Update for 7/16/2017

  • Sleep – I was mostly successful in my first week of getting my sleep schedule under control, and it made a big difference in my mood and alertness and productivity, as I expected. People say diet and exercise improve your state of mind, but I find nothing helps me nearly as much as sleep. I even started cleaning up my cluttered apartment, and the extra energy also got me through the troubles of the week with much less inner drama than I would’ve had. More on that below.
  • Project generator – This is my main project right now, so I’d be working on it anyway, but listening to my AI podcasts has been adding to my motivation, since this project is the bottleneck for all the AI learning and other coding projects I want to do. Last week I fixed my broken test and added a couple more tests, and now I’m ready to add the code to my templates that’ll make them real templates.
  • Beliefs report – To make it easier to list the evangelical beliefs I’ve kept, I collected belief statements from various organizations and denominations that’ve been part of my life over the years. But gathering those reminded me that what I really care and think most about is spirituality, so I made a detour into outlining my current spirituality. I’ll probably write just enough of that to give me a good idea of what’s there, come back to writing the beliefs report, and then finish the spirituality report.
  • Computer – Toward the end of last week, my desktop computer at home developed a severe case of blue screen, and I put on my scientist cap and determined the culprit was the 8G RAM stick I bought a few months ago, so now my computer is working again but back to being slow, and I’m looking into getting a replacement from the manufacturer.
  • Apartment – About the time my computer’s RAM was dying, people were working on the sewer in our parking lot and broke an unmarked gas pipe, so the gas in our building was out a couple of days while they fixed it, which meant no stove, oven, or hot water. The guy who told me about the problem shut off the gas to my oven/stove, and I didn’t know how to safely reset everything once the gas was fixed, so my kitchen was half non-functional for a few days till I could get someone to either tell me what to do or come by and do it for me. This all happened right in time for me to not be able to cook the raw chicken I’d thawed in my fridge.
  • Movies – I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming with Jeremy on Sunday, and I liked it enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, even less than I’d mind rewatching the other MCU movies, mostly because even after getting to know all these other Marvel characters from the movies, Spider-Man is still my favorite, but now closely followed by Iron Man and Black Widow. Partly I like Spider-Man’s acrobatics, but also I like coming-of-age stories, maybe because I feel like I’m continually growing up, and that’s a big part of Spider-Man’s genre, at least in the movies. This one inspired me to keep developing my knowledge and skills, because those are the closest things to superpowers I’ll have, unless I get on board with any transhumanism that takes place in my lifetime.
  • Social life – Several families at church are hosting dinners over the next month or so, and I’m trying to wade back into my church’s social life, so I signed up for one, and it took place on Sunday. The interaction was very organized and introvert friendly, and I had a good time and got to talk with some people I’d been wanting to get to know, so I was glad I went.
Posted in Apartment, Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Hardware, Movies, Sleep, Social life, Updates | 1 Comment

Update for 7/9/2017

  • Project generator – This is a more accurate term for what I was calling the code console before. I made progress last week on the code and posted a minor update, but after that I hit a snag where my code worked but my test for it didn’t, so I’m investigating that.
  • Beliefs report – I posted an update discussing the types of belief I’ll be covering in the essay, which should help me organize my thoughts and write it more easily.
  • Health – I had my colonoscopy on Friday to check on my ulcerative colitis, and from what I can dimly remember from the recovery room while the drugs were wearing off, my doctor was encouraged because there was less inflammation than usual. I’m supposed to see him again in a couple of months for a follow-up conversation.
  • Sleep – After the colonoscopy I slept for many hours and missed the SGDQ speedrun I’d been planning to watch, but I didn’t mind because I could watch it later and I reeeeeeally needed the sleep. As a result, the rest of the weekend I had lots more energy than usual, even with much less sleep Saturday night, enough energy that I actually felt up to joining the social event after church, and I haven’t really felt like socializing in a long time. So this has reminded me why sleep is good, and I’m thinking about how I can help myself remember that and plan for more sleep on a regular basis.
  • Movies – Sunday afternoon Tim and I spontaneously decided to go see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and since my experience with this series can be summarized by the word confusion, I paid very close attention this time, and I successfully followed the plot, to the point that I was possibly spotting holes. Anyway, as usual I don’t know if the movie was good, but I liked it.
Posted in Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Health, Movies, Sleep, Updates | 3 Comments

Update for 7/2/2017

Happy Independence Day! Even if you don’t live in the US, just celebrate being independent anyway.

