The Elements of Euclid
October 3, 2017, 8:53 am

I bought a book on a whim while at the book store.

The Taschen books on art and history are really fascinating to me, and last night I picked up The Elements of Euclid from Green Apple on the strength of its interior alone. Lately I have been doing a lot of work with geometry and trigonometry and this book speaks to me in a very real way.

If you have ever been interested in math, geometry, or even design, this book will be an amazing addition to your repertoire.

When is the best time to post content?
September 5, 2017, 10:00 am

Statistics have been tested time and again, and proven that the best time to post something online, in order to reach the highest amount of eyeballs, is on Tuesday at 10am.

But why? Well there's a number of reasons. And they cover a broad range of topics.

People who are at their desk job

Most people with a regular desk job are just getting set up and sitting at their desk, and checking emails. And what else? That's right, checking the latest news, blogs, and reddits. This means that they are actively seeking out content. They are also probably at their desk before any meetings.

More importantly they are not currently swamped with work from the weekend. Monday is a day to catch up on work that has accrued from or was put off during Saturday and Sunday. So when Tuesday rolls around, things are a bit more relaxed.

People who are still commuting

Ok, so the thing is, not only do not all people get to work at the same time, but timezones mean that 10 am doesn't mean the same thing all over the world much less a country. So some people are still on their commute. In the morning over 50% of your web traffic will probably be from phones. If you've ever bothered to check your site analytics with any amount of scrutiny, you've probably noticed this.

People on their phones not only are checking things at slightly different times, but most often using slightly different apps. Things like instagram and snapchat and other phone forward apps are being checked, which means that the strategy for what to post where gets even harder to figure out.

People who are watching videos

Then we have the video watching lunch crowd. Now you might be saying "But Hamilton I don't eat lunch at 10 am". You're right. You eat lunch some time later, at a point when the content seekers have had a chance to upvote and like and generally give credence to whatever things have been posted, and get them onto the feeds of people who might otherwise not have seen them.

When the lunch crowd comes in, you want all your content to have already been upvoted and made important so that when this other wave of consumers comes in they will have it placed in front of them.

So in conclusion.

What have we learned here? Probably nothing. This is all speculation. But speculation based on numbers and statistics can be not only fun, but profitable. Go check the analytics on your own content. Do these suggestions align with your own reasoning? Maybe not, but now you're at least thinking about it.

Making plans and telling people about them
August 8, 2017, 9:26 am

If you don't follow Max Landis on youtube, you should. He is an interestingly polarizing figure in pop culture today, and he makes videos that talk about screen writing and the screen writing process. He is a suddenly prolific writer. Go check his credits on IMDB. I bet you've seen one of the movies he's touched, and didn't even know it. Now, one of his continual points in his youtube is to never judge a movie by his name, because his script got chosen, even if the movie didn't follow it. But I tend to like the movies he's done. In terms of script.

That's a side topic though. I want to touch on his thought in the above youtube video. Never tell anyone your plans. If you started watching and stopped, go back and watch it through, it's less than 2 minutes. His most important thoughts come after the preamble. He says don't tell people your plans, until they're finalized. Don't wag your mouth about meetings and the things you're working on.

Don't follow his advice, and withhold your exciting developments, because people might judge you. You shouldn't care too much how people judge you. Follow his advice because of how it might end up making you feel. Bad. Don't put yourself in a situation of hyping up something that hasn't been confirmed, only to have to explain to someone later that it didn't happen. Not because they'll be disappointed, but because you will be.

I'm generally awful at following this advice. I have plans all the time. I want to do more art. I want to write. I want to play music. I want to practice my spanish. I need to practice my mandarin. I should clean my house. I'll work on an app this weekend. I'll exercise every morning. I'm going to eat better. All of these thoughts are fine in your head. But when you start telling people them, they put anxiety into your head space.

Now maybe you thrive on anxiety. Maybe you need the social pressure of failure to do great things. I can get behind that. But for me, I end up feeling like it doesn't help. It just makes me feel bad every time I'm not doing the thing.

