Saturday, 8 August 2009

Merlin Mann and the Creative Struggle

Merlin Mann runs a site called 43 Folders. Or he used to a couple of years ago, when it was a hub of lifehacks and productivity tips and just general process-oriented stuff. But then he went offline, or underground, just stopped being a public figure for an online community which was getting all jazzed about the paraphernalia and fetish objects surrounding GTD.

When he came out the other side, it was as a less polished and more authentic speaker and writer, given to swearing and to confessing his gradual progress in the great game of creativity. He began to talk more about human weakness and foibles, particularly when it came to creating fresh material.

Merlin talks about doing and not doing creative work:
The Sound of Young America

(Backup link here also, because stuff sometimes breaks.)

In a lot of ways the struggle to create touches on the same problems faced in the struggle to live a good life, or the struggle to actually start or to finish things we care about. It's good to see someone chuck in their professional facade and take the deeply risky step of talking about things they're not all that sure about, but think are important enough to put forward anyway.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Eggcorns, Mondegreens, and Other Errors

There are different kinds of malapropisms — mistaken expressions and mixed-up words. The flowchart below can help you to best describe a particular misstatement. You may recognise some of the examples.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Browsing Better With a RAM Disk

My browser, where I live, had been less than optimal. It would lag during video playback, pause before page loads, blow out on memory use, and grind away on my hard drive.
It was not good, and having recently doubled my RAM I had memory to spare.

I downloaded Gavotte RamDisk (instructions page here) and set up a 512MB RAM disk.

I use Firefox Portable (link) and, after emptying the cache and reducing the cache limit to 300MB, copied it over to the RAM disk.

The results:
  • App startup time faster by 40%
  • App shutdown time faster by 60%
  • Firefox RAM use reduced by 30%
  • CPU load reduced by 50%
  • Video no longer lagging
  • Browsing snappier
  • HDD not constantly spinning
  • Laptop fan spinning much slower
Every single metric improved noticeably (though RAM savings in Firefox are more than offset by the memory cost of the RAM disk).

There are three disadvantages to this setup:
  • Cache is lost on reboot
  • Application prefs/bookmarks are lost on reboot
  • RAM disk must be set up after reboot
The first two problems can be overcome by copying the Firefox Portable folder back, overwriting the original folder. In addition I use Xmarks, a Firefox extension which synchronizes my bookmarks between PCs from an online backup.
The third problem is what it is, though it can take as little as ten seconds plus copying the application folder over.

A probable further benefit of this setup is battery life, which I haven't tested yet.