2011 Resolutions

My resolutions for 2010 involved a lot of reading, improving my cooking repertoire, improving my photography repertoire, and having fun in the present. In goal accounting for 2010, 2 were successful and 2 not. Except for the reading goal, the other three were well outside my comfort zone.  I forgot my statement for the resolutions in 2009.

Useful resolutions to me are things I realistically can and will accomplish applying moderate effort. Making too hard of a challenge will result in giving up too quickly. Making too easy of a challenge will result in doing something I would do anyway.

The successful resolutions only required moderate effort. The failures required me to move outside my comfort zone. So for 2011, I ought to come up with some resolutions more encouraging my strengths than discouraging for likely failures.

  1. Complete unfinished novel series. In 2007 I started several novel series, but the 2008 and 2009 resolutions conspired to make these books less than ideal. I made it to book 4 of Harry Potter, book 4 of the Wheel of Time, book 7 of the Sword of Truth. It is time I finished off these series. Especially to move on to start others.
    • Harry Potter books 4-7 (4)
    • Wheel of Time books 4-13 (#14 due early 2012) Number four was unbearable. Giving up this series.
    • Sword of Truth books 9-11 (3)
    • Ender books 4, 6-11 (7)
    • Total: 24 14
  2. Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 100 (from 2003). This the real list, not the Internet Meme one which has been passed around for years and multiply modified in the process. The list is:
    1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
    3. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
    4. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
    5. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
    6. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
    7. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
    8. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
    9. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
    10. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
    11. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
    12. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
    13. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
    14. Total: 13
  3. No more complaining about Blackboard, Inc. Too many of my blog posts, Twitter, and Facebook updates are about Blackboard. Most of that is negative. Going forward it needs to be positive or constructive. There are lots I dislike about the company and products but to little productive effect.
  4. Attend more social events when invited. All too often I listen to the butterflies in my stomach and stay home. In 2010 I did better than normal at attending parties, potlucks, etc. Seems like I went to about 50% of them when I did not have a conflict.
  5. Go away more. Almost of all of my out-of-town trips in 2010 were all back to visit family. I need to get out more and do something fun. So much stuff to do when I am sitting at home on my recliner.

There are some other intentions like praying and learning the Baha’i Writings, being available for helping Mom, getting healthier, try dating, etc. Instead of making a resolution, I’ll just try to keep them in mind.

Followup

Goal accounting

Here is the progress made on my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions.

  • Read 12,000 pages. At last count, I was on track to succeed with this one.
  • Learn to cook 20 new dishes. FAILED. Made only 10.
  • Participate in Project 365. FAILED. I made it to February before I gave up on it.
  • Have fun now not later. SUCCESS. Went to more events people invited me to attend than the previous four or five years combined.

What is interesting is the more others talked about my goals, the stronger I pushed on them. So a good goal is one others hold interest in me completing?

Cooking and reading were somewhat incompatible. Cooking is a home activity. I do not read very well at home as computers, television, and any number of things distract me. Failing it was a calculated decision so that I would meet a more important goal.

2010 Resolution Reading List

I recently completed my first resolution for the year 2009: Read 12,000 pages. pp

Check the Reading page for the master list.

Titles in bold are the ones I recommend. (They also are probably the ones I quote the most.)

  1. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in SpaceCarl Sagan – 368 pp (368 total)
  2. Deal with Your Debt: The Right Way to Manage Your Bills and Pay Off What You Owe Liz Pulliam Weston – 210 est pp (57324+8 total)
  3. Some Answered Questions – Abdu’l-Bahá – 314 pp (892 total)
  4. Promised Day is Come – Shoghí Effendí Rabbání – 208 pp (1,100 total)
  5. The Last Days of Socrates – PlatoHugh Tredennick (Translator), Harold Tarrant (Contributor) – 289 pp (1,389 total)
  6. The Trial of Socrates – Isidor F. Stone – 273 pp (1,662 total)
  7. The HistoriesHerodotus – 720 pp (2,382 total)
  8. Libraries in the Ancient World – Lionel Casson – 173 pp (2,555 total)
  9. Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common OriginsSteve Olson – 278 pp (2,833 total)
  10. Why Smart People Do Dumb Things – Mortimer FeinbergJohn Tarrant – 265 pp (3,098 total)
  11. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Howard PyleScott McKowen (Illustrator) – 328 pp (3,426 total)
  12. The Seven Mysteries of Life Guy Murchie – est 661 pp (4,087 total)
  13. Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above AverageJoseph Hallinan – 304 pp (4,391 total)
  14. NextCrichton, Michael – 431 pp (4,822 total)
  15. The Ball is Round: A Global History of SoccerGoldblatt, David – 992 pp (5,814 total)
  16. A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1)L’Engle, Madeleine – 224 pp (6,038 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  17. Ender’s GameCard, Orson Scott – 324 pp (6,362 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  18. Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the WorldAhamed, Liaquat – 576 pp (est 6,938 total)
  19. Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our LivesSpecter, Michael – 304 pp (est 7,242 total)
  20. Tribes: We Need You to Lead UsGodin, Seth – 160 pp (est 7,402 total)
  21. Foundation (Foundation, #1)Asimov, Isaac – 256 pp (est 7,658 total)
  22. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do DifferentlyBuckingham, Marcus – 255 pp (est 7,913 total)
  23. Snow CrashStephenson, Neal – 470 pp (est 8,383 total)
  24. Ender’s Shadow (Shadow Series, #1)Card, Orson Scott – 469 pp (est 8,852 total)
  25. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our BrainsCarr, Nicholas G. – 256 pp (9,108 total)
  26. The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the NationWesten, Drew – 384 pp (9,492 total)
  27. Happiness: Lessons from a New ScienceLayard, Richard – 320 pp (9,812 total)
  28. Speaker for the Dead (Ender’s Saga, #2)Card, Orson Scott – 382 pp (10,194 total)
  29. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other StoriesStevenson, Robert Louis – 304 pp (10,498 total)for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  30. Hyperion (Hyperion, #1)Simmons, Dan – 482 pp (10,980 0total)
  31. Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’sPage, Tim – 208 pp (11,188 total)
  32. Xenocide (Ender’s Saga, #3)Card, Orson Scott – 520 read of 592 pp (11,780 total)
  33. Something BorrowedEmily Giffin – 322 pp (12,102 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  34. Treasure IslandStevenson, Robert Louis – 352 pp (12,454 total)
  35. The Sunday Philosophy Club (Sunday Philosophy Club, #1)Alexander McCall Smith – 250 pp (12,704 total) — for Not Your Oprah’s Book Club
  36. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values – Pirsig, Robert M. – 560 pp (est 13,264 total)

