Some random weekly notes

Weekly weblog post for 3/27/2021 to 4/2/202

Keyboard update: The biggest change in transitioning to a 60% size mini keyboard has been getting used to the missing arrow keys. I had no idea just how much using those was part of my typing routine/mechanics. 

A note on routine: Each weekend I get up and drink two shots of espresso before starting to work on Lindahl Letter Substack posts. For better or worse they are sitting in a single Google Docs file. That collection has built out to about 45 pages of writing. I’m cutting and pasting that content each week into the Substack platform publishing post section. My efforts are planned out by content topic to about week 37 and I’m currently refining the week 10 post for publication on Friday, April 2, 2021. That involves a lot of reading and consuming content and just a little bit of writing. At the moment it does not really involve much code production. At some point, I’m going to need to swing from writing and producing words to building out some code based on a few ideas that are hanging out on my whiteboard. 

I’m going to spend some time today looking around at the various “synthetic data” repositories on @github to get a feel for what people are doing in that space. I’ll try to sort them by most recently published/updated to get a feel for the now…

https://github.com/search?q=synthetic+data

1,543 repository results on 3/27/2021

Each week I watch a lot of technology related content and a lot of guitar related content. For the most part I do not share back out my guitar related content to social media. It would be pretty easy to make a guitar related newsletter, but that market is pretty solidly filled at the moment and my attention is focused on the right things. 

I’m wondering if the years of digital files accumulated in my storage and cloud accounts matter. That sentence was longer. It got trimmed down. All these files are just stored and I wonder what is the point of retaining them at this point. Even the idea posting them all online seems problematic and uninspired at this point. 

Every couple of months I try to go in and find and close out any subscriptions that I sign up for without really considering. It is a process that I am committed to achieving, but it requires me to keep checking back and evaluating subscriptions. 
“The best projectors you can buy in 2021, and how to choose” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM-M1PjAD88

Endeavor beyond the surface of things

Dig deeper than the first visible layer of the problem. Always endeavor beyond the surface of things. Moving deep takes time and often a little bit of courage. For a long time my base analysis always centered around deconstructing the form, function, structure, and assumptions of any construct. Between those four pillars of exploration my adventures always formed a contribution to my understanding.

Whoa that weekend went by quickly

Yesterday, I had a cherry Pibb Xtra soda while watching the movie Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) in Dolby Cinema at an AMC theater. Over the last couple of years I have really enjoyed the Dolby Cinema format. The combination of screen clarity and sound immersion really makes a difference during the movie going experience. Between IMAX and Dolby Cinema my favorite at the moment is hands down Dolby Cinema. My central criticism of the design would be the strangely tall walls between the rows. I’m generally considered exactly average height and I find the height of the wall distracting. My guess is that a large swath of folks find the wall distracting. Oh yeah, I got a little distracted in that aside and missed the main point about having a Pibb Xtra.

Generally, I go out of my way not to consume soda. We don’t really buy and keep it in the house. Movie theaters are really the one place where consuming a vat of cola is probably going to happen. Yesterday, it really was a vat of Pibb Xtra. That is a soda that I do not often come across, but for some reason it always catches my attention. Being able to kick it up a notch with some cherry flavoring made my selection inevitable. My rate of going to the movies has increased recently. Years ago, I used to go see pretty much every movie. Back in graduate school I went to Blockbuster and used a movie pass to rent a new movie every day. Oh yeah, Blockbuster was a video rental chain that allowed people to borrow physical media.

Whoa — now is probably the right time for a public service announcement about your old physical media. Unless you were using archival grade CD, DVD, or Blu-ray physical disc media your content is slowly degrading (aka Disc rot). Seriously, I’m not kidding about the degradation. If that content was important to you, then you might want to consider checking on those old movies or pictures and storing them in a more modern way. All of my physical media was stored in those binders in a temperature controlled dark place. For the most part, all of the discs seemed to work just fine. My latest computer built used a Corsair Air 740 high airflow ATX cube case that does not actually have a disc drive or any external bay for physical media of any kind. This is my first build without a disc drive of some type (I’m including magnetic tape as a type of disc storage). The moral of this lengthy passage of prose is backup your data in multiple ways if it is important to you.

The promise that was possible

The promise that was possible is outweighed by inaction in the moment.

