20 hours to anything

July 18, 2019
20 minute video about 20 hours by Josh Kaufman:

In a nutshell, he's saying that the "10,000 hours" rule is over applied - it talks about the people at the tiptop of a specialty, pressing on to an elite place way out on the learning curve. Kaufman argues how 20 hours is often enough for a solid amount of competence.

It's a great point! Reminds me of Jake the Dog:

But those 20 hours are not a walk in the park. Kaufman ends with the slide:

The major barrier to skill
acquisition isn't
it's emotional.
And then he says
We're scared. Feeling stupid doesn't feel good. In the beginning of learning anything new, you feel really stupid.
Especially for people with Fixed Mindset - folks so skilled at finding low hanging fruit of stuff that are variants on what they're already good at, and so much in the habit of moving on and considering the difficult task unimportant - those 20 hours are going to be a slog! And 20 hours is a longer time than might first appear, especially if you're setting aside big swaths of dedicated focused and thoughtful practice...
You might want to cmd-+ or ctrl-+ your way to zooming this to 200% to take it in, but a Magic Eye of Bob "Church of the SubGenius" Dobbs in ASCII is pretty amazing....
!:::'/_ _\`:::::'/_ _\`:::::'/_ _\`:::::'/_ _\`:::::'/_ _\`:::::'/_ _\`:::!
!:::|/ ~ \|`::::|/ ~ \|  `::|/ ~ \|'   `|/ ~ \|::'  |/ ~ \|::::'|/ ~ \|:::!
!:::|'-.-`|  :::|'-.-`|    :|'-.-`|     |'-.-`|:    |'-.-`|:::  |'-.-`|:::!
!:: (|e|e|?   ::(|e|e|? '   (|e|e|? ` ' (|e|e|?   ` (|e|e|?.:   (|e|e|? ::!
!.  `._^_,''   :`._^_,'..'  `._^_,'`...'`._^_,'  `..`._^_,'.   ``._^_,'  .!
!.   \\=//       \\=//       \\=//       \\=//       \\=//       \\=//   .!
:    U/_/        U/_/        U/_/        U/_/        U/_/        U/_/     :
@/      \&~  @/      \&~  @/      \&~  @/      \&~  @/      \&~  @/      \&
Y/\.::./\S\ /Y/\.::./\S\ /Y/\.::./\S\ /Y/\.::./\S\ /Y/\.::./\S\ /Y/\.::./\S

So near the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, lets not forget the software engineer who made it possible - she has some lessons for the coders of today

You know how you can make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell. [...] He's a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.
Senator Lindsey Graham on CNN on December 8, 2015

Back in the day you could get something called "Weslyan Tetris" for Macs... it had really annoying sound clips that would comment on your performance, and then sometimes it would "nyah nyah nyah" and cheat...

As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.
Maurice Wilkes, 1949

July 18, 2018

via tumblr

Moon over Lake George. You know I don't think I'd ever watched a moonset before this (in fact, I had sort of forgotten that it does that.)

July 18, 2017

For my geek peeps: thinking about xml vs json
Reminder: Trump says we'll '"let" Obabamacare fail.' That's bull. It is in part death by slow poisoning. They own that.
And here's some of why

best photos of 1997

July 18, 2016
My dozen best photos of 1997. Even though I had graduated, I sang with Tufts' sQ! as an alum. And I'm still working my first real, non-summer job.
On a Hulu ad I first saw how Panera is really hammering "clean" as the primary descriptor for their salads. At first I thought it was a dig against Chipotle, though I guess it's kind of a trendy food movement, ish? But kind of a diffuse one as far as I can tell?

Anyway, can't say the ad was entirely ineffective, got me into the store where I took a shot of the poster.

Salads from Sweetgreen, Cosi, Chipotle, and Panera really are a boon to dieters who are willing to sacrifice some $$$ to save time.
A Brief History of Celebrities Using the Notes App to Share Their Thoughts With the World "...the street finds its own uses for things"

July 18, 2015

new prescription sunglasses! a little too polarized though, but I dig the pseudo-mirrorshade effect.

