April 6, 2009
Although I reserve the right to change plans at any time, both writing
and commenting will probably be thin this week. I'm trying cut down on
the amount of extra typing at the moment, as well as temporarily giving
up use of the XBox and my musical equipment, since I've been feeling the
twinges that herald the return of repetitive stress injury. As a writer,
coder, bassist, and gamer, RSI is something that I've come to know
fairly well. And after working with sufferers in a data-input center, I
have no desire to aggravate my symptoms. I'd urge anyone here who
suspects that they might be in a similar situation to be very, very
careful: you only get one set of hands, after all.
Like I said, at the moment my recovery strategy consists of avoiding
activities which aggravate my joints whenever possible. I also
habitually use a trackball at work, which I find is slightly easier on
my wrists, and I'm trying to take advantage of Vista's voice command app
to do my computing at home. Feel free to suggest other helpful measures
in the comments.
Update: Hands and wrists still hurting. Picked up an ergonomic
mouse, made a doctor's appointment on Thursday, still trying to stay
away from keyboards/basses/video games, but unable to avoid work at this
time. Actually kind of enjoying the lack of blogging, although that
December 15, 2008
Last week was busy--almost too busy. Here's what I was doing, since I
obviously wasn't writing here:
- My portfolio site hadn't
been updated since I joined CQ, a little more than a year ago, so I took
the time this weekend to get it caught up. There are three main changes.
First, I added a multimedia section (between "code" and "audio," which
seemed appropriate) to contain a lot of the projects I've been doing for
CQ. I haven't gotten them all in yet, but it's a start. Second, I
changed the non-prose sections to use Blosxom flavors instead of static
pages, so they can be changed dynamically. Finally, I played with the
CSS so that it's a bit more attractive. The page still remains very
simple, but it looks a bit more "designed" now, like I meant it to be
that way instead of just being lazy.
- Today the Treasury will release its annual Financial Report of the
US Government. It's expected that this report, just as in 2007, will
predict that the government's national debt situation is unsustainable,
and needs to be fixed. Working with our graphic staff and the editor of
CQ Budget Tracker, I put together a multimedia package that complements
the editor's story on the debt. You can browse the package here.
It includes a video introduction to the package, a podcast explainer of
the problem, a reprint of the current budget numbers in both text and
graphic form, and a short sidebar on the history of the national debt.
Although this took up most of Thursday and Friday, plus some editing on
Saturday, I think it turned out very well.
- I also updated the numbers on the CQ vote studies, so that we now
have final 2008 numbers for the House and Senate. Unfortunately, these
are embargoed for the public until next week, but they're pretty wonky
anyway, and practically speaking nothing has changed since the last set.
- Volunteer service has never been a strong point of mine, but I
began adapting what I've learned at CQ and the Bank about multimedia
presentation to some training materials for the non-profit where Belle
works, and I'll be donating some time to them over the next few months.
I think it'll be a fun shift in topic for me.
- I played the open mike at Stacy's coffee shop again with a friend.
The open mike itself is going through a dry period, so I've been playing
there all this month, doing my part to keep it alive. This Wednesday,
I'll be there again, this time for the pretentious solo project. I
consider open mikes to be really important places for forming musical
community, as opposed to spectacles. Unfortunately, in January and
February, I won't be able to make it. Hopefully it'll come through the
holiday season still kicking.
- While Belle borrowed the Kindle, I got back to reading paper--I
always have a backlog of books that aren't available electronically.
This week, I've been working my way through The Many-Headed Hydra:
The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, by Peter Linebaugh
and Marcus Rediker, as recommended by China Mieville in the middle of
his fine article on the Freedom Ship. The authors basically recast the
Atlantic's history of piracy, insurrection, and rioting from 1600-1800
as a story of politically-aware class struggle, tracing a direct line of
revolutionary thought from the movement for unfenced commons in England
to the Caribbean pirates who fought the merchant classes to the Founding
Fathers (who ultimately betrayed and diluted the democratic, egalitarian
ideals that had inspired them). It's a fascinating book, if a bit dry.
