izmeina: (Default)
The serpent’s record in seeking out new knowledge has been abysmal of late. I ended up abandoning a fascinating course about terrorism and counterterrorism due to that detour to Amsterdam in December. I figured I learned my lesson and should stay away from online courses until the old grey cells were back in working order.

They seemed to have turned to total mush during that overseas adventure from the very first days. Balancing the books at the end of a day’s spending proved far too taxing for this old grey serpent brain as did adding up the scores for our regular games of Scrabble. It was like the numbers kept slipping through a sieve. I just could not hold them in my head.
Such a contrast from the games at the day centre where I would keep a running total of the score and be in agreement with the official calculator version more than 90% of the time.

I had decided to start with baby steps with the online courses and chose a computer programming course based on Scratch which is designed for kindergarten kids as well as another on Crypto more for nostalgia sake than anything.
It seems most courses these days are big on video lectures. I must say I prefer good old fashioned slides since they don’t nuke my meagre 4gb monthly ration and they are so much quicker to get through.
Downloading a video is a bit like buying a book. When you get in from a library the 3 week deadline increases the likelihood of actually reading it. Buying gives the sense of having all the time in the world.
So it did not take long to rapidly fall behind. No point in downloading a whole pile of videos if you don’t get around to actually watching them.

Too many tasty temptations )
izmeina: A cute cartoon critter with a bag and a teapot on his head (jolly swagman)
The serpent’s record in seeking out new knowledge has been abysmal of late. I ended up abandoning a fascinating course about terrorism and counterterrorism due to that detour to Amsterdam in December. I figured I learned my lesson and should stay away from online courses until the old grey cells were back in working order.

They seemed to have turned to total mush during that overseas adventure from the very first days. Balancing the books at the end of a day’s spending proved far too taxing for this old grey serpent brain as did adding up the scores for our regular games of Scrabble. It was like the numbers kept slipping through a sieve. I just could not hold them in my head.
Such a contrast from the games at the day centre where I would keep a running total of the score and be in agreement with the official calculator version more than 90% of the time.

I had decided to start with baby steps with the online courses and chose a computer programming course based on Scratch which is designed for kindergarten kids as well as another on Crypto more for nostalgia sake than anything.
It seems most courses these days are big on video lectures. I must say I prefer good old fashioned slides since they don’t nuke my meagre 4gb monthly ration and they are so much quicker to get through.
Downloading a video is a bit like buying a book. When you get in from a library the 3 week deadline increases the likelihood of actually reading it. Buying gives the sense of having all the time in the world.
So it did not take long to rapidly fall behind. No point in downloading a whole pile of videos if you don’t get around to actually watching them.

Too many tasty temptations )
izmeina: (Default)
Finally looking forward to an evening catching up on all the gossip in Cyberia and sorting out the enormous mess that is the Izzie list of online courses. Had enrolled to do a retake of Cryptography as it should be so much easier second time around especially after learning a smattering of the parseltongue known as Python. There was also the fascinating "Learning how to learn" also on the Coursera list. Did that one recently and did very well but did not have the time to devote to the discussion forums due to other distractions.

The problem was, I had signed up for them way back in November naively thinking that January is an excellent month for online education as it's much too hot to do anything else. That little unexpected detour to Amsterdam for Christmas changed everything.


So first things first. Got to jump ship on two courses and download videos for the others, check emails and finally get around to doing some serious catch up squiggling.

But the weather has other plans. Instead of sunshine, I have returned to endless days of everyday grey. Not the miserable drizzling depressing cold and wet winter days of Amsterdam but big fat sweltering oppressive hot and humid grey clouds. It's like Singapore has suddenly moved south. It's been raining so that should clear up the air but along with the rain there's also been thunder and lightning. It's sizzling and crackling like crazy and it's time to put the Precious to bed, to pull the plug and sit outside with a glass of red to watch the sky go snap, crackle, sizzle and pop.
izmeina: creepy spooky old house infested with crawling critters (spooky)
Finally looking forward to an evening catching up on all the gossip in Cyberia and sorting out the enormous mess that is the Izzie list of online courses. Had enrolled to do a retake of Cryptography as it should be so much easier second time around especially after learning a smattering of the parseltongue known as Python. There was also the fascinating "Learning how to learn" also on the Coursera list. Did that one recently and did very well but did not have the time to devote to the discussion forums due to other distractions.

The problem was, I had signed up for them way back in November naively thinking that January is an excellent month for online education as it's much too hot to do anything else. That little unexpected detour to Amsterdam for Christmas changed everything.


So first things first. Got to jump ship on two courses and download videos for the others, check emails and finally get around to doing some serious catch up squiggling.

