Pondering the weblog format again

After writing this post I circled back and edited it. A very novel action to take. 

Some time was spent pondering a new weblog format and design. Generally speaking the weblog formats supported by WordPress are either a static homepage with a dedicated post page or the posts appear on the homepage. I suppose a third option exists where you could do both if you really were excited about making that happen. I’m on a bit of a streak publishing weblog entries. I used to sit down at the end of the day and write missives before going to bed. Now things are completely flipped around and I spend time focusing and writing at the very start of the day. Some of that time was spent today pondering the weblog format yet again. This is one of those things that happens from time to time. I did consider unlocking the backlog from my weblog again, but that did not happen. The last time I messed around with the weblog background I pushed hundreds of Tweets out in a matter of seconds due to an integration. 

For the most part the main point of the weblog is to write down my thoughts for my own purposes. These posts are not really written for any wide readership purpose or for a specific audience of any type. The weblog posts are really just written as part of the stream of consciousness exercise that I like to perform each day. Honestly, things begin to come into focus as I wake up and my thoughts move from a more open space to a focused space. The writing process at the start of the day helps make sure that I boot up into a fully focused and directed purpose for taking action during the day. During those first few minutes of waking up in the morning I could take my day and my writing in any direction. Things could literally just end up going anywhere that a stream of consciousness could take them in that moment. I generally just sit down and begin to type and let the prompt be the guide to writing and following that intellectual rabbit down whatever path appears. 

I have tried to set a prompt on a specific topic and really work to focus on that at the start of the day. That approach did not really work. It turns out that I need to spend a few minutes focusing my thoughts and working on the writing process before jumping into anything really targeted. Layered thoughts start to bloom after the initial bit of typing. It’s like the world comes into focus and my energy and questions about that can be deployed from that moment forward in a productive way. For example, this post is about 500 words long and at this very moment, I’m now fully focused and ready to do more complex tasking. That is how it goes or more to the point that is how it starts. Now would be a good time to dip over into my Substack posts or an academic article and start to construct a different type of content.

Oh that desktop clutter abounds

A bit of clutter has made it to my desk. It’s Sunday morning and I should be editing two different Substack posts. They are mostly drafted and otherwise complete, but need a bit of editing to really help bring the prose to the next level worthy of publishing. Recently, I have actually written a few weblog posts that just did not make it to the actual weblog. Sometimes that happens during the course of supporting an expanded writing routine. When I’m writing in the morning and sitting in front of my Dark Base Pro 900 housed computer I follow the workflow pretty well. At the point where the post is done I generally post it. When I’m sitting on the sofa with my Chromebook and just writing a bit that workflow breaks down and we end up with a few weblog posts that get written, but never get shared. I have zero plans to go back and sort out which ones need to be posted and which ones have already been posted. For all practical purposes those posts are simply lost to the weblog. 

This one will probably make it online given that I’m writing at my desk and well aware of the publishing routine at the moment. It is top of mind. Somehow I managed to get a bunch of peanut shell crumbles on my desk. It is seriously everywhere that it could be on the desk. I considered for just a moment using a can of compressed air to rapidly move the mess from my desk. In that case I guess the mess would have been moved to the floor near my desk. I’m going to get a wet cloth here in a few minutes and work on that mess. After that mess is sorted out, I plan on returning to editing on those two different Substack posts that need to be cleaned up. Tomorrow is the day that I need to record audio for both of those posts to get back up to a healthy backlog of 4 Substack posts ready for distribution. 

Notes:

Yesterday via Paramount+ the streaming service we watched a film called The Lost City (2022) and it was a passable two hours of adventure storytelling. To be fair on this one I was not really satisfied or dissatisfied with the movie.

Working fullscreen: I’m editing the “Substack Week 73: Symbolic machine learning” post to prepare it for audio recording tomorrow or potentially later today. It took about 20 minutes to edit the post. I did end up increasing the zoom from 150% to 200% during this editing effort. This post ended up getting a bit meta instead of remaining directly focused on the topic at hand. I’ll go with it this time around. This post is now ready for podcast audio recording.

