Thoughts and Writeups

by Davis Haupt

Honing Your Craft

May 21 2023

Pablo Picasso was one of the most famous modern artists of the 20th century. While many of his paintings border on the abstract, he sharpened his artisitc skill on more realistic and traditional styles. Novelty and creativity are important parts of great art, but just as necessary to making anything great is the technical ability to take an idea and represent it in the real world — even abstract expressionists could paint unbelieveably realistic landscapes if they felt the need.

I’m certainly no artist, but the lesson here applies more broadly: practicing technical skills on their own is an important part of the creative process.


This is my generative AI take. I’m sure there are many like it, but this one is mine.

When it comes to social trends I’m often on the far side of Moore’s Chasm. I signed up for Snapchat a year after all of my friends, and joined Instagram two years after everyone else. So it was only appropriate that it took weeks after the internet was set on fire for me to see the value that applications of Large Language Models like ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot bring to programming. But now that I’ve given it a real shot, it’s clear to me that if you have enough knowledge to ask specific tactical questions about a well-defined technology, framework or library, ChatGPT can be a huge force multiplier.


One of my first posts on this blog in 2020 was about my experience switching from VSCode to Emacs for all of my text/code editing work. I still agree with all of the benefits to Emacs I wrote about back then, and my posts on Obsidian show my respect for org-mode as a format and the ecosystem around it – especially org-agenda. However, as you might have noticed when the file extension on my posts switched from .org back to .md, I’ve moved on from Emacs for now. But I’m happy with how I’ve moved my good habits back to VSCode. Spending time on config gave me more confidence in my ability to configure software I use to my liking, and make software work for me rather than make me work for the software.


One of my pet peeves about my natural writing style is how I lean into complex sentences divided by commas. Left unchecked, my prose starts looking like it might be ChatGPT’s attempt at writing a blog post in the style of s-expressions. I thought it would be neat to try and write some code to help me proofread for this specific issue and improve my posts.

So much of my Python experience is from writing apps with Django that I forgot how quick and easy it is to whip up a small script that does some text processing with nothing but the standard library. As much as I appreciate static types and exhaustiveness checking in larger programs, being able to ignore edge cases that I know don’t appear in the specific input I’m concerned with is a relief for scripts like this.


I’ve been working on a plugin for Obsidian called Obsidian Full Calendar on-and-off for the past 10 months or so. For most of that time the plugin has had no unit tests, and I finally got around to adding some test coverage during a big refactor.

Tests are easiest when code doesn’t have side effects since filesystems and network calls often aren’t available in the environment the tests are running in. Obsidian’s core code is closed-source and can only be run from inside the Electron app, so plugin developers who want test coverage aren’t left with many options but to test their plugins completely outside of Obsidian. Unfortunately for me, my plugin is mostly a pile of glue sitting between FullCalendar as the view layer and the Obsidian filesystem APIs for persistence. I would need to mock out the relevant APIs from Obsidian if I wanted to have any meaningful test coverage of my own code.

There isn’t yet any comprehensive mock Obsidian API for use in a testing environment that I could reach for, so I went ahead writing my own!