Working out the last posts of a lengthy series

I’m very quickly closing in on the last few posts in the 104 week series for my Substack, “The Lindahl Letter.” I’m currently working on the posts for weeks 98 to 104 to close out the two year series. On the brighter side of things week 98 is almost ready for podcast recording. Something has happened to slow things down and I’m not entirely sure if it was a cold that arrived over Thanksgiving or if my topic selection to close things out was just not as good as it could have been. Either way my rate of productivity has dropped off a bunch. Today is the Sunday following thanksgiving which means I should be well rested and ready to draft a few posts really quick this morning. Right now I have the whole day reserved until the Kansas City Chiefs play tonight to write, draft, and tinker with 6 posts. When you hear my voice from the week 97 recording you will know that it is maybe at 50% of where it should be for recording audio. We will see how it goes, but I don’t think that I’ll be recording any additional podcast episodes today even if they get written. 

At this very moment, I have put thoughts out into the universe about finishing up drafts on the 6 remaining posts for the year. To begin with the end in mind let’s consider where we are tactically in terms of a production current state. 

  • Week 99: Started, research, some drafting
  • Week 100: Research
  • Week 101: Planning
  • Week 102: Not even started
  • Week 103: Not even started
  • Week 104: Started, some drafting

Assuming that each week gets a 500 word boost that would be a 3,000 word output day. I have a large portion of the day reserved for this effort so it is totally possible to write all the things that need to be written. I should have just jumped in and started writing instead of starting off with 300 words on what I needed to do for the day.

Always working beyond the last point of thought

Today was one of those days where I spent a lot of time chasing things along. Certainly that can happen from time to time. Right before we went out for dinner the latest issue of my Substack post went up promptly at 17:00 hours. 

https://nelslindahl.substack.com/p/ai-hardware-risc-v-ai-chips#details

Every Friday at 17:00 hours a Substack post goes out. I’m getting really close to 104 consecutive weeks of posting. Two years at anything is a real habit for sure. Closing out the last few posts has been much harder than I expected it to be based on the previous run at things. My writing routine is pretty much bulletproof. I wake up just after 05:00 hours on both Saturday and Sunday and devote those early hours throughout the weekend to writing really solid content. Everything throughout the week builds up to that point and writing the final product is about getting to done and clicking publish.

Earlier today I decided to take a bit of a vacation from Twitter throughout the weekend. That should be easy enough to accomplish. Instead of looking at that application I’m going to focus my attention on old school blogging. Getting back into the habit of sitting down and collecting my thoughts at the end of the day could be a great thing to do for the next few days. Maybe after all those thoughts are collected I’ll be able to capture a wellspring of adventure.

Oh that social media

Maybe it would be a better strategy to just write short blog posts instead of posting to social media. I existed for years without social media and it was fine. Walking to the mall was a thing that happened. People had snacks at the food court. Nobody took any photos of that experience. It just sort of happened. I have a vivid memory of standing in a basement and listening to the album Bleach by Nirvana. We just listened to the music and nobody posted a single thing about it. Things were just different and I’m not entirely sure it was not better. Maybe it is some type of nostalgia or maybe social media is just not all that social these days. At the start of the blogging adventure I read blogs and knew people from their writing. It was different and more personal. Even some meetups happened with people getting together to talk about writing in person. That is probably something that I actually do miss. Getting together with a bunch of writers at some random bar or restaurant probably is something I should have appreciated more at the time. 

This little bit of a post is really just about my thoughts related to shifting back over to engaging in more long form writing and giving up micro blogging. I mean really most of my writing efforts would probably just be 500 word blocks of prose that were created in the moment and published without a whole lot of editing or revision. Literally, I just open a word process document and write for a bit before cutting and pasting that content over to be published out to a weblog. In this case, it gets published out to my weblog. 

https://www.nelslindahl.com/weblog/

You can certainly catch my weblog post feed and it still functions in the same way it always has. The latest post is at the top and you can read on to see what happened before. It has no real continuity between posts or anything that would really make it more connected than it having to be shared in the order in which it was written. Each blog post is effectively followed by another one and that goes on for hundreds of them. Ok that does not really tell the story of it going on for thousands of them spanning decades of content. 

