James Tauber

James Tauber

1696 thoughts; 142 streams
last posted Jan. 19, 2018, 11:44 p.m.
9

CEO of Eldarion (makers of Habitualist, Gondor, Quisition and this site). Python and Web developer, Linguist, Composer, Filmmaker, Christian.

Boston, MA, USA
Joined on Aug. 23, 2012, 7:15 a.m.
get recent cards as: atom

So at the end of April 1995, I joined other early contributors to the Web in Australia in Ballina.

According to Helen Ashman and Adrian Vanzyl's report on the conference in the ACM SIGLINK Newsletter (Vol. IV No.3) there were 140 participants and the conference and at least that many more on the waiting list!

27 thoughts
updated Jan. 19, 2018, 11:44 p.m.

8 thoughts
updated Jan. 19, 2018, 10:53 p.m.

A few weeks ago, I had a great example of an interest that consumed my attention for a day but didn't last beyond that.

My wife and I went to the ballet.

I've always had this happen with ballet: I get obsessed with it briefly and then my interest fades. Back when I was 8 or 9 I attended my younger sister's ballet performance and wanted to become a dancer. It never went anywhere. A couple of times as an undergraduate, I went to the ballet. Always loved it at the time but nothing ever came of it.

So anyway, we went the ballet a few weeks ago. When I came home I spent hours reading up on terminology, watching videos of great dancers doing particular moves. I was obsessed. For just that day.

I woke up the next day and went back to Greek and linguistics. Maybe Carl Djerassi would call that the equivalent of meeting up with the same person every few years for just one night.

102 thoughts
updated Jan. 12, 2018, 11:11 a.m.

Just read this exception message in some code:

"You cannot log responses in a session that has completed."

which is slightly ungrammatical to me (I would need to use the passive "has been completed").

It's interesting the difference between "complete", "finish" and "end" in the context of, say a course.

A student can complete a course but a course cannot complete. A student can finish a course and a course can finish. A course can end but it is somewhat borderline to say a student ended a course (although I might be able to say "the student ended the course on a high note", certainly not "the student ended the course").

9 thoughts
updated Nov. 22, 2016, 2:48 a.m.

GraphQL fits in to a LOT of this stuff.

15 thoughts
updated Oct. 20, 2016, 5:49 p.m.

Open a New Terminal Window

tell application "Terminal"
    do script ""
    activate
end tell
2 thoughts
updated Sept. 25, 2016, 1:10 a.m.

I think it's important to distinguish the meta expert from someone who is just better at teaching X than doing X.

For example, there are world-class sports coaches who aren't world-class at the sport they coach.

That's not who I have in mind with the term Meta Expert.

Perhaps even my real-estate example isn't a great one. The "problogger" is perhaps the best example because technically they are blogging professionally but they just blog about blogging. Hence the "meta".

7 thoughts
updated Sept. 6, 2016, 7:59 p.m.

I love the idea of saying that, for example, "Vector Calculus is in the past light-cone of cosmology".

To more precisely relate his trichotomy to light-cones, I think you have:

  • subject A is in the past light-cone of subject B
  • subject A and B both have subject C in their past light-cone
  • subject A and subject B are space-like
6 thoughts
updated Aug. 19, 2016, 3:46 a.m.

So my question remains: what causes the specific twine directions of different bine species?

I didn't think a talk about Hamilton, Tait, Maxwell, and the history of vectors would lead me to such questions.

8 thoughts
updated Aug. 17, 2016, 1:21 a.m.

Kel

I put together the following diagram to try to illustrate this:

3 thoughts
updated May 13, 2016, 7:18 a.m.

TIL

"if a practitioner [of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu] receives his or her black belt at 19 years old, the earliest they could expect to receive a ninth degree red belt would be at the age of 67."

10 thoughts
updated May 4, 2016, 1:26 a.m.

Now I just have to wait two years.

6 thoughts
updated April 2, 2016, 7:07 a.m.

And in fact, I will strongly argue for spaces in any Python project.

7 thoughts
updated March 15, 2016, 3:04 p.m.

I do still hope to find my lost passport. There's incredible sentimental value to it.

I got the passport four days before I got married. So it has the stamps from our honeymoon to Japan, our various trips to Israel, Jordan, Chile and Easter Island, Peru, and many more.

56 thoughts
updated March 7, 2016, 12:30 p.m.

I kinda got sick of the Starkiller (Deathstar Mk III) thing.

At this point it’s getting a bit Road Runner and Wile E Coyote.

14 thoughts
updated Feb. 23, 2016, 10:24 p.m.

Brian Little also has a wonderful talk he gave at TEDxOxbridge.

8 thoughts
updated Sept. 3, 2015, 5:53 p.m.

I don't mean "helmsman sailor" as in helmsman and/or sailor. I mean a "sailor of helmsmen" (meta) or a "sailor amongst the helmsmen" (redundant).

10 thoughts
updated Aug. 26, 2015, 2:43 p.m.
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updated Aug. 21, 2015, 2:48 a.m.

So I think what I want to start with is purely region / appellation containment data. That way I can generate quizzes along the lines of "which of the following are appellations in the X region" or "which region is the X AOC in".

12 thoughts
updated Aug. 1, 2015, 7:10 p.m.

Although intended as a somewhat pithy, anecdotal observation, it's of course empirically testable.

4 thoughts
updated May 28, 2015, 7:51 p.m.

I think we're finally starting to reach the critical mass of content where we actually want to default to the "favorited-only" people and streams.

Or perhaps make it configurable. And when new users start they get the firehose. Once they've favorited a certain number of people or streams, they can switch over to the "favorited-only by default". We can even suggest they do so when a threshold of favorites is reached.

32 thoughts
updated May 15, 2015, 5:10 a.m.

Go with where your energy is and let your goals emerge from that rather than expect the other way around. Don't set a goal of running a marathon if you hate running.

7 thoughts
updated May 10, 2015, 12:21 p.m.

I remember back in 1997/98 we standardized on 3 straps on each book. Interesting it's now down to 2 :-)

7 thoughts
updated May 8, 2015, 10:58 a.m.

