Being Mr. Grumpy

A couple of months ago, when the boy was feeling particularly bored during a rainstorm, I discovered much to my delight that a Mr. Men cartoon had been created back in 2008. The characters had been updated a little bit for the times, but many of the fun Mr. Men and Little Miss personalities were present and interacting with each other as one would expect from a tight-knit community. In no time at all we had both enjoyed all four episode compilations on YouTube plus some loose shows that hadn't been grouped just yet. As someone who grew up reading the books, seeing them animated and silly was more than a treat. For the longest time, I had guessed that if I were to be one of the characters, I'd likely be Mr. Silly, Mr. Busy, or perhaps Mr. Quiet. However, after seeing them interact, there's no doubt in my mind that the one that closest resembles my personality is Mr. Grumpy.

Mr Grumpy

As his name suggests, Mr. Grumpy is generally grumpy, ill tempered, irritable, grouchy, cranky, and often complaining. Looking at many of the posts I've written on this site over the years — not to mention the "Sent" folder in my email client — it's not that hard to see the similarities.

This isn't cool. I like watching Mr. Grumpy as a cartoon character because his incredibly direct language and predictable reactions are quite comical. However, I don't want to be a caricature of an angry blue rectangle, nor do I want that rectangle to be a caricature of me.

I really must do better to calm down and speak a little more thoughtfully.

Watching a Blind Dog Walk

This afternoon while stretching my legs with a short jaunt around the neighbourhood I saw a woman walking her dog. Given the number of canines that live in the area, this is not an uncommon sight, but something was different about this particular animal. It was a bull terrier that looked to be around the same age as Nozomi1 that seemed to be navigating solely by its nose. The animal was going left and right in an erratic fashion and the person holding the leash seemed to be used to this behaviour and gave it space. As I got closer, I noticed that the dog's eyes were crossed and generally unmoving. It didn't even seem to notice me approach from the front.

One of the things I try to do when out and about is to meet the dogs in the neighbourhood. This is generally the easiest way for me to meet the people who are out with them, which is generally the only human interaction I get with people outside my home on a regular basis. As I approached the cross-eyed dog and the woman walking him, I held out my hand to be sniffed and asked if I could say hello. それをお勧めしません。 この犬は盲目です2, came the reply. This dog is blind.

Until today I'd never heard the term mōmoku — blind — used in conversation. I had to confirm my understanding, apologise for intruding, then carry on without petting the dog. However, as I watched the pair continue towards the direction I came, I couldn't help but watch as the animal tried its best to navigate the world without the use of its eyes. Every couple of meters it would walk into a bush, or trip over a curb, or come to a complete stop with its nose in the air. Despite the challenges and obstacles it faced while embarking on a walk around the neighbourhood, it didn't seem particularly frustrated. Instead it appeared to be intently focused on tracing a scent to its source.

It is absolutely fascinating how adaptable life can be, especially when it doesn't have any say in the matter.


  1. Nozomi will be ten years old this May. Ten! Where does the time go?

  2. Sore o osusume shimasen. Kono inu wa mōmoku desu. ⇢ I wouldn't recommend it. This dog is blind.

A Possible Future for Distance Education

Chris Lee over at Are Technica recently wrote an article outlining a number of the issues that are facing both teachers and students when it comes to remote learning. Every point that he makes is spot on and, what's worse, is that a lot of the comments that people have left in the few hours since the article went live are also spot on. Educational institutions and teachers of all stripes have made some admirable efforts to make systems like Zoom, Teams, Slack, and a host of others work to replicate some aspects of in-person learning, but these tools are designed for business use and, damningly, they're not even very good tools for business. Suffice it to say, the current crop of digital tools that people are expected to use to conduct person-to-person lessons are a poor substitute for being in a classroom, regardless of how many people might be occupying that space. As Chris says, teaching is an intimate activity.

What's the solution, though?

