Blog

Modern media, a permanent impact on attention?

I'm currently reading "Deep Work" by Cal Newport. Last night I read through a sentence that caused some alarm...

"To make matters worse for depth, there’s increasing evidence that this shift toward the shallow is not a choice that can be easily reversed. Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.

Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 7). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition. "

...so I thought it pertinent to further research on the subject. What studies have been done that confirms this cause and effect? Does engagement of social media, video watching, and regular distraction with multiple "attention getting" inputs permanently impact one's ability to focus on deeper, harder, and more valuable work?

Is this a claim, based on factual data?  Or is this unwarrented concern following the changes that modern society introduces?

Side note: I wonder if this sort of search is counter productive, as I'll likely find affirming studies, if I find anything at all.

First, Let's start with Cal's own notes, in the back of the book: 

“What the Net seems to be doing is” and “I’m not the only one”: Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic Monthly, July–August 2008. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/.

Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 266). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition. 

A Man's Search For Meaning - My story, condensed.

At work, we leverage our HR software to help guide the trajectory of our career, as employees.  I've been pretty delinquent in filling out those boxes, mainly because I've been in the throws of "doing" that I have had little time to reflect on what I find important, motivating, and/or meaningful in my work.  I believe I am where I am because God put me here.  My station in life feels perfect to my existing skills set.  But still, I might like to be a bit more cognizant of the long term path tragectory.  

What better way to get in the mood to reflect and plan one's future than with a book as a guide?  "A Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl is one such book.  It is half an account of Viktor's real life experiences in a few concentration camps of Nazi Germany, some most famous in the worst ways; among them, Auschwitz and Dachau.

He went into detail about the human will to live and to die.  What gives a man the will to survive such a situation?  Viktor argues that a man's sense of meaning can be that fuel that pulls one through the darkest situations, or even turn around most mundane existence.  Viktor founded and practices Logotherapy as a psychiatrist.  "Logotherepy", based on the Greek word Logo, which translates to "meaning", is the belief, "...that it is the striving to find a meaning in one's life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans". 

I highly recommend reading the book.  I've picked up and put down many books recently.  This one held my attention fully and struck a chord for me.  

You're very welcome to stop reading here, as I don't expect you to give a shit about me and my goals.  But, this is a blog, which is about me.. so fuck you.  :-p

I'm a bit of a futurist.  A big fan of Ray Kurzweil, who's books I should review and recount.  I mean to make the point, also, that I'm an optimist.  I am hopeful for our place in the world, hopeful for the future of mankind.  And I hope to be a positive force, a piece of the puzzle that helps bring that future into the present.  

Speaking of puzzles, I think that is one of my super powers!  Fitting pieces together that seem unrelated.  I am interested in EVERYTHING!  Throughout the years of gaining knowledge and skills in a very diverse field of disciplines, I have a rather unique pool of experience to pull from.  From having been an SAE certified auto mechanic, with deep knowledge of the mechanics and the systems of automobiles.  How they work together as a whole.  The engine, it's various components, relationships.  How they cooperate to create horsepower and torque.  Transmissions both automatic, which are way more complicated and fascinating , and manual transmissions.  Fuel systems.  Ignition systems of different kinds and mechanics.  A/C systems.  Breaking systems.  And of course, the ECU, up to OBD II at least, as I exited the automotive industry in the 90's.  That was mostly my high-school years.  

What I am trying to communicate is that I love knowing how things work.  I love the detail and depth, it's all fascinating.  And, nothing is quite as deep and fascinating as computers, programming, Human-Computer Interaction, 3D Computer Graphics, what they have brought and will continue to bring to our future.  

That journey began for me at an early age, in the pre-internet world of dial-up BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), Nintendo, and comic books.  I LOVED comic books and its many characters, especially the DareDevil.  But, what I probably liked most, was the art.  I would buy comic books, for a favorite character, but more so if it had one or two illustrations that were just mind blowing in complexity and skill.  I would take it home and study it; The muscle structure, the pose, the lighting, the bad assiness of the character, rendered perfectly in the gritty pen and ink graffiti-like style that only the best artists can manage.  I would plop down at my old desk with a blank piece of printer paper and stare at that page.  Then, painstakingly attempt to transfer that image onto my own blank slate.  

