Day 179 the one where I pondered for a moment

a photo of a path

2018: Day 179 the one where I pondered for a moment

Dear Reader,

Sure the impending intersection of technology and modernity should be at the forefront of the public mind. That is not really the sort of thing that jumps out and grabs the attention of public. Maybe it would be to easier to download the audiobook for the 5th book in the Dune series and just relax. Spending the rest of the night just listening to a book is one potential way to go. Another way to go would be to focus in on finishing up my 7th Coursera class of the summer. I need to complete a couple labs to finish out the “Leveraging Unstructured Data with Cloud Dataproc on Google Cloud Platform” course by July 9, 2018. Alternatively, I could could listen to Pandora and spend the evening writing a few words down and pondering things. Just maybe right now the possibilities that will be pondered are the priority for the night.

A lot of doors are open right now and a lot of different topics have been pulling my attention in a ton of different directions. This ASUS Flip Chromebook C101P has been updated to the developer channel for updates. Part of that decision is to help speed my way down the path to being able to run Linux applications on this Chromebook. It looks like the ASUS Flip Chromebook they were referring to wasa the C213SA model vs the C101P. I guess staying in the developer channel seems like the right thing to end up doing. Extending the Chromebook ecosystem to allow the installation of Linux application is a pretty darn fantastic. Sure it would be easy enough to mess around with Crouton and force the issue. Waiting for it to be a native feature seems like such a strange thing to bank on in the would of cloud first web native applications, but it does seems to be one of those things that people are looking forward to having.

For some reason my spelling has been absolutely atrocious this week. Maybe installing a service to help proofread would be one way to go about helping double check my grammar and spelling. Yesterday I did write a blog post about getting new socks. That is probably an all time low for the year. It can only be up from that moment. That might be wishful thinking at this point. A review about reviews might be worse, but socks are pretty darn ubiquitous at this point. Today was one of those days that my walking desk got some usage. That was enough to help test out the new Bombas socks that arrived this week. The ankle length socks seemed to work out pretty well and were very comfortable. Well this blog post just devolved into talking about socks. For two days in a row that has happened. It seems to be a rather disturbing trend in my writing. A little bit more time pondering the moment and a little bit less time writing about socks is probably in order. Maybe just jumping into the next paragraph will help move things forward…

Tomorrow should be one of those days where a lot more doors open than close. Pondering the potential of tomorrow is always a lot easier than trying to spring into immediate action in the now. Maybe that is reflection of the procrasting that over planning allows. Sometimes the quickest path to resolution is to take action. It might just be the fastest path forward to switch gears and immediately make a change. That is what I’m thinking about at the moment. Right now in this moment that is the series of thoughts that are on my mind and driving my next steps.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 178 the one with some new socks

Bombas socks in a drawer

2018: Day 178 the one with some new socks

Dear Reader,

Today was going to be the day that I wrote something meaningful. My ASUS Flip C101P was fully charged and nothing was really standing in my way. Perhaps some degree of self-censorship still lingers in my writing. That is a hard thing to shake. Outside of that standard problem things started off well enough. Maybe it was the day that I should have returned to a daily blogging routine from years gone bye. For better or worse at times I blogged intermittently throughout the day. Writing in that way one bit at a time is something that has been completely foreign from my routines in the last decade. Most of my writing these days happens in one major lesson of production. Some days maybe have two writing sessions. On rare occasions maybe that stretches out to three writing sessions. That would be the absolute maximum. Sure the title of the blog post today probably gave it away. This post is not about writing or the best of prose. This post is about socks. Or at least this post is about the arrival of some new socks. That is essentially what happened today. After being inundated with advertisements from Bombas socks I gave in and ordered a few pairs. None of them have been tested yet, but they are now resting in a drawer waiting for tomorrow.