The score really has striking allusions to Bach's Little G Minor Fugue.

There's also a quotation of the first four notes of the Star Trek theme.

21 thoughts
updated April 23, 2015, 2:03 a.m.

a great service for thinking out loud on the Internet

7 thoughts
updated April 8, 2015, 3:20 p.m.

In the past I've opted for more expensive pledges to get "involved" more in the project (e.g. access to forums during development) and have NEVER ONCE actually taken advantage of the extra access.

7 thoughts
updated March 26, 2015, 8:33 p.m.

Re the repost from @joeld above:

Our plan was to eventually switch the unread counts to being based only on what users and streams you favorite, but the rate of new content is still slow enough that we figured (incorrectly, it seems) that doing it for the whole site would be fine.

We can push up making that change in our priorities. Perhaps it will encourage people to favorite more stuff.

19 thoughts
updated March 20, 2015, 12:54 p.m.

Wegman's

This time there was actually an Apple Pay sticker but it was not obviously where to place my phone. Even worse, I still had to pick my account type and enter my PIN. Kinda defeats the benefit of Apple Pay.

5 thoughts
updated March 17, 2015, 12:29 a.m.

I do wonder what GitHub is going to miss, like Google Code before them and SourceForge before them.

Although as I said to Jan, if I knew, I'd be doing it :-)

Hindsight is definitely 20/20.

11 thoughts
updated March 13, 2015, 2:54 p.m.

Deadline

I don't like the use of the word "deadline" and now I like it even less.

Deadline? Um... it's just a project, nobody is going to die!

Turns out it's actually a threat. According to Merriam Webster, a deadline is "a line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot".

Translating that to the business world, we could say that a deadline is a line in time that someone passes at the risk of... what? I'd like to think nobody is threatening with shooting people, but it sure is a threat.

Small words, but powerful. If we want to collaborate and produce great results together, it's my opinion that threatening is far from ideal. Rather, let's understand why we're doing what we are doing and make sure that we have good reasons to do it properly and on time.

No threats in my office, please!

15 thoughts
updated March 10, 2015, 1:50 p.m.

The difference between a GBT approach and what I was working on above is that I have lower-level hexes on the edges whereas GBT has lower-level hexes on the vertices.

32 thoughts
updated Feb. 17, 2015, 1:52 a.m.

MOOCs Under Consideration

These are the MOOCs I'm considering doing (and have enrolled in) which haven't started yet.

Coursera

  • TESOL Certificate, Part 2: Teach English Now! (ASU)
    • Teach English Now! Second Language Listening, Speaking, and Pronunciation
    • Teach English Now! Technology Enriched Teaching
    • Teach English Now! Capstone Project 2
  • Game Design and Development (MSU)
    • Business of Games and Entrepreneurship
    • Game Development for Modern Platforms
    • Game Design and Development Capstone
  • Interaction Design (UCSD)
    • Design Principles: an Introduction
    • Social Computing
    • Input and Interaction
    • User Experience: Research & Prototyping
    • Information Design
    • Designing, Running, and Analyzing Experiments
    • Interaction Design Capstone Project
  • Game Design: Art and Concepts (CalArts)
    • World Design for Video Games
    • Character Design for Video Games
    • Game Design Document: Define the Art & Concepts
  • Introduction into General Theory of Relativity (HSE)
3 thoughts
updated Feb. 14, 2015, 9:23 p.m.

Swift 1.1 still doesn't support

enum Tree<T>{case Leaf(T); case Node(Tree<T>, Tree<T>)}

despite claims it was just a "bug" preventing it.

11 thoughts
updated Feb. 8, 2015, 9:19 p.m.

So end of last year, we got to:

  • bookmarklets
  • easier embedding of videos, audio, etc from external sites
  • per-user firehoses
  • keyboard shortcuts

We've started work on notifications and branching and launched the first part of the notifications work, namely the unread count displays.

Our goal is to finish up notifications and a couple of other things in Q1 and finish branching in Q2.

Because these are crucial to effective team use, we'll continue to run the ThoughtStreams for Teams Beta during that time with a view to launching teams publicly in Q3.

20 thoughts
updated Feb. 8, 2015, 4:55 p.m.

Moby does include a hyphenation dictionary which might be a crude proxy for syllabification but of course, it's based on spelling, not pronunciation.

17 thoughts
updated Feb. 6, 2015, 4:22 a.m.

Okay, so I keep joking about how few of the books I've bought on Amazon are available on Kindle MatchBook. But I just ordered a book and Amazon immediately offered me the Kindle version for $2.99 instead of the usual $14.85. No-brainer.

14 thoughts
updated Jan. 28, 2015, 1:29 p.m.

With many forms of art, I tend to judge them by how much I wished I'd created them myself. The Talos Principle is already in that category.

4 thoughts
updated Jan. 21, 2015, 4:24 p.m.

Basic Linguistic Theory Volume 1: Methodology

by R.M.W. Dixon

Part of a three-volume magnum opus on linguistic description and typology from one of Australia's leading linguists. The series is destined to become the guide to writing descriptive grammars.

Despite "theory" in the title, this could better be described as "anti-theoretical", with Dixon's characteristic dig at linguists who do theory first.

I'm almost finished this volume and about to start Volume 2: Grammatical Topics.

6 thoughts
updated Jan. 19, 2015, 10:46 p.m.

Nat makes a great point. There are courses which I've chosen not to do the exercises on but which I just watched the lectures for (or plan to, so have kept enrolled even though course is finished and I've "failed").

9 thoughts
updated Jan. 7, 2015, 8:04 a.m.

What's worse is when the leap is made not only from "a director" to "the director" but from that to thinking that means he runs all of engineering.

But that's exactly what Tony Robbins does in his latest book where he describes his friend Ray Kurzweil as "heading up engineering at Google".

7 thoughts
updated Dec. 30, 2014, 1:41 a.m.
2 thoughts
updated Sept. 25, 2016, 1:10 a.m.
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updated Oct. 20, 2016, 5:49 p.m.
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updated Sept. 6, 2016, 7:59 p.m.
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updated Aug. 17, 2016, 1:21 a.m.
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updated Aug. 19, 2016, 3:46 a.m.