This is a question that I've been thinking about for quite some time and not only because I work for an education-providing organisation. Chris Lee and the commentators are all correct that the tools we have need to be better in order to resolve some of the fundamental problems faced when trying to replicate a traditional environment — whether it's a classroom or a meeting room — on a laptop, tablet, or phone. First, let's list out some of the most common problems that create the friction we all despise:

  1. Camera angles are unflattering
  2. People don't mute their microphones
  3. People don't attend while in an appropriate environment
  4. The sound quality is generally awful
  5. Eye contact is literally impossible
  6. Visual cues and subtle body language is much harder to pick up on
  7. Note-taking (and sharing) is a pain when it's not 100% text presented in a list format
  8. The tools have complex, convoluted, or otherwise confusing sets of menus to perform typically common activities for online meetings
  9. We have no idea who is paying attention or currently present

We can even reduce these nine items down further to:

  1. What we see is suboptimal
  2. What we hear is suboptimal
  3. What we use is suboptimal

Mind you, there are some groups of people who have had so much experience with online meetings and seminars that many of the items listed above are non-issues. Unfortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule. How would one go about resolving some of these issues, though?

What We See

A year or so back I started toying with the idea of an application that would first map our face to build a 3-dimensional understanding of what we look like, then present that to people. Our current facial expressions and mouth movements would be tracked and sync up with whatever it is that we're doing and, because it's essentially a living avatar that's being presented to the other people on the call, a person's angle and eyes could be better lined up for the viewer. The participants would all have their cameras on, after all, so it wouldn't be impossible to have an on-screen avatar's head and eyes "follow" the current location of the participants. This would be rendered locally, too, making it relatively smooth and natural in appearance. This would have the added bonus of giving people the option to "tweak" their appearance for the day. Didn't shave? No problem! Still in your pyjamas? Don't worry about it. The avatar will look just like you on your best day.

This would solve items 1 and 5 in the first list above, but probably contribute to number six.

What We Hear

One of the most frustrating elements of every meeting that I attend online is the sound quality. A lot of people do not use a headset with a microphone for some reason and a lot of people do not seem to realise that typing on a laptop that has its microphone built into the base of the unit results in a painfully distracting series of taps that can bring any productive conversation to a halt. I've had meetings with people who were obviously sitting at a Starbucks. I've had meetings with people who were driving down a highway with their windows open. I've even had meetings with people who might have been at an outdoor rock concert. There really is no limit to the number of inopportune environments a participant might find themselves in when attending an online class, seminar, or meeting.

With this in mind, the solution I have been toying with builds on the visual idea of using a rendered avatar. A person would "train" the avatar to speak in their voice. There would be a multitude of sentences that a person would have to say when first setting up the application so that the general tone and pitch of the voice is captured. By doing this it becomes possible to send none of the audio from a person to the participants in the class, seminar, or meeting. Instead, the words that are spoken would be transcribed and transmitted as text along with a musical representation of what they said. This would then be reconstructed on each of the participant's devices. This would mean that people in very noisy environments would sound incredibly flat to the listeners, but it would be superior to the cacophony that so many of us are subjected to with today's solutions.

This would not be a great solution for people who need to convey sound that is not spoken words, but there is no reason why people couldn't choose to listen to the raw audio if they so chose.

What We Use

This is the hardest of the three fundamental problems because different groups need different solutions. What works for a class consisting of 30 teenagers learning geography may not necessarily work for 15 young adults practicing the violin or 10 middle-aged managers discussing next month's production quotas. However, if we take the first two technical solutions and carry it forward, what we could have is something very compelling: Virtual Reality.

When it comes to VR — and its related technology, Augmented Reality — I have been a bit of a cynic. The hardware requirements were always too great for the average person and the use cases all seemed to consist of graphically violent games or vivid sexual fantasies. However, if the goal is to simulate a traditional environment as much as possible to enable or encourage an intimate setting where people come together to solve a problem, be it learning the quadratic equation or discussing corporate strategy, and many of the problems that people have involve poor visuals, poor audio, and poor tools, then perhaps an immersive setting would resolve some of the issues. People would have the ability to write on virtual whiteboards, present virtual models of possible products for participants to examine, and more. The cost for VR equipment has come down quite a bit since 2010 with some headsets being available for around $300 USD. This cost would certainly be a barrier to entry for some, but this could solve some of the problems that people face when working with colleagues a continent away or with classmates who are quarantined.