Editing the “Substack Week 74: ML content automation” post took a little bit more effort. That post is now ready for recording as well. My writing efforts this morning were productive.

A bit of regular blogging

Today I have a few hours blocked off to engage in a bit of writing and creating. Based on a review of the recent stats it looks like the Substack posts are working well enough. My draft of the week 73 Substack post is mostly complete. Drafting went well enough Friday into Saturday on that one. I’m going to rework it a bit here in a few minutes after finishing this post. It seemed like a good idea to just go ahead and do a bit of regular blogging right here before jumping back over to working on that post. Recently, I have been more likely to work on academic efforts and less likely to just produce a bit of stream of consciousness style prose. That seems to be a developing trend. I’m trying to avoid it becoming a pattern. 

Strangely enough yesterday was actually a really big Google keep day for me. I took a ton of notes of things to work on and things to write about in the future. Sometimes that happens when I end up in a reflective mood. My notes are a wonderful little roadmap to producing future content. For those of you who do not take writing topic notes, it is a method of keeping track of things that could be promising without investing a ton of time into them immediately. My massive “Substack Posts” Google Doc has all the posts written so far and the backlog list which is functionally a collection of notes that goes out to 120 total topics. At this point along the journey, I have written posts 1 to 73 within that backlog. Right now I’m still working at a pace where one or more posts are being produced each weekend. Each one of those posts is just a written set of research notes cataloging my journey to better understand a topic. To that end my research notes are essentially provided free of charge to an audience on Substack. 

My plan is still to take all that content and drop it into a 2nd edition of The Lindahl Letter book when the 2nd full year of publishing is complete. I’m not entirely sure Substack as a platform will last forever and memorizing the content in an actual printed publication format is not a bad method of persevering things along the way. Sure the content is available to people for free who want to consume it that way and as a book for people who prefer to read it in that format. That is just a part of the process and adventure along the way. I had done all the setup for posts and the pre-work on a bunch of posts up until the last post that was completed. I have now staged the posts up until week 104 which will be a big 2nd year of posting recap. 

At the two year mark I’m planning on moving away from machine learning posts into just generally covering artificial intelligence and producing research notes related to a planned set of academic articles. That means that it is possible that weeks of ongoing coverage of something being worked as an academic article could be distributed. That is probably a good method to really dig deep into a few topics along the way. One of the things I have worked pretty hard to avoid is producing coverage of the same topic over and over again. Somebody who sat down with the book later on will see an ongoing coverage of topics and not encounter a repetitive reading experience. One of the things that I have really tried to avoid along the way is providing weblog-like coverage within The Lindahl Letter which would end up blending this type of content with that more research note type of coverage. I’m sure a blending of the two types of content would be possible, but that is not really the intended vibe.

Purely in service of the written word

Over the last couple of months I have been investing time in the Substack community of writers Over the last couple of months I have been investing time in the Substack community of writers to attend events and meet people. It reminds me a little bit of the blog meet ups that used to happen almost 20 years ago where you got a bunch of people that were passionate about things and wrote about them together. You got really diverse mixes of people attending those events. It was the opposite of today where people are picking the topic and driving toward that type of content today where before it was interest in a platform that brought people together without a shared topic of interest. You had a naturally formed community of circumstance that existed due to the usage of a shared platform and a willingness to connect with other writers.

I’m thinking back to installing Movable Type on one of my servers a long time ago. Before using Movable Type I had been running builds via Microsoft FrontPage which was oddly the most fulfilling online development experience I have ever had. For a writer it was really nice to just produce content and hit publish. All of the complexity of content management was pretty much abstracted away. That admission might surprise you a little bit, but don’t let it fool you at all. My primary purpose of pushing content online is to support the habit of daily writing. Having to know how to work with cascading style sheets and other design elements was just something I learned along the way. All the web development knowledge that I have built up over the years is purely in service of the written word. 