Those early morning writing hours

A tree with leaves starting to turn colors

During the flight back from Orlando, Florida, I had started to collect my thoughts and write an essay about my trip to Disney World. Apparently, those words just would not show up to the part and that document remains in the false start files. Maybe I will be able to finish cleaning up that post at some point. I was really surprised that during the flight no writing really happened. For some reason I just was not in the mood to produce epic prose. I just did not want to sit down and write. Without question the reason for that probably has to do with being tired from a very busy week. 

This morning I returned to my writing routine at 0530 hours. Things moved along and the post for week 91 was edited and audio recorded. A huge update to the Audacity software was required before that audio recording could get under way. I almost gave up on recording a podcast this week and thought about moving back to just regular posting on Substack. I think it might even be possible to switch back over to my weblog and host the podcast that way. That is something that I might test out again tomorrow. It has been some time since audio files were added to my weblog posts which could be picked up as a podcast. It certainly would have the right RSS feeds to get picked up. One of the reasons that almost two years ago now I started using Substack was to let them manage the platform elements of the newsletter. Everybody at the time seemed to be getting into Substack. Over the last couple months that seems to have started up again. More and more people seem to be starting Substack newsletters. I have never tried to charge for my weekly post. Sometimes I do wonder if a paid subscription model might end up with more viewership. The quality would be the same of course. 

Today involved watching a ton of football on the television. That should afford me the time to sit and write while the game is on and I certainly had time to think about a few things. What did not happen was a bunch of writing on my Pixelbook Go. It is another example of where I had the time to write, but for some reason the words did not flow. That probably means I should mix things up a little bit and work in some different ways.

That one with a long post written during an airplane flight

I’m on a flight to Orlando, Florida right now. We departed from Denver, Colorado, after apparently some issue with a tray table was fixed. As delays go this one was not a very big deal and only amounted to around 30 extra minutes of standing. I’m pretty confident that we will make up a bit of time during the actual flight. We appear to be traveling at roughly 558 miles per hour. 

I’m going to spend this 3 hour block of time just writing. That is about to happen. You certainly could sit back, relax, and prepare to read a bunch of prose. 

During the course of cleaning out a drawer and a stack of papers I briefly considered going down the path of working on some public administration related academic articles. That type of consideration happens from time to time and is one of the things that at some point will probably happen. My 5 year writing trajectory includes a lot of things to complete. One of the things that has been a major part of that effort for the last 2 years has been working on Substack posts. That is a pretty distinct weekly cycle of creation to publish. 

What I plan on doing here after hitting the two year mark on that one is working toward a different method of weekly creation. Each weekend I’m going to work on creating academic articles and some of that content will be used to feed the Substack posting. Over the last two years things happened a bit differently. The content being created for Substack sometimes found its way into an article or manuscript. Flipping that scenario around will be key to boosting my productivity in terms of academic prose output. 

That will for the most part give me a set of two windows of 2-3 hours for crafting and generating academic content each weekend. Over time that will be enough to build out and write a bunch of different things. Some of that for sure will be literature reviews. Another part of it will have to be using a combination of publicly accessible dates and automated sentiment analysis to create original work. I should be able to build a sentiment analysis model automation and execute it for each academic paper if that is the dirrention things end up going. It will certainly yield original content. 

I think as we work into 2023 that is one of the things that I’m most looking forward to producing. Within the machine learning space I have produced original research into the MLOps space and looked at a lot of open source code repositories in that space. At this point, I want to shift away from searching out and reading academic articles and move from conducting an ongoing literature review in the machine learning space to producing some content that makes a substantial contribution. The field has had so much content added recently that just sorting out the ideas coming in is hard enough without trying to consume the best of it or even locate the very best of it. This has to be the peak academic period for machine learning based on the hype cycle. I think at some point in the next couple of years a lot of machine learning researchers will be shifting over to the study of artificial intelligence in general. 

That shift is probably good overall. My views which have been shared previously are that a lot of both model production and intellectual overcrowding has occurred within the machine learning space. A lot of papers have been written. It’s great that people are producing content and I’m happy they are mostly sharing it online without any paywalls or other limitations. You will have to admit that the sheer volume of it is overwhelming and at this point beyond any method of conventional sorting. Some of it gets promoted by social media and other actual interpersonal interactions where content is shared. People are having to really go out and share a paper to get it noticed or picked up by the top contributors within the field. 

