A storm of modernity and bots

This weekend should include a few time slots to produce some epic prose. I’m still working to round out my 104 week writing project into machine learning. As that project comes to a close the next big journey will start. My five year writing plan and research trajectory will make a jump to the right and the plan will keep on moving along. One of the things that I had become very concerned about was sticking to the plan and producing a large enough degree of output. For example, just today I started to wonder if I should write a quick book called, “Your bot, my bot, our bot: A chat about platforms and bots.” Something about the latest large language models and the very real threat of content flooding has gripped my attention. Good writing comes from the depths of passion around a subject and maybe I should just give in and spend a couple of days focused on that bot project. 

Central to that intellectual question is what happens when we are not able to reasonably tell if our interactions are occurring with a bot compared to a person. We may very well be able to set up a friend bot and text with it all day shortly and it will be hard to tell if it’s not your college friend or long lost work associate. People are already trying to use a collection of video responses to generate virtual versions of a person. Enough video of me exists online that I’ll probably end up being a video bot one day. Maybe my current focus is about what will happen with that next persona and my concerns if it will end up being accurately polite and sardonic. Most of the bigger bots that have been created over the years and launched by even large companies have taken a turn to very mean rhetoric. 

We all know that a lot of internet forums and other online exchanges are not the best places to find civility. Training anything from that type of content is going to be a mirror to it and not as much a leap forward toward a vision of a civil society where a shining city on a hill remains delightfully just in reach. My corpus of writing based on previous GPT models ends up producing thoughts about writing, the process of writing, and complaining about both writing and the process of writing. While I tend to write about those things on this weblog and that is why that content exists in the corpus, my discussions with actual people during live dialogues generally don’t go that direction. People don’t really want to hear about the troubles and tribulations of the writing experience. That type of nonsense is best left for the written page where it can be ignored online or pursued if necessary. 

Within those central questions you can probably sense that my focus on a storm of modernity and bots could very well be a chapter in a book about the intersection of technology and modernity. My guess at the moment is that it could also be a stand alone manuscript and might be interesting. Either way it is probably an area of focus that will end up on my updated writing plan pending the completion of my current machine learning book. It feels oddly cliche to have collected enough content to publish a book on machine learning. A lot of those types of books have come into being in the last couple of years. I don’t think any of them are written in the same style or cover the breadth of content that I have evaluated, but that does not negate the sheer volume of machine learning content that has sprung up into being recently. 

This very weblog contains the two parts of my five year writing plan. First, it includes a reasonable list of upcoming research which describes the backlog of planned things. Second, a page on the weblog is devoted to my research trajectory. That collection of thoughts has been pulled together to help describe the general content areas that are pulling my attention from time to time and end up informing future publications. Together those two things are what fuel a five year writing plan which is really a way of measuring my writing output against both the possible and the rate of my actual production. Overall this is an important way to hold myself accountable to the possible creation of content. It also creates a process where I’m managing my time and screening out things that should not receive my time and attention as they don’t contribute to building something meaningful. You are probably well aware that my goal is to work just beyond the edge of what is possible. It’s just on the other side of that edge of possibility that the remarkable awaits. 

Thinking about digital photography for a bit

Shaking off this latest cold has been difficult. It lingered more than I thought it would. A lot of people seem to have had a wave of something spread throughout town. That mental dullness that comes from having a cold easily defeats the need to write. Even some of the output that has occurred has been left to the false start bin which in my case is just unpublished prose. It will sit in a word processing document from now until the time that cloud storage ceases to exist. Remarkably large amounts of data have been stored in terms of pictures, documents, and other nonsense on cloud servers. Sometimes I end up wondering what will happen to all those pictures. For the most part even well kept photo albums from the past only last for so long. We have surprisingly few photographs in our possession from before 1980. People certainly did take photographs with film based cameras and had them developed at these little stores that no longer exist for the most part. 

You got an envelope with pictures and the now exposed film back at the end of the process. Today none of that waiting really exists. Some people do use instant film cameras and a few people have these little portable printers to be able to give somebody a physical copy of a picture. Presumably the vast majority of photography today is just digital. It’s probably in the neighborhood of around 99% based on the rise of the smartphone and its promise of AI assisted quick and easy digital photography. I’m not saying that nothing is getting printed these days. People certainly print photographs and share them or maybe display them on a wall, desk, or shelf. Presentation and sharing just account for a very small amount of the totality of photographs taken these days. It is something that changed. My personal photo albums of which I have 3 of them in my office go from 1996 to around 2004. One of them is just basically high school to the start of college. 

All of those pictures in that first photo album exist from mostly disposable cameras that I carried around in my backpack. Over time all the photos the camera was capable of taking which I remember as being around 24 the internet suggests actually included 27 based on a couple quick searches. Either way it was a process of rarity not a bulk creation of content. Almost all the photos are staged in some way and you can tell the people in frame are looking back at the camera. I’m not even sure at this point if I had gone back and digitized all the photographs in the albums. At one point, I do recall purchasing a nice flatbed scanner which was probably used for that purpose. 