I've been using a phrase more often in my life. "An appropriate amount of selfishness". I think selfishness gets a bad rap sometimes, because we are told we should care for others more than ourselves. But I am of the opinion that you can't care for anyone else, until you care for yourself more. I think you need to have an appropriate amount of selfish pride, selfish secrets, selfish joy, selfish time, and selfish gain. Care for yourself enough to give yourself the things you need. Be selfish enough not to hurt yourself for the pride of others.

I'm trying to live my life better and improve.

... ah shit, I just did it again, didn't I?

Tips for a successful slideshow presentation: continued
August 3, 2017, 9:37 am

If your job involves telling other people your ideas in a corporate environment, chances are, you've had to make a slideshow and do a presentation. Previously, I wrote about some tips to a successful slideshow presentation. Let's continue that conversation with some more tips. But this time let's do it with a more... purplish plum hue.

  • Make eye contact: I don't mean just look at your audience. I mean make a connection with as many people in the room as you can. This means making sure that you actually make eye contact. Both of you. The addendum to this tip, is that you should let your gaze meander around the room, never laying on one person too long.
  • Practice your presentation: You might think this one is obvious, and it is. But never the less, you need to practice your presentation. Out loud. Not in your head. Not reading it silently, once over. You need to get at least two or three people sat down in front of you, and you need to speak through your presentation. You don't need to memorize it, but the day you give your presentation should not feel like the first time looking at one of your slides. The rhythm of the presentation will make itself known in the action of presenting. A script writer can write a perfect scene, but until it's been filmed and put in front of an editor it never truly comes alive.
  • Make sure all the information is legible and able to be retained: This encompasses a number of concepts. The text you want your audience to know, needs to be able to be read. This means it must be a high contrast color. Find out what kind of screen you will be presenting on. Is it a projector, or a tv? A projector in a dark or a bright room? Small text on your screen might be impossibly small on a tv far from viewers. Give important phrases their own slide if your presentation is about making a point. Make last minute adjustments to your slideshow if necessary. Which leads me to...
  • Learn how to use your presentation software: Learn how to make master slides or whatever similar concept is in your slideshow software. Powerpoint master slides, Indesign master pages, and Keynote master slides will let you edit all of your page styles at once. They will also let you make last minute adjustments to text color or size to your entire document before a presentation. If you are only able to use a pdf, then at least know how to make it full screen. Of course if you can use real slideshow software, you'll be able to have a presentation mode. Take advantage of page notes, and a timer.
  • Lead into your point: Sometimes you show a slide and you start talking about it. But sometimes, do the opposite. Start talking about the topic of your next slide and as your sentence reaches a point, bring up a slide that enforces it. Mix up the rhythm of your presentation. Presenting is like jazz or love making. You can't just go at one pace and expect anyone to stay interested. Also, feel free to move around, there's some unexplored furniture in this place.
  • Set expectations: You might as well be a teacher with a classroom when you're doing a presentation. I mean, it's what we do every day. And one thing a teacher has to do is give the students a timeline for the expectations of the day. It helps them gauge the rhythm of the presentation and dance back to your music. There is a phrase I learned when I first started teaching. Tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. Set up the expectation for what is to come in your talk. Give your timeline of events and then your thesis statement. At each landmark in your presentation make it known that you are shifting talking points. And at the end of your presentation, reiterate any important aspects of your presentation.

Thanks to my former colleague Jim Mollé and my former student Tammie Leung for some ideas to get the ball rolling on another post. If you have any other tips for a great presentation, I'd love to hear them.

Tips for a successful slideshow presentation
August 2, 2017, 9:07 am

It's my job to watch presentations periodically. And then judge them. That's just part of my job. I've seen a few presentations in my day. Some great ones. Mostly mediocre ones. Some bad. Here are some tips I've accrued to help a presenter make their slideshow a little bit better.

  • Have page numbers: If there's anything worse than sitting in a presentation and not knowing how long it will last, I don't know what it is. Please for the sake of your attendees, have page numbers on most of your pages (you don't need them for cool power slides) and include a total number as well. Something like 3/40. It makes the whole process so much better.
  • Don't read your slides: If you have a paragraph that isn't a direct quote on your slide, don't read it. Paraphrase. Slideshows should augment a presentation, not duplicate it. You should say words that are at least somewhat different than the words on your slide. Don't put pages of text onto the slides if you're just going to read them, put those into your notes, and put something more interesting onto the slideshow.
  • Use the spacebar, or a presentation remote: Heck, there are apps on the phone that can be used to control a slide deck. Step away from the podium, interact with your audience, and don't try to find the arrow keys every time a slide needs to change. Don't use the arrow keys. Use the space bar. You can find it with your eyes closed. It will advance the slides in every slideshow application ever.
  • 40 slides is like... perfect: If you think you have the perfect amount of slides, and it's over 40, you're wrong. Look if you're doing a 2 hour presentation, we might not be talking about the same thing. I'm talking about a 15 to 20 minute presentation to a company. You do not have enough time to cover 60 slides in that amount of time. Which leads me to...
  • Don't just skip slides: If your whole plan was just to waft through ten slides saying "and here was some process *click *click *click" DON'T. Don't do that. It takes all the wind out of the sails of your presentation, and it grinds interest to a halt. You've just told me, here's a bunch of stuff I shouldn't be interested in. If you have ten slides worth of nothing, make them into one slide of something. Even if it's ten small things.
  • Have an after deck: This is something I've come to realize only after watching many presentations that have a questions and answers session afterwards. You need more content than just your presentation. You need answers to every question that might come up. If you ever had someone disagree during the testing of your product/project you need to be able to justify your decisions, because those same questions are bound to come up if you don't address them directly in the presentation. So have a whole deck of slides after your presentation is over, that answer questions. More research. More designs. Justifications. Statistics and specifications. All that stuff that was too boring for an exciting presentation is all the stuff you would be wishing for during the Q&A.

I might add more to this list later, but I think these are the keypoints that I am constantly noticing with presentations. Things like watch your body language, and your ums, and speak up should all be implied. Check your spelling. Jesus, check your spelling and grammar. Pay someone else to do it.

Small changes are the way to go
July 26, 2017, 9:01 am

A friend asked on facebook recently if people could ever truly change. I think we change all the time, but I think not everyone is actively trying to change all the time. But the fact that our world view could possibly shift any second means that we CAN change any time.

But do people change? It's up to every person. Some people don't want to change. They don't want to be changed. They want comfort, and there's nothing inherently wrong with comfort. With normality. With schedule. But at any moment, you could get in an accident and need healthcare. You could find a puppy and decide you're a dog person. Someone could hand you a million dollars, and you could suddenly decide to be responsible with it. Any tiny shift in our existence can shift our world view drastically. Everything is changing around us constantly and it's up to each of us to be open to possibilities and to dare ourselves to improve.

But do people ever really change? I'm talking really. Is an asshole an asshole forever? I don't think anyone is anything forever. Because I am not what I was before. I was reading back through some of my old blog posts here. This journal starts in 2001. And that's just this journal. I should pull out some of my older content from the wayback machine some day. Here's a thing for you. This blog wasn't originally my personal website blog, it was on livejournal. I used that for a while. Eventually I ended up pulling that content into a wordpress journal on my server. And when Wordpress started to give me problems, I made my own journal software, and pulled the old content into there.

This seventeen year old journal keeps me grounded in a way few things can. I think one of the main reasons people don't feel like they change, or don't feel like others change, is because they don't see their thoughts laid out over two decades. In some ways, I haven't changed, because in some ways I don't want to change. Certain things I want to always be me about me. I hope those are more or less good qualities, but everything else I try to change. Maybe some people just don't look at themselves enough. Does that mean they can't change? No. it just means they're not trying.

I'm so rich broke
July 25, 2017, 8:22 am

There is a problem that comes when you're not really poor, but you're not at all rich. You're in that middle bracket. I'd imagine this is the 40%? The graphs all seem to indicate forty percent of people are poor. Forty percent are what might pass as middle class, and then about twenty percent move up into the upper bracket. So let's say you're reading this and you're not poverty stricken. You also aren't currently wiping your bottom with the tears of the fallen. You make a decent wage. You pay your taxes. You pay your bills. You buy yourself fun this month, and then suddenly you have no money.