Bombas socks in a drawer
Bombas socks in a drawer

It seemed like a really good idea to purchase a Samsung 128GB FIT USB 3.0 Flash Drive for my Chromebook. Sales can make something look pretty darn tempting. It arrived this week and is plugged into my Chromebook, but I have no idea what it is going to be used for. My Chromebook simply does not need that much extra storage. Maybe loading my music collection to the drive or something like that would be the best way to utilize the storage space.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 175 the one where I snapped a scenic photograph

a scenic photograph of clouds

2018: Day 175 the one where I snapped a scenic photograph

Dear Reader,

Today my blog post will be a little bit shorter. Writing today has not been my priority. A couple walks happened today. Two episodes of season two of Northern Exposure caught my attention. That show really has grown on me over the years. Today was one of those days. On a walk just outside the house I snapped a rather scenic photograph. This week we have watched a hay baler clear the fields before the 4th of July. Attached to this blog post is a thumbnail of one hay bale sitten below a sky of clouds. My Pixel 2 XL camera is pretty good, but it could not capture the moment. Most of my writing is really just a conversation with myself. Last week I put some new stickers on my ASUS C101P. Really for the first time in my long history with technology I started putting stickers on one of my laptops. It was not a true Windows laptop. This writing device is a pure Chromebook setup in the beta software mode.

a scenic photograph of clouds
a scenic photograph of clouds

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 172 the one where I cleaned my office

cleaned up bookshelf

2018: Day 172 the one where I cleaned my office

Dear Reader,

This is going to be a very short post. A few hundred words are missing. They are simply not on the page.

Stored elsewhere they are not here and probably won’t be stored here until maybe tomorrow. I took a photo of my bookshelf and edited it. Those bookshelves on the far wall had gotten a little bit out of control recently. My extreme lack of uploading videos to YouTube has limited your view of just how out of control those bookshelves had become. Today was the day that I focused in on them and ensured they were fully clean. Right now the last step in the process will be cleaning up the top of the bookshelves, but that is always a tricky thing to do. Storage is a necessary part of things, but a mess is a mess. Calling a mess storage is really taking things in the wrong direction. That is something that I simply do not have time for. Apparently, I have not had time to either live stream or make videos to upload to YouTube. That is probably something that is either going to continue or to get much better.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 171 the one with some thoughts on giving up fried foods

2018: Day 171 the one with some thoughts on giving up fried foods

Dear Reader,

This post might not hit the 1,000 word threshold. It might just end up being a very short updated or aside. A number of my meals each day have been replaced with Soylent. That meal replacement product happens to be vegan. For the most part both breakfast and lunch have been replaced with Soylent. Dinner pretty much happens and is usually vegetarian. Throughout the week that leaves me with a mostly vegan diet. None of that helped me give up fried foods. Onion rings and french fries are pretty awesome. Giving up onion rings was a really hard thing to do. It was strangely much harder than it should have been. It has been over a week now and I’m doing ok with my plan to give up fried foods. Part of that plan will involve trying to avoid even baked chips. Not only will my plan focus on oil fried foods, but also the plan will have to include protections against buying an air fryer.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 170 the one where I signed up for 5 more Coursera classes

3 hot sauces

2018: Day 170 the one where I signed up for 5 more Coursera classes

Dear Reader,

It took me about a month to finish out the last specialization from Google Cloud on Coursera. This week I signed up for 5 more Coursera classes. Another specialization from the Google Cloud team called, “Data Engineering on Google Cloud Platform,” caught my attention. Some of the videos from the, “Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform,” specialization were really pretty good. Based on that and pretty much that alone it seemed like a good idea to jump in and do another 5 courses. That pretty much means that every night before going to bed I’m going to spend an hour or more learning about data science from the Google Cloud team. Maybe it was the idea of thinking about data structures that pulled me into another cycle of learning. Last year I did not do enough professional development. This year I’m off to a good start and we have not reached the halfway mark yet.

