Posts Tagged project dave

Books, Beasts, Babies

I’ve been browsing through volunteer opportunities, and I had some thoughts that I wanted to record:

  • There are a lot of manual labor projects that are looking for help.  I think I will not be satisfied with a manual labor kind of task unless I’m involved in the planning in some way – like if it’s one of my ideas, and I then dig in and “build” whatever it is.  This reminds me of the arcade game machine I wanted to build… maybe that’s a reasonable project to do?  It feels good on the organizational level, but maybe in the wrong place on the cost / benefit level.
  • I like the library projects!  Something like running a public book group or helping out at a library branch sounds like something I would enjoy AND that would satisfy my need to do something useful.  I’ll keep that on the list.
  • I think I might enjoy volunteering at the zoo… but first, I should visit the zoo.  Maybe I’ll just do that anyway. :)
  • There are also a lot of “work with troubled youth” style postings for volunteers.  Is that something I want to do?  I am embarrassed to say that maybe I don’t want to work with troubled youth – I guess I feel (instinctively) that although the payoff would be amazing if I could make a big impact in kids’ lives, I’d be too uncomfortable jumping into the twin responsibilities of doing a job well, and positively impacting a kid (kids) as well.

Tomorrow, I’ll be writing up some personal activities I could do, and then making a decision!  Gotta get moving!

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Change Gears

I decided the emotional exploration could wait, because (1) returning from a trip puts me into an ennui-ish mood anyway, and it would be better if I focus on something active rather than passive (like writing up my emotional state) and (2) I want to explore a plan-of-action with my blog soon before I lose nerve!

So, new theme.  This month is going to be Project Dave – I’m going to search for a project to do that’ll enrich me as a person.  Right now I’m considering volunteer work, and I’m going to go a’searching tonight and tomorrow and write about that.  It could also end up being a jumpstart for research into a business idea I had, and/or maybe a “change self” project (like a self-makeover, I guess?).  On that last one, the self-makeover, I think I’d need to sit down and really lay out my goal for such an endeavor, because off the top of my head, I know what I’d like to CHANGE (too analytical, don’t have much personal style, out of shape) but not completely sure what I’d want to BECOME.  Ooh, and another possibility is starting to learn to dance!  Also, build something, which I can never seem to pull through on.

If you have ideas for a project I could do (start) over the course of this month, let me know!

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Bucket List

I was recently thinking about the “big ticket” items I have on my list to do before I die.  (I guess I am turning 30 soon, so it’s on my mind?  More likely, I just hate being bound by a job and want to get out there and accomplish!)  So, here are some things I would put on my Bucket List:

  • Spend a month or more living in a foreign country.  Preferably non-European, since I would like to step outside my travel comfort zone a bit more.
  • Be weightless in space; doesn’t have to be for very long.  I would also like to look at the Earth from space.
  • Publish a relevant paper in a scientific field.  This one gets harder to accomplish the more time I spend away from academia, but I still think it’s possible if I put my mind to it.
  • Be part of a successful business venture from day 1.  Hopefully one I start!
  • Give a speech to a large audience (something like 100 or more people).
  • Take a road trip across the United States.
  • Win a major competition in sports (unlikely) or games (likely, probably Magic).
  • Give each of my close friends a “perfect” gift (perfect, meaning perfect for them).

I also have in my head something to do with raising a child, but as it’s not particularly well-defined right now, I’ll keep thinking about how to say it and leave it off for now.

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After Hyperlinks

Nate and I were discussing projects – as we often do – with lofty dreams of making something long-lasting, successful (as in monetary, but also as in popular), and powerful.  Since we were both working on web projects at the time, when he suggested the nigh-absurd “replace/improve hyperlinks in a way similar to what Google is trying to do with Wave to replace email,” I did not immediately dismiss the idea.

For those who don’t know, Wave is a combination wiki-email-chat sort of conglomeration that Google is hoping will replace email proper.  That is, they believe (and I mostly agree) that email is a convention too tied to the analog (physical snail-mail) and could be much better utilized as a combination of these other great digital options we have now – wikis, Twitter, Facebook, chat programs, etc.  They went so far as to define a new “language” – a federation system – so that if you want to make your own system and have it inter-operate with Wave, you can!