Kel

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updated May 13, 2016, 7:18 a.m.
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updated April 2, 2016, 7:07 a.m.
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updated March 7, 2016, 12:30 p.m.
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updated Feb. 23, 2016, 10:24 p.m.
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updated Aug. 26, 2015, 2:43 p.m.
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updated Sept. 3, 2015, 5:53 p.m.
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updated Aug. 21, 2015, 2:48 a.m.
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updated Aug. 1, 2015, 7:10 p.m.
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updated May 28, 2015, 7:51 p.m.
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updated May 10, 2015, 12:21 p.m.
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updated May 8, 2015, 10:58 a.m.
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updated Jan. 19, 2018, 10:53 p.m.
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updated April 23, 2015, 2:03 a.m.
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updated March 13, 2015, 2:54 p.m.
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updated March 26, 2015, 8:33 p.m.
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updated Feb. 14, 2015, 9:23 p.m.
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updated Feb. 6, 2015, 4:22 a.m.
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updated Jan. 21, 2015, 4:24 p.m.
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updated Jan. 7, 2015, 8:04 a.m.
7 thoughts
updated Dec. 30, 2014, 1:41 a.m.
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updated Jan. 19, 2015, 10:46 p.m.
6 thoughts
updated Dec. 2, 2014, 4:55 p.m.
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updated Nov. 12, 2014, 9:58 a.m.
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updated March 17, 2015, 12:29 a.m.
27 thoughts
updated Jan. 19, 2018, 11:44 p.m.
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updated Oct. 26, 2014, 5:37 a.m.
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updated Oct. 19, 2014, 7:31 a.m.

TIL

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updated May 4, 2016, 1:26 a.m.
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updated Sept. 29, 2014, 2:38 a.m.
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updated Sept. 29, 2014, 2:31 a.m.
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updated Sept. 27, 2014, 6:34 p.m.
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updated Sept. 24, 2014, 2:01 p.m.
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updated Sept. 17, 2014, 9:39 p.m.
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updated Oct. 27, 2014, 10:13 p.m.
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updated Aug. 6, 2014, 9:40 p.m.

Streams by this user that have been favorited by others.

11 thoughts
updated March 13, 2015, 2:54 p.m.
4 thoughts
updated May 28, 2015, 7:51 p.m.
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updated Aug. 21, 2015, 2:48 a.m.
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updated Sept. 3, 2015, 5:53 p.m.
9 thoughts
updated Jan. 7, 2015, 8:04 a.m.
17 thoughts
updated Feb. 6, 2015, 4:22 a.m.
4 thoughts
updated Jan. 21, 2015, 4:24 p.m.

Kel

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updated May 13, 2016, 7:18 a.m.
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updated March 20, 2015, 12:54 p.m.
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updated Jan. 19, 2015, 10:46 p.m.
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updated Jan. 12, 2018, 11:11 a.m.
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updated Sept. 29, 2014, 2:38 a.m.
15 thoughts
updated March 10, 2015, 1:50 p.m.
0

TeuxDeux

A while ago my friend and colleague Greg Newman recommended https://teuxdeux.com as a task manager. I've tried a lot of different task managers but none have really stuck. TeuxDeux has.

I think the main reason is it takes such a simple approach. There's no attempt to have projects, tags, contexts, priorities or anything like that.

You just have a list for each day plus labelled lists not attached to any day.

Items not completed on the day just get moved to the next day. Markdown is supported in items and I sometimes use this to make little headings to separate tasks into sub-lists (--- also works nicely as a separator). There is very basic support for recurring tasks.

What I like most about the approach is:

  • it's very easy to plan out a week and see what you have coming up at a glance
  • it's perfect for ticklers: I can easily put items in the list for a day next week or next month
  • it's nice having a few non-date lists available at a glance

Regarding the third point, I'll note that I don't use it for all my lists of things (I use https://workflowy.com for that) but it's nicely to have a few lists easily viewable. Although they claim it's useful for Someday / Maybe items, I prefer those not to clutter my thoughts on a daily basis so I put them in workflowy and use the non-date lists in TeuxDeux for things like monthly or quarterly goals, daily routines, etc.

If you're well setup with something like Todoist, Things, or Nozbe, you might find TeuxDeux a little too basic but if you've found you can't stick with one of those heavier tools, and are really looking for something just slightly better than a text file or physical note book, TeuxDeux is worth checking out.

One final thing I find interesting about TeuxDeux: the developers say it's complete. It does what they set out to build and they aren't adding new features just for the sake of it. That's refreshing approach and I think it's worked well for this product.

0

Good Examples of Streams

I just got asked for a good example of a thoughtstream. If you'll excuse me choosing my own here are some examples of varying usages.

  • Oculus Rift is an example of a product review written over time
  • TIL is an example of more tweet-like collection of unconnected thoughts under a broad category of "Today I Learned"
  • Journeyman of Some is some ongoing thoughts on a topic I come back to all the time
  • Julython is almost like a "tweet storm" of tips on a topic
  • Prokofiev's D minor Toccata is a log of my (temporarily abandoned) piano practice
  • Note Quantization is more of a research notebook as I explore some ideas

Besides this, how can we better convey the types of things people can use ThoughtStreams for?

0

APL: there's a non-ASCII character for that!

0

marijuana is pronounced (at least by me) /mæɹ‌əwɑːn‌ə/.

Backwards this is /ən‌ɑːwəɹ‌æm/ (roughly "anarawam") which sounds strangely close to "another one" /ən‌ʌðəwʌn/.

I've long wondered if this is why people think that Queen's Another Ones Bites the Dust talks about smoking marijuana when played backwards.

Of course, this is a potential (non-visual) Forced Mondegreen but it even works in the forward direction too. There are times in the song where it sounds like Freddie is actually saying "anarawam" rather than "another one".

0

It's interesting how many notational shortcuts mathematicians take would never be tolerated by a programmer.