But then we have many of these technologies already, don't we? Second Life is an online world with almost a million people. The platform would not be a panacea, but it is one place to start. Issues involving system resources, frame rates, and congestion would need to be resolved before groups of more than a dozen could get together in any meaningful manner, but technical issues are rarely insurmountable. Something like this might be the stepping stone to a better virtual learning environment. Some schools have a presence on the platform already, too.

Further research will be necessary.

Wet

An odd confluence of TV weather forecasts this week warned that eight days of rain was due to begin on Friday and, right on schedule, an appreciable amount of precipitation started falling from the sky just past midnight with only occasional breaks throughout the day. The announcement of precipitation was not at all unexpected given the time of year. What I found peculiar was the number of evening news meteorologists who were in complete agreement with each other for the first time in months regarding longer-than-average rainfalls.

Looking Through an Umbrella

Springtime rains in this part of the country tend to operate in a 2-1-2-1-2 fashion. That is we'll have rain for two days, followed by a day of sun, then two more days of rain, then sun, and finally another two days of rain before a week of reasonably mild weather. This pattern is so consistent in the spring that locals tend to look at the sky and say ”おかしいなあ〜”1 when the weather does anything else. So for multiple stations to agree that we'll have 8 solid days of rain without a typhoon anywhere in the Pacific is noticeably uncommon.

Perhaps this is nature's way of encouraging people to stay home.

This past month has been quite a trial for a large percentage of the human race as people contend with virus concerns, food shortages, work stoppages, price gouging, and generally stress-inducing restrictions on the freedoms that many of us take for granted. As someone who has worked from home for the better part of two years, I've not been seriously impacted by the measures instituted by the federal and local governments regarding COVID-19. Sure, there are inconveniences and nuisances to deal with, but nothing that can't be overcome with a little patience or a phone call. From what the TV and print news has to say, there are likely a billion people who would gladly switch places with me2. That said, if we're able to ride this out with a little isolation and stricter hygiene practices, there are worse places to be stuck than at home.

Questions do abound, though. Not a day goes by where there isn't an article in the paper or a segment on the 7 o'clock news talking about a specific business shutting down for the last time. These are usually smaller companies that employ fewer than 20 people; the businesses that quietly add value to a community. With revenues wiped out and bills that demand to be paid, there are very few options when an organisation does not have six months or more of operational cash in the bank at all times. Companies started to feel the pinch at the end of January. Here we are two months later, and half the restaurants in the area have decided to shut down until the end of the pandemic. Two have closed forever. Manufacturing businesses have also been hit pretty hard with some slashing output by as much as 80% due to a lack of orders. People are being sent home. How will they pay their bills?

A lot of my immediate neighbours have long since retired and have the benefit of decades of savings plus a mostly-functional federal pension system that will continue to provide the financial resources required to weather this invisible storm. Reiko and I have also been setting aside money every month for our retirement, the boy's education, future trips, and general savings. Even if I were to be let go from the day job, the family will be good for quite some time so long as we're careful. The neighbourhood seems to be an anomaly, though. Not everyone has the same good fortune.

This, of course, leads to the ultimate question: what can I do to help?

Donating to food banks can help. Donating to the local community centre's recently started relief fund to assist people with covering important expenses such as rent will help. Is this enough, though? There's a very persistent "No" echoing around inside my head but I've yet to work out a better way to help people get through this difficult time.

When Nozomi and I are out for our walks and we see other people with their pets in the park, I will sometimes strike up a conversation and ask how they're doing. This little bit of community building can be quite helpful for people who live alone and are unable to congregate like before. A number of the neighbours, because they're well into retirement age, have been widowed for quite some time and have seen their regular club activities or get-togethers with friends get cancelled. The single most serious problem that people talk about is the isolation. More than one senior has said to me "You're the first person I've had a conversation with all week", which is terrible given just how often I've actively avoided social interactions throughout my entire adult life.

