Serious Reevaluation of Blogging – I’m wearing thin

see lemons see the lightRandom Observation/Comment #181: I believe I follow the “jack of all trades, but a master of none” quote from my brother’s profile (we are so similar and different, it’s ridiculous).  Unfortunately, I am finding this freedom of choice of trades as a burden more than a step-up.  I feel like I have A.D.H.D. in a room filled with shiny objects.  I find all of them incredibly interesting, but I never actually study them past that surface glimmer because there are so many other shiny things that occupy my time.  In fact, I usually avoid staring for too long in fear that this object could possibly lose that glossy luster.  I’d drop some of these addictions, but it’s too depressing to think that I need to make these sacrifices.  Due to this habit, I have accumulated a large number of hobbies that all interest me, but demand a large portion of my life.  I’m starting to see that I’m wearing thin.  I can’t support all of it, and it’s time to go on a hobby diet.  The efficiency-part of my brain jolts every once-in-a-while and reminds me that we must focus on the task at hand and work on that career (or something).  Hobbies will always exist, but if I spend enough time, I know there will be a way to combine my scattered mind into manageable topics.

It’s almost been a year since I’ve started writing and it seems I’m looking to be a travel writer more than an engineer (Actually, I feel like I’m writing a self-help book…).  Writing is my relaxation, yet the habit is beginning to add a twinge in my brain.  It’s slowly being placed into the “task” list, instead of staying in that “fun” zone.  It shouldn’t be this way at all, so let’s turn this writing (if I do see it as obligatory in some way) against itself and have it be useful to focusing my thoughts.  It sounded more clever in my head – I imagined a computer program helping a person write a program that destroyed itself, which would be ironic, but instead it sounded more like a person losing his train of thought completely (uhh… ).  So, the following is a list of things that occupy my time with an evaluation of usefulness and the final decision of removing or altering for efficiency-sake.

Websites – Addictive must-haves

  • Gmail – I love you. I use you for everything and nothing can replace you. The laboratory is incredible and it is making my life more organized every day (Tasks! Calendar!).  I don’t know why, but I find it more useful than iGoogle.  Go figure.
  • Facebook – The main usage of this nice social network is for status and photo stalking.  There’s something oddly addicting about reading people’s random thoughts, and it always keeps me continuously entertained.  I’ve already avoided my old habits of installing applications and taking useless quizzes; so I think this is a big improvement.  I’m always logged into facebook, but I think I only spend around 45 minutes a day checking others’ photos, looking at the home page for status updates, posting links, and posting my own photos(222 albums)/videos(78) (although I usually do other things while they upload).  The notes are automatically pulled by the RSS feed from my blog (201 notes).
  • Twitter – It’s nice that posting on twitter automatically updates my facebook status as well.  I usually update statuses 4 or 5 times a day (depending on how little I want to do work).  I don’t think this is particularly killing my work habit, and it’s very effectively keeping me engaged in my little social community.  Microblogging FTW.
  • Hulu – I am no longer in the US, but while I was there this was my most visited site.  I think it killed my productivity because I was watching every episode of every major sitcom.  No regrets – they were all awesome.  There is no replacement for you, but I’m glad we’re no longer holding each other back.  Sniffle.

Websites – Other social networks and communities

  • Travbuddy – this was a short-lived traveling blog that I still find fascinating, but oddly disconnected.  I dropped this after Japan because I wasn’t really traveling anywhere. I didn’t pick it back up for Europe because I had already so scattered from the thesis.  I love the generated content, but I must admit that I am less interested in traveling than I used to be.  I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures and read so many well-written entries that I can learn and live with my own eyes.  During first semester of my thesis, I spent about 2 hours on this site every day for about 5 weeks.  I must admit that it was incredible and it really inspired me to see these places with my own eyes.  Great job, but sorry – you only get a log-in every week.
  • Couchsurfing – I’ve had many great experiences with CS, but the lack of responses for a few trips has discouraged me a little bit.  I’ve met plenty of people while traveling and I’m glad I used it as a jump-start, but now I’ve already expanded this network.  Great network, but you also only get a log-in every week – mostly aggregated by emails.
  • Friendfeed – I thought it would be useful for bringing everything together, but I wound up maintaining the typical facebook and twitter.  Sorry, you just didn’t make it up to the top…
  • Flickr – I wish I would have paid for you earlier and used you in reference because I think facebook technically owns the pictures I’ve posted in their albums.  No big deal – I didn’t think about selling my stuff anyway.  I could look at those public pictures of different perspectives and creative light exposures all day, but alas, punted.

