I’ve been doing some random reading, and came upon this dude’s personal development site. Now, I usually don’t put too much stock in things like that. Everyone’s different, I tell myself; you can’t motivate everyone using the same strategy. Feel-good reading material isn’t actually going to make a difference in my life.

And maybe it won’t.

But why not try?

One of the articles is about the tool of the 30-day trial. The idea stems from the shareware software industry: usually you get the software as a free download, and you have 30 days to try it out before you have to buy it, with no obligation to buy. (Some applications would have a timebomb that caused them to stop working after 30 days; others would rely on the honor system to hope you’d pay.)

Anyway, the idea is: you pick a well-defined task, possibly a goal for something you think you might like to make permanent, and say you’re going to do it for 30 days. After the 30 days are up, you reevaluate, and see if you want to continue. If you genuinely don’t want to continue, you stop. If you really do want to continue, or if you’re on the fence, inertia will help keep you going, as 30 days is enough to be habit-forming.

So, here it is: for the next 30 days, I will run 3 miles every other day. If I’m feeling up to it, I might push it to 3.5 or 4. Ideally, I’ll run in the gym at my apartment, but if necessary (there’s only one treadmill), I’ll run up the street and back. It’s 1.6 miles up to Sunnyvale-Saratoga along El Camino, so there and back will give me my 3 miles.

Now, we’ll see if I actually do it…


So I finally caved in and added Google Adsense ads to my website. They’re pretty non-obtrusive, and can be themed to more or less blend in with the rest of my site, so I don’t mind them all that much, especially since I can place them more or less wherever I want.

There’s one annoyance that I want to mention, though. If you’re serving pages as application/xhtml+xml to conformant browsers, Adsense won’t work in the form Google gives it to you, since XHTML-conformant renderers do not allow the Javascript document.write() method to be used on “real” XHTML documents, not to mention that the HTML iframe element used by Adsense doesn’t exist in XHTML. Fortunately, there’s a clever workaround, which is apparently approved by Google (or so I’ve read elsewhere).

Otherwise, the process was pretty painless. I don’t get all that many site visitors (and probably most people who read my blog do so via the RSS feed, which doesn’t get ads), but hopefully this will help in some small way to defray my hosting costs.

I’ll give it a couple months as a trial, and if it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it, I’ll take it down.


This is the kind of mood I’m in today. Or maybe this is. I can’t decide.

Ecological Footprint Revisited

Just an update from my post yesterday: Since I have many non-US readers, I’ll point out that the site claims that the average “ecological footprint” for people living in the US is 25. So I’m at least below average for where I live, though we have a pretty high footprint in general.

Really, I kinda think this site is mostly a silly scare tactic to get people thinking about how much they consume and impact the environment. Which is a good thing, of course, but their methods leave a bit to be desired.

According to my score (the lower of the two), if everyone lived like me, we would need 3.9 planets. Jasper lives in The Netherlands, and while their average much lower than in the US, he even overshoots it by quite a bit.

They claim that the actual per-person resource availability (on a global scale) is 1.8. That means in order to have a stable ecology, the actual worldwide average needs to be 1.8. I’ll admit that I’m not as eco-friendly as I could be, but I’m by no means a huge offender (by local standards, anyway). That means there are plenty of people “worse” than I am. If that’s truly the case, shouldn’t the planet be an uninhabitable wasteland by now?

There’s a pretty in-depth FAQ list about the footprint quiz. They seem pretty serious about pushing its accuracy, and actually claim that they’re being conservative. Since I really don’t have the time or inclination to research this properly, I can only take it with a grain of salt. If anyone is interested enough to look into it and comment here as to what all of this means and how these numbers are calculated (and why we aren’t all dead yet), I’d be curious to hear it.

Ecological Footprint

This is pretty interesting. I won’t vouch for their accuracy or objectivity, but it’s worth thinking about. For the record, my “footprint” is 24 if I include the flying I do for business (~100 hours total), or 18 if I only include personal travel (~25 hours total).

I think my lack of a commute really helps keep my mobility score down.

Getting Up On Time

As most people I know are aware, I have major issues getting up in the morning. In general, I set my alarm for anywhere between 8am and 8:45am (depending on when I go to bed), but I rarely ever get up when the alarm goes off (there are exceptions, but I’m talking about the general case here). On a normal workday, I’ll usually actually get out of bed anywhere between 9:30am and 10:30am. Now, this is mostly OK in the sense that I usually don’t need to be in the office that early, and I usually stay later than most people. However, it’s just a shitty habit, and I hate doing it. I’d set my alarm for 9:30am or 10am, but I’m afraid I’d end up snoozing and getting up 1-1.5 hours later.