For example the confusion as to whether \(f(x)\) is referring to the function \(f\) over the independent variable \(x\) versus the value of \(f\) given a value \(x\).

It can get even worse in discussing something like coordinate transformations where you might have

$$x(r(x, y), \theta(x, y)) \equiv x$$
where sometimes \(x\) is a function and sometimes it's an independent variable.

I'm just watching a wonderful lecture series by Pavel Grinfeld and he's (understandably) going to great lengths to clarify in each expression (including the equivalence above) whether something is a function or an independent variable. I suspect programmers get it much more quickly.

0

It occurs to be that ThoughtStreams exists because of follow-on thoughts.

0

I like it when email clients use the "To" field not the "From" field when you Reply to an email in your Sent Mail.

I often think of a follow-on to an email I've just sent, and the above behaviour makes Reply perfect for that. Gmail gets this right. Outlook Web App (Office 365) does not.

I guess if a client was really clever it could change the label "Reply" to "Follow On" or something when on an email you wrote.

3

It's odd when people say "I'm not racist/sexist" as if it's a binary trait instead of a subtle bias that can tarnish a thought at any time.

2

to which ThoughtStreams adds:

"This is what I think about donuts"

0

Facebook optimizes for staying in touch with people that you used to be friends with. Twitter optimizes for making new friends.

0

That's not to say mathematics can't be motivated by particular problems the student is trying to solve. I taught myself trigonometric because I wanted to do 3D graphics on my Apple ][.

But I didn't ever ask when I was going to use 3D graphics later in life.

1

I cringe a little when people say that maths education needs to make maths more relevant and explain to students "when they're going to use this in life".

Why not instead foster an attitude that some things are interesting to learn for their own sake?

0

"kindness" is a powerful word. "love" seems too abstract nowadays whereas "kindness" really emphasizes real, day-to-day action.

0

Three qualities I increasingly admire in others: kindness, joy, and gratitude.

2

Lately I've been wondering if a lot of what I'm like now is the result of the fact that from the ages of 3–9 my dad was studying for a degree at night while working full-time. That almost certainly instilled in me the idea that it's perfectly normal to spend evenings reading textbooks and learning new things.

0

Faking Adulthood

I can look back at almost any point in my life and think how naïve I was back then and how much better I'd do now at whatever I was doing then. Then I realize that future me is going to think the same thing about me now.

And I look at confident younger people now and think how naïve and overconfident they are. Then I realize that people older than me must look at me now and think the same thing.

0

Woah, mindblown: this mitotically-heritable deactivation of one of the X chromosomes is what leads to mottled coat patterns in calico cats.

0

Furthermore, this deactivation is mitotically heritable so once the choice of which X chromosome to use is made all descendent cells will make that same choice.

0

Never occurred to me until watching Marnie Blewitt's MOOC on epigenetics that having two X chromosomes would result in double production of proteins encoded on that chromosome except that one of the X chromosomes is basically deactivated. In other words, females actually only use one of the X chromosomes in each of their cells.

0

Associative memory is a funny thing.

Last night I was driving along and my odometer hit 44100 miles. I immediately thought of the baud rate of a modem I had back in the mid-90s, the particular shade of red of the lights on the front, the dialup sound. Then I thought of my early days using Linux.

The kicker, though: 44100 isn't a modem baud rate (it's the sample rate of a CD). Somehow my brain transposed 44100 into 14400 before making the association to modems.

1

https://twitter.com/piecalculus/status/459485747842523136 has a fun table of various system latencies, scaled to CPU cycle = 1s.

You can simplify it a little to get a quicker sense of orders of magnitude:

CPU cache    seconds
RAM          minutes
SSD          days
HDD          months
Internet     years
1

The new bridge near where I'm staying at the moment is closed today for its "opening". It's been open for weeks but it "opens" today which apparently involves it being closed.

0

A distinction is often made between Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics.

At least amongst some, the former means using computers to understand natural language (often in a very applied sense). The latter is using computers to study linguistics and theories of language.

Is the same distinction true in the use of computers in biology?

It seems there's a big difference between, say, algorithms for aligning DNA sequences and algorithms for simulating cells.

Are the terms Bioinformatics and Computational Biology appropriate for the distinction?

0

It is interesting that Apple struggled for so long to get iCloud right given Steve Jobs acknowledged nearly twenty years ago the influence Sun had on NeXT in terms of your "stuff" not being on your workstation.

0

Of course, OneNote on OS X uses Microsoft's own cloud document storage, not DropBox or iCloud :-)

0

For a couple of months, I've been using Outline from Gorillized which is basically a clone of Microsoft OneNote for OS X.

This week, though, I noticed Microsoft themselves have ported OneNote to OS X.

0

Is http://discuss.atom.io a sign that Github is working on discussion features? Or are they using a third-party?

EDIT: ah, looks like it could be Discourse.

0

https://github.com/atom is yet another demonstration of the need for Github to support grouping of repos within an organization.

0

Finally got a SoundCloud account to share the ThoughtStream piece (entitled "A Thought Begins") with the rest of the team.

0

I wasn't going to work on ThoughtStreams today but ended up composing a little piece to use for ThoughtStreams videos.

0

We sometimes look at someone who did an exotic degree then gets a mundane job and think "what a shame they wasted their degree" but surely they are much better off than someone who did a mundane degree before their mundane job.

0

One of the things that I really reset my thinking about during my online biology course with Eric Lander was the misleading notion of genetics as being about traits or blueprints.

What I somehow missed in my naïve, school-boy understanding before was that genes control the operation of cells (not organisms directly) and throughout their life (not just during development).

The genetic code is not a collection of traits the organism will have, nor a blueprint for building an organism. It is the ongoing instruction manual for individual cells.

This may seem obvious to anyone with even a modicum of biological knowledge but Gary Marcus's book The Birth of the Mind makes clear how widespread the misunderstanding is/was (even amongst biologists earlier in the 20th century).

And people still talk about things like the "gene for blue eyes" without, in most cases I suspect, realizing how much of a misleading description this is of what's going on.

