I should have gone to sleep an hour ago so I can get up early and do morning Aikido. I was lying down and trying to sleep, but I could not sleep because I'm way too excited. What am I so excited about? I'm excited about going to work in the morning.
Yeah, I got it bad. So since I can't sleep, let me explain a little of what's been going on with Humanized lately.
We moved into a real office space, in a converted factory building on Ravenswood and Wilson, near the Brown Line. We're out of Andrew's apartment for good! Yay! It's within walking distance from my apartment, and it makes it feel much more like we are a real company. I've got my own desk now (thanks to IKEA) and a big flatscreen monitor. I feel much more productive now. The air conditioner is really loud and there is a pervasive smell of varnish from the newly-varnished floor, but these annoyances will be solved in time.
These are something Aza's dad invented. They're cardboard cubes about a foot across, with cleverly designed protrusions which make any face of any cube able to interlock with any face of another cube. So they're like Legos but they'll stack in any direction, not just up. Aza suggested using them to make partitions in the office space, so instead of cubicle walls we can all have customized cardboard forts. I am excited about this idea. Aza called up several cardboard manufacturing companies and got quotes for the price of making 1,000 of these things. One company sent a salesman over with samples and when he saw how the flat pieces we told him to make fold up to make finished bloxes and how they fit together, he got really excited, like this is the most exciting thing he's ever seen anybody do with cardboard.
A couple weeks ago I interviewed our first contestant. This was the first time I've ever been on the other side of a job interview. Made me feel like I'm a grown-up or something. I'm not going to tell you the name of the guy or how the interview went cuz that's private, and anyway we're going to have to interview a few more people before we make a decision. I will tell you that when the interviewee sat in front of my computer, the first thing he did was reach for the Caps Lock key to see if Enso was there, and as I watched him go I realized he's better at using Enso than I am. He's figured out how to use it to speed up his daily tasks greatly, he says he can't live without it anymore and that's why he wants to work for us. Isn't that cool?
The rest of the company made a trip to Sweden to negotiate with this Swedish company that wants us to do work for them. Humanized is not a consulting company, and this isn't a consulting job -- it's more like, they're going to pay us to create software which we've been really wanting to create all along anyway, and then customize it to their purposes. But I'm very excited about working on this thing. It's such a huge leap forward from what we've done so far. If we can make it work according to our vision I think it's really going to change the way people interact with computers.
Also, my friends brought back all kinds of weird Swedish candy bars with names like "Plopp" and "Japp" and "Viol". Huzzah!
I'm going to Lithuania next month to give a presentation at the European Python programmer's conference (this is a definite thing now -- my proposal was officially accepted). I'm going to talk about the "autocomplete" upgrade I've been making to Enso, which is the main thing I've been working on since the middle of April.
This is a major upgrade which is going to make the interface vastly more efficient and make all our users a lot happier. To make it work has been a major challenge which required solving all sorts of algorithmic problems in order to make the performance acceptable. I found a worst-case scenario where the memory requirements of the old algorithm would be O(n!) and I came up with a hack that got it down to O(n). I'm quite proud of that. (If you don't know what O(n!) is, all you need to know is that that's pronounced "Big-O of N factorial" and it's the comp-sci equivalent of finding out you have AIDS.) Anyway it's cool to be working on old-skool speed-junkie C-programming stuff instead of battling APIs all the time.
on Friday and Saturday. I call him "Starman" because I don't think I should be revealing his secret identity, but he is a world-famous billionaire and international business owner, and he flew to Chicago in his private jet and took us all to Charlie Trotter's, which is like the fanciest restaurant in the world or something, with a six-month waiting list; the bill for dinner had four digits left of the decimal point. I had to wear a suit jacket and tie. There were flavors in this meal that I have never tasted before and will probably never taste again.
But fancy dinner isn't the important part: the important part is that the meeting went very well. Starman was impressed with our ideas and we were impressed with Starman's ideas, and I think we are probably going to have a deal, and this deal has the possibility of reshaping the face of human-machine interaction for millions of people. I'm reeling with the possibilities. The meeting was two days of nonstop mind-expanding intellectual discourse. It was so mentally taxing that it made me physically exhausted for a couple of days; I had to sleep it off as if I had climbed a mountain or something. Starman said it was the most fun he had had all year.