Book Club

Joined a book club. Oddly enough for being an avid reader, I’ve never really done well discussing them in groups. In high school, there was a group of authors who would discuss manuscripts each other had written. The difference between this and a book club being openly critical of something hurts can hurt the author’s feelings. Saying you don’t like someone’s favorite book doesn’t have the same personalization.

Guess I turned a corner when Chelsea and I planned to get together and discuss The Tipping Point about 9 months ago. In the actual book club, I enjoyed hearing other’s takes and responding to them. Better understood some areas I guess I glossed over when reading on my own. Not too much like Lit class like I expected. (Was also able to overcome the nausea of going off to meet strangers.)

Wondering if perhaps the best approach is to discuss while reading … instead of … reading then discussing? Guess people’s differences in pacing make that hard. Plus they’d have to be around each other more like daily than once a month.

By the way, in my introduction, I claimed these as the three “books” I like.

  1. Piers Anthony’s A Spell for Chameleon (the Xanth series) started my obsession with getting a hold of new books. One of my aunts gave me the first three books. I then had to buy the rest of the books the day they dropped in bookstores. That was before Amazon existed.
  2. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (first book is A Game of Thrones) Ended my obsession of getting a hold of new books. After all, I spent months checking in with a certain bookstore asking when Storm would drop. Feast spent a year on pre-order through several slipped drop dates. I no longer pre-order books.
  3. Not sure why I named Lincoln’s Melancholy except the other books which came to mind were about physical sciences. I less than stellarly try to be more partial to behavioral sciences.

Naturally quantum mechanics came up. For the life of me, I could not remember name Michio Kaku. His book Hyperspace was where I learned the about the concept of using worm holes to travel massive distances or even time travel. (Actually I read that one at the request of another aunt so I could explain it to her.)

Now… Off to read Ender’s Game again.

New Year’s Resolutions 2010

My resolutions for 2009 involved reading good stuff and being more social. More or less they were successful. I read fulfilled the reading goal by October. To fulfill the social goal, I attended most of the BrunchBunch, Athens Flickr Meetups, Athens Strobist Meetups, and even lunches with coworkers. These were by and large successful.

So, in thinking about 2010, my intentions for this year are:

  1. Read 12,000 pages. Unlike last year, I am not going to restrict the type of content except to say it must be in a book. Magazines, blogs, and news do not count. If they did, then I’d make the goal in a couple months.
  2. Learn to cook 20 new dishes. Considering I don’t cook, this is by far the most ambitious resolution. I’ll need to buy a cookbook.
  3. Participate in Project 365. (tips to get started) I considered 365 Days, but I don’t think I am up to daily self portraits. This is a Flickr group where people post daily submissions for every day of the year. I’ve previously failed this one, but I made it to 99 photos. Will be interesting with just an SLR and a bad phone camera.
  4. Have fun now not later. I haven’t visited the local state parks or much in Atlanta or even taken a personal trip. I keep procrastinating expecting it to be better later, making me an exemplar of Procrastination of Enjoyable Experiences. (Also Carpe Diem? Maybe Tomorrow in NYT)

There lots of other things in the back of my mind for things I ought to accomplish this year.

  • I only went out on one date for all of 2009, which is actually more than 2007 and 2008 combined. Assuming I don’t chicken out, I may equal that in January 2010?
  • I need to cull the blog list down from 403 subscriptions to around 200.
  • No flying at all for 2009? The furthest I drove was to Panama City, FL? Obviously I should travel more.