You may well remember that my first digital camera was an HP PhotoSmart C200. I spent a few minutes on eBay this morning looking at them, but buying a 1 megapixel camera just does not seem very practical. It would be an outright act of nostalgia. Some of the listings came with the camera and the box. I used to carry that camera and a set of backup batteries. It makes me want to go back to using Flickr again and sharing random photographs of things. Please keep in mind that very few of my photographs turned out to be amazing works of art. Anything amazing contained within the collection of photographs was happenstance not an intentional act of photography greatness. Over time, people started really just sharing the best photographs on Instagram and that platform took off to the size of billions of users.

Working out the last posts of a lengthy series

I’m very quickly closing in on the last few posts in the 104 week series for my Substack, “The Lindahl Letter.” I’m currently working on the posts for weeks 98 to 104 to close out the two year series. On the brighter side of things week 98 is almost ready for podcast recording. Something has happened to slow things down and I’m not entirely sure if it was a cold that arrived over Thanksgiving or if my topic selection to close things out was just not as good as it could have been. Either way my rate of productivity has dropped off a bunch. Today is the Sunday following thanksgiving which means I should be well rested and ready to draft a few posts really quick this morning. Right now I have the whole day reserved until the Kansas City Chiefs play tonight to write, draft, and tinker with 6 posts. When you hear my voice from the week 97 recording you will know that it is maybe at 50% of where it should be for recording audio. We will see how it goes, but I don’t think that I’ll be recording any additional podcast episodes today even if they get written. 

At this very moment, I have put thoughts out into the universe about finishing up drafts on the 6 remaining posts for the year. To begin with the end in mind let’s consider where we are tactically in terms of a production current state. 

  • Week 99: Started, research, some drafting
  • Week 100: Research
  • Week 101: Planning
  • Week 102: Not even started
  • Week 103: Not even started
  • Week 104: Started, some drafting

Assuming that each week gets a 500 word boost that would be a 3,000 word output day. I have a large portion of the day reserved for this effort so it is totally possible to write all the things that need to be written. I should have just jumped in and started writing instead of starting off with 300 words on what I needed to do for the day.

Starting to sell some sports trading cards

My sports trading card collection grew larger than the cabinet door side of my Scandinavian Designs Alva credenza [1]. The first things from my collection to get listed on eBay were a couple boxes of complete card sets. They both received bids and will sell about 4 days from now. I did decide to list one BGS graded card as well to get back into the selling process. My strategy for the auctions was to do no reserve, starting at $1, and free shipping listings. Each of the auctions included a number of photos taken with my Google Pixel 7 Pro smartphone. 

Footnotes:
[1] https://scandinaviandesigns.com/products/alva-credenza

Getting back to carrying a backpack

My big plan for the moment is to share this weblog post over on Twitter using the social features of Jetpack. I’m going to click the radial button to, “Share the content of this post as a Twitter thread.” That is not really something that I do very often. Given that it is going to happen today, you are certainly more than welcome to enjoy this content as it gets broken up into seemingly random length tweets. Apparently, I have procured 9,159 tweets since March 2009. Clicking that button every time will certainly get me over the 10,000 tweet threshold. 

It has been years since my everyday travel involved a backpack. Throughout a decade of college courses that certainly happened. Carrying my laptop with me in a backpack used to be something that almost always happened. I have had a number of laptops over the years and I don’t even really recall all of them at this point. A few stand out like my Sony VAIO Laptop VGN-T250P, Dell Studio 1535, and HP Envy X2 laptops. Writing time could happen at any moment and I had to be ready. At some point, that type of need to carry a backpack just disappeared. For the most part being able to throw on a pair of noise canceling headphones and work from a laptop is delightful and very easy. At one point, it was a pair of wired headphones and they did not cancel noise or anything that fancy. With that setup pretty much any spot can quickly become the place that work is going to happen. 

All this talk about the pending demise of Twitter really made me start thinking about the days of carrying a backpack. It’s probably some type of nostalgia or something in this moment that made me start to reflect on things. People really do believe that as a social network platform Twitter might very well break this weekend. I’m not entirely sure that would really happen. The platform itself has been pretty well battle hardened over the years. I’m guessing it can run for some time with minimal support.

Spending some time looking at new computers, again…

It was one of those days that looking at new laptops happened again… this time around I took a look at two different ones including:

https://system76.com/laptops and https://hpdevone.com/

Both of them circle back to being able to run the Pop!_OS (a linux based operating system). You can spend a lot of money using some of the configuration tools for those laptops and desktops for that matter. Over the years, I have mostly built my own custom computer desktop. This Dark Base Pro 900 powering the keyboard being used to write this weblog post is a custom built set of computer parts that I selected over the years. 

My next build is likely going to be into an entirely new computer case and be entirely different parts. If you have been reading these posts long enough, then you might remember the Storm Stryker case which has since been discontinued. You can see a picture of it here: https://www.coolermaster.com/catalog/legacy-products/cases/stryker-se/

I’m going to tell you upfront that the Dark Base Pro 900 is a much quieter computer case. I have been really happy with it so far. Managing the thermals did involve installing a Corsair Commander Core XT which is currently controlling 5 fans and collecting data with two different temperature probes.

