Weblog

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.

Thinking about baseball a bit

We have had some rather cloudy weather in Denver for the last couple of days. It plunged the temperature from triple digits down around 40 degrees pretty quickly. Right now I’m looking out the window and wondering if it is going to rain. My weather app says it is just a couple hours of fog that will be lingering this morning, but it feels like it will rain. We attended the Colorado Rockies vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks gave on Friday where it sort of lightly rained the entire game. Yes, that game ended with the Rockies winning 13 to 10. During that deluge of run scoring we got to see a 9 run inning from the Diamondbacks offense. Which to be honest is pretty remarkable within the scope of a major league baseball game. We had seats that were just far enough back to be under the ledge of the section above us which worked out really well given that it was lightly raining.

One of the things that we heard a ton about while driving home from the game was the new rule changes that are coming for Major League Baseball (MLB) for the upcoming 2023 season [1]. Apparently, we can expect bigger bases, rules to control defensive shifts, and probably the more impactful introduction of a pitch timer. I’m not exactly sure why bigger bases really matter. The change to the pitching clock will probably be the most important element included in these changes. Some baseball games go quickly, and other games are more glacial in nature. This effort to introduce the pitch clock is designed to help reduce the overall length of the game and increase the pace of play. It sounds like the pitch timer might speed up the pace of games by about 30 minutes. Basketball as a sport and a game easily supports the introduction of a shot clock as it becomes a constraint on the offense. This timer is a bit different and for some pitchers it is going to be something that at time is truly devastating.

Any time a pitcher is dealing with a bit of discomfort or potential pain or just gets intro trouble and is rattled on the mound the pitch time will just keep moving along. You have no time to just try to work some things out as you try to control the game from the pitching mound. I think this change will end up strongly favoring the batter in 2023. It may just help create a degree of plate rhythm for batters that will have a major change to on base percentage and ultimately batting averages. My guess would be that we will see a lot more hitters crossing the 300 club in terms of batting average. If we see anybody break into the 400 club, then that will give you a pretty good indicator that the rule changes fundamentally changed the balance of the game.

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-2023-rule-changes-pitch-timer-larger-bases-shifts

Striving for a trajectory of growth

Yesterday some consideration was given to the idea of transitioning to a very old school method of writing weblog posts. This might be the moment that I’ll flip the switch and write in a slightly different way as things mover forward. Sitting down with pen and paper affords a certain opportunity to sling words without the direct consequence of them being published. Twenty years ago, I just sat down and wrote whatever came to mind without any degree of self-censorship. Returning to that framework of writing might not be entirely possible, but it could be one of those things that would make sense. That would mean writing about whatever mundane things or grand considerations that come to mind at the point of the writing exercise. At the very end of the day, I used to just sit down and write and drop whatever came to mind onto a site hosted with a Microsoft FrontPage backend. That for those of you who do not remember was a WYSIWYG editor that produced HTML pages as a final product.

Back in those days my grammar, spelling, and overall editing was lacking. Those things have improved over the years, but still have a way to go as with all things we can work to refine our knowledge, skills, and abilities to grow along the way. Perhaps that is the great debate of our time. It’s the questions of striving toward a trajectory of personal and professional growth or living within the moment and simply sustaining things as they are. This same question is asked of both companies and people. Coming out of high school it was strongly suggested that I spend time in college. At the time, I had two choices that stood out on that front. I could have attended the local community college or gone to one of the state colleges. Either way would probably have moving things along in generally the same trajectory. Back in 1999 the cost of college tuition was a lot lower than it currently happens to be and I’m not entirely sure the services being offered are that different.

Anyway, back to the question at hand really about the nature of striving for a trajectory of growth. We have come so far as a society in general and the nature of changes to our civil society have changed the social fabric in what I broadly consider positive ways. We have a lot more knowledge available to people, science, and medicine. That growth did not come without problematic situations, conditions, and challenges. Looking back on the last 50 years, 100 years, and 200 years things within society have changed a lot and core to that change is technology. I’m not sure today is the day that I have enough time to really sit down and write about the changes to civil society as we approach the intersection of technology and modernity. We have a very real approach of a couple potential singularities that will have profound effects on the nature of our social fabric and how we view civil society in general. Those very real watershed moments have the potential to change things profoundly and we are not particularly ready for those events.

We will however keep moving along and striving for that perfect possible future as we work together toward pathing that allows for personal and professional betterment. At the very heart of that social compact that we share remains some things core to the freedoms that we need to generally work together toward that end of personal betterment. At the moment, I should take a bit more time to write about community and draw these arguments out with support and logical extension. That however is not entirely practical as the day is grinding to a start. Sunrise is still about 30 minutes away, but I won’t be able to capture that entire block of time and use it for writing. Other obligations are about to step in and separate me from this work processing document. That is the necessity of things that require time and are commitments outside of the opportunity to write freely at the start of the day. Commitments stack up over time and that seems to be a central truth of adulting.

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.

Start of the month watch winding

I’m a few days late in the monthly winding of my watch to the correct date. The time as you can imagine is generally right but depending on the number of days in the month the date may not be anymore. The watch I’m wearing right now only keeps the time and date. Now that all of the watch related mischief has been managed it is time to confess that I have been looking at decorative wood watch boxes. I don’t really have enough watches to need one. For some reason it is one of those things that has drawn my attention. Maybe one day I will have enough watches to need a special wooden box to hold all of them, but that is not something that will happen any time soon. I seem to acquire a watch about once every ten years or so based on a very limited sample size of two watches. I’m not counting smartwatches as they generally something different and not built or kept across a great span of time. I have had a number of different Fitbit watches over the years. The latest one was not charging well anymore, and I ended up switching back to wearing a more traditional watch.  

