The Monkey Appetite

I don’t think “monkey appetite” idiom exists in English. In Turkish, it is used to describe someone who gets bored quite easily, drops what they have been doing and starts something new. They are not necessarily lacking the skills to see the end of their work, it is just not exciting anymore so they drop it.

I quite often feel like this. Within this vast sea of softwares, I keep trying new things. I do enjoy looking for new tools. Terminal emulators, reference managers, text editors, scripting languages, … There is so much to learn, and each new software or tool makes me feel like a kid who has seen snow for the first time and fascinated by it. I sometimes try to save the snow, if a snowhuman is made, but often I am not tall enough to put the snow I saved to the freezer. So it ends up in the fridge and turns to water. (*True story by the way, I wasn’t the person who saved the snow, but rather the one who got scolded for putting a bowl of water to the fridge for no reason until we identified the real culprit. Kids!)

With experience, I am getting taller and finally keeping the snow in the freezer. I am finding the set of tools that powers me, and they stick around without me being bored. So here is my tiny list:

  • Text editors: Emacs and Sublime Text.  I found Sublime Text not long ago, but I really liked the idea of being able to write packages, the default color scheme, how it shows me where the function comes from in my imports (run_tica is from line 69…), and many other things that it is now a part of my daily life.
  • Terminal emulator: Terminator. I simply wanted to split tabs for the same projects, rather than having several hidden tabs. If it is a small change in code, simply split the window, edit the file with emacs, and keep my command history to run things. One window to rule all the tabs!
  • Integrated development environment (IDE): RStudio and Jupyter Notebook. I rely heavily on RStudio for RScripts that I create. I don’t write complex scripts, and I mostly do plotting in R, so RStudio is heaven. I tried using an R Kernel with Jupyter Notebook as well but my expertise in R was limited compared to my knowledge in Python. Creating scripts in RStudio take less time because the erroneous lines are pointed out already. Using RStudio, I improved my coding in R much faster. Jupyter Notebooks is goto IDE for creating python tutorials, although I still prefer to write the base code in Sublime Text. I move to notebook when they are ready for production.
  • Version control:Git, Github… simply because I haven’t tried anything else.
  • Package and environment management: Conda and to a lesser extent MacPorts, pip (when conda takes forever…. ). I relied on MacPorts heavily before, however, after using conda the balance shifted. Making sure I have the same versions of the packages between my linux desktop at work and my personal laptop, relying on conda was easier.
  • Web Server: Making modifications to wordpress themes, I needed a server to test it locally, before uploading it to the live site. XAMPP to the rescue, only to annoy me. It was frustrating to navigate where the files are. It was ok once I figured it out but it sure wasn’t that easy.
  • Manuscript Writing: Manuscripts!!!! Ok, I haven’t used this a lot, but it helped me a lot while writing my thesis. I make typos, lots of it. Some concepts in English just doesn’t sink in, for example, “why we have to overcrowd the text with the the??????” . MS Word saves my life in finding the mistakes, but writing the thesis in Word was impossible. Figures shift, reference manager crashes… Argh, a nightmare. I have used Manuscripts during that time, to import from Word, make changes (add figures, fix references, etc.) and export it to Latex 🙂 I had no idea about Latex at the time, Manuscripts was a big help. I can’t wait to see the 2.0 version.
  • Security: 1Password! I love you! Kudos to Rebacca Howard who introduced this life saviour to me. After moving to US, I had two choices: I would either use my brain only to remember the passwords or buy 1Password and remember everything else. Since I moved here, my email, my AppleID, my US Bank Account, all went through suspicious activity. Some might say it was a matter of time, I say , something is wrong on this side of the ocean (I’m still curious how the information of a card I have not used for the past 6 months or longer got stolen? ). With this program, I can set diverse passwords, change them, store the old ones … and do not worry about it.

We shall see how this list evolves over time. I might find a reference manager I am happy with eventually.