Posted by at 23:15  1 Response »
Oct 102013

Social media presents a bit of a problem for me, indirectly.

When I come across something thought-provoking, I want to share it with people. I suspect this is true of most of us. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on make this easy. The collective inertia behind these sites makes new connections easy to establish, which only further adds to that inertia. For most people, that’s great. That’s as far as it goes and that’s as far as it needs to go. Hell, some people revel in the compartmentalization this affords. Facebook is the “friend” you, LinkedIn is the “business” you, Tumblr is the “secret” you, or whatever permutation you please. And to all those people, I say good on you. Go to, enjoy, have at.

My problem is that I have too many platforms on which to echo the same thing. I share articles and provide commentary on Facebook half a dozen times a day. I tweet1 when something terse pops into my head that doesn’t “merit” a Facebook post. And Tumblr? I don’t do much more than reblog on Tumblr.2

But what about this blog?

The reason I’m so terrible about remembering to post updates here is that my first instinct is to post them to Facebook. I haven’t got a good handle on how many people read the blog; I know how many Facebook friends I have. If I want to reach people with whom I’ve established some kind of meaningful connection, the feedback cues built into Facebook entice me into choosing it. The blog suffers. I took some steps toward alleviating that by installing a Facebook plugin and building a Facebook app that allows me to cross-post articles from the blog to my Facebook feeds–both my public-facing author page and my personal account.3 I’ve considered doing the same thing for Tumblr. I’ve installed a Twitter widget on the blog so that people who come here can see what I’ve tweeted recently.

It’s not enough.

The other side of this is the discussion and debate portion. For whatever reason(s), I have a hard time not getting into arguments on Facebook. If someone says something and I disagree with it, I’m inclined to say as much and explain why. Facebook is a terrible forum for engaging in any kind of reasoned debate about anything, as are Twitter and Tumblr. Comment threads grow unwieldy within a few responses, everyone assumes disagreement equates to accusation and character defacement, and so on. Chances are, if you have a Facebook account, you’ve had an argument on Facebook. You know what I’m talking about.

These arguments eat up a lot of time. Internet arguments always have for me, when they arise. I used to visit a forum wherein fact-substantiated argument occurred at the drop of a hat, but no concern was made to encourage civility in these discussions. Civility has no bearing on the validity of a point, but it does make a discussion a lot more bearable. Even so, I spent hours on this forum throughout college. One day, I just stopped going. I haven’t been back since. I think my resource usage has improved as a result.

I’ve recently been assimilated by Reddit, too. I’ve gotten into a handful of arguments there as well, though thankfully they have always remained far more civil–and informative!–than the others I’ve gotten into in the past. Still, it sucks up time and I regularly have to make a conscious decision to close the site and get on with something more productive. Reddit is an awesome tool for staying informed, learning new things, and having discussions with people across the globe. But it will eat up your time.

This is all a long-winded way of arriving at this point: I’m going to try to disentangle myself from directly interacting with social media.

Rather than hopping onto Facebook when I come across the next fascinating link, I’m going to post about it here. This place is a far better forum for my commentary. If you’re interested in what I have to say and want to discuss it, this is the place for that to happen. Not Facebook. My server, not Zuckerberg’s. I’m going to make another deliberate effort to keep my Facebook interactions relatively brief. If I have something that I want to talk about with someone in an in-depth way, it’s probably worth writing about here in an in-depth way and then providing them with a link. If they don’t care to read it, that’s all the information I really need on how that discussion would’ve gone elsewhere. Facebook is going to be for staying in touch with people and organizing events, or in the case of my public page, keeping  a searchable presence for those interested in my authorial pursuits. That’s it. The blog will continue to cross-post to both of my Facebook feeds, but I won’t respond to any commentary there with more than a brief, “Hey, if you want to chat about this, head over to my blog and I’d be more than happy to!”4 I’ll be looking into a cross-posting plugin for Tumblr, too, for the same effect.

Twitter will be my go-to for terse, trivial updates. “Gosh, it’s nice today!” or “Man, that goalie must have been precognitive to block all of those shots!” will go there. Again, Twitter is a big, visible, public platform. I want people interested in my work to find me. If they want to get in-depth, come here.

Door’s open.

  1. There was a time when I swore I would never use this term, nor Twitter itself. Sigh. []
  2. Tumblr kind of scares me, to be honest. []
  3. Having two accounts has also made me worry about being too “noisy” for people who follow both; they’ll often see the same content posted twice. []
  4. I’ve also removed the “Like” buttons from the blog, for reasons unrelated to all of this. []

Great Big Write

 Posted by at 15:31  No Responses »
Aug 242011

Slammed through another three thousand words last night. Like so many things, it feels self reinforcing: the more I write, the more I want to. I just need to keep moving and all will be well. I’d love to be have the second draft done by the end of the month, though I doubt that’s realistic. If I maintained 3,000 words per day, that would only place me at around 55-60,000 words by the end of the month, and my current projections predict the complete draft will be nearly double that. In order to hit 100,000 words by the end of the month, I’d need to consistently put out close to 9,000 words per day. Even at my most exuberant, that’s pushing it. 2,000-3,000 feels pretty good, though.

