Day 129 – I Don’t Feela-like-Walkin’

I can see my step count steadily sliding down the chart.

Unless I take up pacing up-and-down the hallway for a hobby, I can’t see me getting much walking in when the weather is what it is.

There are exactly two circumstances in which I don’t mind walking in the rain:

  1. When it is on my way home where a hot shower is waiting
  2. When someone is specifically in the rain braving it with me

So, unless anyone volunteers?

No?

Thought so!

I’ve found a few rainy songs for the occasion.

spotify:track:1TZ4HuW7RuRWQm5nJDO44L

spotify:track:77HEnF0ZLGpfVU1Jmo9on2

spotify:track:4Qomvfn5w3EYmM5Jj2cH0X

spotify:track:2rSl8Ep42jPuqplmMbxQvp

spotify:track:0E8zloWYA3Li81CJqFa9fI

Day 128 – The Perfect Machine

I have been down this road before.
It’s never quite right.

When I have a stand-alone PC, I really want a laptop.
And when I have a laptop, I cannot wait to have a PC.

I want to easily carry my machine around. I want to upgrade the pieces when I want to. I want a high-res screen, lots of memory, a fast graphics card.

And when I got my most recent tablaptop for work (Samsung Ativ; best tool ever), I got to add touch screens to my must-have list as well. It doesn’t seem crucial until you’ve had one for a while and then it becomes hard not to touch every screen followed by a brief pang of disappointment when it turns out that’s my other machine.

I want touch. And a keyboard. And a mouse. And a pen. All at the same time. Because they each are good at something different. And oddly, the tool that has most driven that home for me has been Microsoft OneNote… I didn’t think I would ever be able to like it because it seemed clunky, but for some reason the combo of every-input-method-at-the-same-time seems to make it bearable.

I couldn’t have a main machine without a keyboard. I can type pretty well on a touch tablet, but it’s just not the same as having actual physical keys for best typing speed.

I’m more and more convinced that touch could completely replace mouse input once we get around all the legacy UI out there that isn’t designed for touch. I really use the mouse only very minimally when I need to manipulate things that are too small for my fingers. Which happens more often with the arrival of retina displays everywhere.

And a pen… I’m no artist… but there is something magical about doodling little diagrams and notes in the margin of a typed document. The S-Pen with the Samsung devices is absolutely amazing. I have no idea what hardware supports it, but the machine knows where the pen is before I even touch the screen; the cross-hairs will pop up as you approach the screen so you can aim where you want the next line to start.

The Ativ is great. It was worth every cent. The problem I have with it isn’t that it doesn’t do what I need. The problem is that I want it to do more. I want it to do EVERYTHING.

My dream machine would be a laptop that can convert to a tablet. Ideally not by undocking because that just leaves an awkward left-over keyboard to the side. The Dell XPS 12 appeals conceptually with its flip screen, but the other specs just do not go far enough. And it’s only 12″.

I like the idea of the new Dell XPS 15 for its high-res Retina screen. I want 15″ at 3200×1800 … I want my screen to look like there is no such thing as a pixel. I want that to be an implementation detail I no longer can notice.

But I also want a fast graphics card. I play games at times, and 3200×1800 really needs more than a medium-range card. I have a last-gen card in my PC, and a 27″ 2560×1440 monitor, and I haven’t found anything that I play that I cannot max out at that resolution.

I want an SSD only… no spinning metal for me, and at least 256GB please. I want 16GB main memory for development. I want a 4th gen i7 processor. I want a battery that lasts me through at least half a day without a power point. I want to be able to dock to my 27″ at home for extra screen real estate. Maybe even 2 external screens.

It doesn’t feel like reality is very far off this mark, but the closer it gets to meeting my requirements the more annoying it feels that we’re not there yet. I’m sure we have the technology to build my ideal machine today. I’m ready to pay handsomely for the privilege. But it. Just. Doesn’t. Exist. Yet.

At least today’s post has a nice round number.
That makes up for it a bit.
A little bit.

Day 127 – Tell Me How To Cook

The YouTube idea from Day 125 has rattled around in my brain on-and-off since I wrote it. I have no idea if I’ll actually end up making it, but I want to do the groundwork regardless, Because Awesome.

So far, I need to…

Design an Intro Sequence

I don’t want to do a scene-for-scene copy of the Iron Chef intro, but I’d want something that very strongly evokes the odd and cheesy feel of it.