I don't think I grasped gene expression even at a basic level until I got rid of my bad thinking.

0

What distinguishes a colony of single-celled eukaryotes from one multi-cellular eukaryote?

In other words, if I have a pile of (say) 1,000,000 cells of the same genotype, how do I decide if I have a colony of single-cells or a single organism?

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0

So at the end of April 1995, I joined other early contributors to the Web in Australia in Ballina.

According to Helen Ashman and Adrian Vanzyl's report on the conference in the ACM SIGLINK Newsletter (Vol. IV No.3) there were 140 participants and the conference and at least that many more on the waiting list!

0

Again it's hard to convey nowadays just how small the Web community was at this time (early 1995), especially in Australia. So it was with huge excitement that I found out there was going to be a conference: The first Australian World Wide Web Conference (AusWeb95).

I submitted an extended abstract for a paper on the Hellenistic Greek Linguistics site as a case study of how to run a collaborative academic project on the Web. It talked about the mailing list archives and even how I achieved Greek display via GIFs of each character along with a Perl program that would translate BETAcode (which is what was used for representing Ancient Greek in ASCII at the time) into HTML IMG elements referencing the GIFs.

My paper was accepted so I just had to work out, as an undergraduate student how to fund it: flying cross country, accommodation, and the conference registration itself as there was no student discount.

The linguistics department said they had no money to send undergraduate students to conferences. Phil Dufty at UCS offered to fund my flight. The conference organisers arranged for me to stay at a local caravan park rather than the conference hotel.

0

I was continuing to dive more in to SGML at the same time as trying to keep up with developments happening on the Web (despite not being able to participate in the W3C).

I was also running courses on HTML at the university that were very spec-based. Looking back I was very pedantic about SGML and markup and the HTML specs and was quite a jerk about it.

But I was getting frustrated at the amount of bad information out there!

0

At the very start of 1995, I had launched the Hellenistic Greek Linguistics site. Here's the announcement to the LINGUIST LISTSERV (January 2nd, 1995):

ANNOUNCING: Hellenistic Greek Linguistics on the Internet [with apologies for any multiple postings]

I am pleased to announce new resources designed to bring together scholars interested in the study of Hellenistic (including New Testament) Greek Linguistics.

These resources include World Wide Web pages (accessible with such programs as Lynx, Mosaic and Netscape) as well as a mailing list. As well as general discussion, the list (which is archived on the Web pages) provides a forum for discussing the new reference grammar planned as a complete revision of Blass, Debrunner and Funk's standard work.

The Web pages include bibliographies and a (newly started) electronic archive of papers.

To browse the Web pages, go to the URL:

http://tartarus.uwa.edu.au/HGrk

To subscribe to the mailing list, send a request to:

jtauber@tartarus.uwa.edu.au

and to send a message to the entire list, write to:

greek-grammar@tartarus.uwa.edu.au

Please feel free to make enquires to jtauber@tartarus.uwa.edu.au

James K. Tauber (jtauber@tartarus.uwa.edu.au) 4th year Honours Student, Centre for Linguistics University of Western Australia, WA 6009, AUSTRALIA

0

We had a compulsory introductory courses we made all students who got Internet accounts do that covered the basics of netiquette, password security, email, network news, and the Web.

I remember during the Web part of the course introducing people to Lycos as the search engine, IMDb (then called the Cardiff Internet Movie Database and mirrored various places), and Yahoo (when it was running at akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo).

0

In 1995, I was in my final (honours) year and working at UCS doing both basic systems administration of the student systems and providing user support, including running training courses.

1

A few weeks ago, I had a great example of an interest that consumed my attention for a day but didn't last beyond that.

My wife and I went to the ballet.

I've always had this happen with ballet: I get obsessed with it briefly and then my interest fades. Back when I was 8 or 9 I attended my younger sister's ballet performance and wanted to become a dancer. It never went anywhere. A couple of times as an undergraduate, I went to the ballet. Always loved it at the time but nothing ever came of it.

So anyway, we went the ballet a few weeks ago. When I came home I spent hours reading up on terminology, watching videos of great dancers doing particular moves. I was obsessed. For just that day.

I woke up the next day and went back to Greek and linguistics. Maybe Carl Djerassi would call that the equivalent of meeting up with the same person every few years for just one night.

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2 years, 7 months ago
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0

TeuxDeux

A while ago my friend and colleague Greg Newman recommended https://teuxdeux.com as a task manager. I've tried a lot of different task managers but none have really stuck. TeuxDeux has.

I think the main reason is it takes such a simple approach. There's no attempt to have projects, tags, contexts, priorities or anything like that.

You just have a list for each day plus labelled lists not attached to any day.

Items not completed on the day just get moved to the next day. Markdown is supported in items and I sometimes use this to make little headings to separate tasks into sub-lists (--- also works nicely as a separator). There is very basic support for recurring tasks.

What I like most about the approach is:

  • it's very easy to plan out a week and see what you have coming up at a glance
  • it's perfect for ticklers: I can easily put items in the list for a day next week or next month
  • it's nice having a few non-date lists available at a glance

Regarding the third point, I'll note that I don't use it for all my lists of things (I use https://workflowy.com for that) but it's nicely to have a few lists easily viewable. Although they claim it's useful for Someday / Maybe items, I prefer those not to clutter my thoughts on a daily basis so I put them in workflowy and use the non-date lists in TeuxDeux for things like monthly or quarterly goals, daily routines, etc.

If you're well setup with something like Todoist, Things, or Nozbe, you might find TeuxDeux a little too basic but if you've found you can't stick with one of those heavier tools, and are really looking for something just slightly better than a text file or physical note book, TeuxDeux is worth checking out.

One final thing I find interesting about TeuxDeux: the developers say it's complete. It does what they set out to build and they aren't adding new features just for the sake of it. That's refreshing approach and I think it's worked well for this product.

2 years, 11 months ago
0

Just read this exception message in some code:

"You cannot log responses in a session that has completed."

which is slightly ungrammatical to me (I would need to use the passive "has been completed").