But the weather has other plans. Instead of sunshine, I have returned to endless days of everyday grey. Not the miserable drizzling depressing cold and wet winter days of Amsterdam but big fat sweltering oppressive hot and humid grey clouds. It's like Singapore has suddenly moved south. It's been raining so that should clear up the air but along with the rain there's also been thunder and lightning. It's sizzling and crackling like crazy and it's time to put the Precious to bed, to pull the plug and sit outside with a glass of red to watch the sky go snap, crackle, sizzle and pop.
izmeina: (Default)
Izzie is an expert in the dark art of delayed gratification. The Number of the Serpent over in Nanoland is 49,999

Saving that last single solitary one word for tomorrow evening's Write Night. It is so weird when the strange Cyberian and mundane Muggle worlds collide. Tomorrow will be one such day.

Unlike most other years this November's novel in progress ended up more like a collection of jigsaw pieces than a proper story with a beginning, a middle and an end. All those tweeks will have to wait for December. Once again just before the finish line a whole bunch of ideas for next year's story started presenting themselves and attempting to distract me from the mission at hand.

The other serpent who lurks in the Coursera classrooms also has a new number. It is 61.6
The passing grade for the last Python programming class was 70% so well and truly missed it. Hardly surprising since I chickened out of the last three mini projects each worth 8% of the total mark.
But I will be back. Once November is ended there's a big fat Coursera catch up to do including a course on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism and a rerun of the excellent "Learning how to learn"

Did very well the first time around but due to other distractions did not spend half as much time on the discussion forums as I would have liked. Decided that from now on it would be a good idea to keep other temptations to a minimum when doing their courses as unlike nearly all the others, Coursera has by far the most user friendly forums. That is usually where all the juiciest stuff can be found.

Also managed to snaffle a free copy of John Grisham's "The Firm" so looking forward to another juicy saga in my favourite genre - Deals with the Devil. I guess it is not really an official genre but it should be. Along with doomy gloomy Dystopias, such tales are temptation beyond endurance.
izmeina: spooky shadowy squid (scary squid)
Izzie is an expert in the dark art of delayed gratification. The Number of the Serpent over in Nanoland is 49,999

Saving that last single solitary one word for tomorrow evening's Write Night. It is so weird when the strange Cyberian and mundane Muggle worlds collide. Tomorrow will be one such day.

Unlike most other years this November's novel in progress ended up more like a collection of jigsaw pieces than a proper story with a beginning, a middle and an end. All those tweeks will have to wait for December. Once again just before the finish line a whole bunch of ideas for next year's story started presenting themselves and attempting to distract me from the mission at hand.

The other serpent who lurks in the Coursera classrooms also has a new number. It is 61.6
The passing grade for the last Python programming class was 70% so well and truly missed it. Hardly surprising since I chickened out of the last three mini projects each worth 8% of the total mark.
But I will be back. Once November is ended there's a big fat Coursera catch up to do including a course on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism and a rerun of the excellent "Learning how to learn"

Did very well the first time around but due to other distractions did not spend half as much time on the discussion forums as I would have liked. Decided that from now on it would be a good idea to keep other temptations to a minimum when doing their courses as unlike nearly all the others, Coursera has by far the most user friendly forums. That is usually where all the juiciest stuff can be found.

Also managed to snaffle a free copy of John Grisham's "The Firm" so looking forward to another juicy saga in my favourite genre - Deals with the Devil. I guess it is not really an official genre but it should be. Along with doomy gloomy Dystopias, such tales are temptation beyond endurance.
izmeina: (Default)
The Izzie is a most masochistic creature indeed. What was supposed to be an interesting adventure in a free online mind gym has turned into a vampire like time sucking monster turning the serpent’s green cells into zombie mush.

The idea is excellent. Teaching the programming language of Python with the goal of creating games rather than just making silly little boring programs with no practical value. Practising scales is so much easier when there’s a useful goal to aim for. It’s also no course for sparkly special snowflakes who think that mastering the “Hello World” spell should give them a shower of gold stars, a certificate of achievement with distinction and a day job at Hogwarts.
Figured that the logical way of thinking required to do such a course would be a good skill to learn and could come in useful for a whole bunch of other courses and stuff. It would also be a more productive use of time than playing Sudoku puzzles.
But a big motivation is to peek into the mindset of geeks to see what makes them tick. What is this creativity and magic that so many of them whisper about in such reverent tones? So far the conclusion is that most of them have Spock like super powers that mere muggles cannot aspire to. Of course it just seems that way. There are a lot of so called natural talents out there that are due far more to the mastery that comes from constant practice rather than winning the jackpot in the genetic lottery.
Being a totally alien environment, had expected a certain amount of disorientation and confusion. But figured that things would improve after four weeks or so finding my bearings and getting a feel for the strange landscape.

It’s the latest project which involves creating a version of the Memory card game that is the trigger for this serpent’s senior moments. There’s only 8 pairs to find, not 26 like in a proper deck of cards and they are nicely arranged in rows or grids rather than mixed up at all angles over some table but still it is proving to be an insurmountable obstacle. It’s a bit like knowing what you want to say but being totally unable to find the right words to express the ideas. And the words are the least of it. Every single bracket, colon or comma has to be perfectly placed or the python will have horrid hissy fits and whip that long red forked tongue all over one’s crappy code.

