I’ve had a week to think about this now, so here we go.
My 40th birthday went exactly as I had wanted it. I had a nice dinner celebration with family and friends, I gave a very short speech, and everyone had a good time. There was cake. The next day I played Shadowrun with friends, and the day after Jen and I went to Victoria and stayed at the Empress. We did In-Room Dining and Afternoon Tea.
It was absolutely awesome.
Now I have some time to reflect on what this next decade means for me. My 20s were characterized primarily by the search for a life partner, which I achieved when I married Jennifer in 2001, when I was 29. My 30s were all about searching for a career, for some place I could go work where I felt my talents were well utilized and I could make a difference. By the time I was 39, I felt I had achieved this. I had not only found a great company but created my own dream job within that company. This wasn’t easy to do by any means, but it happened, and it has given me great satisfaction.
So what’s next?
There are clearly things left to on a personal level, both at work and away from work. I’m working hard on the sequel to my first novel, and I’m still writing articles for Ars Technica, both things I did during my 30s. I have all sorts of new goals and projects at work. These things aren’t going away.
But if I had to define a long-term objective for this decade, it would be this: to create something new and deliver it to the public. Not a book, although I’m doing that as well. No, this is something much greater in scope, and something that I hope reaches a larger audience. I’m not quite ready yet to reveal what it is, but it is going to be awesome.
I was going to do this when I first released Monarch, but it seemed hard so I didn’t actually get around to doing it.
To prevent spammers that can read even the most twisted words and phrases, I’ve implemented my own version of Kitten Captcha, something I wrote about on Ars way back in 2006 here:
Well, I’ve finally done it. The system displays a bunch of random pictures and a new user has to select all the pictures that are in fact cats. The file names are all randomized so that a spambot can’t just guess what they are, and you have to pick only three out of the ten images so you can’t just select everything.
I deleted all the spam accounts that OSY 3.0 had accumulated (about 30 of them!) and so we’ll see how this new system works. I hope it both discourages bots and encourages new users due to its being cute and cuddly.
Here’s a screenshot of the page in action:
Many years ago, my website (the one you’re reading now!) did not live on jeremyreimer.com, but a domain I registered called pegasus3d.com. (The Wayback machine has records dating back to May 1, 2001, but I think it was around earlier: http://web.archive.org/web/20010501232114/http://www.pegasus3d.com
Why Pegasus3D? Well, I had recently taken a 3D animation course, and I had silly dreams about starting a one-person company to do animation. Pegasus was the name I used when I was a small child building Lego Space Ships to refer to my giant, world-sized flagship. (I had not seen the 1970’s Battlestar Galactica episode that introduced said ship, or maybe I had, it doesn’t really matter)
None of this matters. This isn’t the point of this post.
Years later I let the pegasus3d.com domain lapse, as I wanted to brand all my web stuff under my own name. I figured nobody would grab it, because why would you want such a silly domain name?
Well, I was wrong. Last month, somebody got it. Or, to be more accurate, some thing got it. Check it out: http://www.pegasus3d.com
It looks like a standard WordPress blog, right? Only look at the articles. They SEEM like standard, boring blog posts about--wait, what are they about again?
If you read them closely, they aren’t about anything! It’s just random text made to look like a blog post. Some computer is churning out articles filled with spam links. I suppose I should be glad that said robot isn’t posting on my blog with their random spam links, as many robots do. But it’s still somewhat disturbing. I may not blog a lot, and I may not use that domain any more, but it used to be full of content created by a human. Now it’s full of content created by a robot, hoping to be read by humans.
One wonders if they couldn’t cut us out of the loop altogether, and have robots read the robot blog posts. Hmm.
This sort of thing isn’t an isolated incident, either. Big name sites like Forbes.com are using far more sophisticated robots to write articles for them that they used to have to pay humans for: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/forbes-among-30-clients-using-computer-generated-stories-instead-of-writers_b47243
My friend Terry and I have talked before on our Knotty Geeks podcast about the book The Lights In The Tunnel, about how the future of our economy is a bunch of people with all the money and nobody having any jobs because they have first been outsourced, then replaced by computers. This is happening and there is little that any of us can do to stop it.
I’m not a Luddite: I don’t advocate smashing the computers in protest. The solution involves creating new types of jobs, ones that (for the moment at least) robots can’t handle. Beyond that, I have no idea what to do about this.
EDIT: Followup in 2013:
The robo-page is gone, but the site is now just a "parked" domain with the standard ugly Godaddy default crap inside it. I'm not sure if this is better or worse.
Via Penny Arcade, I have found and fallen in love with this show. Jen and I are in the middle of Season Two and are completely hooked.
Of course, I couldn’t help but notice that the character of Matthew looks somewhat familiar...
In this episode, we take a look back at the entire history of Knotty Geeks since the show started on September 6, 2008. We try to understand where we came from, who we are, and where we are going.
As a bonus, Brian Palfrey stops by and makes history by becoming the very first guest of Knotty Geeks!
Links from the show:
- A look back on 15 episodes!
