Considering a new daily series

I’m going to try to get back to my practice of daily writing and publishing some thoughts. Earlier this week I had considered trying my hand at daily vlogging again, but that never seems to turn out very well. Sitting down and recording 15 minutes of thoughts via video each day could be a thing to do, but I’m not sure if that will happen. Earlier this morning I was working on week 91 of The Lindahl Letter that will eventually go out on Substack. Things are moving along well enough to the epic week 104 post that will mark 2 consecutive years of publishing on that platform.

Oh those weekend thoughts

Time quickly passed this weekend. I spent a fair amount of the weekend just resting my back. Somehow and it was one of those ineffable things I managed to tweak my lower back last week. It lingered into the weekend and I’m hopeful that today is the turning point where things will get better. Oddly enough a bit of back pain is enough to slow down and destroy my writing sessions. Apparently, I need both my mind and my body to be in agreement to sit down and create some prose. Right now I need to write two more posts for The Lindahl Letter to have my writing on schedule for a bit of a break here in October. The two posts are generally in the draft to build stage of the process.

My process really does involve having about 5 weeks of posts in planning or revision at any given time. Some of that is researching what needs to go into the posts in terms of articles and links the other part is the slow writing process of adding in the content as necessary. I could go with an approach where the content is just written the weekend before and sent out that Friday. Adding the audio recording changed that for me and made it to where I needed to work a bit ahead to be able to complete an audio recording. Almost all my audio recording happens first thing in the morning during the absolute quietest time in the house. Only a small two hour window exists on the weekends where the household including the dogs are going to be relatively silent.

My office picks up banging or other loud noises. A few of them have made a podcast along the way, but you would have to listen very closely to notice. During the course of recording live streams on YouTube I ran into the same type of ambient noise problems. The podcast audio is cleaned up compared to the live stream content. To be fair on that one the live stream content is not cleaned up at all. That is not something that you really go back and clean up for audio quality.

I may have to go to my alternate writing schedule where 7 day a week future posts receive tinkering. This is all about working out the first two October posts. I’m sure it will end up getting completed, but at the moment on this particular Monday things are not moving along very well. I spent some time watching YouTube videos about various guitar parts. That happened. It happens from time to time. My interests typically shift between looking for computer parts and looking at guitar parts. One of the things that has saved me a bit of activity in the last few years is that computer parts were really hard to come by and the rate of change on motherboards and chipsets was low. I did take the time to price out a brand new computer build this weekend and it can get really expensive pretty quickly.

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.

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.

A good bit of working things forward on a Saturday

Throughout the summer so far my backlog of posts over on Substack has been working its way down each week. Right now only the post for July 22 remains scheduled and ready to go for this coming Friday. Due to some scheduling concerns I worked ahead to make sure a backlog existed. That backlog would help me avoid missing a publication date. I have a Google Doc with a future Substack publication list that goes out all the way beyond the 2 year mark. Assuming that I follow the process and work on writing a Substack post every Saturday morning and working it to a recordable state on Sunday no publication dates should ever get missed. So far I’m on a 77 week streak of hitting my publication window target. I had wanted to get closer to real time on the creation schedule. It’s entirely possible at some point that I will rebuild a backlog and work a few weeks ahead. 

I just recorded “Substack Week 79: Why is diffusion so popular?” using the Audacity software and my Blue microphones Yeti X. The first part of the post recording process is underway right now and that includes a noise reduction. I just used the tail end of the recording to get a noise reduction profile. That profile was just applied to the whole recording to reduce the ambient background noise that is occurring in the room where the podcast audio was recorded. The next effect I ran on the audio was a loudness normalization to normalize the perceived loudness across the episode. This is important for overall continuity and feel for somebody listening to the audio. You do not want anything major to jump out of the normal audio window and be just loud for no reason. The last effect I run is a noise gate to just clean up anything that might have remained after that first noise reduction filter. I like to make sure my audio is clean before publishing it out to Substack. 

Not only did I record that Substack post for Week 79, but also I took the time to record “Substack Week 80: Bayesian optimization (ML syllabus edition 1/8).” The second recording was twice as long as the first, but I used the Marantz professional sound shield on that one. Thanks to those two recording efforts my backlog is now good for the next 20 days in terms of Substack posts. 

