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.

A very productive Sunday of writing

I’m up and ready to spend some quality time writing today. Strangely enough I found a wonderfully comfortable position in my chair today as I started the writing process. Strangely enough it just happened when I sat down to write. Nevermind, I moved around a bit and ruined it. Let’s just go ahead and jump to the next paragraph. This paragraph appears to be ruined. 

This may be one of those Sunday’s where I end up shifting over to my major writing project and abandoning the weblog post at the start. Yeah – that is what happened here. 

It’s now 0806 hours and I had a really productive run of working on a literature review post. A lot of really good focus occurred and that is truly a great way to start the day. I did swing back over here to keep working on this weblog post for the day. It may very well enough up a bit of a piece that was compiled across a lot of different little bits of writing throughout the day. 

I’m just going to hit publish at this point and I might circle back to writing more content here in a few minutes.

Rain and a morning of writing time

Today I’m going to be able to spend some time working on that “introduction to machine learning” syllabus. It’s an 8 part series and getting the tone and content right is very important. Today feels like it could be an all in Twitter day. Maybe I’ll end up tweeting the day away. That is a possible part of the vacation efforts to  get up early and write on a daily basis. So far along the way I have managed to get up and spend a bit of time writing each day. Having enough time to get past the basic stream of consciousness writing part of the session and move into working on more complex things does help the process. The entire morning today until lunchtime has been set aside to work on things. Strangely enough, about 130 words this morning I’m ready to abandon this post and just shift over to working on a section about deep learning. 

A bunch of thunder just occurred and then it started raining. It’s an early morning rainstorm. One of the big differences between Kansas City and Denver is the way the weather arrives. Something about the mountains changes how storm systems arrive around Denver. We don’t really see multiple fronts or the interesting things that happen from the process of storm fronts running into each other. Yeah, I diverted my thoughts from writing about deep learning to thinking about the weather happening outside. It is nice to sit down and write with a bit of rain in the background. I can hear it all over the house here. Outside the rain is falling and the roof, gutters, and the pavement all have unique sounding responses to that weather phenomenon. Sure I should try to get my focus to shift to something else, but it does not seem like that is going to happen. Maybe I should just lean into this one and try to increase the velocity. 

Writing on the keyboard attached to this Pixelbook Go has a certain maximum speed. It is not like writing on a mechanical keyboard. The travel and return is rather limited, but still rewarding enough to make longer writing sessions acceptable. I’m actually a little surprised that I have not worn out any keys on this Chromebook. Sure the two shots of espresso help increase the velocity of my writing output, but the other element in that need for writing speed has to be the content. Sometimes you are ready  to produce content and other times that process just won’t get going and it certainly won’t have the velocity to worry about hitting maximum effort limits on a keyboard. Maybe it is the rain or the promise of several hours of researching and writing in front of me, but I’m highly reflective and ready to go at the moment. It really could end up being a day full of a bunch of tweets or I might end up producing a lot of content today.

Being able to find that moment of focus

Things are moving along a little slowly today. Getting back into the swing of daily writing has required a little more focus than it used to at the start of a daily writing session. Strangely enough my Chromebook just tried to pair with my Pixel Buds which was awkward when my phone started blaring songs from Pandora internet radio. Instead of trying to deal with that problem I decided to just turn off Bluetooth on the Chromebook. That is not something I need to write this weblog post. My audio has now been moved back over to the right source. Things are starting to move along. My thoughts are now really focused on the task at hand. Being able to find that moment of focus is an important skill for a writer to have developed and practiced. 

Yesterday I started reading an article from Nature published back in 1976 by Robert May on chaos theory. The PDF I came across was only 9 pages. Two real methods exist to absorb a new academic subject. Probably the majority of the time people learn a new subject from a textbook based learning approach. Outside of that you can read primary articles about that subject. Generally as you start the academic experience you end up moving from textbook based learning to article based reading around the time you move to graduate school. Currently I read a lot more academic articles in PDF form than textbooks. That is a function of cost and availability. Within the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence people are writing textbooks and sharing them as open source documents. You certainly can read them in that form. 

At the moment the degree of change within the field is so accelerated that I mostly end up reading articles in PDF form as I chase the bleeding edge of the discipline. Every weekend and during the course of a lot of weekdays I share links to them and dig into the various ways people are pushing the discipline forward. Honestly, the sheer volume of content being produced would overwhelm any reader or entrant into this field of study. More papers and content than could possibly be consumed are coming out in a variety of ways. Knowledge is no longer being gated by the reviewer based framework of the best academic journals. People have just elected to share pre-prints and sometimes they don’t even try to get those articles published. They share them and move on to the next article writing project. We have within that framework a possibility for extreme output. Within the ML/AI space that is certainly the case right now. 