July 18, 2014

I'm seeing women in denim overall shorts with only one strap again. That puts the fashion cycle for that at, what, about a quarter century?
http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/ - I'm pleased with my recent set of devblog entries. I showed my coworker the blog and she was impressed with the longevity of it. Mine isn't setting the world on fire hits-wise but I appreciate it's not one of those things the blogger puts 3 entries on and then lets drop. A Foolish Consistency should be my online handle.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, coverboy

July 18, 2013
Grr. I'm probably too cranky about my apartment situation, and so I'm somehow goaded into wanting to put my two cents in about the whole Rolling Stone Cover thing. I dislike feeling like I need to hold my peace but I'm not being argumentative for its own sake either.

1. Evil can be gorgeous and seductive and that's some of what makes it so scary. (FWIW, that's about the best selfie I've ever seen)
2. Is Rolling Stone making a "rock star" of this guy? I dunno, but I think the message that "he comes from a place many people can recognize" is worth a risk, even if it's just demonstrating how an idea of lashing out at innocents as collateral damage when "fighting" greater injustices can take root. That is a critical moral lesson.
3. People who say "well the NY Times used that same image on their front page" are really missing the point as well; big difference between rock star cover and an AP photo. (Similarly, the crude mockups of RS covers w/ headshots of people we lost to this asshole are heartfelt but need to be more attuned to visual language.)
4. This reminds me a bit of the OJ-Simpson-on-Time-magazine controversy, http://blogcritics.org/ojs-last-run-a-tale-of/ , where Time used a tweaked version of the mugshot that seemed to demonize him.
5. At the risk of offending, and admitting that all I suffered on April 15 and after was a few days of inconvenience and a feeling of safety around public spaces: Boston is a resilient city, but this was a small event by most standards of terrorism. (Actually I stand corrected: I just checked and it was "only" 3 people killed but 260 injured to various degrees. I thought it was fewer) It is great that we hunkered down and showed our willingness to lock down to help catch these asses, but the scope compared to what is possible, even likely, in the future, or to the past (the WTC, the 2004 Madrid bombings or even Newtown) is limited, and we should adjust our putting ourselves on a pedestal accordingly.

Yet see how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love once comes to bend them.
Herman Melville

I had the thought that in the end, we are whom we love and what we do.
Joshua Prager in Half-Life: Reflections from Jerusalem on a Broken Neck

It is healthy to acclimatize to burdens. And on this night in Bnei Brak, it seems to me that it is healty to acclimatize to blessings, too. Were one to appreciate every breath it would be hard to breathe.
Joshua Prager in Half-Life: Reflections from Jerusalem on a Broken Neck

I hope that people will know that even if they cry or confide in the face of disability, they are wrong to marvel at those of us who smile as we limp. They don't know that they have lived through worse, that problems of the heart hit with the force of a runaway truck, the problems of the mind are greater still, more injurious than a hundred broken necks.
Joshua Prager in Half-Life: Reflections from Jerusalem on a Broken Neck

Oh, Thank Cheetos, Miller and I have a new apartment lined up!

My current landlord is trying to get me out before the end of August, which means moving will be a pain, but at least we can go ahead with this.

I've got to figure out a strategy though. I might be misunderestimating how much I have to do, and taking a week to Alaska before then ain't helping. I was thinking of just going for ZipVans and lots of trips, but if I only have a week of overlap between Alaska and move out day, I should probably get real movers and plan on doing more packing.
http://toys.usvsth3m.com/watch/ Can you hit 1:00 seconds? Also some fun easter eggs...

tuba peering plaintively through window during time of bibliographic upheaval

July 18, 2012

face it

July 18, 2011

Odd illusion... if you just watch the faces out of the corners of your eyes, successive faces start to look strange and distortde... more information about illusion here, along with a few other face-related topics.
For some reason I set my iPhone as an extra alarm clock last night but have no memory of why. So now all day I'll be wondering why...

random photos

July 18, 2010

http://derp.cheezburger.com/ - when did "Derp" replace "Duh" and "Duhhr? I admit it's a better term, more concise. Funny website.
http://lab.andre-michelle.com/pulsate - lovely sound toy... I like the logic behind it, once I figured it out.
I've converted Amber to the best way of dealing with scraps of tortilla chips: crunch even smaller, mix in with salsa, eat with spoon.
The perfect half moon visible with the sun still out gives me a sense of the crazy 3D clockwork of the solar system....

