chipotle: (Default)

In no particular order…

  • Work is kicking my ass recently. It’s been an interesting experience, in the oh, yes, I am at a startup, aren’t I? sort of sense. It’s made writing difficult and driven out enthusiasm for personal coding, though, and also rather cut down on my time online.

  • On a not entirely unrelated note, I’m about ready to throw in the towel with the Excursion Society MUCK. I’ve had little time for it over the last year and honestly not all that much enthusiasm, even though I appreciate the diehards who’ve stuck with it; it’s mostly still around just because of them. I may think more on other systems to do in the future, like an MU* set in Ranea. (After I get my other programming projects back on track. After I’m willing to do programming on my own time again.)

  • I keep starting and stopping other blogs around the web, because I’m just like that. It occurred to me that if there’s any topic I really should be writing about somewhere, it’s not politics or programming or even fiction writing, it’s cocktails. If this thought goes anywhere, I’ll let you know.

  • I contemplated the “blog like it’s the end of the world” zombie thing that’s going on today, but ya know, it seemed like it would be too much effort for today. (And besides, I already wrote an apocalyptic plague story recently.)

  • Speaking of cocktails, I’m really tempted to go to Elixir tonight or the weekend, but probably won’t. Probably.

chipotle: (Default)

I read an interesting column on TidBITS; while this is a Mac news site, “Instant Messaging for Introverts” isn’t platform-specific. Instead, it’s about the author’s problem using IM and similar apps, and trying to explain first what an introvert is (i.e., not “shy, withdrawn, afraid of crowds, or lacking in social skills”) and why this can lead to the problems he’s describing:

Introverts typically need to concentrate on just one thing at a time, and are often particularly sensitive to interruptions and distractions. Now, I happen to think “multi-tasking” is a concept that should never, ever be applied to human beings (regardless of personality type), but be that as it may, I can certainly say that I’m easily distracted, and having more than one thing to think about actively at any given time is sure to make me both ineffective and grumpy. Chatting online while also working on another task, therefore, is unthinkable.

As Rands observed in his article about “Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder,” or N.A.D.D., the state of having a half-dozen different activity windows scattered about your computer screen isn’t multi-tasking. It’s context switching, or less generously, an inability to focus. I am less sanguine about the upsides than Rands is. People with N.A.D.D. have problems in 2008 that they didn’t in 1998 and really didn’t in 1988. The internet, and particular its flirtations with ubiquitous presence, offer opportunity for immediate distraction that has never existed before in all of history. No, I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.

In 2006, Internet law guru Lawrence Lessig wrote to his e-mail correspondents, “Bankruptcy is now my only option” and deleted all their messages, asking them to resend anything particularly pressing. I’ve gotten reasonably good at managing e-mail without just deleting it all, but I’m considering declaring IM bankruptcy.

Sound nuts? Here’s the thing. Suppose I have an IM window open and a MUCK window open, as I’m wont to do, and a couple of hours elapse. Now three or four (or five or six) tabs are open in Adium, each a different conversation; two or three MUCK characters are online, at least one of whom is sitting in a room with a handful of other characters, some trying to interact with him or her. In addition, several people will almost certainly be “paging” to one or more of those characters intermittently, in effect creating separate private communication channels.

That’s a half dozen or more one-on-one conversations and one or more group conversations at the same time. You wouldn’t attempt something that absurd in “real life,” but the mental context switching that you have to do online is the same. And if I’m sitting in front of the computer, the chances are there are other windows I’m trying to pay attention to, like a web browser or a text editor.

This is, pardon the language, objectively batshit.

Since many—not all, but many—of my correspondents across the internets read this, I’m going to put this here as a general beg for understanding. My “real job” work often requires real job attention, and I’ve learned from experience that I cannot write fiction and have any other communication window open. Given that at the moment I’m trying to write a novel as well as, at the immediate moment, an unrelated short story I need to get done ASAP… well, here’s my thoughts.

  • When I am on MUCKs, I may turn off pages more than I historically have. It’s difficult enough to keep up when I have a character in a busy room having “cocktail party” conversations — throw in a couple page conversations and it gets psychotic. (VR social dynamics apparently dictate the only cause for missing someone’s cues is because you hate them.)

  • I’m going to try to be more aggressive about setting my IM “away” when I don’t want to be disturbed. I’m going to try to do this instead of just not being on IM at all, but respect the away-ness.

