Monday, September 15, 2014

Roundup: blogging elsewhere, hard to get into books, code as brain-colonizer, a weak September movie list

Today, a roundup of smaller topics, for reasons that number 3 will explain.

1) While I'm in the MakerSquare course in Austin, I am trying to blog daily (for now) over at Incremental Code. Writing daily is... perhaps not the smartest thing to do, time-wise; but I'm limiting myself to 15 minutes or less per post; and writing daily helps me to process the day.

2) Before falling asleep many days, I read a few pages of Iain M Banks's 1987 Consider Phlebas, the first book in his Culture series. Banks is loved by people whose tastes match up with mine. And I like it... but I find it hard to get into.

Partly that's due to the writing, which is occasionally odd--and even when it's in a good way, odd prose is odd.

Partly that's due to the structure of the book, which is very episodic: one guy gets lost in space and tries to get somewhere. Even when the scenes are interesting--as when the main guy gets marooned on an island of religious cannibals and has to figure out a way off--it's hard to see the long-term stakes of these episodes. And long-term stakes matter when you've got such a long book.

3) In college, I took some computer science courses, and I noticed that writing code is a lot like playing Tetris: if you do it before bed, you'll start to dream about it. You'll look around the world and say (Tetris) "I wonder if an L could fit under that branch" or (code) "I wonder is a hash would be a better way to model bus riders." Like Tetris, code-writing colonizes your brain. (Kind of like any language, I guess.)

But the real way that code will colonize your brain is in how--hold on, I just thought of something.

::Time passes while I try something out on my code.::

And that is really the way that code colonizes your (or at least my) brain. You can be doing something else and suddenly--wham!--you thought of a way to solve a problem that you were stymied by before. That's just good, old-fashioned subconscious puzzle-solving, the same as when you fell asleep and woke up with the answer.

The colonizing part is when you have to stop whatever you're doing and go check that solution to see if it works. And that example above, that wasn't a joke. I really did have an idea and I wanted to see how it worked out.

Which is great for my code, which is getting incrementally better.

But it sure is hard on the rest of my life, which at any moment can be taken over by a code-related idea.

4) Which brings us to this: For that past few months, I have kept careful records of any movie I saw and I saw a lot of movies. Movies I watched with Sarah, movies I watched while at the gym, etc. So far, in September, I haven't purposely watched any movies. In fact, I purposely watched an episode of Star Wars Clone Wars--and that took me four-five days to watch a 20-minute show. This time in Austin may be not so good for my culture consumption. Which is ironic, since it's Austin and there's so much going on!

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