Just blogging along over here

This is my third weblog post in as many days. You might be ready to call it a streak. Right now I’m on a little vacation from Twitter for the weekend and this has actually increased the amount of time that I would spend writing. I’m spending some of that extra time and focus on trying to figure out where to map out the next set of my writing endeavors. Getting a solid roadmap setup for the next 90 days of writing output will be a really important part of the puzzle. Moving into the new year I’m going to have to refocus on finishing up some AI related content roadmapping for the 3rd year of The Lindahl Letter. I’m really close to sending off the first two years of that content to an editor. I’m hopeful that massive tome of delightful written content ends up distributed in print later this year or potentially early next year in 2023.

This morning my productivity has been pretty good so far. I was able to get a good portion of next week’s Substack post written. Tomorrow I should be able to finish up the draft on that one which will keep me roughly a week ahead of the publishing deadline of every Friday. Recording the audio for the November 18, 2022 podcast was easy enough. I’m still not a big fan of how the Audacity audio editing software changed up the menu’s recently. Within every single podcast editing experience I run a noise reduction transform to remove room noise, a noise gate to remove anything small, and a loudness normalization to help make the listening experience better. Outside of those audio transforms I of course try to edit out any of the major breaths that show up during the recording of raw audio for a podcast.

My weekend routine is really driven by that writing, editing, and recording pattern to meet the drumbeat of that Friday at 17:00 hours publication deadline.

Always working beyond the last point of thought

Today was one of those days where I spent a lot of time chasing things along. Certainly that can happen from time to time. Right before we went out for dinner the latest issue of my Substack post went up promptly at 17:00 hours. 

https://nelslindahl.substack.com/p/ai-hardware-risc-v-ai-chips#details

Every Friday at 17:00 hours a Substack post goes out. I’m getting really close to 104 consecutive weeks of posting. Two years at anything is a real habit for sure. Closing out the last few posts has been much harder than I expected it to be based on the previous run at things. My writing routine is pretty much bulletproof. I wake up just after 05:00 hours on both Saturday and Sunday and devote those early hours throughout the weekend to writing really solid content. Everything throughout the week builds up to that point and writing the final product is about getting to done and clicking publish.

Earlier today I decided to take a bit of a vacation from Twitter throughout the weekend. That should be easy enough to accomplish. Instead of looking at that application I’m going to focus my attention on old school blogging. Getting back into the habit of sitting down and collecting my thoughts at the end of the day could be a great thing to do for the next few days. Maybe after all those thoughts are collected I’ll be able to capture a wellspring of adventure.

Working away from using Twitter for posting

Things within the space occupied by business news related to the Twitter platform have been beyond weird recently. To that end I’m actively working away from using Twitter for posting. It may be time to just swing back over and write things for the old weblog. This is a familiar fallback posture to take. My blogging goes way back for around 20 years now. At some point, I did elect to pull down some of my older posts by placing them into the archive side of things. They are loaded, but are a private part of the content library on the weblog. For better or worse, that is probably the way things will remain for some time. That includes about 1,880 posts that are set to private within this weblog deployment. 

I guess that means that writing new content should be a priority. To that end I’m going to spend a few moments here writing and working on thinking about the nature of things. It was one of those days where I thought about buying a new office desk chair at some point. Without question that is not something that I need to do anytime soon. My Scandinavian Design Wau desk chair is holding up just fine. Some of the Herman Miller chairs always look pretty darn good, but that is not something that I need to buy any time soon. I’m sure the office desk chair that I have right now will last for years.

Oh that social media

Maybe it would be a better strategy to just write short blog posts instead of posting to social media. I existed for years without social media and it was fine. Walking to the mall was a thing that happened. People had snacks at the food court. Nobody took any photos of that experience. It just sort of happened. I have a vivid memory of standing in a basement and listening to the album Bleach by Nirvana. We just listened to the music and nobody posted a single thing about it. Things were just different and I’m not entirely sure it was not better. Maybe it is some type of nostalgia or maybe social media is just not all that social these days. At the start of the blogging adventure I read blogs and knew people from their writing. It was different and more personal. Even some meetups happened with people getting together to talk about writing in person. That is probably something that I actually do miss. Getting together with a bunch of writers at some random bar or restaurant probably is something I should have appreciated more at the time. 

This little bit of a post is really just about my thoughts related to shifting back over to engaging in more long form writing and giving up micro blogging. I mean really most of my writing efforts would probably just be 500 word blocks of prose that were created in the moment and published without a whole lot of editing or revision. Literally, I just open a word process document and write for a bit before cutting and pasting that content over to be published out to a weblog. In this case, it gets published out to my weblog. 

https://www.nelslindahl.com/weblog/

You can certainly catch my weblog post feed and it still functions in the same way it always has. The latest post is at the top and you can read on to see what happened before. It has no real continuity between posts or anything that would really make it more connected than it having to be shared in the order in which it was written. Each blog post is effectively followed by another one and that goes on for hundreds of them. Ok that does not really tell the story of it going on for thousands of them spanning decades of content.