Yoga as a…

Yoga as a tendency to most efficiently exervelop a system.  Yoga could thus apply to ‘physical fitness’, ‘mental fitness’, spiritual fitness’, individuating, Engineering Pedagogy, Philosophizing, et cetera.  Like a posture is just an arrow, Yoga is just a pattern of being that can be applied to any arena of life.

Yoga as an attitude of comfortably pushing boundaries…

…1 ‘n’ at a time.

Occasionally A Forest

I tend to miss the forest for the trees (coincidentally, I am myopic [ironically, this is a synoptic statement]).

For instance, most of my blog posts on this blog are really just 3-6 hour explorations of the tributaries of some first thoughts.  Just little storms that drench and pass.  Sure, they tend to carry a fair amt of synopsis, and I am by far the greatest commentator [read, interrelator] on this blog.  But for the most part, tut tut,  they are unorganized, have no purpose that can’t be gleaned from the first couple’a paragraphs, and are never revised.

I’m good at drilling down into things with a compass trained on the prize.  But I don’t tend to seek out new prizes strategically.  I just gather them, this one and then that one, in a desultory manner.  (Like a squirrel that can’t recognize edible nuts?)

But that’s not true.  I make prizes out of prising connections btwxt this’nthat’s distinction.

“Your mind is like an arrow.”  “Practice tipped.  And is an arrow better than a stormfront?”

[I reflect.]

But isn’t this all nonsense?  Reading over my blog, do I not play light with heavy concepts?  Do I not range out at the periphery?  Sure, but like a hawk, I home in on tiny specks.   So be it.  I mean, that’s just me, right?  Hopefully they aren’t too heavy for talons.  (I mean, what does that even mean?  Having given birth to the phrase, I can’t backspace it, but…)

What the hell’s my point?  I had one, once.  There’s a feeling tone that spawned all this jibber-jabberin’.

I seek anew.  Isn’t that why, instead?

Plastic Plants

I strongly dislike plastic plants. But more to the point, I hate “plastic plant mindstates”. IOW, streams of experience that are okay with whatever soil nourishes the very real phenomenon of plastic plants.

I mean, why are there plastic plants? I’d guess that humans basically like the look of plants and the visual effect plants have on a scene while simultaneously wanting to avoid having to maintain the plant. I also see a tendency to be satisfied by surface glances. Lastly, I see a desire to not have to look past surfaces, and even to skip surfaces in favor of gossip.

How would I characterize this whole? Laziness. Lethargy. Decay due to negligence. A shining/2 sun dividing fecundity.

But perhaps I encourage “plastic plants” in some arenas of my daily experience, even as I shun literal plants made of plastic? What aspects of reality important to me remain hidden behind plastic camouflage?

To what degree am I preconsciously or just barely consciously waving illusion through my border patrol stations? To what degree does illusion tunnel under my defenses to smuggle itself wholesale?

Seeds of inattention grow into forests of plastic plants.

All our glossing over, our not-seeing-past-the-surface, our limitedness to detecting light that is emitted at this moment (vs seeing past/future light)… some would have it that that is all there is. Oversimplified misperception. Cartoon lives.

But that is silly bias. We do have access to very exact measurements. We are ourselves a measuring device. We are measuring the world at each moment. We are a very unlikely whirlpool spinning through spacetime. Our awareness, such as it is, is a measurement of the whole universe from one particular place. The world in all its intricacy is required to create each short breeze of awareness.

What people don’t like, and why there are plastic plants, is that paying attention is difficult. This is what physical Yoga addresses, I think. It’s tough to hold those poses and to flow between them and systematically push carefully coordinated muscle groups perhaps several times in a single session. But the point of Yoga is not just to “hold” a position, but to continually push yourself through where you can comfortably reach. At a certain level of Yoga a practitioner has to confront the idea that it ain’t ever going to get easy. Getting easy isn’t the point.

A Yoga pose is not some perfect shape that you are trying to fit yourself into, it is a way to point out an arrow to you by moving you in the direction that the arrow is pointing.

While it may be obvious that it requires effort to see things as they are as opposed to just glancing at surfaces, and while most people would effortlessly agree with this notion, it is actually rare but profitable to recognize the very ways in which thinking is burdensome. The feeling of it. Once we get a feeling for the ways in which thinking is tiring we can start to discover the opportunities to exercise the will to avoid succumbing to the fatigue that derails our focus, blurs our brilliance and dims our potential.