I accidentally set up a double Twitter post feature yesterday. Both the weblog and Tumblr are pushing links over to Twitter to share each new post. At the moment, I’m not terribly worried about this new feature, but I could see removing one of the automatic posting features at some point in the not so distant future. Why am I back on Tumblr? Nilay Patel shared a podcast with Matt Mullenweg that inspired me to get back on Tumblr.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-wordpress-and-tumblr-are-keeping-the-internet/id1011668648?i=1000554072021

I’m electing to share my podcast links via Apple Podcasts these days as it seems to be the most stable podcast service to share. It is pretty unlikely that Apple Podcasts will shut down any time soon. My guess is that a lot of consolidation occurs within the general podcasting space in the next 5 years.

A few basic Saturday notes

Today started out with a bunch of time spent writing, “Substack Week 63: Sentiment and consensus analysis.”

Yesterday the Substack platform did not send out my newsletter via email at 5:00 PM Denver time. I had to go in and manually trigger the event. I have never had to do that before and I’m not entirely sure what happened. I’ll wait till this Friday March 18, 2022 and see if the same thing happens again. 

My Linus Tech Tips branded cable ties arrived. I now have 50 cable ties in my possession to help clean up my cabling. 

A desk drawer got installed. It’s a, “Slim Under Desk Storage Drawer by UPLIFT Desk.” So far it is working well enough to remove some desk clutter, but it is not very deep in terms of depth within the drawer. Installation took two people as the drawer is oddly heavy and awkward to install. If you could turn the top of the desk upside down, then it would be possible to install for a single person. You might also be able to do it with some clamps or something, but it probably is going to take two people to make this type of magic happen. 

…and I’m back to blogging on a regular basis.

Some lost media files

It appears the media previously stored for the weblog seem to be missing from the great domain migration this week. That means my main WordPress installation has a ton of broken links right now. They used to work last week, but this week all of that media appears to be gone altogether. I found a couple different broken link plugins to dive into the content and figure out where the broken links from the missing media are located. Fixing all those broken links might take a good bit of time. I had backups of the written part of the content, but I never backed up the media that was uploaded. That oversight has been fixed this time around.

Working things to a completed state

Today I started to think about returning to writing in a manuscript based document on a daily basis instead of booting up a new fresh word processing document every day. It might be time to start to pick up a big year writing challenge again and see where that takes me this time around. Generally, the only thing that ends up being written in a publishable format are academic papers. Those are sort of paint by numbers based on the required sections anyway and benefit from working with the end product in mind. Every now and again I do write a novel that ends up being worked that way. Over the last decade I have a bunch of false starts in a folder that need to be worked to resolution. It could be more fun to just really focus on working things to a completed state. I tried to write the title of this post eloquently as, “hustling things to done,” but that turned out differently in the end. 

Yesterday the whole process of writing just failed. It was one of those days where creativity sneezed and nothing happened. It was a false start of a day and that happens sometimes. Part of returning to a framework where I move from trying to write and work really hard for an hour at the start of the day to producing about 3,000 words per day involves a real change. To produce a steady stream of 3,000 words per day I’m going to have to carry around my Chromebook and pretty much take every opportunity to write. That generally involves trying to find 3 or so hours a day to spend in a productive writing posture. That is 13% of my total day spent writing, but if you only count usable time by removing 8 hours for work and 8 hours for sleep that quickly escalates to 38% of my usable day. 

I’m going to stop writing this post and move over to work on something more long form.

Thinking about weblog names

Instead of naming my weblog the “Functional Journal” it would probably be called “Documented Journey” and it might be more interesting. Actually, it would probably be exactly the same, but the name that was chosen over 20 years ago might be different. Things change and people grow and develop over time. It would be sort of boring if the journey was always exactly the same on a daily or yearly basis. Right now the only real formatting I’m doing with the weblog posts is making sure the paragraphs stay separated and I have been trying to add 3 tags to each post so that my “My Very Random Tag Cloud” widget can drop the randomness part and just be a normal tag cloud. Based on my website usage and reports it is pretty clear that nobody uses the tag cloud in any meaningful way. It is just something that I like to see on the widget bar of the weblog. Within that visual representation it just gives me an idea of what topics have been covered a bunch and that is about the only outcome of making sure that each post has three tags added to it before publication. 