"we'll always have cybertron"

July 18, 2009
--from something I posted years ago, Razermoon's DECEPTICONSORT, a site of naughty Transformers fan art.

I don't know if this is supposed to be Megatron and a feminized Starscream (which given the kind of gay-subtext top/bottom relationship they seem to have in the cartoon is kind of funny) or "Star Ruby", one of the fan-created female Decepticons.
Skateboarding, first known as 'sidewalk surfing', split off from surfing when people decided it would be much more fun if you lost a layer of skin and a joint every time you screwed up. Or at least, it would be more fun if all the newbies did that instead of clogging up the beach. This means skateboarders were outwitted by surfer dudes, a feat thought medically impossible by anyone still breathing.

http://macmagazine.uol.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/17-apple_1983.png - www.apple.com circa 1983

hooked on mnemonics

July 18, 2008
So back in the day I used to commute to Tufts for my summer job, and I remembered "CAB" - Copley, Arlington, Boylston -- as the stops before Park Street, where I would hop on the red line. Now the trick is "SPCA", like the animal folks... Symphony, Prudential, Copley, Arlington, since Arlington is where I work.

Yay mnemonics!

c is for cookies. java is too.

(1 comment)
July 18, 2007
Programming note: cookies is one of those words that always looks a little misspelled.

(For the non-techies, "cookies" are these little bits of data that websites are allowed to keep on your browser, used to help recognize who you are when you return to a website and stuff like that.)

Yesterday at work H. asked about the web toolkit we're using, Wicket:
    "What does say about cookies?"
The weird bit is how Jonathan and E. responded in one voice:
    "It says they're yummy."
Weird, man

Video of the Moment

--"Eleven Twelve" by Braces Tower. It's funny that LAN3 NickB mentioned the original version of this video in the "Scary Sesame Street" post the other day, because I ran across the MP3 of this remix while cleaning up my home PC's desktop, and then sought out the Youtube for it. I love it, all yesterday I was singing "one two three FOUR FIVE six seven eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve!"

Quote of the Moment
Seeing ourselves as others see us would probably confirm our worst suspicions about them.
Franklin P. Adams. I love how it's a much less facile quote than it first might seem.

assaulted battery

July 18, 2006
I have to admit that I'm falling off the rechargable battery bandwagon, especially for AA batteries. Maybe it's a technology problem, because it seems tough to have a ready supply of fully charged batteries ready to go when you need it, as opposed to just buying $5 for a pack from CVS and taking from that. I feel a little un-ecologicially responsible (especially because I know you're supposed to dispose of batteries a certain way...) but there it is.

Video of the Moment
Boingboing linked to this Iran Air 747 ad from just before the Iranian revolution. The whole thing seems maybe a bit clumsy, though that might just be how much less slick production values were then... but what kind of slogain is "Iran Air. We take you there. We take you back."?

Article of the Moment
And need to is just the thing for the currently very popular tense I call the kindergarten imperative, as in, 'I need you to put away your crayons now.'
Ben Yagoda, writing in Slate on the use of the word need, especially in politics, and the overall decline in use of the imperative mood.

the pursuit of metahappiness

July 18, 2005
Last December I rambled about a happiness hypothetical: if you could have some sort of procedure that was guaranteed to make you happy but dumb, would you do it?

This morning, musing about some of the recent sidebar talk about video games and other distractions, it occurred to me that it's a decent thinking point, but might be better if it was less blunt, more true-to-life. Hypothesis: "True Happiness" requires an alignment of happiness and meta-happiness. You want to be happy in "real time": entertained or just content. You also want to be happy "for the right reasons", happy in ways that seem philosophically or socially acceptable.

Something that works at the base "plain happiness" level but not above that is a "guilty pleasure". I don't think we have as good a label for the opposite, but I think many of us have felt that "I want to like this more that I actually do" feeling...when I was a pre-adolescent I tried to foster an appreciation for classical music and later jazz but in reality I didn't really have a feel for either. It took me years to admit myself I only like either when it's fast, has a lot of percussion and/or "hooks".