But now we have eight days of rain forecasted for the region and we're not yet done the first. If people were feeling cut-off before, this damp weather is going to exacerbate the problem. This issue cannot be realistically solved by volunteer or non-profit groups. It's going to take a community. But how can we do this if we are not supposed to be in the same room as others? How can we do this if we are not given the opportunity to get outside and maintain some semblance of normalcy?

After this week of rain there are going to be a lot of very lonely people desperate for some kind of interaction, and I can't shake the feeling that I'm not doing something worthwhile that might help reduce the feeling of intense isolation.


  1. Okashī nā ⇢ This would be translated as "It's strange" or, depending on nuance, "Isn't it strange?"

  2. My wife would not be happy with this. She's very paranoid about germs, so this Coronavirus scare has her on edge. She's implemented a strict "No Non-family members in the house" rule.

Creative License

An odd thought crossed my mind earlier today while testing some new functionality on the 10C platform involving content licensing. When I write code that is not being paid for by an employer, everything I create is under an MIT license. This means that people can take that code and do anything they'd like with it. Use it. Abuse it. Mock it. Knock it. Anything is permissible. Want to sell the code for your own gain? Technically that's acceptable, too. Just don't expect a warranty or the ability to pass any liability onto me, because that's outside the scope of the license. Other forms of creativity, however, are under a strict CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. In plain English, this means that you can copy, distribute, and adapt the things I share so long as there is appropriate credit given, the license of any adaptation is the same, and there is no commercial element involved1. This means that I am more controlling of my blog posts, podcasts2, photos, and social posts than of the only thing of value that I've been able to sell to the world.

The realisation struck me as peculiar given how freely I am willing to share things that actually have value. Why don't I write blog posts under a CC0 license, which is like the MIT license in that it means anything created is immediately in the public domain, owned by nobody, for anyone to do anything with. Heck, when it comes to control of the content I publish on here, I went so far as to build tools to actively watch out for and block content scrapers.

Putting a bit of thought into the conundrum, I came to the conclusion that I'm willing to share code for the following reasons:

  • there is nothing so special about what I code that others couldn't figure it out on their own
  • I learned a lot by reading other people's code, so this is akin to returning the favour for the next generation of developers

The reason I'm not willing to share my other forms of creation is as follows:

  • many of the things I write or share reveal elements of who I am

So coding is perceived as being generic enough to share. Writing, podcasting, photographing, and baking is specific enough to tie it to me as an individual.

But is this right? Something seems to be missing from the equation. There's a great deal of character to be gleaned from reading the source code for any project I've ever worked on just as there can be a lack of personality from a blog or social post that states a generally accepted fact without context or obvious purpose.

This is an idea that I'll need to invest a bit more time thinking through. In the meantime, feel free to peek through the source code for 10Centuries.


  1. There is also the stipulation that there be no legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything with my content that the BY-NC-SA 4.0 license permits. So wrapping up all of my blog posts into a digital book for sale on Amazon with DRM is a no-no.

  2. There haven't been any of these in quite a while. I should really dust off the mic and put something out.

Better Results

Over the last couple of weeks a good deal of work has been put into the 10C platform to do something about the excessive number of requests coming from bots and, for the most part, the measures are working like a charm. Known content scrapers are given a 403 "Forbidden" error. Bots looking for WordPress, PHPMyAdmin, or other exploits are given a 422 "Unprocessable Entity" with this happy response page. Contact form spam is way down, too. This results in not having to process about 60,000 SQL queries per day1 and, more importantly, having more accurate statistical data available for everyone. The "Popular Posts" segment on people's blogs is a prime example of this.

Popular Posts

Before making the necessary changes to better handle bots, every page load from a machine was treated the same way as a page load from a person. This resulted in some horribly skewed numbers when it came to "popularity" as some posts from over a decade ago consistently remained near the top of the list. Because the posts were so old, just about every content scraper knew the URL was valid and would come back to it quite regularly. However, if a real set of eyes is not looking at a post, can it be considered "popular"?

