Update Rhythm

I wonder if, at some point, this constant state of overload and flux in my world will begin to seem normal and I'll just adjust to that normal. In the mean time, exciting things are happening and I'm not quite sure of the best way to write about them. Perhaps soon. For now, I'm trying to get better about updating more regularly and I have a bunch of links of stuff that have happened on the wiki in the past couple of weeks that I'd like to share. Here we go:

Discussion of Rhizomes

jfm and I had a good exchange about an old post, /posts/ideology-and-systems-administration. Basically the posts says, "systems administrators have a unique approach to solving technological problems," and discussed the implications of systems administrators background on technology development. I think our clarifications were useful.

There are a couple of comments on my recent series on a productivity. First, I wrote a post about task planning and creating task items, and Matt posted a comment. Second, a number of us had an ongoing conversation on mobile productivity in response to the "Mobile Productivity Challenges" post that touched on emacs (of course!) input, and context switching.

Site Tweaks

This is a pretty minor point, but I've been subtly tweaking the design a little in the site. There are now links to the tags page and the site map in the upper right hand corner. I've also made links to as-of-yet-uncreated wiki pages red (according to wiki-convention.) I think (and hope) that red links are easier to spot when they're red. Feedback on the design would be most welcome. My goal is to make the site welcoming, easy to use, and to minimize the amount of "fussiness." It might be time for a full refresh, but feedback on the subject might be good.

Critical Futures and Wiki Fiction

Eventually the story will move to the Critical Futures domain, but that's a bit down the road. Right now I'd rather focus my time/energy on writing some stories, for now (on this wiki.) Infrastructure can come next.

I hope to work on a series of posts that explore collaborative fiction organizing over the next few weeks. If people are interested, that is.

Inevitable Returns

I started writing this post on Thursday, which was my actual birthday, to write a post blathering about the things I was working and about routines and forming new habits, and some changes that I've made to the site. And then I got swept into work and doing things, and the writing just never happened. Friday and the weekend were filled with family time, dancing, and my goal for this comparatively quiet Sunday afternoon is not so much to get caught up on various projects, but to get a little bit done to jump start my momentum for the week.

The biggest development that I've made last week, during that hiatus, is that I merged the "essay" and the "rhizome" section of the site. Everything's a rhizome, though if a post is seeming particularly "essay"-like the essay page will sill pull those out. This seems to be the best technological solution and it solves the logical overhead of needing to maintain two sites. Maybe other people can deal with maintaining more than one site or blog, but I really can't deal with. This is one of those things that seems like a good idea every couple of years, and then I give up and merge everything back together.

I also wrote up a project spec called A LaTeX Build System, which describes (very roughly) a notional piece of free-software infrastructure that would make LaTeX easier to use in and for itself but also designed in such a way as to make LaTeX based systems preferable for all sorts of publishing operations. Read the page for more info, but it's basically a way to sand offf all the rough edges of LaTeX so that everyone who makes documents (that's most people) can make beautiful consistent documents easier than with any conventional method.

I finished reading Player Of Games, last week. It's another one of Iain M. Banks' "Culture" novels, which I like. They're frustrating because they all (so far) have a lot of plot that circles around itself endlessly, and seems really important but you know that anything that you might find out in the plot going to has already happened in the set up. The result is this an ironically claustrophobic novel feels like a really drawn out world building experience. While the experience works, it doesn't feel like it ought to to work. And there you are.

Speaking of reading, I finished reading the book above on my new phone which is quite nice. I'm not sold on the Kindle Mobile app for reading short fiction periodicals, as it doesn't save/sync pages, and I find it hard to read an entire novella in a single sitting. I've started paying for Readability, which is a great tool for bookmarking, reading and archiving articles and other medium-to-long form pieces on the web. I've started paying, because I think they're doing something really cool that I really want to succeed, and I like being able to use it as a way of getting content to my phone for reading. I'm a little frustrated that there's no good way to load up the phone with articles for reading while on the subway. Get on that, ye horde of mobile developers!

