Archive for January, 2007

Six Months of Blogging

23:50 31 Jan 2007

I’ve posted to my blog at least once per day every day since 1 August 2006.

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Walking the HTML DOM without a Browser

23:15 30 Jan 2007

I had to do some screen-scraping today, and found myself doing it in JavaScript, just because JavaScript is able to understand the DOM. I would prefer to be able to walk the HTML DOM in another scripting language, like Perl, Ruby, or Python.

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What’s Important

22:28 29 Jan 2007

A few years ago, in discussion with friends, I came up with a list of the things that are important to me. Not physical things, more like the “high concepts” I consider to be of paramount importance.

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Good Stuff on YouTube

22:06 28 Jan 2007

I don’t usually do link posts, but I found some fantastic stuff while surfing YouTube today, and really had to share.

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King-James-Only Discordianism

13:10 27 Jan 2007

In the beginning was The Speaking of The Word.

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Some Things I’m Thinking About Buying

23:56 26 Jan 2007. Updated: 10:23 27 Jan 2007

The time of year makes me consider major purchases, even though I don’t intend to make any major purchases for a while—for one thing, they’re carrots for finishing the second draft. Nevertheless, these are a few of the things I’m considering.

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Using S5, a PowerPoint Alternative

23:09 25 Jan 2007

I’m not a fan of proprietary software, and I’m trying to make sure I don’t start using any more of it. In addition, I don’t like most Microsoft products, and PowerPoint is really low on my list. On the other hand, I need something with which to make presentations for work. Enter S5, Eric Meyer’s XHTML/CSS/JavaScript presentation tool.

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Music Immersion

23:14 24 Jan 2007. Updated: 01:15 25 Jan 2007

I haven’t been listening to much music recently. I’m not sure why that is, and I started thinking about what effect music has on me, or has had on me in the past

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Not There Yet

17:24 23 Jan 2007

I had set a deadline of my birthday, i.e. today, for the completion of the second draft of my science fiction novel. I didn’t make the deadline.

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The Malazan Book of the Fallen

23:56 22 Jan 2007. Updated: 01:07 23 Jan 2007

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a series of fantasy novels by Steven Erikson (and possibly also by Ian Cameron Esslemont). I started reading it way back in late 2000/early 2001.

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Reading, Gaming, Critical Thinking

20:08 21 Jan 2007. Updated: 21:47 21 Jan 2007

I tend to read a lot, and I tend to read very quickly. I’m wondering if I should alter my approach.

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Breathing and Prerelease Tournaments

23:27 20 Jan 2007. Updated: 12:33 27 Jun 2013

On Friday night, Brian and I were discussing MTG skill, in reference to my playing in the Planar Chaos prerelease tournament today.

I was thinking about possible steps to follow, along the lines of my “undistraction steps”, and commented that all of my sets of steps start with “take five deep breaths”. Brian then suggested that I try taking a deep breath at the start of every MTG turn, during my upkeep.

This seemed like an excellent idea, and I resolved to try it out, and also to take five deep breaths at the start of every game.

Also, I would take a deep breath, and try to relax, whenever I realized that I had made a mistake.

I tested these ideas out in practice today, at the prerelease. They seemed beneficial, but the sample size is probably too small to tell. I went seven–one, three–one in the individual flight and four–zero in team (although my team as a whole went three–one). Those results at the least make it unlikely that the breathing had any detrimental result.

The five deep breaths at the start of each game help to center me, and help me to concentrate. Not miraculously so, and sometimes I still had a struggle on my hands to get myself to pay attention.

The deep breath every upkeep felt like it had quite an impact. It forces me to pause, and to consider the situation. More than that, it stops me from getting into a hurried mental state. I don’t just mean a state in which I’m worried about the time, I mean a point where I think I have the next n turns planned out, and so don’t want to bother thinking through them. That’s a very dangerous state, and I definitely make a lot of mistakes in it. So forcing myself to breathe helps me force myself to think, to focus on the actual situation rather than the one I imagine will unfold.

I still lost my concentration in a number of games, sadly. And in both tournaments this occurred in the third round, which definitely makes sense—that’s when I’m beginning to get tired, and also when I’m less cognizant of the newness of my deck.

