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[Comments] (1) : Hey, I'm still here, but personal stuff and novel work are taking precedence. This is going to be the greatest novel I've ever written.

: Something interesting happened to me yesterday, and I will write about it--let's say, tomorrow--but right now I'm just going to tell you that I just reached the halfway point in my second-draft revisions for Constellation Games. I think I've reached the point in the text where I can stop totally rewriting half the scenes, and I'm going to try really hard to complete the second draft in time for next month's writing group. Depending on how it's received and what happens on the business side, you might start reading it early next year. (Assuming you want to read it--I won't make you.)

Some data points: The first draft was 96,500 words. Halfway through the second draft I'm at 112,400 words. This is due to characterization and such. I don't think I'll be adding another sixteen thousand words to the second half of the novel, but it could go up to 120k or so.

[Comments] (3) Beautiful Type: Well, my cool gallery-generation script doesn't work anymore because Maverick got rid of I stopped using F-Spot [see UPDATE below], but here are the photos from yesterday. What happened was a few days ago Mark Hansen sent me a donation for Beautiful Soup. I saw that Mark had a ucla.edu address and as a UCLA alum myself, I was curious and went to investigate. Pretty awesome guy—professor of statistics, spam poetry on his webpage. "[M]y time will be split between the Research and Development Group at the New York Times..."

So I emailed Mark and asked when he would be in New York next. He said he would be in New York starting Thursday! Okay then. Yesterday I went to the Times building (near Times Square, strangely enough) and had lunch with Mark and with Jer Thorp, in the second best corporate cafeteria I've ever eaten in, not that I've eaten in very many.

Great conversation and then a little tour of (selected floors of) the Times building, which you can see a bit of in the pictures. Don't miss the "Page One" room, a room dedicated to a single ritual, where the editors gather every day at 4 PM to decide what goes on the next day's front page.

But, you may ask, what is this picture I've embedded align="right" in this entry, this photo of me standing in front of some screens? Well, I'm looking at Movable Type, a 2007 piece of digital art by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin. It's on public display in the Times lobby. It shows a constantly changing tableau of sentences, photo captions, crossword puzzle clues, etc. from the latest edition of the NYT. And it turns out that the "custom software" mentioned in the artist's statement includes Beautiful Soup! Yes, the New York Times is using my software to scrape its own data stores for use in a work of art. I did not begin this week expecting to learn that!

[UPDATE] I should be more precise in my language, especially since I work for Canonical. Maverick did not "get rid of" F-Spot. It was moved from "main" to "universe", and replaced by Shotwell. Shotwell is much better, except that when you tell it to export photos to a directory, it exports only the photos themselves and no extra metadata or thumbnails.

[Comments] (6) : The year 2011 has the same days of the week as (for instance) the year 3431. I should be able to buy a year-3431 calendar and pretend to live in the future. I think there would be a small market for such things.

(I already pretend to live in the future, but would be easier with a little cooperation from the wall calendar.)

[Comments] (4) : On a subway platform in New York City, there's a wide variety of ads. Lots of billboards on the wall, each an ad for something different. But when you enter a subway car, the whole car is usually dedicated to a single kind of ad. Why are platform ads sold differently than car ads?

(This only changed recently. A few years ago, all cars featured variety in their ads. Now almost all cars are dedicated to a single type of ad, which means you encounter Dr. Zizmor less often.)

I thought about this and came up with a couple reasons. First, there are a lot more car spaces than platform spaces. Probably 500x as many car spaces. Maybe the MTA looked at their numbers and saw an individual car ad was costing more to manage than it was producing. So they started forcing advertisers to buy an entire car's worth of ads at a time.

Second: a single platform ad will have about the same effect as a whole car of car ads. People usually sit still in a subway car, but they walk along the platform when they get out. Everyone in a subway car will walk by a few platform ads on their way in and out, but within a car they will only see the ads in front of them.

And while the people are sitting down, the subway cars are moving through the stations. An ad on the subway platform will be seen by people in the facing car. So, to make sure a carload of people sees your ad, you either need to buy up the entire car's ads, or one or two of the platform ads facing that car.

I've also noticed that movies are only advertised on the platforms, and booze is only advertised in the cars. (TV shows are advertised in both places.) What's the pattern?


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