Update Pending

It's been a while since I've written one of these "clip posts," but there's no time like the present to get started with that. I hope everyone out there in internet-land is having a good end of the year. I'll try and get a retrospective/new years out in the next few days, and avoid belaboring the point here.

As I said last friday it's my intent to focus here on shorter/quicker thoughts, and focus my free writing/project time for work on longer projects (fiction, non-fiction, perhaps some programming.) So far so good.

Other Cool Things on the Internet

Update Irregular

I'm sorry that I've not posted here very much recently and also that the links in this post will be pretty unadorned. I'll make up for it with table of contents:

Ok, so it's not much, but lets get started.

New Posts

While my posting volume has gone down, I have posted something since the last update post.

Rest assured that there's more stuff in the pipeline.

Lost Posts

For some reason, that I haven't figured out and don't really care to, for a number of months, my posts from July of 2009 went missing. Usually this wouldn't even be worth mentioning, except I July of 2009 was a big month for me writing wise--I'd just moved to the east coast, I had my first real tech job and my mind was full and I felt on fire. I consider a couple of these posts to be "tychoish classics." The good news is I've found them, so here they are:

They seem to be arranged alphabetically rather than sequentially, Sorry about that!

Contra Dancing Feature

A contra dancing friend of mine solicited an email from me a few weeks ago about a couple of contra related topics, which have worked their way into posts that you can read below.

The Internet is A Cool Place: Tablet/Cloud Computing

I found the following link on twitter from a few of my awesome (former) coworkers. It's a blog post about a programmer who is using an iPad, a remote server, and a computer to do all of his work. read more

It's an interesting possibility, frankly and I could probably make the shift easily enough if I wanted. Having said that, I feel like I'm a little too sensitive to TCP/SSH hiccups and I feel weird throwing all of my (potential?) productivity into something totally network dependent.

An Emacs Tip Interlude

I picked up the following little bit of emacs configuration, that I think is wicked cool. It removes some of the limitations on m mini-buffers, which gives them a lot of pretty cool features. It seemed like the kind of configuration that I should have known about and didn't, so maybe some of you don't know either.

(setq shell-command-default-error-buffer t)
(setq enable-recursive-minibuffers t)

Git, not Hypertext, Is the tool by which we experience becoming Nomad

I'm not entirely sure why I'm following Stephen Ramsay on twitter, but I am. The other day I saw the following exchange, and I feel like it's worth recording:

<sramsay> Back in the day, it was fashionable to say that hypertext
  enacted certain theories associated with postmodernism (Deleuze, etc.)
<sramsay> We had it totally wrong.  *Git* is the tool
  by which we experience becoming nomad.

I love this idea, and I've been saying variants of this for a while, but it's nice to get reinforcements. At the same I think it's possible to easy to loose sight of how git is actually used of git when focusing on its transformative aspects. Which makes the theory read a little more hollow.

Onward and Upward!

Overdue Update

I went through a few days ago to collect all of the updates and work that I'd done since the last time I did one of these posts. Sometimes just looking through an activity log is all you need to remember that you're actually doing something. Here's what I've been working on:

The coolest part about this is that some of you have helped to build a page of ssh tricks on the wiki that go above and beyond the little tricks that I use.

And finally,I 'd like to welcome Kevin Grande, who made a new folk page recently. I'm also very sorry that I haven't been updating more frequently. I started a new job on September 26, and between that and my usual gallivanting around for singing and dancing my blogging habit has. One the other hand I'm writing about 1200 words a day, and life is pretty good so no complaints there.

Onward and Upward!

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.

Lately Review

It's Friday and I have a bunch of links, notes, and accomplishments to share.

First up, jfm and I have been continuing the discussion we had about task lists in a new discussion of the /posts/mobile-productivity-challenges. I've also imported some conversation from facebook (to a discourse page, since removed) following up on the :Cyborg Analysis and Technology Policy post that I made this last week. I'm really really proud of the extent to which the comments and edits that I've gotten have made my writing and thinking clearer on these subjects.

Also, a thanks to the people who have done things like fix links and correct stupid typos. Sorry to have caused the trouble, and I'm eternally grateful for the helping hand.

Next up, I wrote a tutorial for a reader who commented in the Make Emacs Better thread. The question addressed how to load optional functionality and "contributed" lisp code in emacs, and I wrote a little tutorial on how to load .el files in emacs. I think of this as a very basic and straightforward piece of customizing emacs; but it's sufficiently complicated and counter-intuitive enough that I think a little bit of documentation is in order.

The above also marks the debut of a documentation section within the wiki, like the code section, that I hope to update every now and then as I write tutorials and reference material that I think someone may be able to use. No promises, and feel free stash content here as well. It's all gravy.

