They say you learn something new every day.

Posts tagged ‘calibration’

Change for the Better (10/03/2012)

Every week I look forward to my watching my weekly dose of American comedies: Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, The Office, Community (when it’s on) and now, Up All Night

There’s something about these shows that makes them scarily watchable. I think I watched most of the first two seasons of Community in one super lethargic weekend.

Up All Night 

Up All Night is a new entry, recommended by a friend of mine, and I really like it. One of the great things about it is the real economy of story telling in the title sequence – the way it fleshes out their life is fantastic. The timing with the music is perfect.

However, about half way through the season they start messing around with the title sequence. They put in some new shots, there’s a few tweaks. But ultimately, they’ve made it worse. The sequence is slightly wrong (some of the party shots are in the wrong place). It looks like it’s the original edited together by someone who doesn’t quite follow the story in the original – or someone who doesn’t appreciate that the title sequence is itself telling a story, and thinks it’s just a series of clips.

It made me realise how important it is to check against the original and check your calibration.

It’s also made me realise how crazily watchable these American programmes are. There’s just something about the script and characters that means you can’t do anything but love them. I suppose part of it is that Friends thing that you want to be their friends – you like spending time with them. But almost more than that, it’s the easily, effortless laughs. The plots are simple, but not boring, and not patronising, the characters are full and rich, but likeable, and the style is engaging but not confusing.

It’s a real balancing act, and one that so many American comedy writers and directors seem to pull off.

Less Manual Work (08/02/2012)

I’m reminded again about this bit of wisdom from Coding Horror:

Truly lazy developers let their machines do the work for them. This is partially motivated out of self-interest, it’s true, but smart developers know that people don’t scale— machines do. If you want it done the same way every time, and with any semblance of reliability, you want the human factor removed as much as is reasonably possible. I know for every problem I encounter at work that causes me to lose time, I ask myself— how can I make sure I never have to deal with this problem again? If my solution fixes it so nobody ever has to deal with that problem, that’s a nice side-effect, too.

It’s close to my heart, because I’m very lazy as I keep saying.

But while I know this, and I mean it and I say it to anyone who will listen, I keep encountering problems that I solve by doing a bit of manual work. And suddenly, I’ve got loads of manual systems that I’m involved with.

I don’t really know a way around this. This is something so close to my heart, and yet I still get caught up in things and end up in a manual mess. I think the only thing to do is keep track of all your project somewhere, and recalibrate regularly – possibly every month. If this blog has taught me anything it’s:

  1. Doing things regularly works. But only if you stick at the regularity
  2. You need to recalibrate regularly. More regularly than you think. As humans we get used to things very quickly.

Initial Choices (05/01/2012)

I’ve finished a complete month of getting less stupid every day now. I have to admit, I get a feeling of self satisfaction when I look at my archive and see it full like that, especially with consecutive posts like that. Probably a bit of minor OCD coming out there.

I have to admit, though, I’m beginning to wonder if Tumblr was quite the right choice of tool to use for a project like this. As I’ve said before, I find it so difficult to believe that the search doesn’t work. Added to that, I actually lost a post one day! I’ve actually had to raise three support tickets to Tumblr since I started using it. I don’t think I’ve ever raised a support ticket for a free online service before. Obviously, I raise them at work all the time, but I never raise them with gmail, or twitter or youtube or anything like that. My WordPress backup site, on the other hand is just tootling along without a single problem. The search works, and there’s a tag cloud by default!

Now, I don’t want to have a go at Tumblr, because it is great at what it does. Reblogging is so easy, and posting up pictures, quotes etc is quick and simple. I also love how you can customize your own page with your own html and css. But for what I’m doing, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the right tool.

Now, of course, a big part of my “project” here – to get “less stupid every day” is to learn from my mistakes. I’m happy to embrace mistakes as long as I fix them and learn something from them. And part of me is wondering if I should switch to a different platform (maybe WordPress) and use Tumblr as the backup. 

However, I’ve decided not to – and partly because I’m forgetting what the core purpose of this site is. A place to quickly jot down something new that I’ve learnt so I remember it. A lot of my posts have got much more ambitious than necessary (especially around Christmas when I sometimes spent all morning doing them). It’s been flattering to get followers and likes and stuff, but that was never the point of this site, and I need to remember that.

I think today’s lesson is that it’s easy to lose site of the long term goals, and occasionally you need to force yourself to recalibrate. Maybe with this I need a once a month review. Maybe at work I need to do that. Maybe even in my personal life as well. If you don’t do that, you start getting off course – like my thinking was about this project. 

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