It's interesting the difference between "complete", "finish" and "end" in the context of, say a course.

A student can complete a course but a course cannot complete. A student can finish a course and a course can finish. A course can end but it is somewhat borderline to say a student ended a course (although I might be able to say "the student ended the course on a high note", certainly not "the student ended the course").

0

GraphQL fits in to a LOT of this stuff.

3 years, 1 month ago
0

Open a New Terminal Window

tell application "Terminal"
    do script ""
    activate
end tell
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Open a New Safari Window

tell application "Safari"
    make new document
    activate
end tell
0

As I continue to learn more about Redux, I can't help but relate it to some of these ideas.

0

But there's this theme running through all of this which is this idea of a single tree (okay, DAG in the case of git) representing state: whether it be an entire filesystem or an information store for an individual or enterprise.

1

A few years later when I was going deep to try to grok git, I started thinking about generalising git's approach to versioning beyond blobs to data structures.

This led to Rev which was specifically about applying git-like concepts to Python data structures—an idea I still think has merit and would be interesting to go back to.

0

I was pretty deep into SVN at the time and SVN actually presented a really interesting model of tree versioning that was relevant to all this.

0

But back to the mid-2000s:

Around this time I helped a friend, Ashley Aitken, with a startup idea he had for a single-tree information management solution aimed at enterprises.

The node publishing features of WorkFlowy remind me a lot of what Ashley was thinking of (although his was a lot more advanced and he was doing a lot of work on versioning).

0

Around this time I was still thinking a lot about tree-based personal information managers.

The only record of my ideas at the time I can find is this blog post: Using the Leo Outliner as a PIM.

Briefly jumping ahead to the present, I recently started playing around with WorkFlowy and it continues this idea of "single-tree information manager".

0

By 2003, I was thinking about the idea of a filesystem entirely made of Python objects. This directly led to the somewhat different idea of the Cleese OS project.

0

The TL;DR so far is basically:

  • a single tree representing an entire file system all the way into the files themselves: basically no distinction between directory trees and the tree structure internal to files.
  • software as functions that manipulate the tree and which themselves are nodes on the tree
  • a shell for navigating around the tree like Unix-shell on a filesystem
  • information from external sources grafted onto the tree
0

A month later (March 1999), in reply to a different thread I posted:

Wouldn't that be great? The UNIX pipe model has suffered from not having a standard structured format, as has the /proc file system. Not to mention what this could do to an OS like Plan9 where "everything is a file" and textual formats abound...

This is pretty much what I was suggesting a little while ago on this list (in the same breath as überdocument). I'm still trying to find the time to work a bit more on it. I certainly have a lot of ideas about it so if others are interested in helping with implementation, I'd love them to drop me an email. My idea involves a layer on top of the operating system that treats the operating system as one big XML document (hence the phase "überdocument shell" which I used at the time).

I'm thinking of calling it "Plan X" which both includes the mandatory "X" for association with XML and suggests, via roman numeral, a continuation of the thinking of Plan 9.

0

Two days later, I wrote to xml-dev:

[Isn't it funny they way you can carry around a crazy idea in your head for ages and then, out of nowhere comes just the discussion to trigger externalisation]

AN INITIAL IDEA FOR AN XML ÜBERDOCUMENT SHELL

What I would like to see initially, is a shell-like application that has an interactive command-line that takes shell-like notions such as a working directory (and the ability to change same), starting of applications, redirecting of input/output to/from files, piping to other application and applies them to an XML überdocument.

So this "shell" would have the notion of a working element (command 'pwe' (=pwd) will tell you what the working element is). You can change working element with the command 'ce' (=cd) followed by an XPointer.

Elements contain XML content or they could reference an unparsed entity (for the issue of whether by ENTITY attribute or XLink see below). Some unparsed entities (perhaps with an appropriate NOTATION) are applications that can be "run". Instead of files, these applications work on nodes in the überdocument element tree.

I imagine that applications would be a lot more modular as most of them would be working on exposed data structures. Rather than a monolithic email/PIM application, you'd have simple applications (applets? no; how about application elements => "applements"). One applement would POP your mail and graft in on to an element in the überdocument. Another (perhaps just XT running an XSL stylesheet) would list the subject headings. Another would enable you to read email. An editor applement would let you compose a reply message and then a final applement would send the mail via SMTP.

A GUI can come later, but for now, I'd love to see an implementation of what I've just described. In something like Python it should take no time at all to do.

<sidebar>

Is the überdocument a single XML document with multiple entities or more than one XML document?

At first I thought that entities would provide the perfect mechanism for an XML überdocument to be spread over multiple files. For at least two reasons, I now suspect XLink might be the way to go:

1) you can give the links semantics which might prove to be very useful 2) you avoid the document entity != legal external parsed entity problem I raised in an early post

That having been said, it is important to note that the whole point of the "überdocument" notion is that it is logically treated (perhaps not at the XML parser level but at a level not too higher up) as a single document. Changing working element involves giving an XPointer not URI+XPointer.

</sidebar>

0

To be clear: there's nothing XML-specific about the concept. It would apply to any tree structure with annotated nodes (including JSON and plain JS objects).

0

This concept then got extended and in February 1999, I wrote the following to the xml-dev mailing list:

For a while now, I've been thinking what an OS (or more likely shell) would look like if it took Unix's "everything as a file" to "everything as an XML element".

A system would be a single XML "uberdocument" (physically, separate entities, including unparsed for any non-XML files on the system but logically, the one XML document). Applications (which would themselves be nodes in the element tree) would operate on other nodes in the element tree.

There would be an application, for example, that got mail via POP or IMAP, represented it in XML and then attached it a particular point in the uberdocument. XSL could be used to sort the mail. XSL would also be used to view the mail.

It's XML for the sake of it, but I think it would be fun to try out.

0

Back in 1998, I wrote a draft of a paper called Rethinking websites as single documents the TL;DR of which is: what if you viewed the splitting of a web site into different web pages as just presentation. The logical structure of a site could be a single (semantically marked-up) document.

0

I'm learning about Redux from Flora Worley and the Dan Abramov videos she recommended.