Everything on the Coursera website and Android application are pretty easy to use. Throughout the last series of courses I had less time to write every day. This time around I’m going to try to keep producing words and engage in a healthy amount of learning at the same time. Speaking of learning about things. Over the last year I have been sampling a variety of hot sauces. To that end, I had signed up for a Hot One’s subscription box. That monthly subscription includes a service that picks and sends out 3 hot sauces at a time. One of them this time was really beyond my accepted tolerance for spice. It was made by the folks over at Hellfire Hot Sauce and it happens to be called the, “Fiery Fool Hot Sauce.” Normally, I do pretty well with hot foods. The aforementioned sauce is one that I strongly dislike. They were not kidding about it being a very hot sauce. All of The Last Dab sauces had better flavor and were more palatable. The thumbnail associated with this blog post includes all 3 hot sauces that arrived.

I’m not sure how this post went from being about online learning to discussion hot sauces. That is one of the quirks of stream of consciousness writing. Things can change very quickly. Here shortly I’m going to click publish and start learning on Coursera. It is raining outside and the weather is pretty dreary. That is a good recipe for spending some time watching videos about data engineering. One of the things about listening to courses with my Bose Qc35 headphones is that it is very easy to focus in and enjoy the content. Locking in and really focusing on the content is something that is easier to do right before bed when things have slowed down in the house. Historically that time has been reserved for listening to music and writing. Technology is rapidly changing and staying at the cutting edge of things requires being a lifelong learner. To that end my nightly routine has to change a little bit to help me continue learning.

It really is amazing that the Google Cloud team has spent so much time putting together all this content related to machine learning and data engineering. Courses like this open the door to a wide audience to learn and do practice exercises. Working on actual hands on labs and practice exercises really does make a difference and is an amazing addition to traditional lecture style videos. Learning has changed a lot over the last couple of years. Deliver methods that allow for online collaboration and complex lab projects are really changing how learners are able to interact with the material. Throughout the computer science space that type of learning is really changing just how people are able to grow and develop their toolkits. My focus is about to shift to the first course, “Google Cloud Platform Big Data and Machine Learning Fundamentals.” I’m sure the courses will be a major part of my writing efforts over the next 30 days.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 169 the one with some rain and some Northern Exposure

captain pickles sleeping

2018: Day 169 the one with some rain and some Northern Exposure

Dear Reader,

Today has been a day of rain in Denver. It has been a welcome change in the weather. Being inside tonight has been ok. My adventure into watching Northern Exposure DVDs this summer has officially moved from season one to season two. Overall the show holds up well enough for being a creative output of the early 1990’s. Having to suspend my disbelief to a point in time before smartphones became ubiquitous really dates the show. Technology was not at the center of the particular television based drama. For better or worse the show was primarily driven by interpersonal relationships and commentary. That is probably has pulled me back into watching the episodes this summer. Streaming Northern Exposure is challenging enough so it seemed like a good idea to just order a full set of the season DVDs. Somebody on eBay sold me every season in a nicely shrink wrapped package. The disks were flawless and they have played well enough on my Xbox One S paired with my Sony Bravia television.

At some point, we are going to upgrade to either a 4K short-throw laser based projector or a television. One of the benefits of going to a short-throw project is that when it is not in use we would have no screens larger than a computer monitor in the house. While that might not seem like a victory it really does seem to be on in my mind. Curiously we have tried to limit television watching and at this point we do not even have a cable television subscription. One of the things that I have started doing recently is watching some of the cable news channel shorts on YouTube. We do not have enough bandwidth to stream 4K content on a television or short-throw projector. Our cable subscription has a bandwidth limit and it is draconian enough to limit my usage of 4K on a monthly basis.

One of the other factors that is limiting my ability to get a short-throw projector is price. The one that caught my attention was from Dell. Specifically the Dell Advanced 4K Laser Projector model S718QL which costs about five thousand dollars. Writing the number out makes it feel less daunting. Seeing the $4,999.99 in print just reminds me that is not something I’m going to buy any time soon. My best guess is that by this time next year the price will have come down substantially or competitors will have entered the market. Based on the YouTube review videos I watched it looks like a pretty fantastic piece of technology. A host of projects exist at much lower price points. This one just happened to catch my eye and make me wonder how it worked and what it was truly capable of displaying. Given that my Northern Exposure disks are DVD quality trying to upscale to 4K seems unlikely. Based on a few internet searches it does appear that a Blu-ray version of the show does exist out in the wild.

