A personal weblog of Paddy Foran, updated daily. Uncensored, unfiltered, and mainly for his personal benefit, this blog may offend you, hurt your feelings, or most likely, lead you to believe the author is a freak. Proceed with caution: here there be dragons.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I love explaining my Cr-48 to people. It's so funny, watching people's reactions.

"So, how's your break going so far?"

"Well, Google sent me a laptop. So pretty awesome."

"Wait, what?"

"Yeah, they sent me a laptop."

"To keep?"


"How did this happen?"

"Well, Google took a laptop, said 'Hey, Paddy is pretty awesome.' and put it in the mail. A few days later, it showed up on my doorstep. Where I opened it. And now I have it."

"But why?"

"Because they're sending laptops to developers."


"To test them. And Google's new operating system."

"So you got a free laptop."

"Yeah. I was mildly excited."

Really, what is so hard to understand about "A Fortune 500 company gave me a several-hundred-dollar machine for absolutely no reason."?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I feel kind of fucked by Google. And that's totally not ok of me.

See, I was blessed by Google. I was one of ten people outside of the company given super-early access to their awesome new Channel API way back in October-ish. At the time, they gave access to my development server for android2cloud, to load-test the service and figure out how it works under load. They said they'd be expanding the test server numbers to check and see how more and more user load affected the server as time went on. That's totally reasonable, and I was lucky to get what they gave me. Because I'm a greedy little bastard, I asked that the production server be considered for the larger tests, and was given an assurance that it was "exactly the kind of environment [they'd] want" when the time came.

So I faithfully ported android2cloud, tried to work out the kinks in the system, tried to help out the other developers who were gifted with this early access. And we heard very little about the roadmap and schedule of the testing. So, we moved along. I had to stop working with the Channel API after a while, and pick up nodejs, to try and get a patch for my server issues out the door as soon as possible. And that's where I was, when I saw the TechCrunch post today.

After that, I saw the App Engine blog post.

The impression I get from both posts is that Channels are available in all App Engine apps now. Which leaves me a little hurt and upset, and I'm simultaneously hoping that it is true and not true. I want my server problems to go away, and this gives me a huge amount of breathing room. But I also wanted to get some load testing metrics, get some idea of how this would actually work with our system, have some forewarning so I could handle this gracefully and smoothly. Finding out through a third party, then hearing about it on the official blog, and not even getting a similar announcement in the mailing list is kind of a slap, after everything. And I posted links to both posts on the mailing list, and asked if this meant the Channel API was available to everyone now. Nobody has clarified yet.

And then I think about everything that's happened, and this saga as a whole. And I feel like an ungrateful little shit, because the company that did so much for me and made such exceptions for me didn't remember to give me forewarning before launching the feature I had been testing for them, as a favour to me. If they even launched the service, which I'm still unclear on.
I've been thinking a lot for the past couple of days about blogging; how it's done, how it was done, how it should be done, and how it will be done. This was probably an escape my mind came up with to be able to ignore the fact that I've consistently failed at anything remotely resembling academic responsibility this week, failing to show up for classes and work on a frightening schedule (1/2 the week thus far, gulp). That's an interesting idea that should be pursued some more; hiding in things we're good at to escape things we're bad at. Learned helplessness much?

But back to blogging. I am convinced, largely thanks to Say Everything by Scott Rosenberg, that links are the end-all-be-all of blogging. Comments are silly; links are how conversations happen. Tumblr came close with its reblog concept, but limited itself to just the Tumblr community. That, my friends, is what we in the industry call a "circlejerk".

So, like everything that annoys me, I'm considering whether or not I should set out on a quest to fix it. Make a Wordpress/Tumblr-esque service/open-source software combination that will follow this links-are-king paradigm. Ignoring everything else I have already taken on, this is a daunting project. And yet, I'm the proud new owner of tangl.es, because our links are the tangled web we weave.

Yes, I'm a little insane.

Monday, November 22, 2010

You know, it's funny. I was thinking a few hours ago about how much I missed having a good, awesome (in the original sense) storm. I wished it would rain. And, lo and behold, when I walked out of my apartment this morning, it was the raining. But it was entirely the wrong type of rain.