I mentioned it on Twitter, but I haven’t mentioned it here yet. This Friday, Great Big Sea is playing in Lowell! This will mark my third time seeing them live, but the first time that Cody and I will be going with a friend of ours that we’ve indoctrinated into the GBS fold, but who has never seen them live. I am delighted by this and completely confident that she will have an excellent time.

Really, everybody should go see GBS. They are that good.

Aug 222011

Cannot run out of time. There is infinite time. You are finite. Zathras is finite. This…is wrong tool.

I have many, many projects that capture my interest. Writing is foremost among them, but so too are home improvement projects, costuming, digital art, web development, programming, learning to play the guitar, and so on. I often lament that I simply don’t have enough time to do all of that and my job and spend time with my wife and spend time with friends.

But that’s really a load of crap, isn’t it?
Continue reading »

Embracing Social Media

 Posted by at 22:35  No Responses »
Feb 082011

After resisting since its inception, I broke down and got myself a Twitter account.

I’ve been listening to a great deal of Frog Pants Network podcasts while driving to and from work (specifically, the Morning Stream, the Instance, and Film Sack). The hosts are all very active on Twitter. When one encounters enthusiasm for a thing, that enthusiasm tends to spill over. That’s at least part of it. Scalzi and a number of other persons of interest to me are also active on Twitter, which is another factor. I think, though, that the tipping point came when those two components combined with the impact that social media as a whole seems to be having on the protests in Egypt. Its actual level of impact may be vastly overhyped, much as everything “novel” is vastly overhyped when it plays even a small role, but regardless of scope, it’s been involved.

For a long time, Facebook, Twitter, and the various other Web 2.0 social media titans have seemed to me little more than a gimmick. True, I rely on Facebook heavily for orchestrating activities with friends, but other than a tool to do that, it’s largely a sea of noise. It seemed to me that Twitter was all of the noise with none of the utility. But once one is confronted with the idea that these gimmicky-seeming things can actually have a real impact on real social causes in this interconnected world, one has little choice but to swallow one’s pride and accept it.

I also have to admit that I like how much integration I can achieve between Facebook, Twitter, and this blog. I can tweet (I still hate that verb used in this context) and have it show up on both Facebook and here in the blog’s side bar. I like that quite a lot.

We’ll see how long my enthusiasm for it lasts.

Aug 062009

Been a while since my last post.  Since then, a ton of stuff has happened.

  • We fully moved-in to our house (though we’re still only about 25% unpacked).
  • We set a date for the wedding (8/7) and have picked a location for the reception, which may double as the wedding site too.
  • We selected/customized Cody’s engagement ring and matching wedding band
  • My company laid off about 25% of its work force (a layoff I rather miraculously was not a part of).
  • The Vampire game has resumed.

I’m probably forgetting a few things, but those are the big highlights.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted often of late is that it seems a bit of a chore to go to the blog page, log in, write up a post, etc, etc. I’ve recently implemented an easier method of posting that I think should make posting a more frequent occurrence. I’ve also got to get over my internal reluctance to post a battery of short posts as I think of things to say. If Twitter has proven anything, it’s that people enjoy hearing about the exploits of others in short bites. I don’t think I’ll ever hop on the Twitter bandwagon, though (famous last words…).

I finally got LaTeX-style rendering working on my wikis. It’s not that this is particularly difficult to do, but rather I had never had a server setup that would allow me to make the necessary changes to support it before. The particular implementation I’m using right now is MimeTeX. I had to do some custom hackery to make it work (specifically, my server did not seem content to create image links with some of the formatting required by TeX, so I wrote a PHP “middleman” that stands between the MediaWiki math engine and the MimeTeX CGI to properly handle formatting), but it’s great fun.

The major motivating factor in getting the TeX support to work is that I wanted to explore the idea of “damage potential” in EVE Online. Because of the way damage works in EVE, specifically with turrets, a given ship using a given type of gun is going to do the most damage at close range, and then see that damage falloff gradually as the target gets farther and farther away. This isn’t accounting for aspects of the target, which also play a role. The formula for this falloff is known and can be calculated, but I wanted to see how different ships stacked up to one another when they were compared.

I decided that the best way to do this would be to integrate the falloff curve (i.e. find the area bound by the DPS graph for the ship). Of course, this led to about 15 hours of wrestling with a truly atrocious integral. After consulting with Wolfram’s online integrator, engineers at work, the think tank at SDN, my dad, Cody, and Dr. Math,it became clear that the only way to solve the integral was via approximation and a computer.  I wrote up a Python script to do the integral and started getting good results.  I’m not really sure how valid they are, though.  Mathematically, they’re sound, but I’m not sure about their practical application.

I think that’s about it for now.