Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dancing With My Fear

I, along with several million other people, read Seth Godin's blog. He writes every day, sharing his nuggets of wisdom to anyone who's willing to read them. Confession time: I often catch myself in a comparing another's middle to my beginning (a great nugget from Rebecca Garcia) trap. But that's a lost for another day.

I just finished a little blog playlist with Zen Habit's advice to writers, Seth Godin's piece called "How To Get Rid Of The Fear" and I'm now listening Denise Jacobs on  Hanselminutes on building the creativity muscle.

Leo Babauta's piece focused on how to get past procrastination, face the fear of discomfort or hard work or inadequacy and getting the work done. Then Seth Godin's piece was a reminder that feeling fear means you're doing something worthwhile. And Denise Jacobs was the kick in the pants reminder that great artists work everyday, painting or writing or practicing, whether they're "inspired" at that moment or not.

So, here I am, writing (Swyping, to be frank) this blog post, practicing shutting up the critical mind, writing a blog post. Feel free to check out the links above. You might have a different reaction.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What a Summer This Will Be

Through luck and skill and more than a little chutzpah, I am a newly minted Gnome/FOSS OPW intern on the Open Historical Street Map Project. I will be working with a terrific team of engineers[1] who are volunteering their time to this project, including Robert Warren, who will be my mentor through this journey. I feel deeply honored and incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.

The Wikimaps project seeks to draw together data from the OpenStreetMap and OpenHistoricalMaps projects to enable users to view maps backward through the 4th dimension: time. (Allowing users to view maps that reach forward in the 4th dimension is, sadly, out of the scope of this project. ;) )

The entire project has three main modules:

1. Enhance the iD, the Javascript map editor, and The_Rails_Port, the OHM backend, so that a Javascript time/date slider can be added to control the time period that is of interest.

2. Enhance the iD and The_Rails_Port so that meta-data hooks are added to the code that allow for custom deployments of both software. This will allow multiple interfaces to be generated from the same data source.

3. Modify, Mapnik, the software that renders the map images, to handle starting and ending dates for maps shown.

My next steps will be to get up to speed on the nitty-gritty of the iD and The_Rails_Port code bases and to develop a Minimum Viable Product for the time slider. Stay tuned for updates!

[1] Susanna Ånäs (Project Leader), Sanjay Bhangar, Jeff Meyer, Robert Warren, and Tim Waters.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Get ready to be inundated with all the details for my project for the Gnome Outreach Project for Women.

Ok. now off to re-read Scott Hansleman's blog on Being a Phony. I'll have more to write tonight.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do Not Despair

As written on the back of a cardboard bailing machine in the stockroom of [name withheld] Pharmacy:

Oh, ye of little hope,
Do not despair.
For there's greatness in you
Beyond compare.
With hard work and some luck
You will get there.

Friday, April 4, 2014

There's Something To This After All

In a tiny blog post waaay back in January, Mind Your P's & Q's, or Rather, Your I's & You's, I mentioned the beginnings of an idea for a crude method for predicting the popularity of a blog, based solely on the ratio of references to the writer (writing "I" or "me", etc) to references to the reader ("you").  I wrote a little word counter in Ruby and then quickly lost heart in my little idea and got caught up in something More Important.

Early this week, I came across a post called "Our Best Feature is Our Worst Feature" by @Thinkup co-founder, Anil Dash.  In his post, he says that one way his company demonstrates to its users the value and importance of their social media presence is to track (and report) the number of times they talk about themselves on social media. It's called the "All About You" insight and a lot of it boils down to the percentage of their total posts, tweets, etc. that refer back to themselves. (The meat of the article discusses the difficulty in making an uncomfortable observation - ie, "Wow, you sure talk about yourself a lot!" - into an engaging, helpful story that Thinkup users will pay for. It's a great post, you should read it. I'll wait.)

The beginning of the post is what caught me, though. I had pretty much abandoned my idea because, well, it was just my idea. I thought it was one of those ideas that look great in the stage lights of your head and then ridiculous in the sunlight. But clearly it wasn't. Brilliant, accomplished people had similar ideas and ran with them. I didn't get there (read: anywhere) nearly as quickly as Thinkup did (they clearly thought about this long before I did and built it into their business), but I'm also not completely off the track either.

Today's moral: if you have an idea, do something about it. Better to find out it's a bad idea than to kick yourself for not doing something with it. I wouldn't have beaten Thinkup to the market or anything like that. But perhaps my next idea can actually go somewhere. The first step is to actually put my key in the ignition and see where I can drive it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day

I'm thoroughly enjoying some of the posts for today. My favorite so far is from Code For America:

I'm thinking of applying. With my luck, though, I'd get Nightvale. Bummer.