The Matrix Resurrections

Oh my god. I realize this is two Matrix posts in a row, but this trailer looks amazing!

In theaters and HBO Max on December 22. That makes me even happier. I really want to see this, but I’m still not ready to step back into a theater. I honestly may never be.

Matrix Time

When I was a younger there was a phone number you could call where a recording would tell you the current time and temperature. I never really thought too much about that. It was obviously an early computer generated voice filling in the time and temperature.

Now, there’s a website for the upcoming Matrix movie that incorporates your local time the right way.

The Choice Is Yours

Thanks to a post on Reddit, you can see how it was done. There are 1,440 copies of each trailer, one for each minute of the day. A bit of clever code picks the correct video to play based on the local time in your browser.

Not rocket science, but it did get people talking.

Bringing Back WebRings?

If you can make it past the over abundance of ads (Reader View is your friend), this is an interesting article about the Internet days of old.

What these rebellious programmers are building goes by many names—indieweb, yesterweb, folk internet—and relies on simple design choices, often borrowing elements from the 1980s and 1990s.

Tech Workers Rebel Against A Lame-Ass Internet By Bringing Back ‘Geocities-Style’ WebRings

I don’t think this is exactly the modern definition of indieweb. See IndieWeb.org for more info. But I guess this is close. I like the terms yesterweb and folk Internet for this style of website.

I had a webring on one of my old web pages, and I had a Geocities site back in the day, but I don’t see myself jumping on Neocities any time soon. I understand the nostalgia, for sure. I guess I could create a page with a few of those “under construction” gifs and call it done.

Remember the time before content was served via algorithms designed to exchange attention for dollars? At the end of the day, this is just another example of a group of old folks like me longing for the web that was.

The Internet Is Dead

This is probably the least-crazy conspiracy theory I’ve read about lately. In some ways i guess it’s true. The “real” Internet is definitely not what it once was.

Let me explain. Dead-internet theory suggests that the internet has been almost entirely taken over by artificial intelligence. Like lots of other online conspiracy theories, the audience for this one is growing because of discussion led by a mix of true believers, sarcastic trolls, and idly curious lovers of chitchat.

Maybe You Missed It, but the Internet ‘Died’ Five Years Ago

Most people think of social networks when they think of “The Internet.” It’s well known that much of what ones sees there is created by only a few people and served to the masses via a clever algorithm.

Want everyone to see your content? Trick the algorithm into thinking your latest work is very engaging. All it takes is one “influencer,” a few hundred bots, or a paid promotion and the world will know your name.

Of course this conspiracy theory goes one step further. (Don’t they always?) It claims that most of the content you see online is actually created by an artificial intelligence before being propagated by bots.

More great writing from The Atlantic.

Changes

Happy New Year! So much has changed for me over the past few months, I’m really not sure where to start.

Last year I wrote a series of blog posts about landing a new job as a programmer. I covered setting up your LinkedIn and Github profiles, updating your resume, writing portfolio code, etc. I even interviewed a few friends about their experiences. I had plans to turn this into a book. (I still think this will happen.) This series of posts should have made it obvious to anyone what was on my mind.

I’ve never really been a fan of online advertising (is anyone really?), but around the beginning of last year I had grown completely disillusioned with it. I read so many articles and listened to so many podcasts about just how bad things were getting. As a result of this, I was honestly doing a terrible job at work. I kept telling myself that it was just a job. The people were great, the pay was good. But in the end, I just couldn’t do it.

I signed up for a couple of the tech job matching services and things basically exploded. I interviewed with around 25 different companies. I started with a single idea: I want to work on a product that people pay for with money, not attention or engagement. As I talked to more companies, another idea started to seem possible: I want to work full-time remote. Those two requests narrowed the field and in the end I accepted a position as a Software Engineer at Braintree.

The new job is great. I’m back to writing code every day. I’m part of a smart, helpful team. I’m learning new things all the time. I pair program every day. I’m doing more backend / infrastructure work than ever before. In addition to Ruby, I’m also writing Java (and actually enjoying it) and working with things like Docker, Puppet, and Kubernetes. And the best part is, my commute has gone from around 2 hours per day round trip to however long it takes me to walk from the bedroom to the office.

The 100 Day Project

It seems like I’m always looking for new creative outlets, but rarely finding them. There are plenty of things I want to do — working on one of my writing projects, coding creative programs, etc. But it seems like I never have the time.

I know that lack of time isn’t really the problem. I just haven’t prioritized creative outlets and developed a habit. A great way to build a habit is to try to do something for an extended period of time and make yourself publicity accountable.

With that in mind, I was happy to come across the fifth annual The 100 Day Project, a “free, global art project that anyone can participate in.” Starting April 3rd, create something every day and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.