If you’ve never seen Iron Chef, you haven’t lived!

Research Recording Options

I already had a look around, and so far it seems like Logitech C920 is a strong candidate, but also the GoPro cameras seem like an ideal candidate, with the added benefit that they would lend themselves for all kinds of other out-and-about recordings as well.

But first I may have a try with the trusty Canon 6D to see what its HD looks like.

Maybe a trial run will prove that it really needs two cameras, in which case the 6D might be an ideal fixed-angle camera option, with a GoPro for a more flexible add-on.

I’m going to take this idea as an excuse to watch some Iron Chef episodes over the coming weeks and perhaps some other cooking shows to get an idea of what shots are important to get right.

Build a Secret Ingredient Wheel

I cannot surprise myself with a secret ingredient, so I’m going to have to write an app of some sort to randomly generate challenges. As well as the name for the dish(es) as per my original post.

I think the set-up I want consists of the following parts:

  • A random-ingredient picker, which I might be able to populate from an online database somewhere… I’ll have to see what I can do to avoid the unfortunate possibility of cat food as the secret ingredient before we run with it
  • A dish name generator… I could build something Eliza-bot/markov-chain based to generate truly random names, but I’m more inclined to see if I can build a list of structural options from existing dish names and then fill in the blanks with random food-appropriate nouns and adjectives

How do we feel about “Wobbly Friand au Gratin” with the secret ingredient of “Banana“? (I have no idea either…)

Do a Private Trial Run

Finally I’ll need to do a private trial recording end-to-end, to iron out the gotcha’s. You never know all the things you should do, until you try, and fail.

  • How to set up shots so that I can hide the fact I don’t have a million-dollar-kitchen at my disposal
  • What shots I need to catch everything that I need when editing it together
  • How much time it takes to get from random challenge to finished product
  • How to trick my friends into sitting down to eat whatever comes out of this

Even if nothing more comes from this, I think it’ll be fun to do a trial run with the hardware already at my disposal. I’ve never tried to make anything that is YouTube-able.

Naming

The hardest part of all.

I’ll happily take suggestions.

What should it be called?!

Day 126 – Cycle Brain

I’ve been totally disinterested in doing anything other than sit at my desk watching videos tonight. There are a whole bunch of things I could/should be doing, but my brain just doesn’t want to kick into gear.

Usually after a good strength or cardio class I’m afflicted by something I call gym-brain. About half way through an Attack class I’ll start having trouble hearing the verbal instructions because my brain just sits inside a haze that sensory input travels through at about half speed.

Which is awkward for new routines and can cause some minor crashes in a full class when I think I have to go left when everybody else correctly hears right.

It’s never this bad though. I think I’ll have to call this cycle brain.

It comes about when I foolishly let the instructor of the class goad me into excessive exercise. Tonight the resistance dial went up a few notches beyond where it should have, and she made me stand on the pedals for longer than I should have.

I think she was grinning.
I bet she knew I would be immobilized for the rest of the evening.

Ah well, time to catch up on some shows.
I’ll try again tomorrow.

Day 125 – Wheel of Iron Kitchen

(working title)

Today, I was graciously offering a friend an unpaid position as a live-in pastry chef. I still do not know how she resisted this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Somehow, describing the job turned into describing a YouTube channel that I’m ostensibly taking responsibility for. It’s kinda-sortof a joke, but on the other hand, it sounds like a lot of fun too.

The basic premise revolves around an Iron-Chef-like set-up where the names of dishes get randomly generated before we figure out what the dish belonging to that name is… and then cooking it.

And obviously, then eating it.

Apparently the opening credits will feature me biting into a raw onion. Possibly wearing something ornate including a cape. I’m sure we can work something out. For the full effect I probably should speak Klingon or Elvish for the opening credits.

Oh, and there might be a secret ingredient.

I can’t wait to make ice cream based on carrots.
I’m actually already considering ways I could make that work.

I’ll have to take care not to set too ambitious a schedule though. I don’t think that’s the kind of thing I could make work every week. But I think I have some other friends that’d be up for “guest spots”.

Damn… I better go investigate decent web cams.

And I might need a better looking kitchen.

Time to go brain-storming the concept! Stay tuned!