I think at this point in the program I’m going to drop out of weblog writing mode and work on some different essay related content.  I might circle back to this one or something else might show up.

Oh those problematic strings of words

I’m spending more time working on the weblog than usually gets put into that platform in the last few years. This is one of those things that happens in waves and typically just happens based on a point in the cycle and not for any real empowered reason. Within the backend of the site it has 2,561 total posts that go back to the early 2000’s. A few of the essays I wrote back during my college years are worth updating at this point. Most of that content was just the beginning of things as I sort of booted up to the writer than I am today. Most of the time I can now power through a block of prose with very little editing required. My base writing state is now passable to just dump online without a lot of clean up. That probably should be more exciting than it actually seems to be for me at the moment. Sometimes without a doubt when I get into a hurry or am not paying attention to what is being written things will go horribly wrong in terms of grammar and style concerns. I’ll get the idea out, but the construction of the words bringing it forward can be highly problematic. For the most part, the main thing that happens is that word will be missing. 

Today again I’m misbehaving and writing out of a Google Doc instead of that Microsoft Word document that is supposed to be my daily writing home. It turns out that I really don’t want to continually write out of the same document every day and that I really do want to open up a blank document on a daily basis and begin writing from a fresh starting point. That is problematic in terms of collecting things together in the end for publication purposes, but it may very well be something that I’ll need to live with going forward. I had successfully switched over for around 30 days and then that habit fell apart the first time that I was a little bit tired and just opened a word processing document on a whim. It was that moment of tired whim that got me back over here into Google Docs. It is entirely possible that I prefer the editing features in Google Docs and maybe just got used to them over time. One solution to the problem would be to try to add the next missive to the end of this document and see if I could at least keep all the words together. 

I did manage to break down the problematic posts in the writing plan to get to 104 issues of The Lindahl Letter. At some point, I just had to accept that a couple of the topics were going to just end up being shorter than I had planned on allowing them to end up. A few of the topics have one central person who contributed to them and are super straightforward. During my planning sessions I should have tried to zoom out a bit or maybe picked different areas of focus where a bit more coverage would have been possible. I have been (for better or worse) in the habit of writing weblog type missives for the last 20 years. I’m probably not going to stop doing that at any point. Some of them never get posted, but the daily habit of sitting down and offloading some thoughts into some type of word processing document, notepad, sketchpad, or just a pad of paper is probably going to keep happening. The part of it that I find the most confusing is that I tend to go back to Twitter a few times a day and it has also become a part of my daily routine. 

My efforts recently have been on reducing my response times to alerts and notifications to help focus and be present. That is key moving forward. It is probably one of the reasons that my early morning hour writing plans have been so successful as nobody is pinging me or creating alerts at this time of the day. Even corporations and application teams tend to slow down the attention seeking during the hours when people are commonly sleeping.

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 few Thursday ramblings

My efforts this week to learn a bit of LaTeX in Overleaf have been slow going. That effort could happen on either my Chromebook or my desktop. Neither of those things seems to be happening in the evenings. During the evenings, I have been listening to a bit of science fiction from Isaac Asimov. I’m three books into that effort now and enjoying the initial foundation trilogy: Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952), and Second Foundation (1953). Apparently, two prequels and two sequels were written to expand the foundation universe. This week I’ll finish up the “Second Foundation” audiobook. We might listen to the “I, Robot” (1950) book during our next big roadtrip. That is what we ended up doing with the first foundation book. During the 8 hour road trip between Denve and Kansas City it is a great opportunity to really focus on an audiobook. We have listened to non-fiction books about various topics and a handful of the best science fiction works. It is hard to believe the foundation series is roughly 70 years old at this point. The language used in the novels could pretty well be spoken today outside of the odd psychologist/history projections. Most of the futurists today do not accompany their predictions with mathematical models. 

 I go back and forth about the naming convention that should be used within the daily weblog posts. Years ago I simply titled them by date (YYYYMMDD) and that worked well enough for me personally. It did not however work very well for indexing and other communication methods outside of my personal amusement. To that end I started working on titles and most of them are longer than a word or two as that is what is required when you start to write hundreds of missives. At this point, it is rather difficult to come up with unique titles for these weblog posts. Normally, by about the second paragraph of the project I’ll find a title in a sentence somewhere that can be used. This one is intentionally not titled about the writings of Isacc Asmov. 

