Bringing back an old friend

I have a crazy idea. It may even be a bad idea.

I’m going to try and bring Lists of Bests back from the dead.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the story. Back in early 2003, I had an idea for a website where you could keep track of books you’ve read, films you’ve seen, and albums you’ve listened to that happened to be on a list of greats (think The Academy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize list, etc). The result was Lists of Bests. It started out with maybe 10 lists, but over the years grew to over 30 lists of all kinds.

Then in 2006, I sold the domain and the site to the Robot Co-op group (old blog post), and they added a lot of neat features to the site and integrated it with their other properties. It was in good hands, and they kept it running for many years.

But at a certain point in the last decade, the Robot Co-op - and Lists of Bests - ceased to exist.

Now, flash forward to a few weeks ago when Namecheap had a sale on domain name registration, where .org sites were only a few dollars to register for a year. On a whim, I picked up (the .com domain seems to have fallen into hands trying to make a buck), and thought I’d try and bring the site back up… in a way. I guess the big question is this: why?!

I think it will be a good chance to a) learn something new, and b) give me something to write about here on the weblog. There are still many unanswered questions about this endeavour, but I’m going to give it a decent attempt. I don’t think it will end up being a fully functional site at the level it was before, but it could end up as a neat proof of concept. We’ll have to see where it goes.

I’ll likely be sharing the code, and I’ll definitely keep track of progress here on the blog. But who knows what I’ll end up with in the end. It could be fun, right? Wish me luck.

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I think I'm going to like this book

Today I picked up Charles Stross’ 2004 book The Atrocity Archives from the library. So far, I’ve only read the introduction, but I really think I’m going to like this book. Here’s a small bit from Ken McLeod’s intro:

It is Charlie’s experience in working in and writing about the Information Technology industry that gives him the necessary hands-on insight into the workings of the Laundry. For programming is a job where Lovecraft meets tradecraft, all the time. The analyst or programmer has to examine documents with an eye at once skeptical and alert, snatching and collating tiny fragments of truth along the way. His or her sources of information all have their own agendas, overtly or covertly pursued. He or she has handlers and superiors, many of whom don’t know what really goes on at the sharp end. And the IT worker has to know in their bones that if they make a mistake, things can go horribly wrong. Tension and cynicism are constant companions, along with camaraderie and competitiveness. It’s a lot like being a spy, or necromancer. You don’t get out much, and when you do it’s usually at night [emphasis mine].

Previously, I’ve read Stross’ book Accelerando and liked it. But this book, and the ones that follow it in the “Laundry Files” series, have come up a few times in reading up on some other books I’ve been reading recently.

So, I was really looking forward to this book after reading that intro, and then I saw the book’s subjects in the front pages.

  1. Geeks (Computer enthusiasts)–Fiction. 2. Intelligence service–Fiction. 3. Office politics–Fiction. 4. Great Britain–Fiction. 5. Demonology–Fiction. 6. Monsters–Fiction. 7. Nazis–Fiction.

Yeah, I think this is going to be good.

2017-03-17 — #books #literature #scifi
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What I'm doing

A while back I came across the “now page” idea that Derek Sivers started. While it’s not a totally unique idea, it is a nice exercise on keeping a public “to do” or “doing” list.

I’ve added one here and I’m going to do my best to keep it updated. It doesn’t feel like I have a whole lot going on at the moment, but seeing everything there in one place does serve as a nice reminder of the tasks I’ve told myself I should be working on.

I’ll try and keep that page up to date, but also use it as a reminder of things to make myself busy with when I find myself thinking “I’m bored.”

2017-01-02 — #motivation #now
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Filling up sketchbooks

Sketchbooks on the bookshelf

For the last few years, I have been doing what I can to get into habit of sketching more often. And if you look at the photo above, you’ll see how many sketchbooks I’ve been able to fill up over this time. Before I really began sketching in earnest, I had a few sketchbooks (you can see the ones that were much further into the past), but they would only get opened every six months or so, and then only for a sketch or two.

I’m still not sketching on a daily basis, but I’ve been able to pull out a sketchbook for some doodling almost at least once a week. For the last two years, I have participated in the “Every Day in May” and Inktober challenges. They have been a great way to force myself to stick to some regular sketching. You can see the results from Every Day in May 2015 & 2016, and my Inktober sketches from 2016 up on Flickr.

When there aren’t any ongoing challenges, it is a bit harder to keep up with sketching, but it’s something that’s almost always on my mind. And even if it isn’t an every day habit, I do enjoy the practice very much - which I’ll probably get into more over the next few months. If you’d like to follow along, I’ve been using both my Flickr and Instagram accounts to upload my sketches and paintings.

2016-12-23 — #art #sketching
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Starting again

I’ve done it again. I’ve wiped the previous weblog away and have started over again. However, this time I’m not even bothering with keeping the older posts around. It’s all gone.

With the mind-boggling changes coming to the country in a couple of months, I’m hoping to get this up and going to have it as something to focus my energy on. If this ends up being a creative distraction, then all the better.

I’ve switched back to using Jekyll to build the weblog, if only because it makes managing my server a bit easier (no constant upgrades to WordPress and MySQL).

Let’s see if that means things will be updated more often around here.

2016-12-04 — #site