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Entry 372, on 2006-07-28 at 13:49:25 (Rating 1, Comments)

There is a traditional connection between computing and coffee. Some people say I drink a lot of coffee and am maybe even addicted to it. That's probably true. I'm sure I would suffer some side effects if I stopped drinking it.

I guess it all goes back to the "early days" of my career in computing, when I was a university student studying computer science. Back then we worked on mainframe computers (am I showing my age?) and they weren't particularly quick by modern standards. To get the best performance (faster compiles, more responsive editing) it was preferable to use the machine when few other people were there - around 1 am to 8 am was best.

At the same time I was seriously into amateur astronomy, which is also a nocturnal activity, of course. So on fine nights I'd be up all night observing and on cloudy nights I would be working on programs (or playing early versions of dungeons and dragons games). To stay awake coffee was essential.

I have a far more normal lifestyle now. I don't do a lot of astronomy any more, unfortunately, and I do most of my computer work during the day - but I still require my caffeine. The latest manifestation of this habit is sitting around in coffee shops drinking coffee and writing blog entries, creating new web pages, working on programming projects, etc.

The perfect cafe is hard to find. First, it must have good coffee (and to me this also means strong coffee - the look on some people's face as I ask for extra shots is interesting). Second, it should have a comfortable environment including comfortable chairs and sofas. Third, it should have some sort of Internet connection. This could include official wireless access points, or a nearby business who has forgotten to secure their network properly!

So I have the staff at certain cafes around town well trained now. They start making my long black with extra shot as I arrive. That's good service. And if I sit around with my laptop working on a project of some sort they don't interrupt too much. Just a casual greeting or enquiry about what I'm doing is fine. I've even met up with people who want work done in cafes this way.

I read somewhere that coffee is the world's most widely traded commodity (even more than oil). I'm not sure if that's true, but I would never underestimate its importance.


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