An Analog Blog Post

A journal and Lamy Safari fountain pen on a dark stained wood table

The following was transcribed from the pictured journal entry. I used Google Lens and a LOT of editing.

It has been easy to not make time to write recently. “Busyness” is the main culprit, but I’ve also been spending time with its less boisterous sibling, distraction. And so here I find myself, back at the roots of my writing practice. The journal. I’ve missed the empty page. The empty screen is nice too, in my writing software of choice, but I can’t help feeling the weight of the myriad windows/apps/messages vying for my attention. So I’ve returned to my empty page. It welcomes my attention and thought, but does not compete for them. It is an escape in plain sight.

The past couple weeks have been especially tricky with a sick daughter who doesn’t want to sleep, a busy and understaffed season at work, and all sorts of house projects begging to be completed. All these things are important to give my time to, but I miss having time alone to work through my thoughts. And there is something unique to working through thoughts with pen and paper. It would be interesting to see how a particular thought path might develop differently if done digitally instead of analog. Digital thoughts can be discarded and reshaped much more easily. Analog thoughts are methodical and more planned out. Each word, each sentence, gets much more thought. There is no turning back.

It’s so fun to see where thoughts lead me. I thought this would be an entry about busyness and distraction, but my mind seems more stuck on the difference between digital and analog mediums for thought exploration. Having a medium to capture your thoughts is useful, but how does the medium shape your thoughts? Is it better to be able to edit and rearrange your thoughts easily, or is it better, to follow a slow, linear progression? Or is it just different? If I had written this digitally, I might have edited the first paragraph to have a smoother segue, but I would have lost the original idea that led me to where I am now. Analog forces a full historical record. It takes a longer time to adjust course or backtrack, but you won’t lose where you started. How many beautiful, half-baked thoughts have been lost in the editing phase of digital writing? Yet on the other side of the coin, dead branches should be pruned so that the healthy ones can grow stronger.

It would be nice to have the benefits of both analog and digital. I need someone to build a small microwave-style device that scans a notebook in its entirety, and then some sort of local, air-gapped Al separates and tags the content appropriately, moving it to my note app of choice. A dreamer has to dream. The major downfall of analog is how hard it is to re-surface at a later time. There are indexing and categorization systems that help with this, but they don’t come close to what I can do digitally.

The experience of writing something new is so nice in analog though. Flip to an empty page, grab your writing utensil, and get going. I get the physical feedback of the pen, the sound of each stroke on the page, and my writing style is distinctly “mine”. I contrast that with my phone, where I feel obligated to read each notification before I get started writing. That is, if I even make it there without getting lost chasing a squirrel. It’s not as good with a laptop either. I have to pull it out, boot it up, find my app, and make my way to a blank space for writing. It’s not too much longer, but it feels so much further away than pen and paper.

This sounds a bit like digital-bashing, but I prefer it in many cases. I’ve just been spending too much time there recently, and not enough time with my pen and paper. Here’s to more time with my ad-free journal.

There’s some nice footage of Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser at the Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio at the 2:00 minute timestamp of this week’s TW@N video 😁 We have neat facilities out here in The Land! youtu.be/xQeA-KzTL…

I just used the Google Assistant to make a reservation this morning and it was pretty nice. It waited until the restaurant was open to call and then sent me a text confirming the reservation.

I replaced our mulch with gravel and started our first garden! We will have cucumbers and three varieties of bell pepper. πŸͺ¨πŸ₯’πŸ«‘

A blue house with a red door and a gravel flower bed with juniper bushes.A 4x8 raised bed garden with grass and a pond in the background.

Ever wondered what the heck that fancy ChatGPT Large Language Model AI is actually doing? This animated 3D visualization is an awesome step-by-step guide! bbycroft.net/llm

Felt good to be back on the grill yesterday!

A pit Boss pellet grill with smoke coming out.