On a totally unrelated topic, I’m still struggling with the odd set of categories I have built for the weblog over the years. I know they were a byproduct of writing posts year after year. They are clustered related to the topics that I tend to cover, but for the most part the categorization is really not very good. I built a bad thing and cannot really go back and move them all around. In terms of storage and indexing the weblog has a core post, daily recap, monthly recap, and groups by category. All of that is designed to help make it easier for the reader to find content. I’m not entirely sure that works anymore. At this point in my online journey, the primary way people get to the weblog is from searching for a term or something that gets them to a page. They quickly realize that they are in the midst of a functional journal that might very well contain the technical answer they were seeking. I tend to write about the challenges that I overcome while using technology just as much as I muse about the process of writing. 

I should probably focus more on technical writing and really dig into the challenges we see in the disjointed presentation of technology that we run into on a daily basis. The only thing connecting the myriad of technology we use and interact with is us functioning as the hub. At this point, the fast majority of technology we use is not interconnected or controlled by voice or a common interface. My office alone is full of 10 or more sets of technology that require me to interact with them to make things happen. At some point the technological mesh will become more connected and it will be a fundamentally different experience for the end user.

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.

A few thoughts on the ongoing grand writing experiment

Getting back to a bit of daily writing in a journaling style seems to be a good thing to accomplish. For some reason this style of writing has dropped off from my efforts. Every week I’m still producing pracademic style content and I’m gearing up to learn how to convert some of that into a LaTeX style editor for academic paper publication. Maybe that is the missing element in my progress as a writer. We will see if it really is the missing element or if something else might be a contributing factor. Within that framework I have a few thoughts on my ongoing grand writing experiment. For those of you who have been along for the ride you know that millions of words have been produced. A lot of them appear here on my trusty weblog, “Functional Journal.” It’s not my flagship production, but it is a central base that I come back to over and over again. Originally, I had considered just putting all content here as a sort of content hub. That is not a terrible idea, but it does discount contributions to other forms and how those avenues of communication work. 

Tomorrow the 75th post within “The Lindahl Letter” series on Substack will be distributed. All of that content gets packaged yearly into a book format. It gets distributed weekly as a Substack post which is functionally an essay on a topic built for the purpose of being informative and at times thought provoking. That type of writing is different from what gets shared generally on the weblog and that is one of the reasons why jumping on the Substack bandwagon made sense. It also has a very different publication mechanic. The weblog is something people have to elect to go visit. Substack as a platform has a mechanism to deliver the content by email. It follows that newsletter framework which is more of a push to disseminate content delivery vs. my traditional method of providing the content on a digital shelf without marketing or any push. I know that the weblog gets published out to WordPress that new content arrived, and I let it push a notification to Twitter. Based on the amount of traffic that comes in from WordPress or Twitter neither of those communication methods is particularly useful. 

As a communication platform, Substack has appeared to work out well enough. One of the main differences between my Substack writing and my normal writing paradigm is that all 75 posts for Substack were constructed in the same Google Doc. Each day for general writing I open a brand-new Google Doc and start writing from a blank page. I’m wondering if I should shift to working out of a single manuscript for my daily writing and just accept that it should end up as a publication at the end of the year like the Substack efforts are combined to produce a set of collective works. Maybe that is the right way to begin moving forward. I could easily take this essay and allow it to be the start of that project. I generally do not like working out of a Microsoft Word document using the online editor. That is one of the reasons that all of this work generally happens in Google Docs. I’m sure that is mostly preference based and either one could work as a word processing document management system.

A few changes occurred between the last two paragraphs. I went over to Microsoft Word and created a manuscript file based on the publishing template I normally utilize. That brand new file and the entire novel directory on OneDrive has now been synced over to Google Drive. I then opened the .DOCX file for editing in Google Docs which seems convoluted, but it works for me based on the efforts I’m about to undertake. Moving forward I’m going to keep working and writing for the weblog within this document. That is the plan and I’m going to stick with it until December 31, 2022. At that point the plan will be revisited and hopefully this document will be published as a manuscript.