I wanted to watch God try to drown out his creation again. I wanted to see God's fury and shame and sorrow split the sky into fragments, wanted to see the agony of a creator assault the creations. I wanted to see God's hate, to be reminded that we are formed in his image. I was disappointed.

Instead, I got God's apathy. I felt God's vague sorrow drip on me, an unconvincing nag that coloured my day gray. I wanted technicolor, but got monochrome. I wanted passion, but got indifference. The same indifference that has been poisoning the inhabitants for so long.

There is no God here. He has left us for the country, for places where venting his fury yields satisfaction, where he can observe with grim delight as trees sway and branches shatter. We've learned to control his fury in our cities, and--like any caged beasts--he avoids our cities now.

I want to see God wash the world away, not moisten it half-heartedly.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I know I've written a lot about my indecision as to the future I'm walking towards, the path I'm putting myself on. I know I'm looking between software and teaching, and weighing my two loves, trying to decide which to pursue.

I was recently listening to the comedian Bo Burnham on YouTube (the guy is great, I highly recommend listening to a few of his songs. Vulgar, but true.) One of his tracks stuck out like a sore thumb, struck a chord in me. I've embedded it below.

See, I view my programming as art. There is an art to making cool things. In fact, I would posit that making cool things is, by definition, art. The question that I'm posing is whether that is something we should aspire to or not.

The literacy rates and graduation rates in my country, one of the wealthiest places in the world, the place that brings us Facebook and Twitter, are abysmal. They're so bad, I wouldn't be surprised if many adults were unsure as to what "abysmal" means. And yet, we're coming up with new and interesting ways to communicate with each other. We're employing some of the smartest minds in creating art. And while we have a need to nurture the inner artist, we need to remember that that inner artist exists in a world. We can't simply hold art up as an excuse, some lofty goal that we aspire to with no regard for the context around it. There are rumbles of dissent around Buffalo right now because the funding for the arts was drastically cut, but... we're in a financially difficult spot right now. Should we be cutting funding to the arts to support more immediately pressing concerns?

It's hard to open a mind that is rotting because it was starved to death. It's hard to light a spark in someone who was beaten for being different. Maybe art shouldn't be our highest concern.

I'm not sure on any of this. I'm just thinking about where art stands in our society, and the benefits it attributes to our society. Are they equal? Is there a separation of benefits to a society, two categories of necessity? The necessity for intellectual growth and expansion through art, and the necessity for basic survival? Should we be pursuing them in tandem? As a software programmer, am I doing a disservice by turning my code into art, by delaying the good that I could be doing for my society by insisting on doing it in this pure way?

I am an artist; please, God, forgive me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
This quote has stuck with me for a few years. Ever since I first heard it, as a leader in Vacation Bible School, it has remained lodged in my mind, taking up permanent residence there next to quotes about passion and excellence and pithy song lyrics. I think it has resonated with me so strongly because giving responsibility begets responsible behaviour, in my experience. Peter is the rock; he is given the weight of the entire Church, an Atlas of the theological world of Christ, but he's also given the strength and stability of a rock.

Perhaps the cure of my ills is the hair of the dog that bit me. Perhaps I need to be more of a Peter, not less.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Twitch In My Eye Is Starting To Piss Me Off

I woke up today and went to work. For four hours straight, I worked in the same room on the same projects. One focus, one paradigm, one thing at a time. It was glorious.

I feel like I could wake up every day and do this. Not one paradigm for an hour, then another for two hours, then another for an hour and a half... I had focus, and things got accomplished.

This gives me hope. I've been worried about how I'd function in "the real world", with my numerous immaturities in behaviour that I can't seem to get away from, from my sleep schedule that doesn't really exist, to my inability to be productive unless the planets are in line. But apparently, in the real world, I'll be fine. As long as I know what my day holds, and have a consistent pattern with a long-term focus, it all seems to work out for me.

It's a shame my classes can't work under that structure.