We still buy physical media. The merits and intrinsic value of my vinyl record collection aside. I still purchase movies when they come out. Based on every indicator I have seen online sales of physical media are diminished. I was looking at Blu-ray sales data for 2018 year to date and the top 10 movies are not over 1,000,000 units. Just the top 5 movies in the list solid more than 1,000,000 units. People are not going to Blockbuster anymore. I guess those Redbox movie rental kiosks are kind of like a very compact Blockbuster. Aside from that interesting observation it is entirely possible that the distribution pattern of movies has fundamentally changed. Back in 2017 the top 17 movies has passed the 1,000,000 unit mark. The year 2016 included 17 movies in that sales category and 2015 had 19. Seriously, I almost started to make a series of infographics. That is probably not needed at this point. I have spent enough of my night wondering about the future of physical media. A lot of folks do not have the bandwidth to stream 4K movies on a regular basis. That probably means that movies with a resolution of 4K and above are easier to access via physical media.

It seemed like a good idea to use a discount code Google provided to buy an audiobook today. I now own the first 4 books in the Dune series by Frank Herbert and can access them from my Google Play Books application. At some point, in what seems like the distant past I read the fourth book in the series. Now that I’m listening to the start of the book tonight I do not entirely remember reading it. My memories of reading those books really falls off after the first couple of books. Given that the audiobook includes more than 15 hours of audio I will probably not be able to finish the book before the NBA draft on June 21, 2018. I’m not sure what channel the draft will be on this year, but we probably will not be able to watch it unless it is streaming online. It does appear that CBS will have a free live stream of the event. That is probably how I’ll end up watching it this year. We do not have any subscributions to ESPN video content. Sure I don’t really need to watch the NBA draft, but for some reason that really seems like what I want to do.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 168 the one where my Nexus 9 tablet made an appearance

Thank you for keeping vinyl alive

2018: Day 168 the one where my Nexus 9 tablet made an appearance

Dear Reader,

Charging my ASUS C101P tablet should be easy enough. It has USB Type-C ports and that should make it easier to manage. You may have already guessed from the title of the post that I forgot to charge my C101P. Right now it is charging from zero percent to whatever is usable. That opened the door for my Nexus 9 tablet to make an appearance. It has a bluetooth keyboard that mostly works and it happens to be fully charged. Strangely enough even though this is a Google Nexus 9 tablet the folks over at Google stopped providing updates at Android 7.1.1 with a security patch level of September 5, 2017. Overall my Nexus 9 tablet works better today than the day I purchased it. While that mind sound like a braggadocious statement it oddly is very true. As Android has gotten better so has the overall usability of the Nexus 9 tablet. It even has built in LTE service and can pretty much stand on its own as a computing device for basic writing or typing. Over the years what ends up returning it to storage is generally the keyboard. I do not really enjoy the writing on the bluetooth keyboard.

A number of different keyboards have been tested with the Nexus 9. None of them really feel very comfortable. I can write for hours on my ASUS C101P and that is really the core use case for why I need a laptop or tablet size computing device. A vinyl record arrived recently in a box that had an interesting phrase on the outside. It said in reasonably large letters, “Thank you for keeping vinyl alive.” My vinyl record collection mostly includes things from Kickstarter projects or vintage Warren Zevon albums that were purchased from eBay. I guess the collection also include a fair number of Eric Clapton records. Getting into vinyl record collecting seemed like a good idea. My Audioengine A5+ speakers are high quality and are fully capable of producing stereo audio. Given that most records are stereo these days it seemed like a good idea to get a record player and that is pretty much how it started. It seemed like a good idea and it worked out well enough.