Followup

Weblogic Diagnostics

I noticed one the nodes in a development cluster was down. So I started it again. The second start failed, so I ended up looking at logs to figure out why. The error in the WebCTServer.000000000.log said:

weblogic.diagnostics.lifecycle.DiagnosticComponentLifecycleException: weblogic.store.PersistentStoreException: java.io.IOException: [Store:280036]Missing the file store file “WLS_DIAGNOSTICS000001.DAT” in the directory “$VISTAHOME/./servers/$NODENAME/data/store/diagnostics”

So I looked to see if the file was there. It wasn’t.

I tried touching a file at the right location and starting it. Another failed start with a new error:

There was an error while reading from the log file.

So I tried copying to WLS_DIAGNOSTICS000002.DAT to WLS_DIAGNOSTICS000001.DAT and starting again. This got me a successful startup. Examination of the WLS files revealed the the 0 and 1 files have updated time stamps while the 2 file hasn’t changed since the first occurance of the error.

That suggests to me Weblogic is unaware of the 2 file and only aware of the 0 and 1 files. Weird.

At least I tricked the software into running again.

Some interesting discussion about these files.

  1. Apparently I could have just renamed the files. CONFIRMED
  2. The files capture JDBC diagnostic data. Maybe I need to look at the JDBC pool settings. DONE (See comment below)
  3. Apparently these files grow and add a new file when it reaches 2GB. Sounds to me like we should purge these files like we do logs. CONFIRMED
  4. There was a bug in a similar version causing these to be on by default.

Guess that gives me some work for tomorrow.
🙁

Stalking Students

On the BLKBRD-L email list is a discussion about proving students are cheating. Any time the topic comes up, someone says a human in a room is the only way to be sure. Naturally, someone else responds with the latest and greatest technology to detect cheating.

In this case, Acxiom offers identity verification:

By matching a student’s directory information (name, address, phone) to our database, we match the student to our database. The student then must answer questions to verify their identity, which may include name, address and date of birth.


The institution never releases directory information so there are no Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) violations.

However, to complete the course work the student is forced to hand over the information to Acxiom, an unknown and potentially untrusted party. Why should students trust Acxiom when institutions cannot be trusted?

Due to the decentralized nature of IT departments, higher education leads all industries in numbers data breach events. Acxiom’s verification capabilities were designed so that student and instructor privacy is a critical feature of our solution. Institutions never receive the data Acxiom uses in this process. They are simply made aware of the pass/fail rates.

In other words, high education institutions cannot be trusted to handle this information. No reason was provided as to why Acxiom can be better trusted. Guess the people reading this would never check to see whether Acxiom has also had data breaches.

This Electronic Freedom Foundation response to Acxiom’s claims their method is more secure was interesting:

True facts about your life are, by definition, pre-compromised. If the bio question is about something already in the consumer file, arguably the best kind of question is about something that is highly unlikely to be in one’s consumer file and even useless commercially–like my pet’s name.

Answering these kinds of questions feels like more of violation of than a preservation of privacy.

The Bahá’í Seven

In only hours the government of Iran plans to put on trial seven Bahá’í leaders for “spying for Israel, spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic and religious offenses”. Yesterday the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called for the release of these Bahá’ís. Similarly the German parlimentary groups have produced similar condemnations.

For over 160 years Persia/Iran has not had a good relationship either Badis or Bahá’ís. Thousands have been executed for following the wrong religion.

I was hopeful for more government pressure on Iran from many countries. Instead, we’ll rely on prayers for the well being of these poor souls.

Worldwide Photo Walk

Flickrite Shadows I’m looking forward to this Athens part of the Worldwide Photo Walk in four weeks. I’m even more impressed it filled to the 50 person capacity. We have been having meetups for Athens Flickr users since September. I don’t think any have approached half that number. (There are only 32 members in the Flickr group.) I attribute this success to Steven Skelton‘s efforts spreading the word.

Expression Costs

(This started out as a blog comment for Sania’s post Facebook Killed Your Blog. I’m posting it here first.)

We share blogs with the whole world. So our blogs get lost in the noise, bolstering the need for a whole industry optimizing getting found in search engines. Its a concerted effort just get noticed. That’s because blog readers have to seek out blogs to follow, subscribe to the feed, and follow. Finding the best blogs to read is sometimes difficult and more from word of mouth than anything search engines provide.

Blogs also tend to have a lot of information to digest. Social networks have just a line or two with maybe a link to more information. Blog readers typically are designed around the idea of collecting all the posts and letting the user pick which to read. Social networks typically are designed around the idea of just showing recent posts and letting the users choose how far back in time to read.

As technologies lower the costs to express ideas (aka get easier), blogs will get left behind as they have become upside down in value. The costs of writings, reading, subscribing, and commenting on blogs are more expensive compared to micro-blogging or status updates.

Why blog when hanging out on social networks are so much easier? Blogs can only survive as long as they have information worthy.

Why blog when readers are no longer reading? Posting blog entries on social networks does help keep traffic levels somewhat by getting exposure.

As bloggers providing valuable expression leave blogging, the value of blogs decrease. People will still blog. It just won’t be the popular thing to do.