It started at art.  After my above-mentioned venture into auto-mechanics, I realized I didn't want to turn a wrench forever.  That was cool, and complex, and all.  But, it wasn't a terminal pursuit for me. Come to think of it, my thirst for knowledge has never found end, even now.  So, I went to college for art.  At first, Graphic Design; where pen and ink, and drawing by hand still reigned supreme.  This was still just before computers and the internet took over the world, in the late 90s.  A time when CompuServe was giving way to AOL, and we were still bleeping and booping our way online via dial-up modems.  The first wildly successful computer animated movie, Pixar's "Toy Story", had made a big impression.  I saw the future of art.  So, after earning my 2 year degree in Graphic Design; I sought out the very first, still infantile, classes for Computer Animation at Florida Atlantic University.  

In Computer Animation, I found something so deep and complex and fascinating that it firmly held my, normally erratic, attention.  If you think an automotive transmission is complex, pop open Maya!  So, that's what I did, I dove into the bottomless complexities of Computer Graphics, Animation, Storytelling, and Programming.  Like any good artist, one must know their tools.  That is where I started into code.  

While in school, I found a number of freelance gigs designing websites for various established businesses and startups.  

 

to be continued.... 

2016 Richwood BFS Block Party Drone 360 Drone Footage.

I, most certainly, should write more about my drone endeavors on this blog.  In any case, I have a drone.  I 3d printed a mount to attach my dual Kodak SP-360 cameras...

Donations, Donations! Paid, In-app, vs Freemium payment models?

Here I am, days away from my final release of my first app.  Currently, I'm developing the payment system.  And only now, I'm really thinking about the different pay models available for apps. 

 I'm obviously not taking a long break from working a "day job" to build this app because "I think it's a good idea."  I DO want to get paid and build a business about it.  But, as a developer and artist, I've never been very good with business, or asking people for money for that matter.  So, the question comes... What do I charge for this thing, which I've been working so hard on for months?  How do I ask for the money that I need to continue to provide content and upgrades?  Do I charge at all???

That last question is what is nagging me.  Some might known it as, the "Freemium" model.  Where some developer choose to go the in-app advertising path.  That's not at all what I'm speaking of here.  What I want is a win-win.. all the way.  So I started to research it, which surprisingly, there's very little coverage of a pure "Donations Model".  

One of the first times I've heard of this donations only method of profit is from Dan Carlin's - Hardcore History series of podcasts, which I highly recommend you listen to.  (Try this instead of watching "American Idol" in the afternoon..... sinner blushangelwink).  It is surprising to hear, straight from Dan Carlin, that this works!  To give your content freely and people offer up their money in return, without the price tag!  Really?  I'm skeptical, but I can't help but think about it.  

I HAVE listened to Hardcore History, and enjoyed it VERY much.  I have had every good intention of donating.... but in the end, I have not.  Though, I probably wouldn't have listened to the podcast in the first place, had it not been for the freemium model.  And, then I wouldn't be struggling with the thought about giving Dan money right this very moment.  Dan wants his podcast listened to by the widest audience possible.  Just as I want my app installed on every single Canes fan device.

Will giving the app away, bundled with the "poor developer plea" psycologically play on the user's sense of benevolence and compassion?  Will the user feel compelled to offer up a fee, more or less than what I would have charged ($2.99), and feel good about it?  Alternatively, do Canes fans feel they aught to pay for officially licensed content in the first place?  And, am I over analysing?

I'll stop there.  But, I'm intersted to hear any feedback. 

Notes:  I'm farily confident that charging for the app up front, the "Paid" model, is not the way to go..  For a strong bit of supporting evidence, you need only to look at the Top Grossing Apps in the Google Play and Apple stores.  They are all Free, In-app purchase supported.  I wonder which, if any in the list run off donations?