  • Code console – I only worked on this a little last week and didn’t post any updates, but I’m getting impatient with myself, so I’m going to try to push myself more this week.
  • Grad school – Last week I was thinking about a new programming language I wanted to learn, and it reminded me that when it comes to learning new technical areas, I really need to determine what context I should learn them in–on my own, a pre-grad school class, or grad school. For that I need to determine what topics are likely to be covered in my grad program and what admissions will expect, and for that I need get back to researching grad programs, so I’ll be doing that soon.
  • Beliefs report – I still didn’t post anything, but I did write some preparatory thoughts that should let me post something on types of belief this week, which will help me write the rest of the essay.
  • Health – I have a colonoscopy scheduled for Friday so the doctor can see how things are going with my ulcerative colitis. To me my condition is the same as usual, abnormal but manageable. This has been a tougher colonoscopy to arrange than others, with a scheduling problem and a mixup with ordering the prep medicine, so hopefully things will all fall into place by Friday, or else I’ll have to reschedule again.
  • Video games
    • Game log – Last week while contemplating what to buy in the Steam Summer Sale, I decided I only wanted short games, since I already have so many I haven’t played, so I asked Google for guidance and found HowLongToBeat, a website that lists average playthrough times for a lot of games, and it also lets you create a game log so you can keep track of the games you’ve played and your times, so I spent a decent chunk of the week creating my list, and I’m thinking of playing through my backlog from roughly shortest to longest, hopefully without distracting myself too much from my other projects. But it seems like the rest of last week was spent playing Minecraft, because it’s an easy way for me to feel productive when I don’t want to do real work.
    • SGDQ – This week I’m intermittently watching Summer Games Done Quick, an annual speedrunning charity marathon, the counterpart to Awesome Games Done Quick in January, where this year they raised over $2 million for Prevent Cancer Foundation. Speedrunning is a style of video game playing where the player tries to beat the game as quickly as possible, usually taking advantage of glitches in the game. The main event for me (schedule) will be the Mario relay race, where several speedrunners I watch will be competing, but I’m also looking forward to the Chrono Trigger run, because that was my first console RPG.
  • Chapel – Last week we had another spy in chapel, this time an ex-KGB agent, Jack Barsky, whose book, Deep Undercover, is already out. He wasn’t as good at interviews as Michele Rigby Assad but still interesting.
Posted in Beliefs report, Chapel, Coding project generator, Grad school, Health, Updates, Video games | 1 Comment

Update for 6/25/2017

  • Code console – I got the project generator testing to work after hitting a snag, which I should create an issue for somewhere, and now I’m using test-driven development to write the basic generator code that will turn templates into project files. One advantage of TDD I’m discovering is that it throttles your planning down to a more realistic level, since each step in the execution of your plan has to have concrete results for the purpose of testing, and you have to figure out what those will be before you even figure out how to carry out the step.
  • Beliefs report – I detected some demotivation, so I spent last week examining that and coming up with some steps I can take to motivate myself and manage the writing better, and this week I’ll get back to the report. The motivating/managing steps have to do with the writing process, the organization of the essay, and topics to cover that would give me a better handle on the material. One of the more interesting of the topical steps is to ponder ways to handle the vagueness of religion: (a) reducing it, (b) managing it, or (c) surrendering to it.
  • Books – I got through The Fear Index pretty quickly, and it didn’t comment on AI as much as I’d hoped, but for the most part I liked what it said, though I think the book’s scenario would have some significant differences in real life. But given the wide-ranging subjects of Robert Harris’ other novels, AI is clearly not the overall theme of his work, so I’m pleased that his treatment of it was on the realistic side, since it’s easy for people to think magically about it. Now I’m back to Philip Yancey’s Prayer so I can finish it and hopefully find some more motivation and food for thought for my beliefs report.
  • Chapel – Last week at work our chapel was an interview with Michele Rigby Assad, an ex-CIA agent and Christian who interviewed terrorist informants with her husband in places like Baghdad. Riveting. Her book is coming out in February.
Posted in Beliefs report, Books, Chapel, Coding project generator, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 6/18/2017

  • Code console – It doesn’t do anything yet, but I’ve posted the initial code for my first project generator. I’m working out how to do behavior-driven development on it with Mocha. I’m also investigating how to set up literate programming with Pweave (switching from pyweb, which I was using for the Math Student Simulator ) so I can include that in the generator at some point.
  • Beliefs report – I started on the theology proper section, but it wasn’t ready to be posted, and then I decided to change my approach, so maybe this week I can post something.
  • Books
    • The Long War – I finished this one after dragging my feet for a few weeks. I was hoping the pace of the plot would pick up after all the exposition of the first book, but it was as slow and disjointed as before, and the title was barely relevant, so I’m starting to agree with this review of the first book (h/t Michael). I’ll probably finish the series someday in case the story ends up going somewhere specific, but I’ll wait a while.
    • The Fear Index – I’m in the mood to think about AI these days, so I’ve decided to explore AI-related fiction more purposefully, and I’m starting with this one that my brother told me about a while back, which so far is a thriller about an investing firm. As a side note, I’ve also been listening to a few podcasts on AI and related topics, such as the O’Reilly Data Show Podcast, which had a recent episode on financial trading.
Posted in AI, Beliefs report, Books, Coding project generator, Podcasts, Updates | 2 Comments