Nope.

So, with the filters and content loading processes better equipped to determine whether someone is actually looking at an article on a website, we get better results that are both more accurate and more relevant. Looking at the 9 most-read items on my site, it's good to see that 8 of them were written this year2. Naturally, the items listed on other 10C-powered sites will see a similar improvement in the reliability of the categorisation.

Hopefully the next round of updates to the platform are just as productive as the most recent dozen have been.


  1. 60,000 SQL queries is not very many, but it does work out to about 30-seconds of CPU time per day. Less processing power means having slightly "greener" operations.

  2. The post from 2012 is an odd aberration, but it seems to be legit.

Stuck in the Past

A large percentage of the posts published on this site over the last six months have involved sharing memories of things that happened in my life many years or decades ago. My parents have often said that as we age we look back at the past with increasing frequency simply because there's more of it to revisit. This theory certainly seems to hold water, but I wonder if there's something more to it. Is the mind comparing the past with the present? Do the memories have a common thread that should be explored? Am I just imagining correlations where none exist?

That last one sounds to be the most probable.

At some point in the future I do wonder if it would make sense to try and sort the memory posts chronologically and try to put some sort of temporal marker in the timeline of this site so that someone scrolling through a visual representation of the archives page would see a reference to this post at some point around 2003 despite being written in 2011 and this other post around 19891. One of the long-term goals I have for the 10C blogs is to present some alternative ways of viewing a lifetime. People who write prolifically will document so much of their lives, intentionally or otherwise, and giving people the ability to navigate the long progression of then to now is an excellent way to provide context to other articles on the same site. It would be more interesting if multiple posts over a span of years was found to discuss the same memory or time period as it would allow for a more complete understanding of how the author has perceived that moment in history.

This sort of visual representation is quite far off, though. Past attempts to design this view have failed spectacularly, which means I'm not thinking about the problem correctly. The articles that people write are not simply data points, after all. They're fragments of memory and personality. Any solution that is going to represent a person's lifespan will need to do so from a humanistic approach rather than a mathematical one.

One thing is for certain, though: the best solution will not involve an infinite-scrolling page consisting of only letters and numbers. This simply will not work.


  1. I wrote "Paper Boats" in June of 2019? It doesn't seem like almost a year has gone by. I still remember typing that post.

Workstations

The first time I went to price a "proper" workstation-class computer was in the summer of 1997. This was during my first semester at college and, being a geek in a computer science track, I figured that a Pentium Pro with it's 256KB of L2 cache and better multi-processing capabilities would be ideal for my coursework. The budget was $2500 CAD, which was almost every dime I had saved while working through high school. This was enough to pick up a decently-equipped Dell Dimension with an Intel Pentium 233MHz CPU with MMX, but I wanted a workstation-grade machine. One Saturday morning, I went to a nearby computer shop that was known for building solid machines for reasonable rates and was handed a price list.

Suffice it to say, there would be no Pentium Pro so long as I was in college.

In the end I wound up putting mobility ahead of power and picked up a used IBM ThinkPad 486 DX4/75 with 16MB RAM, a colour screen and no audio card for the small sum of $2000 cash1. The machine did quite well for as long as I had it and, looking back, it was certainly better that I did not invest time in working nights to afford the more powerful Pentium Pro2.

Since the summer of 1997, I've stuck to using consumer-grade equipment for all of my computing needs while looking at the workstation-grade equipment from afar, knowing that investing the amount of money required to obtain one was simply unrealistic even at the best of times.

With the historical context out of the way, I was recently reading Anandtech's "Best CPUs for Workstations: 2020 Q1 article and thinking about what I would do with such a machine. The suggested processors were generally over $1400 USD and would require a motherboard that costs about $500 USD plus another $500 for a good quantity of RAM. Then there's the case, the power supply, cooling, a video card (or two), NVMe storage with some slower spinning disks for less-accessed data. We can't forget a decent keyboard or nor a good pair of colour-synced monitors, either. All in all, the sticker price would start somewhere north of $5000 USD for a decent workstation, which is plenty reasonable for people who spend their days on computers and tax them with a great deal of important tasks.