Naming a weblog used to have a ton of meaning back in the day as that is how the rolling links referenced it on other weblogs and how people that just used static links shared the writers they really enjoyed to read. Right now I do not really link to any other writers on my weblog. It is an island of personal thought that just documents the journey, but it does not do that in a very comprehensive or complete way. Maybe that has to do with how the process of daily journaling comes in and out of focus for me in unpredictable ways. I don’t really sit down and catch up from the last writing session creating some type of continuity. Each writing session is really its own stand along journey into the moment and thoughts of the present. It could very well be that is how it will continue to occur or maybe some growth and development will occur after reflecting on my writing practices. 

This weekend is going to have to be spent working out the updates to a presentation that needs to be delivered next Friday morning. Overall the content just needs a little bit of a refresh and I need to make sure that my delivery is going to be smooth and full of solid details. My extemporaneous delivery of it right now would probably be good enough, but it would not be great. That leaves some room to strive for improvement in the next few days.

Containing all those words

Each day I’m still working this ongoing writing project out of new Google Docs files. Instead of keeping all this content in a single file I’m producing new files each and every day. That probably reflects my predetermined bias to not release this content within any type of publication. That probably has to do with my efforts to just write a page each morning and the pages themselves do not have any real continuity between them except they were written by the same person in a time series. That should generally create some degree of ongoing narrative or a degree of continuity. For those of you who have been checking in on this weblog content for years (potentially 20 of them) you inherently know this last paragraph was historically correct. Content gets produced without any ongoing narrative. Maybe the only common theme across all of my writing relates to general questions about the intersection of technology and modernity. That alone is not enough to create a thread that binds all of this prose together. For better or worse each writing session happens on its own. 

Today Rocky dog was kind enough to wake me up before sunrise. That should have created the opportunity to sit and write without interruption for about an hour. Seizing that time to make something happen would have been a good idea, but instead of that you got this missive on containing words and managing content. Not that this missive is not going to be a solid page of prose, but I feel that is not really stretching any philosophical frameworks or questioning anything deeply. It is entirely possible that today is not going to be a day where deeper work is going to be accomplished. However, at this point my writing processes should be fully warmed up and the possibility of creating something interesting should be primed. Google Docs as a web based piece of software has gotten better at providing live editing suggestions. 

Back in June of last year (2020), I apparently completed a full 33:03 minutes of a guitar based EP album. Yesterday, I decided that it might be a good idea to send that off to a session drummer to see if it could be upgraded from guitar based to include drums. That would add a bit more consistent rhythm to the album and might make it better. To that end I’m going to work on figuring that out later today. I’m not entirely sure how expensive half an hour of session drum work would be or how long that would take to complete. I had briefly considered using an automated drumming program, but that would be awkward and poorly match my entirely analog guitar efforts from last year.

Setting up a bit of automation

Well I have moved back into the pattern of writing a daily weblog post. Each morning I’m sitting down and producing a few words in a near stream of consciousness fashion. This is in addition to my efforts on Substack each week. Along the way, it seemed like a good idea to update my “Publicize posts” setting to create links from Twitter to automatically share new weblog posts by title and a link when they are published. Oddly enough they have a new setting since the last time that I used that functionality. Apparently, I can set up each post to compile and publish as a thread on Twitter, “Twitter Thread: Share the content of this post as a Twitter thread.” I’m kind of curious what it does with multiple photos in the same post. I’m wondering if it just posts text or if links, images, or embedded videos will be compiled over. Some of the documentation says that it will bring over all the content. That is something that I will have to test out by embedding images and maybe some links or something to this post.

I ate the pretzel in this photo. It was delicious. I’m curious how it will show up in the Tweet thread. Right after this line of text is a photo of a giant pretzel with a cup of cheese and a cup of red sauce.

The pretzel was delivered with this extra large New York style cheese pizza. Right after this line of text is a slightly off to the right picture of that pizza.

Here is the output of what happened after publication. It made a thread of Tweets, but the images did not carry over it sort of just compressed the content into a series of linked Tweets.