Fashionista!

There has been much talk of how quiet things here on Waffle Group, and associated blogs, have become lately. There has also been much talk about how, earlier this year, I claimed that I would embarking on some manner of project. The Photography Project was chosen (with the help of Waffle Group voters), and people have questioned my resolve to pursue it.

“You’ve been very quiet on Deviant Art,” they say. “No photos getting posted there,” they say.

I have been putting a few pictures of my new infant up on the internet, but presumably this isn’t interpreted to be pursuing the photography project. Arguably, I’m just taking snapshots. But I don’t feel like arguing right now. Instead I’ll get to the point.

On Saturday Roman and Grant had me over to their house and put me to work taking photographs for Grant’s fashion-school design project thingamajig. Grant’s artistic vision. My camera shutter-release. Thus I’m not responsible for the morbid obsession with all things black and gloomy, dark and doomy.

There are a bunch more photos than those shown in the gallery below (although the spectrum of colours available to the human eye is not better represented in those ones either), but those are the ones I liked best. Grant will be performing mysterious and arcane photoshop machinations to the photos I gave him. I’m keen to see what he does with the “stock” I provided to him. Hopefully, he’ll let me post some of the final product here. Not sure whether the fashion school attempts to appropriate copyright on the magazine Grant will be submitting.

But that’s not all. A photoshoot turns out to actually be work, and we underestimated how long things would take. Expect more photos in a couple of weeks time after I finish the last 4 shoots (Grant promises that the rest of the items will have less of an emphasis on black).

p.s. The Photo Nazis didn’t like my silly buggers photo that I called “Mad Cobbler” in that submission.

p.p.s. Why nothing posted on Deviant Art? More people, who actually know me, read this. I’m not that interested in other people because they are outside my Monkey Sphere.

Update: I’ve changed my mind about the p.p.s. Yes yes. Fickle Waffle Master. dA versions are Claustrophic Fear, Mary, and Mad Cobbler.

Hammer OS news goes elsewhere

The influx of Hammer OS related information is threatening to overwhelm your magnificent Waffle Master (I know, hard to believe yet true!).

Until the Waffle Group runs Hammer OS, visit hammeros.wordpress.com for the latest in Hammer OS news, views, and installation fests that I’m certain you are all just clamouring after.

Go there now!

100 Word Stories

It seems that I am unlikely to finish my series of 100 word stories any time soon. The original deal I made with myself was to only publish batches of stories that I wrote once the next batch had been written. It was yet another of my long line of self-imposed project plans, but one that met with relative success.

This leaves me in a situation where the last batch I wrote and dispatched will never be published. The original intention behind the delayed publishing was to motivate me to write the next batch. It no longer is motivating me, but it seems a shame to never make the rest of the stories public.

So now they are public. Check out the full collection of 100 word stories written for friends and family on deviant art.

Project Progress

In case you were wondering whether your efforts of voting in my survey had all been for nought, I felt I should lay any potential concerns to rest.

I have joined forces with Quinn to hunt down a photography club in Johannesburg. Other people mentioned something about joining us, but so far I’ve only had excuses from them. You next chance, by the way, is on 18 February, when we’ll be checking out Camera Club Johannesburg (CCJ). It’s at a new venue, so if you want to come along with us let me know.

We previously investigated JPS, but Tuesdays aren’t really ideal for either of us. Still, the club thing looks promising and entertaining at the very least.

As for “Commitment Man — The Serialised Novel”  I’ve done a little digging around and I’ve found a useful application that should be able to help me out with structuring the plot and so on. It’s called Writer’s Café and is a suite of  mostly pointless applications, with the exception of the plotting application Storylines. Storylines makes the whole thing worth it.
Unfortunately it isn’t free, but the demo looks promising. Even more promising is that it runs natively on Linux, so hopefully there will soon be some content on Commitment Man.

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.

Notice of Limited Coverage

Things might be a little quiet here for a while. Sorry about that, but I have a good excuse for a change.

I’m focusing my after-hours energies into getting articles printed in my quest to build up a writing portfolio. Rambling on the internet doesn’t count as writing, unless it’s rambling on a reputable website, in which case it isn’t rambling because someone will have edited it.
This page is seldom edited at all.

Project Update

This month’s update is overdue, but at least it will be succinct.

The projects:

  1. Project A — Write the novel, “The Adventures of Commitment Man”
  2. Project B — Write 100 word stories for family and friends, and present them as gifts
  3. Play chess online
  4. Blog every day
  5. Take camera everywhere, and pretend to be a Japanese tourist

The results:

  1. Bah!
  2. Stories printed, framed, shipped, delivered, appreciated. I have hardly any intention to start on the next batch, but I know I really should.
  3. Bah!
  4. Seven posts. Bah!
  5. Bah! However, a plan for photography expeditions has been hatched with Quinn and Gareth. It is in its infancy. I worry about the infant mortality rate for this kind of thing.

