NaNoWriMo 2016

Ever since Marie wanted to learn to program in 2009, I’ve wanted to write a book to help her. But I never could get started.

The National Novel Writing Month is November every year for just this purpose: to motivate people to put 50,000 words on paper (about the size of the novel, Slaughterhouse-Five), editor be damned.

I first heard about it in 2007, when I started using Scrivener, but dismissed it because the requirement that a novel be fiction. I only just found about NaNo Rebels, which allows you to customize the “50,000 words” into nearly any other creative exercise, including non-fiction. So yesterday, this was born:

NaNoWriMo 2016 Participant Badge

Nowadays, I use Ulysses. I simply created a group in the software and set a 50,000 word goal and started typing away!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 2

Goal setting on my iPad.

I don’t know if I can finish since it’s about a good sized blog article each and every day. We’ll see how it goes. So far it’s been a bit strange writing a book. For instance, I can’t use my WordPress shortcode macros lest I ruin the word count.

Periodically, I’ll dump the output to my blog, which you can track here. Wish me luck!

If you want to buddy up, I’m “tychay” there.

Everything is a remix

Hitler, in addition to his oratorical and organizing abilities, has another positive asset—he is a man of the “common people”…
But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch messes of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.
The New York Times, November 21, 1922

Stephen E. Ambrose’s supposed thesis of Band of Brothers was that American citizen solders were better than the Germans because uniquely “American” autonomy and attitudes in lower officer corp gave them battlefield superiority due to flexibility in tactics and decision-making. This thesis is refuted in the same book by fact that it mentions that after soldiers were in combat for more than six months, they started to fall apart. The Germans, by this point, had been at war for six years.

An interesting side note was who the American servicemen found it easiest to relate to: not the English they trained and fought with, nor the French or the Dutch they freed at Normandy and Arnhem, but the German soldiers they fought at Bastogne and who surrendered to them at Berchtesgaden.

In the end, the real lesson of that book is a far deeper one: when Easy Company rolled into Dachau concentration camp, they were staring at a human horror that none of us are above because we are no different then our enemies.

Someone recently tweeted that if you ever wondered what you would do in 1930’s Germany, now you get to find out.

Review of The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

I’ve bought this book a while ago, since before I knew that Ridley Scott was working on a TV series based on it. Since the pilot was released on Amazon, Marie borrowed and read it before she started to see spoilers on her social network. Since she read it, we watched the pilot. Since I watched the pilot, I started reading the book in the evening. Since I started reading the book (and it is sci fi/fantasy), I finished it sometime in the middle of the night.

This is why I don’t read science fiction anymore.

Most movies (and I’ll assume this TV show) based on Phillip K Dick are usually loosely based on his books and short stories, where the core ideas (or, more likely, one or two of them) are kept and most of the storyline is not. From the pilot it is clear that this will follow that trend.

I mention this because I find it interesting that when this is done to nearly anyone else’s work readers are angry that either it doesn’t hold true to the original (in the case of contemporary writers), or they clearly list it as an adaptation (in the case of classic writers such as Shakespeare). The only common exception I can think are movies based on comic books—but the source material itself is inconsistent and full of reboots and retellings.

My only real criticism of the book is the use of the I Ching which I found frustrating and boring. After all, you are talking about someone who used to publish “horrorscopes” in college — horoscopes with unfortunate fortunes. This scientist has never taken kindly to that sort of mysticism.

Continue reading some spoilers after the jump

Notes from Chapter 8 of the Power of Habit

## Saddleback Church and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (244)

> It was Thursday, December 1, 1555, in Montgomery, Alabama and she has just finished a long day at Montgomery Fair, the department store where she worked as a seamstress. The bus was crowded and, by law, the first four rows were reserved for white passengers. The area where blacks were allowed to sit, in the back, was already full and so the woman—**Rosa Parks**— sat in a center row, right behind the white section, where either race could claim a seat (p.215)

The process of social movements (p.217) requires convergence of 3 parts:

1. Start: Social habits of friendships, and strong ties between close acquaintances
2. Growth: Habits of community, and the weak ties that hold neighborhoods and clans together.
3. Endures: Movement leaders give participants new habits that create fresh sense of identity and feeling of ownershipContinue reading

Notes from Checklist Manifesto

In Montreal this summer, while making idle conversation, Paul asked me if I had read anything interesting. Here was my answer…

Five years ago, I met D. Richard Hipp because my friends were thinking of bundling a database he wrote into PHP. Since that time, besides being in the PHP core and thus about 40% of the web servers on the planet, SQLite is in every smartphone, in software such as Firefox, platforms such as Adobe AIR, and operating systems such as Apple Mac OS X. It is used by Oracle and Bloomberg.