The breathing might have helped me avoid more egregious mistakes, but I still made mistakes in those rounds. I didn’t really go on tilt in either case. I lost in the individual rounds, while in team I managed to play the next two games calmly, ultimately defeating that opponent.

Recovering from mistakes (or bad situations) is just as important as not making them. Forcing myself to breathe when I realize that I’ve made mistakes helps ensure that I stay relatively calm and don’t fall apart.

It’s such a simple thing, but it’s so easy to forget, especially when doing an activity as complicated as MTG. I think it helps, and intend to keep trying this as I keep playing.

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Bookmarking Project: Database Structure

23:54 19 Jan 2007. Updated: 00:49 21 Jan 2007

I’ve made progress on my bookmarking project, and have most of the input side done, including the JavaScript and the PHP. The first thing I had to figure out on the backend side was the database structure, which is what I discuss here.

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Why I Can’t Stand HTML Email

22:12 18 Jan 2007

It’s not, as a co-worker claimed today, because I’m a Luddite. And, despite often feeling as if I’m against it, I’m not actually against the technological capability to send and received HTML-formatted messages via email.

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Dependence on Tools

23:31 17 Jan 2007. Updated: 01:11 18 Jan 2007

The tools I have in mind here are electronics, mainly computers, and in some cases software. Our devices obviously help us do things… but are they the right things, and does the help come at a price?

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Robert Anton Wilson, RIP

23:14 16 Jan 2007. Updated: 08:07 17 Jan 2007

He died last week, after a long illness. His work has been a big influence on my life, so I wanted to mark his passing.

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Muir Woods Photos

19:19 15 Jan 2007

Last July, I went to Muir Woods (finally!) and took these photos

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Shell Scripting is Useful

22:04 14 Jan 2007. Updated: 10:22 15 Jan 2007

The title of this post is meant as understatement.

I’ve been (finally!) moving content from my various old sites to tadhg.com, and shell scripting has been extremely useful for this.

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‘Touching the Pacific’

23:38 13 Jan 2007

My hand moves along the surface, drifting on the foam, seeking where foam becomes water. Foamlets swirl tinily around the grooves that make up my fingerprint.

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Enthusiasm and Verve Inspired by… Beckett?

00:29 13 Jan 2007

My friend Lev and I went to see three short Beckett plays this evening, by Custom Made Theatre. Beckett being Beckett, they were dismal, bleak, and absurd.

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Read More Poetry

23:33 11 Jan 2007. Updated: 00:34 12 Jan 2007

A conversation I had today pushed me briefly out of my organizational mode, in a good way. It started out about writing that inspires me to write, and that led me to talk about poetry I love.

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Shorter Undistraction Steps

23:52 10 Jan 2007. Updated: 20:14 27 Jun 2013

Last Saturday I wrote about a set of steps to get into a focused state of mind. I haven’t managed to use those steps yet, suggesting that they were indeed too long.

So, I thought I’d try a shorter version. Some assumptions govern this process: that you have a list of possible tasks; that you are having some difficulty in doing any of them; that at the time you’re doing these steps there are no external constraints preventing you from doing them.

  • Find a place to write (notebook page, new buffer in text editor, whatever).
  • Take 5 deep breaths.
  • Write down the possible tasks; there should be between two and five of them. You may need to add items and start again from this point if you get stuck below.
  • For each one, write down:
    • How urgent it is.
    • How resistant you feel to it, and anything about that resistance that comes to mind.
    • Its sub-tasks, especially the first few things required to get going on it.
  • Write down how much time you can commit to the task you’re about to start.
  • Think and preferably say: confident, capable, calm, determined, strong.
  • Start the first sub-task for the most urgent thing on the list.
  • If you’re too resistant to that, go down through the list in order of urgency and start the first sub-task in the next-most-urgent task.
  • Work on the task you selected for the amount of time you have committed to, and then either continue or revisit these steps.

Better. This looks less daunting.

I haven’t tried this (or the previous version) out yet, because I’ve been focused and task-driven since I wrote the previous entry. When I do get some experience with it, I will note the results and return to this in a future post.

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Organizational State

23:15 09 Jan 2007. Updated: 21:41 25 Jan 2007

I’m on a heavy organizational kick right now, especially concerning digital information. I’m using lists more, and I’m digging up archived stuff from way back because I want to put it into a rational and unified structure.

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