I've started knitting again. Just reached the bottom of arm holes (armscye for the pedantic) for a new sweater that I've been working on (or ignoring more likely) for a few months. That's exciting, and it's nice to get a few rows done most days. I'm not obsessive (much) about the knitting, and certainly not in the way that I have been in the past, but it's a nice thing to do and a good change of pace when I get tired of looking at screens. I've long toyed with the idea of writing knitting stories something sort of between an essay and a knitting pattern and if nothing else I think doing some of that writing will require a regular knitting practice. Add that to the list.

Speaking of lists, I ought to work on making some progress on my list! With luck I'll be around a bit more this week!

Changes and Resetting

A week ago, I quit my job.

For a number of reasons this shouldn't come as a huge surprise: I'd been burning out on a 2-hour each way commute from Philadelphia where I live(d), nominally. The boyfriend in New York City, didn't make things easier. And while, I really liked a lot of things about my job, I knew that it was getting to be time to move on. My last day was Friday.

I spent the intervening time packing all of the stuff that's going to New York into my car, and driving it to New York. For the rest of the week, I get to donate a bunch of my stuff that I've been dragging from place to place for the last 2 plus years. Add in some car maintenance, a few dinners and visits with friends, and a visit with my mother. She has awesomely agreed to drive said car back to the Midwest where it will be infinitely more useful. And I'm trying to get some writing done, and readjust my brain and body to a different work/life schedule.

Next week, there is settling in, more adjustment, waiting for deliveries, and more writing. The adjustment thing is tough: no matter how late I manage to stay up I wake up feeling rested and like I've slept in luxuriously. And then I look at the clock and see that it's 6am. Time to get up and start writing, I guess.

The new job, is in many ways much like the old one. Different technology, different customers, different kind of writing, different sorts of problems, but I'm really excited. When I started my last job, I was not a very confident writer, and the experience of writing professionally for the last two years has increased my confidence as a writer and the strength of my identity as such.

I think being forced to not only write something regularly for a couple of years, but also be responsible for maintaining and improving that text can be very eye opening. If nothing else, I've become very aware of how my writing has changed and improved. [1] While it's still occasionally surprising that other people want to pay me to write things for them, I've gotten better at recognizing the tangible value of my work and abilities. Somewhere along the line, I stumbled into one of these "career" things and it suits me. Who would have guessed?

I don't tend to write very much about what I do for my day job for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that I want this blog to be my own. Having said that, what I'm doing at work undeniably influences and shapes my thinking and writing here, and I don't expect this to change. In the mean time, this whole "changing jobs and moving to New York," moment in my life has a pretty significant impact in how I think about the future of my career, my writing, and possible graduate school trajectories. I think I'll be writing a series of posts on the blog over the next couple of weeks on this topic. You've been warned.

Onward and Upward!

[1]As it turns out, the process of finding a new job has also made me a better editor of my own work. I hope this, and the residual improvements from the lessons I've learned at work are apparent in my writing here.

Progress Reports

I wish there was a good way, in the context of a blog post or some other convenient digital media, to regularly say: "I've done some things, you may be interested in them," and "I'd like to do some things, here are some notes of what I think I'd like to be working on in the next little bit." I've yet to find a good way to get in the habit of writing this kind of post.

My instinct is to have something that I can template and automate pretty strongly so that I can mostly focus on doing things rather than writing blog posts about doing things. Or as is presently the case, blog posts blog posts about doing things. Oy. Ideas and suggestions on this topic would be most appreciated.

So what have I been up to? Well...

  • I got back into writing fiction this week after several weeks away. I was in a difficult part of the story and life got very... full... and I stopped writing regularly. These things happen, but it's good to be back at least some.

    After the work I did just last night, I realize that I'm much closer to the end of this novel than I had thought. Even if things go very slowly for the next few months, I think I'll be able to get this thing done by the end of May. I just have to write about a thousand words to finish Chapter 11, and there are three to four little vignettes in chat per 12 to wrap the whole thing up. And it's going to be awesome.