Where did it all go? You just got paid, and it felt great. And then suddenly there's nothing left. It's only one week after your "me" paycheck. You know the one. One of your paychecks is the rent. And one of your paychecks is the check that has your me money. You wait four weeks every month for that Friday. Then it comes and you promise yourself you're not going to spend it this time. Maybe you actually do put some in savings. Either way, one week later you look in the bank and realize that one of your bills hadn't gone through on time. You miscalculated exactly how much those last two items actually add up to.

Now you're broke. For three weeks. This is a first world problem, to be sure. But it's serious. It's mentally debilitating. Now you're scraping by for food, because you didn't plan it right. You can't go out and live the fun life that all humans want to live. You can't even hang out with your friends, because if all they do is go to the bar, you've only got a little bit for the rest of the week, and if you have to buy one round, you're fucked. Even if you have to buy two drinks for yourself that's like two whole lunches you could have bought.

Now suddenly you feel like some sort of social pariah. No, I can't hang out. Sorry, guys, I wish I could. I'll just stay home tonight.

But actually... You have savings. Actually, you have some cash stashed away. Actually, all your bills are paid, and there's tons of food in the pantry. Actually, all your friends would buy you a drink if you just asked. But it doesn't feel that way. You feel broke. In a couple ways that matter in the moment you are in fact cash depleted. But you're not poor. You're just rich broke.

Omniscient Omnipresent Omnipotent
July 21, 2017, 8:47 am

I started a conversation with friends the other day about 4th and 5th dimensional beings. There's two possibilities in my mind. Beings that exist in multiple realities at once, and beings that exist in multiple times at once. I asked people which one they thought was the 4th or 5th dimension.

Most humans can't immediately comprehend the concept of multiple realities, because they've never seen them. We can comprehend multiple times, because movies and pictures have been able to store a memory of times. This caused, in my mind, almost all people to immediately answer that time was the 4th dimension.

But the fact of the matter is, you exist in multiple realities all the time. Dreams are another reality. Memories are another reality. VR is ACTUALLY another reality. And you exist in both this reality and that other when you are experiencing one of the others. Your consciousness goes to another reality while your physical self continues to exist here in our tangible reality (since all of those others are intangible).

So here's the thing. Are we 3rd dimensional beings? Or 4th dimensional beings? Are you already a 4th dimensional being? I think so. And that would make time the 5th, not 4th, dimension.

And I believe this is necessary for the meat of my conversation.

A God that could: know all, be everywhere, and do anything, is responsible for everything.

A one-dimensional thing is a point. Not a line, not a circle, a single point. It is simply a position.

A two-dimensional thing is a line. Not a line on a paper. A line of measurement. It is simply a distance.

A three-dimensional being exists in many points at once, with distances between them, going in any number of three different directions: x, y, z. This being might not always access the same points in space. They might not even be the same shape all the time. But they always exist in more than one point at a time. They exist in many points at once.

A fourth-dimensional being, I believe, must exist in multiple realities before they can exist in multiple times. And the reason I believe this, is because we already do. Imagine that in the morning you put on your socks. And you existed all at the same time with green socks on both feet, and you also chose brown socks, and you also chose red socks, and you only ever had one pair of socks on. You exist, in some way and form, in all of those close changes to the physical visible reality you see. You are... at the least aware of all of them. Would one of those existences of you make different choices based on their reality of brown or red or green socks? Who knows.

When we move our arms they exist in multiple dimensions at once. But not always the same, and not always the same shape. Closing our fingers changes the fundamental shape of our bodies in the three dimensions. When our shoulder moves, however, our arm moves with it, or else it gets severed and we lose contact with it.

In my mind this must be the way a true fourth-dimensional being must exist. Making choices and existing in multiple realities, but if one existence goes too far afield the being would lose contact with that particular vestigial consciousness.

A fifth-dimensional being must exist in multiple times. And this is where we get back to the concept of God. The judeo-christian god is described as being all-knowing, existing in all places at once, and able to do anything. Now I put them in that order because I believe that is the order of possibility for the hypothesis of that god. Can do anything is an imaginary concept and should be thrown out immediately for the purposes of science. But let's not.

