Thursday, January 03, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

These are a bit late this year, but I hadn't really come up with them before now.  I'm actually not much of a fan of New Year's Resolutions.  When I decide to do something, I do it, and don't worry about making silly promises to myself.  I'm usually pretty good at disciplining myself that way.  That said, there are a few things I intend to do this year, of various levels of difficulty.  I'll list them in order of easiest to most difficult.

  1. Finish my RedundancyChecker program.  Off and on I've been teaching myself Java.  One might think I'd already know such an important and popular language, and if I were a real programmer, rather than an Electrical Engineer who graduated just before Java became popular, that would probably be the case.  But no, I'm just learning Java now.  Of course, I do know C++, which Java was based on, so it's not really that difficult.  In the course of learning it, I've been writing a simple program called RedundancyChecker.  It's purpose is to improve my writing.  I've discovered that I have a tendency to repeat myself in my writing, using the same words and phrases repeatedly.  I usually manage to catch myself in the revision process, but I'm writing this program to give myself some computer assistance.  It searches through an RTF document, finds examples of repeated words and phrases, and highlights them.  Just today, I've got it working in loading and scanning a file, and highlighting the redundancies.  However, it doesn't allow me to edit the RTF and save it.  That's mostly because Java's RTFEditorKit is buggy, and it manages to lose smart quotes in the process of reading the file, so I'd be very reluctant to replace anything I've painstakingly written and formatted with the output from this Java program.  I suspect that I'll be spending more than a little time trying to find a workaround.  Other than that, it's mostly polishing, and adding features such as an editable common word list and adjustable phrase length and proximity parameters.  So this is almost done.
  2. Exercise more. When I started this job about a year and a half ago, I had to decide between writing and exercising, because I didn't think I had time for both.  I chose writing.  Now it's time to see if I can put some exercise back in my schedule, preferably by finding a form of exercise I can do while writing.  A treadmill or bicycle desk would be ideal.
  3. Write more consistently. I go through phases with this.  I'd like to spend at least an hour every weeknight writing.  Unfortunately, my weeks are often interrupted by things like travel, or visiting with friends, or a late night at work, or our weekly Church small group.  I can't avoid all of them (and probably shouldn't), but my plan to make up for it on the weekends keeps running into difficulties, especially when I'm supposed to make up three nights worth of writing.  But the biggest problem is not the unavoidable interruptions, but the sheer laziness that causes me to skip a night, or slack off and spend only half an hour on writing, or blog instead.  That I can help, and if I can consistently write for an hour three weeknights each week, then making up the two nights I unavoidably missed on Saturday is a lot more reasonable.

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