This had me thinking: What do I do that requires a workstation-grade machine?

In 2020? Nothing.

A couple of years ago a case could have been made that a workstation would be an ideal tool to work with the large sets of data that I was processing, but a solution was found to offload the heavy work to ephemeral virtual machines when required. This worked out to be much cheaper than buying even a Dell Optiplex with a Core i9. Now, however, the most taxing thing I ask of my computers is to transcode online lesson video once or twice a month and compile Java-based Salesforce integrations two or three times per year. Consumer-grade equipment can do this just fine given the frequency that the work needs to be done. Twenty three years have passed since I first contemplated getting a workstation. I've never owned one, nor does it seem necessary given the state of modern computing technology.

As bizarre as it sounds, I'm a little disappointed in myself. Generally when I'm provided the opportunity to use a powerful computer, I try to make good use of it. However, if I'm not even taxing the relatively generic systems3 that I have the good fortune to use, what the heck would I do with a proper workstation? The hardware would sit idle most of the time.

This is an odd thing to complain about as "I can't make full use of a powerful computer" is not something that many people have ever said. It does inject a little more reality into what it is that I find myself doing most of the day, though, which is typing words that result in various pieces of data being collated, sorted, and presented as a rational block of information. Heck, given the state of modern phones, I could probably do 95% of my job from a recent-model iPhone or Samsung Galaxy with the right dongles to connect a keyboard and additional monitors.

So much for thinking about a workstation.


  1. As a 17 year old walking to the computer shop with that kind of money, plus the ATM receipts to show that it was most likely not counterfeit or recently stolen, I was very nervous.

  2. I worked nights loading trucks at a warehouse to pay for rent and food. If I were to buy an entry-level Pentium Pro machine, overtime would have been required. This would have resulted in getting to class late and in even worse condition.

  3. The work-supplied Mac is not a generic system but, for the sake of this line of thought, it is treated as such. The notebook has an Intel Core i7 that can handle tasks with aplomb, but it's no Xeon or AMD ThreadRipper.

Five Things

For the first time in almost a month the family and I spent time with people who live in a different house; Reiko’s parents. We all enjoyed a couple of hours in a park with several dozen other families, though at a distance. Since the boy was pulled out of kindergarten for the last week of February we’ve been pretty much isolated from the world. Sure, neighbours will say hello, but we don’t stand around and chat anymore. When we’re out for a walk or a bike ride, we keep to ourselves. When I’m out in the park by myself, I’m allowed slightly more space from people who might otherwise walk past in closer proximity. While I’m plenty accustomed to feeling isolated and alone in a country of 127-million, this additional layer of segregation is not at all pleasant.

Societal partitioning aside, the family is physically healthy and enjoying some of the warmer temperatures. So, without further delay, it’s time for another Five Things post.

Parents of Young Kids Have Given Up

We’ve been to a number of large parks this past week looking for a place where the boy can burn off some of his energy while also spending time outside and, at every location, it seemed the boy was the only person under the age of 25 that was wearing a mask. Even a large percentage of the parents out with their kids were without masks, which struck me as interesting. That said, a number of conversations that I’ve overheard recently boil down to this lamentation:

Kids are less susceptible to the virus and ill be damned if my children spend every day inside the house and playing video games.

Advice from medical experts be darned, parents will let their kids out of the house just so they can be out of the house. Reiko has tried for weeks to help the boy stay entertained and engaged since leaving school a month ago, but it hasn’t been easy.

Malls Are Still Crowded

This one strikes me as odd given the tone, pitch, and intensity of the news this past year. I had figured that the malls would all be ghost towns by now but, driving past, the endless sea of vehicles shows that many people will continue to shop inside enclosed buildings with recirculated air. Pachinko parlours are seeing similar situations, likely as the result of an incredibly bored population.