I have a few ideas of things I want to work on, but no where near one hundred. They say “It’s okay if you miss a day! Keep going.” So that’s what I’ll do. Most of my “art” is writing, and I’m not really sure how that’s going to translate to Instagram, but it should be fun.

I hope to keep up around weekly blog posts here and work on some unannounced projects, too. Who knows, maybe in a hundred days I’ll be able to announce something new?

2018 Goals and Habits

Last year I focused mainly on my weight. I developed healthy habits around diet and exercise and I plan to continue those through 2018, and hopefully for the rest of my life.

My overall focus for 2018 is going to be creativity. I have lists of unstarted ideas and folders full of unfinished projects. I have ideas for books, websites, a tabletop game, screencasts, and other programs. I always said I would get back to these some day. This year, I’m going to find “some day.”

My secondary focus for 2018 is learning. Some of my ideas will require me to learn some new skills. I plan to use my creative projects to reinforce and grow my abilities in Python, data science, and machine learning.

I’m over half way through Python for Data Science and Machine Learning on Udemy. After that I’m either going to work through Practical Deep Learning for Coders on fast.ai or enroll in Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning Coursera Course. If I have time I might do both.

I truly believe that data science and machine learning are the future. I got lucky and learned Ruby on Rails at exactly the right time to make web development my career. I hope to catch the AI wave before it passes me by. Not that I think Ruby on Rails is going away any time soon.

So my goal for 2018 is to develop habits around writing, both prose and code, and learning via online classes and books. Carving out time for these new habits might be a challenge, but hopefully I can work on something creative every week. I’ll continue to work on the good ideas and scratch out the bad ones. All while continuing to learn and grow as a developer.

Looking Back on 2018

As we move forward into 2018, I can’t help but reflect on the previous year. So much has changed in our country and in society in general. It seems like there’s so much negativity in the world, but I try not to dwell on those things. Instead, I’d rather talk about a few positive things that I personally accomplished last year.

NaNoWriMo

In the month of November I wrote 21,288 words of a novel. That’s far short of the 50,000 word goal, but it’s over twenty-one thousand words I didn’t have in October. I started the month pretty strong, but then struggled and didn’t write at all around the Thanksgiving holiday. Even with the missed days I averaged over 700 words per day. Writing at that rate every day, I would have over 250,000 words by the end of this year.

Health

Starting in March 2017, I decided to finally get back in shape. I started counting calories and tracking my weight in the [Lose It!] app. I also started walking on the trail behind our house every day. I track my steps and daily workouts on my Apple Watch.

Doing this, I averaged about 10 pounds of weight loss per month for the first few months. By the end of the year I was eating around 1,500-1,600 calories and jogging 2-3 miles per day. Since March I’ve lost 65 pounds. I’ve continued counting calories and exercising for at least 30 minutes every day and don’t plan on ever stopping.

Habits

Most people that hear about my weight loss say I must have amazing willpower, but I don’t think that I do. Instead of mentally forcing myself to exercise every day, I made it a habit. It’s just something that I do every evening, usually right after dinner.

So much of what we do in life is based on what we’ve always done before. If you sit around and play video games every evening or watch Netflix, then you’ll probably continue to do those things. Trust me, I know.

One day I just decided to go for a walk instead of goofing off. I didn’t walk for very long, but I felt good afterwards. I kept going for walks every evening. Soon, I started seeing results. I could walk a bit farther each time. More importantly, I started losing weight. That’s very motivating.

This also explains why I failed at NaNoWriMo. I never really made it a habit. Instead of scheduling time for writing every day, I tried to squeeze the writing into my free time. Once my free time started getting shorter, I stopped writing. I hope to avoid making this mistake again this year.

You Are the Product

I’m becoming more disillusioned with social media every day. I recently came across this article on the London Review of Books thanks to Longform.org. It does a great job of capturing and reenforcing many of my thoughts. Here are a few choice quotes:

… anyone on Facebook is in a sense working for Facebook, adding value to the company. In 2014, the New York Times did the arithmetic and found that humanity was spending 39,757 collective years on the site, every single day.

Everyone actively using Facebook provides content. Facebook makes money by selling ads next to content.

Since the Facebook button is pretty much ubiquitous on the net, this means that Facebook sees you, everywhere.

Search for something on Amazon, then visit Facebook. But maybe the targeted ads don’t bother you or you feel that it’s worth it to stay in touch with friends and family.

… researchers found quite simply that the more people use Facebook, the more unhappy they are. A 1 per cent increase in ‘likes’ and clicks and status updates was correlated with a 5 to 8 per cent decrease in mental health.

So, in an effort to maintain my mental health, I did this:

If you can’t join me, it might already be too late for you…

» You Are the Product