Build interactive web apps with polling data, Voilà & Heroku

Some time ago, I wrote about how the popular Dutch political compass site Kieskompas works, just before the Dutch provincial elections.

Now, with the general elections coming up in March, I like to obsessively keep my eyes on the polls (although the past week I’ve mostly been obsessing over US election results, but I’ll return to Dutch politics next week, I guess). My usual source for these is Peilingwijzer, which combines three of the biggest polls.

Looking at the party numbers is interesting and all. However, as a civilized democracy (political jab intended), the Netherlands has a many-party system where coalitions must be formed to gain a majority in parliament. …

Written for minimalists — Part II.b of the Fitness for nerds series.

My previous post on minimalist physical exercise was a 10 minute read. The irony of this did not elude the minimalists of Reddit.

For them, I wrote this minimalist version. We aim to please.

I wrote this article in an empty room with only the concept of this pencil.

The best minimalist physical exercises are (barefoot) running and body weight exercises.

For both of these, I’ll list some advantages and tips that I found useful as a desk worker, computer nerd and someone who generally has no intrinsic interest in sports or physical activity for its own sake.



  1. Improves your cardiovascular health (heart, blood) and lung capacity.
  2. Little/no equipment needed (probably shoes, but barefoot may be better). …

Part II of the Fitness for nerds series.

Edit 7 Sep 2020: minimalist rewrite of this article here.

I like minimalism. Clean desk, no-paper, closing unused browser tabs, you name it. And I’ve more or less applied it to my physical exercise as well, almost all my life. At least in hindsight. Most importantly, it’s a convenient theme for weaving this post into a nice story under a conveniently catchy title.

For example, in judo, aikido and some other martial arts, a central principle is to use your opponent’s strength against them. …

Part I of the Fitness for nerds series.

Every hero needs an origin story. If trying to get fit isn’t heroism, then I don’t know what is.

I’m honestly not sure what help this would be to you.

Maybe you’ll recognize something of your own situation and think: if this moron can do this sportsing, I sure as hell can do it a lot better. Maybe as a psychologist you’ll recognize the telltale signs of mental illness like megalomania, narcisism or just general madness. Either would be best case scenarios.

In any case, I already wrote it down, so I’m just going to publish it.

So, here goes!

As a general geek and later scientist / programmer, physical fitness hasn’t typically been on my radar much. I used to practice judo as a kid and cycled 12 km to high school, so I guess I was pretty fit back then. But at age 18, fresh into university, I immediately started an experimental study into the beneficial effects of complete idleness, inertia and lethargy. …

Part 0.

Ugh, sports.

I have no intrinsic interest in sports. I don’t really want to watch any, nor do I feel the need to play or perform most of it. I mean, I’m not against sports, it can be a nice social activity. But just sports for sports’ sake? Meh.

However, I do care about health, staying alive as long as possible and also about being productive and feeling good. As it turns out — and honestly, I’m still skeptical on this — it seems like physical activity may actually help bring about all these things. Huh.

When you work at a desk (or on a couch, slouched behind your laptop), you’re at risk of typical desk worker problems like lower back pain, sore shoulders and arms, repetitive strain injury, and so on. I used to have some of these issues. Then, all of a sudden, an office mate told me that strength training helped her fix her mouse arm. …

I want to start blogging more often again.

I’ve really enjoyed it in the past and feel like it will motivate me to dig into side projects more deeply. Trying to explain things to first myself and then others (after pressing the Publish button) really helps to keep momentum going.

However, I’m not quite sure where to start, especially when it comes to which platform to use. This article is mainly just meant for me to sort out my thoughts.

And then, why not share it? Who knows, maybe it’ll help you too.

Past: and WordPress

Blogosphere! Image by Happy Bushra, licensed CC-BY 2.0

I used to blog quite a lot.

In my first university years, I had a Dutch blog called Avec Pinguin about using Linux as a more or less beginner. …

Tools and practices for collaborating from home

One of the core values of the Netherlands eScience Center is collaboration. We work with teams and even whole communities of scientists. Communication is key.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into social isolation. But we simply cannot do our jobs in complete isolation. Luckily, we don’t have to, as many people that have suddenly been sent to work from home are finding out.

In this post, I’ll briefly list some of the tools and practices we’ve adopted the past few days to keep collaboration going.

Disclaimer: we pay Microsoft for the Office 365 stack, so we’re a bit biased towards / locked-in by those tools, but I’m sure alternatives work fine as well. …

Use ppoll to handle EINTR once and for all

What my first experience trying to send out signals was like. Can anybody hear me? Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

I have been dabbling in using and mixing these two well known interprocess communication techniques for a few months now. Dabbling may not be the right word. More like desperately trying to find my way out of a dark room without a flash light.

Speaking of which, if you’re ever in Nijmegen, be sure to visit the muZIEum and experience what it’s like to be blind. In their basement, they recreated everyday scenes and then made it completely, absolutely dark. It’s really a magnificent experience.

Anyway, once you’ve done that, you’ll know how I have been feeling lately trying to get ZeroMQ to play nice with POSIX signals… I hope that after reading this, you won’t have to feel the same way, if you don’t want to (if you do, visit Nijmegen, or stop reading now). …

My new journaling, blogging and note taking app

This is a review of my first day with Notion. Sorry to disappoint you, Day One* enthusiasts.

* Apparently, Day One is also a journaling app… I actually wasn’t sure whether “day one review” was a common English phrase, so I googled it and that’s how I found out about the app. So, confusing title pun not intended.

** Still not sure if people ever use the term “day one review” for a review after one day of trying something. …

Zim (left) vs Notion (right) on macOS.

When I started working at the NL eScience Center I needed a good journalling tool. At the time I was combining my job with finishing my PhD. I was keeping daily notes in a HUGE text file for my PhD and this has at times been very useful. Most of the notes I never look at again, but sometimes I need to find back some Bash command or some file or website or parameter or whatever and I could just grep for it and be on my merry way.

When eScience came into the mix, I wanted to also keep notes there, but also, because I was now combining two jobs, I needed to keep track of the hours I spent on each job. In 2009, I used Toggl for a year, which was really nice and insightful, but it is a bit of an effort to keep using it. I decided to keep things simple and just book hours in my text based daily journal as well. …


Patrick Bos

eScientist / freelancer / HPC & data science / Physics & Humanities / C++ & Python

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