Two Guys Arguing

NaNoBloMo Recap

Posted in Uncategorized by youngnh on 11.29.10

Sum up the last month of blogging in 120 characters or less (gotta leave space for a URL on the end):

Clojure solves programs naturally, elegantly and — holy crap! it’s 10 o’clock at night and none of my ideas panned out.

Best skill you developed by writing 15 blog posts in 30 days:

Formulating ideas and writing them down helps me break them down. I always felt like I had the quintessential software skill of “breaking the problem down”, but this excercise really taught me that is a separate skill from making my problems smaller. To belabor the point, one approach leaves you with a lot of problems that you have to solve, and the other is the excercise of ignoring a lot of solutions. I have written posts on ideas I thought were small and elegant, but they scrolled in at 5 or 6 screens of text. I tried not to do that this month, and in the process, felt like I got better at extracting smaller problems from large ones.

Favorite post of the last 30 days:

I really enjoyed writing the HP-15C program. The manual was something that took me some searching to find, so it was with great pleasure that I uploaded it to our site for others to find, and it was a fun challenge to write a program in 400-something bytes when every digit is an instruction.

Would you do this again next year?

I would commit to a less-demanding writing schedule. Considering that last year I stone-cold quit NaNoBloMo after maybe 2 posts, I’m really happy that I stuck it out until the end this year. I’m not terribly interested in being a pundit and even though I’ve got a lot of opinions, what I wanted to do with this month was write about writing software. There are new killer Clojure libraries emerging daily. It’s satisfying to use what someone else wrote to solve a problem. It’s personally instructive to try and fathom their design decisions. It’s enduringly useful to others to have concrete examples of good software available.

Having to post something every 2 days is too strict. The amount of time required to produce a post every 2 days was exactly right, the problem came when I failed to get anything working in the 3-4 hours a night I spent fiddling with stuff. Starting out I had a grand idea planned and outlined how every two days I’d move on to a new topic and use some new Clojure library to address that day’s topic, but I ran into issues after the first post and never got back on track. I think a post every 4 days would be a good amount. Enough time to queue up posts if things go swimmingly, and enough to recover and take a new tack if they don’t.

Which posts did you half-ass?

I started early, my fifth post, Start Tomcat from the REPL was an old text file I had lying around in case I ever had to actually do that again. I cleaned it up for an easy post. My Oracle post was the same way, the only difference is the old text file the Oracle post came from represented weeks of effort and failure and forum posts and hair pulling and lots of swearing. I’ve got a lot more old text files on installing Oracle for semantic technologies. I’m glad I didn’t use them.

Chasing the Sun, was one of my favorite posts since it led to a lot of interesting study for me and pointed towards a solution to a long-standing challenge of Ben’s. It was a half-assed post that I started writing maybe an hour before publishing. I had spent all day working on something else that didn’t turn out. That post contained no code, no real grasp of the astronomical concepts, just me plugging numbers into online calculators.

Copyright 1988 is as half-assed as it comes. I click-clacked that one out after getting home from work on a Friday, minutes before rushing out the door to catch the latest Harry Potter film with friends.

I didn’t half-ass the Konquest post, I just couldn’t get to an elegant, complete solution so I think it came off as half-finished.

Any last words before spending the coming months trying to forget that you ever did this?

I’ll have it known that my co-blogger Ben (if he doesn’t stumble at the finishing line) beat me handily at getting his posts in on time and deserves the TwoGuys NaNoBloMo trophy.

Submitting too close to midnight bit me twice and those posts appeared a day later than they were due. I submitted a post 7 minutes before midnight on November 9th, but unbeknownst to me our blog (at least my profile) was set to Eastern time, so it was published with a November 10th timestamp. I immediately rectified the timezone problem, but 3 minutes before midnight on the Saturday after Thanksgiving it totally slipped my mind that I was in Portland, Oregon. So that post showed up on an even numbered day as well.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.