Friday, October 29, 2010

So, I failed again yesterday. Terribly. Managed to not drag myself out of bed until nine p.m., a full 20 hours after I first tried to sleep. What's the most annoying is that I woke up a couple times, at least halfway, and fell back asleep moments later, anyways. I don't know why I was so tired, and why my alarms and failsafes against this kind of thing failed. It was actually an important, filled day for me: two hours of work, a presentation to a class, and leading a workshop for another class. All of that was missed.

I'm not entirely sure what to do from this point. Beyond my obvious failing to comprehend the forces at work, both outside and inside my body, that contrive to put me in these situations, I don't know how to handle this situation now that I'm in it. What do I tell the professor I was supposed to present to, that I once again failed to come to her class, even though the presentation was to make up my previous failure? What do I say to her?

I don't know how to live my life, and I don't know how to figure it out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm kind of really excited. I'm working with a friend to launch Second Bit, LLC, a software company. It's going to serve as an incubator for my random application and website ideas, and they will be released under that banner. I will also be taking on some freelance work under that banner. Look out for my stuff in the future.

I'm not sure what it is about formalising this as a company that excites me so much. I guess I've always had a weakness for official, important-feeling things. Filing for an LLC with the State of New York definitely fits that bill. Is this just another shallowness of my character, another weakness to be accounted for, this need for that feeling of importance?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I picked up a new book about a week ago when my ex-boyfriend was visiting me (that weird occurrence seems to be a common one, for us) called "say everything" by Scott Rosenberg. It's just a story of how blogging began, and it is actually a rather fascinating read. I recommend it.

But I'm sitting here tonight, in a rather glum mood (sleeping for 24 hours straight seems to bring those on), mulling over that ex-boyfriend I mentioned. And I have to ask myself: why do we feel the need to say everything? Why does the human psyche give such a damn about being heard?

I don't really have an answer, but I do have a guess: It's therapeutic. That's the long and the short of it. Saying everything is a therapeutic endeavour that we all should try at one point or another. It doesn't even matter if anyone's listening, as long as we believe they're listening. This is what blogging, then Facebook Status Updates, and now Twitter is all about. (On a side-note, I'm being blessed with people who are listening because I have a kick-ass group of Twitter followers.)

I think that, from the time when we were keeping diaries, we have had trouble knowing ourselves. We have no idea how we sound, we forget what used to be important to us, and we cannot seem to get an outside view of ourselves. Writing things down helped that; we could recall that, at one point, the pants we wore to a party was more important to us than who went to the party. We could view something we wrote a month ago, and realise we were kind of an asshole. We could (maybe) consider whether we were still an asshole. For once, we could step outside our bodies and really get to know ourselves.

I think, over time, we've been developing simpler and simpler ways to do this, and simpler and simpler ways to share it. The act of making it simpler to do makes sense to me, and seems in line with the therapeutic self-improvement the form is meant to accomplish. But the sharing? I'm having trouble deciding why it's so important to people to easily share their thoughts, ideas, feelings, and things that should leave them feeling vulnerable with the world. Why did I challenge myself, not to write every single day, but to make a blog post every day? I can't answer for anyone but me.

I have a history of starting things and never finishing them. A terrible practice I try to get out of at every opportunity. One of the tricks I've learned, over the past few years, is that getting other people involved shames me into doing things. I'm ashamed of myself when I miss a post here. I'm ashamed of myself when I haven't made enough progress on a project other people are working towards. So I think, by sharing our innermost selves with the world, we're pushing ourselves to share more, engage in this therapy more. Writing is work, and even if it's good for us, we still need to get motivation to do it.

Why do you share?

Friday, October 22, 2010

I wish I could give more presentations. I love to present; I generally don't get a full grasp on what I'm doing until I'm standing in front of my audience, giving the presentation. I tend to get feelings, or inklings, or ideas, and just put them together and hope for the best. For example, in a few short minutes, I'm giving a presentation on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. All I have so far is alliteration and this scene from V for Vendetta. No idea what I'm going to do with all that, but I'll be doing something. And I'll figure it out when I get up there.

Presentations, though, are butchered 99% of the time. The group presenting right now (yes, I'm being a bad audience member and blogging while people present) is literally reading their bits off a piece of paper, standing in a line across the front of the room, one at a time. No character, no personality.

