Votes counted. Decision made.

Thank you everyone who responded to my call to action.

The results are in.

My findings

Many Waffle Group members struggle to follow simple instructions. The simple instructions were to score each project using a certain format.
This format:
Project [project number]: [score from 1 to 5]

Many Wafflings got it right. Well done guys!
Some of those who got it right went further, adding snippets of their thought processes behind the scores awarded to each project.

Those who gave feedback, but ignored my simple scoring request, typically did it via email. That is why there is little evidence of this problem in the comments of the previous postother than my parents’ comment.
They gave valuable feedback in words, but did not provide the numbers. How am I meant to perform a statistical analysis of my data if the data is all words?
Others scored some options and ignored others.

This kind of cavalier approach to scientific enquiry is why we have things like load-shedding in South Africa today.

Still, I made do with the iffy data you, as a whole, generated for me. I assigned values myself.

  • If you didn’t comment on an option, I left the score blank (not zero — it’s different when calculating averages and so forth).
  • If you commented positively about an option, but provided no quantitative value as to how positive you were, I scored it 5
  • If you ordered projects from best to worst, I scored them from 5 to 1 (so the middle project scored 3)

Let’s look at each project, and how much you loved or hated the idea of it, going from most hated to most loved.

Project 4 — Contribute to Ubuntu-docs

Looks like helping our fellow man is not something people think is worth my time. What kind of society are we living in? Or is it just the people I’m drawing to myself?
On average, this project scored a miserable 2.00
Generally, when people really didn’t like Project 4 they just didn’t score it, but one respondent went as far as to give it zero. His rationale is that Ubuntu is an African myth, and there is no togetherness in this dark continent.

Seriously though, the real reason that Project 4 scores so low is that it won’t be any fun. No fun for me. No fun for you. I’m not sure the ubuntu-doc team would have any fun either.
Other than the dearth of fun, there is the problem of defining end-goals.
Something with no end and no fun is really going to bring a guy down.

Project 3 — Learn to programme in Python

As our friend who denied the existence of Ubuntu states: “it sounds real boring to control reptiles.” He doesn’t seem to have been the only person to think so with Project 3 only managing to rake in 2.14
It’s an interesting perspective, and perhaps he’s right.
The programming project had the greatest variance. That’s an indication of the geek-arty distribution of my friend-pool. Generally (but not in all cases) the geekier types thought the programming might be vaguely useful. The arty types found it entirely pointless. The score would probably have been even worse if they’d all bothered to vote on it, but Project 3 and 4 were often just ignored.

Your views regarding programming was that it would be too hard or, paradoxically, too easy. I suppose the goal would amount to working through the book I own, and would thus be quite a short-term project.
To me, a short-term project is quite compelling. It can easily be completed since there will be less time to get tired of it.

One respondent suggested I do whatever would make other people happiest. Surprisingly altruistic of him, but he has a point. Project 3 and 4 don’t provide any entertainment for you, my disloyal audience. The other options do.
He seemed to think combining Project 3 with Project 5 would be a cunning plan, since my struggles in learning to programme could be quite amusing if related in a blog. But not if you aren’t a geek.

Project 5 — Humour Blog

And now a project that most of you, on average, liked. Score: 3.91

Personally I’m most fond of this one, but I think that’s because it allows me to let myself off lightly with something that doesn’t stretch my boundaries.
The project is incremental. Short snippets. Something I can write in a sitting or two, once a week. It’s definitely achievable, and if I stop posting I can claim that I got sick of the project and moved on to something else, without having to admit that I failed to achieve any particular goal.

Quinn says, ‘it’s difficult to “just sit down and do,”‘ but I don’t agree. It might be at first, but if I develop a habitual rhythm to my writing, sitting down for a fixed period of time at fixed intervals, it’ll come easier.

Basically I wish this one had scored the highest because it’s a total cop-out.

That doesn’t mean I might not still sneakily carry out this option. Earlier I mentioned combining projects. Project 3 and 5 make a bad combination, but what about Project 1 and 5, as one waffling suggested?
Combining the novel with the weekly humour blog is an interesting idea. Certainly the book will then be published, and I’d find it harder to get it into traditional print media for any sizeable amount of remuneration — but that isn’t really the point. The point is to finish writing the thing. If an audience expects a weekly episode, what other choice do I have but to carry through with it?

This line of thought raises the question: can Project 2 be combined with Project 5?
It would force me to take humorous photographs every week. I think that might be a bit taxing on my abilities at the moment, and you’d end up with more photos of my foot — but with smiley faces drawn on to them. Hilarious.

Project 1 and 2: Finish book vs Photography — seriously

The comments in the previous post pointed to this showdown, and the emails I received have followed a similar trend.

Going only by scores, Project 2 comes out tops with 4.47 with Project 1 in close pursuit at 4.17.

Looks like it’s photography, but wait…

People also wrote comments.

In support of Project 2 (Photography)

  • Photography has a social nature, especially if I join a club. Some wafflings may even be persuaded to come along, as quite a few also had an interest in this hobby.
  • Another mentioned the forthcoming baby and the potential for baby pics. Since my time will be at a huge premium once my child is born, photography is the only project I can do at the same time as looking after him (or her).
  • Photography (at least at my skill level) needs less mental work than writing. Writing something, even something crap, can be like extracting saccharine sweetness from a lemon.
    Taking a bad photo is a matter of pressing one button. Not too taxing at all.
  • I have an expensive camera that I am not using to its full potential.