Franchise Restaurants are Busy, Independents Are Not

While it’s true that people need to eat, I was expecting that restaurants would shut down or switch to “drive-thru-only” service methods as a result of the government’s recommendation to have no more than one seat at a table. Instead, it seems that chains are as busy as ever while the independent shops are shuttering their windows. A couple of mom & pop shops around here have decided to simply shut down permanently, likely due to the week-by-week revenue nature of restaurants.

Schools Are Expected to Open in April

Spring marks the start of a new school year with millions of young people getting back to their studies in the first or second week of April. There was talk that the education ministry might push back the start of the next semester to June or July then cancel the summer break, but this seems to have been kiboshed for reasons unknown. As of this evening, kids are expected to get back to school in two to three weeks. Reiko and I are not yet certain about what we’ll do about the boy’s classes, given that he’s in kindergarten and not one of the higher grades where attendance is a legal requirement1?

”Everybody” Wants the Olympics Postponed … Except the Government and IOC

Every news program has yet another sporting team, domestic or foreign, demanding this years Olympic summer games be postponed until the autumn or some time in 2021. The Japanese government is loathe to do this for financial reasons and the IOC is loathe to do this because money, money, money, money. Regardless of what happens, the people of Japan will be paying for these damned games until 2050.

Hopefully the summer heat and humidity will slow the Chinese virus.


  1. Home schooling is certainly an option for some parents. The amount of paperwork the government demands for this is incredible excessive, though.

Dog Food

Earlier this week there was an update to the Nice.Social web client to replace the a vertical bar chart with a GitHub-inspired calendar heat map. The reasoning behind this was to provide a little more context for when an account might be active as well as answer the question of "how active is active?". Both charts were designed to be scaled relative to the account as they're not supposed to encourage any sort of competition. The bar chart would always show the week with the highest number of posts as 100% and this was carried forward with the heat map so that the day with the highest number of posts has the strongest colour.

While testing the accuracy of the chart's data, I took a look at my own activity detail and saw this:

My 10C Usage

The chart will likely surprise absolutely nobody, but it did make me think about some of the developers I've read about, met, or worked with who generally did not use the tools they created with the same amount of zeal or consistency as is displayed here. One of my previous colleagues explained that he liked to step back from his work as much as possible so that he could see the big picture rather than get lost in the details. Another told me that she was more interested in how people used the platform than the software itself. Both of these approaches are certainly valid and likely lead to a healthier approach to working on projects, but it does make me wonder if I'm an anomaly in the creator space.

Colleagues have often expressed surprise when they learn about the various things that I've created and use on a daily or near-daily basis, as though the idea of having a hobby that is essentially the very same thing as the day job is alien to them. Then again, maybe it is. How many people enjoy what they get paid to do at work so much that they'll do it at home for fun, too? I am truly fortunate in this regard. However, by making so much of the software I rely on, it's much easier to appreciate so many of the excellent tools that I rely on. Applications like Sublime Text, Sequel Pro, Pixelmator, and Byword get used so often that if I were to rent the software by the hour, they would quickly cost more than the notebook I run them on.

More than this, though, by using my own software it's possible to see where things fail. People who use systems like 10Centuries or the LMS or the textbook systems will report bugs from time to time but, from what I've seen time and again, most people try to ignore bugs and curse my name without ever letting me know there's a problem. This is suboptimal, so I need to use the tools as well. This often results in me seeing things that could be done better, or differently, or fixed, or made optional. The observations get coded and deployed. People then notice the changes or they don't. My overarching goal is to make the software as transparent as possible. People shouldn't ever need to think about how the system works or why it isn't working. That's my job. People should have the benefit of being able to search, publish, and share what they choose without taking the failings of my code into consideration.

There's still a long way to go before anyone can claim that 10Centuries or any of my other projects — personal or professional — approach perfection, but this is my ultimate goal. The only way to get there, though, is to dog food the work and use it just as much — if not more — than the people who might see where the software fails.