Speaking of the code section, I wrote a little script that I use as dbl, that I describe in the Epistle Linker. Basically this little function goes through a directory and creates symbolic links to that directory in a specified directory and mangles the names of the file (prepends a few charters and changes the extension.) You an read the code, but it makes it possible to use a service like Dropbox without disrupting your local git setup and file organization. There's a known issue with Dropbox that makes it slightly less than ideal, but what can you do.

When I was posting the epistle-linker, I realized that I had probably forgotten to mention the fact that I have this nifty little bit of glue that uses a procmail filter (you do use procmail, don't you?) to deposit note to a particular email address (configurable) into an org-mode file for filtering. This is ideal for emailing your brain (i.e. org-mode) an item from your phone or tablet, say.

And finally: I have an external link. I think this follows nicely from the "how to work and 'live' in the mobile world." Apparently ecl, an embeded Common Lisp implementation, has been built to run on Android and iOS. How awesome is that?

That's all I have. I (finally) finished the April/May issue of Asimov's, I subscribed to Clarkesworld, as if I needed more short fiction to read and distract me from everything else. been I've reading Iain M. Banks' Excision, which has been a great deal of fun.

Other than that. It's been a pretty quiet couple of weeks.

Links, Reviews, and Updates

While this week flew by in many respects and I only got a couple of posts out, there is much change and progress afoot. This post is an attempt to catalog some of the work I (and others) have been doing that hasn't made it onto the blog:

  • Discussion of the "Better Task List" post by jfm`. Including spoilers for posts that I hope to have ready next week.

  • Further discussion of the make emacs better post. I'm thinking that it's probably nearly time to split that into a few pages. There's a lot of great content there and people have added a lot. I'm a huge fan.

  • Not a link, except to say that I did some fairly substantial tweaks of the site's design, which is probably only worth mentioning because I suspect most people read the site on RSS. Different fonts in the headers, and I rearranged the masthead to be a little more clean, and changed the links a bit.

  • I'm in the slow process of cleaning up the Cyborg Institute site which I've neglected for far too long. I'm importing a lot of the content that I wrote over there, notably sygn and tubmle-manager. Next up, some straggling blog posts, and a clean up of the existing content to match my current projects and work.

  • The knitting posts, which is collected separately from rhizome posts is in full swing, and I hope to be able to post a few things there every now and then.

  • There's now a real tag index and a tag cloud that looks like something. I'd avoided putting together a page like this for some time, because there were a lot of junk tags and enough really big tags that the cloud didn't really work. I've mostly cleaned that up, leaving the wiki with a rather awesome tag cloud

    I've also found a few things on the web that I think you might enjoy on the web:

  • A new blog called observatory. I've been talking to the author a bit. I realized that there aren't very many blogs that are so verbose. I suppose ByteBaker is another example, but there aren't many of them around.

  • undo-tree-mode is a nifty little emacs hack that makes undoing and redoing much less complicated and weird. (From that make emacs better discussion.) Though I have to admit that I no longer have a problem with the default behavior, even if I know it's a bit counter intuitive.

  • I've been reading Strange Horizons more than I have in the past, thanks mostly to instapaer and InstaFetch for Android. I was particularly found of Genevieve Valentine's column/review of a glorious mess of a movie trope.

That's all I have for this week.

Comments Undo-tree also allows for undoing based on time (see here), apparently a feature that vim has.

Never Ending

I'm still not totally settled into my new routine, and I think that's apparent in the blog. These things happen, and I just realized that this is the third summer in a row with some sort of major life change. Maybe I've forgotten how to exist in a summer routine. While I should probably give myself a break, I think it's more realistic to accept a certain level of disruption as "the new normal," and figure out how to develop a routine around that. That's the hope at any rate. So, I'm getting there, slowly.

I've posted a number of new rhizomes in the last week. They are:

  • Security isn't A Technological Problem, A post in my series about addressing problems in IT as human-issue, that need documentation and training rather than more software.

  • These Shoes Were Made for Cyborgs, which attempts to limit the potential for overly expansive theorizing of "the cyborg," in a common but not overly productive manner.

  • Little Goals and Big Projects, a list of projects that I want to work on. Think mid-year resolutions meet five-year plan, meet time management review.

    I've also done some maintenance (gardening?) on the wiki and added or edited the following pages:

  • I imported some comments from Facebook regarding my intellectual-practice post onto the discussion page. These comments are pretty valuable and I've found the conversation useful, hopefully you will too. Feel free to add your own comments there.

  • Similarly, I imported some comments onto the discussion for the Career Pathways post.

  • In response to one of the comments the Intellectual Practice post, I put together a pedagogy page, including some very rough descriptions of "writing classes I wish I'd taken and would love to teach."

  • Not strictly tychoish related, but I revised my personal profile at tychogaren.com to be a bit more up to date and generally less weird/awkward.

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!