christmas, and wind down the Rotterdam apartment for a few weeks. I hope to write a bit more about the experience of the first few months here, but so far so good. The City is cool, people are nice, weather sucks (but no worse than at home), bikes are great, and having our own place together is incredible.

I’ve been reading a lot more lately. I buy physical books because they look nice, but most serious reading gets done on my Kindle (It’s old and I’d love to upgrade to an Oasis, but until Amazon add USB-C to their flagship e-reader it’s not for me). It never really bothered me before, but all that content is locked away behind Amazon’s DRM. I’m locked into their devices, and whilst that’s fine now, in the future I might like to change my reading device. I stumbled upon a cool project where someone has created a private GPT to absorb their book collection, and a major step in this was ‘de-DRMing’ their Kindle library. I just spent the last twenty minutes doing this to my entire library of Kindle books, and will probably continue with every new purchase I make.

YouTube threw some nostalgia at me today with Chetreo’s remix of Portal 2’s “Want you gone”. This sent me down a rabbit hole of listening to a lot of Chetreo’s remixes, but also thinking about Portal and how it’s pretty much as perfect a game as it gets. Elle has been looking to play more games, so on my recommendation we fired it up. It really struck me just how inaccessible first person games are to non-gamers. Very, very quickly the mechanical demands of the game outstripped her ability, and I could see her getting frustrated at not being able to do what she wanted her character to do, despite knowing exactly how to solve the puzzle of a particular level.

I grew up with a controller in my hand so this body-brain disconnect is completely foreign to me, so I have no advice to offer other than put in the hours and it will begin to feel more and more natural. This is possibly a topic for a much longer piece, there is a plethora of gaming ‘vocabulary’ that I’ve absorbed over literal decades that all inform how comfortable a new game feels, and this vocab is completely absent for an adult looking to get started.

Ireland has made it to space! Massive congratulations to the EIRSAT-1 Team that successfully made it to orbit and got AOS. The energy in this video is lovely to see, and hopefully this is the only the first of many future Irish missions.

A visualisation of how a Large Language Model works This is an incredible free resource for understanding whats going on behind the scenes in a transformer model.

Extracting Training Data from ChatGPT This is wild, and the technique for triggering the leak is equally hilarious as it is scary.

No Feature The team at iA with a nuanced take on adding AI to existing software. Part 1 of 3, it’s worth reading them all.

What if you pointed Hubble at Earth? xkcd’s ‘what if?’ in video form.

Let’s build a GPT Andrej Karpathy, a founding member of OpenAI and former Director of AI at Tesla discusses how to build a GPT from scratch.

An Ultrasonic TV remote from the 70’s

The best way to ripen avocados

Chickens can be hypnotised

How to choose better colours for your charts


Paused progress on “A Gentleman in Moscow” to check out “Legends and Lattes”. I don’t know if it’s the time of the year, or just being overwhelmed with the mess the world is in, but I fancied something cosy and Travis Baldree’s breakthrough novel is very light, very easygoing and was the perfect companion to a chilly week in Rotterdam. An Orc is fed up with her life of bloodshed and decides to make a clean break to set up a coffee shop in a new city. I wish I’d had this during the depths of the pandemic, but like a great Latte it went down well this week all the same.


The one and only Robert Grace has a new release out this week and it’s typically top class. Rob has really matured as an artist over the past few years, and his writing partnership with Ryan Mack continues to blow me away. You couldn’t meet two nicer guys either.