Can you tell which is the original…? πŸ˜…

I asked GPT-4o to describe an image of me, and then fed the generated text into Microsoft Designer to see how well it could generate a copy of me. Microsoft Designer turned the handsome-dial a little too high, but this is impressive!

Here’s the description that was generated from the original:

The image shows a young man with short, neatly trimmed hair and a light beard. He is smiling warmly, showing his teeth. He is wearing a gray zip-up sweater. The background is an outdoor setting with blurred trees and foliage, suggesting it might be a park or a natural area. The overall mood of the image is friendly and relaxed.

Headshot photo of JakeAI-generated copy of a headshot photo of Jake

Is 1285 a good score on Google’s dino game? What are your high scores?

Google's no internet page with the dinosaur game showing a score of 1285

Check the Categorization of Your Domain in Cloudflare Radar to Make Sure Federal Employees Can Visit Your Site

My blog is available on the NASA network now! For anyone else who wants their site to show up on a federal network, make sure you scan your domain at https://radar.cloudflare.com/. CISA uses Protective DNS, and Cloudflare is the provider behind that service. After scanning the URL, check the security tab to see if there are any security risks.

If there are, then you’ll need to request that your site be recategorized at this link: https://radar.cloudflare.com/domains/feedback

My site had originally been categorized as “DGA Domain”, which is a security risk, so I requested that categorization be removed. Cloudflare made the change within 24 hours, and now I can share my work-related blog posts with my coworkers!

I updated the font across my site to Inter instead of system-ui, which was the Tiny Theme default. I found out Tiny Theme has all sorts of pre-defined font groupings in main.css, so what I actually changed the font-family to was –font-neo-grotesque, of which the primary font was Inter. I like it!

Is this a blog or a node in a botnet?

I finally found out why my blog was blocked on the NASA network! Cloudflare had it categorized as a DGA Domain, so they thought it was an autogenerated domain that was part of an evil botnet πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ I’ve submitted a request for Cloudflare to recategorize it under “Personal Blogs” so it doesn’t show up as a security threat any more. I guess my last name does look a little suspect and not quite like a real word someone would use for a domain…

Compound and Leverage

Compound and leverage are powerful forces to move us toward our desired outcomes.

I’ve been thinking about these two forces and how they can be used not only to improve finances, but they also apply to other areas of life.

When given consistent effort, some things will compound over time, like interest on money or the growth of a network. If we can identify these things, then we can give them small amounts of consistent effort to see amazing growth over the long term.

On the other hand, leverage can be used to amplify your efforts for outsized returns. In finances, leverage usually means taking on debt to acquire assets. When done right, the assets bring in more dollars than the debt takes out.

Compound plays the long game and trusts that what you put in will build upon itself.

Leverage amplifies your efforts to turn little resources into big value.

Consider the following ways you can put these forces to work for you:

Compound

  • Business- Identify and complete 1 to 3 top tasks each day. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve done in a year.
  • Relationships - Take some time each day to reach out to friends or family. Consistent bits of time devoted to your relationships go a long way.
  • Network - Talk to new people and grow your network a little each week. The more it grows the easier it grows.
  • Money - Put some of each paycheck toward compound investments. At least put it into a high-yield savings account!
  • Health - Brush your teeth twice a day. Floss. Get enough sleep. Eat balanced, normal-sized portions. Exercise a couple times a week. You’ll be superhuman in a year.

Leverage

  • Business - Spend the time to automate routine tasks. Use templates. Create process automations. Delegate when appropriate.
  • Relationships - Leverage other assets for growth in your relationships. Spend lavishly on a loved one to get them a meaningful gift. Use your time to write a heartfelt letter to a friend. Share your skills to help your family.
  • Network - Use your network to bring others into your network. Leverage events like conferences to find like-minded people who are also interested in finding you!
  • Money - Take on a loan to buy an asset that pays for the loan and then some. The loan lets you buy an asset larger than you could afford on your own, increasing your net worth as debt is paid off. Leveraging money is risky, so be smart and don’t over-leverage. Have some reserves to get you out of a pickle if needed.
  • Health - Use your doctor! Leverage their years of medical knowledge to better understand your specific health situation.