Understanding things has really required a lot of study. I have written 75 Substack posts about topics in the field of study and have plans to finish a package of 104 total foundational essays on the subject. You can imagine anything deep enough to support that many essays would be vast and rapidly changing. That for sure is the case. I’m going to keep going and learning and striving to learn as much as I possibly can to share with people and to advance my own individual learning.

Focused purposeful writing

My writing is starting to happen in blocks that could be Tweets, “Ok links to week 68 of The Lindahl Letter have been posted to both Twitter and LinkedIn. Last week I wrote, but did not record audio for week 71. This morning I wrote the first half of a double issue for week 72.”

My goal for this week is to be really focused on purposeful writing. All my communications are going to be edited and rock solid this week. It feels like my ability to write lately has required more sustained focus. Something is different for sure, but it is not apparent.

Today is probably going to be a day of working on tasking and knocking things out. Normally my productive window is early in the morning hours, but today I’m going to have to be ruthlessly focused on getting this done during a 5 hour block of time.

Spending that time wisely

The weekend is upon us with the opportunity to get some things done. A few blocks of time will exist in the morning and the afternoon on both days to spend on something. It makes me really question just how wisely I can spend the time. Generally we don’t commoditize time. I do think of some blocks of time that can be spent on something. It is trying to make sure that we are spending those blocks of time wisely that captures a lot of my focus. My writing routine helps to keep me on track for the most part. Every day at 0500 hours the alarm on my Fitbit watch goes off and I start the day. Larger blocks of time are reserved on Saturday and Sunday morning for producing prose and really digging in deep. However, you can tell from the general pattern of the routine that each day starts out with a bit of writing. 

My big plan for the day is to really get ready for a big trash pickup tomorrow. We have a few larger things that need to get sorted out. I generally feel the same way about my major writing projects. I have a few that need to get sorted out and the rest just need to be organized and worked to resolution. Sure my writing strategy should help make that easy enough. Sometimes you have to dig in and give the old writing strategy a bit of review to see if the trajectory is still sound. Producing prose for the sake of producing it has a certain amount of merit. However, working toward something more meaningful has a better case for spending the effort to get it completed. Especially if you are going to view that effort as a coin for a block of time that has to be spent wisely.

Powering through with positive intent

Handling those times where things do not line up well or don’t go exactly right is one of those things that requires something more of you. Normally I’m driving forward by the power of my convictions to achieve a perfect possible future. I really do believe that tomorrow has the possibility of being better than today. Sometimes events happen or things go sideways that test that belief system. Right now my emotions are clouded with a bit of that which has opened the door to some deep questioning on my part. Within that moment considerations of retreat or defensive postures come to the forefront of my thoughts. Powering through with positive intent and a belief in a better future becomes much harder. I’m watching it snow right now in the middle of March and thinking about what action I need to take toward a path of personal growth. A week ago my thoughts were very clearly focused on a bountiful future of fun writing projects. It’s interesting how a few things can change my perspective. Normally I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing my writing from other efforts. Today is one of those days where that mental separation of things seems to be failing.

Working into a bit of writing

I’m going to let this missive go out as a Tweet storm using the Twitter Thread feature today. Generally I have just allowed it to do a single Tweet which would allow people to get back to the weblog from Twitter via the link if they wanted to read that particular gem of intellectual audacity. Really they are mostly just my musings about the intersection of technology and modernity of the process of writing. 

Yesterday I constrained my writing session to blocks of 280 characters based on a Twitter limitation. A consequence of that constraining was that only 5 blocks of wonderful prose were created during the writing session. Some of them were pretty good, but a couple of them got stilted and otherwise sad. Trying to take an idea that was just written and then editing it down to the limit of 280 characters was really time consuming and just slowed down my entire writing process. My writing had no flow or effective path forward. Writing and them immediately editing that block of prose is not the way to go for my writing endeavors. For better or worse it is best to ride the winds of inspiration to produce prose and circle back when the winds calm down to edit after the point of inspiration. That is pretty much the best method for me to generate prose. Effectively that means opening a blank word processing document (Google Docs) and just typing until the need to type is done. A long time ago I used to really have to write before going to bed for the night. You could describe it as a bit of hypergraphia or the compulsion to write. 