  • When I really can’t be disturbed I’m just going to shut the IM client off, and log off the MUCKs. Sorry. Email, Twitter and even SMS will all get in touch with me in ways that don’t break my concentration (but won’t get an immediate reply).

Oh. And sometimes, when I am online, it may be appropriate to ask me if I’ve actually gotten the shit done today that I need to get done. I have about a decade of NADD to try and dig my way out of.

chipotle: (Default)

I’m apparently lapsing back into the less frequent updating style that I had a few years ago. (In the pre-LiveJournal days I did have an online journal, which I only updated a couple times a month.) I’ll see if I can lump a few quick updates together.

Two weekends ago, May 6th and 7th, I spent more time getting the Excursion Society MUCK (ESM) together, and it’s ready for what I’m calling a “soft opening.” More information will be available shortly for interested parties.

Last week was the last one for B., the guy I’m replacing at work, and he was sent off with a little retirement party Friday at lunch. Today I’m on my own, with a few things ahead that despite the three weeks of training I really haven’t done. They should be interesting, in the double-edged sense of the word. I have possibly unduly grand ideas about changing the web site’s back end, but I know that’s not something I should devote a great deal of time to, yet. (On the flip side, I really consider the web site as it exists now to be in need of some serious reorganization to improve maintainability.)

The last few days of last week, I was starting to get a definite craving for sushi. On Saturday I made an expedition with a friend up to San Mateo to visit Sushi Sam’s Edomata, which has a reputation as one of the best sushi places in the Bay Area. I’d certainly believe the reputation now. I ordered a couple of my stand-bys, like a spicy tuna roll and unagi (fresh water eel), but had a few things I’d never tried before as nigiri: arctic charr, conch, and toro tuna, as well as a fried yellowtail roll. Sam’s is unusual in that many of the pieces came with light sauce or seasoning; it’s not a place you’ll be dipping your sushi pieces into the soy sauce very often. I’ll definitely be back, and next time might try the omakase (“entrust the chef,” more or less).

There’s a couple other sushi places on my list to eventually try, including Sushi Ran in Sausalito, and Sakae in Burlingame. (There is also Sawa Sushi in Sunnyvale, both famous and infamous in the Bay Area, but his price level is well over several other restaurants I’d spend the money at first, even if I could break through his “for regulars only” attitude.) But I’m going to have to find more friends who like sushi!

In non-food issues, I’ve been having trouble with freezes on my laptop, which appears to be a software issue—which I suspect may in part come from having a lot of crap that ties into the OS at a low level, some of which is from previous versions of the operating system. After some unsuccessful debugging attempts I decided to drop the tactical nuke, in part as an excuse to add a Linux partition to the PowerBook. It’s been years since I’ve spent time with any version of Unix other than Mac OS X and I figured I wanted to see what the “state of the art” was now. (I installed Ubuntu Linux, a release candidate-quality beta of their upcoming release.) I may write about that sometime soon; for now I’ll just observe that I’m writing this in OS X.

Currently, I’m at a Panera, likely for the next couple of hours to chill out and work on a couple other things (and get dinner, of course). Despite my de facto neglect of my journal here, I have multiple things I’ve thought about writing that are more essay-ish in nature. Something about Linux, perhaps, as mentioned above. Thoughts about why merely mentioning Apple Computer in an approving way gets flames. And, probably to be posted very soon, a long-delayed survey of furry fanzines I’ve been working on as a followup to earlier posts of mine.

chipotle: (Default)

It’s been an unproductive but relaxing weekend, in classic wandering-coyote fashion. Yesterday I drove around part of the East Bay, driving to—and briefly stopping in—the Morgan Territory park and, later, Black Diamond Mines park near Antioch. I got a few pictures, but I haven’t checked them to see if they’re any good yet; I only got a little hiking done, as Black Diamond was overrun with Cub Scouts, and I really don’t enjoy wandering nature trails when there’s a lot of conversation from other hikers all around me.

As seems usual for me, there was a stop in the Panera at Antioch, too. I can’t help it. From there, it was a drive down to Dublin to the Red Tractor Cafe, a place I’ve been meaning to get to—it’s the last remaining branch of a failed regional chain of midwestern farm food restaurants. Pretty good for what it is (which I’d describe as “Boston Market, done better”).