In support of Project 1 (Write book)

  • “Finish that book before all else,” said one waffling. Those are pretty strong words.
  • I’ve always wanted to write a book.
  • A book is inside me, bursting to get out — but also learn to take photos and produce another book with illustrations.

I’m not sure about you, but the qualitative data seems more compelling for the photography project. That means Project 2 wins on both accounts.

Based on your comments I applied modifiers to your scores that allowed Project 1 to close the gap slightly, but not step across it.

Decision time

I should be taking up photography and leaving the other projects alone. Plans are already afoot to visit a photography club and see what’s what. After visiting, I’ll be able to figure out what sort of goal I should set.

For those fans of my writing, do not fear. Although I said one project, writing is always going to be a project of mine.  This is why I say I should be leaving the other projects alone. I’m going to attempt to serialise Commitment Man. This is probably the best way to get it out in the world. It isn’t going to be the main project, but it’s going to continue as a background process (as it always has been)
Project 3 and 4 won’t be getting any love from me though, at least not until the goals of Project 2 and 1 are both realised (goals that are admittedly fuzzy at the moment).
Thanks for contributing. Your input has been very valuable, and now I feel like I owe it to everyone to achieve something. Maybe I will this time.

New Projects?

Loyal Wafflers. I need You!

I wish to undertake a new project. This time, I mean to only carry out one project. One. 1. Single.  An integer, less than two and greater than zero.

I want the project to be completed successfully, whatever completion and success may mean. Certain of the projects still need those parameters to be defined, but they’ll be defined once I decide which one I’ll be completing.

You must vote!

The new projects are:

  1. Finish writing “The Adventures of Commitment Man.” Since all other pastimes will now be eliminated, this should be possible. Don’t discount it in your voting. And don’t say it isn’t new. I’ve wanted to write a book forever. I should finish one, even if it’s total crap.
  2. Take up photography — seriously. Join a club. Get feedback from people who know what they’re doing. Maybe take a course. I’ve got the fancy camera. Time I got the fancy photo-taking skills.
    Defining success for this project is difficult. If this turns out to be the winner, I’ll figure something out and let you know.
  3. Learn to programme in Python. I know enough about programming to know when I could write a quick script to solve some problem at work, or under other conditions. I don’t know enough to actually write the script. Could working through Beginning Python help?
    I bought the book when I tortured myself during my M.Sc attempt. Never read it properly though. Perhaps I should.
  4. Greater involvement in the Ubuntu-doc Project. I use Ubuntu. I can’t programme. I can write. I should contribute. I should contribute to ubuntu-docs.
    How much, and for how long, I’m not sure. Without affordable bandwidth, it also makes it difficult to test new beta versions and subsequently write or check the documentation before feature freezes and so on. I should be able to contribute to the online help though.
  5. Weekly Humour Blog Post. There are many sub-plots to Commitment Man. Many nutty ideas are discussed regularly. Even if The Adventures of Commitment Man are ever finished, there are too many ridiculous sub-plots to fit into one semi-coherent story. Many of these sub-plots could be stand-alone comedy vignettes, or could be cobbled together into short offbeat satire or parody pieces.
    The weekly frequency seems manageable, and these ideas are too funny not to be shared with the intertubewebwubs.

Vote in the comments by scoring each project on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means “this is the crappiest, most idiotic idea you’ve ever come up with” and 5 means “you god-like genius, I’m sending you money just because this is so amazing.”

Use this format please:
Project [project number]: [score from 1 to 5]

Read on if you care why I’m seemingly repeating past behaviours, but with slight modifications, which will in all likelihood yield similar results.
(Warning: It’s boring)


I have previously blogged about various projects that I’ve undertaken. I’d post boring updates about the projects, and you could all see how I’d failed to make the kind of progress I’d hoped.

Previous Project Review

  1. Project A, writing a novel, isn’t any closer to the end result. Well, maybe a few words, but nothing significant.
  2. Project B, writing the 100 word gift stories, has been completed. I haven’t written the stories for every person I meant to, but at least I finished all the stories I started.
  3. Play chess online is something I may still do from time to time, but I haven’t been playing and won’t be tracking it. Pointless tracking of things for the sake of it.
  4. Blog everyday. What for? Also pointless.
  5. Take many photos. Relatively aimless. I can take many photos of the floor, or my foot, or my keyboard. Badly defined project.

What is clear to me from the list above is that I made up too many projects for myself. Admittedly it was part of my structured procrastination strategy, and it kind of worked for a while. I declare Project B (point 2) a success, partly attributable to structured procrastination.

My views have changed. Points 3, 4 and 5 are pointless other than being points themselves. They were there solely to facilitate points 1 and 2 (and to do work).
Point 1has been poorly facilitated, and I’m not bothering with the other stuff any more.

Elsewhere I also mentioned trying to get writing published. This ambition has changed a little when work conditions improved remarkably. Work is better, and now that I’m suddenly motivated I find myself with tonnes of work to do.
The end result is I don’t have time to procrastinate any longer — even in a structured manner.

Still, I want to do something other than work. Some other more artistic, creative pursuit. Or something to give back to the universe. That’s where the new projects come in, and that’s where you get to vote.
The difference this time is that I’m not procrastinating, or at least I don’t intend to. Instead of carrying out every project imaginable, I need to focus on just one. that project needs to be carried out to some quantifiable goal before I start any of the others.
I’m not setting the goals just yet. I’m just proposing the projects. Once I decide on the project, I’ll define the goals. As usual, sticking to my commitment is the tricky part. I’ll make a strong a determination though.