All these ideas would show up and just sort of swirl around. At the time, I felt like they were all the most important things I could commit from inspiration to recorded prose. Being compelled to write really did end up taking a lot of sleep time and converting it to working time. Eventually over the course of writing millions of words my daily writing sort of morphed into something that happens in the morning instead of the evening. I wake up and in that foggy period of waking up and getting ready to go I work on writing until I do not want to write anymore. Maybe the mix of writing all day and working on academic things, Substack posts, and other projects has been the key to organizing my writing into a series of routines. I could end up with a better writing schedule beyond my reserved weekend morning writing blocks and sometimes a Friday evening block of time. Those times are usually enough to really dig in and do some academic work. To get that type of work done I need blocks of time that are uninterrupted and allow me to do deep work with a degree of focus that is beyond my other writing sessions. 

Given all of that previous argument above has been written and recorded, I have been working into a bit of writing for about thirty minutes now. A lot of my blogging content ends up being about the feeling and process of writing. I sit down and allow the stream of consciousness writing session to occur without any real control of it or reservations about it. To that end sometimes I end up with a bunch of process related content about writing and thinking about writing. You can find the other content being produced under separate cover based on academic articles and other types of content creation like Substack posts. At one point all of the content ended up floating around in the same stream and for me that worked out well enough as the whole process was to get things inflight for me out of intellectual curiosity.

A bit of writing

Writing. It all started with opening a Google Doc from my browser shortcut. A date was set in the first line using the familiar year, month, and day format that will sort forever onward in series. The location of the work for the day came next in the string of words that were type. In this case it was my Dark Base Pro 900 based desktop computer. Finally, at the top of the document it was noted that this is a weblog post in search of a title. Later in the writing process a title will appear as if it spontaneously came out of a spark of imagination. That is pretty much literally where things come from as far as I can tell. No random title generator was used during these efforts. That point of intrigue would be more effort compared to the rich rewards of taking the time to actually write on a daily basis. 

Part of this daily writing process is about improving my craft as a writer. Practice helps build up the habit of writing. That is how we improve as writers. The other part of my effort is to focus and organize my thoughts. It is about taking whatever happens to be at the forefront of my mind and really bringing focus to that content. Sometimes it yields interesting prose and other times it just helps me begin the day with a heightened awareness of higher order thought, consideration, and a respect for the path toward a perfect possible future. Every day the effort is to improve and understand the chaotic world around us. Naturally, a part of that is thinking about the intersection of technology and modernity. Within that intersection are profound changes for civil society and our journey relating to each other.

Writing about the comfort of writing

Well, we made it to Friday. That means a small respite in the cycle of working and working in favor of just the writing part of the equation. Back in March of this year I picked up a K65 RGB mini mechanical gaming keyboard directly from Corsair. It’s a 60% size keyboard with Cherry MX speed keys on it. Really the only thing that from time to time is awkward with the keyboard is the complete and total lack of arrow keys. You have to be more focused on what you are doing and writing as you cannot arrow around on the screen. Outside of that I ended up getting a Kensington Duo gel keyboard wrist rest to make typing on the keyboard comfortable for longer periods of time. I have the corresponding mouse pad as well, but the keyboard wrist rest was key to making the whole thing work. I did not find it comfortable to type for long periods of time on the mechanical keyboard without it. I just realized that this last paragraph was really an exercise in writing about the comfort of writing. 

I was not sure that a min keyboard was going to work for me or that the sounds of a mechanical keyboard would be acceptable in my office. My office is really only shared with the dogs and they do not seem to care about the clickity clack of the mechanical keyboard. For the most part I have come to find it soothing and a part of the writing process. My typing speed is solid enough that the keystrokes end up just being a long string of crashing instead of one off disruptions to the silence. Really for the most part based on my writing schedule the day starts and some music gets played. During the course of listening to that music a blank word processing document gets opened and the writing process is supposed to start. Sometimes I get pulled into a productive effort outside of writing in a stream of consciousness style. Most of the content that gets posted on the weblog is like this where whatever comes to mind is going to get posted shortly after it is written. That pretty much means things that are not a manuscript, academic article, or work of fiction. 

One of the things that I want to really refocus on moving forward is taking notes throughout the day. Right now I have both Google Keep and the Recorder application setup and ready to capture notes at a moment’s notice. That does not mean that notes are actually captured. Letting all those little seeds of thought disappear beyond the active reach of consciousness is problematic based on my writing schedule. Being productive and actively writing is an important part of my planned daily activities.