I was curious how the unassuming man I met took the new-found fame of his pet software project. This is why, despite my hatred for all things database—they’re boring and talks about them are probably what it feels like to sit through a course on actuarial accounting—I popped into his talk at OSCON.

I was glad I did. It was about, of all things, checklists.

My brother and father are much more responsible than my mom and me. One things that separates them from us was in their methodical use of checklists. Watching his talk reminded me how important they are, how they can be used for so much more than I considered, and how thankful I was that I finally made a packing checklist before going to Portland (and Montreal). 🙂

Read the article, and, if that interests you, buy the book.

With a little imagination, a checklist will change your life.Continue reading my notes from the book after the jump

So Meta

I was reading Smithsonian’s 40th anniversary issue when I ran across this article on the future of reading.

Smithsonian on the iPad

Since I was on my iPad, I had to take this screenshot.

Get Zinio for the iPad, zoom in on what interests you, take a screenshot of it, and add it to Evernote.

“In my day, we clipping interesting articles with scissors and put it in a folder—a real physical thing made out of cardboard paper—and into something called a filing cabinet. That ‘desktop’ thing was just a metaphor for real physical stuff we used.”

“That’s crazy talk, grandpa!”

MacJournal meets my Kindle

While going through the MacHeist nanoBundle 2 purchase, that one of the items was MacJournal. I already own it, so I gifted it. But it caused me to take a peek again at the application—the last time I used it was back when it was freeware and had a taco.

MacJournal still has the taco

…it still does.

It occurs to me that it might make a useful reading notebook to complement my Kindle (and my iPad next month). I haven’t been keeping track of the copious clippings and notes I take with it. Here is my first attempt:

reading notebook on MacJournal

Here is the process I am trying to use:

  1. Create a journal in MacJournal called “Reading Notebook.”
  2. Import all the Kindle Clippings I’ve not clipped up as entries
  3. Create an entry for a book I am reading, tag it with some search terms in the inspector.
  4. Search and cut the related Kindle Clippings out of the various notes, and paste it to the bottom of the book entry.
  5. organize, summarize, and delete as I go.
  6. Import kindle clippings often and delete often.

We’ll see how it goes. I made out some stubs for other ideas for journals.

  1. Organizing Journal – keep a record of my failed attempts at self-help.
  2. The Woodwork – I’ve stored unfinished drafts for blog posts in a myriad of places: Things, folders with the title, TextEdit RTF documents, and drafts on the blog. I plan to consolidate them here. Note that MacJournal has a “publish to WordPress” feature, but I don’t think it’s robust enough for me. I’ll continue to use the website, and maybe ecto, if I have the wherewithal.
  3. Things to Buy – Things is getting too cluttered with a lot of stuff that I don’t plan on buying for years. Delicious is in the same state. (I’ll still use TaskPaper for last-minute organizing before a major purchase and other maintenance purchases.)

For most notetaking, I’m still happy with opening an RTF, dropping it into a folder, and using Spotlight (via Leap) to find things. This just formalizes a fraction of it.

Purchase MacJournal with 6 other applications on MacHeist (2 days left!).

Lolcats can never be FAIL'd

Last month, my friend and fellow kimchee-eaterM.J., had three books sent to me. FailNation, How to Take over Teh Wurld, and Graph Out Loud. That’s important that I have friends like her because I’m usually the last to know about the latest memes.

Three new books and their respective websites: FailBlog, ICanHasCheezburger, and GraphJam.

I mention this because if you happen to be in San Francisco today at 6:30pm you really need to go to the book launch party. I came to get their last book signed:

I’ll certainly be there in order to get the books signed (and then give them away later, like I did last time).

Ben Huh signing their first book.

See you at the party!

(Full disclaimer, I now work for Automattic—though I didn’t at the time M.J. sent me the books. ICanHasCheezburger, GraphJam, and Failblog are VIP customers of WordPress.com.)

Fink’d

Something strange I ran across reading a book last night:

Amazon.com: Details Men's Style Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Making Your Clothes Work for You: Daniel Peres, the editors of Details magazine: Books

Tom Fink was my roommate in college. He got me in trouble with the instructor when he got caught with my lab notebooks in physics lab. I’ll always remember him as the guy who didn’t know the difference between EGA and VGA. 🙂

BTW, this is the book that the above refers to. I see he’s written this book also. You have to gone to school with him to understand why we’re tickled pink to see this.

Amazon.com: The Man's Book: The Essential Guide for the Modern Man: Thomas Fink: Books

Or is that tickled Fink?