It's probably been over a year since I've written a personal
post here, mostly because that has never been what this
blog is about, but there is a reason why the Life and Code
sections have different RSS feeds, and I just wanted to throw
together a few dozens wandering thoughts into a quick entry
to clear a few things out of my mind.
I moved to San Francisco five months ago as part of moving
from a contractor to a full-time employee. One of the side-effects
is that I have gone from working at home for a year to having a four
hour commute every day. Oops. I guess that was an obviously bad
idea. That said, by virtue of the other people riding the same shuttles
the commute hasn't been nearly as bad as one might imagine.
S.F. itself is quite nice, although I don't really get to spend that
much time here during the week. Not having a car is ace. Being
able to walk everyone is great. Living next to Golden Gate Park
is fantastic. Walking to dinner and walking home is amazing.
Now if only I was spending a bit more time here.
Devil in the White City
Devil in the White City
is the best book I read last year (note, not an Amazon's Associate's link,
because North Carolina fought the Amazon and won, and in the process, I lost).
It's a really excellent book, not just by virtue of the writing (which was good),
but because it tells an amazing story using a truly epic amount of research performed
by the author.
It was really striking to realize how little I knew of this period of American history
(~1890). I am still struck by the image of people writing each other multiple
letters per day, and with them being delivered quickly. Just beacuse my emails
arrive in a few seconds doesn't mean that anyone reads them anytime soon.
I went to see Avatar when I was in Asheville
to visit family, and I have to admit, for the first six minutes I thought I was
watching another preview (spoiler: I wasn't wearing 3D glasses) Once I realized
I was actually watching the movie, I enjoyed it a good bit. I'm a sucker for
science fiction: the familiar patterns comfort me, the recurring characters
make me smile.
The themes in Avatar were kind of hit or miss for me. It seemed a lot like
a rendition of Pocahontas where no one quite dared to break into singing.
Complete on whim I signed up for Project52 which is a challenge
to publish weekly for fifty-two weeks. Generally I publish many more than
fifty-two articles per year (well, for the past three years that I've been writing)
(out of curiousity I checked just now and have 333 articles published on this blog),
but I also am consistent in getting frustrated or busy and failing to publish
anything for weeks or months at a time.
In terms of making the challenge meaningful, it's probably best for me to
only count articles of at least 500 words. Well, it's a rough estimate,
but something along those lines. Each time I try to bring more structure
to blogging I have historically failed quietly, so hopefully I'll succeed
quietly this time.
I've been a bit underachieving this past year, not in terms of failing to
put the effort in, but really in failing to accomplish important tangible
results. I've been amazingly fortunate in the things that have happened
over the past few years, and am extremely greatful to the many people
who have taken a chance on me and really given me amazing opportunties.
This is perhaps why I am still a bit frustrated: given so many amazing
opportunities, I still haven't quite been able to put it together into
something wonderful yet. Daniel Burnham (a primary actor in
Devil in the White City) is attributed with the quote
Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will nott themselves be realized.
That quote has weighed a bit upon me, as I show initiative by
rewriting an internal administration tool or improving upon the
error monitoring system: I'm likely dreaming too small.
So, my goal for 2010 is to keep that quote in mind in the loud and
in the quiet moments of every day.
For Christmas I got an [Amazon Kindle][http://www.amazon.com/Kindle],
and I've been enjoying it quite a bit. My biggest obstacle to reading this
past year has been a lack of a convenient bookstore to go to (meaning,
within walking distance of my apartment); the Kindle solves that. Now
I can spend money more easily than ever before. Except for Itunes, that is,
where I already contribute quite a few dimes.
My favorite part of the Kindle DX is being able to load arbitrary PDFs
into it and then read them later on. This is great for loading in computer
science papers for consumption when I happen to find some time.
I'm a Kindle fan.
I'm working on iPhone development again after a far too long hiatus.
I really enjoyed when Luke and I were working
together closely on TouchDefense and look
forward to doing more work with him.
Working on a fairly substantial game like TouchDefense (hey, it isn't
that complex in many ways, but it was a substantial amount of work
when you consider that last ten percent of work to make something
usable by customers in a enjoyable and reliable fashion) is still some
of the most interesting and challenging work I have done.
I've learned a truly tremendous amount about distributed programing over
the past six months, working on a project which at times seems to encompass
most every interesting problem in distributed computing. Distributing computation
and coordinating asynchronous events is a field I could imagine spending a lifetime
Well, at least a decade or two.
Ahh, and those are my quick thoughts for the time being.
I'll be writing some more non-technical stuff as the month
goes on, but the technical writing is the butter on my bread,
so I imagine it'll continue to receive the majority of my time.