So let’s keep huffing and puffing and micro breezing up the winds of consciousness to down the plastic plants.

It’s another way to meditate.

Weathered Spaces

The main thing about programming effectively isn’t rigidly following one style or another. I like to create environments in which solving (some kind of) problems becomes easier and easier. At work I’ve created a context in which the businesses’ typical kinds of problems can be more easily/sophisticatedly solved. I apply the principle of working at two levels at once. Always solving the immediate problem from the perspective of simplifying future encounters with some aspect of the requirements of the solution. This attitude slowly weathers out a nice space in which typical requirements can be accommodated. Consistency is important but so is innovation. Read Design Patterns and disuncreate your own.

At first blush, “always solving the immediate problem” may sound a lot like something like “Stakeholder wants a field to keep track of a list of statuses like ‘Potential, OnCreditHold, Angry, FriendOfTheBoss, Valued, etc.’ that they also need to be able to CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete). So, I need to modify the Customer table in the database to add a column ‘CustomerStatus’ (or can a Customer be both ‘Angry’ and a ‘FriendOfTheBoss’? [need an association table]). And I’m going to need to add a drop down (checked list?) to the Customer screen to allow the user to select amongst the available statuses.” And of course, that inner dialogue goes on: “And I’ll have to modify the loading of the Customer screen to populate the drop down with the available Statuses. And I’ll probably want to create a CustomerStatus table…” And so on. But that’s not only what I mean. That’s only the first part, “solving the problem”. Remember, the second part was “while also simplifying future encounters with some aspect of the requirements of the solution”.

So what does that look like? Could be something as simple as observing how my fingers shift in relation to my shoulders through my wrists as I move my type the letters “Shift-c” and “u” in the declaration of an instance of the “(Cu)stomoreStatus” object. Realizing that if I alternated between flaring my elbows out as I exhaled and drawing them in as I inhaled I might flow with my body’s motion rather than oppose it, as I type, and in this way avoid unnecessary muscular strain (RSI). That can cascade a whole number of hypotheses about the ergonomics of motion.

Or perhaps it happens at a more abstract layer. Maybe I see that I am always creating these tables in the database for things like “status” and “type” and “source” and other enumerated lists of possible states that the end users want to be able to manage (in terms of adding to the list, removing from the list, editing what’s already on the list, and selecting from the list). Perhaps I have an insight that I don’t need to keep creating new tables for each type. There’s a simplicity to that approach, but that simplicity simultaneously creates it’s own overhead. Common patterns of the structure of the program are occluded (having so many unrelated database tables does not hint to any similarity). And cascades of work needs to be reproduced. CRUD queries need be somehow conjured, classes to contain them, maybe. User interfaces need to be created to manage the adding, editing and removing.

Instead, I could create four tables. StateHeader, StateValue, StateProperty, StateParentLink. StateHeader (or state-header, or state_header, or stateHeader, or whatever you prefer) is the table that keeps track of all the different specific “states” that I am keeping track of in the database (for instance, CustomerStatus, CustomerType, OrderType, OrderStatus, EmployeeType, EmployeeStatus, etc.). StateValue is the table that actually keeps track of the “states” (for instance, ‘Potential, OnCreditHold, Angry…’) for each StateHeader. StateProperty accounts for the fact that my CustomerType table may have kept track of data (like whether a Customer of this type should receive weekly sales emails [ReceivesWeeklySalesEmail]) that has no meaning for EmployeeType. StateParentLink supports the use case where multiple “state”s are being tagged onto the Entity, such as a Customer being ‘Potential’ and ‘OnCreditHold’. Then there would be infrastructure to support all this fluently generically (could that infrastructure itself be genericized? [in c#, could you go so far as to create a language within combinatorially embedded generic types? what would the grammar of that look like?]).