Oh these words written right now

People are most certainly traveling by highway for the 4th of July weekend at a higher rate than the last few years. We stopped in Hays, Kansas, yesterday at lunchtime and things were hopping. It was seriously busy. The Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers restaurant parking lot was completely full just after noon. People were really excited to eat at Freddy’s. I’ll admit the shoe string style french fries are delicious. Visibility is pretty good from the highway exit, you could see that the entire town of Hays was very busy around the intersection of the I-70 highway. Throughout the trip all of the gas stations we could see were super busy. Instead of just pulling off the highway and being able to buy gasoline every time we stopped we were waiting for somebody to finish pumping gas. We never got into a situation with a line depth greater than a single car, but we were close to that situation occurring. Normally pump space is available without any delay.

I have been very deeply considering working on some political coverage type of writing recently. Generally, I have refrained from sharing my political views online. That was probably an error on my part over the last 20 years. One of the paths forward on that front would be to just capture all those thoughts in a separate manuscript for now. At this point, I’m not going to start a politics blog. It would be a more likely outcome for me to start up a podcast that provides that type of coverage. My current podcast effort “The Lindahl Letter” only covers technology and the intersection of technology and modernity. Inherently within that intersection a certain degree of politics exists, but that is really the extent of my political coverage in that publication. Maybe it would be good at this point to explain that I really just want to write about the nature of civil society and the breakdown in the social fabric that is occurring. At some point, essays are going to be written about that topic. 

During this epic summer vacation I’m planning to keep waking up with my silent Fitbit watch alarm at 0530 hours and completing a writing session before everybody wakes up. It’s totally possible that during the trip other opportunities will exist to engage in some writing. Right now I’m writing using my Pixelbook Go chromebook at a kitchen table. Nobody is awake. I’m listening to Pandora streaming audio and just working out some thoughts. This is for better or worse a stream of consciousness type of writing day. Right now Substack is loaded up with posts out until July 22, 2022. I was able to work far enough ahead on the writing and recording front that 3 posts are pending in the queue for distribution. It is possible that after I’m all warmed up here by writing this post my writing energy will shift over to working on more Substack posts. 

Yesterday, I was watching my incoming emails and more people unsubscribed after my last post than at any time in the 75 weeks of my Substack publishing career. As an inflection point more people were exiting the subscriber count than were joining it at that point. To the best of my knowledge, Substack as a platform does not really have a bot problem. Most subscribers are really people who get emails as a part of the way the platform works. It is designed to disseminate newsletters from a writer to an audience using email. You could certainly run into a publication within the feed on the Substack website or some variation of that delivery model. Outside of people sharing a Substack newsletter on social media the overwhelming method of delivery is email delivery. 

One of the major changes in delivery I made was adding an audio component to my weekly Substack writing campaign. That extended the modes of publication to include both podcast and email newsletter. Based on the statistics it appears that across all the various podcast platforms that get the RSS feed as many people listen to the podcast as read the email. I have tried my best to keep the podcast audio as pristine and professional as possible. People do seem to listen to those sub 10 minute podcast episodes. I think with those sometimes a person might listen to more than one of the episodes. With the newsletter it is a rather single serving type of thing as it would require a lot of work for somebody to get to previous editions. They would have to follow the links back to my main Substack landing page and navigate to a previous installment. Most of the podcast platforms pretty easily let people get to previous episodes. I think the friction to access older episodes is lower within the podcast ecosystems. 

I’m still processing what part of my last Substack post caused people to want to leave the newsletter. As a platform, Substack systems handle all of that type of processing. That is one of the reasons I’m using Substack instead of the weblog where these words written right now are posted. The last post did have more of an investigative journalism type writing style than a pure scientific readout type perspective. It’s possible that maybe after 75 editions those readers were just exhausted from reading about machine learning and artificial intelligence each week. I have tried to keep my writing action packed, content filled, and on the shorter side of what an essay could be vs. going long form like an academic paper. You could probably say my efforts are more aligned with the research note framework compared to anything else. We will see what happens to subscriber counts as we move from week 75 to the two year anniversary of my Substack efforts at week 104. That milestone will be here soon enough. Time does seem to move along at an accelerating rate.