A side effect of all this is that I don't think I am ever going to be seriously intimidated by any social situation ever again.
The Black Library of Interface Design exists in hyperspace, and is a repository of all the UI knowledge of several highly advanced alien races. Its bookshelves are arranged in a nine-dimensional lattice. Each book, though it appears to be printed on normal paper, is fully interactive and contains working demos of exciting new UI concepts that move around and do stuff when you touch the paper.
The robed, hooded Keepers of the Library do many maintenance tasks, but their ultimate goal is to discover the lost knowledge of how to synthesize a certain chemical element (which is not on the periodic table known to our science, as it is made of different quarks). They get a lot of book donations from various aliens who stop at the Library, but most of the book donations turn out to be duplicates, or worthless.
The books and everything else in the Library run off of power which is beamed into hyperspace by two competing super-advanced races. This power is produced as a by-product of their industrial processes. They are in effect subsidizing the Library. What's their motive for doing so? Well, it turns out that a lot of the books in the Library contain unbelievably powerful forms of alien viral marketing. Their viral marketing is so powerful that it can be considered a form of self-propogating artificial intelligence. If a primitive species like humanity were to use one of the interfaces from the Library which contained one of these viral marketing schemes, the interface would quickly begin duplicating itself and systematically transform our entire civilization into a copy of the alien culture that created it. That's why they want us to use their stuff. The thing is, their interfaces are so good that it might still be in our interest to accept the price of assimilation.
In a completely unrelated dream on a different night, I dreamed that Richard Stallman tried to kiss me. Terrifying!
Well, yet another weekend come and gone with no time to draw, as Saturday was an all-day business meeting and Sunday was all day out in the suburbs with the family for Father's Day. I wouldn't want to pass either of these things up. But that's the problem: every day of every weekend there is something happening that I don't want to pass up. Last weekend was a trip down to Hyde Park to see Cat's graduation and help her move and then back up here for Sunday morning to do Aikido and then host a gaming event at my apartment that I had promised to do. Weekend before that was an OLPC hack-a-thon and a trip to the suburbs to grill and eat cicadas for Japanese public TV. Next weekend I'm giving a presentation at another hacker thing called BAR Camp. Every. Single. Day. Of. Every. Single. Weekend. And it's out of the question to get anything much done during the week besides Humanized and Aikido.
I'm very happy with the direction my life is going right now, with the single exception that I don't have time to work on my comic. Or this website. Or any of the side projects which are various things I promised to do for other people: like that group portrait of the animekai, or contributing to OLPC software development, or the toybox program, or visiting Boston, or making the e-commerce website for World Domination LLC.
I feel like a total flake because I said I would do all these things but I haven't done any of them. I literally do not have time to do anything except work for Humanized, a little bit of Aikido, biological upkeep and minimal housekeeping, and the bare minimum of interaction with friends and family to keep my human relationships from atrophying into nothing. For instance, Tuesday night I was working from 9 am until after midnight. Tonight I have to go to bed in ten minutes in order to get up in time to go to Aikido class before work tomorrow because I know I'm not going to have time to go after work.
I really really need some time to decompress after a recent two-day business meeting (started Friday morning, finished Saturday evening), to absorb and digest the staggering array of ideas and possibilities that were brought up. I desperately need time to breathe and decompress and process all the crazy stuff that's been going on for the past couple of months, and to weblog about it ( this is important for me; it helps me parse experiences and get them out of my short-term memory to free it up for other stuff ). But I look ahead on my Google calendar and it's like, well, I have a couple of days in August that haven't been booked yet.
Humanized is starting to take off in some really exciting directions, which I would love to tell you about, once I have time to write about them, so maybe in September. So I don't begrudge this job at all. I could be working saner hours for more money elsewhere, but I don't want to.
I'm just frustrated. I got my invitation for the Hackers conference this year, which reminds me that it's coming up in a few months, which reminds me that the year is half over now, but this comic which I wanted to be weekly has only achieved 21 strips.
What do you think I should do?