vanishing act

Phil Gengler
2004-07-25 01:44:12

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to notice that my presence here has been (virtually) nonexistant over the last few months. Just like nearly every other project of mine, this site has fallen by the wayside in favor of something else, or in some cases, absolutely nothing. This summer has been a re-enactment of that on a smaller scale. With a full-time job, and the random stuff that needs to be done while at home, the amount of time I have for personal pursuits is somewhat limited. Coupled with the fact that my job is mindless and dull, I frequently return home with no desire to do anything except watch TV for a few hours. On several occassions, that's just what I've done. A large number of other nights have been spent being equally as unproductive, with the exception that I might be at the computer. When I finally get around to working, it's usually some simple work on one of a number of projects I decided to undertake at some point or another.

I have a serious problem getting things finished. I have a project I started back in 2002, that if I had focused on it for a few weeks, a month or two tops, would have been done by now. But I haven't been able to do that, and so it remains uncompleted. It doesn't help that I keep adding and changing requirements for it without actually working on it, so the scope of the project is large enough to be daunted, which just makes me more unwilling to work on it.

This website is a lot like that. It was a project that started off with no defined goals (clear or otherwise) and for a while, I was motivated to work on it. The quality of the code for this is a reflection of that fact. It's horrible code, because it started off as one thing and then was changed into something else. When neither the original nor any of the changes to it had a plan or design of any sort, the end result is a mess. Just a few days I needed to fix a bug I found in some of the code for the site. This was the first time in several months I'd even looked at the code, and I was appalled. I couldn't believe that I had put something like that together, or that it had worked.

But there's still the content, and there was nothing wrong with my capability to add more of it. The problem there is one of attitude and not of technology. The first time that I started going weeks between updates was largely due to a feeling that what I was writing had no purpose, that the things I was covering were already being covered somewhere else, and that I wasn't adding anything new to it. This was true a lot at that point, where I was basically taking an event, or a case, or something, and just describing it. There wasn't anything of my own in there, there wasn't any opinion or personal feeling in it. With that came the self-doubt, and so I backed down from writing stuff for a little bit.

But then came the pressure to write, to keep the site updated, so I turned for a bit to writing about my life and my personal experiences. It was something I had tried to stay away from when I started the site off, and so I wasn't too happy about doing it, but it kept the site active, and so I kept doing it for a while.

Then came more self-doubt. There came the feeling that no one cared about me and what I did or what I felt. This was largely the result of reading Amit's site, when I one day realized that I just didn't give a shit how many times he vomited that day or how often he dreamed of pichu. I started to wonder why I had been reading stuff like that, and I stopped reading his site, among others.

From there, updates on my own site became spotty. I had given up on personal writing, and I had sort of fallen out from my intense interest in, well, anything. So there weren't any new updates ranting about copyright-this or copyright-that, partly because the world had reached a slow point in that regard, and partly because I was falling into a nonproductive zone. Writing stopped, coding stopped, basically, accomplishing anything stopped for a few months. I would spend hours at my computer each day, and when I would go to sleep I would realize that I hadn't actually DONE anything that particular day. This continued for far longer that I would like to admit.

Finally, I started to start working on things again. I did the simple updates to old pieces to code to make them work right or give them new features, and had some sense of accomplishment again. But I still wasn't writing. This was largely the result of a lack of self-discipline. I find myself working if and when I want to, on whatever I feel like working on at the time.

Then came summer. I left Hoboken to go home, not having a job, not having any plan, but I was trying to tell myself that I would be productive, that I would have lots of free time and I could finish all kinds of things. For the first week or so, I didn't do a damn thing. Hours were spent in front of my computer, and nothing got done. Then I started using my laptop most of the time. Before we got a wireless router, I worked on bits of code I had stored locally, with Apache and MySQL set up to test them. I'd also started a full-time, 8:30 to 4:30, job at that point, so the time I had to myself was basically from 6pm until midnight.

I was addicted to Law & Order for a while. TNT shows it for three hours a night, and after that there's usually an episode of SVU on USA. So I would be lying on my bed with my laptop, tapping away during the commercial breaks, watching TV most of the time.

Eventually I decided to purchase a wireless router so that I didn't have to fuck around with stuff to get changed code out to the appropriate sites. My ability to get stuff done dropped. Now I could spend the evening, like I had spent so many days before, wasting hours of time with absolutely no memory of what I did, and nothing to show for it. I managed to get myself to start working on code again, and in the end, going wireless was the right thing to do, because I can ultimately be more productive with it.

Of course, none of this explains why I haven't updated the site. It does, however, provide a clear example of what I was talking about - I get sidetracked easily. That was one of the major reasons for not updating; the other was that I just didn't feel like writing. That statement is part right and part wrong. I felt like writing, I had in my head all sorts of ideas of stuff to write about, I just didn't actually feel like doing the writing. This is probably because I spend large parts of my day at work at a computer transcribing stuff, and when I get home, I don't really feel like spending even more time typing. So a lot of good topics have come and gone from my mind, and a lot of stuff has gone uncovered and unreported.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about the INDUCE Act. For all that reading, I haven't looked at it in-depth, so I won't be talking much about it, but it's worth mentioning. The idea of it is that it would be possible to prosecute or sue people and groups who induced infringement of copyright. That is, if something you did facilitated someone else's infringement of copyright, you could be held responsible. The idea of the act was to make peer-to-peer companies liable for what their users did, but as many have pointed out, it would also effectively undo the Betamax decision (which, for those who don't know, said that devices with "substantial non-infringing" uses were legal).

This seems like a good place to end this, because I'm running out of things to say that relate to this topic (even in tangential ways). What I hope to do in the future, update-wise, is to get myself to flesh out a lot of the ideas that come into my head. If I can do that, the possibilities for content are virtually limitless. I also intend to get back up to speed on what's been happening on the copyright front (as well as a couple of other areas I have interest in) and start talking about those. For whatever reason, though, I'm more able to do that back at school, so it might be a month or so before that comes about.