Beyond not taking care of my watch winding this month I have neglected to write any weblog posts. Right now, while I watch the extended cut of the “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” that writing drought my come to an end. This version on HBO Mas appears to be 3 hours and 48 minutes. I’m probably going to have to take a break in the middle of watching this verion to have lunch at some point. I broke down and paid the team over at HBO Max upfront for a year of streaming content. Right now, my streaming services have built up to three total providers. We annual subscriptions to HBO Max and Disney+. On a monthly basis the team over at Netflix is still being paid. That is probably the streaming service most likely to terminated to bring the count down to two at some point.  

Managing all those backup files

Today was a day where some old file sorting happened. On a regular basis the number of files I’m using is fairly limited. My backup has built up way more files over the years that I seriously wonder about sometimes. This massive collection of files stored to the cloud just hangs out and does nothing really. I’m not entirely sure why I still keep it all and back it up with such care. One of the strategies that I have been considering is just setting up a new folder and putting on the files that really matter to me in that one and then at some point allowing the rest to vanish from existence. To be fair about the whole thing I’m guessing that some of those files are not necessary and probably should not have been saved in the first place. The degree to which my digital pack-rat-ness was effective is somewhat astonishing at this point.

Sadly, I’m not the only one with massive collections of archived documents in a variety of clouds. Something is going to happen to all these clouds as people end up abandoning their files over time. I have a plan for my main cloud account where without any action on my part for 90 days the files are shared out. I’m not sure exactly what the people who are slated to get access to these files will end up doing with them and it might just be an overwhelming pile of digital artifacts. Within the grand aggregate of cloud files I’m really wondering about how many of them are needed or if we have just created a reality where data center after data center is busy keeping records of nothing really. That is a thought related to both data permanence and necessity. While I cannot bring myself to just hit delete on all the files and move along I’m sure that is the inevitable outcome unless we learn how to store files on crystals. At that point, it won’t matter how much data people want to store forever it will be possible. The bigger question will be if anybody ever does anything with all those stored files on what I’m sure will be a mountain like pile of data storage crystals.

One of the things I have started doing within my more academic side writing pursuits is finding ways to publish and store my work in places outside of my weblog or my cloud storage. That public type of sharing is in an effort to help the writing stand the test of time in a better way. It is an attempt to achieve some type of data permanence based on making the content accessible. My weblog is scraped by the way back machine which does mean that my writings here are generally backed up beyond the ways that I back them up. You can if you wanted to scroll across the years and see the various weblog styles and other elements that go back a long time within that archive. That is one of the ways that the internet itself is backup up and accessible to people interested in that type of archive. I’m always curious about the freshness of a weblog and nostalgic browsing of things from 20 years ago does not really appeal to me at the moment.

A slow start to the week

Today it took about an hour to settle into a headspace where writing was going to happen. I’m not sure why it took so long to begin to accept the blank page. Sometimes that happens. My thoughts were all over the place and getting to a point where focusing was possible actually took that hour of wondering around the internet. Now I’m wondering a bit more about what things should be set as a priority this week. It feels like it might be a week where a lot of things can get done. That is probably good. Some time ago I set a 5 year writing plan for creating content and working down some different academic trajectories. That effort is still underway and my writing streak for publishing The Lindahl Letter part of that remains unbroken. As of right now that effort will span at least 87 weeks based on the content in queue for distribution. One more post is written but has not been recorded. Unfortunately, for the last 7 days my voice has been wrecked from some kind of cold or allergies.

It has been a long time since something stopped me from being able to talk. On the brighter side of things it did open the door to more listening. Talking a ton was not really going to happen. I was able to keep moving along without any real disruption. During that time I even did some game planning and put together some changes in the overall plan from week 87 to 104. Sometimes it is really helpful to sit down and consider where things are going. Knowing your writing trajectory and the associated research trajectory are important parts of planning. You cannot work on everything at one time and figuring out where you want to put your attention is an important part of the equation. When you are going to plan out a few years of effort at a time then you want to make sure to get it right and cover the right content in the right order. My interests at the start focused in on learning about machine learning and conducting weekly research into topics to diver deeper. That has been ongoing for 87 weeks. I’m in a position now where based on that depth and breadth of knowledge I’m able to really start producing various types of research within those subjects.

I have learned how to do typesetting in Overleaf with LaTeX which at first was very frustrating, but after several hours of learning is now possible. Maybe working toward the production of a bunch of different journal type articles or research notes is the right way to go and we will see if that is what happens when my research pivots from machine learning to generally a study of artificial intelligence.

A few research trajectory notes

Today I finished working on the main content for week 88 of The Lindahl Letter. That one is a bridge piece between two sets of more academic side efforts. I went from working on introductory syllabus to starting to prepare a bit for the more advanced set of content. Initially, I had considered making the advanced versions a collection of research notes that were built around very specific and focused topics. That is entirely a path that might be taken after the 104th week. The packaging on the content instead will be put into another companion syllabus to allow an introductory look and a more advanced topic follow up for people looking for a bit more machine learning content. Functionally those two documents put together will be the summation of 104 weeks of my efforts in the machine learning space. It is the book end to my journey into really diving deep into machine learning and studying it every weekend and a lot of weekdays.

After two years of digging into the machine learning space I’m going to pivot over and focus on writing and studying artificial intelligence in general for year 3 of The Lindahl Letter. It should be a fun departure and hopefully it will mix things up a little bit with a broader collection of literature. A lot of people talk about deploying AI in the business world and almost all of that conjecture is entirely based on deploying a machine learning model into a production environment. When those same people deploy an actual AI product they will hopefully see the difference.

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.