The initial principle of a single state tree reminds of a whole bunch of different projects and ideas I've dabbled in.

3 years, 2 months ago
0

I think it's important to distinguish the meta expert from someone who is just better at teaching X than doing X.

For example, there are world-class sports coaches who aren't world-class at the sport they coach.

That's not who I have in mind with the term Meta Expert.

Perhaps even my real-estate example isn't a great one. The "problogger" is perhaps the best example because technically they are blogging professionally but they just blog about blogging. Hence the "meta".

0

joeld says:

Meta Experts may be too kind a term. In many instances of this kind of activity, there is more bullshit involved than "Meta Experts" would suggest.

I think sometimes it's legitimate which is why I chose a neutral term :-)

0

Most recently I've noticed how many self-professed multi-passionate / multipotentialites are focused on businesses around career counseling, etc for multi-passionate / multipotentialites.

Deciding that your focus on life is helping multipotentialites is great but it's not really being a multipotentialite yourself.

0

A lot of "how we do growth hacking" or "most important metrics for your SaaS startup" type posts are from founders of companies that build tools for growth hacking or for doing SaaS metrics.

There's nothing wrong per se with this type of content marketing. But they always run the risk that how you track metrics for your metric tracking tool SaaS company isn't the same as how you track metrics for any other kind of SaaS company.

0

A classic one are the people that tell you how to get rich in, say, real-estate who actually make more of their money, not from real-estate, but telling people how to make money in real-estate.

Thoughts by this user that have been liked by others.

1

Being a manager is very different from being an individual contributor, but managing managers is just as different.

1

"Congratulating an entrepreneur for raising money is like congratulating a chef for buying the ingredients."

1

The first thing to learn as a manager: the people that work for you aren't the same as you.

The second thing to learn as a manager: they aren't the same as each other, either.

1

Well, in the case of word processing, I believe and use tabs. There is no excuse for not taking advantage of tab stops in a word processor.

(Related: I also set proper paragraph spacing rather than hit Return twice)

1

The biggest challenge with managing engineers is they often hide that fact they're behind in the hope they'll make it up without anyone noticing.

I think the best way to fight that is to build a culture that makes it okay to admit you're behind.

Pixar's approach of showing work-in-progress early, even if it's crap (rather than hide it until it's perfect) seems related.

1

The new bridge near where I'm staying at the moment is closed today for its "opening". It's been open for weeks but it "opens" today which apparently involves it being closed.

1

https://twitter.com/piecalculus/status/459485747842523136 has a fun table of various system latencies, scaled to CPU cycle = 1s.

You can simplify it a little to get a quicker sense of orders of magnitude:

CPU cache    seconds
RAM          minutes
SSD          days
HDD          months
Internet     years
2

Lately I've been wondering if a lot of what I'm like now is the result of the fact that from the ages of 3–9 my dad was studying for a degree at night while working full-time. That almost certainly instilled in me the idea that it's perfectly normal to spend evenings reading textbooks and learning new things.

1

I encourage all developers to participate in Julython. It's always been a great motivator for me to get back to old projects or explore new ideas.

It's also a great excuse to spend a bit of time cleaning up projects and getting them up-to-date because it rewards breadth of work more than depth.

1

2 jobs: Your job as a manager is to shield your employees from useless shit. Your job as a manager is to rain opportunity on your staff.

— Tim Prendergast (@Auxome) July 9, 2014
1

I cringe a little when people say that maths education needs to make maths more relevant and explain to students "when they're going to use this in life".

Why not instead foster an attitude that some things are interesting to learn for their own sake?

1

Back in 2000, I was at a tech conference and Tim Bray was introducing me to one of my heroes: Tim O'Reilly. Before we could talk much, though, Tim O'Reilly's cell phone rang. It was Jeff Bezos calling to talk about the one-click patent (and Tim's Open Letter about it).

The call was written about in an article appropriately titled My Conversation with Jeff Bezos.

I never got to finish my conversation with Tim O'Reilly, though.

2

to which ThoughtStreams adds:

"This is what I think about donuts"

3

It's odd when people say "I'm not racist/sexist" as if it's a binary trait instead of a subtle bias that can tarnish a thought at any time.

1

ThoughtStreams hasn't brought in a huge amount of revenue (right at the moment it's actually generating none because we've made the public site free in the hope people will pay for a private, team-based version).

However, it doesn't need to.

Eldarion is profitable and doesn't rely at all on ThoughtStreams. We have a very long-term outlook on ThoughtStreams. I still believe it fulfills a need nothing else does.

We will always make it easy to export your content, we're looking into ways of better integrating with other systems and even if, for some unforeseen reason, we stop active feature development, there's no reason for the content on the site to ever go away. I have a personal investment already of 1,000+ thoughts here :-)

1

Parent / child is badly named in the UI because they aren't really parent-child relationships, they are just related streams. Streams can have multiple "parents" so if it was reflected in the URL, you'd have multiple URLs for the same stream.

I agree that the RHS should order by last updated, however...

With the branching epic we've just started working on, most of these issues will become moot (and even the way I'm responding to you now will too).

2

In the original Civilization, there was a signed integer bug that made Gandhi overly aggressive. Normally Gandhi's aggression level is a very low 1. If you are playing a democracy, your opponents' aggressions are reduced by 2.

But what should have been Gandhi's aggression level of -1 in that case was treated as 255, making him the most aggressive possible.

/via http://kotaku.com/why-gandhi-is-such-an-asshole-in-civilization-1653818245

2

If wikis and Twitter had a baby, it would be ThoughtStreams.

1

You can do a discrete Fourier transform in just one short line of J:

dft=: +/ .* ^@o.@(0j2&% * (*/ -)@i.)@#

Courtesy of this post by Andrey Paramonov which I indirectly found via a link from Dave's recently TIL post on the jlang hashtag.