Speaking of good ideas that worked out well enough the Nexus 9 tablet was not all that well received at the time. I’m still able to use it and it has worked well for me for a few years now. It is hard to imagine that something that was purchased back on Jun 28, 2015 is already so outdated that the manufacturer has stopped providing updates for it. At some point I’m sure it will get the latest version of Android P side loaded on it. At the moment the tablet is sporting the last official version sent over the air to update it Android 7.1.1. My Pixel 2 XL has a beta version of Android 9 on it right now and it works well. Selling people products and abandoning them after two years is a rough model. No option even exists to buy more upgrade time or to join a premium support model. That is a true flaw in the tablet and smartphone market. It feels like the latest technology gets all the support and anything that is more than a couple years old is relegated to the junk heap of history. A company like Google that only produces a handful of products does not really have an excuse to stop providing updates to the technology so quickly.

Right now I’m reading updates on how to update the Android version on my Nexus 9 tablet. It does appear that some folks have dropped a stable version of Android Oreo on the Nexus 9 tablet and have shared instructions on how to accomplish that online. Updating the device via a side process is something that I have avoided since the last update. For the most part the reason that I have avoided doing any updates is the support for the LTE connectivity that the device currently has. Apparently my preference to have LTE built into my devices is something that only a small percentage of people actually want and are willing to pay for. Both of my ASUS Flip tables have needed WiFi to connect to the internet. They are devices that have to be tethered to something else for internet support. A few Chromebooks do exist out on the market with LTE built into them for internet access. One of the 2018 models I’m tracking happens to be the Acer Chromebook 11 C732. That might just be my next Chromebook after this ASUS C101P gives out.

It might not seem like a necessary feature for a Chromebook, but I have found that having to mess around with turning on the hotspot and dealing with the battery draining consequences of having the hotspot turned on are enough to encourage me to seek alternatives. Right now I’m actually surfing the T-Mobile website to see what options they might be selling. The folks over at T-Mobile had a couple tablet options from LG and Samsung. None of those devices came with a rock solid keyboard. Overall the use case for the LTE being built into the Chromebook is that I want to be able to sit down and work. Things just need to work and that should be that. It should be very easy to accomplish. A good chunk of the time this Chromebook is able to find some type of WiFi during the course of my travels. It would be more secure to just have my own mobile cellular connection built into the device. My usage of Chromebooks does not really involve watching video so it should work out well enough.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 167 the one where things got back on track

A vinyl album cover

2018: Day 167 the one where things got back on track

Dear Reader,

Yep. The writing hiatus is over. 30 days in the valley of the real are complete. Part of it was devoted to working on a set of classes from Coursera. Sometimes learning something new or reinforcing something you already know can be a rewarding distraction. It seemed like a good idea to start and complete a series of 5 courses that made up the, “Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform Specialization.” Strangely enough it had been some time since I was doing daily homework, assignments, or taking quizzes. It took me a brief moment to get ready to take quizzes again. Instead of reading them for true right and wrong I had to read them based on the outcomes the instructor expected to see. That might seem like a slight semantic difference, but it really is a meaningful difference. My reading of the quiz and understanding of the questions might lead me to accept or reject things in a different way than it would be automatically scored. During the course of grading a quiz these sorts of things end up being binary. They are scored as right or wrong. Nothing exists in the middle. No grey area or opportunity for a philosophical debate exists. Strangely enough as a lifelong learner my tolerance for figuring out the edge cases has increased substantially.

As part of the whole big year of writing extravaganza a new blog post was being pushed every day at 22:00 hours. That worked out for a bit. Mostly that cadence did not work very well. That type of scheduled writing is pretty much over from here on out. I’m going to just hit publish in real time without using any schedule options. That is probably really for the best. Right now it is very early in the morning and I’m listening to my Warren Zevon Pandora radio station and writing. Last night instead of writing for an hour before going to bed I watched most of Part 5 of The Ranch on Netflix. That was not an example of high quality decision making that drives things forward. It was a moment of weakness that probably helped drive my interest in buying something like the Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector. Obviously, I don’t really need a portable projector. The new ones do seem nice, but the great 2018 projector vs. television debate is not something that I’m going to join at this time. My current theory is that portable technology will win out. That means smartphones, portable VR rigs, or maybe something else will end up winning out. Devices that are meant to sit stationary in a room are going to probably fade away.