So I think I’m going to try this exercise to help me get up immediately after my alarm goes off.

The idea is pretty simple: when you go to bed, you decide that you want to get up at a certain time. Presumably, before you go to bed, your conscious mind is pretty rational and coherent. However, when your alarm goes off, you’re still pretty foggy: your conscious mind is not capable of recognising that, were you in your right mind, you’d make yourself get up. So you make excuses, and carry on an internal semi-conscious dialogue which eventually convinces you “a few more minutes” won’t hurt.

So the solution is to take it out of the hands of your temporarily-impaired conscious. Condition yourself to get out of bed immediately when the alarm goes off. Make it a subconscious action. Actually teach yourself to get up when the alarm goes off, when you’re fully awake. Pick an afternoon, get in your pajamas, make the bedroom dark, as much as early-morning-ish as possible. Set the alarm clock for a few minutes in the future, and lie down, curled up in a sleeping position. When the alarm goes off, don’t think: take a deep breath, stretch your arms and legs, and get up. Then start to do whatever you’d usually do right after you get up. Then repeat this for a few hours. The idea is that, if you think at all when the alarm goes off, you’re not there yet. It needs to be an automatic, subconscious, conditioned response.

It seems a bit wacky, but I have very little to lose, and if it does work, quite a bit to gain. The one hurdle I see is that I need to make myself go to bed earlier at night. 2-3am just isn’t going to cut it. But that’s something I can handle with conscious discipline. We’ll see how it goes.

Update: There’s also this article, which I’ll need to follow in parallel, about becoming an early riser.

How Does it Work?

Best README section ever:

You can also install files into your favorite directory by supplying setup.rb some options. Try “ruby setup.rb –help”. Since we don’t really know how setup.rb works, we’ve included the English-language version of the setup usage file. Enjoy.

Ok, maybe not best ever, but amusing, nonetheless.

State of the Intersection

(Yeah, that’s a lame play on “State of the Union”. Sorry, I’m retarded.)

A few people have asked me what’s up with xfmedia, since I haven’t done any work on it in months. So I figure I’ll write a little about the various projects I’m working on.


Clearly I’ve been putting most of my effort on xfdesktop lately. The icon view refactoring and file icons stuff was a lot of work, and we’ve been trying to get 4.4.0 out for a while now. Now that we’re in beta and thus feature-frozen, I should only be doing bug fixes on xfdesktop for the next couple months or so.


Due to all the work on xfdesktop, I haven’t touched xfmedia in many months. No, I haven’t abandoned it. I intend to get back to it soon after Xfce 4.4.0 is out. Don’t hold your breath for any new great features, though. The focus of my next release is going to be mostly user-invisible: I’m refactoring the codebase to make it more maintainable and extensible, which will save me a lot of headaches and fix some long-standing issues I have. It’ll also hopefully lead to a sane, reasonably-useful plugin interface, unlike what we have now. I’ve decided that one I’m happy with the plugin interface, that’s when I’ll release xfmedia 1.0, with probably a couple RCs before that.


For the most part, I consider mailwatch finished. It does basically everything I wanted it to do, and supports all the protocols I thought would be useful. It’s remarkably stable, and I don’t think there’s much to do with it. (I’m sure someone will go and prove me wrong now.)


I intended transd as a kind of throwaway thing just to see if I could get it to work. But apparently a fair number of people have found it useful, and I’m glad. There’s one small thing I’d like to do with transd, and that’s to integrate another mode of operation that sets all inactive windows semi-transparent, and the active window opaque. I already wrote a quick-n-dirty standalone app to do this, but it couldn’t hurt to consolidate it into transd.


I haven’t touched the Xfce perl bindings in a while, but I’d like to have these polished and ready for 4.4.0. It shouldn’t be too much work, I don’t think. I need to finalise the bindings for libxfce4panel, and check over the libxfce4util and libxfcegui4 bindings, but otherwise it’s in good shape, I think. I’d also like to write a bunch of test cases for all the parts of it, but I’m not sure of the best way to do GUI test cases that fit into perl’s testing framework.


I worked on GarXfce4 before we had Benny’s awesome graphical installer, so predictably my interest in maintaining GarXfce4 has waned. It might not be a bad idea to update it for the 4.4 betas and RCs, however, since they probably won’t be packaged by many distros, and we need all the testing help we can get. We’ll see if I have time. It’s not really all that difficult to update; it’s just a little tedious.

So that’s more or less everything I’m working on. There’s another project that I don’t really want to talk about quite yet, but I’ve been devoting a good amount of energy to it in the past couple weeks, so likely that will take up some of my time as well.

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