Today I woke up relatively early and headed up Skyline Boulevard (Route 35, through the Santa Cruz Mountains) to Burlingame, where I wandered around their almost alarmingly quaint downtown area for a while and then went to lunch at Steelhead Brewery, which I’ve decided may be one of the best brewpubs I’ve been to. Not the cheapest, mind you, but the beer I tried (a cask-conditioned “Anniversary Ale”) was great—as was the root beer—and while the Rueben I got was hardly haute cuisine, it was one of the best variations on it I’ve had, with housemade sauerkraut and a sweet-spicy beer mustard. I need to get my root beer drinkin’ friends up there sometime, as it’s the only brewpub I’ve been to that has two house-brewed root beers.

I’ve been working on the Excursion Society’s web site, now that the central area is almost complete; the main thing left to do is to make the character request system work. I’m considering something a little more ambitious than Bandari’s system, to have the character registration form enter something in a database and let wizards log on to an “admin page” and review it, adding notes and approving it if appropriate (with the web site actually generating the character on the MUCK). I’m working in PHP, which feels very retro after dabbling with Ruby on Rails, but I’m not comfortable enough in Rails yet—and also don’t feel like trying to force [livejournal.com profile] dracomistle to set up his machine for Rails, which is comparatively non-trivial.

Now, it’s time to think about dinner. After I got back from lunch I unexcitingly napped, and while [livejournal.com profile] tugrik and [livejournal.com profile] revar were around watching the Superbowl earlier, I think they’ve headed out on their own. It’s remarkable at times how much we don’t connect on little things like this, but we’ve evolved rather different schedules.

chipotle: (Default)

So I’m seeing more and more references to Second Life these days; apparently, SL is the new black MUCK, replacing all that stuffy old text with 3-D graphics.

Musings on adventure games follow. )

chipotle: (Default)

So one of the things that I’ve always disliked about TinyMUCK-based systems is the parser. Even Scott Adams’ adventure games, written for TRS-80s with 16K of RAM in 1978, had a (marginally) better grasp of action and direct object. In TinyMUCK, if you wanted to implement just a small set of commands that weren’t built-ins, like (say) “eat,” “sit,” and “listen,” it’d be a fair amount of work: make a listen @action with the appropriate lock and messages in a high-level environment room as a default, then have separate @actions everywhere that needed to be overridden. And suppose you have a room with background music playing, and you’re carrying an MP3 player: make sure your actions are all named right, because native actions don’t actually have objects from the parser’s standpoint.

But, with some creative MPI... )
chipotle: (Default)

Yes, Anthrocon was good, I had a fun time. I saw just about everyone I wanted to see although I didn’t get a chance to speak to everyone. (Other than the “Oh, it’s you! Hi!” kind of conversation.) As usual, I bought very little. I had a couple theoretically authentic cheesesteaks. I was reminded of what I don’t like about Florida summers, even though I wasn’t in Florida. I discovered that many people still don’t know I have a book out from Sofawolf. I again participated in the “Iron Author” contest as a judge, and read some of the most (deliberately) eye-bleeding furry stories ever committed—and I use that word advisedly—to paper.

I’m trying to look at an ongoing conflict with a friend or two as a learning experience, a attempt to put Zen-like ideas of detachment and letting go into better practice than I usually do. That’s not about being emotionless and letting go of friends, it’s about letting go of expectations, setting aside anger. I think I can honestly say that there’s no one right now I’m angry with. After explaining what I believe, what I felt, why I chose the actions I did, and what my regrets are, I’m not going to do any good by belaboring my point of view in the hopes it will be acknowledged by those I’m in conflict with.

While it’s been hinted at in the BandariMUCK community journal, I’m starting to plan a successor MUCK to Bandari which retains the pulp adventure setting but changes other aspects with an eye toward increasing its potential audience, learning from various pitalls we found (or created!) on Bandari as well as from “right things” on other MUCKs. One of the more interesting things I’m seriously thinking about is adapting the “issue tracking” system from Here Lies Monsters, in which MUCK management is basically conducted through a web-based trouble ticket system.

Now, though, it’s somewhat past time to dig through office email and see what projects I need to get back to. The overall project I’m working on here is moving from the building phase into the support phase, and there’s an open question as to how long my contract will last, although I’m mildly optimistic they’ll bring me back for another project even if my part on this one winds down. (I’ll confess that a few weeks off to drive around doing what [livejournal.com profile] tugrik and [livejournal.com profile] revar are doing sounds like a capital idea, although I know from recent experience that the “vacation” of being unemployed wears thin quickly.)

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