The Wednesday Writeup - Issue #2

Hello everyone, welcome back to The Wednesday Writeup! Glad to be past my inaugural issue, now it's time let the rubber hit the road and see if I can keep it up.

As always, let me know if you found something particularly interesting, if I got anything wrong, or if you just want to say hi.

What I'm Doing

Things are really ramping up here in Oregon on the COVID front. A shelter-in-place order went out this weekend, so we are even more locked down than we were before. Really feel for the businesses that are struggling through all of this. Still hasn't changed too much for me all things considered, I tend to be a home-body anyway, although I'm getting restless not being able to go hangout at The Commons here in Bend. It was always a nice way to get a change of scenery in a comfy place with a tasty drink.

I'm finishing up the last week of Write of Passage. The final session is tonight actually. I published the last homework-assigned piece earlier today, an article about how I want to approach teaching programming. Although the class is ending, there are several accountability groups that have spawned from it that should continue going forward, and I'm expecting the great community to continue to be a source of inspiration and support.

Although I know I should be a little more focused on what I'm already working on, I did start digging back into full stack web development (look, I can't help it!) for another audio related project I'm thinking about. This will still be a secondary project, but it's nice to work on when I'm not feeling like working on one of my primary objectives. Signed up for FrontendMasters, which is already proving to be a great resource for improving my skills.

I have been keeping up work on my Android project. Mostly this week I have been spending time rearchitecting to make sure I can maintain it better going forward, but I have begun making progress on the last couple of features needed before I can publish. This next week I will be continuing on those, and also start getting thing in order that I will need to publish on the Play Store.

What I’m Thinking

As I have been writing, there have been a few realizations about myself and the way I write that are clarifying. The most recent thing is that I hedge my ideas way too much. Writing my post this week the first round of feedback pointed out many places where I state something as my belief or my thought, rather than just stating something. I have a definite fear of being wrong, and convincing people of something that is incorrect. But I need to realize that nobody is going to be taking what I say at face value anyway, and that it would be better for me to assert my opinion strongly so they take it into consideration, rather than asserting it weakly and having it be discarded entirely. My goal going forward will be to hedge as little as possible, and take the risk of seeming overconfident rather than the reverse.

This is also Personal Monopoly week in Write of Passage. It has helped me clarify my monopoly a little bit so far, although I’m realizing that for me at least, beginning with a broader monopoly and then trying to pin it down as I write and build things will be the way to go. This can be a fluid and evolving thing, and the goal is just to help me with my direction. And so far the monopoly I mentioned last time (audio, education, and programming) achieves that goal.

Things to Read

Articles

Augmenting Long-term Memory by Michael Nielsen

I was referred to this after publishing my SRS post last week, and I can't believe I hadn't read through it before. It's a massive piece detailing a quite involved Anki setup from someone who has been using it to great effect for several years. Good insight into using Anki for learning complex subjects, how Michael approaches researching a new and complex subject, and advice and thoughts on SRS more generally.

Also, he has paired up with Andy Matuschak, who has his own set of great insights on his blog, and they wrote about tools for thought a few months ago. I haven't made it all the way through yet, but if you like the Augmenting Memory post you will probably like this.

Roam Research: a simple input to output flow by Anne-Laure Le Cunff

I'm still ironing out the kinks of my Roam setup, and articles like this help quite a bit. Great workflow for capturing notes, collecting it all together, organizing and summarizing everything related to a new piece, and then actually doing the writing.

Books

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

This should probably be considered a must read book for anyone starting a business. There are so many concrete steps to take and actionable ideas provided that can help a business work towards profitability and proper handling of expenses. There is also advice around emergency business savings and personal finances, which feels especially poignant given everything happening to businesses around the world due to Coronavirus.

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Still working my way through this book, but already it is chock full of great stories about Ed's life, insight into the inner workings of Pixar, and advice for running an effective creative company that supports its employees and creates great results.

Before reading this book I knew that Ed Catmull was an important figure in early 3d work (I had heard about Catmull-Rom splines before I knew about the man himself), but I didn't quite realize the extent of his contributions to the space. Reading through the first few chapters I believe that the entire world of 3d graphics would likely be at least a few years behind where it is now if not for him.

And here are a couple of quotes from the book about over planning vs failing fast that I think are incredibly valuable that I want to call out specifically.

Things to Watch

Been on a bit of a Joe Hisaishi kick this last week. Always been a fan of the music in Hayao Miyazaki films, but never thought much about who composed it. Turns out it's this guy! Definitely recommend listening to some of the music, it's quite relaxing, and especially right now it helps to feel an element of calm in the world.

Location of the Week: Torres del Paine

Arriving in Torres del Paine on day 6 of my trip last month was very definitively the moment that I realized that I was truly in Patagonia. Some of the other places weren’t that dissimilar to what I might see around the Pacific Northwest, but seeing the view of those peaks took my breath away.

Not long after arriving at our hotel though, about half of us started to feel a rumbling in the belly. The next day it was very clear that we had some sort of stomach bug (either that or there were lots of bad empanadas). Rather than doing the sightseeing, those of us with the bug decided to stay behind and spend the day at the hotel.

It might seem like that would have made the whole thing horrible, but on the contrary, although it wasn’t the most comfortable thing, I was able to spend the whole day looking at the mountains and reading my fantasy novel. And I hadn’t realized just how much I needed a rest day until one was forced upon me. Despite the sick, it ended up being one of the nicer days of the trip.

Signing off until next week
- Aengus McMillin