September Writing Challenge, Post 0: Starting Small

I have numerous started-but-stalled projects, and more queued up, unstarted. I suspect The Zeigarnik Effect weighs heavier on me than most. Some of these projects are important to me, and I’d like to get even half as good at finishing them as I am at starting.

At the suggestion of Jaimee Newberry (and following her example), I’m taking on a 30-day writing challenge. I’m not trying to write a book in 30 days, or a long-form article every day, or even necessarily a fully-finished blog post. The parameters are this:

  1. Write about something for 5 minutes.
  2. Post it.
  3. Lather, rinse, repeat, once every day in September.

It’s not exactly rocket surgery.

What it is, on the other hand, is a shot at forming a habit. I’ve had good success with BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits method (another tool recommended by Jaimee), and this is an extension of that – forming a habit by picking a target that is always easily within reach, rather than going for something more ambitious and stumbling later when I’m tired or busy. Then, when the habit is there, and you have created a local minimum of attention drain/decision fatigue, you can expand on it.

Or that’s the idea anyway.

To warm up, I set a timer to write the post you’re reading now – and blew by it by probably a factor of three or more. (Besides writing, I was screwing around gathering links and stuff, and editing, and generally indulging in execrable perfectionism.) So maybe I’ll run over sometimes, but anything past 5 minutes will be considered extra credit.

Likely topics will include iOS programming insights, blurbs about software engineering skills and culture, maybe a personal note or two, and whatever else falls out of my brain before the coffee kicks in. Some of it may be cross-posted to my iOS blog (which is just as underused as this personal blog), and/or repurposed for a blog-to-book project that I’m kicking off Real Soon Now.

So, that’s happening. Enjoy.

Refocusing

As you may have guessed from my last entry, this is heading in the direction of a personal blog again. I’m going to save most or all of my technical writing for the Kickass Labs blog (case in point: my recent Hadoop Streaming Tutorial). This has to do with the fact that much of my after-hours unsupervised play time is spent on tech projects with the KAL cabal, and if I’m going to spend the effort to write blog entries on advanced technical topics like distributed computing, I’d like to leverage it to raise the profile of the whole group.

So, look for more personal stuff here, along with pointers to my technical content on KAL.

Status Report

There’s a lot going on.  Yowza.

For starters: I’ve left my day job and gone back to consulting. As is my policy, I’m not going to reveal clients here, but they’re an interesting cross-section of business verticals and projects, and one prospective client in particular already has me in touch with people on at least 3 continents, all from my desk in Kew Gardens. I’m feeling very much like one of those digital nomads that the post-Web-2.0 techno-hypesters like to talk about. And liking it.

I also have a part-time, on-site gig in a very trendy New York neighborhood. On some evenings, there is a truck vending “artisanal ice cream” parked outside this client’s offices. (I have not yet seen it move, nor heard it play an endless loop of 8 bars of “Pop Goes the Weasel”.) It’s little details like that that keep the New York experience refreshingly weird.

Also – and I should have posted about this ages ago, but you know how it is – the Rails Rumble 2008 was a blast, and I know more in my bones about building complex messaging systems than I did before the Rumble. Our entry was a multi-player word game, and you may play the Rumble incarnation of it here. We’ll be blogging about Rumble lessons and putting up an update of the game in the next few weeks.

And speaking of “we”, Gabe, Abel and I have added a whimsical name to our hacker cabal; blog posts about the Rumble experience will be posted over at Kickass Labs. (Note to Abel: Get a site up already so I can link to you properly. A one-pager will do.)

In other news: When I’m not hustling paying work or hacking w/ the KAL crew, I have plenty of my own projects to work on. To wit: I have a goal to fix a minor bug in GuitarCardio this week, I will probably take down Rewardist for the time being, and I’m currently investigating solutions to data representation issues in my super-top-secret Hadoop project.

And that’s enough blogging. Back to work.

You May Expect More

I’ve just made a change in my occupational situation.  In the coming months, I expect to have more time and more energy for this blog and my other projects.  So look to this space for:

  • More announcements of niche web projects
  • More advancement of existing web projects (hello, GuitarCardio!)
  • The announcement of a much more ambitious, high-falutin’ Java project
  • More Ruby one-liners and development observations

Among other things upcoming: I’m competing with good friends and former cow-orkers Gabe and Abel in Rails Rumble 2008 (so don’t expect to hear from me Oct 18-19). I’ll post here about how that went.

New Iteration

So, it’s happened again – as with any of my interests, this blog has been through a fallow period and is back again, different, changed according to my interests and inclinations as they exist today.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog in the past, expect less personal material. If you’re here for the first time, expect lots of rumination about the craft of software development, nuts-and-bolts material on Ruby on Rails and Java, thoughts on personal productivity, links that amuse/interest me, and the rare rant.

Cheers.