The feeling of frustration is so very like the very first time attempting to write a Nanowrimo novel back in November 2009. Like this time, had also jumped in the deep end with little planning or preparation. After the initial enthusiasm had worn off and there were a couple of characters doing nothing and going nowhere and the dreaded blank page turned the old brain to mush, I began to wonder what moment of madness ever made me sign up for such craziness. The Inner Umbridge had such fun unleashing her hordes of dementors on this crazy creature. I managed to negotiate a stay of execution. They could have as many pity parties and kisses as they like but only after the daily 1,666 word quota and certainly not before the 15th of the month. That beastly week took a strange turn on the first Friday and after that the main problem was keeping up with the multitudes of muses who then came knocking. Getting to the finish line was made all the more special since there had been so many obstacles to overcome at the very beginning. The feeling of achievement was so addictive that I have been doing it ever since.


So it’s like that first week all over again. All plodding along slowly in a dark tunnel and not a glimmer of light to be seen. Things seemed to be looking good a few days ago. But the last two nights have been up to the eyeballs in quagmire and quicksand. The more I struggle to get out, the deeper down I get.

After tomorrow’s deadline there will be 3 weekly projects left and two of those will be due in November. If the inner Spock is going to make an appearance, he’s got till Halloween to do it. Once the witching hour arrives on 31st October and everything gets turned back into a pumpkin, then the poor old pythons will just get put back in their box and there they will have to wait until the magic 2,000 words of the day are safely stored in Scrivener.

So for the second week in a row, the serpent is turning in some half baked half finished effort in the belief that it is better to try and fail miserably than not to bother at all and that the simple act of plodding on in the dark sends the message to the muses that it’s time to send some inspiration as a reward for such stubborn determination.
izmeina: Roz with clipboard from Monsters Inc (Dolores)
The Izzie is a most masochistic creature indeed. What was supposed to be an interesting adventure in a free online mind gym has turned into a vampire like time sucking monster turning the serpent’s green cells into zombie mush.

The idea is excellent. Teaching the programming language of Python with the goal of creating games rather than just making silly little boring programs with no practical value. Practising scales is so much easier when there’s a useful goal to aim for. It’s also no course for sparkly special snowflakes who think that mastering the “Hello World” spell should give them a shower of gold stars, a certificate of achievement with distinction and a day job at Hogwarts.
Figured that the logical way of thinking required to do such a course would be a good skill to learn and could come in useful for a whole bunch of other courses and stuff. It would also be a more productive use of time than playing Sudoku puzzles.
But a big motivation is to peek into the mindset of geeks to see what makes them tick. What is this creativity and magic that so many of them whisper about in such reverent tones? So far the conclusion is that most of them have Spock like super powers that mere muggles cannot aspire to. Of course it just seems that way. There are a lot of so called natural talents out there that are due far more to the mastery that comes from constant practice rather than winning the jackpot in the genetic lottery.
Being a totally alien environment, had expected a certain amount of disorientation and confusion. But figured that things would improve after four weeks or so finding my bearings and getting a feel for the strange landscape.

It’s the latest project which involves creating a version of the Memory card game that is the trigger for this serpent’s senior moments. There’s only 8 pairs to find, not 26 like in a proper deck of cards and they are nicely arranged in rows or grids rather than mixed up at all angles over some table but still it is proving to be an insurmountable obstacle. It’s a bit like knowing what you want to say but being totally unable to find the right words to express the ideas. And the words are the least of it. Every single bracket, colon or comma has to be perfectly placed or the python will have horrid hissy fits and whip that long red forked tongue all over one’s crappy code.

The feeling of frustration is so very like the very first time attempting to write a Nanowrimo novel back in November 2009. Like this time, had also jumped in the deep end with little planning or preparation. After the initial enthusiasm had worn off and there were a couple of characters doing nothing and going nowhere and the dreaded blank page turned the old brain to mush, I began to wonder what moment of madness ever made me sign up for such craziness. The Inner Umbridge had such fun unleashing her hordes of dementors on this crazy creature. I managed to negotiate a stay of execution. They could have as many pity parties and kisses as they like but only after the daily 1,666 word quota and certainly not before the 15th of the month. That beastly week took a strange turn on the first Friday and after that the main problem was keeping up with the multitudes of muses who then came knocking. Getting to the finish line was made all the more special since there had been so many obstacles to overcome at the very beginning. The feeling of achievement was so addictive that I have been doing it ever since.


So it’s like that first week all over again. All plodding along slowly in a dark tunnel and not a glimmer of light to be seen. Things seemed to be looking good a few days ago. But the last two nights have been up to the eyeballs in quagmire and quicksand. The more I struggle to get out, the deeper down I get.