These posts really need to diverge into two equally important paths. First, a path toward a more personal type of writing that really just explains the way of things in the moment. Second, a more technical essay driven approach designed to convey information in a meaningful and impactful way. Going down a third path toward writing fiction based prose has not worked out very well. I’m going to ignore that option at the moment. This blog post is about getting back on track and part of that is renewing my commitment to engaging in meaningful academic writing. Fulfilling that obligation probably will involve producing 15 to 30 minute blog posts and devoting more extensive blocks of time to engaging in the practice of producing academic prose. That caddence will create a scenario where my writing efforts are not going to yield a daily series of 3,000 word posts. Strangely enough that is probably for the best. Maybe a simple nudge toward a more achievable 1,000 words written during a single 20 minute writing sessions might be a more reasonable and utility effective daily writing goal. That is just 2 or 3 pages of single spaced prose produced on a daily basis and published online.

Today this blog post started out with a few thoughts on my writing hiatus. Stepping away from my creative obligations was easier than it should have been. That is the truly scare part of this whole effort to get back on track. Sometimes it is much easier to walk a path without contribution when a few minutes a day would open the door to being impactful. Maybe it really is like ripples in a pond and every little contribution has the potential to cascade out into the world well beyond the time it took to create. You might be wondering if the magnitude of that point is intentional. The answer to that question would have to be yes. Right now as we approach the intersection of technology and modernity the number of possibilities are nearly endless. Seizing those possibilities takes a bit of effort. The possibilities are not going to seize you. My new framework of hitting publish every 1,000 words is probably the right set of steps down the path toward being on track. Looking down the long and winding path toward a perfect possibility future might seem indulgent. Maybe it is or maybe it is just good to begin with the end in mind.

Breaking things down into a series of about 1,000 word essays, think pieces, or ultimately long winded chautauquas feels right. I’m about to hit publish and start the day. Today just might be the start of a wild and exciting journey toward making a last contribution. It could also be a day that involves a donuts some shots of espresso and string of literary false starts. Either way it is my day and will proceed on my own terms. Somewhere in the middle of that thought is a nugget of truth. I’ll work on figuring that one out later in the day. Right now in this moment my thoughts have shifted to breakfast. A simple 5 paragraph essay might not provide enough depth to cover that thought completely. Fortunately Netflix does not release new episodes of The Ranch very often. That should limit the number of nights completely lost to binge watching streaming content.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Day 137 the one with a few reflections and some snacks

Screenshot of Pandora

2018: Day 137 the one with a few reflections and some snacks

Dear Reader,

Oh the years do seem to blink on by at a pace that is mindblowing. Today was a day of reflection, triumph, abitition, and struggle. It was a mixed bag to say the least. At this very moment I’m listening to a recording of Joe Satriani play the Summer Song. A screenshot of that might very well be the thumbnail associated with this post. You might be surprised to find out that song is one of my favorite immersions into the world of electric guitar virtuosity. Maybe today was one of those days where I was full of advice to give, but short on advice to take to figure out how to go about catching up. Tomorrow may well be Friday and that is something that I am looking forward to this week. More or less to just to let things reset for next week. I try to embrace every day as an opportunity to strive forward. Every day presents an opportunity.

For some reason here at the end of the day I’m stuck in a very reflective mood. So much so that I have moved to my Joe Satriani Pandora internet radio station tonight. That one is usually reserved for periods of extreme concentration. Instrumental guitar albums are generally awesome background noise to help me concentrate. They occupy just enough of my thoughts to really let me focus in on something. Writing or working on something with extreme focus when it is absolutely silent just never seems to work out very well. It is entire possible that is just a quirk of how I relate to the world and the way i like to go about things. Sure it could work for others. I just turned down the screen brightness on my ASUS C101P to the lowest setting before the screen goes black. Soon enough it will be time to go to sleep and rest up for tomorrow.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado