Ben Crowder


Links #18

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Weeknotes #6

  • After a week or two of wearing wrist guards, I’m pleased to report that the tendinitis has faded a bit. I still have to be careful whenever I’m working or holding my rock of a phone (which I can’t wait to replace with a lighter phone at the next opportunity).
  • I’ve implemented the BVH on my ray tracer for class, though there are still a couple of elusive bugs. (Roughly a third of my time on it so far has been me vs. the Rust borrow checker. And yet my level of frustration with it remains mild. My subconscious remembers that memory leaks are worse, I guess?)
  • Lately I’ve realized I’ve been letting myself get distracted by other projects and need to put school first more often.
  • Art’s on hold for now. I fully realize I may renege on that by next week’s post, but I’m hoping I don’t. This week brought the epiphany that making this kind of minimalist art has been changing my brain, and I’m not sure I like the change. I think the pieces themselves are good, sure. But always thinking about how to reducing gospel principles and events to minimal geometric shapes still ends up being a reduction. I feel it as a well-worn groove in my brain, one I’d like to escape for a long while — to be able to think about the gospel without my brain automatically attempting to geometrize the heck out of it.
  • Almost time to start editing the novel! Further mulling on the method has me sandwiched in the middle: not intensive, but also more than just a lightweight pass for typos. Now that I’m distanced a bit from the first draft, I can see the story more clearly — threads that need to be tied together, supernumerary characters to be eliminated, several ways to tighten the story and bring in more meaning. Exciting. Still, since I hope to get this book out this year, my goal is to find the minimal set of structural changes that get it to a level where I won’t be embarrassed to publish it.
  • Haven’t started writing any of the stories, but I continue to water the ideas each day. I wish I’d started doing this years ago. Depending on how long the novel editing takes, this also may end up being the semester where I just cultivate ideas and don’t actually write any new stories. (I’d still very much like to fit that in, though.)
  • Our area is starting weekly church meetings again, with sacrament meeting both in-person and virtual, and a virtual second-hour meeting to boot. The Covid numbers in Utah seem to be sprinting uphill again, though, so we’ll see how long the in-person part lasts.
  • Should I include what I’ve been reading? Sure, let’s try it, though weekly may be too short of a window to be interesting (since several books will show up week to week). I’m reading The Dream Machine (early computing history), which is so long but so good. This week I began Arthur’s Britain, an exploration of the historical evidence for King Arthur. Old Latin and Welsh and loads of early British history and I’m in heaven. I’m also trudging through Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates, which is a little less engaging than I’d hoped, but I’m not giving up on it because a) I probably just need to spend more time in it rather than a page or two here and there, and b) I’m trying to build up my knowledge of the Greco-Roman classics (and older books in general).
  • Fiction-wise, I’m reading The Poppy War and adore it so far. I’m also a third of the way through Pact and will likely continue to report that for several weeks hence because it is so very long (four thousand pages). Still enjoying it, though.
  • Post mortem: I don’t know whether these reading paragraphs were boring for y’all, but I like talking about books and this was fun, so I’m going to keep doing it. Reader beware!

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Links #17

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I ended up tweaking my Vim syntax highlighting earlier this week (after my first post), to be more in line with what Ben had posted. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far (with the disclaimer that all of this code is internal and wasn’t written with the expectation that it would ever be seen by anyone else) (and I’m also still fairly new at writing Go and Rust):


And some Rust, Go, and HTML:


These are certainly more soothing to my eyes, which was something I didn’t realize I needed. While these aren’t perfect in the least — with enough variation between languages to look almost like entirely different color themes, though I think I see that as a feature and not a bug — I’m happy with the tweaks for now and plan to stick with them.

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Links #16

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Over the weekend I read Ben Kuhn’s post on syntax highlighting and thought the idea sounded intriguing, so I tried it out.

Here’s what I had before (and let me add that I was tweaking my Vim colors a few days before this, so this wasn’t technically my normal setup) (and let me further add that this is fairly old code and not anything particular exciting):


And after, where comments are bold and brighter than the rest of the dim code:


Hmm. This isn’t a perfect implementation of the idea in the least, but even so, I don’t know that I like having comments so predominant.

This does, however, give me several ideas for modifying my existing color scheme (or starting from scratch, which is feeling a bit more likely right now). Something more soothing, less garish. And still some way to make comments stand out more — italics or a somewhat brighter color, probably. (Sidenote: nvim-treesitter has caught my interest.)

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Lately I’ve been thinking about this Sam Altman quote on focus:

Focus is a force multiplier on work.

Almost everyone I’ve ever met would be well-served by spending more time thinking about what to focus on. It is much more important to work on the right thing than it is to work many hours. Most people waste most of their time on stuff that doesn’t matter.

Once you have figured out what to do, be unstoppable about getting your small handful of priorities accomplished quickly. I have yet to meet a slow-moving person who is very successful.

Still mulling it over. (I like it, just figuring out whether/how to apply it to myself.)

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Weeknotes #5

  • A quieter week.
  • I finished implementing transmission rays in my ray tracer for class (had to track down an elusive floating point precision bug) and have started in on the next assignment (implementing a bounding volume hierarchy and introducing jitter).
  • We had our first snow of the season but are now back in the 80s during the afternoons. I look forward to autumn.
  • I moved the projects on my site to a new work page.
  • In the recent issue of my newsletter, I said I was going to put art on the back burner for a long time. It didn’t last. And now I’m — again! — feeling like I want to shelve it. Ridiculous. (I spend an unworldly amount of time waffling back and forth on what kinds of projects I ought to be spending my time doing, and with which priorities. Does that sound fun? No. It is not. I have no problem being decisive in the other parts of my life, which makes it all the more frustrating.)
  • We’re coming up on novel editing time. I’ve been jotting down thoughts on how to improve the book. The main question in my mind right now is whether I should a) do a relatively light edit mainly focusing on language, with the aim to finish this one, get it out the door, and learn more from writing the next novel or b) toil away at this one for several months until it’s as polished as I can get it. I see the advantages of both.
  • With the story ideas, I’ve gotten one to the point that I’m almost ready to start writing it. I’ve started planning the next novel, too. In yet another example today of egregious waffling, I haven’t yet decided how in-depth I’ll outline these pieces before I begin the writing. And in a final (for this post) attempt to find a silver lining in said waffling, I suppose one good thing about it is that I end up trying several different things instead of tunnel-visioning in on just one.

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