A few updates on word processing

I thought it would be fun to get some logos made for The Lindahl Letter. After updating the banner logo on Substack I realized that it broke the link for all previous banner logo posts. Fixing that mistake required updating about 40 posts to include the new banner logo one at a time. I’m guessing that the way the Substack database stores the background banner needs some time of update to prevent this type of previous image link breakdown. It should probably contain a warning at the very least that says if you update this image you are going to break all the older posts that reference the previous image. On the brighter side of that problem nobody really seemed to notice the broken links. I’m probably the one that immediately goes and checks the Substack site after things are published to make sure nothing went wrong.

It took a couple weeks of working on making the switch from Google Docs over to Microsoft Word. Currently, in that journey I’m now doing ok working out of the desktop application for Microsoft Word. I have a document setup for writing daily content and one for Substack posts. Both of those documents can be accessed from the Office 365 interface as well if necessary. I just have had a really hard time adjusting to the online version of Microsoft Word. It’s just not as usable as Google Docs. All those recent articles about Google mining my writing were enough to get me to make the switch. We will see how long this technology shift lasts and I’ll provide some updates along the way. It’s entirely possible at some point I’ll just write academic articles in Overleaf and not use either of the word processing systems. I’m wondering how many academic writers just work out of the LaTeX editor. For that syllabus PDF creation effort, I created the content outside of Overleaf and just used it for typesetting of the content.

Most of the time my writing efforts are about creating something in one application and then moving it somewhere else for distribution. That in and of itself is an interesting and probably unnecessary process. I’m not sure exactly why I have not just moved to creating the content in the place where it will get published.

Considering a bit of considering

Right now, at this very moment, I’m working on Substack post 88 of 104 and starting to consider moving that effort out of Google Docs and over to Microsoft Word as well. At the moment, that move has not happened just yet as I’m still writing some of that content on my Chromebook and I’m not a big fan of the Office 365 online version of Microsoft Word. I really got used to using Google Docs and the experience it provides. Now I’m writing out of the desktop application while sitting at my main computer running Windows. That means that for the most part my writing has become something that happens at my desk in my office and not on the go or anywhere outside of my desk. Given that most of the writing I end up doing happens in the morning and is during my scheduled blocks of time that works out well enough. Right now, I’m pretty far ahead of the Friday publishing schedule again. Week 82 just went live and the next 5 are ready to go already. That means that the entire introduction to machine learning syllabus is now draft complete. I do plan on going back and reading it again from start to finish and doing any final edits.

Probably the principal thing that is keeping me from moving completely out of Google Docs and over to Microsoft Word is that the final version of The Lindahl Letter that gets published does not contain the Tweets of the week or the links to things that are included in the Substack newsletter. When I go back to format the content for final publication, I have been removing those two sections. That is certainly something that could be augmented moving forward where any links or content being shared is put into the main body of the post to avoid having to use those two links only sections or I could just include them in the final product as well. Based on the statistics I have available to me it does not appear like that content is really consumed very much by people. People tend to read the prose at the top of the post and are not opening the email to see what Tweets I have enjoyed the most that week. Maybe the reason those got included was purely indulgent on my part which is interesting as an aside to consider.

After finishing up that syllabus I’m interested in working on some more research note type efforts where I’m really digging into the relevant scholarly articles as well as covering topics within the machine learning space. That is the goal of my Substack efforts moving forward. Of course, I broke that trajectory with my first set of writing efforts from the week 88 content. I’m probably going to need to reconsider the topics listed from 88 to 104 to make sure that they are ones that could support solid research notes. I’m not sure if they will end up getting converted over to Overleaf and eventually published that way, but that would be the general idea of what needs to happen moving forward.

Switching back to Microsoft Word

Given that Google is apparently data mining my efforts writing in a Google Doc every day I should probably shift over and work out of Microsoft Office 365. This word processing document that I’m working out of right now is actually a .DOCX file that just happens to be opened out of Google Docs. It would not take very much effort to move the files over to the Microsoft side of things.  

Hold on just a second here while I make the switch.  

I went out to Google Drive and download the entire novels directory as a zip file. After extracting all those files into the downloads directory, I went ahead and loaded them into the Microsoft OneDrive backup folder for this computer. That took just a couple of minutes to accomplish and now for the first time in a long time. I think it was last year when I was typesetting the “The Lindahl Letter: On Machine Learning” manuscript. I used to work out of Microsoft Word as my primary word processing system for years. Gradually I made the switch to Google Docs and was pretty happy with it until the recent reports of the strangeness related to tracking people. I don’t know if Microsoft is even remotely interested in the things that happen in Microsoft Word. At some point here in a few minutes I’m going to open this document up using the online interface for Office 365 to see how that goes. 

Writing in a standalone application and not just a tab within Chrome is a stranger feeling than I expected this morning. Now that I have the Office 365 web interface pulled up, I now remember why I abandoned this worked processing interface and went over to work out of Google Docs full time. This interface is just visually clunky and unrefined by comparison. The design aesthetic is just so much better out of the Google Doc. I am going to give working out of this interface a try for a few days to see if my feelings about it change over time. Maybe I will get used to the experience and be able to handle working out of the Office 365 ecosystem for work processing.

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.