Have you ever noticed that you get some of your best thinking done in the shower? I certainly do. Some of my best and worst (i.e most creative) ideas have come to me in the shower. Often I will come up with a solution to a problem I spent the pervious day struggling with while taking my morning shower.
What is it about the shower that brings me to such a level of clarity? Is it the all the steam? It it the water? the soap? Perhaps, but I don't think so. It occured to me that when I'm in the shower, I am not consuming any outside information. In the shower I have no TV, radio, books, podcasts, web sites, etc. It's just me and my thoughts. The only other time when this is true is when I'm in bed trying to fall asleep. When I'm in the shower, Im trying to wake my mind up, and with nothing to fill it, it begins processing the information it already has.
Maybe the magic of the shower is simply the fact that I can't bring anything else into it with me. It's just me and my thoughts. I wonder what it would do to my life to take more time out of the day to just think. No reading, watching or listening. Just thinking, and maybe some writing. How big of a difference could this make? I guess I'll have to think about it.
Do you set aside any time each day just for thinking?
BTW: The idea for this post came to me this morning in the shower.
Giving Up Television
Almost a year and a half ago, I took the Zen TV Experiment and wrote about my experience. For the first time, this caused me to really evaluate the position of television in my life and question its value. It also caused be to be aware of the tricks that TV uses and the effects it has on me when I watch it.
The immediate aftermath of this was a conversation with Megan where we decided to no longer eat our meals in front of the TV. It was a great improvement. It also started a series of events that resulted in us watching less and less tv over time. We would have these moments where we'd go through our season passes on the TiVo and eliminate shows for various reasons. I also resolved to only watch TV on purpose. In other words, I would only watch shows that I wanted to watch, I wouldn't just sit down to "watch something".
This past month, Megan decided to give up TV for lent. She went through a similar transformation of thought on the value of TV and it's place in our life. She too is resolved to watch less and be more purposeful about it. And then we come to last night.
Yesterday was Easter; lent is over. Now that Megan is "allowed" to watch TV again, we had some decisions to make. We turned on the TiVo and looked at the list of recorded shows for the first time in six weeks. Surprisingly, there wasn't much there. Several episodes of the Oprah show, The Office, 30 Rock and The Chicago Code. Having not watched any TV for six weeks, we are faced with the question: "Are any of these shows worth the time it takes to watch them?"
Not watching TV has freed us to do so much more with our evenings. Megan has become a fairly prolific blogger. We've both read several books. We've had some deep, meaningful conversations, played some games, had people over, gone out, worked on side projects. Which of these things are we willing to give up to watch a TV show?
It's a difficult question, because the shows we watch together (I don't watch Oprah) are really good shows. We really enjoy watching them (most of the time). But are they worth the half-hour every week commitment?
Last night we decided to quit watching The Chicago Code. It's a fairly new show, and it's off to a pretty decent start, but neither one of us is heavily invested in it. That left The Office and 30 Rock. We decided to table the discussion for later. We may finish out the season and then be done with them (especially since Steve Carell is leaving after this year).
Once we quit watching those shows, do we still need the TiVo? Do we still need the TV? It takes up a lot of room in our living room. These are questions that we will have to answer over time.
Could you give up watching television? Have you taken the plunge? What was it like?
XML To Domain Mapper Web Service
This all started with a post on Dave's blog Saturday. He was trying to see what it took to serve up an xml file from a domain. He was succesful, but he mentioned that what he really wanted was a web service that would do this. I spent some time thinking about the problem, and came up with a basic solution.
Basically we have a server, let's call it 'domain-mapper.com'. You will first need to configure your domain to point at the ip address of the domain mapper server. Then you need to tell the domain mapper server about your domain. You do this by posting to domain-mapper.com/domain and you give it 2 parameters: domainName and password.
Now that your domain points to the domain mapper server and the domain mapper server knows about your domain, it's time to save the file to the domain. You do this by posting to your domain name with one parameter called 'feed'. You will need to log in using http basic auth (the username is your domain name and your password is the one you provided when you registered your server).
That's it. It's pretty simple huh? If you want to update your file, just post to your domain again.
I'm not completely finished with the implementation. There are a few more features I want to put in, but once I do I'll put up a server so we can test it. I'll probably release the sourcecode for the server too. I just wanted to get this documented somewhere so that those that care can comment and provide some feedback on my deisgn.
EC2 For Poets 6
I found the new ec2ForPoets6 AMI and launched a new micro instance. I had terminated my previous instance but kept my elastic IP address, so I can use the same domain names for this new test. This should be accessible at opml.tedchoward.com. But now I must wait for the admin password to generate. I'll return after some coffee.
4/6/11; 7:47:48 AM - Coffee's done; server is up.
4/6/11; 7:48:54 AM - Filling out the six values. I wish there was a link to get my S3 keys, I always forget where to find them.
4/6/11; 7:52:19 AM - I clicked submit, I think it submitted but I didn't get any feedback; the form just reloaded.
4/6/11; 7:53:39 AM - It did work. I went to the homepage and logged in as admin.
4/6/11; 7:56:33 AM - enough for now, I'd better head in to the office.
Coding in the OPML Editor
Things I Like About Coding in the OPML Editor
the structure of code is easy to see and follow
re-arranging code blocks is easy
a useful debugger is built in to the editor
most of the tool is written in itself
I can see sourcecode for most of the built-in "verbs"
Things I Don't Like About Coding in the OPML Editor
No syntax highlighting
No live syntax checking / typeo prevention
text rendering "feels" off compared with other text editors
text typing and keyboard navigation is a bit slow
The undo buffer only goes back one edit
no support for source control systems (svn, git, etc.)