Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New diversion - Ido, the International Auxiliary Language

With another long, cold, dark northern Wisconsin winter coming up, I had to do some preliminary thinking about adding another iron to the "what's cool to learn" fire. This year, the candidate is Ido, the International Auxiliary Language. Ido is a constructed language, developed from Esperanto about 100 years ago as a reformed and refined extension. Take a quick look at Ido-Mondo, my fledgling web site on the topic, for an overview and appetite-whetter.

Where can this go? My plan is, everyone bring 4 new people into the Ido movement every year, and get the new Idists to do the same. Let's say we start out with 200 Ido evangelists:
2008 - 1,000 Idists
2009 - 5,000 Idists
2010 - 25,000 Idists
2011 - 125,000 Idists
2012 - 625,000 Idists
2013 - 3,125,000 Idists
2014 - 15,625,000 Idists
2015 - 78,125,000 Idists
2016 - 390,625,000 Idists
2017 - 1,953,125,000 Idists
2018 - Everyone in the world speaks Ido

So, in ten short years, we get the entire world speaking the same language. That's going to help straighten out a lot of misunderstandings, and save humoungous piles of money as well!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Coming out of the oven

Yeah, I know I said I was going to step back from programming. But some alleged "friends" of mine ridiculed me into coding again. Here's what I've cooked up so far - HypEdit, at for the overview/help file, and for the package (currently BETA, so expect changes in the near future).

What is it? HypEdit is a note-taking editor that stores notes in a single file, and presents them one page (or card, if you will) at a time, with hyperlinking and an alphabetic pagename list for navigation. It's pretty much like a personal, standalone wiki application. Let me know what think of it!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hello, Houston. We May Have a Solution!

After some intense days of coding and digging around, I may have come up with the answer to my quandary.

The goal was to be able to write, format, and present web-based information as painlessly and productively as possible. The design parameters were: decent formatting (easy markup if not actually WYSIWYG), active hyperlinking, multi-page documents in a single-file format, browser-based delivery, cross-platform production (if possible). I really wanted a mode-less way of working, so that you could jump on a link right in the editor window, and go to the link's target. ZuluPad works that way, but falls short on formatting and graphics handling.

I just found a WYSIWYG HTML editor that fills the bill. It's not mode-less, but it has a very accessible (one click on a tab) Preview function that makes up for that minor inadequacy. I'll put together a demo to show what I have in mind, and give the new tool a good wringing out in the process. It ain't perfect, folks, but it will do quite nicely until The Perfect Tool comes along!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Another New Year's Resolution Down the Tubes

My firm intention to step back from programming lasted about 36 hours. Inspired by ZuluPad and frustrated by what I really want it to do, I re-piled the stacks of neglected mail on my desk and fired up EBasic for a new project -- HyPad (short for HyperPad).

During the 36-hour hiatus, I experimented a bit more with OpenOffice, MS Office, and Google Docs. I also played some minor tricks with KompoZer and Dreamweaver. Everything is overkill as a tool I want to teach people to use for doing the small interactive communication and instructional pieces that I think need to be done. So I am back again to the Recurrent Solution -- build it myself.

This would be a lot easier if I were a trained and/or talented programmer. As it is, I can only take the approach of using the programming development editor and tools to pose a problem and tell a story that might arrive at a solution. "Open a file. It shows in a window. Click on a word or phrase. The window jumps the file to show a section starting with the selected phrase. Call that a page. Now make a new page...." Telling the story is the easy part. Doing all that code stuff to activate the story is crazy-making.

Alpha version of HyPad should be working by Monday. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hit the Brakes!

I've been so wrapped up in a programming project that I neglected to see if it was worthwhile, in the first place. I got to playing with ZuluPad, and loved it... except for the Export to HTML option. So I figured to tweak that a bit, to make it more to my liking. Then I tweaked it a bit more, and more, and ultimately wound up with a bad case of feature glut -- a converter/displayer with two versions of HTML export, text file and XML import, CSS and formatting controls, all kinds of "stuff like that there".

Problem is, I lost sight of the original swamp-draining objective when the alligators started swarming over my good intentions. So I'm going to back off from the programming stuff for a bit, and look more closely at rational, productive use of the tools I already have. Here we go....

Main purpose: Produce and deliver useful information in an accessible format.

Production tools to consider: Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, Google Docs, ZuluPad, TreePad, JreePad, Dreamweaver, KompoZer, and whatever else someone might suggest to lessen the communication anxiety.

Stay tuned....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dealing with a compulsion to learn

The first step to recovery from the learning gumption trap is to recognize that, "Houston, we have a problem!"

(a) A gumption trap is a situation of excess, a glut of alternatives and options all clamoring for first-priority attention.

b) The trap is that if you have the gumption to pick an alternative and focus on it, you immediately realize that you have rudely rejected all the other alternatives, some of which could possibly be a better, smarter, or more productive use of your time and energies.

c) So, you put your current choice on the shelf for a moment, and take another look at the action candidates.

d) Go to (a), above.

All right, then, how do we break out of the loop, and still protect our chosen status as lifelong learners? For starters, take a look at this article by Leo on his ZenHabits blog. Then come back here in a day or two and watch me as I chug along the simplification trail.

Let's see -- #1 - Everything in its place. Whoops.... Many of my "things" ARE "places". Go to (a), above.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Here we go again

This is, like, maybe my sixth blog. They're scattered all over the web, neglected orphans of the digital stampede. Maybe this one will click. We'll see....