What other ways are you using compound and leverage? I’m very curious to know!

I’m worried about my blog undergoing a LinkedInification. A lot of my recent posts have been good candidates to cross post on LinkedIn, but when I’m cross posting there I feel the tug to tweak my style for better “engagement”.

I don’t want that to drive what I write or how I write, so I’m keeping an eye on it. I kinda like the idea of writing a full post on the blog, and then throwing a shorter summary version on LinkedIn, but that sounds like too much work. I’ll have to give it some more thought.

Happy Mother’s day to all the moms!

Whether working or not, you matter. So thank you for all you do. ❀️

I’ve been blessed with an amazing mom and now I’m married to an amazing mom, so I’ve experienced the profound impact a good mom can have. Don’t forget to thank a mom today!

NASA's First Agile Technical Interchange Meeting

Yesterday was NASA’s very first Agile Technical Interchange Meeting! NASA is becoming agile πŸš€πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈπŸ’¨

I learned how Agile is applied outside of my discipline, web software, to improve how we build hardware and integrated systems, particularly in the systems engineering discipline.

Here are some ✨highlights✨ of NASA’s agile journey:

πŸ’™ Agile = respect. Tears were shed during a cybersecurity team’s transition to SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework). Years of pent-up frustration and pain came out as the team realized how unseen they felt due to working in a very reactive manner, with requests coming in all over the place and no visibility into what they were accomplishing. Now their capacity is clearly understood by their customers and their leadership, and they are delivering more and happier than ever before.

✈ Architecture affects agility. A team rearchitected their software to leverage microservices for coordinating drone traffic in lower-atmosphere urban air space. The architecture change has allowed them to be much more agile in how they deploy software.

🌐 NASA does open-source!? I heard from the OpenMDAO team about how they are building open-source software from NASA, and how adapting an agile mindset has allowed them to respond and work with the open-source community.

πŸ”¬ An agile mindset helps deliver valuable research. Much research happens at NASA, and adopting an agile mindset/approach is helping researchers think about how they deliver value with their research. This approach is not taught in doctorate programs, so it was fascinating to see the melding of these concepts and how important it is that NASA is thoughtful about what value our research products can deliver!

We have a ways to go, but we’re on our way! I’m looking forward to staying connected with this community and seeing what else can be done with an agile mindset at NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration!

Photo credit: Jackelynne Silva-Martinez, PhD

Jake sitting with other nasa agile practitioners in a conference room

The team at Snipd is coming up with some great AI use cases for podcasts. I enjoy interview/discussion style podcasts, so I’m usually more interested in the guest than the podcast host. This new guest feature is going to be awesome!

Releasing: Podcast Guests ✨

On the latest version of the app, you can now:

πŸ‘± View a guest’s name, bio & picture
πŸŽ™οΈ Explore more episodes with the same guest
πŸ‘£ Follow your favorite guests
πŸ” Discover similar guests

Luis von ahn guest page on snipd

Enjoying a local park before church

Concrete pathway leading to a picnic table on a peninsula surrounded by waterA goose perched atop a rock

Now 2024-05-05

Also available on my /now page

Read More β†’

Introducing Fed Meetup

Now that we are out of the pandemic, federal travel is back in full swing. Federal employees are flying cross-country to get together and meet on various topics to do their work more effectively. I see this, especially at my organization, NASA. Just this winter I flew out to Kennedy Space Center for the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance Face-to-Face with more than 50 other colleagues to talk about where the organization is going and to do workshops together. We do these twice a year.

Read More β†’

I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve saved by muting them when they unintentionally had their mics open on a call with 100+ participants. I just muted someone who accidentally interrupted a large meeting talking about a fly that had gotten into their house πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ

Not all heroes wear capes…