Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Excuses...

About a month ago I purposed to post a new project every week, and so far it's gone well - some of my projects are cool, some are rubbish, but I've been able - so far - to keep the pace up.

This week I got violently ill and between the vomiting and Christmas I was only able to get the beginnings of a project off the ground.

I expect it to take two weeks, but here's a project outline so you won't think I'm trying to pull a fast one on you: I'm trying to build a simple face-constructor for the name-characters composed by the fiction machine.

This project is harder than the others I've taken on so far because it requires something more of me than just bad programming: it means I have to draw something.

A few months ago M and I were talking about art and how by saying a project is art a lot of the pressure to create something useful or grand is removed, and it's easier and more fun to work on the thing just for its own sake.

This is like that. Some of the other things I've built I want other people to find practical use in, but this time I'm just doing it for fun.

The weekly project is just an excuse.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lingua Esoterica

This week's project was to create a toy that would build a language on the spot. Just feed it some text and it will give you a new word for word dictionary.

Lingua Esoterica

At first I thought this might be fun/helpful for people writing fantasy novels for digital distribution. Maybe you want a new elf-language, but don't want to blow a ton of time on actually composing the thing - this makes it easy - just drop in all your elf text and the thing will not only give you the translation, it will provide a word for word glossary of new elvish.

Then I realized this could be useful for anyone who wanted to communicate a secret message in public. Maybe you want to tell your kids to shutup, or your husband that the guy ahead of you in line smells bad.

Maybe you're a 12 year old girl who needs a secret language for your girls-only club. Lingua Esoterica will give you your own language - totally unique to you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Budget Compromise!

I've just finished the project I'm most proud of programming myself. It's a tool for partners (life partners, business partners, whatever) to make complex decisions cooperatively.

I call it Budget Compromise!

Imagine the senate using something like this to balance the federal budget, you could get it done in a long weekend.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ira Glass and Programming

A few weeks ago M showed me a video of Ira Glass talking about creative work, and it kind of inspired me to change the way I work on things.

In the video he pushes you (whoever you are) to keep on going, to produce and produce and produce whatever it is that you can produce - even if it sucks - because as long as you believe in your good taste, one day you'll birth something you're proud of.

But all your stuff could suck for years before then.

In the past I've spent too much time thinking about whether the things I want to build will be a success or not, and too little time actually building things. I've been lazy, and too critical and too worried, and I'm ashamed of that.

So now - and I know this may come back to bite me later, but - every week I'm going to try to create something new, and if I can't come up with something new, I'll just iterate an old project in a new way.

Most of these will suck. Most of these will be boring or not polished enough. Most of these will fail to be awesome.

Maybe for years.

In that spirit, I've built a new version of the namerater site for people who don't have any ideas yet about what to name their kids.

I'm calling it Creative Selection.

It's not that great.

But I know that often the things I think are worthless, other people find worthy. I am often proven wrong.

I push on in the faith that we were not built to be certain. The glory of a good life is not knowing, but daring, not truth but hope.