- If it's not too cold, while waiting for the bus, I'm still trying
to finish Final Fantasy Tactics A2, in the hope of being able to
play Disgaea DS before the end of 2010. Like its
predecessors, FFTA2 is not really so much about tactics, but more
about grinding and picking the right party members. But even so, it's
- And finally, I completed my holiday shopping. The highlight of
this was buying a garden plant for a relative, only to realize a few
days later that I had left it in the box and (more importantly) that you
can't really wrap a living gift until the 25th. Needless to say, that
one went out early.
August 30, 2008
This week until Friday I'm in St. Paul, helping CQ cover the Republican
August 13, 2007
UX Week 2007
Today and tomorrow, I'm going to be attending UX Week 2007 for a
local trade publication. Feel free to take a look at the schedule and see
if there's something you'd like me to check out while I'm here--I'm trying
to record the sessions when possible so I can put together a report for
one of the area radio stations. Suggestions for other places to file
stories on UX Week would be appreciated.
April 27, 2007
No, what are you doing?
The past week has been a little crazy. B-SPAN is really starting to hit
its peak season, combined with the stress of training my replacements.
We've got some sessions coming up on the effects of mass media and
leadership that look promising, though.
Take Your Kid to Work Day took place yesterday, and I was drafted to
teach kids about radio and sound production. I'm personally convinced that
the main purpose of Take Your Kid to Work Day is to convince childless
coworkers that their loins should remain unfruited.
The job search continues, as I just finished an interview with a local
progressive think tank and have an upcoming interview with an offshoot of
one of the national news organizations. Let's hope one of them works out,
since rummaging through trash bins in search of sustenance and commentary
doesn't appeal much to me.
In musical news, attempts to form a band via Craigslist have yielded
little, besides an increasing frustration with over-optimistic college
students who post five or six times a week in need of a front man.
Watching them humiliate themselves online has reminded me that the most
reliable way to actually find other musicians is to go out and play.
Accordingly, I'm going to start hitting open mikes again.
April 19, 2007
Conferred thanks to Making Light.
March 14, 2007
I'm going to be gone for a week, working on the Improving Governance and
Fighting Corruption conference site for WBI. I'll be back in the USA
starting March 16th.
Plans while in Belgium include waffles, chocolate, finding out if European
Nutella is really better than the American stuff, and tracking down the
Noisettes' What's the Time Mr Wolf.
Hold my calls.
October 11, 2006
The Power of the Gerund
I did this on TW.net once, before I had a blog and I would just change the
front page randomly. I think it was inspired by an old post at Emma
Story's blog. It's better than just saying "I'm busy."
Last week and the next, I am:
- Composing: but not for myself. Three videos will be produced
for the GDLN world forum, and they need music similar to the theme I've
already made for background. Note to budding Spielbergs: do not tell
your music director that you need "fast," "slow," and "really fast."
music. It tends to be unhelpful.
- Planning: for National Novel Writing Month. Will anything
actually get written? Hard to say. But it's nice to have plans.
- Reading: Righteous by Lauren Sandler and The God
Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I've been on a bit of a dominionist kick
lately, and I'm going to try to see Jesus Camp this weekend if work
- Watching: Night Stalker, the remake of the 70's cult
classic that starred Darrin McGavin--a.k.a. The Old Man. It's a bit of an
X-Files ripoff, and I think I'll actually have something to say about that
shortly. Of course, Galactica is back for the third season, and
it's every bit as good as you'd expect. I will definitely have things to
say about it.
- Walking: the dog. He has turned into a pretty good puppy after
all. The cat's trouble, but charming trouble.
- Playing: The Secret of Monkey Island using PocketSCUMM.
It's easier than I remember, and wittier although not as funny, if that
makes any sense. Rocket Slime is on the way from Amazon at some
point, but frankly I've had no real gaming time lately.
