November 24, 2019

Thankful for a Slight Break

This past year has been an utter rush of good deep planning and strategy work, helping frame DevOps for potential use for digital developers and engineers for a large company. It is part of a longer path, but from mid-December last year to now it has been pretty much heads down of early stage planning, product selection, mapping transitions, and planning next stages and transitions that will follow. Other than a 3 day weekend here and there, I really haven’t had a break more than 3 days in this stretch.
I am so utterly grateful for this amazing opportunity to work and solve wonderfully complicated and complex problem sets. But, I may be even more utterly grateful and appreciative for a four day weekend for Thanksgiving. I haven’t need a break like this in a long stretch.

This Was a Slight Change of Known Plans

Last year as this started it was one of many long stretches of scrambling for work and projects, as the underlying market has been shifting a lot since the market crash in 2008 and the wild shifts that have followed. This project surface this time last year and was a scramble to see how quickly I could get in and starting to work on it. I had initially thought this was a 6 to 8 week project, but it has been so much more and has opened incredible doors of opportunity and older doors from long connections to pull things forward to current. Many things I started working on in the mid–2000s took a long time to gestate, but now is a really nice confluence of the rivers of thought and technical need converging.
This year I have lost track of some folks, but also reconnected with people who also were pushing the edges so many years ago. Now hoping to keep this trip going and pushing foundations and boundaries out and into place.

March 9, 2019

Unritualistic Update

Time passes and sometimes is wizzes. Of late it has been whizzing and I haven’t had time to visit here and leave a note for others, nor myself.

One of the things I realized when I search Google for something and end up here at my own site is this site needs some updating. I haven’t done a big change to much of anything since 2005 or so when I turned off comments. But, much of the code I wrote that runs all of the site is still the same or similar to when I turned it this blogging capability and then tweaked the UI about 9 months later in 2000.

One of the needs is I have a previous and next, but that is based on months and as you see I haven’t posted in months. I also need to paginate the categories pages as some of them are rather large (well in yesterday’s standards, but in today’s standards of using frameworks that are built poorly and widely used a Hullo World page can be a meg or more and say and show nothing). Along with fixing pagination I really would like to just show intros of posts on category pages so they are a bit easier to scan. It is also long past time to lose the .php extension on the pages. Also, I need to get https running again and for the whole site. Lastly, I need to update the underlying database and bring the scripting language up to something more current as much of the code is 18 years or more and still runs, even through I’ve updated PHP quite a few times.

Me? Currently I am well and quite busy on the work front with is a terrific change and pulling a lot of what I have done over the years into one focus, which is an absolute blast.

August 11, 2018

Ah, August

August in the Washington, DC area is commonly hot and humid (you know, temperatures in the 90s Fahrenheit and 120 percent humidity), the sort of weather that takes your breath away as you step outside. When I moved to the DC area in 1993 for grad school I loathed August with the oppressive heat and afternoon thunderstorms that become mini monsoons.

Some 25 years later, I’ve come to peace with August. I oddly enjoy the clinging heat. August drives nearly everyone who lives in the DC area out. They flee to the shore, see relatives in slightly cooler climes, travel to far off lands, or become stationary moving only to their front porch and not much farther. This change in population density and movement means treks in morning commutes can become magical as you make the 6.3 mile drive in 20 minutes by making every traffic light and for some stretches you are the only vehicle you see moving on the street.

Sure there are tourists who flock to tourist destinations and dawdle looking at the sights or stop with no warning to look at a map. Or, they just stand and have a conversation that consumes the full width of a sidewalk trying to figure out where Billy went (or some other child they didn’t pay attention to that has wandered off) or what type of food or museum will be next, which nobody agrees with. These tourist’s stalemate conversations are mini examples of what happens in Congress, but since Congress is out of session these micro moments are street-side examples of in-action in action of today’s Congress while Congress members are back in their districts, which these people left so to see Washington, DC and their Congress member in in-action.

What is most magical about August is running errands at your pace and leisurely shopping trips. The packed Little Red Hen on Saturday morning has you as the only person in line (okay, there is no line and you can just walk up to the counter and order, but not mentioning the word “line” could leave people confused, as it apparently is part of the “experience”). You can quickly grab a leisurely coffee and walk a few doors up to Politics & Prose to look around as the only customer walking around looking at the what is on offer.

The drive home is at a leisurely pace (this needs to be self-enforced as the usual traffic isn’t there, which usually helps pace you at a non-speed camera inducing speed) is enjoyable. There aren’t people driving with their head in the backseat trying to calm children, or trying to incite them to over achieve at their soccer practice they are running late to.

The August abandonment of the DC burbs means not going away is sublimely enjoyable. But, keep in mind it is only three to four weeks of this tranquility before the 20 minute sauntering commute in the morning returns to its usual hour of halting frustration. The quiet idyllic wandering in book store aisles will return to bumping and constantly being in somebody’s way or someone in yours as you peruse the shelves as if shopping inside a pinball machine.