If a being could be a truly purposely fourth-dimensional being, they could potentially exist big enough so that they could see everything possible. I'll bite on that. I can imagine it. Of course, to truly see ALL things, they would have to exist outside of what we consider standard time. Because in order to peer into the future they would have to be somewhat fifth-dimensional. But time is a measurement of movement not an existence, and so truly being able to see all times would necessitate a sight of all realities as well. Being able to see only one reality wouldn't be much of an omniscient. We just infinitely increased this being's knowledge threshold. They know all things. Because they are there.

It's this way that we get to omnipresent. Forget the idea that they know all thoughts. Let's just presume they know all existential things. They see it all. Let's stick with that. This being sees everything. But not just everything. They see all the possibilities. They see the blue, the brown, the wet, and dry socks. They see it all.

This must surely be a passive creature. If they could do anything they would, wouldn't they. Wouldn't they change things. Maybe they do. Does this creature exist at once in all those places? What are we even talking about anymore? This isn't a being. It doesn't exist physically. How could it? Surely it could only manifest itself. It wouldn't matter at that point what it looks like. It looks like everything. Because any time it manifests itself it is also not manifesting itself. Any time it looks like a dog to lead the dogs in their revolution, it also is a man killing your daughter.

You don't have to rationalize it
July 20, 2017, 8:53 am

Not everything needs to be explained. Not everything needs to have a reason to happen. And most certainly nothing needs to be explained for you. The search for a rationale for anything that has happened is often as useless as worrying about the things that haven't happened yet.

Spend less of your time trying to figure out a culprit and move forward with your day. Don't worry about things you can't change, and instead make sure to notice the things in which you can affect a change.

Be a rational realist optimist.

Examine and dissect and question and study. Accept nothing except everything.

Look at the world as it is, not as you wish it to be. Revel in the strengths that you have, instead of pining for the rewards of the strengths of others. Enjoy the moment whenever you can, and this takes practice.

Hope.

Whenever you are walking down the street with someone else, and you think about how beautiful a tree or a building or a woman or a puppy is, say it out loud. Include the world around you in your moment of joy. Don't be selfish with your pleasant outlook on life. Smile at someone.

Stretch.

Give when you can, and hoard until you don't need to. Be open to fun nights. Tell people "no" every once in a while, but don't dissemble about why. Take a night for yourself. Be honest with yourself more than anyone else. Stop calling them cheat days. Do what you want, and if you want to change DO IT.

If you want to change do it. It doesn't have to happen all at once. Set a date and stick to it. Start small and work your way up. Practice takes time and you have to practice this change. Baby steps. Do a little every day. Clean one corner of one room every day. Do 5 push-ups every morning.

Love yourself enough to be appropriately selfish, and then give the rest to others.

In which I am self sufficient
July 18, 2017, 8:21 am

For the last few months, I've gotten a bagel and coffee every morning at a coffee shop and bakery down the street. This morning, I have my own bagels at home and brewed my own coffee. I'm writing this in my underwear while a bagel just popped up from the toaster. There's something to be said for paying 10 dollars for the next two weeks worth of bagels and coffee, instead of 5 dollars every day. That's at least a 40 dollar savings.

But I think I will miss the human interaction. I never interacted with my old roommate, so I don't miss him. But the more a person makes themself sufficient at home, the more they cut down on those daily interactions. I haven't gone to the barber in years, and I kind of miss it. Anyways.

This is just a rambling post in the morning... I think I might start doing these on my blog, instead of on facebook to cut even further down on human interactions. Not sure yet. I'm still picking up the pieces after my roommate moved out.

Cleared out all of his things. Cleaned out his room, and I've begun stretching and doing yoga in the morning in there. Still need to bleach the walls. I've been cleaning a bit every morning. Cleaning a bit every night. Removing the layer of grease that was in the house from his style of cooking. Bought some groceries. I don't know that I have a point to any of this. But I will say, that I'm happy right now. I'm using my house for the first time in over a year.

Find the thing that's stopping you from finding happiness and cut it out of your life. This is the opposite of saying find what makes you happy, and make it your job. Make it your war to kill the unhappiness. Cut it out, clean it, gut it. Don't let the bad things consume your well deserved selfish happiness.