My level and quantity of writing in the last 30 days has dropped off. Seriously, I have mostly produced a sentence here and there and walked away. That is something that has not really happened to me in a long time. I’m not sure exactly what changed, but something has shaken my writing to the core and it is slowly down my ability to think out loud. Sure that might sound like something that is not very problematic, but sitting down to be reflective about the world around me is very important. It helps me understand and think about about what is going on in new and different ways. One of the things that is going to happen here pretty soon is that I’m going to take both of my smartphones and put them in a Pelican G40 Go Case for the vast majority of the day. I seriously spent years without texting or messing with my smartphone. Maybe that is something that i need to recapture.

A hard day to strive forward

Tired enough. Getting tired happens from time to time. Today was one of those days that just did not ever really get all the way kicked off. It was a day that even espresso could not jump start. Sometimes those days yield interesting results. This is probably not one of those silver lining type of days where you learn something valuable and are better for it. Things happens. You move on. Today was a day that just stacks up with the other days you move on from.

Sales came and went with Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. Some Chromebooks did go on sale. None of those sales were enough to tempt me into replacing this ASUS Chromebook Flip model C100PA-DB01. This build is lacking in processing power and RAM. It really was not built to do anything intensive. It works great for writing and general internet browsing. Video sometimes work and sometimes it just lags and freezes. Build quality for this device was pretty good. A few of the screws on the bottom of the aluminum frame are damaged, but otherwise the whole unit is in good shape.

Some time ago I covered the only webcam on my ASUS Flip with a piece of electrical tape. That seemed like a logical thing to do. I have no real need to use the video camera on my Chromebook. It would be a very awkward camera to use. Both my Google Pixel XL and my Pixel 2 XL have way better cameras. Most smartphones solid in 2017 have a better camera.

Each day my writing projects have to grow beyond 500 words. That floor has to be the minimum standard for a writing session. Producing some type of video content has become a part of my daily routine. Day one of the vlog experiment started on December 17, 2016. We are quickly closing in on one full year of creating video content. Initially, I had thought about trying to make a video every day for 365 days straight. That did not happen. Seriously, that is actually really challenging to achieve. The folks that are able to generate dynamic and interesting daily content are both very creative and highly motivated.

Both vlogging and live streaming are interesting. Most of the academic prose I generate is highly technical and only somewhat approachable. That is probably my fault to some degree. I know that writing informative and highly approachable prose is the way to go, but that can be challenging at times to achieve. Go figure. We all have to strive for a certain level of output. My personal challenge for 2018 will probably be to average 3,000 words per day. That would benchmark my 2018 writing output at about a million words. Somewhere in the middle of writing a million words in a year has to be something meaningful. Even it only happened on accident the effort would be worth the result.

This paragraph will include the 500th word for the day. That pretty much means that between the start of this writing session and this point I would only be at 16% of my 2018 daily writing goal. Well to be completely accurate I would be 16.66% repeating of course. Writing at a cip of 3,000 words per day would require finding things that are worth writing about and aligning those to things that I am actually passionate about.

Generating 3,000 words of pure stream of consciousness driven prose per day would be an interesting experiment. Prose resulting from such a daily ongoing grind would probably be highly disjointed. It would probably end up going in highly varied and somewhat chaotic directions. Daily writing can take on a kind of retrospective take on things. Stream of consciousness writing can really end up going in seemingly random directions.

We summarize forward

Accept it. Now would be the moment to decide. Imagine the power of that moment. The decisions that could be made. The directions that could be taken. For me it works like this mantra. “We summarize forward.”

Everything we hold true remains nothing more than a summary. We summarize all of our past experiences, theories, or expectations. All of that gets brought together as we move forward from the moment. Within that framework we summarize forward and move on to the next moment. It is the moment right here and right now that we can take action. Things that happened before or will happen are captive to and are captive to a moment. It could have been a moment that already happened or it could be the moment that is happening right now.

Even in my best moments it remains hard to push forward. At one point, I had decided to adopt veganism. At my best I can manage to eat mostly vegetarian, but that is pretty much the edge of where my efforts take me. That pretty much results in eating vegetarian breakfast and lunch. Dinner remains the one meal that really trips me up. Maybe a stronger degree of commitment would help me push forward.

Even with the best intentions possible some tasks will always be much harder than others. Maybe it would be easier to summarize forward about the possible ways to fix my adherence to better eating choices. It might be easier to elect within this moment to take action and fix things moving forward.

Squandered moments are everywhere

Today started off with a little fog. It was morning in Colorado. The wind was slightly chilly and it had just rained. My thoughts were with Chicago after watching the Cubs advance to the NLCS during an epic 9th inning rally. This is the time of year for postseason baseball.