Day 124 – Surreal to Visit

In the wake of yesterdays’ travel inspiration in the form of the movie Gravity, I stumbled upon a BuzzFeed post with 27 Surreal Places to Visit which makes me want to get out a ticket and a camera and start hopping around the planet.

Some of those are specifically very much up my alley.

Hang Son Doong cave

CARSTEN PETER/National Geographic Creative

This looks like a place to feel tiny in. In the same way that the scenes in Gravity with earth in the background gave me a tremendous sense of scale.

Mendenhall Ice Caves

Flickr: gillfoto

Just because I think the glowing blue looks surreal. I do think I’d be a little worried to be walking underneath melting ice like that.

Sea of Stars

DOUG PERRINE/Barcroft Media /Landov / Via quora.com

A glowing ocean… I think I could sit on the beach and just stare at it.

Whitehaven Beach

Flickr: wicker-furniture

One in Australia! Score! I haven’t been to the Whitsundays yet; it looks like I should though. Barefoot walk along the water sounds like a great way to spend a week.

Salar De Uyuni

abc7 / Shutterstock / Via quora.com

Salt flats do not really do anything for me as such. But the mirror effect with the water on it looks like a definite winner.

Antelope Canyon

Manamana / Shutterstock / Via quora.com

Just because of the otherworldly colours.

Glowworm Caves

Flickr: 63349090@N08 / Via quora.com

New Zealand is not *that* far away. And this cave looks amazing. And then there are the elves, dwarves and hobbits as well…

Cenotes of Yucatan Peninsula

Flickr: daquellamanera

And this just looks like an Indiana Jones movie. Minus the face-melting.

So, how do I get a job as a travel photographer?

Day 123 – Gravity

I’m a bit late to the game on this one. Gravity is definitely a movie worth seeing. I am not convinced it needed star power to work; no-names would have worked just as well as Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Using them just seemed a little gratuitous in retrospect.

Other than that, it’s a remarkably simple and tense movie.

All but the last few minutes takes place in space. Great black spaces with almost nothing in it except for our big blue marble. And great special effects… fire in space looks absolutely terrifying.

Actually, space looks incredibly terrifying. And painful. The number of times this movie involved slamming hard into metal surfaces without any brakes leaves the impression it’s remarkable astronauts ever return to Earth at all.

Blue Marble
Blue Marble

And yet, for me, the backdrop of our planet was almost the most captivating part. Seeing the lit outlines of civilization across the globe made me feel an intense urge to travel near and far. To go places. Dark and light. It probably taps into the same part of my brain that likes walking at night.

I get that fairly easily though.

When I watch a movie set in New York in winter, all I want is to own a loft apartment in New York over Christmas. When I watch a movie on the beach of a tropical island, all I want is to stay in a cabin on the beach. When I watch a bond movie, I want to go almost anywhere and everywhere.

As long as there is WiFi to blog in between.

Raw Fish Slices
Raw Fish Slices

I was trying to remember all the feelings while I was watching the movie, but then I had dinner and I think I forgot most of the nuance of what was on my mind.

I like sushi train; I like being able to pick just as much as I need to feel full. I briefly considered going to Criniti’s, but I think any meal from there would have been too large before even getting to dessert.

A Small Dessert
A Small Dessert

Which would have been a shame, because I love dessert.

There was a long queue at Max Brenner, but the post-movie conversation was a great distraction. I again exercised restraint and picked a relatively modest dessert. A praline platter with a selection of chocolates.

As I was waiting outside with my number, the staff showed up to ask me which chocolates I wanted. I asked her to surprise me. She checked if I had any allergies, which is a comforting sign. And I was not disappointed. But then, is chocolate ever really disappointing. Even average chocolate is still pretty good, isn’t it? Or was that sex?

All in all, a great thought-provoking and appetizing evening.

Day 122 – Flying

Time has flown; I cannot believe I’m a third of the way through the year already. It’s remarkable how much writing every day has become second nature. Except for one case where I nearly forgot, the day just feels incomplete until I get my post in.

Maybe this qualifies as an addiction?

It has been tricky at times working around the self-imposed limits on the challenge. It’s amazing how much having a life gets in the way of a serious commitment like this! Especially Wednesdays have been tough at times; when visiting Ken for Wednesday I either need to rush out between returning home from work and heading to his place, or rush out a post after getting home, but before the clock strikes midnight. (Mental note: get a clock that can actually strike midnight to increase impact of that last statement).