Ah, August, you have become far too short over the years.

July 15, 2018

Mac Touchpad Dragging

I bought a Mac laptop for myself in 2001 and largely have been using the same version of the same set-up since then across 5 or 6 Macs since them (with one or two full nuke and repaves in there, but with those I pulled in my the applications and modification / customizations from preferences). In the past few months, I’ve been using a brand new Mac that is supplied by work / project and not only does it lack my outboard brain, but it doesn’t work like my heavily modified Mac.

The one thing that has been driving me crazy is I haven’t been able to sort out how I have a three finger drag on my personal MacBook Pro so I can have it on my one for work. It is frustrating as I go to click on an object to then drag it with three fingers to where I want it, or I go to the top bar of an app and place the cursor over it and use three fingers to drag the window to where I want. I do similar things to resize windows. I have looked in Better Touch Tool, thinking I had set it up there. I looked in Preference Settings for the touchpad, but no. Today I opened a lot of customization apps I have on my personal Mac and nothing.

I was looking in the Preference Settings in the Accessibility settings and found what I was looking for, the three finger drag. I would have never thought it would be in Accessibility. Given that my current personal MBP has a touchpad that the left half needs a lot of force to click on something and do usual tasks it does make sense that having a light touch manner of dragging things would be in Accessibility. Now I know how to fix one more thing on a work Mac to get it to my own personal Mac set-up so it gets closer to being an extension of me and less a tool I have to think about how to interact with rather than thinking about the work I am doing.

July 7, 2018

The Sidebar is the New Back Bar

Back in the days when I had time to hangout with friends for drinks, many places had a “back bar” that was more quiet and private.

I haven’t been in the habit of posting here as much as I used to, but I still am putting things into Pinboard and somethings I flag with “linkfodder”, which is my relatively unique tag to pull out favorites. I use the API from Pinboard to pull the linkfodder tagged items into the sidebar here. Occasionally I annotate them and that is brought here as well. This sidebar mini blog feels sort of like the back bar, which is a little more quiet and calm and you can see some things of interest to me (if that is of interest to you) and track them down.

The Writing Ache

It has been a while since I’ve written here, or over at Personal InfoCloud. I have an even larger stack of things in my writing queue and it is getting to the point that I am aching to write.

Shift Happened

I have a few things I really want to and need to get out. One is to take the Shift Happened series I started and made it through 4 of 16 I have outlined and I am finding the shifts myself and others saw and were living and advising through, happened to far more and they are really lost and acting as if these shifts never happened. Still.

Complexity / Social Lenses

The other thing is my Complexity / Social Lenses are now numbering in the 70s and I need to write to frame the core 12 or so I often use as half-day or full-day workshops to help others see through the fog of complexity with social and other complex environments they work and live within. I have been hoping to get these into a book, but the timing either wasn’t right or the environment (publishing company) shifted.

Information Strata

The last of these is around information depth, which I started relabelling Information Strata, that I have been including in client work and as one of the lenses related to social objects / socially mediated objects (depending if it was Jyri Engstrom or Karin Knor Cetina as one’s entry point). Information strata gets back to the core point and realization in the early 2000s that having a discussion with the subject in clear sight drastically improves the depth of the conversation, reduces errors from lack of clarity or misunderstanding, and improve conversational (information sharing) efficiency. Somehow today that basic concept is really lost and people accept the poor communication patterns as a given or don’t think to investigate a better way.

Over the last 10 years or so I started using a point system around the layers inhibiting a person from having a clear view of what is being discussed. This concept of having a clear understanding and isn’t new, it was something I learned as a communication major in many dog years ago as an undergrad. I need to do a decent write-up of this to have something to point to when helping others. I’m also realizing Info Strata leads right back to the “[Come to Me Web]” and related matters where the importance of bringing things related near has prime importance when building a service and system for someone to live and work with.

Now what I need is time and stability at the same time to get these going. Oh, and to get the ever bumped side project moving forward again.

October 3, 2017

Animoji Trains Future Interaction Interface

In the September 2017 Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X announcement Keynote they demonstrated the Apple ARKit driven face emoji, Amimoji. This is similar to other platform’s and service’s offerings.

But, there is something I think a little different about what Apple is doing. One piece is the face identification system that Apple has in the iPhone X and the 30,000 dots it uses on people faces to ascertain an identity, which makes it difficult for someone to use a photo or mask of a person to gain access. The other piece is people interacting with their screens and the live face scans of muscles and facial features moving.

It is this second piece, the live interaction where I have a strong hunch Apple is seeding things for the future. People are learning to interact with a facial scan interface for fun and learning the capabilities so to be comfortable with it. This seems very similar to Microsoft’s using the Solitaire game in early Windows to provide a fun interaction as a means to train people how to use a mouse and get comfortable with it.

Look out a few years and start to see not Animoji, but people talking to Siri to bring up an app on their wrist, car heads-up display, or (rather banal) iPhone and use facial interactions to swipe, scroll, sort, etc. feature options and light contextual information options for simple / calm interfaces. A raise of the eyebrow could scroll up options, a side smile left moves to preferred options and side smile right moves to next screen.

I know nothing other than a hunch, but playing around with this idea for years, I’m seeing the potential could be around the corner. Finally. Maybe. Come on Apple, lets take that step.

August 8, 2017

Mac and iOS Tagging with Brett Terpstra

If you are still following along here it is likely in hopes of something related to tagging or folksonomy (I have a stack of folksonomy and tagging things piled up, but not written-up) so today you win.

This week’s Mac Power Users is an interview on tagging with Brett Terpstra. This episode digs deep into what is coming in iOS and current state of tagging on Macs. While things are mostly tagging standards based, the implementations are still a bit on the manual and geek scripting side of things.

I am deeply excited about iOS getting tags that come over from Mac, which is why I have been tagging things for the past few years. I have been playing the long game with MacOS tagging in hopes that it would also sync to iOS. Years back I was really certain (the kind of certain driven by hope, more than knowing) Mac was going to provide a tag only option, which was going to be really good, as files have multiple contexts and tags can adapt for that reality (which is far closer to life than nested folders).

While we never got the world I swore was going to be the next logical step, or at least as an option, we do have something interesting now. It will be more capable and usable in the next few months with the iOS 11 and the next MacOS update, High Sierra. If this is your thing, give Brett’s sit down with MacSparky and Katie a go and you are more than likely going to find one or more tip to up your game, if not get much more out of it.

June 21, 2017

Spines On the Bookshelf

Today listening to the latest Track Changes podcast, Maris Kreizman Wants to Mail You Books there was a statement by Paul Ford of Postlight and many other things at Ftrain commented about how he likes physical book, particularly on his bookshelves as looking at their spines he will “think new thoughts because of the juxtapositioning of the spines”. This was brought up because it is one of the things that ebooks don’t offer.

This remixing and thinking new thoughts by looking at one’s shelves and the book on them is something I have a few conversations about over the last 5 to 10 years of reading digital books and paper books. Each physical book, not only has its own content with it shared and intermingles with one’s own preexisting knowing (or even can supplant prior understanding), but they accrete context interwoven with when and where they were read. They can also accrete understandings and framings that were concurrent thoughts during that reading. A book can really sink in for me when I discuss it with others, to a lesser degree it takes hold when I write about it. So, when I think of a book through the spine I see on the shelf I can often see the people I interacted with around the time I was reading it or discussing it with others.

This visceral sense springs to life when looking at my shelves (less so with the stack not currently shelved for various reasons). But, also the intermixing of the spines and their concurrent and accreted thoughts and understanding that come along with them.

Bookshelves and physical books are a sensorial wonder that ebooks don’t bring along. I can’t feel where in the book I read something - how much of the book’s pages are stacked on the right side, how many on the left, what side of the book a thought or passage may have been on, or where I was when I read it. These ancillary senses are not permitted when I read something as an ebook.

I do read ebooks and I find the ability to have a stack of books in my pocket or thin bookbag something nice. I also deeply appreciate the ability to search in an ebook. The ability to highlight and pull that highlight out easily (this is increasingly difficult with Findings cutting this off and Readmill shutting down). Having digital notes typed out easily in the pages of an ebook and having relatively easy retrieval is also nice (when there is easy access, see above).

What ebooks don’t provide is that sensorial interaction and deeper recall. The other ability that is missing is the ease of flipping through a book to find what is needed and flipping through the pages prior to what is found to be helpful to get context easily. The flipping through prior pages to get the beginning of a framing of an idea or concept is really nice. It echoes the gutting a book I learned in Oxford and is a practice that has stuck with me. I’ve run into a few people who have the same gutting practice and they also haven’t found a way to work ebooks in the same manner.

My preference? Both. They each have their benefit. Paper books have their added sensory enjoyment. But, ebooks have that ease of portability and search, as well as annotation (when it has some permanence).

December 3, 2016

Diffen for Comparisons

I stumbled across Diffen the other day thanks to Macdrifter’s Diffen mention. I have found it a great service for comparing things. But keep thinking of all the things I really want it to compare, but since it has two fields that allow you to compare any two things you can do it. I may keep the Diffen compares Holland vs Netherlands close at hand as it is a pet peeve and explaining it isn’t quite as easy as pointing to the link (particularly when people say, “well everybody calls it Holland”, the answer is everybody doesn’t and understanding what is correct is easy).

Previous Month

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.