In a few weeks, I'll be teaching a class. I know it will be about grammar and essay construction, I know the students will only be allowed to call me Captain (or "Oh Captain my Captain" if they're ambitious), I know I'll be handing them eye-patches as they enter the classroom and informing them that they will be graded on their ability to wear the eye-patch for the entire period, but that's really all I know about that lesson. And it's all I'm likely to know.

Why must people butcher such an art form? A person's attention is valuable. Don't waste it, when they're required to give it to you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One of my professors said something interesting to me today, something I've been thinking about a lot in the past couple of weeks. She pointed out that she knows I can be a very good teacher, if I'd only show up. Teachers used to say I'm very smart, if I'd only do my work. Now, they don't even care if I do my work, they just want me to show up. And I still can't even do that.

The problem is, I'm just unreliable. Medication, mental and emotional disorders, a terrible diet, and a sleep schedule that has never been normal all collaborate to make me sleep through classes and work shifts with terrible regularity. If it weren't for this, I could easily be carrying a GPA a full point higher than it is.

But that makes me think. Should I be punished for this? Probably not. I try my hardest, I really do. And days like today, where I fuck up, where I can't seem to be the grown-up everyone really wants me to be, it's hard for me not to come home and just wallow in self-pity. Nobody yelled at me or disciplined me today, but I still feel like a failure, and like I'll never amount to anything. I feel like I'm wasting my potential, because I can do so much, but I can't seem to drag my ass the places it needs to be so I can do things.

But my professor also asked if I'm sure I want to be a teacher. No, no I'm not sure. Not sure at all. I know I love to teach. I know I love English. I know I'm very, very good at both, because I'm a junior in college and barely touch my books, but I consistently score highly in these subjects. But as I get closer to that degree, I'm less and less sure I want it.

I'm not sure I can work within such a defined structure. Our education system sucks, and there's little to nothing I can do to directly fix the issue. That kind of thing always pisses me off, and I'm signing up to deal with it for five days a week until I retire.

My teaching style is very liberal. Like... radically liberal. And I'm starting to doubt that I'll get a teaching job that won't hurt me to do. Because so much of what we have accepted and implemented in our schools today is wrong. Research shows it. Common sense shows it. Our students know it, and we know it. But we don't fix it. Because it's too hard, and because we can't operate within the fucked-up system we have otherwise. So we continue perpetuating a broken system, and the idea of being part of that kills me. But I may not get hired, otherwise.

Of course, many people ask why I'm pursuing teaching instead of computers. And honestly, I don't have a real answer anymore. It used to be that I loved to teach, and doing it as a job didn't hurt that love. Working with computers as a job seems soulless, lifeless, and painful. It would crush me to have something I love so much taken away from me, have its soul stripped away, and then force-fed back to me.

And yet, in about twenty minutes I'm meeting with a friend who wants to incorporate a software company with me. And I'm excited about the idea. And have customers lined up and waiting. And teaching is seeming more and more oppressive, with less room to maneuver.

Honestly, if I weren't three semesters away from a degree, I'd probably switch majors. I just can't see myself becoming normal in time for me to teach.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
-- Maya Angelou

This quote has been written on my wall for a little over a year now, I imagine. I rather like it, probably because it validates my vague feeling-based judgement of people. People fit a certain mould for me, fall into certain categories, based on feelings and vibes I get from them. Maybe that's weird. Maybe that's not. I don't know.

I've been thinking a bit about this, though. Matt, who I'm sure you'll hear plenty of as this blog continues, only stays in my life because of the way he makes me feel. He does terrible things to me, and generally doesn't treat me well, but he makes me feel better when I'm around him. So I keep putting myself around him.

Sometimes, I wonder how I make people feel. I tend to obsess over it; whether people feel like I'm rude, or unwanted, or not living up to their expectations. It's a constant, nagging fear at the forefront of my mind that makes it really hard for me to be natural in social situations. But I can do it when there's someone there with me, whose feelings towards me I know. It's weird, but having that one other person there gives me the ground to stand on that I need. Without that ground, I just can't... be myself. I don't know why having someone else there that I understand means so much to me, but it does.