Typically, deciding to implement such an idea would involve identifying initial candidates (CustomerStatus, for instance) and working out the kinks and making it a consumable generality. Then, to ensure the longevity of the whole system, I would commit to retroactively applying that pattern to all candidate code. I mean, I myself can usually remember “phases” of coding style or pattern application (Separate Tables vs. Unifying Abstraction), not that I want to, but anyone else who works on the code, it is really much easier for them if they encounter a consistent system (another apparent contradiction of my “integrity” post, and yet, really, it isn’t. I extol a consistency arrived at through contradiction, change, innovation.) It’s already going to be hard enough learning the depths of the domain. The variations of your (the developer’s) expectations. (Think of the chess masters who can remember the positions of chess pieces at a glance (of legit game positions)

Of course, as a system grows, this all becomes more difficult. It’s easy to apply a new pattern by modifying 20 pieces of code and adding another couple hundred lines elsewhere. It’s another matter entirely to modify thousands of lines of code spread across hundreds of files, ultimately potentially impacting the entire spectrum of activity within a company. Do you do it all at once, or spread it out over time? If you spread it out, are you confident you’ll get to it, or will you end up with an increasingly fractured system?

And too, I cited above the benefit to other coders of a consistent code base. But in the same spirit of simplicity there comes a point where brilliant abstractions obscure. Of course, it depends. Sometimes the language will work with the abstraction and a powerful simplicity can emerge. Other times we find ourselves against the grain. And sometimes this becomes too much. Too much “T : where T class”. But that’s just C#.

In LISP we can play.

Black Holes

We tend to think of black holes in terms of gravity (I’m not sure how you think of gravity… everyone seems to have their own yardstick).  But I toy with thinking about black holes informationally.  There is a basis for thinking this way.  Black holes face the problem of packing stuff densely.  I have an intuition that increasing density poses a problem best solved strategically.   Strategy exists over information.

But information is just a backdoor for meaning.

I wonder if (a) black hole(s) weave their pulling influence throughout human experience?  An odd question.  I mean it concretely.  If black holes exist (also) in information as purpose for the purpose of pulling everything together, then perhaps (a) black hole(s) (is/are) literally pushing our society through this technological explosion towards Kurzweil‘s singularity.  Consider it a pulling at space through time lassoed events.  Pulling events through complexification.

Life would be considered a direct ripple caused by this release of energy.  DNA metabolisms form around it.  A negentropy pull.  Life, so conceived, is a complex dissipative system meant accommodate a level of energy so great as to cause maager(typo*) to avalanche into itself, distill.   (*typo, it was a slip of the fingers in an attempt to type “matter/energy”.  I find this especially interesting because it is an expression of what was beeing expressed.  I don’t think there is a word for this phenomenon, like there is for homonym or onomatopoeia, although I have invented one or several, I can’t remember any at the moment…  Also, just today I read Hofstadter‘s discussion of this typing “bloom” for “blue moon” in the introduction to Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies.  I’ve had many such experiences.  The more you write the more often such oddities occur.  Same for the LHC.)

Seen another way, as plants are heliotropic, growing towards the sun, life in general is singularotropic, growing towards the singularity.  This is another way of saying that the singularity pulls at everything along every dimension.  It’s another way of saying that as we develop we will continue to broaden and deepen the ubiquity of our extension throughout what is.

What is a black hole?  What is its significance?  Is it just some impersonal gravity sink that will decohere us all, in the end?  Perhaps the idea of it being like a ‘hole’ is misleading.  What if we thought of them as more like distilling distillers?

Let there be no doubt that I only vaguely know what I am talking about.  I write these words as a layperson.  But there’s definitely something over there, where my fingers’re pointin’ out increasing entropy ain’t the only egg in the basket.

Apple, Inc. Review

I am a PC guy.  I am also a programmer (.NET, C#, JS/HTML/CSS, PHP, CL).  Although the first computers I used were Macintosh computers as a child in school, I eventually became a PC user.  Things may have went differently if, in around ’88 or ’89, my family had got an apple like we saw in an advertisement and talked about briefly (and which I still remember to this day [I don’t remember many advertisements]).  Later, when we did get a computer, in probably ’94 or ’95, it was a Packard Bell PC (120 MB hd with compuserve preinstalled although no modem was included).  Like gender, it was a seemingly random outcome between two alternatives that has ruled my fate ever since (around ’98-’99 I flirted with Linux but it didn’t go anywhere), or at least some would have you think that way.

A while ago I bought an iPad but returned it.  However, today I received my iPod and I don’t have any intention of returning it unless the hardware is broken.  I wanted an MP3 player with good battery life.  I got a mini tablet.  That’s impressive.  I can browse the internet (slowly) over wifi.  And the packaging was great.  Everything on the surface is just wonderful.  It’s amazing that the industry has seen Apple doing this for 10 years and has done very little to emulate them (the big players).

But I had to dig a little deeper.

After my fling with the iPad, my AppleID had become disabled.  I searched on the net and was directed to reset my password at iforgot.apple.com.  I received an email from appleid@id.apple.com that enabled me to reset my password.  I was happy with the self-descriptive identifiers.  The page I went to required me to craft a difficult password.  It offered red/green status bubbles next to descriptions of password requirements.  As I updated the password these bubbles would turn green or red.  Nice.  I got them all green and my password was rejected.  I had chosen a “common word”.  Please combine several words or such and such.  Try again.  So I did and all the bubbles turned green and tabbed over to the Continue button and hit the space bar.  Nothing happened.  I hit the enter key and I was immediately redirected to http://www.apple.com.

Okay.  So I went back to my iPod to complete setup.  I touched Next.  My AppleID was still disabled.  I looked in my inbox for an email.  Nothing.  I putzed around for a few minutes figuring it took time (amateur) for the reset to take effect.  Still, disabled.  I go back, click the reset link again, type the password twice, tab to the Continue and hit enter.  Bam! back at http://www.apple.com.  No email confirmation.  iPod no worky.  I try again, this time I click the Continue button with my mouse.  Confirmation page!  iPod worky.  Continue button only kinda worky.

I finally get my thing set up.  It’s a beautifully crafted device.  I take some pictures.  Pretty good quality.  I know it’s time to start interacting with the device at a higher level.  I want to connect to its file system.  I’d like to put some pictures on it to use as the wallpaper.  Plus, I want to get familiar with the device.  It’s a 64GB model, and so will probably serve as my portable USB storage (speed permitting).  I look in windows explorer and there’s “Jerome’s iPad”.  Nice.  I open it up, get to a DCIM folder like on my camera and find thumbs of photos I took.  That’s all very nice and easy.  I want some pictures on the iPod so I find them and drag them over to the DCIM folder, but I see a red circle with a line through it.  Hmmm…  Read Only.

Bogus.

Do I want to install iTunes bloatware?  No.  I check out fileapp.  I install it.  It requires iTunes.  Sigh.  I acquiesce, since I read somewhere that it only needs a couple .dlls.  It requires DiskAid.  Fine, I install it, too.  Camera Roll keeps taking forever (1.33 mins) to load.  And finally, never loads anything.  I move to photo library and try copying files over.  I keep getting some error (can’t remember).  Finally, after missteps and switching between programs, I create a directory and then copy the file.  The file successfully transfers.  I go to my iPod and the files aren’t there.  They show in DiskAid, but not iPod.  I’m frustrated.  I consign myself to iTunes (my experience with it is negative).  I close DiskAid and uninstall it.  Something about applying unapplied changes.  I click out of it.

iTunes quickly lives up to my expectations.  I want to transfer photos.  After finally getting to my iPod “section” or whatever it is and I see the “Photos” tab

jeromes ipod touch

I click on it only to be confronted by absurdity.  I cannot simply navigate folders like I expect.  If I had been able, through some feat of UI gymnastics, to reach a file system like user interface, I would have forgiven it and never written this blog post.  However, I was instead led on a goose chase towards an app or a desktop application that enabled me to transfer photos between my iPod and my Windows 8.  iTunes content to simply sync entire folders.  But only for photos.  Apparently, with music and videos, you can use a file system like UI for transfering files.  Just not photos.

And anyway, the syncing is broken.  I was purchasing some MP3s from Amazon and using their mp3 downloader to download but that whole process hinged on clicking on these “.amz” files that were registered with the downloader.  Each click of a single amazonxxxxxxxxxxxxx.amz causes the downloader to queue the album or song an additional download.  Conveniently, the downloader allows no further interaction with its queued items (for instance, to cancel a download).  And in a perfect storm of billion-dollar-company failes, iTunes got out of sync when I deleted the duplicate the files that I couldn’t prevent from downloading.  So now, every time I try to sync, or I even connect my iPod with iTunes open (many computer restarts later), I see something like (the number of “total problems” from attempt to attempt):itunes 100 total problems

Worst of all, there are albums on my iPod with only some of all their songs and iTunes will not sync the missing files from my music folder.  So I have incomplete albums.  I may have to restore the iPod to factory defaults but I’ll try uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes, first.  I don’t know what hope there is for Amazon’s MP3 downloader (fix it, please [reminds me of how, for 6 months, their Unbox player that would throw an error every time I clicked to play a movie the first time.  The second time I clicked to play, it would play just fine.]).

Big fail Apple and Microsoft and Amazon.  Is my experience unique?  Do these companies not care about this consumers experience?

I just want to put some photos and music on my iPod.

In fact, the file system gymnastics resultant from the lack of an inbuilt cross platform file system in iTunes or some successor [Apple, hint hint, polish your reflection, fill this lacuna] was what caused me to return the The New iPad (incidentally, I think they refrained from marketing it as iPad 4 because they didn’t want to have to keep numbering continuous revisions in the beleaguered adopters eyes 4.5, 4.75, 4.87).

For an iPod I’ll deal with it and find something, eventually, that will probably work for me.  I mean, this is great for an MP3 player!   I was unwilling, however, to accept the situation for a tablet.  I expect more from a tablet.

I want to register on the web’s seismograph these complaints.  Let iOS 7 have a native file system browser and let iTunes be replaced by a svelt, useful, revenue generating iTunes replacement.

Soon I’ll get a Microsoft Surface Pro and gripe about it’s inevitable inadequacies.  However, lack of a file system UI won’t be one.

90 billion bucks in the bank?  I expect better software.  Your hardware seems best in class.   But don’t milk my money for basic functionality.  Provide the file system UI!  Your products are expensive enough!

Or am I missing something?  In which case, I criticize the ease of use.  I don’t know what’s easy to use for someone who doesn’t know desktop computer metaphors well because I do.  I don’t criticize putting a simplistic(?) interface on the surface to appeal to the majority of use cases.  However, for the love of all potential purchasers, provide deeper bug free dependable access to traditional metaphors and power.  Apple could critically attract the whole PC market right out from under Microsoft’s influence if they but accommodated the advanced desktop UI user to the same degree throughout their integrated product interface experience.  Nearly all of us would accept our interface being one level deeper to accommodate the newbs where necessary.  In fact, we’d probably like it.  The fusion of Apple and Microsoft.  But wow!, if I’m going to start that sort of alchemy I’m going to begin adding dabbles of IBM’s research emphasis, too.

I would ditch PCs in an instant for something truly better.  Although, truthfully, I’m quite attached to C#, LINQ, WCF and SQL Server (MONO).  Visual Studio?  Eh.  I’m probably not going to bother learning a new IDE in depth until said new IDE is far superior in both subtle polish, extensibility, and malleability.  Visual Studio is powerful but buggy, bloated, and heavy with the cruft of growth.  Like iTunes, but amplified towards the development crowd.  Like Windows.  Its greatest feature is its pioneering some aspect of the human/information frontier.  Deep into the wild, it’s gone (‘long with SmallTalk and LISP).  But I still like the promise of LISP for an IDE.  An efficient graphically (optimized++) text interface for truly tightening the thought-to-expression loop and ease of evolvable interfaces to meaning represented in whichever way.  I await a new OS {I’ve styled it: (Operating [SYstem) Language] Osyl.  Or, (O[S)L]O.  Or, Oslo.  Or Osyl} that is an interface that optimally drills down layers of abstraction seamlessly to machine code.  The surface would be an intuitive powerful interface into meaning.  Overall, the OS would be more perfectly integral and continuous in the ease and depth of use (haha, a contradictory use to yesterdays post on “integrity“).  Ultimately, the OS is a prime candidate for the first AI.  We would interface with the OS like a neoneocortex, directly thinking through the interface.  But that’s some ways off.  Probably 30 years.  Maybe we could get there by creating metaphors and natural metaphor engendering perspectives around meaning structures themselves through some central, relevant core ecosystem of metaphors that includes some kind of whole-organism sign language.

Long live Psychlotron.

integrity

I want to write about my own version of integrity, but that begins with my relation to other versions. For most of my life I’ve disliked the word integrity, and, in general, those who used it earnestly. It would be improper to say I hated the word, but it annoyed me. Why? First, and probably lastly, I was not able to relate to the characters that used the word. Some of these characters were on T.V., but others were real people I knew.