Websites – News feeds

  • Tweetmeme – Although I don’t spend a long time on this site particularly, it does lead me to a lot of other random things.  It’s basically throwing more shiny things in front of my face instead of requiring me to go around searching for it, and it does a great job of distracting me for a long period of time.  Sometimes just looking at one link can lead me on a chase for more information for hours.  This is very dangerous and needs a limiting tree branching factor.
  • StumbleUpon – you’re just as bad as Tweetmeme, but I found you first.  This random stumbling feature is a great idea for ranking websites based on user’s interests and creating a mapping system for all websites based on the overall statistics.  I can already imagine a very complex cloud starting from all of these ranking systems.  This is what Google wanted – a way for major user feedback (Plus, it’s a major loophole to the whole Big Brother thing when the people genuinely post their ideas by preference instead of snooped underhandedly).  Once you have this system, recommendations and personalized user content for searching and everything on the web would be much simpler.  Not only does everyone have an identity (provided by facebook), but now they have an associated voice (provided by twitter).  No more stumbling – I’m feeding the addictions I’m trying to reduce.
  • WordPress – blog posting is a great way of giving yourself a name and drawing attention to the user’s main site.  I actually don’t do this much because I’m already sliced so thin.  Instead, I just RSS feed everything into facebook notes and hope someone reads my insights.  When I get serious about blogging, I’ll most probably use this as a method of promoting businesses and such.
  • Techcrunch – Absolutely a must-read for anything and everything about web development technologies.  I spend about 30 minutes staying up-to-date with all of the latest news, even if it’s just picking out and reading main headlines.
  • Engadget – This used to be a lot cooler, but Techcrunch trumped it when Engadget became more of a cell phone junky world.  I still look at it from time to time to see some nice pictures of new technology.
  • Addictomatic – very addictive and awesome for a spawn point to look into any interesting space.  It RSS feeds almost every major site I’ve filtered through.  It’s another great way to find the most recent and relevant news for my particular taste, but it can lead to ridiculous procrastination chains.  I think I will stick to techcrunch.
  • Digg – I don’t know why I didn’t keep up with it, but now I just post links on facebook.  Sorry!
  • Nytimes – Too bad I haven’t read anything from here since the newspapers’ opinion doesn’t matter anymore (hah!).

Websites – Knowledge Junkie

  • TED talks – YouTube for smart people.  I watch this as much as I watch the Colbert Report, and I loves me some Colbert Report.  Since this updates every day, I am absolutely thrilled to watch what the brilliant people around the world have to say.  I’m always impressed at how advanced these technologies are and I secretly wish I could attend one of these TED talks (if only it didn’t cost like $800 per ticket).  One day my dream will come true, but until then, I will just have to watch all of the videos spread across a few months instead of packed into one week of crazies.
  • Howstuffworks – I must read this to stay worldly.  It is actually better than mentalfloss and answers most of my questions about the world.  It’s like I have a 10-year-old in my head asking “Why? Why? Why?” And then there’s this magical monkey that gives me all the answers.  The magical monkey is named “”.  An article a day won’t hurt.
  • Academic earth – Who the hell goes to class when he doesn’t have to?  Me.  I love learning enough to take classes for fun.  Go figure.  I still do a lecture every week.  This was especially useful for Reinforcement learning. Yay, Stanford!
  • Mentalfloss – I mostly use this site for the random amazing facts section just in case I’m ever put on Jeopardy or Slumdog millionaire.  I’ll keep it as a few minutes a day kind of thing.
  • Anandtech – This mainly discusses computer hardware technologies like the next processors and video cards.  Absolutely fascinating, but hardware seems to be farther and farther away from my topic of expertise.  I was a huge fan when I was building my monster Compy, but I sort of pushed it aside for the past year because my Lappy has everything I need (except for killer graphics and a G5 mouse).  I’ll bring you back when I have time for video games (looks like it’s over).