After tomorrow’s deadline there will be 3 weekly projects left and two of those will be due in November. If the inner Spock is going to make an appearance, he’s got till Halloween to do it. Once the witching hour arrives on 31st October and everything gets turned back into a pumpkin, then the poor old pythons will just get put back in their box and there they will have to wait until the magic 2,000 words of the day are safely stored in Scrivener.

So for the second week in a row, the serpent is turning in some half baked half finished effort in the belief that it is better to try and fail miserably than not to bother at all and that the simple act of plodding on in the dark sends the message to the muses that it’s time to send some inspiration as a reward for such stubborn determination.
izmeina: (Default)
A certain Cyberian serpent has been gobbling up all my spare online time and more besides. Python is a hard task master and demands sacrificial offerings every week since early October. So I’m woefully behind in catching up with comments and gossip in general. Even the RasPutin vs The Mad Monk mixed martial arts championship has been sadly neglected. Some of the cartoonists have been having a wonderful time devoting their poisoned pens to portraying the assorted training regimes of the two combatants.

Two moronic macho males flex their muscles


I must be going completely crazy. It’s simply not normal to be slaving over a keyboard at 6.30 in the morning in a desperate attempt to put some last minute touches on a very buggy game of Pong. I might manage to salvage 12 of the 19 possible points which is a bit of an improvement on the first version that would be struggling to score more than 6.
So it looks like I have well and truly hit the wall this week. Will keep plodding along anyway since this python is proud of her persistence. Here’s hoping the long hoped for light bulb moments are not too far away. November will be the true test of commitment since the annual ritual of novel writing is simply not negotiable.

It is simply not rational to expend such time and effort on a course that has very little use in real life. It could come in handy for two grand procrastination projects - a second attempt at Coursera’s cryptography classes and a rather long to do list at Project Euler. I guess they are the online equivalents of designing that deck of tarot cards, actually editing at least one of 5 nano novels and finishing sewing and stuffing Snowball the teddy bear.

And this week’s topic in the very interesting “Learning how to learn” course is all about procrastination and zombies. Perfect timing.
izmeina: a snippet of Escher's circle of serpents (escher)
A certain Cyberian serpent has been gobbling up all my spare online time and more besides. Python is a hard task master and demands sacrificial offerings every week since early October. So I’m woefully behind in catching up with comments and gossip in general. Even the RasPutin vs The Mad Monk mixed martial arts championship has been sadly neglected. Some of the cartoonists have been having a wonderful time devoting their poisoned pens to portraying the assorted training regimes of the two combatants.

Two moronic macho males flex their muscles


I must be going completely crazy. It’s simply not normal to be slaving over a keyboard at 6.30 in the morning in a desperate attempt to put some last minute touches on a very buggy game of Pong. I might manage to salvage 12 of the 19 possible points which is a bit of an improvement on the first version that would be struggling to score more than 6.
So it looks like I have well and truly hit the wall this week. Will keep plodding along anyway since this python is proud of her persistence. Here’s hoping the long hoped for light bulb moments are not too far away. November will be the true test of commitment since the annual ritual of novel writing is simply not negotiable.

It is simply not rational to expend such time and effort on a course that has very little use in real life. It could come in handy for two grand procrastination projects - a second attempt at Coursera’s cryptography classes and a rather long to do list at Project Euler. I guess they are the online equivalents of designing that deck of tarot cards, actually editing at least one of 5 nano novels and finishing sewing and stuffing Snowball the teddy bear.

And this week’s topic in the very interesting “Learning how to learn” course is all about procrastination and zombies. Perfect timing.
izmeina: (Default)
It’s a week since a certain online scif fi and fantasy literature course has ended. It was a strange beast of a course. There was the creepy sex obsessed professor conspicuous by his absence, a crazy peer review marking system for assignments and a gang of grammar Nazis relishing the chance for some serious power trips. It required a ridiculous amount of work for a very small return. But that is assuming of course that grading is the only thing that counts because it is the only thing that is measured and in a sloppy unrefined manner at that.
But there were some upsides to this manic masochistic adventure. There is nothing like the allure of an external deadline for getting stuff done. The Izzie ‘100 books to read before you die” list is just another one of those things gathering dust and being saved for a rainy day. But thanks to the course “Dracula”, “Frankenstein” and a whole bunch of Edgar Allan Poe stories have been ticked off that list.
The simple fact of having to write an interesting and insightful 320 word essay on the readings for each week meant that a good bit of thinking was involved. First thought was that 320 words is a piece of cake. Will have that done and dusted in 20 minutes since a good Camp nano day can clock up a word count of 1,200 per hour. But they are as different as chalk and cheese. In Nanoland you just make stuff up and the more words the better. No one sees your efforts unless you are crazy enough to post them.
Trying to say something useful with just 320 words to do it and backing it up with cold hard facts is a very different kettle of fish. A first draft might take twenty minutes but slicing, dicing and rearranging to get rid of every single excess word and then choosing quotations and examples from the readings as evidence often took several hours. But you would be mad to do it for the score because there was just no nuance at all in the grading system and unless your work was truly appalling or exceptionally good the best you could hope to score would be the default 4 out of a possible 6 marks. Every other online course where I have put in even half that amount of effort has got a final mark around 90%. But then they don’t have the same value. The readings have provided plenty of inspiration for the daily 1,666 Camp Nano words.
The Izzie motto had always been “Editing is for December” and December never ever came. But this time it got done in March and most of April too.

