Charles Pillsbury III

Geek. Dad. Writer?

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Archive for August, 2008

Playing For Keeps

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FYI: My friend Mur’s super-hero novel is having its big push on Amazon.com today (August 25th). If you’re into super-heros and snarky humor check it out and help her run up the Amazon rankings.


“Playing For Keeps” (Mur Lafferty)

You can find more info at the book’s site: www.playingforkeepsnovel.com and on her other sites www.murverse.com and www.ishouldbewriting.com

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August 25th, 2008 at 6:54 am

Posted in Misc

NCC Dance Machine

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August 24th, 2008 at 8:32 am

Posted in Blog Entry

Modern SF Novelist

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Found probably on boing boing… but not sure. We won’t subject anybody to a vocal rendition of it.

I am the very model of a modern SF novelist,
I’ve manuscripts space opera, anime, and fantasist,
I know the kings of fandom and the best flamewars historical
From Andrew Burt to LiveJournal, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted too, with matters editorial,
I keep my cover letters brief and never too suctorial,
About rejection etiquette I’m teeming with propriety,
With many cheerful facts about your online notoriety,
I’m very good at worldbuilding and proper use of ansibles;
I know the hyphenated names of beings unpronounceable:
In short, in matters space opera, anime, and fantasist,
I am the very model of a modern SF novelist.

[From Jim C. Hines - Modern SF Novelist]

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August 22nd, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Posted in Misc

Throwaway writing?

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The same goes for writing, or any other creative work. You need to let yourself practice with blogging, journals, or throwaway poems and work under less than perfect circumstances, the same way a guitarist noodles around with chords while watching TV, or an artist scribbles on a sketchpad while riding the bus. You can’t be too precious with your words or your notes or your brushstrokes. Believe me, someone will be there to trash your work anyway, no matter how long you petted it and brushed its hair. It’s more important to keep your brain switched on than trying to preserve every last bit of inspiration.

[From Cooking for the Creative Beast | 43 Folders]

This is something I REALLY struggle with. I tend to have such limited time for my writing and such that I hate to waste it on throwaway stuff. This was more prominent when I was writing fiction, probably because I respect it more as an art than I do blogging (sorry fellow bloggers), but the concept still remains… you’re more likely to write more good words, if you’re willing to let yourself write a good number of “bad” ones.

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August 20th, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Misc

Design and Engineering

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The idea of design divorced from engineering is laudable, but the way it so often plays out makes it implausible. Yes, in theory, the design team should come up with a perfect solution and the engineering team should be smart enough to figure out how to pull it off and neither should ever have to talk to each other. The resulting product would look exactly as designed and would work perfectly. Keep on trucking you radical dreamer. Here’s a quarter for the jukebox.

[From Big Contrarian → Divide.]

This is something I hit in my web development work, and somewhat in my day job as well. It’s not too hard to write a program to do X or Y, but it’s not nearly as easy to help a user determine not just what they want, but when and how they want it. My friend Lisa has said more than once that she thinks all developers should have a few UI classes before released on an unsuspecting public… and I think she’s probably right.

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August 20th, 2008 at 9:25 am

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This sounds like little Stevie King’s advice on writing

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Not only is this essay short, brilliant, thought-provoking and memorable, it calls bullshit on most of what passes today as speech and written language in management circles. And if you are too lazy to read the article, all you need to remember is this: never use a fancy word when a simple one will do. If your idea is good, no hype is necessary. Explain it clearly and people will get it, if there truly is something notable to get. If your idea is bad: keep working before you share it with others. And if you don’t have time for that, you might as well be honest. Because when you throw jargon around, most of us know you’re probably lying about something anyway.

[From Why Jargon Feeds on Lazy Minds - Scott Berkun]

Confession time, when I speak I’m more prone to use a fancier word than I am in writing. Why? because I’m less confident I’ll spell something right than I am that I’ll pronounce it correctly. Of course spell-check makes this a moot point, but in SOME situations I don’t have spell check handy (like twittering from a blackberry).

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August 19th, 2008 at 9:23 pm

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Ph D? Probably not for me

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To earn a Ph.D., one must accomplish two things. First, one must master a specific subject completely. Second, one must extend the body of knowledge about that subject.

[From Notes On The PhD Degree]

This is a great concise definition of a Ph D. I would love the process of mastering a specific subject, but mostly I’m a generalist. I like to learn a lot about a lot, but rarely do I want to learn everything about anything. The part I would enjoy the most is the extending the body of knowledge about a given subject. I understand that a large part of why they require you to master the subject first is because otherwise you’re prone to doing a lot of re-work that others have already done.
While this is beneficial to using a Ph D as measurement of how much an individual knows about a given area, is this the best way to extend the knowledge in the fields? Obviously undergraduates, and even high-school kids, can contribute to the body of knowledge, but is there a propensity for knowledge gained by Ph D students to be more the iterative type than the revolutionary type? Is there a readily available (hint hint Google, this is a perfect project for you) means of gathering the information needed in a given area? I guess that a master list of “things we don’t know” is less useful for revolutionary knowledge expansion than a list of “things we don’t know that we don’t know” would be.
As a side note, I would love to see a book or course available that would give a baseline apocalyptic rebuild scenario. If 80% of the world died in a plague, and all of the technologies stopped working today, how long would it take “us” to rebuild society and technology to a level that would be even vaguely close to what we have now? I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how to smelt iron ore (hell I’m not even sure I phrased that right), let alone develop the processes enough to be able to build an engine, let alone develop microchips.

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August 10th, 2008 at 7:38 am

Posted in Blog Entry, Misc

To-do? or to-be?

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Aren’t you impressed by how “deep” that title is?

“Do you have a never-ending list? Do you manage your time? Do you manage minutes, tasks, and lists? Do you start each day with a list that has more on it at the end of the day than it did at the beginning of the day, in spite of how many items are completed and crossed off?

Or do you manage your attention? Do you manage emotions, intention, and make choices about what will and will not get done? What are your favorite ways to do this?”

[From Linda Stone: Is it Time to Retire the Never-Ending List? - Living on The Huffington Post]

I have a day job which requires quite a bit of intent and attention, wife and kids that require the same, and I inexplicably get myself involved in a plethora of other projects (all of which take time and attention). Part of the problem is fighting a sense of urgency about any/all of them (the kids aren’t getting younger, the day job must get done, if I’m going to write books before I die I must get started, etc).

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August 2nd, 2008 at 12:34 pm

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Coffee Beans, good for the heart, the more…

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Originally found on Boing Boing

A strong cup of coffee in the morning can feel like a life saver. Now, one of the largest and longest studies of coffee drinking suggests that coffee may indeed boost your lifespan – providing you drink enough of the stuff, that is.

The study tracked 129,000 men and women over two decades. It found that people who consumed several cups of coffee every day were less likely to die of heart disease than those who shied away from the stuff. Heart disease is an umbrella term for conditions including heart attacks, stroke, and arrhythmia.

The researchers found that women who drank four to five cups per day were 34% less likely to die of heart disease, while men who had more than five cups a day were 44% less likely to die

[From Guzzling coffee may cut heart disease - health - 16 June 2008 - New Scientist]

I’m only at 1-2 cups a day generally speaking, but hopefully it’s enough (of course Alicia may say I don’t have a heart anyway, so maybe I just drink the coffee for the enjoyment of it all).

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August 1st, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Misc