What does “do the same for hyperlinks” mean to me?  It means attempting to break out of the navigational metaphor of “turn to page X”.  Search engines have done this in part, but aren’t they just digital indexes?  I am sort of imagining a new way to sift through information – something like a fuzzy web of topics that you push your way through and collect bits from.  When I am online trying to answer a question I have, I might search on Google (1), go to wikipedia (2), ask my friends on Twitter or Facebook (3), and scan a few articles on various topics to collect additional specialized information (4).  Could one create a new system – like a web browser, but not – that collects these snippets of information and allows you to view them all side by side in the way tabs try (but ultimately fail, in my opinion) to parallelize information?


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Decision Power

Last night as I was leaving work, I thought about all of the e-documents I wanted to write (followups to friends, work stuff, game ideas, business plans) and as usual, felt so overwhelmed that I was like, “Man, just thinking about this is tiring me out – time to relax with Bioshock 2.”  But instead of letting that inclination take over, I forced myself to decide to do those things – in essence, I felt like I generated energy just from deciding to take on and accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish.

It feels like the act of making a decision is powerful in this way – it can provide what I consider to be the “activation energy” to get oneself moving and doing something.  Does this mean that I had the energy in reserve the whole time (but somewhat inaccessible because I was feeling drained), or that I generated it via the decision to do everything?  I think there are gaps that decisions can’t bridge – like, I may be physically or mentally exhausted to the point where I don’t actually think decision will provide enough activation energy.  This seems related to the concept of “second wind” – I certainly felt like, in college, when I needed to pull an all-nighter, I found a reason to decide to do so and that gave me the “second wind” I needed (or sometimes “third” and “fourth” winds!) to continue to the end of the task I assigned myself.

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I have found myself stretching for topics (and also checking back to see if I have already spoken on a particular topic!) as I think in the mornings about what to write.  Because I have no focused and clear theme to write on, I sometimes struggle to find something “worthy” of writing about — and then I postpone writing it, and work gets in the way, and it’s in the afternoon before I have anything!

So, my plan is to, starting in April, choose a monthly theme for my blogs.  Like, “Idealism vs. Pragmatism,” and then theme most (not all!) of the blogs in that month along those lines.  That still gives me the leeway to talk about really interesting current events (like trips I am taking, or interesting happenings at Monday karaoke, for example) but have a good mainstay/go-to topic (or series of topics).

Now, to find an appropriately broad theme… I have a few ideas.  Suggestions welcome! :)

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Today, my boss asked me to call in so he could give me the good news – bonus checks are being sent out! I promised not to talk about the amount, but suffice it to say that any amount of windfall money makes my wheels start turning.

I definitely intend to pay off most or all my current outstanding debt (I guess I treat this separately from the ginormous Federal Plus loan that always sits over my head) – my credit card bill which is mostly Hawaii, and my recent new mattress.  After that, there are a lot of incidental things I could go buy (up to and including more trips), but I think I’ll be better off if I think through the options that are more long-term.

Once again, I’m considering whether this bonus could be the seed money for working off on my own for a while.  The plan, in short: quit whatever I’m doing work-wise, thus freeing up all of my time, live frugally and spend a few months (up to a year, depending on the amount of money I have as seed) trying to do my own thing – start a business, create a website/game/etc. that can make money, or something else entirely.  This plan is ultra-risky, and without “my own thing” clearly defined, I am not super inclined to just do it.

Another possibility is doing what money does – invest it or put it in a high-yield savings account of some form, and watch it grow.  Ugh.  Soooo boring.  I am generally not in favor of reducing my choices, and sticking my money away somewhere, although clearly less risky and possibly more choice-generating long term, just feels like giving away freedom to Future Dave.

I’ll have to ponder more – maybe make a full list of options with their pros and cons, to try to get my decision juices flowing.

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Head a Splode

Recently, and often in the past, I’ve felt like I have too many ideas and plans bouncing around in my head, straining to get out and become… something.  This is annoying because with the rest of life getting in the way (work, sleep, etc.) I haven’t really found the time to try to take an idea in my head (like a project) and put it down on paper / code / physical construction, depending on the idea.

