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The key question isn’t, “what’s the answer?”
The key question is, “what’s the question?”
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I’ve been increasingly involved in meetings. Often these are productive and necessary fare, but sometimes they reach Dilbert-like levels of banality and un-productivity. As I was reading Winnie the Pooh to my kids tonight I was reminded of such a meeting in CHAPTER VII: IN WHICH KANGA AND BABY ROO COME TO THE FOREST, AND PIGLET HAS A BATH, where Rabbit has a meandering and hilarious PLAN TO CAPTURE BABY ROO.
Armed with a pencil sharper than his wits, Rabbit goes through eleven semi-connected points that are broken into an itemized list without respect for conventions of rational thought (and include frequent asides). His counterparts, Pooh and Piglet, stare blankly. Pooh doesn’t understand what was said at all, and Piglet meekly points out that the plan doesn’t have a conclusion by asking
It’s lovely. Please read it here. I share this because while I was reading Rabbit’s list I started laughing out loud―it reminded me of some of the worst qualities of bad meetings: a collection of loosely organized thoughts without an endpoint presented as a tightly-connected plan tied by a beautiful bow and impenetrable to question due to a lack of rational thought by its creator.
I doubt I’m the first to notice a similarity between the three of these―meetings, Dilbert, and Pooh―but it was too amusing to keep to myself.
(Side note: I’m saddened that Pooh is apparently “new” enough ― Happy *90th Birthday*, Pooh! ― to remain under copyright.)
The comment section is instructive.
On the one hand: of course it does. On the other hand: pretty terrifying.
So if Google favours one candidate in an election, its impact on undecided voters could easily decide the election’s outcome.
This is a quick (and ridiculous!) version of a project I’m working on. The final version will be more subdued, but I couldn’t resist quickly creating an animated gif once the thought entered my mind. Thoughts?
This is an aspect of Radiohead’s In Rainbows release I was not familiar with before reading this otherwise uninteresting (to me) article. In retrospect it makes sense that there was a mini-nightmare with respect to releasing this way and that copyright was a barrier. As the U.S. is finally entering discussions to amend copyright law for the 21st century we’re simultaneously being inundated with things like TPP which seemingly prevent us from making those improvements. Now would be a good time to reach out to you representatives. You can do that here.
[Radiohead] had to ensure no one outside the band contributed any work that might need a writing credit, to contain the rights issues as much as possible. In what was unchartered territory, they had to take the performing rights for In Rainbow away from the Performing Rights Society (PRS), which traditionally owns and administers those rights on behalf of artists – but in a way that did not alert anyone to the plans for In Rainbows’ release. “For online licensing, PRS has rules and rates that you have to abide by,” explains Dyball. “That would have prevented the band from doing their pay-what-you-like model, even though the band wanted to allow for publishing royalties to be paid.”
Dyball went to the society’s board with her pitch, asking that the rights for this one album be taken out of PRS. Although the songs were all written by the band, it was not a guarantee that the PRS board would agree to the band withdrawing their rights. It made it easier that the request came from Radiohead, whose stature was enormous. Consequently, In Rainbows was released as intended.
The Scooter Computer http://blog.codinghorror.com/the-scooter-computer/
Aaron “tenderlove” Patterson http://usesthis.com/interviews/aaron.patterson/
Firefox has an extremely nice feature that I like for web development: if you hit ‘ (single quote) it will bring up a search box, but the search box only searches through links on the page. Then you can hit enter to navigate to that link. That way I can avoid using my mouse.
I didn’t know about this, but I’m certainly interested as it’s a useful feature I’d previously installed plugins to deal with.
C-u M-! date
I've started using Emacs again. I can't remember what sent me to the Literate Devops with Emacs video by Howard Abrams, but the idea of running code within Emacs org-mode was enough for me to fire it up and relearn the key combinations. I've recently switched to Dvorak as a keyboard layout and had been fearing a return to Emacs (or vi/m) due to the somewhat ingrained muscle memory I'd have to relearn, though I should have known it wouldn't be nearly as daunting as I feared having already retrained myself to use an alternative layout for all of my typing. It was a little awkward at first and then it was mostly fine.
What brought me back was simple enough: better note-taking, and running code in a note-taking application was particularly appealing as I've been working my way through some University of Michigan python courses. While computational thinking is something I've done for a while, the actual coding part―in an actual programming language―eluded me. Taking the class has been great, but the back and forth with the terminal was wearing me down. Quick feedback was a helpful tool in learning more quickly and I was determined to embrace efficiencies when transitioning from taking notes to writing code, and from running code to troubleshooting code. Honestly, I wanted to have enough of a streamlined environment that I could essentially play with coding. Running code within Emacs org-mode fit that bill nicely.
Emacs had always been instantly appealing to me in theory. I prefer libre software, I value cross-platform compatibility, I understand the value of plain text for longevity, etc., but I never really had a concrete need to use many of those features. At one point I followed a guide and set up my email in Emacs but quickly abandoned the project when I recognized what I had signed up for and found it more, rather than less, cumbersome to use. This is the 'normal' user problem: I just didn't need the freedom at that moment because I didn't have a clear reason to tinker. So even with the full, philosophical buy-in I didn't have a compelling reason to continue using the software in place of less cumbersome and more attractive options (the excellent, free/libre Zim-Wiki mostly).