1

MOOCs Completed

These are the MOOCs I've completed and passed.

edX

  • Introduction to Biology: The Secret of Life (MIT)
  • Quantitative Biology Workshop (MIT)
  • Fundamentals of Neuroscience (Harvard)
    • Part 1: Electrical Properties of the Neuron
    • Part 2: Neurons and Networks
  • Proteins: Biology's Workforce (Rice)
  • Astronomy XSeries (ANU)
    • ASTRO1x: Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe
    • ASTRO2x: Exoplanets
    • ASTRO3x: The Violent Universe
    • ASTRO4x: Cosmology
  • FP101x Introduction to Functional Programming (Delft)
  • Jazz Appreciation (UT Austin)

Coursera

  • Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life (Edinburgh)
  • Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition (NUS)
  • Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas (Curtis)
  • The Bilingual Brain (Houston)
  • Gamification (UPenn)
  • Managing the Company of the Future (London)
  • Learning How to Learn (UCSD)
  • TESOL Certificate, Part 1: Teach English Now! (ASU)
    • Teach English Now! Foundational Principles
    • Teach English Now! Theories of Second Language Acquisition
    • Teach English Now! Lesson Design and Assessment
  • Game Design and Development (MSU)
    • Introduction to Game Development
  • Game Design: Art and Concepts (CalArts)
    • Introduction to Game Design
  • Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why (Duke)
  • Ancient Philosophy (UPenn)
    • Plato & His Predecessors
    • Aristotle and His Successors
  • Big History: Connecting Knowledge (Macquarie)
  • Confronting the Big Questions: Highlights of Modern Astronomy (Rochester)
  • Sit Less, Get Active (Edinburgh)

Stanford

  • Digging Deeper: Making Manuscripts
1

In some respects, ThoughtStreams gives you an instant "Hemingway mode" for getting down your thoughts.

It encourages you to put something down, save or even publish it, and then continue to add to it rather than continue to futz around editing what you've already written.

Of course you can go back and edit later, but ThoughtStreams gives you permission to get stuff out as you think of it, setting the expectation that it is a stream of thoughts that will evolve.

1

Go with where your energy is and let your goals emerge from that rather than expect the other way around. Don't set a goal of running a marathon if you hate running.

1

I think we're finally starting to reach the critical mass of content where we actually want to default to the "favorited-only" people and streams.

Or perhaps make it configurable. And when new users start they get the firehose. Once they've favorited a certain number of people or streams, they can switch over to the "favorited-only by default". We can even suggest they do so when a threshold of favorites is reached.

1

An article back in 2009 in Intelligent Life, entitled The Last Days of the Polymath has an interesting (if slightly uncomfortable) analogy to help distinguish dabbling in topics from depth in multiple topics.

“Nowadays people that are called polymaths are dabblers—are dabblers in many different areas,” [Carl Djerassi] says. “I aspire to be an intellectual polygamist. And I deliberately use that metaphor to provoke with its sexual allusion and to point out the real difference to me between polygamy and promiscuity."

“To me, promiscuity is a way of flitting around. Polygamy, serious polygamy, is where you have various marriages and each of them is important. And in the ideal polygamy I suspect there’s no number one wife and no number six wife. You have a deep connection with each person.”

Not sure I feel entirely comfortable using the analogy myself but the distinction certainly makes sense.

1

Like a lot of people, I was inspired to "come out" as an introvert in part because of Susan Cain's wonderful TED talk and book.

1

Brian Little also has a wonderful talk he gave at TEDxOxbridge.

1

Had my interview at the US Embassy this morning. Approved within minutes and I'll be able to pick up my new passport with the new visa on Friday and fly back, as originally scheduled on Saturday.

When I left the US Embassy, I actually cried. I haven't felt such a release of stress in a long time.

1

Let me go through a few examples in my own life.

Mathematics is often near the top of my lists of interests. During high school, I was a silver medalist in the Australian Mathematics Olympiad and was probably in the top 10–20 in the country (although not good enough to make the team for the International Mathematics Olympiad). I only say this to justify that I at least had a shot of making a career in the field. At university, I started off majoring in mathematics and physics with an eye to being a theoretical physicist.

My choice of mathematics units (where I had a choice) strongly favored pure mathematics, but I think that was in part because "applied" mathematics in my course didn't mean things like theoretical physics but more things like dynamic programming and operations research. I much preferred topics like group theory over numerical methods.

But over the twenty years that followed, what I kept coming back to (and buying books on) was the mathematical foundation of general relativity and, to a lesser extent, quantum mechanics.

I'd read lots of books on differential geometry but I realized my interest waned dramatically if it wasn't relevant to understanding general relativity.

So really, my interest in mathematics can be far more precisely subsumed in saying my interest is in general relativity and cosmology.

That alone summarizes my shallow, broad interest in mathematics in general, my deeper interest in linear algebra, my even deeper interest in tensors, etc.

I could even get excited in numerical methods nowadays, if the application were computational relativity and cosmology.

This also summarizes my particular interests within physics and my deeper interest in astrophysics; why I'm interested in quantum physics but less so its practical aspects.

So rather than list 10–15 or so interests across mathematics and physics, I can probably just say cosmology and neatly cover everything.

Well, almost everything because there are still areas of mathematics that might be a necessary foundation for another interests outside of cosmology or physics all together.

1

A few years later when I was going deep to try to grok git, I started thinking about generalising git's approach to versioning beyond blobs to data structures.

This led to Rev which was specifically about applying git-like concepts to Python data structures—an idea I still think has merit and would be interesting to go back to.

1

A few weeks ago, I had a great example of an interest that consumed my attention for a day but didn't last beyond that.

My wife and I went to the ballet.

I've always had this happen with ballet: I get obsessed with it briefly and then my interest fades. Back when I was 8 or 9 I attended my younger sister's ballet performance and wanted to become a dancer. It never went anywhere. A couple of times as an undergraduate, I went to the ballet. Always loved it at the time but nothing ever came of it.

So anyway, we went the ballet a few weeks ago. When I came home I spent hours reading up on terminology, watching videos of great dancers doing particular moves. I was obsessed. For just that day.

I woke up the next day and went back to Greek and linguistics. Maybe Carl Djerassi would call that the equivalent of meeting up with the same person every few years for just one night.