Then there was the addiction of the forums where folks would be discussing the books on the list, posting their essays and bitching about the ridiculous grading rubric or snarking about the lectures. “Sometimes a snake is just a snake” was a very common comment. Was lurking there lots and it was very addictive so was ever so surprised to have slinked to the fifth place on the Forums ‘Leader Board” where position is based not just on number of posts but the number of up and down votes received so that those who posted things that others found useful would be ranked higher than those just making inane Facebook like sorts of comments.

So as soon as the time gobbling monster had been slain, there was a sudden surge in the serpent’s daily word count over in Nanoland. There’s still other courses to catch up on. In Cyberia the best things in life really are free. Learning stuff online is a pretty harmless addiction.
I’m finally learning not to be too ambitious or greedy. It’s best to do one thing at a time and do it well than to juggle a whole bunch of courses all at the same time and then view them as a chore with scores to be gamed rather than a source of fun, enjoyment and education.
So resisted the temptation to sign up for the Rice Python programming course running right now and signed up for September instead.

Already looking forward to Futurelearn's "Start writing fiction" starting on Monday.
izmeina: A cute cartoon critter with a bag and a teapot on his head (teapot)
It’s a week since a certain online scif fi and fantasy literature course has ended. It was a strange beast of a course. There was the creepy sex obsessed professor conspicuous by his absence, a crazy peer review marking system for assignments and a gang of grammar Nazis relishing the chance for some serious power trips. It required a ridiculous amount of work for a very small return. But that is assuming of course that grading is the only thing that counts because it is the only thing that is measured and in a sloppy unrefined manner at that.
But there were some upsides to this manic masochistic adventure. There is nothing like the allure of an external deadline for getting stuff done. The Izzie ‘100 books to read before you die” list is just another one of those things gathering dust and being saved for a rainy day. But thanks to the course “Dracula”, “Frankenstein” and a whole bunch of Edgar Allan Poe stories have been ticked off that list.
The simple fact of having to write an interesting and insightful 320 word essay on the readings for each week meant that a good bit of thinking was involved. First thought was that 320 words is a piece of cake. Will have that done and dusted in 20 minutes since a good Camp nano day can clock up a word count of 1,200 per hour. But they are as different as chalk and cheese. In Nanoland you just make stuff up and the more words the better. No one sees your efforts unless you are crazy enough to post them.
Trying to say something useful with just 320 words to do it and backing it up with cold hard facts is a very different kettle of fish. A first draft might take twenty minutes but slicing, dicing and rearranging to get rid of every single excess word and then choosing quotations and examples from the readings as evidence often took several hours. But you would be mad to do it for the score because there was just no nuance at all in the grading system and unless your work was truly appalling or exceptionally good the best you could hope to score would be the default 4 out of a possible 6 marks. Every other online course where I have put in even half that amount of effort has got a final mark around 90%. But then they don’t have the same value. The readings have provided plenty of inspiration for the daily 1,666 Camp Nano words.
The Izzie motto had always been “Editing is for December” and December never ever came. But this time it got done in March and most of April too.

Then there was the addiction of the forums where folks would be discussing the books on the list, posting their essays and bitching about the ridiculous grading rubric or snarking about the lectures. “Sometimes a snake is just a snake” was a very common comment. Was lurking there lots and it was very addictive so was ever so surprised to have slinked to the fifth place on the Forums ‘Leader Board” where position is based not just on number of posts but the number of up and down votes received so that those who posted things that others found useful would be ranked higher than those just making inane Facebook like sorts of comments.

So as soon as the time gobbling monster had been slain, there was a sudden surge in the serpent’s daily word count over in Nanoland. There’s still other courses to catch up on. In Cyberia the best things in life really are free. Learning stuff online is a pretty harmless addiction.
I’m finally learning not to be too ambitious or greedy. It’s best to do one thing at a time and do it well than to juggle a whole bunch of courses all at the same time and then view them as a chore with scores to be gamed rather than a source of fun, enjoyment and education.
So resisted the temptation to sign up for the Rice Python programming course running right now and signed up for September instead.

Already looking forward to Futurelearn's "Start writing fiction" starting on Monday.

