22 Nov 2002 tripp   » (Journeyer)

Home Destruction:

I was premature in my "near feature complete" diagnosis of the bathroom. The framing, sheeting, and Durock installation are complex enough (given the oddball built-ins I'm visualizing) that I've had to put things off while I focus on worky-work.

So now, in the interests of domestic tranquility, I've finished the plumbing (learned how to sweat pipe... cool!) and installed 4mil polyethylene as a temporary surround. The shower curtain's back up, all of the tools are stowed, and we now have a working (if butt-ugly) shower. So we don't have to trek the two miles to Kim's every morning (er, afternoon, in my case) to shower. Like we have been for the past, oh, six weeks. Saint Irene, indeed. The Martyr of the Bathroom :)


Following up on my "Compromise" and "I bought Microsoft" threads, I've invested myself even moreso in the enemy.

I bought a new Windows box (XP, no less) and a new scanner with an ADF. There are more similar purchases in the near future for us. The idea (however misguided it might be) is to take advantage of imperfect COTS tools to get me 75% or so of the way toward managing the volume of crap I have to manage, so I can more effectively focus my energies on being productive.

I realized that I don't want to follow in Ted Nelson's footsteps (as perceived by an outsider):

Nelson's life is so full of unfinished projects that it might fairly be said to be built from them, much as lace is built from holes or Philip Johnson's glass house from windows. He has written an unfinished autobiography and produced an unfinished film. His houseboat in the San Francisco Bay is full of incomplete notes and unsigned letters. He founded a video-editing business, but has not yet seen it through to profitability. He has been at work on an overarching philosophy of everything called General Schematics, but the text remains in thousands of pieces, scattered on sheets of paper, file cards, and sticky notes.

All the children of Nelson's imagination do not have equal stature. Each is derived from the one, great, unfinished project for which he has finally achieved the fame he has pursued since his boyhood. During one of our many conversations, Nelson explained that he never succeeded as a filmmaker or businessman because "the first step to anything I ever wanted to do was Xanadu."

I know Nelson hates that article, and it is a bit pessimistic. But I look around me, at the piles of "stuff to be processed", the stacks of notebooks full of ideas, and the fourteen pages of to-do lists, and I realize that, to the outside observer, I might just look like I'm never going to get this stuff done.

I'm not. I know that. But I want to get enough of it done, and I want the bits I get done to be effective.

Like Nelson, the "first step to anything I ever wanted to do" is a set of tools to help me with the process of the doing. A long time ago (c. 1992), I called that toolset everything (but that name is taken now).

The core vision is still there: a uniformly flexible, distributed, resilient fabric for storing information, code, etc. A substrate on which to build intuitive, responsive, powerful tools to manage information.

But now I'm coming close to fifteen years of being in computers, and over a decade of being posessed with my vision of "everything". And I'm realizing that, for me, stacks of notecards aren't going to cut it until I produce my fabled Pleasuredome. If I am to give birth to anything significant, it won't be by continuing the way I've been doing things.

So I bought a Windows machine. And a scanner. And some crappy document management software. And soon an A/V machine to rip my old videos. Yes, I know I can accomplish all of these things through Free tools. And believe me, I dearly want to. But for now, I need to concentrate on accepting the "out of the box" experience so I can focus hard on building the next generation of tools. The ones that rock your socks off. Classically, of course :)

Resurrecting Good Ideas:

If anyone has an appropriate contact at IBM for what I'm about to describe, please send me some email (tripp at perspex dot com) with "advogato" in the subject.

I have an old Technical Report from c. 1972 for a project called The Dawntreader Project. It was a dynamic, distributed semantic network implementation that a team built within IBM to serve as the data repository for some VLSI design tools.

Anyway, I've not been able to find the report anywhere (aside from the copy I was loaned by a friend who was on the team later in its life). I want to either find a source for more copies, or get permission / rights / what have you to reprint the report (electronically or physically or both).

I wish there was an "abandonment" clause in copyright law. I don't mean voluntary abandonment. More like being able to petition the courts to declare an artifact abandoned and have it enter the public domain. Eh, whatever.

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