Update for 6/11/2017

  • Code console – I’ve learned the basics of Yeoman and associated tools, so this week I’ll try making a generator or two for my most common project types, and post them on GitHub. Whenever that’s done, I’ll post any relevant updates to my coding guide, and then I’ll take a break to deal with some other projects, such as doing some website maintenance and cleaning up my apartment.
  • Beliefs report – I’ve posted an update with more on the prolegomena and a large part of the bibliology section. (Really I posted it Monday of this week, but let’s lie to ourselves and say that counts as the tail end of last week.) It’ll be interesting to see how this essay evolves, and I could see it getting me back into my religious areas of interest and spawning several research projects. I’ve already spent some quality time in the library looking at philosophy of religion books.
  • Health – I had my Remicade infusion on Thursday, which now takes about an hour longer because of the increased dose, but I take the whole afternoon off for these sessions anyway, and I secretly like going to the hospital for them, so I don’t mind. Now I have to schedule my colonoscopy, hopefully without interfering with my dentist appointment on Wednesday, and then maybe I can be done with medical events for a while.
  • Media
    • Movies – One happy side effect of rescheduling my colonoscopy is that I could go see Wonder Woman Tuesday night with my geek meetup. It didn’t quite have the magic for me that the Lynda Carter show from my childhood does, but I still loved it, partly because I’ve been waiting for a live-action Wonder Woman film for many years, and partly because there were many things to love about it. Before I went, I saw this tweet about viewers crying during the fight scenes, so I wondered how I’d react to them, and to my surprise a sudden sob did escape during No Man’s Land, but it was for different reasons than the article gave. The article from the tweet, which I read later, was about a sort of pent-up feminist energy, which I guessed while watching and which I could distantly appreciate, but my reaction was more about her striking defensive role in that scene, which for me felt somehow both vulnerable and aggressively protective, completely drawing the attack but without being overcome by it, like a messianic mother bear.
    • TV – Tim and I have started watching Foyle’s War. We got through the first episode Sunday night, and we had fun speculating about the mystery and commenting on British culture. I tried to pay attention to a long-term topic of mine, which is what makes an interesting revelation in this kind of story. The answer to this episode’s mystery went in a different direction than I was hoping, but it was still interesting and surprising.
Posted in Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Health, Meetups, Movies, TV, Updates | 7 Comments

Update for 6/4/2017

Well that was a lot of procrastinating for such a short update. I’m sure I have some excuse, but I can’t think of it right now.

  • Code console – I’ve been looking for programming project skeleton generators written by other people so I don’t have to write one myself, and last week I got through my long first pass of looking through the likely options, and then I cut my second pass short by just picking a popular one in JavaScript called Yeoman, which can be used for projects in any language. So this week I’m figuring out how to use it, and then I’ll try making some generators that fit my upcoming projects. My exploration took me through some current web development tools, and after being away from that field for so long it was interesting to get an idea of what’s happening in it.
  • Beliefs report – I wrote a decent amount, but it wasn’t quite in a postable state, so I’ll probably update it this week.
  • Health – Remicade hasn’t been helping much, so my doctor doubled my dose, which was on the low end, but the insurance had to go back and forth with the nurses to approve it, which still wasn’t done by the end of the week, so I had to cancel the infusion that was scheduled for Thursday so that could get settled.
  • Video games – I’ve been sneaking in some Minecraft lately, working on my project of selecting about 18 biomes and building homes that match them. Right now I’m building up my central base.
Posted in Beliefs report, Coding project generator, Health, Updates, Video games | 2 Comments

Update for 5/28/2017

  • Productivity – Working on projects during dinner turned out to be the best idea I’ve had in a while. I worked on them many more hours than I have been, mostly on the code console. I’ll keep this schedule until it stops working.
  • Code console – Despite all the work last week, I’m still not ready to post anything, because the cookiecutter templates I’ve found have given me a lot of software development tools to explore, but also I’ve found that cookiecutter isn’t completely suited for what I want to do, which is to reuse template content selectively for different kinds of projects, so I’ve been planning another approach. I was thinking of coding my own wrapper around cookiecutter for the extra functionality, but in the meantime I’ve discovered static site generators, and now I’m thinking I’ll just use one of them, if I can find one that doesn’t insist on generating HTML, since they’re really designed to create websites rather than software project skeletons.
  • Beliefs report – I’ve posted the seed, and I’ll keep adding to it in the coming weeks.
  • Diet – I’ve been eating through the food I have before I start more seriously on my lowish-carb, highish-unsaturated-fat diet, which will take some planning, but I can already tell I’ll have to stop being lazy and get back to cooking, since most frozen meals don’t fit that diet, but it’ll be the simplest, quickest cooking I can come up with. I’m also not going to be extremely strict about the diet like I was last year, since this experiment is about eating in a semi-normal way that I can keep up long term.
  • Social life – Saturday I went over to Jeremy and Heather’s place for board games with some other friends, and we ate some yummy tacos they made and played the game I bought a few weeks ago, Isle of Skye, and then Race for the Galaxy, which you can play online.
Posted in Beliefs report, Board games, Coding project generator, Cooking, Diet, Productivity, Social life, Updates | 4 Comments

Update for 5/21/2017

I’m experimenting with leaving out the Project/Life/Site Update headings, since it all kind of blends together in my mind into a series of life events, and sometimes for narrative purposes I want to mix the more stand-alone life events in with the more project-like life events.

  • Code console – I started working on creating cookiecutter templates for my projects and immediately got sidetracked by examining how other cookiecutters had been set up in case I needed to incorporate their ideas, and I didn’t get far enough to post anything yet, so I’ll keep working on it this week.
  • Beliefs report – I’ll post my first few thoughts this week, and I’ll add to it here and there.
  • AI – AI has been taking up more of my thoughts over the past few months, and in the past few days I’ve felt like listening to discussions of the subject, but I’ve felt a little frustrated that I don’t have a solid mental picture of the field as a whole, an overall context to put specific topics into, so I’m doing what I should’ve done a long time ago and watching videos from some intro AI courses–MIT’s and UBC’s (Mackworth and Poole), UBC because the professors are the authors of the AI textbook I have that seems to fit the way I think about the subject. In addition to overviewing AI, these lectures are giving me a decent sense of what technical classes are like, which feels challenging but motivating. I’ll probably start some articles on the wiki soon to collect links and my thoughts on AI, and I’m even feeling motivated to research grad programs again.
  • Productivity – These AI videos have reminded me that when I go back to school, I’ll have to spend a lot more time on homework than I currently spend on my projects, and I might as well start practicing now. I’ve also been motivated by this profile of the serious-minded and hardworking Robert Mueller (and James Comey, but I mostly care about Mueller). So this week I’m going to try working on projects while I eat dinner rather than watching TV.
  • Socializing
    • Movies – Tuesday night I went with my geek meetup to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. As with most movies I see, I don’t know if it was good, but I liked it, especially their animation of baby Groot, which seemed authentically childlike to me. Also relevant: this gallery of Mandelbulb art, some of which makes an appearance.
    • Board games – Saturday I went over to a coworker’s house with two other guests for his somewhat spontaneous game night. We played a three-hour game of Deus, and despite coming in last I had a good time.
  • Diet – I had my annual wellness screening (mostly a blood test) at work last week, and my lipids came back only slightly bad, while my weight’s been slowly climbing back up, so in the next couple of weeks I want to start a combined low-carb TLC diet that I’ve had in mind for a while.
Posted in AI, Beliefs report, Blood tests, Board games, Coding project generator, Diet, Movies, Productivity, Updates | 1 Comment

Update for 5/14/2017

Project updates

  • Media
    • Comics – Thanks to an all-nighter on Sunday, I’ve posted the reading guide. It was supposed to be a quick project, but it lasted a week longer than intended, so I wanted to get it off my plate so I could get back to higher priority projects, even though I already know of improvements I want to make. But it was helpful to write, and hopefully it’ll help other people who want to get into comics. Right now my own comic reading plans consist of reading through the DC crisis events.
    • Books – I finished listening to Hardwired, which had most of the cyberpunk tropes I was looking for but wasn’t the mindless adventure story I was expecting. It was well written and had some depth, so I might read the rest of the series. But for now I’ve gone back to Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s Long Earth series, which I’ve missed.
  • Code console – Now that the comic reading guide is posted, I can get back to programming, and my next step is to create the cookiecutter templates I’ll use to create my future projects, so that’ll be this week’s main project.
  • Beliefs report – This week I also want to get back to writing this, an update on my religious beliefs.
  • Photography – I’ve been waiting for the trees to fill out again after winter, and that has happened, so I’m back out taking pictures, but this time I’m taking 3D panoramas with my Cardboard Camera app, such as this (pan with the right and left arrow keys or your finger if you’re viewing in a web browser instead of the app). I like taking these panoramas because I do almost feel like I’m there when I look at them in the viewer, especially with the audio recording that goes along with them (when you view them in the app), but they also have flaws, such as noticeable seams and the ghosts of moving objects, which makes me want to find a way to justify buying a (cheap) 360-degree camera so I can make videos like this one, which you can pan around in with your mouse or finger if you don’t have a VR viewer.
Posted in Beliefs report, Books, Coding project generator, Comics, Photography, Project updates | 2 Comments