Erik Ramsgaard Wognsen

Thoughts & technology

What Roland Boutique Needs

Roland Boutique is a series of small form factor electronic music instruments. The line debuted in 2015 with recreations of three iconic Roland 1980s synths. I got the JP-08 which I wrote about here. Since then I’ve been watching the series grow with interest.

By now, the Boutique line includes nine products recreating Roland’s back catalog: Five subtractive synths (JP-08, JU-06, JX-03, TB-03, SH-01A), the VP-03 vocoder, the TR-08 and TR-09 drum machines, and finally the D-05 “linear synthesizer” mixing sampling and synthesis.

Google Pixel 2 - First Impressions

I just bought a new smartphone. After three HTC models (Desire Z, One X, One M8) I decided to go for the pure Android experience with a Google Pixel 2 (I went with the Clearly White, non-XL version). Here are my thoughts after two weeks.

Roland JP-08 Review

In the early 1980s Roland produced a number of synthesizers that aged into classics. The flagship Jupiter-8 is perhaps the most famous, used by electronic artists such as Jean Michel Jarre, Depeche Mode, and Moby, as well as pop artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Abba.

Today, a used Jupiter-8 in good condition can cost more than a new top end modern synthesizer, which is to say a lot. Luckily, in late 2015 Roland released miniature versions of these classics, at relatively affordable prices. Jupiter-8 became JP-08, and I got to own a little piece of music history.

Three originals (Juno-106, Jupiter-8, JX-3P) above the three new Three originals (Juno-106, Jupiter-8, JX-3P) above the three new ‘Boutique’ versions (JU-06, JP-08, JX-03)

It’s a bit late for a review, one and a half year after the release, but on the other hand, the Jupiter-8 came out before I was born, so in comparison, the new version is still very recent!

Work Helps Me Beat Procrastination

Back in school, I put off essay writing until the night before the due date. In gymnasium/high school, I put off assignments until the morning of the due date. In my first years of university it went so far that a student counsellor suggested that maybe university wasn’t for me.

Despite—or perhaps because of—that, I pulled myself together. After passing some courses that especially triggered my procrastination, I did much better, and eventually emerged with a master’s degree in software engineering and a PhD in computer science.

But that does not mean I had completely overcome procrastination, especially not during the PhD study. It was not until leaving academia for the IT business that I experienced what it is like to get control of my procrastination. (It’s amazing, by the way.)

Learn Vim the Harder Way, Part II

In a previous post I introduced learning Vim the harder way. To summarize:

  • The easy way: Use the arrow keys for cursor movement
  • The hard way: Don’t use arrow keys; use hjkl in normal mode
  • The harder way: Don’t use hjkl; learn Vim’s multitude of other motion commands

Now, there’s nothing wrong with using the arrow keys per se, but it very often leads to staying in insert mode most of the time and thus missing out on all the stuff you can do from normal mode. As someone wrote about vi/Vim:

your keyboard becomes a huge specialized text-editing gamepad with almost a hundred buttons.

There’s nothing wrong with using hjkl either, in fact they’re very good because they force you to use normal mode as your, well, normal mode. However, normal mode only really provides an advantage if you harness its power and go beyond the basics. For motions, that involves reducing your use of hjkl. In this part we see how to do that for inserting and deleting text.


I don’t game a lot, but after seeing rave reviews, I knew I had to try Playdead’s INSIDE.

And, like many others, I was blown away.

Learn Vim the Harder Way

The first lesson of the official Vim tutorial (“vimtutor”) introduces the navigation keys h, j, k, l. This is where the user might go “What?”, followed perhaps by “What’s wrong with the arrow keys?” The tutorial has this answer: “The cursor keys should also work. But using hjkl you will be able to move around much faster, once you get used to it. Really!”

From here, I think most people continue using Vim with the arrow keys and perhaps mouse because that’s what they’re used to, and why change something that works? Users who actually use hjkl from this point onwards (either by sheer willpower or by disabling the mouse and arrow keys) are learning Vim “the hard way”.

Let me say from the beginning that I agree with the tutorial: Using hjkl is better. But for most people the hard way is not the right way. Learning Vim progressively is more fun and will allow you to switch to Vim while still getting work done. In addition to the official vimtutor, you can also try an interactive tutorial, or even an adventure game.

If, however, you are going for the hard way, let me propose learning Vim the harder way!

Leaving Academia

Last fall, I had been at Aalborg University for nine years: One year in electronic engineering, five years studying software engineering, and three years doing a PhD in computer science. The first six years as a bachelor and master’s student were relatively straightforward and satisfying. The last three years formed my introduction to the academic world.

Being a PhD student in computer science does not mean you are a student of computer science at a high level. Well, you are that, but first and foremost, you are an apprentice of academia. The distinction is important because, while I love computer science, academia is, it turned out for me, not great.

I left the university before having finished my PhD, to work at a private company as an IT consultant. I managed to finish my thesis concurrently with my new job, and I have now defended it successfully. But the last half year has also helped me see more clearly my motivation for switching jobs. It can be summed up like this: Now, I go home from work most days feeling a sense of accomplishment. Before, I came home from work many days with the feeling of having failed.

Entering Dates and Times in Vim

As a young Windows user, I learned that if you write .LOG as the first line of a text file, then each time you open it in Notepad, it appends the current time and date to the file. That was pretty cool. And useful for logging things, as .LOG implies. Later I became a Vim user and started enjoying all the customization I can do to my editor. Or perhaps I became a Vim user because I enjoy customizing! Either way, I like my date and time shortcuts in Vim. For example:

noremap! <expr> ,t strftime("%H:%M")

This means: Map the key sequence ,t (comma followed by ’t’) to the result of the expression strftime("%H:%M") in the insert and command line modes. So if I write “The package arrived ,t”, what I will see is “The package arrived 13:43”, or whatever the time was. I use capital T for further precision (seconds), ,d to insert the date (of course in ISO 8601 format), and ,l to insert date and time together (‘l’ for log, as with .LOG):

noremap! <expr> ,T strftime("%H:%M:%S")
noremap! <expr> ,d strftime("%Y-%m-%d")
noremap! <expr> ,l strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M")