- Working: overtime. All this weekend, and probably much of next
week while the World Forum finishes. There's a lot of voiceovers to be
done, and B-SPAN is picking up. Just don't tell my boss: I haven't
technically asked to come in after hours, not that it's ever stopped me
Updates as events warrant.
August 15, 2006
Okay, the lights are back on, and everything seems to be where I left it.
Guess Neureal fixed their DNS issues. Now, who's got an opinion?
Oh, yes. I do.
I'm typing from a Konsole window on my first Linux installation. I'm
impressed by how slick the GUI is, and a little bit amazed at how
unhelpful Linux still manages to be. Would it kill you guys to write just
a paragraph on (for example) the four different partition formats I'm
given? Sure, I can google it, but I probably shouldn't have to.
Also, the live CD (try out the whole OS from a bootable CD before you
install) is really slick. But you can't tell me that most people really
want to go around downloading a 700Mb ISO before they install. It's such a
weird mix of technical savvy and personal cluelessness.
December 22, 2005
You may have noticed that there's been a variety of poorly-behaved commenters frequenting Mile Zero lately. In response, I'd like to make my comment policy perfectly clear, so that trolls can find the line.
- I don't delete people who simply disagree with me: If you search back through my old political posts, or a few of the gaming threads (I can't remember right now) you'll see some arguments taking place there that sometimes got a little heated. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and although I'm not thrilled about the stress level it sometimes creates, I'm not going to cut them off. So if you have a reasonable response to something I've said, I'd actually encourage you to respond. Everyone loves to see comment counts.
- With that said, don't always expect a response: The CMS system for Blosxom/Pollxn, which runs this blog, is really nothing more than a clever concatenation of flat text files. It's not sophisticated. My interactions with it are mostly limited to FTP and SSH, which is only as powerful as the user. I've learned to work a few clever tricks, but there is no automated process for comment notification, for example. If you leave a note on an old entry, I won't know until I go looking for it. Moreover, I've learned that silence is usually the best response to arguments I don't find sufficiently convincing or relevant. If I think the argument is going in circles, I try to just stop talking. Don't confuse lack of interest with lack of evidence (I'm looking at you, C-Dawg).
- Remember, you have no edit rights: Anything you put here, and which I don't delete, will be around a while and may even begin showing up in search engines. If your comments are particularly stupid or offensive, but they don't get cut, consider the possibility that I'm keeping them just because I think they make you look like an idiot. I trust my archives to speak for themselves to visitors, and overall I'm proud of my output here. You should probably treat comments anywhere the same way--and for the record, there have been some great commenters here of whom I'm also proud.
- Moderation: Comments that don't get deleted are the rule, not the exception. Yet the exception does exist. I will not hesitate to remove comments from visitors who are abusive without providing an argument, who litter unrelated threads with non-sequitors out of spite, or who don't meet a sufficient interest-to-hassle ratio. If you engage in these behaviors regularly, I'll make it a habit to delete your comments without even reading them, which is as close to banning as the system will allow. I may disemvowel comments instead of deleting them, if deletion would break the flow of the thread (i.e., someone's already responded to you). It's nothing personal. I'm just not paying money for server space and traffic every month so that you can harass me, and I don't need the stress. If that's your goal, I can point you to a variety of free hosting solutions where you can vent all the vitriol you want.
What makes a good commenter? I follow a simple rule before I click the submit button. I ask myself: "Does this comment really help explore the original post? Does it give other people something interesting to which they themselves can respond? Or is it just that I want to hear myself talk?" Too many people will leave comments when they don't have anything to say, just because they can. These are especially frustrating, not only for curious visitors, but for the original writers, who feel like their time is being wasted.
It's important to remember that a good commenter faces the same challenge as a writer. They must build credibility and show that they're worth the attention--and if they do so, people will notice. The flip side is you don't start with any credibility at all, which trolls usually forget. Words may sound cutting from that side of the monitor, but to everyone else they're just another anonymous voice with an axe to grind.