    I'm super excited to be done with this project and to be able to spend some time cleaning it up and making it an awesome text, but also being able to work on making other things I've written better, and to be able to write new things, with my undivided attention.

  • I've updated the /posts/anti-rodentia and the associated discussion page with some changes that I think make the system work much better.

  • I've upgraded to Firefox 4, which I really like a lot: it's much faster, it's much more minimal (visually) which is great. Also all of my plugins and extensions work without issue. Good job!

  • I went through a blast from my past when I pulled together the queer theories page, which does some--at this point utterly redundant--definitional work about what it means to be queer, and potential limitations on queer identity/politics in the era of a broadly defined queer.

  • I've started adding recurring tasks to keep me on track with writing and posting entries to this post. This means I don't end up posting things months after I write them. As was the case with Mutt Sucks Less, a post I wrote many months ago and posted with some revisions last week.

  • I made a folk page for frequent comm enter and discourse participant Matt Lundin that includes a snippet which makes a list (and RSS feed!) of all pages that link to "madalu" or are tagged with "madalu" (his handle). You can see this by editing the page, and use it when making your own folk pages. Which you should totally do.

Have a good weekend!

Long Live the Tycho Wiki

I realized that I made a lot of changes to the way my websites were arranged and worked recently, and I thought that it would be good to write a few about the hottest new thing, and my rationale for messing everything up. Again.

Basically, I took the CriticalFutures.com site, and turned it into the posts section here, moving a bunch of content back to tychoish.com that used to be here. This time, everything is powered by ikiwiki, and while I callously dropped all comments [1], I think the move is one of general and overall improvement.

At the same time, I think there are challenges. Rather than comment pages, there's now a "discourse" link at the top left of the pages, which lets you sign in and create a new page for discussion related to the page you're currently viewing. I liked the name "discourse" rather than "discussion," but I fear there may be some confusion. I can change it over back without much issue, if any one feels strongly.

Mostly, it's still the same blog that it's always been, and I'm having fun with it. The essay/rhizome divide may turn out to be tenuous in the long term, and it might disappear, but for now it makes sense. I've not been doing as many wiki-based things, though I have worked on a queer theories page, and the technical writing section is something that I'm pleased with. Wikis are much more difficult to use and produce than one would initially guess. The concept is simple, the software is simple, and the work is remarkably time consuming and difficult to do right. And then there's the problem of contributors.

I don't know how it's going to sort out, but I look forward to hearing from you, and making stuff on this domain.

[1]Which totally sucks, but I had already given into using disqus, the migration would be really difficult, and the truth be told, I'd much rather participate in discussions that involved the creation of new wiki pages, and that involved invitations to email lists, and direct emails contact over IRC or IM. Maybe this is more fragmented, and maybe I'm shooting nascent conversation in the foot before it has a chance to get off the ground, but I think "conversation at any cost," is not the best model for a community.

News, Fit to Sing

It's sometimes easy to forget all of the little things that I do during the week, and how they add up to something of note. In the moment--any moment--most things seem much smaller and much less important than they do with a little bit of perspective and when viewed out of context with coordinating achievements. So here's the highlights from last week:

I gave up on the "having two sites to maintain thing," and have merged Critical Futures into the tychoish.com blog/wiki. I really like this, and it gave me some time to get elbows deep into the wiki system, which means things work better, the display is a bit cleaner, my life is easier, and I'm very happy with it. Also, as part of this process I've been revising the index page, and I think it is in a state that I'm really pleased with.

Some dancing friends on Facebook said "wouldn't it be nice if there was a wiki for contra dancers." Now there is. Contra Dance Wiki is there for you all if you want it. I've done some preparatory work on the index page, and I'll continue to add things as I can.

The work I've been doing in the last few weeks with ikiwiki, both for tychoish and now for the CDW means that I'm really close to being able to share all of the assorted templates and configuration files I use to make this work. It's all in the git repository for tychoish, but I'm going to pull together a more generic version so people can get started easier. It might also make sense to write a deployment script of sorts. We'll see.