The excuses:

I developed some expectations regarding permanent employment opportunities as a technical writer. Legden has warned me against having any expectations whatsoever, but it’s awfully difficult to implement.
The expectations were not met, and I lapsed into a week-long sadness.
Leading up to the disappointment, I couldn’t really focus on very much either because of the anticipation of success. Thus nothing much has been accomplished this month.

The good news is that I have transformed the disappointment into motivation and am putting my focus into developing a portfolio of published writing. This is considered important for some inexplicable reason. Honestly, can’t they just see my writing genius radiating outward? Perhaps the radiation is too powerful for them to cope with, and they deployed lead shields.
I already have a couple of promising opportunities.

I propose adding another item to the projects list: Get 5 articles published in reputable magazines.

Project Update

A month has elapsed since the last full update. I’ll try to keep this one more to the point.

As usual, a summary of the projects:

  1. Project A — Write the novel, “The Adventures of Commitment Man”
  2. Project B — Write 100 word stories for family and friends, and present them as gifts
  3. Play chess online
  4. Blog every day
  5. Take camera everywhere, and pretend to be a Japanese tourist

And then the success, or lack thereof:

  1. One month ago I had written 20,043 words. One month later I have written 20,043 words, leaving my progress this month at a very nice round number. I need to post more of those damned affirmations — or possibly just listen to them.
  2. As I happily announced in a mini-update on this topic, the stories in this batch were all written, but just needed to go through the quality control process.
    Quality Control suggested I alter one story, and rewrite another. I ended up rewriting both.
    Last month I had completed one story, written two that needed editing, and conceptualised another.
    I now have 5 completed stories to give as gifts, and an additional two stories to donate to charity.
    My progress is thus 6 stories completed this month. Applause

    1. In addition, four stories are printed and framed and ready to ship. The one still outstanding will be printed tomorrow. Thus, I require certain Canadian family members’ postal address.
    2. blah
  3. I played chess. If you find the screen-grab illegible, click it for the full-size version.finger halfhaggis
    The best way to see whether I’ve been playing much or not is to check whether the RD (rating deviation) score has become smaller. Smaller it is, the more accurate my rating is.
    To check whether or not I’ve been getting any better, look at the rating column. A higher rating indicates a better player.
    Actually, if you really really care — read the FICS FAQ
    And if you’re thinking “what the hell is crazyhouse/suicide/whatever?” look for it on this page.
    The results are:

    1. Played three blitz games — lost them all, which is probably why I only played three. Rating withers away another 57 points to a pathetic 1012
    2. Played six lightening games — kicked ass. rating rocketed up 260 points to 1485. Still a crap rating, but a marked improvement.
    3. Er. That’s it. But those are only the rated games. It is possible to play unrated games, but the server doesn’t keep track of them. I played quite a few unrated wild games, but honestly haven’t played too much recently. This chess thing needs a little attention.
  4. Number of posts since 6 May 2007 (not including this one): 17. That’s a 55% success rate. Whoopee! Applause
  5. Photos. Hmm. This counting photos thing is a little stupid, and I think I need to rather set photography projects. I’ve been pondering it a little, but nothing no solid ideas have yet coalesced. More on this in the future.
    I will reveal the number of photos taken in the past month though, just because:
    Total photos taken with the Pentax K100 is 962. That’s 198 in the month, which amounts to about 6 shots a day (down from over 12). I guess the enthusiasm might be wearing off a little. All the more reason to devise some photography projects, because I’d like to get better at it.

In summary I can say that I’ve had a generally good month, although the complete lack of progress on CMan is worrying. It is offset my the success on the 100 word gifts, so I’m not too disappointed with myself. Now that that batch is completed, any recreational writing I do (that isn’t blogging) will be commitment man. Perhaps I should rephrase the affirmations to reflect that. Make the affirmation smaller scale. “I will write the next 1000 words of a full-length novel” perhaps?
The success is in no small part due to my previous affirmation regarding following only useful links. Admittedly, some useless links have been followed, but considerably fewer than before. All techie and news sites have been relegated to the abyss. I hardly even feel tempted to investigate them any longer.

Stopping now before I have to add a Rambling Waffle tag.
Actually, that’s also something I did, since it was technically “blogging.” I gave the tags I use some thought, rejiggered them into broad categories, and tagged all of my posts appropriately (mostly). Which is why the rambling waffle tag now exists.
Really stopping now.