 

Daily Log

THIS, TODAY, is the day where I "finally commit" to start logging my progress as a developer and development as an overall human being. This is mostly for me, not necessarily for you, however you are.  I've read and listened to many books or podcasts touting the benefits of writing daily logs. Especially in the morning, to clear your mind of distractions, set your direction, and clarify your purpose. That's my aim today, and going forward.

A short catch up in the development and business space; I'm building a business! This business's core mission is to develop quality content for licensed properties/identities. Yes, that means I need to submit for and attain licenses from license holders, for their permission to use their identity and content in my app(s). And yes, I/we/Novak Corp was granted such license from University of Miami!

I'm building an Android Live Wallpaper condensed around the Miami Hurricanes, designed to promote their brand, their tribe of fans whenever someone flips on their Android cell phone or tablet device. Why develop licensed properties vs developing unique content that I can own you ask? For one, I'm building a business for me, and later my family to join. I'm not looking for this thing to get huge. I'm not looking for investors, it's all self funded. I'm looking to build something that will support us and enable the freedom to do and go where we please, when we please, all while continuing to build business. SO, what does that have to do with licensed content? Marketing and content development mostly. That is all largely done for me/us. I don't need to create some amazing brand, spend millions of dollars to get "followers" or "fans". It's done, out of the box. UM has an existing fan base, me being one of them! I know Canes fans, lots of them. I know where they hang out, and ultimately, I know what they want. Or, at least I think I do. I guess we'll find out won't we?

I can't link to the demo just yet. But, I'll tell you it's all done in ThreeJS.  And, I surely will link the demo once the final product is approved and in production on the Android Play Market.

I've been working a lot lately with libGDX to build out the production app.  There is a huge loss in translation, coming from JavaScript/ThreeJS to Java/libGDX.  libGDX is lower level in a lot of ways.  In ThreeJS, you can pretty much count on building and exporting the models, linking your textures (diffuse, normal, spec, what have you), and it all working as expected.  Building the demo, was quick and easy, and largely set my expectations for the work to come with building the production app.  No so much.  In libGDX, there is a default shader, but it's largely considered a fallback if your shader breaks for some reason.  That means, you get your hands dirty with foreign languages like GLSL and controlling the drawing routines in OpenGL.  Let's not forget the inherent differences between Java and JavaScript.  While I've run into a couple of spots where I had to push to find solutions to problems do to a lack of exposure to Java specific constructs, those solutions come easier then trying to wrap my head around the intense 3D calculations, equations, and algorithms encompassed in OpenGL and GLSL.  I'll be dealing more with this stuff soon enough. 

On a personal level, over the last couple of months, I've been refocusing on my health.  And slipping from time to time.  But, I'm rebounding again and Blogging will help keep me honest, I think/hope.  I'm currently reading Ray Kurtzweil's "The Fantastic Voyage, Live long enough to live forever".  Ray is amazing in more ways then one, as is Tim Ferriss, author of the "Four Hour Work Week".  These two sources combined direct most of my health and diet choices.  These guys boarder on super human.  I'm just trying not to suck. 

One cool addition is my treadmill.  It's an old Cybex treadmill "hand-me-down" from my wife's parents.  I modded it into a stand-up workstation with the addition of a shoe rack from IKEA.  It fit perfect!  And, looks like the treadmill was manufactured this way.  I used some existing screws and holes to mount the shoe rack, and added a couple more supports for good measure to hold up my Macbook Pro.  The poor Macbook, the battery doesn't have much more juice to last more than an hour.  Nor do I.  :-/

At any rate, this helps get me active in the morning.  Boosting my heart rate, getting the juices flowing.  It's way better than sitting in a chair for 8 hours.  I need to use it more consistently, but it's ready to go when I find the motivation to get off my ass. 

I'm starting to log my food intake through MyFitnessPal.  In Tim Ferriss's latest podcast, Ray... suggested that, while this is a pain in the ass, you learn where all of the hidden sugar is in your diet.  Ray Kurtzweil also lays out an ideal balance of Protein vs Fat vs Carbs that should be in your diet.  I think, with Ray's recommendations, and to tools available in MyFitnessPal, I can strike a good balance in my diet, as well as, stick to the routine of finding and eating quality food. 