I meant to post this on Friday, but posted my review of maple morris, because I didn't want that to linger. In any case, I had a brilliant weekend singing (and dancing) in Western Massachusetts. It has however left me a bit under the weather, so I'm spending a day recovering and doing some writing. Good stuff there. I'll write about WMSHC soon.

Welcome to Tychoish Rhizomatics

Welcome to this new little blog/wiki project. I made a post to the 'blog about reorganizing the way I did my blog comments and blogging called a modest blogging proposal.

I wrote this post a few weeks ago. I was so inspired by the prospect of reorganizing the blog, and also so frustrated by the less-than-useful structure of my blogging that, I did the "big reorganization" of the blog the very same day that I published the post that started it all.

This proves, it seems, the neccessity of these changes, which are:

  • Moving the "dialectical futurism" blog to my "Critical Futures" domain, as an "essay" blog. I'm planning to post a new essay here every Tuesday. I might also add a second day a week for some other feature (podcast? contributed essay?)
  • Move the "wikish" wiki that I'd been hosting on the "tychoish.com" domain to be tychoish.com, and add a more short-form blog to the "blog/wiki." I'm calling it "Rhizomatics," and this is the first post. I'll be writing here pretty regularly, and with less intense posts.
  • Do all of the above in a way that doesn't break all of the existing links.

And I think I've done it all. I'll be doing some tweaking in the next few days and weeks to make it all work a bit better, but suggestions are always welcome.

Stay tuned!

Status Update

Ok, a confession: I totally ran out of my usual backlog of blog posts, that keeps these pages humming with the signs of life despite the fact that I don't have time to write a post every day, and often don't have reliable weekend time to write blog posts. This hasn't happened in a few months, so it's sort of disconcerting. One of the reasons why I ran out, is that I've been busy doing non-writing things for a few weekends, but a third (or forth?) weekend away from home was too much for my backlog to bear, so here we are.

Here's a brief overview of what I've been up to and the kinds of projects I'm working on, and what the near future holds:

  • I'm going to Dance Flury in a couple of weeks. I've not done the usual dance weekend thing before, aside from the Morris Dance gathering I've been going to for years. I'm really looking forward to it.
  • I'm trying to get a better handle on the blog. I do this binge cycle thing with my blog posts, that leads to situations like the one that I'm currently experiencing, but also doesn't actually mean that I have spare time to write fiction in a way that I might like.
  • I'm working a bunch, and while every day is some kind of learning experience, I think I've figured out (largely) how to do what I do in a way that doesn't have me leaving every night feeling like a fraud. There will be more learning curves, for sure, but it's nice to not feel like I know what I'm doing.
  • I've been throwing around the idea of writing poetry (hynms) vaguely in the tradition of the sacred harp. I'm not much of a poet, and the project I have in mind is a little bit peculiar (but then, this is me we're talking about, so lets not be too surprised.) At the same time I'm irrationally interested in this project, and we'll see how it goes.
  • I switched to using Chromium as my primary browser. There are still a few plug-ins that I really liked on Firefox that aren't quite as awesome or comfortable in their Chrome-equivalents, but it's close and I'm sure it'll get there. I've been looking for a viable non-Mac WebKit browser for a while, and am pretty happy with the Chrome.
  • Check out git for writers, wiki page that I've been working on over at wikish to try and explore how writers use and might use the git version control system to manage their writing. Contribute if you like.
  • This weekend (yay! snowpocolypse) I hooked up my laptop to my desktop rig, and have basically abandoned my desktop as a machine that I will interact with directly. (I'm a server guy, so it'll get used.) This means I'm using xrandr with StumpWM (pretty swank,) and I must say that I love it. While I adore my laptop, and I really like only having to manage one computer, having this "desktop" setup makes it really perfect: I'm often most comfortable in desk chairs and I like the bigger screen and a real keyboard. So it works well. At some point I'll write up a more thorough account of how I hacked this together.

Ok, this document has been open on my desktop for a few day and I don't have anything new to add to it, so lets call it done.

Onward and Upward!