When I watch movies from the 30’s all the way through the 70’s, but even partially into the eighties, I am always struck by the unnaturalness of the actors. Without out a doubt, I can detect the slice of their actor persona along with the contours of the prevailing mores and even their relative strengths by the concessions set up and given, the emphases and blindspots. I’m probably wrong about it all but I get a pretty strong sense of a whole bunch of cultural stuff that is by no means even being intentionally communicated.

I mention that all because of two important aspects: actors and culture. Anyway, I want to get to my version, so I’ll finish up this thread. The “integrity” these actors spoke of were an extension and core aspect of a culture which was being replaced by my own. Not “mine” as some personal conquest, but a new culture that I was swept up in. It’s got aspects of the counter-cultures of a number of eras of modern western civilization. {TODO: Could write an entire post about this} Describing this culture is a task best left for another time. Suffice to say, it’s to me today’s Victorian age. Victorian++;

Now, to my kind of integrity. Whew, sigh of lightness. I realized my kind of integrity just last night, getting into the shower. I was extending my clasped hands over my head in {TODO: Yoga posture}. My shoulder hurt from the movement. I thought about why. It was because I moved my hands to the ceiling with my will. What’s wrong with that? I should have “talked” to my shoulder about it. And my elbow, too. My wrist might even have had a thing or two to say about it. Fingers chiming in!

What I mean is, the desire to push my hands towards the ceiling is going to be carried out by all sorts of muscles. What I consciously do to carry out my goal characterizes my union with the goal. If all I do is nebulously imagine my hands towards the ceiling and sort of “wing it”, that’s one way of being. But I could realize that pushing my hands upwards requires the coordination of, when you get right down to it, every muscle in my body, along with my skeleton, and my breath, and then, when you really get right down to it: me. Each motion does. Each moment, even. Each breath. Each thought.  Objectively speaking, and, increasingly, subjectively speaking, too.

What do I mean by “talk”? Pay attention. Emanate the goal.

Why “emanate goals” with my body when I can simply unconsciously “direct about”? Well, basically, because “emanating goals” is what you are unconsciously doing when you “direct about”.

The best way to communicate how to move your thumb I know of is: try and see your thumb moving. I can tell you how to open a door or do some manual task so long as I can take for granted that you know how to move your limbs. Instructions on how to put together the desk you just bought at walmart don’t include how to grasp screwdrivers and how to orient wood slabs upright or how to rotate your wrist or kneel.

Of course, all the trying to see your thumb move in the world isn’t going to help if you have sufficient nerve damage in that area. But, experientially, what I am saying, is that that situation translates into one in which the roadways for the conveyance of your “emanting goals” are damaged.

What does being conscious of your “emanating goals” have to do with integrity? Everything.  Perhaps what always bothered me about the concept of “integrity” as culture had it, was the notion of [simple] “internal consistency”.  My experience of self is very different.  While not fragmented, it is quite a bit more like an ecosystem with competing organisms balancing collectively, then some sort of linear logic.

I have found that to approach nonce “integrity” one has to kill parts of themself.  I guess my insight is that that’s only part of the ecosystem.  Deeper patterns spawn newer apparitions.  Those who are not conscious of this process and who believe they have wrenched subordination of all parts to one are case studies to me.  How deeply has their belief ossified their sensitivity to the human organism’s reality?  How deeply has my own?

How deeply do I pay attention to the parts of myself involved in each experience of mine and how conscious of my own emanating goals am I?

Finally, am I merely squandering my genetic inheritance by foregoing abstract “strategy” and concerning my neocortex with what is properly my motor cortex’s concern?  What do I gain by such amplification?

For one, I start distinguishing all sorts of phenomenon that are invisible to most (kaleidostealthily preconscious lenses).  Secondly, I notice that most useful insight happens at the edges of synthesis between external and internal conditions.  Maybe, by preemptively using of my neocortex to focus upon breath and movement I up the threshold of importance for syntheses emerging onto the shores of awareness.  Thirdly, this is a path towardish (a/my/the) ding an sich which axiomatically draws me.

A questing undercurrent of ____ that shapes its own differential equations.