Websites – Funnies

  • Colbert Report – I love you as much as gmail.  It is my only connection with the political world.  I don’t think I’ll watch anything political without a humorous skew because it would just be too boring.  I’m not mature enough to get into the whole “reading newspaper to follow trends” deal.  Give me an iPhone and I’ll just surf the world.
  • Today’s Big Thing – I don’t know who is posting these great videos, but they’re usually quite hilarious. I feel like I’m not wasting as much time as surfing collegehumor, yet getting the mainly watched video content on the web.  This takes about 30 minutes to watch all of them, so I think I’ll just focus on: the main TBT, the technology one, and the funny video.
  • Sinfest – I read you every day for your witty humor that sometimes relates to my feelings.  The playful hand-puppet g-d is also an amazing character for reflecting ideas.
  • XKCD – always hilarious.  It’s so geeky that I sometimes need to look it up to understand it.  Dayum, that’s just sik.  How is he so brilliant?  I aspire to be like him.
  • FML – recently found and always entertaining for a few reads when there’s a need to procrastinate.  I’m not sure how it’s all so well-prepared and written.  I think they use a generic formula: State the story from one perspective; say how that perspective was incorrect; summarize the hilarity.  For example: Today, I realized what my mom has been calling me for 20 years. She always calls me her “little fehler.” With her being from Germany, I always thought it was a cute little nickname. Apparently, she’s been calling me her “little mistake.” FML
  • Zero Punctuation – my latest news on video games with a funny, fast-paced twist.  I’m not sure if it’s the funny animations, his sexual metaphors, or the fact that he hates everything, but this guy is just hilarious.  It’s only once a week, so no harm done.
  • Grouphug – I used to read this daily because it made me feel incredibly good reading other people’s confessions.  This has been replaced by the more amusing (and less depressing) FML.

Hobbies that involve the real world

  • Blogging/Journals – I spend an average of 6 hours a week writing random thoughts for this blog and my personal journal.  I can’t give it up because I feel dead without writing about my life.  So much joy comes from this, and it would be a crime to end it. There will be a bit of a “down-one-notch” implementation, though.
  • Photography – My ridiculous photography obsessions will continue.  I know I’m spending a lot of time editing photos and posting them, but it’s just so much fun to take.  I will probably thank myself when I look at them when I’m older (probably).
  • Picnik (photo editing) – I never knew it was this easy to edit pictures.  I went a little bit crazy at first, but now I just make a new picture once a week or whenever I see a picture that sparks this idea.  It’s not full-blown photoshop, but I think it’s much more manageable.  It only takes about 15 minutes to do a few filters, so I don’t find this particularly time consuming.
  • Ping pong – Like I would ever give you up… If the chance arises, I will be there to play.
  • Other sports – Ultimate, Volleyball, Fencing, Marksmanship – poof.  Maybe volleyball if I can organize more people together.
  • Languages – Spanish: grammar is fine, but rusty on some of the vocabulary.  Mandarin: vocabulary improving, but forgetting more characters everyday :.  Japanese: forgetting how to think this backwards way, but probably can still listen to it fine; phrases are still awesome.  German: translating everything I think into German and reading much more; spelling improving and starting to read children’s books.  Common vocabulary almost known.  Continuously listening to pimsleur audiobooks.
  • Prime Time Television shows – This was mostly because of Hulu, but since I can’t watch it anymore, I have resorted to reducing my intake of useless American TV.  I really do miss it though.  I’m going to love catching up to House, The Office, How I Met your Mother, Heroes, Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park (although I still watch it on their website), SNL clips, 30 Rock, Three Sheets, Legend of the Seeker, 24, and Lie to Me.  I will need to filter this again or just not get started.  Damnit.
  • Movies – I haven’t watched a new movie in 3 months.  None have really caught my attention until now; Star Trek, baby.
  • Reading – I already read too many papers and crap, so I rather rest my eyes in leisure.  Instead, I listen to Terry Pratchett audiobooks while I sleep.  My dreams are always awesome and humorous because of him.  I’ve finished the Rincewind Series, Death Series, and Watch Series.  Currently half way through the Witches Series and they’re all amazing.  I surprisingly like the girl’s voice for the Witches series, although Nigel Planar does the best Death of all time.  I listen to this 30 minutes before I sleep, so I might change this to listening to language audiobooks instead.  Hmm…
  • Web Design – I was into it and now I lost the touch.  CSS is still great, but there are so many new tricks I have to learn.  I might just focus on other things dealing with the company like SEO or algorithms.

I think I avoided doing work for long enough…  Hopefully I will spend less time on these sites and get more work done focusing on a career (which is still up in the air).  At least I’ll be more efficient?  It’s nice to see what keeps me driving (for now).  It’s weird how so many of these things are mostly done on my computer.  I think I would die without my Lappy.

The key is to stay entertained and informed about relevant news simultaneously.  I think the websites are really there for my own learning cycle.  I’ll cut down to the basic web comics and leave some of the primetime TV for another time. It’s easier to stay entertained with smaller facts.  Videos are also a little bit time consuming for funnies, but could be good if they are more similar to TED talks.

In general, the most time is spent writing.  I’ve already limited writing to this thing 6 hours a week (which is why this entry has taken so long to publish).  My solution is to trim the fat.  That being said, we’ll just see what happens with the subsequent entries.

~See Lemons make a few Changes