• 2018 Goals Review 06 Part II: Staying on Target with Themed Work Blocks

    August 10, 2018

    Staying on Target In Part I of this month’s Groundhog Day Resolutions review I talked about the tantalizing possibilities of detoxifying crunch time as a way of battling my tendency to be bored with “slow-and-steady” approaches to work. I think slow-and-steady (SaS) DOES work, but it doesn’t come easily. I tell myself that SaS works because (1) learning takes time and (2) figuring out how to make something complicated that works well takes even more time. There is no avoiding that, I might as well embrace SaS and be happy because I AM SO WISE…?

    Bah! In my heart I know SaS sucks. Accepting it doesn’t mean I have to like it as is. What is missing is the sense of excitement and adventure:

    • I myself don’t have to be slow and even-tempered even when I have to let things take the time they need.
    • I can look for opportunities to elevate the drama of the process, converting “slow and steady” to “simmering and sizzling” instead.
    • If there is a chance to include other people in the epic challenge, then that’s even better!

    That seems MUCH MORE to my liking! So let’s see what I can do with that idea in Part II of my Groundhog Day Resolutions Report for August 2018! (more…)

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  • 2018 Goals Review 06 Part I: Brutal Focus and Crunch Mode

    August 10, 2018

    New Horizons in Conan:Exiles In the video game world of CONAN: EXILES, you are given but one directive: SURVIVE. The way I feel about the game is a good match for my working mood. About 14 days ago I put myself into Programmer Autistic Mode to get over a critical code milestone, which involves blocking all other projects and social obligations. It’s similar to crunch time/crunch mode but without the extended forced labor that goes with it in the video game industry. Personally, I love the stark clarity of being in the crunch—MAKE FEATURE! CODE WHAT IS NECESSARY! SURVIVE!—but there are social costs that I have to account for.

    I just finished my crunch mode yesterday, and now I have time for sixth monthly review of my 2018 Groundhog Day Resolutions. As with every monthly review, I want to see if I’m on-track with the personal goals I set on February 2nd. It seems that while I’m pretty good at the process of conducting these reviews, I’m not particularly good at meeting the goals themselves. This recent work push, though, may have given me a clue on how to approach them.

    Since this analysis got so long, I’m going to break it into two parts. This part talks mostly about being in my version of CRUNCH MODE for a couple of weeks, and what I might learn from it. Part II is the actual report. (more…)

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  • Entering Programmer Autistic Mode

    July 26, 2018

    Autistic Mode / Ghost in the Shell You may have already noticed my posting frequency is WAY DOWN, but today I’m making it official: I’m going to be going into one of my programmer isolation periods so I can get a hairy project done. Informally I call it autistic mode, which is a term from the manga Ghost in the Shell. Essentially, I am going to shut-out all external stimuli for about 9 days, with a singular focus on getting into the programmer zone. There will be no sleep schedule or significant social interaction.

    I am taking this extreme measure because I have not been able to get my head completely into the space it needs to be in to write some tricky asynchronous networked message remote invocation code. I had thought it would go fairly easily since I’d written something like this before, but I am doing significant refactoring to bring the code up-to-date with current Javascript spec while improving the code. My working memory and ability to focus is not able to hold everything in my head so I can see the project clearly, and it is easily disrupted by any kind of interaction from the outside world. Even regularly scheduled sleep is a problem. If I were a more capable programmer maybe I wouldn’t need to do this, but in truth I also enjoy going into this mode because it’s like a vacation from messy reality.

    The process so far has been this:

    • First, write in my interstitial journal everything that’s on my mind
    • Then, decide what needs to be done before entering autistic mode.
    • Also, explicitly what can be pushed to a future date
    • And of course, clear all meetings and social interactions as much as possible.
    • Lastly, set the date to emerge from autistic mode. For me, that day will be MONDAY AUGUST 13

    It would be nice to be able to get this kind of focus WITHOUT going into this extreme state, so I’ll be taking notes to see if I can learn something about focus. The process I describe above might be work quite well with short timeframes, but I find it very difficult to stick to. Going into “autistic mode” may work for me because I like testing myself with epic beginnings and challenges to see what happens; everyday chores just don’t have that epic feeling. My brain is weird.

    So that’s my farewell for today! I plan to be back on regular projects and timetable on August 13, if all goes to plan. There’s still quite the possibility that this will not work at all, but if that happens I’ll post an update.

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  • GHDR Weekly Review 5.1 – Working through Malaise

    July 23, 2018

    Hey, I am super behind with my weekly reviews. The unexpected passing of my cousin Brian and traveling out to CA to be with family for his memorial service has impacted my routine, as one would guess. However, the experience of bearing witness to Brian’s incredibly generous and kind heart was incredibly moving and life-affirming. I had known Brian on some level as the cousin with which I shared a love of cooking, experimenting, and video games. I did not know just how much he embodied love for his friends and family, as evidenced by the 400+ people who crammed into the church on Sunday. Brian, you have taught me important lessons about life and love. Thank you for being my friend, and rest in peace… (more…)

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  • GHDR Weekly Review 4.4 – Unexpected Events and New Processes

    July 8, 2018

    This is the fourth “weekly review” for my Groundhog Day Resolutions, covering the last week of the June push. With a major holiday on Wednesday, car trouble, and an unexpected death in the family, this has not been the most productive of weeks. However, I was able to maintain some forward momentum thanks to the processes I started putting in place last week. (more…)

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