As I indicated earlier, I’ll ease up a bit on the allowable subject material for my posts. I’m not quite ready to give up on a daily routine yet, but at some point I’m sure I’ll cave and allow myself to write a few posts ahead of time.

My biggest fear right now is getting felled by a disease. If at any point the posts prove barely coherent it is safe to assume that I’ve crawled to the study with a fever and am resting my head on the wrist-rest of my keyboard while my hands try to touch-type overhead.

Yes. I am *that* stubborn.
No. I’m not kidding.

Anyway.

What I had intended to write a brief post about instead was my flight home from Melbourne tonight. It always amazes me when flights are relatively smooth with these kinds of storms overhead.

When the plane start shaking I keep waiting for that roller-coaster moment where my stomach is between my ears.

On a side-note; if you ever are in a very bumpy flight (or on a roller-coaster), the way to reduce that feeling is to breathe in deeply and hold it in. This actually packs in your internal organs, because that sensation apparently comes from your organs literally floating around freely. I’ve had occasion to try this once or twice, and it actually works.

Although this afternoon the flight attendant that was sitting next to me made noises that sounded like a roller-coaster moment and I was fine, so maybe regular Pilates helps as well as an alternative. YMMV.

To get back to my point again, the flight was smooth. It got very shaky close to the ground due to some cross-winds I suspect. I was ready for a very tough bump back into the earth, but the pilot landed the plane expertly. It’s an odd mix of relief and disappointment when that happens; on the one hand I want to congratulate the pilot on a job well done, however it is inherently disappointing when you think it’s going to be a wild one and nothing happens.

Bread and circuses.
I guess it’s wired into our brains against our own best interests.

Day 121 – Try Science!

Today I found myself trying to explain a potential budgeting issue due to non-transitive aspects to skill-to-project mappings. I was attempting a conceptual explanation, but I’m not sure it connected. I think I should do a numerical example to illustrate the point I was trying to make.

It occurs to me though that this might lend itself to a good blog post. I just need to figure out how to set it up and then explain in a way that is more generally applicable.

Courtesy of xkcd, Try Science!
Courtesy of xkcd, Try Science!

I think science is a great tool.

Maybe not so much to get a final answer for a management problem, because the soft skills are just hard to quantify numerically. But I think there are mathematical and scientific tools that could fit in a management tool-belt to assess some of the situations I’ve already run into myself.

Explaining these in the moment is hard.
I never feel prepared enough.

I really enjoyed writing the post exploring contract resourcing, and I think I might want to do more in that same vein.

An occasional series of posts with concrete examples and, where applicable, formulas so that the next time I need to explore the limits to certain problems or explain what is possible, I have some read-made “tutorials” to draw upon.

Spam Spam Spam!

I hadn’t noticed my spam queue building up in WordPress. I had a look today. Most of it is the usual stuff you’d expect; offers of SEO, templated questions and blatant attempts at flattery.

And then there is the weird and absurd…

Like: “Jack Spade teams up with Barbour for their second collaborative Hopper Jacket, now in navy and hunter orange“. Maybe this makes sense somewhere in the world, but I have no idea what a Hopper Jacket is, or why I’d want it in navy or hunter orange.

Or: “Facial page, I seemed to be dumbfounded very nearly couldn’t keep moving, the landlord are looking for who newspaper from significant crack, so i could not actually a moments to amenable this article landlord“. At first it sounds like it might be going for some kind of minimalist poetry, but then it seamlessly slips into what sounds like home-reno trying to fill cracks with newspapers. And I have no idea why the landlords’ feelings are any of my problem.

Or, my personal favourite:
Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time as you amend your site,
how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
I have been tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

It’s this wonderful melange of what I choose to perceive as flattery, a template question, and just… I don’t know.

It is details like “The account helped me a acceptable deal” that just tickle me. It sounds so wonderfully PC in a way I cannot quite describe. It’s so unassuming about the compliment it is trying to convey. Understated and compelling.

And then by the final line the comment just falls off the cliff of coherence, although I definitely relate to expressing bright clear ideas. That sounds completely like me.

If not for the fact it doesn’t relate much to the “Stretching” post, and it has an email address that is slightly suspect, I’m almost tempted to just publish it for sheer entertainment value.