Word Wars

Apr. 12th, 2014 11:35 pm
izmeina: (Default)
So the madness is nearly over. Only one week remains in the time sapping online Sci Fi and Fantasy course. Only a masochist would voluntarily sign up for ten weeks of reading with essays and peer reviews due every week. There is nothing like trying to explain something to force you to actually learn and understand it but when all that effort is tossed in a barrel and randomly assigned then it is very likely that it will end in tears.

Some folks are interested in the civil exchange of ideas and ask questions and make comments in the spirit of mutual enrichment and learning while others are just little tin pot dictators on power trips making the most of this one chance to lord it over others. Not just nit picking grammar Nazis but Literature majors on a mission to put the lowly uneducated plebs back in their boxes.

Nit pickers and Grammar Nazis )

Word Wars

Apr. 12th, 2014 11:35 pm
izmeina: Roz with clipboard from Monsters Inc (Dolores)
So the madness is nearly over. Only one week remains in the time sapping online Sci Fi and Fantasy course. Only a masochist would voluntarily sign up for ten weeks of reading with essays and peer reviews due every week. There is nothing like trying to explain something to force you to actually learn and understand it but when all that effort is tossed in a barrel and randomly assigned then it is very likely that it will end in tears.

Some folks are interested in the civil exchange of ideas and ask questions and make comments in the spirit of mutual enrichment and learning while others are just little tin pot dictators on power trips making the most of this one chance to lord it over others. Not just nit picking grammar Nazis but Literature majors on a mission to put the lowly uneducated plebs back in their boxes.

Nit pickers and Grammar Nazis )
izmeina: (Default)
Notes from Camp Nano

Once again this crazy serpent has embarked on the month of madness that is Camp Nano. These days there’s lots of room for sooks and wimps. In the beginning, the rules were carved in stone like the Ten Commandments.

Thou shalt write a novel of 50,000 words in a period not exceeding 30 days beginning on the first day of the calendar month as prescribed by the God of Words.
Thou shalt curse and blaspheme the Gods if it serves the purpose of increasing thy tally of words.
Thou shalt slave over a steaming keyboard on the Sabbath if necessary.
Thou shalt murder as many innocent characters as thou desirest in the service of the worthy word tally
Thou shalt resort to fornication and other adulterous perversions in pursuit of this worthy goal
Thou shalt covet thy neighbour’s word count if such jealousy serves the purpose of increasing one’s own meagre efforts.

Bearing false witness by cheating on the word count was about the only unforgivable and most mortal of sins in the cult of Nanology. But this strict regime proved too restrictive for prospective converts so the gurus watered down the most central tenet of the faith by allowing the infidels to replace the most holy of numbers the 50,000 with one of their own choosing and deleting the word ‘novel’ to be replaced with abominations such as ‘script’ ‘poem’, ‘short story’ or even ‘exceedingly pompous rambling streams of consciousness’

More Serpent Words )
izmeina: Roz with clipboard from Monsters Inc (Roz)
Notes from Camp Nano

Once again this crazy serpent has embarked on the month of madness that is Camp Nano. These days there’s lots of room for sooks and wimps. In the beginning, the rules were carved in stone like the Ten Commandments.

Thou shalt write a novel of 50,000 words in a period not exceeding 30 days beginning on the first day of the calendar month as prescribed by the God of Words.
Thou shalt curse and blaspheme the Gods if it serves the purpose of increasing thy tally of words.
Thou shalt slave over a steaming keyboard on the Sabbath if necessary.
Thou shalt murder as many innocent characters as thou desirest in the service of the worthy word tally
Thou shalt resort to fornication and other adulterous perversions in pursuit of this worthy goal
Thou shalt covet thy neighbour’s word count if such jealousy serves the purpose of increasing one’s own meagre efforts.

Bearing false witness by cheating on the word count was about the only unforgivable and most mortal of sins in the cult of Nanology. But this strict regime proved too restrictive for prospective converts so the gurus watered down the most central tenet of the faith by allowing the infidels to replace the most holy of numbers the 50,000 with one of their own choosing and deleting the word ‘novel’ to be replaced with abominations such as ‘script’ ‘poem’, ‘short story’ or even ‘exceedingly pompous rambling streams of consciousness’

More Serpent Words )
izmeina: (Default)
How the best of intentions can come to nothing.

The craziness that is Camp Nano started today. To be on the safe side, this serpent set a daily goal of 2,000 words rather than the recommended 1,666 in order to reach the end of month target of 50,000 words.

But the map is never the territory. What was supposed to be a twenty minute sprint of adding quotes to an essay and page numbers to the quotes to keep the nitpicking Grammar Nazis happy rapidly expanded to blow out that time slot to a good two hours.

All this effort is part of an online sci fi and fantasy course with a weekly reading list and essays on the readings of no more than 330 words and a goblin word counter that prevents word hogs from even submitting their bloated efforts.

The certificate has no practical use whatsoever and no street value. It will just gather dust like the rest of the rotting fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

It seems crazy to waste so much time on a mere 320 word assignment especially when faced with a random selection of other participants assigning the dreaded peer review grades. For that is the price of this free but quite tasty lunch.