- Tech news is boring - http://gawker.com/5824908
- New Amiga X1000 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AmigaOne_X1000
- The Machine is Using Us - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE
- Did you Know - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9Wu2kWwSY
- Us (Den of Thieves) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=CA&hl=en&v=_yxHKgQyGx0
- The Coming War on General Computation - Cory Doctorow - http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/lockdown.html
- Wikileaks Julian Assange - http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/julian-assange-the-rolling-stone-interview-20120118
- The Decline Effect - http://declineeffect.com/?page_id=24
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Many years ago I became obsessed with personal computer market share. I remember wanting desperately to argue with other geeks on the Internet about whether the Apple ][ had a greater share than the Commodore 64 or vice versa, but the problem was that nobody seemed to have this information.
One night I went into insane researching mode and stayed up until three in the morning trying to find the answers to my questions. I gathered up all the numbers, and put it on a single page, for which I did no advertising. For years it was the #1 or #2 result for Googling "personal computer market share", simply because nobody else had bothered to tally up these numbers.
You can visit the page here: http://jeremyreimer.com/postman/node/329
or read the more full-featured article I wrote for Ars Technica based on these numbers here: http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/12/total-share.ars
After this, I gradually lost interest in the whole concept of market share, mostly because it was (for me) a solved historical problem now, but also because I moved on to other things.
Then out of the blue I found this article that had taken my numbers, moved the whole graph to a really cool logarithmic scale, and added data for iPhones, Android phones, and iPads!
This is a really cool example of people building on top of other people’s work, without having to ask permission but being nice about attribution. It’s nice to see the data I had long forgotten about being used in new and novel ways.
Stewart Butterfield had a dream.
He wanted to build a game that was different from anything else he had played. He wanted to start a company to build that game and then make it available to everyone in the world for free. He wanted to push the boundaries of how people play games together.
Unfortunately, his idea came in 2002, when few venture capitalists wanted to invest in making games, much less free ones.
At the time, Butterfield’s startup, Ludicorp, was running out of cash. Things had gotten so bad the company was about to sell off furniture to make payroll. In desperation, the developers took a prototype social network side-project and enhanced it so that it allowed users to upload and share photos. This project eventually turned into Flickr—and it became so popular that Yahoo purchased Ludicorp in 2005.
Butterfield stayed on at Yahoo for a few years, but his original dream still pulled at him. By 2009, venture capitalists were now tripping over each other to fund free-to-play online games, so Butterfield seized his chance. He founded Tiny Speck and set up offices in San Francisco and Vancouver.
It was a lot of fun for me to visit a startup game design studio and get into the nitty-gritty of the technology and people behind it. I hope you have fun reading it!
There is a theory in physics that our universe is but one of an infinite number of universes, each existing in an expanding bubble inside a faster-expanding super-space, never coming into contact with each other.
A similar thing goes on every single day at work. Each person lives in their own bubble universe of their own perceptions, feelings, emotions, and opinions regarding everybody else.
When we talk to each other, our words transmit only a tiny amount of our meaning. When we send email, or chat over MSN, or even worse, hold meetings and talk about other people behind their back, all this extra information is lost. You are working, at most, at 10 percent efficiency.
And that's not even taking into account the fact that any information or meaning you DO manage to convey is going to be twisted and distorted by the "bubble universe" of perception and emotion that each person is living in.
This is a real problem in software development, where it is absolutely vital that everyone is on the same page and shares the same goals and vision.
Preventing this from happening is not easy. You need a close-knit team of developers who like and trust one another. You also need freedom from interference by managers, who live in their own far more distant bubble universes.
So what should managers do with their time? That will be the subject of a future blog post.
This time on Knotty Geeks, we review the three methods of management, deal with our lizard brains, and come up with a way to fix reality. That’s next, on Knotty Geeks.
Links from the show:
- Joel Spolsky’s Three Management Methods: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/08/07.html
- Cognitive Dissonance http://youarenotsosmart.com
- The Lizard Brain: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/01/quieting-the-lizard-brain.html
- Freakonomics: http://www.amazon.com/Freakonomics-Economist-Explores-Hidden-Everything/dp/006073132X
- Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work: http://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work.html
- The Forever Recession: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/09/the-forever-recession.html
- Reality is Broken: http://www.amazon.ca/Reality-Broken-Games-Better-Change/dp/1594202850
Book of the month:
Incandescence by Greg Egan: http://www.amazon.ca/Incandescence-Greg-Egan/dp/1597801283
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September 29, 2001 was the day that I married my soulmate, Jennifer Jang. It was easily the happiest day of my life up until that point.
Every day since then has been happier.
People say that relationships are hard, but that’s not really true. When you are committed to a partner for the long term, you have an amazing number of opportunities to practice and improve the relationship. Of course, you have an equal number of chances to let the relationship wither on the vine.
We chose the former path, and it has made all the difference.
I can’t even begin to describe the number of ways that my life has improved by being married to such a wonderful person. People sometimes refer to their spouse as the "ball and chain". I really dislike this metaphor.
I think of Jen as my wings. Without her, sure, I’d still be alive, I’d still be a person living on the planet.
But with her, I can fly.
Happy anniversary, sweetie.
I'm a writer and occasional programmer. I write science fiction stories and novels.
I also write technology articles for Ars Technica.
I'm the creator of newLISP on Rockets, a web development framework and blog application.