My text-to-speech workflow for PDFs

Here's my workflow for sucking the sweet juices of knowledge out of PDFs and eBooks in general....

  • download http://calibre-ebook.com/ and install it.
  • Calibre does a great job of converting PDF to EPUB.  It keeps the images and text formatting intact.
  • Then you can upload that to your personal library on Google Books.

The magic of this process; Your mobile device can now read it to you while you drive!  Google Books App has a text-to-speech feature.  While it is imperfect, it is understandable.  I have an hour drive back and forth to work.. Someone once asked me where I found the time to know and do as much as I do and know. This is ONE thing I do to maximize my day

Basically,  I have forced study/self betterment time every day, 2 hours a day. It's a clever work around for my lack of discipline. cheeky 

Though, I find that books for learning code are tough to follow. Ever have someone try to read code to you? HA!  What it IS good for is a rough overview of the book. If you can get through it once with a machine reading it to you; You have a good idea of what you're getting into when you sit down with it and go through the examples. It's a decent way to get through books like that and retain the content therein.

Cheers!

Blog consolidation day.. And then there was one.

I’m a tinkerer. I tinker, that’s what I do. I poke at, and try out new technologies regularly. And to date, that has led me to start three different blogs.

One has a WordPress backend http://sean.novak.us, another is on Drupal http://snovak.com/blog, and the last is on ghosts with a node backend as opposed to the lamp stack, http://blog.snovak.com.

I originally started on Drupal as it was my preferred framework for developing websites. And it works very well but has fewer tools for the everyday blogger as opposed to WordPress. Drupal is a great platform for developing custom websites. But, frankly is a bit more difficult to set up as a blogging platform.

In addition, I’ve been using a lot of node.js lately. This led me to fire up an AWS instance, install node and ghost, since node is not offered on my shared server account. Its a well-designed system, a pure blogging platform. However, it has a few shortcomings that makes it less usable than the formerly mentioned platforms. The killer for me, in this case, was the fact that it made mobile authoring a real pain. For some reason while in edit mode the backspace buttons won’t work. I’ll come back later.

Some people have mentioned that WordPress has deviated from its roots as a pure blogging platform. But in my experience over the last few years, it is still on top as an easy to use, easy to install, and easy to maintain blogging platform.

OUYA Case

We just launched OUYACase.com, where we plan on trying to sell 3D printed custom OUYA cases.  Want one?!?!

The Unified Front-end Convergence

It's not often I plug someone else's genius.  But, I'm thorouly enamoured with this dude's kungfu.  I am envious and humbled.  

Please have a look at http://acko.net/

He makes a point in his blog post (http://acko.net/blog/zero-to-sixty-in-one-second/) about something that  I've been looking to happen for a long time.  

"It's also fun to observe that after many years, the unified front-end convergence really has arrived. There is little difference between this site and the games that use HTML for their UI, such as the latest Sim City. For dealing with typography, illustration and UI, you want the comfort of DOM and CSS. For real-time graphical content, you'll want to draw it yourself, either in 2D, or 3D. Combine the two, and you get what game developers have been doing for years. Only this lacks all the sharp C bits, which game devs been replacing with Lua for years anyhow. That's Portuguese for "JavaScript" by the way."

For a guy with an extensive background in 3d, good times are a comin'.  This is the first occurance that I've really seen WebGL used by someone with the convergence of aesthetic and technical skills to really do something amazing with a browser.  I look forward with a gitty eagerness to check out his code, which he's made available at https://github.com/unconed/fuse10/!!!!  I don't know that I would be as totally blown away by this guy if he hadn't shared the source.  Now that's really something. 

Cheers to you, Steven Wittens!!

 

 

CSS3 Flexing

I found this super cool little demo at: http://www.codepen.io/diegopardo/full/GqEho I'll have to do something with it.

A B C D E F G H I L M N O P Q R S T U V Z

Pages