It was naive to think that producing a rough draft yesterday would make a considerable difference to the time spent during precious Camp nano nights. That took nearly an hour in its own right. It is rather like building a house. Getting up the main structure of floors and walls is a relatively quick process. It is the finishing touches of plastering and painting, adding carpets and fittings that is the real black hole.

I was commenting on the forums recently that a weekly 320 word essay is more work than 1,666 words per day for Nano. For at least with that you can just make up stuff.

So why bother? It turns out that regardless of useless peer reviews, the very attempt of trying to find something interesting and insightful in a book and to distill it down to a mere 320 words is a most valuable writing exercise indeed. It teaches one to be a hard task master when it comes to choosing words.
To quote from a writer recommended by the Cat ""No word ever made it into his documents until it had been grotesquely tortured and failed to confess to the existence of a better synonym."
Taona Dumisani Chiveneko

A good forty minutes was spent this evening cutting the fat from a 370 word essay. That's right. Spending a minute to get rid of each excess word. Blasphemy and sacrilege of the highest order.
So of course the sixty minutes of rationed camp writing time dwindled down to twenty. Did manage to clock up 440 nano words before the pen turned into a pumpkin.

The experience was as different as chalk and cheese.

Did manage to spend another twenty minutes of intended writing time sitting in the garden sipping a glass or two of sparkling wine and looking up at the stars. One of the brightest of all is not a star but a planet. It is supposed to be red but is more a shade of bright orange. Got to watch it at Astrofest a few weeks ago along with a few of Jupiter's moons.

It sort of suited this evening's theme. But in order to avoid the grammar nazis claims of plagiarism, will post only one or two sentences of those hours of effort. (Seriously, some box ticking idiots have accused people of plagiarism because they go entering essay texts on Google search and they turn up on some one's blog. Not a whole bunch of blogs but only one - that of the original writer. Of course the assigned essays are anonymous but even a pea brain should be able to work that one out.

So a few sentences of this serpent's offering.

A Tale of Two Houses

In Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles”, the best of houses and the worst of houses mirror each other in striking and significant ways.

.......

The rest will follow later and hopefully with something better than the usual pretty average 4/6
izmeina: creepy spooky old house infested with crawling critters (Haunted house)
How the best of intentions can come to nothing.

The craziness that is Camp Nano started today. To be on the safe side, this serpent set a daily goal of 2,000 words rather than the recommended 1,666 in order to reach the end of month target of 50,000 words.

But the map is never the territory. What was supposed to be a twenty minute sprint of adding quotes to an essay and page numbers to the quotes to keep the nitpicking Grammar Nazis happy rapidly expanded to blow out that time slot to a good two hours.

All this effort is part of an online sci fi and fantasy course with a weekly reading list and essays on the readings of no more than 330 words and a goblin word counter that prevents word hogs from even submitting their bloated efforts.

The certificate has no practical use whatsoever and no street value. It will just gather dust like the rest of the rotting fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

It seems crazy to waste so much time on a mere 320 word assignment especially when faced with a random selection of other participants assigning the dreaded peer review grades. For that is the price of this free but quite tasty lunch.

It was naive to think that producing a rough draft yesterday would make a considerable difference to the time spent during precious Camp nano nights. That took nearly an hour in its own right. It is rather like building a house. Getting up the main structure of floors and walls is a relatively quick process. It is the finishing touches of plastering and painting, adding carpets and fittings that is the real black hole.

I was commenting on the forums recently that a weekly 320 word essay is more work than 1,666 words per day for Nano. For at least with that you can just make up stuff.

So why bother? It turns out that regardless of useless peer reviews, the very attempt of trying to find something interesting and insightful in a book and to distill it down to a mere 320 words is a most valuable writing exercise indeed. It teaches one to be a hard task master when it comes to choosing words.
To quote from a writer recommended by the Cat ""No word ever made it into his documents until it had been grotesquely tortured and failed to confess to the existence of a better synonym."
Taona Dumisani Chiveneko

A good forty minutes was spent this evening cutting the fat from a 370 word essay. That's right. Spending a minute to get rid of each excess word. Blasphemy and sacrilege of the highest order.
So of course the sixty minutes of rationed camp writing time dwindled down to twenty. Did manage to clock up 440 nano words before the pen turned into a pumpkin.

The experience was as different as chalk and cheese.

Did manage to spend another twenty minutes of intended writing time sitting in the garden sipping a glass or two of sparkling wine and looking up at the stars. One of the brightest of all is not a star but a planet. It is supposed to be red but is more a shade of bright orange. Got to watch it at Astrofest a few weeks ago along with a few of Jupiter's moons.