I guess there's a choice to be made, assuming we're not lucky enough to have the two levels in perfect alignment but smart enough to be bothered by that: There is a lot of back-and-forth between the two levels. Veg out in front of the TV and you'll enjoy yourself, and it's easy to justify that on the meta- level by the very real need to "just unwind". However, keep at it too long and the gradual decrease in the meta-satisfaction can taint the base level, and you won't be happy. Similarly, cleaning your house can be an absolute grind but the meta-rewards, and the satisfaction goes well beyond just have an orderly environment...you probably feel like you've done what you should do.

In practice, for guys in modern times the base happiness level often involves following "adolescent" pursuits like video games or even skirt chasing. The meta-happiness involves "growing up", getting a good career, being a good family man. (In its negative sense, being a "geek" (in the Star Trek-lovin', fat slob never-talk-to-a-girl-without-a-credit-card stereotype) is all about the former without being tempered by the latter, and society is pretty damn harsh on that path.)

For me right now, it seems like I'm more inclined to stake out the former path; do what I like, then figure out the justifications. My key to fostering a sense meta-satisfaction from my pursuits is that they are some times "creative" (or, rather, "creationary") and the idea of "creating" ranks highly on the meta-level. I play video games (not as much as I used to) but I also create games. (Though I've also developed some pretty decent justifications for why gaming interests me so much.) Kisrael.com also provides a framework for two other pursuits of mine, musing and browsing, and lets me produce a tangible reward for it, something that other people seem to enjoy as well.

What about being a family man? I don't know. I understand that it can entail a giant sacrifice of most of those "trivial pursuits". I've also been told that having a child the most cosmic thing a guy can do, I guess the meta-satisfaction is so overwhelming that it gushes over into the base levels of happiness. That seems like a giant leap of faith though, and I've never been crazy about irrevocable choices that pursuing that life would entail. On the other hand, I know I've enjoyed working with kids, seeing how their minds work, teaching them and also witnessing the world through fresher eyes.

Philosophically it's almost a dead heat; my tendency towards anxiety and a cheerful nihilism makes it easy to explain not wanting to bring a child into this world. On the other hand there's a fear of long term regret, that some day I'll look at my amusements and accomplishments and ask "was that all worth it?"

Well, let me know what you think. (Interestingly, there are very Google few hits for "meta-happiness" or "meta-satisfaction", either given as one word or two. Is there another word for the concept that I'm not thinking of, or is it relatively uncharted territory?)

pengel, excel

July 18, 2004
Game of the Moment
So it's rare these days that I'll spend a lot of time on a single player video game, but there's this brilliant game called Magic Pengel ("Pen+Angel") that I keep coming back to. It has this amazing feature where you sketch out parts of a creature in 2D (indicating "this is the body piece", "these are arm pieces", "this is the head piece" etc), it creates a nice, rounded 3D model from that, and then animates based on that.
Bad screen shot of CHIKZLA, my most fearsome creation.
And the animations are really pretty convincing...if you've drawn in a club it'll swing it, you need at least 2 legs to do a double kick, etc. Based on the limbs you make (and what shape) and colors you use, your creature has different statistics and can do different attacks.

Unfortunately, the combat is "Pokémon-like", you don't actually control your warrior directly, just pick a type of attack in a decent "rock-paper-scissors" setup. Still, it's a fun game, and I'm enjoying unlocking more and more drawing features.

Here's a Flash-based fan site with Videos and Screenshots of that person's creations, here's IGN's review.

Neat stuff. I really want a game where I could then control these creatures directly in fierce, "Smash Brothers" like combat, but this is still pretty impressive. I mean, it really seems kind of magical; isn't letting kids draw some pictures than having them come to life exactly the kind of things computers should be doing for us by this stage? (No, we don't want computers to be a total imagination crutch either, but still, anything with a creative element in it like that is going to be better than tv or a typical video game.)