And Zim-Wiki is great, but when I started learning to program it failed to meet the entire need. Even though I'm a normal user when compared to the other programmer/tech-centric linux users I'm a whiz-kid around your average college kid or office worker. I'm in this weird middle where I know that I know next to nothing about the technologies and couldn't write more than a lick of code (with the same type of trouble I'd have reading a line of music), but that I could learn and progress quickly if I devoted a little time, that I can speak enough of the language to ask an intelligent question, and that I seem to wield superpowers compared to most computer users (earning their undeserved praise). I know more than almost anyone around me (which makes improving more difficult because there's no one in my normal life to ask).
I've always wanted to devote the time to learning more about programming because I know that if I did I'd be able to compose at those un-state-able desires that were always on the tip of my tongue but were in a language I didn't understand. If only I knew what computers could do—with a higher level of understanding—I'd finally see all of the problems I could solve with them. The time ought to be spent. I'd been telling myself this for years. And while I wasn't slacking (going through and finishing graduate school while working), it was just one of those things that had been waiting. I decided its time had finally come (in the form of online courses). Dan Gilmore's MOOC was my first, and it was enjoyable but as I've been following the surrounding topics (and the man) for years it wasn't as enlightening as I'd hoped. That said, it was done well and it helped me believe in the medium of online education in that type of structured format. Having taught large classes and online classes using blackboard1 I was skeptical that substantial learning could happen in that medium, but I did learn about the state of MOOCs in 2015 and was confident enough to try the medium again.
The classes I tried were/are PY4E-001 and PY4E-002 with Dr. Charles Severance. They're very introductory―which is perfect for me―and I'm learning a great deal, largely at my own pace. These classes highlighted (and created) a need to have a more efficient means of taking meaningful notes. If you haven't used org-mode, it's a wonderful tool for taking, arranging, and exporting structured notes. I won't get into the details, but you should definitely watch a video or two about it (if reading is more your thing check out their website). The real power is that it's in Emacs though, meaning that I am able to perform a whole host of actions within the program itself.
The most interesting2 is also the one that brought me back: write, run, and view the output of code within my note-taking environment. Take the following bash command:
With a C-c I can run the code and have the output display in the note-taking application. This is incredibly useful for taking notes because my notes can be fully functioning code.
print "whatever, world" print 'this is where you do addition. ' + str(2+2) + ' = 4'
I'm confident I'll uncover more nuggets from other writers, bloggers, and Emacs users. Consider it a personal goal to re-embrace Emacs as my own personal use case for doing so has grown stronger. I won't make any particular pronouncements about whether or not you should use it yourself, but if any of this sounds interesting it will only cost you time to experiment. I'd encourage you to do so.
I don’t think I agree with the unsupported conclusion, but the video is interesting and generally well done―and the examples are fun.
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Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
…And ever since that day…
Narrative structure is interesting. I truly enjoy this boiled down version that strips much of the nonsense out.
For those who haven’t used Emacs, it’s something you’ll likely hate, but may love. It’s sort of a Rube Goldberg machine the size of a house that, at first glance, performs all the functions of a toaster.
Having switched to Dvorak after first learning rudimentary emacs I’m a little scared to return. All things in good time I suppose. The above quote seems fair to me. It’s the most complicated text-editor in the world… And why would that matter? (Unless, of course, it does.)
Except for brief moments, she didn’t succeed and after a while, she glumly gave up. The silence felt deafening.
This reminds me of the Martin Seligman research on learned helplessness. What an awful lesson to learn, that nothing 4-year-old you does is more interesting to your parent than whatever is on their smart phone.
It’s fair to say I’m a fan.
I’d be interested to hear the counterargument in favor of credit cards.
Credit cards were an amazing invention—in the 1950s. But today they are an outdated technology that cost us serious money.
Source: How Credit Cards Tax America
I suspect that tools like this will make things more enjoyable. At any rate, I’m just starting to mentally sync with what could be done with these tools. It’s not that I can’t imagine applications, but I’m just starting to have the right types of problems (and questions) that make the tools useful enough for me to apply time and thought to learning them. Time will tell how far I get.
This looks like a natural extension of resources as I continue to work my way through python. At some point I’ll hit a wall and need additional insights to resolve my query.
Build a web browser with 20 lines of Python https://www.linuxvoice.com/build-a-web-browser-with-20-lines-of-python/
This looks interesting in light of my recent delving into python. Self-reminder to take a look. May report back later.
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Watching this makes me feel somewhat nostalgic about the days when copies were hard. Also, it seems so important to document this transition from old to new ways of doing things (and all the drama and challenges inherent to the change). It also reminds me of this clever video showing the changing nature of how we get things done.
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This next video does a good job of contextualizing the transition of real tools to icons―revealing the meaning behind the terms and symbols some of us have never had any direct experience with in our designing lives.
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The idea that it took 24 hours to get a line of marketing type back to apply to a design sounds insane to me because I never had to deal with it personally, though I’m certain there are inefficiencies I’ll look back on in 20 years and reflect with a similar sense of knowledge, disbelief, and present gratefulness.
I’m confident there is evidence to the contrary, but the phase that is in my mind at the moment is the following:
It’s never been easier to do what you want to do than it is right now.
Do your work.