A ton of digital housekeeping on a Saturday

To prepare for the annual publication of The Lindahl Letter book I went ahead and loaded up the posts from week 50 to 77. That involved doing the typesetting for roughly 25,000 words that spanned about 100 pages. I’m considering either bundling two years of posts together or just publishing one year at a time. 

I wrote the social media copy for sharing to Twitter and LinkedIn this week:

You can check out week 74 of my weekly technology newsletter The Lindahl Letter titled “ML content automation; Am I the prompt?” over on #Substack via the link below

—> Tags: #MachineLearning #ML #ArtificialIntelligence #AI #MLOps #AIOps

https://nelslindahl.substack.com/p/ml-content-automation#details

It got shared over to Twitter here:

The LinkedIn post is here:

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6946447208812613632/

I had posted weekly into Facebook as well, but that yielded very little traffic back to the actual Substack site. After a few weeks of that effort I gave up and just stopped that part of my weekly social media sharing routine. I’m not entirely sure that sharing on Twitter and LinkedIn results in any subscribers, but it does create a small amount of traffic each week. 

At some point today, I’m going to work on writing the “Substack Week 78: Why is diffusion so popular?” post to create a draft. That is all queued up as a task for the day.

Working that backlog management process

On Friday my Substack backlog was 5 posts ahead. At that level of backlog a personal best was achieved in terms of working ahead. However, that is probably too far ahead. Part of getting to that point was making sure I was ready for a summer break where some vacationing was going to happen. That backlog will allow for continuity of publishing and for a bit of vacation. Right now the backlog is at 4 Substack posts and the last one will publish on July 8, 2022. Generally, I think the backlog should be 2-3 weeks, but it is possible that at some point it will move back to a more real time writing to publication cadence. Part of my writing focus is to build quality content that is not time specific or breaking news powered coverage. I want to examine topics within the artificial intelligence and machine learning space based on the merits of the inquiry and not based on a news reporting type of urgency. I try to begin with the final product in mind. Given that the final product of the Lindahl Letter is that it moves from a weekly Friday Substack email based delivery to a yearly volume of published prose. That focus on building something that can be packaged up for perpetuity remains an important consideration.

Welcome to June writing

Yesterday a Substack post was released and now the backlog stands at 4 recorded episodes which should take us out to July 1, 2022. Right now I should be working on writing the July 8th titled, “What is post theory science?” I’m a little over 100 words into that writing effort and things have seemed to stall. Earlier I dropped a couple videos demonstrating how to record podcast audio on Audacity. They were single cut videos of recording straight into editing. Nobody seems to be watching either of those two videos. That happens sometimes on YouTube. It is a very feast or famine sort of platform in terms of views. I really should keep writing here in this window for a bit, but I’m probably going to hit publish here in a few seconds and send this very short missive out into the world of the blogosphere.

Writing away the start of the day

Unexpectedly, I accidently worked to a point where I’m now 5 posts ahead of the next publication date on The Lindahl Letter. The entire week 75 post just came together and got recorded in the last two days. It was something that I had been thinking about for some time and maybe I was just ready to finish that block of writing. A lot of times during the process of creating something I’ll have a good idea of the finished product before starting the writing or design process. Currently that means that podcast recordings are complete between now and July 1, 2022. For the next five weeks something will go out every Friday. One of the things I’m planning on working on today is just editing and reworking that series of 5 posts. That could create a scenario where the audio recording the text is not 100% aligned. I’m ok with that result if it means that typos and other grammarian concerns are addressed before publication. 

My efforts to transition to writing more research note based weekly missives is well underway. Every week my attention gets focused on a topic that I’m learning about and writing about. To that end I’m creating original content and sharing it out as part of the ongoing The Lindahl Letter series. Within that framework the content has to stay focused and be geared toward providing a unique perspective within my own breadth vs. depth combination. Really digging into the upcoming research notes and putting everything I can into their creation will be important. The series of posts between week 79 and week 86 need to be really rock solid contributions. 

  • Week 79: Bayesian optimization
  • Week 80: Deep learning
  • Week 81: Classic ML algorithms
  • Week 82: Classic neural networks
  • Week 83: Neuroscience
  • Week 84: Reinforcement learning
  • Week 85: Graph neural networks
  • Week 86: Ethics (fairness, bias, privacy)