Taking Notes Helps!

An article in Pistachio today informs presenters on presenting while people are Twittering. Quite an interesting phenomenon, and this article gives a nice perspective. The author lists the reasons why Twittering during a presentation is positive, and I'd like to point out the first of these reasons. I quote from reason number 1:

The more I’m allowed to interact and play with the content the more engaged and ultimately the more learning happens.
This concept has been pounded into my head since childhood, and I always find it perfectly true in every instance. Whether I'm sitting in a class or reading the Bible or trudging through a meeting that I really don't want to be in, taking notes always - yes, always - yields strong results in the end. Here's what happens:
  1. I have to listen to take notes, so I start off more engaged
  2. The more I take notes, the more questions I ask what I'm hearing
  3. The more questions I ask, the more I use that thing between my ears (brain?) to try and figure out the answer
  4. Inevitably, after a series of questions and answers, I subconsciously start to draw the content out of the abstract and into my own ballpark
  5. This is when one piece of that content takes on a life of it's own and starts to mold to fit my current situation and other, unrelated questions start to be answered by what I learned here
  6. Now the meeting/presentation is over and I can hardly believe it because I feel like I just started taking notes, even though I have ten full pages
Wonderful, huh? There's nothing as enlightening as having a good note-taking session. Except maybe choosing idleness instead of taking notes, which is what I usually opt to do. :)


A Wealth of Data Visualization Links

Thanks to a friend, I've been introduced to a truckload of data visualization links. I don't know if there's enough time in my whole life to thoroughly read through them all, but just a peek was enough. Hope you enjoy as much as I did (and will!):

Edward Tufte - the da vinci of Data

5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits


Swivel Preview

The Best Tools for Visualization


Graphic Design - My 2009 Hobby

I've always loved art. I remember painting landscapes for my friends one year for Christmas. I remember listening to Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid and furiously drawing
characters from Final Fantasy or Metroid, or whatever Nintendo Power was highlighting at the time. I remember sitting for hours in my room carefully studying each page of my Michael Whelan or Alan Lee books, wondering how in the world did he get so much detail on that spaceship wall, or how did his stroke void of any detail at all still capture exactly the form of the dragon. I remember sitting in the basement at the computer for days on end, scrupulously writing and rewriting POV-Ray code and patiently watching as the the rays were traced one by one and my screen became a three-dimensional parallel universe. I loved it, but over the years other priorities have taken - well - priority, and I've lost a lot of the experience I built up as a child and a younger-than-I-am-now person.

I've lost so much ground in my technical drawing skills so I get easily frustrated when I'm trying to draw or paint freehand anymore. Luckily, over the last several months and because of my deepening passion for web development and design, I've been re-introduced into the world of art. Art infused with information and seamlessly presented on a canvas of HTML and CSS. Moll's clean vintage look with just enough texture to make you feel like you're reading a book; Spooner's mixture of bold vectors and calm browns; Inman's striking minimal mathematical approach; Nick La's explosion of motion and flow and contrast - it's all amazing and delightful to me, from the markup to the stylesheets to the javascript to the polished, shiny finished product it's all beautiful to me. So, I'm re-applying myself to art, this time in the form of graphic design which allows me to be creative without getting stuck on the fact that I still can't draw an anatomically-correct tree (so I borrow someone else's).

Want to see my new favorite site? This changes by the day, but at least for yesterday and today I'm submitting Viget Inspire as the most visually appealing blog in the whole world wide web (or "WWWW" for short). Isn't it nice? Well, it was this blog and a tutorial based on that blog that pushed me over the edge last night. After an hour of homework and a handful of Dove Blackberry Carmel Dark Chocolates, I plugged in my wacom and downloaded some watercolors and trees and GIMPed up a painting (the one at the top). It turned out ok, but more importantly, it's my start. From today until 11:59pm December 31st 2009, I am officially... ummm... doing more art stuff. I'll post it to my flickr so stop by occasionally and take a gander.

Thanks to mom and dad and Morgy and Jennie and Harmony for being my inspiration.


Discussion Forums are Frustrating

I've learned all of my measly scripting skills from one of two sources: documentation and discussion forums.  As riveting those documentation pdfs are, I have to say that discussion forums are even more frustrating because it starts out with the exact predicament you find yourself in, then halfway through they're talking about their own project or some other post they posted or their neighbor's dog. 

Today I found a discussion forum that yielded the one piece of information I have been lacking for the last two weeks.  I'm about to publish a test suite of a document management system and the core functions are still buggy, including uploading which is like number one priority.  Long story short, Yoda showed me the way and as I am not a member of that community and therefore cannot reply to skeeter1jd to express my heartfelt gratitude, I'm going to do it here.



Do you believe in coincidence?

Is it entirely due to chance that on my way home from work yesterday, while dodging cars and trucks on my bike, my mind was drawn back to an old, dead project I've had on the shelf for a year to host user-created maps of Vietnamese restaurants, shops, doctors, etc and build a social network around such a service?

Or that as I drove to Target to drop off my wife's subscription, a break-through concept - the "missing key" as I coined it - crashed into my brain about how to bring such a service out of the mass of mashups and into a unique niche that would truly prove useful to its users by adding new place/event notifications?

Or that when I got home I searched "social mapping" and found that Google's Latitude, an update to mobile maps that will track you via cellphone and broadcast your position to your private network, would be released tomorrow (that's today)?

Or that today I routinely opened my design feeds and inadvertently stepped into a screencast featuring Mozilla's Ubiquity, which is an experiment that in-part promises to bring mashups from site-centric status to user-centric?

Or that jQuery is just so frickin' awesome that even a dense-head like me might be able to pull it off?

Do you believe in coincidence?

travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)