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.

16 thoughts on “New Projects?”

  1. Here we go…

    Project 1: 4
    Project 2: 5
    Project 3: 2
    Project 4: 2
    Project 5: 4

    Quick comments: Commitmentman and the Humour blog, while cunning, are likely to absorb a lot of your time and be difficult to “just sit down and do”. Writer’s block et al could rapidly turn them into more of a chore than a pastime.

    Ubuntu-docs, while an extremely noble cause and one that I feel bad marking down, is likely to be the same only with even less enjoyment. There is a good reason people dislike writing dox.

    Python – nice and probably quite fun, but why? Programming languages are tools, so do you have any concrete applications in mind? If simple scripting is the only thing you’re after, someone as bright as you will probably be able to pick up all the basics in only a couple days, so that’d be a pretty short term project 😉

    I like the photography idea. As you point out, you’ve already invested in the equipment. Once you learn more about technique, you can pick up the camera and use it instantly and almost anywhere to attempt to create art (or so I’m told). As you pointed out to me yesterday it’s also the only one on your list (apart from maybe python) that doesn’t involve considerable amounts of writing, something you already do tons of every day at your job.

    Just my 2c. Pick whatever you’ll enjoy!

  2. Sam: You should be sending me a lot of money. 🙂
    Seriously though, thanks for contributing.

    Quinn: Thanks for the feedback. I’ll respond to your comments once I make my decision.

    I’m also hoping other people may give me some feedback, but my family is notoriously useless at interacting with the intarwebs, and I’m not sure that many other people read this nonsense I write.

  3. okay dokey

    Project 1: 5
    Project 2: 4
    Project 3: 1
    Project 4: 2
    Project 5: 2

    Writing a book is something that I remember you wanting to do since I met you 🙂

  4. Neil: perhaps it’s worth emailing (or even just asking in person) people who aren’t likely to read the tubewebs, if their opinion is important to you.

  5. Michael: Yes. That is just an indication of how poor I am at following through with that idea.

    Quinn: It is, and I started last night. Will also email a bunch of people (will need to trawl through my address-book for that).

    I mentioned the idea to Roman. He responded that we should have a “Personal Projects Evening” since he has a bunch of projects he never gets finished.
    The first such evening is to take place next week Wednesday. I guess I need to choose a project by then.

  6. We say : Finish your book, it’s inside you bursting to get out. We’ll be able to brag that our son is an author -famous, at that.
    Study photography, – this will provide material for your second book. You’ll have all the required research at your fingertips.
    Carpe diem!

  7. Feedback so far is looking promising, and helpful.

    In addition to the comments here, I’ve also had a bunch of emails and an IM conversation.

    In all, 10 recipients have responded. 39 were contacted. I’ll wait a little longer, and then I’ll make my decision based on the input received so far.

    Thanks everyone.

  8. So here is my gain of salt

    Project 1: 4. This will take up much time. It’s a good idea though.
    Project 2: 5: I think photography is great. I’ve seen some of the stuff you’ve done and you have talent. Exploit it!
    Project 3: 2
    Project 4: 2
    Project 5: 5. You have evil sense of humour. I like. I want to read more. also an excuse for me to loaf off at work.

    Trust me, I know what I’m doing 😉

  9. Hey Niel

    I spent at least half an hour umming and aaing about putting comments after my post with the scores. I eventually decided to let my votes speak for themselves. I believe that they were quite talkative, eliciting a comment from you 🙂

    Clearly, when we had those many discussions about the virtues of learning to program, I stressed that programming is an important skill. While my views were rather python centric around then, and they still are, my current opinion is that first priority should be to learn to program.

    By program, I mean learn to solve problems using some language in a way that would be quicker to do than if you solved that problem in any other way.

    The second priority is to learn how to solve problems in a different language, and be able to interchange between those languages freely.

    Thirdly, you need to learn how to pick up any other programming language to leverage it’s advantages over other languages quickly, so that you can solve your problems more efficiently.

    Now, the reason that I didn’t score Project 3 with a 5 was that I didn’t know where you were between stage 1 and 3 above. If you were at stage 1, then you would probably find Project 3 tough, and a bit boring, and not much fun. However, if you were at stage 3, then it would probably warrant a 5. Now, I judged you to be at stage 2, because you should know some aspects of Matlab, which is why I gave it a 4, and thus it did not outrank other things that I knew you were good at, enjoyed doing, or would enjoy achieving.

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