I’ve found this is most frustrating with programming projects – I can see in my head the finished version, I know that given enough time I could code it by myself, and so I immediately get anxious to see it done.  This is probably a problem with patience, which I do not have in particularly high quantity.  It could also be that my regular programming work, given how generally broken down into bite-sized pieces it is, leaves a unfulfilled desire to just do something from start to finish.

In terms of other ideas and non-programming projects, I think I get frustrated because I have never really grasped a good plan of attack for those sorts of things.  It’s always been “start-go-go-go-go-go-finish,” which doesn’t mesh well with routine and scheduled work.  I think it will eventually boil down to setting master routines for myself (maybe I’ll go into that in an upcoming blog) so that I feel like I am making significant progress without needing to bolt/sprint to the finish line.

Some of the things bouncing around in my head right now:

  • Another “get together” for college friends, probably some sort of travel
  • Deck Database for Magic
  • GameSpace (see previous blog topics on that)
  • the Pepsi Refresh Everything grant proposal writing
  • starting a business (looking into the first steps along that path, to see how viable it is)
  • setting up a kickass game room (right now, it is moderately awesome)

The ones in the list above are crowding out my thoughts about other ones, although I’m sure there’s more bouncing around in there.

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Refresh Everything

Pepsi has apparently decided that instead of spending millions on television ads (or maybe in addition to!), they’re going to give away $20 million in grants for projects submitted through their website  Each month, 1000 submissions get pitted against each other and the community votes on which ones they like.  Then Pepsi awards grants of various sizes ($10k to $250k) to the winning/most popular proposals.

This endeavor is like grant-writing-lite, and I think it would make a good exercise for me to try to make a submission.  They have six categories (Health, Arts and Culture, Food and Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods and Education), and some of those apply to some ideas I have kicking around in my head. Fleshing out one of the blue-sky ideas I have for making the world a better place, especially if it has an outside chance of getting me $25k in funding, seems like a totally cool way of spending my time. Plus, doing a proposal through this miniaturized process will inform my ability to create a real business plan or real grant proposal for the same or similar idea.

The tricky part is transforming a plan that could make the kernel of a good for-profit business into something more like a one-man not-for-profit venture.  Anyway, once I think a bit more about the kind of proposal I would make, I’ll post about it here!

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What Is: 2Do

I have a half-written post about part 2 of GameSpace but since that project is uber-duper complicated, I decided I would try to flesh out a slightly less difficult complicated project first: a new, possibly iPhone, to-do list program that would be perfect for me.  I know, I know – selfish!

2Do’s design is fairly simple:

  • No login necessary – it stores your lists and items in lists based on saved cookies.  It appears that iPhone apps can share the built-in Safari web browser cookie store, so perfect!  I think it should include a login system for sharing tasks between computers, but it shouldn’t be necessary.
  • When you start, you have one list defined with a default name and no items.
  • You can set up any number of lists, by name – the names don’t have to be unique.
  • On the side is a listing (maybe collapsible) of your current lists, in the order in which you flip through them.  You can drag the list titles to move the lists around.  There’s a clear place to add a new list at the top, and you can drag it to anywhere in the list once you are finished naming it.
  • I think each list name should have next to it the number of incomplete tasks.
  • You move from list to list by flicking to the side (iPhone, maybe web?) or selecting the list title from the list-listing.
  • When you are looking at a list, each item has the following info:
  • one-line description
  • due date (optional)
  • priority (optional) – I think these are numbers with color coding, similar to other todo list applications
  • a checkbox, which is the complete status
  • You can reorder the list items by dragging the item handle.
  • You can easily add a new item at the top of the list, and then drag it.
  • You can easily remove an item by clicking the red “x” to the far right of the item.
  • Each list also has a checkbox at the top – whether to show completed items.  (They just become hidden if you hide them.)

That’s it!  I’m getting excited thinking about doing this implementation, at least on the web (I’ll be borrowing some prebuilt animation libraries for the web to make it “feel” like the iPhone, probably?).

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