Rant of the Moment
I only sort of got around to ranting about how bad and overused Excel is but here is proof...Excel is frickin' EVIL. It's retarded auto-correct garbage is eroding valuable genetic data. My company uses that blighted program for way too much...data dictionaries, screen layout even...ugh! It's probably great for people who are actually crunching numbers and have grown into its UI, but other than that...feh. I really need to make a public release of my one-table-database online that's much easier to get around in for basic flat data recording than excel...

Flash Video of the Moment
It has made the rounds already but the pretty-much-bipartisan parody of "This Land" is better than I expected, with jabs at both sides.

doggy dignity

July 18, 2003
AIM Conversation of the Moment
(Tikko is Ranjit's dog, a cute tiny pomeranian)
ranjit: poor tikko! learning more english would save him so much humiliation.
ranjit: I called him over, saying TIKKO! I WANT TO SQUEEZE YOUR NOSE.
ranjit: He came over, and I squeezed his nose.
kirk: heheheh

Critter of the Moment
Nine dwarf chameleons born in UK. As Ranjit put it, "OMIGOD SO CUUUUUUUTE!" I really respect guys who aren't afraid to squeal like little girls. Like me, for instance.

Quote of the Moment
If a triangle could speak, it would say, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular.
Baruch Spinoza

what's up dog

July 18, 2002
Image of the Moment
Cubicle poodle. You can see the original version at stileproject.com (at twice the size) but it's a very porn-ad-ish site.

Funny of the Moment
We apologize for the Princess Diana Page One headline "Di Goes Sex Mad" that is still on the stands in some locations. This issue was locked up last week before her death and went on sale Friday, Aug. 29, 1997. It is currently being replaced as quickly as we are able with a special 72 page tribute issue: "A Farewell to the Princess We All Loved . . . Di -- Her Final Hours"

diversity university

July 18, 2001
Just a quick note, have to get to work early for a day of diversity training. By the end of the day I expect to be much more diverse.

From an AOL-IM Chat
john: did you hear (/.) about the russian programmer arressted for proving the adobe's eBook isn't secure (DMCA) ?
kirk: yes. And please don't write (/.) again; my brain keeps trying to parse it as ASCII art and I'm very uncomfortable with some of the results
--2001.07.17. (/.) is a parenthetical reference to the geeks favorite site, slashdot

"It looks like the war is over, but if any enemy planes appear shoot them down in friendly fashion."
--Admiral Halsey, VJ day
The very essence of romance is uncertainty.
--Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"
"I've always felt that deep down I'm a genius... a person with the potential for greatness."
          "Are you kidding? Look at you! Look at your life!"
"I know. I'm as surprised as you are."
          --K. Rat (Andy Mosier)
Ever since childhood I've had this fantasy of what it would be like if I had to live an eternity in *this* moment, as I go through different situations.  Heaven as a single moment extended.  Which is a paradox-if you're static you can't think about the situation you are in- but interesting to think about.
"Kid, I gotta tell ya. You ever just know there was something you had to? A message from God kinda deal? Like a life's mission?"
          "Uh- I guess not."
"Yeah, me neither."
--short story start from Tufts, "Tower of Billy"
fight fire with napalm
my nomination for dumbest innovation in women's accesories: transparent purses
Square peg in a round hole is a sound engineering principle. Easy to drill round holes, effecient to cut square pegs, and once pounded into place it's very sturdy. It's ironic how people misuse it.

Went out with Lynn and Mike.  Surprised when Mike later described Lynn as his single Gilbert instance. Unsure what to think when Lynn says Marnie's lost a pre-Alex twinkle.  I guess I could see what she meant, but I thought it was just wishful thinking.

Also from Lynn: Jen 'mono-gal' Monty in Louisiana visiting Mike's CWRU buddy Joe.  Hmm.

Mike remembers R. as being 'cool' and fun to hang around with- and then later he said the same thing about Veronika.

At Cedar Point (the new standup roller coaster Mantis- wheeeee) remembered kissing Veronika with Mike + Maria on the giant ferris wheel. Calling 'time in'/'time out' when the gondola swung in and out of view of other people seems unbearably charming now.

'cedar point-america's roller coast'-heh
"I want to live like I type- fast, and with lots of mistakes"
shave and a haircut from Jerry the barber on e200th street Euclid- I feel so pampered...