Earlier this morning, I was thinking, “Be here. Be present. Be now. We ask a lot from our future selves. We need to expect a lot more from the moment that is here and now.” That string of thoughts was sparked by my digital experience earlier in the day.
Recently I have noticed that my digital experience feels very disjointed. I have more ways available to communicate with folks online than ever before. The rise of messaging applications a decade ago has been matched and probably surpassed. Right now it shows me being available on a ton of services. Some of them are social media related. Some of them are just messaging applications. A lot of them are tied to my phone number. Overall it is highly disjointed. It is not overwhelming or anything. It would be very easy to just power my phone off and step away from my computer. That would pretty much eliminate all lines of digital communication. It just falls short of feeling connected in any meaningful way.
All of my online efforts pretty much run through my functional journal (weblog). That has worked well enough for the last decade. However, I started wondering if Mark Cuban is right about permanence within social media. Cuban favors a form of limited permanence. Each utterance would pretty much have a clock on it and it would disappear when the clock runs out. My writing efforts are pretty much available in perpetuity. Some of my writing efforts reach a wide audience. Some of them reach a very small audience. Both of those outcomes work for me. My writing efforts are almost exclusively about collecting my thoughts and moving forward. Put simply — I write, because I like to write. My efforts probably should be more focused on having an impact on the world around me and making a difference. That type of noble pursuit is something I find compelling. Obviously, it does not define my every move.
We are here now in this moment. We have to be present. Our thoughts have to be focused on the here and now. We have to understand our current situation. We have the opportunity to take action now. Things have gotten complex. These are the times that break our routines and shatter our expectations. This is election season in America. My next few weeks will literally define the political trajectory of our nation.
Our shared social fabric has been strained by the intersection of technology and modernity. We have filled out large swathes of information. Our content feeds and social networks are constrained by carefully refined and curated preferences. Even the way we are targeted and retargeted online is highly restricted by algorithms that match to preferences.
We have to venture outside the confines of our curated digital experience to question where we are going and where we will be. Instant access to information does not provide us with the ability to know everything. That massive pile of digital data gives us the feeling that knowledge is at our fingertips. It does not guarantee we will have the wisdom to make sound decisions.
I have used this technique to solve a variety of problems over the years. Sometimes figuring out how to explain complex things can be a roadblock. Sometimes we just need to refine the message to foster better communication. A lot of variations to this exercise exist. This is an example of how I go about completing the one blank page pitch technique.
Grab a blank page. Write the topic that is going to be pitched at the top of it. Start to fill the page with the high level content. Work your way down the page one bullet point at a time. Try to avoid getting into the weeds. This is a pitch. You can have some details, but one page is not enough room for all of the details. After you fill up the page deliver the pitch out loud in less than 5 minutes. Now we get to the hard part of the process. Crumple up the first draft of your pitch. Grab a blank page and start the process again. Think about how you want to refine the pitch. Think about what details really sell the idea. After you fill up the page deliver the pitch out loud in less than 4 minutes. Things might be going really well at this point. Crumbling up that second draft is always a hard thing to do. Grabbing that third piece of blank paper and working on the pitch is a key point in the process. This is the time in the process to move beyond refining ideas to demonstrate mastery through simplicity. Explaining things in simple terms that help people understand them is critical to communicating the pitch. After the page is full start to deliver the pitch in less than 3 minutes. This process can be repeated until a polished 45 second elevator pitch has been completed.
It has been 3 days since my last boot into Windows 10. I have been using Ubuntu Studio for the last few days as my primary operating system. My Geforce GTX 1060 graphics card seems to be working well. I ended up switching from using Microsoft Word to Google documents. The online version of Microsoft Word within the Live website does not meet my writing needs. Interestingly enough, on my Chromebook the app version of Microsoft Word from the Google Play store does not bother me at all. For the moment, I have been happy enough with Google docs. That may change at any moment. My efforts to follow TensorFlow tutorials have been progressing along this week. It may take me a week or two to really dig into all the things that TensorFlow is capable of doing.
Things on the TensorFlow installation front did not go as planned yesterday. The Ubuntu 16.04.1 installation worked at first. I was able to grab an ISO and use Rufus to load it on a USB drive. Things loaded without any hiccups, but my GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card was not recognized. I tried several different methods to get it to work. All of them resulted in what some folks in the online forums called an NVidia login loop. After the PPA and driver installation Ubuntu would load, but nothing happened after successfully logging into the system. I gave up on installing Ubuntu 16.04.1 and moved to working with the Ubuntu Studio flavor. That change in course made all the difference.
Installation Steps Taken
1. Downloaded Ubuntu Studio 16.04.1 ISO using my Windows 10 base machine
2. Dropped the ISO on a USB via Rufus
3. Setup drivers for Geforce GTX 1060 via sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
4. Ran sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get distro-upgrade
5. Rebooted the entire computer
6. Logged back into the system and opened additional drivers
7. Picked 367.44 from Nvidia-367
8. Clicked apply changes
10. loaded with no Nvidia login loop 😉
My next course of action was to get Google Chrome installed from https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/index.html.
Our friends at Google released an open source library for TensorFlow last year. That effort is greatly appreciated. It provides folks throughout the world with the opportunity to get in and get going without starting from scratch. In the world of machine learning that is an important nudge. Normally, I like to be first in the pool for new technology. This time around I am about a year late to the TensorFlow party. Today that party is about to get started with some tutorials and maybe even some research about completing a nanodegree later this year. For the next five days I will be focused on learning how to utilize TensorFlow. Yep. That is right. Three days from this upcoming week were scheduled for vacation just to focus on learning how to use TensorFlow. Some of that time will also be spent cleaning the house. I cannot program for 72 hours straight anymore. That type of sustained single minded purpose may not happen anytime soon. I can work on something every day, but marathon efforts are probably a think of the past.