It sort of suited this evening's theme. But in order to avoid the grammar nazis claims of plagiarism, will post only one or two sentences of those hours of effort. (Seriously, some box ticking idiots have accused people of plagiarism because they go entering essay texts on Google search and they turn up on some one's blog. Not a whole bunch of blogs but only one - that of the original writer. Of course the assigned essays are anonymous but even a pea brain should be able to work that one out.

So a few sentences of this serpent's offering.

A Tale of Two Houses

In Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles”, the best of houses and the worst of houses mirror each other in striking and significant ways.

.......

The rest will follow later and hopefully with something better than the usual pretty average 4/6
izmeina: (Default)


There's Izzie ever so innocently seeking converts for the Cult of Cthulhu over at a certain Coursera science fiction and fantasy forum when this wicked tale far from Wonderland appears on the screen.

Thana Niveau makes such amazing videos for cultish Cthulhu Carols. Izzie had no idea that she has other twisted tastes too.

And yesss. That infernal but fabulous course is the main explanation for so many serpent absences of late.
There are other online temptations such as the Edx "Effective thinking through mathematics" and "The Science of everyday thinking" which has some very entertaining tales about dark satanic messages in heavy metal music and means of manipulating memories. Oh what a malleable and gullible thing is the human mind.

The Sci fi course takes a ridiculous amount of time but it is a most valuable asset for any aspiring writer. Not just the selection of fascinating tales from ancient and more modern times but the requirement to write essays about them limited to 320 words.

It is also a confirmation of ancient serpent habits. Screens are for dabbling, dawdling and dipping. In spite of reading some materials on the tablet or Big Mac, for actually remembering and enjoying the stories, I have invariably resorted to old dead tree versions from assorted libraries.

The course has just reached the half way mark and Izzie's got to pull her socks up. The peer reviewed marking system is ridiculously unrefined. With a mark of 3 for form and another 3 for content for each essay, there's no room for nuance at all. But four scores of four so far and one single five when a certain Cat has a trophy room with fives and sixes all over the place is enough to make a serpent emerald with envy.

On the radio today they mentioned that the world wide web is celebrating its 25th birthday this very week. It's just as well that Tim Berner Lees was not Bill Gates or it would be a very different and much more boring beast indeed. If he had taken the mean and petty path of patenting, here's wondering how things would have turned out. Much the same with big padlocks everywhere or something totally unlike the present incarnation?

Got to thinking how Cyberia is paradise for knowledge junkies of all sorts. The present time will likely be seen as a golden age for massive open online courses where one can learn from the best in the business with the cost of nothing but one's time and the occasional excess bandwidth charges from pesky internet service providers. But when I think that less than ten years ago even the cheapest and nastiest dodo dial up was $30 per month, then even with $10 excess charges, I am still much much better off.

Must be back slinking in those forums looking to lure the innocent into the serpent's lair.
izmeina: (Default)


There's Izzie ever so innocently seeking converts for the Cult of Cthulhu over at a certain Coursera science fiction and fantasy forum when this wicked tale far from Wonderland appears on the screen.

Thana Niveau makes such amazing videos for cultish Cthulhu Carols. Izzie had no idea that she has other twisted tastes too.

And yesss. That infernal but fabulous course is the main explanation for so many serpent absences of late.
There are other online temptations such as the Edx "Effective thinking through mathematics" and "The Science of everyday thinking" which has some very entertaining tales about dark satanic messages in heavy metal music and means of manipulating memories. Oh what a malleable and gullible thing is the human mind.

The Sci fi course takes a ridiculous amount of time but it is a most valuable asset for any aspiring writer. Not just the selection of fascinating tales from ancient and more modern times but the requirement to write essays about them limited to 320 words.

It is also a confirmation of ancient serpent habits. Screens are for dabbling, dawdling and dipping. In spite of reading some materials on the tablet or Big Mac, for actually remembering and enjoying the stories, I have invariably resorted to old dead tree versions from assorted libraries.

The course has just reached the half way mark and Izzie's got to pull her socks up. The peer reviewed marking system is ridiculously unrefined. With a mark of 3 for form and another 3 for content for each essay, there's no room for nuance at all. But four scores of four so far and one single five when a certain Cat has a trophy room with fives and sixes all over the place is enough to make a serpent emerald with envy.

On the radio today they mentioned that the world wide web is celebrating its 25th birthday this very week. It's just as well that Tim Berner Lees was not Bill Gates or it would be a very different and much more boring beast indeed. If he had taken the mean and petty path of patenting, here's wondering how things would have turned out. Much the same with big padlocks everywhere or something totally unlike the present incarnation?

Got to thinking how Cyberia is paradise for knowledge junkies of all sorts. The present time will likely be seen as a golden age for massive open online courses where one can learn from the best in the business with the cost of nothing but one's time and the occasional excess bandwidth charges from pesky internet service providers. But when I think that less than ten years ago even the cheapest and nastiest dodo dial up was $30 per month, then even with $10 excess charges, I am still much much better off.

Must be back slinking in those forums looking to lure the innocent into the serpent's lair.

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