I started to think about building my baseball card collection in the 1990’s. It reminded me of reading Beckett magazine and opening backs of trading cards. A few years have passed since I spent time opening packs of cards on a regular basis.

A moment or two pass without an afterthought. They pass and will continue to do so. Moments pass like the wind. Right now these words are the moment. We elect to take action in the moment. Planning to take action lacks a certain authenticity vs. taking action in the moment. We can plan big to change the world. Only our collection action together will change things. The moments we need to move forward are everywhere. Potential remains ready to be unlocked. Each moment could unlocked that potential or it could pass.

Inaction is way too easy

You can say it again. You can say it every day. Inaction is way too easy. It would be much easier to not move forward. It would be easier not to strive forward. It would be easy to engage in epic and utterly useless procrastination. Inaction is pretty easy to achieve. The hard part of the process is drawing a line in the sand. You then have to do everything within your power to strive to get beyond that line in the sand. Sometimes that requires the type of single minded purpose that breaks down barriers. Other times it requires just enough imagination to push the frontier of what is possible out just a little bit. That is the key to moving things forward. It involves figuring out how to achieve things that are just beyond what is possible.

We have so many things to accomplish. The intersection of technology and modernity has redefined the nature of what is possible within our lifetimes. We are starting to see tremendous shifts in the ways people are able to work together. We are so close to being able to bring people together to solve the toughest problems of our time. We just have to gain agreement on the problems. We are the generation that got to see politics breakdown. A sound working political system opens the door to a world of possibilities. We have to accept that political parties have a great and truly miraculous capacity to bring people together. It may not be something that we all agree on. Together we have the capacity to achieve truly meaningful change. The possibility exists. That possibility is something we have to appreciate and tap into.

Outside of politics some corporations have tried to make a difference. We have seen a few companies pop up with social benefits. Some of them work globally. Some of them are inherently a part of the social fabric of local communities. Some venture capital companies and other entrepreneurial investors try to push the boundaries of what is possible. Solving the biggest problems we face might create entirely new markets. Those solutions may shake up current markets. As the intersection of technology and modernity continues to reshape the frontier of what is possible we will see huge changes in our lifetime.

We have to figure out where those changes will be. Those are the places where we can make a difference. We have to figure out how those changes can strengthen the social fabric that built our communities. Change is on the horizon. How we harness that change will define our generation.

The disjointed nature of social media

Earlier this morning, I was thinking, “Be here. Be present. Be now. We ask a lot from our future selves. We need to expect a lot more from the moment that is here and now.” That string of thoughts was sparked by my digital experience earlier in the day.

Recently I have noticed that my digital experience feels very disjointed. I have more ways available to communicate with folks online than ever before. The rise of messaging applications a decade ago has been matched and probably surpassed. Right now it shows me being available on a ton of services. Some of them are social media related. Some of them are just messaging applications. A lot of them are tied to my phone number. Overall it is highly disjointed. It is not overwhelming or anything. It would be very easy to just power my phone off and step away from my computer. That would pretty much eliminate all lines of digital communication. It just falls short of feeling connected in any meaningful way.

All of my online efforts pretty much run through my functional journal (weblog). That has worked well enough for the last decade. However, I started wondering if Mark Cuban is right about permanence within social media. Cuban favors a form of limited permanence. Each utterance would pretty much have a clock on it and it would disappear when the clock runs out. My writing efforts are pretty much available in perpetuity. Some of my writing efforts reach a wide audience. Some of them reach a very small audience. Both of those outcomes work for me. My writing efforts are almost exclusively about collecting my thoughts and moving forward. Put simply — I write, because I like to write. My efforts probably should be more focused on having an impact on the world around me and making a difference. That type of noble pursuit is something I find compelling. Obviously, it does not define my every move.

Be balanced in your approach

Each day we have the opportunity to experience a number of different things. We have to seize the potential for greatness in the moments we can influence. Some of them will be awesome. Some of them will be heartbreaking. Most days will just be predictable. That is ok. It happens. We can make the choice to focus on the positive influences in our lives. Imagine for a moment a day where you experience a rich tapestry of human interactions and emotions. That day includes moments of greatness and personal fulfillment. Your reaction to that type of day should not involve focusing only on outliers. That approach ignores the best parts of the human experience. That type of focus will askew your perspective. As you approach the 5 sigma level of accuracy within any process the overall vast majority of things occurring are positive. We have to get passed focusing only on negative elements of our outliers and be balanced in our approach. It has to be acceptable to celebrate success and recognize strengths. We have to be balanced as we seek to understand the world around us.