ordering my brain with ruby

My brain is chaos. I have so many things to do, so many things to remember, so many time critical moments; it’s an unfortunate fact that things get missed.

Life’s like juggling kittens.. that have been set on fire.

I need a way to order my brain. And I want to do it in Ruby.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in finding the work/life/lego balance hard to achieve. I’ve looked at all sorts of tools to arrange my brain - read books, installed software, dumped everything in one convenient bucket labelled “To Be Sorted”. Great way to feel you’re doing stuff when you’re not doing stuff.

I don’t think there is one tool or process that can cover all bases. We all have a massive range when it comes to the kind of detail we need to deal with. Some things are microscopic, others very general. Some are time/space/money critical, some are just nice-to-haves.

Often I find myself with some golden hammer application, that works for a certain set of tasks or bits of data but slowly gets munged into performing tasks it’s ill-suited for. A classic example is the todo list that becomes a project management tool - or even the reverse, where a complex system is made to fit a simple job. Help-desk applications become CRM systems. And so on.

Part of the problem is that many of these systems have just enough to perform some of the functions of other systems, albeit is a slightly brain-damaged way. The other part of the problem is that once stuck using any system it’s hard for us to break habits and try something new - even if it may make things orders of magnitude easier.

I blame UML (but I blame UML for a lot of things).

I know a guy who arranges his life using Perl scripts. Really intriguing concept; he palms off a lot of the things you and I struggle with - stuff he has to do, important dates, things he’s borrowed or lent to people, etc, building web site - to bunches of code. If you have any dealings with him sooner or later you’re going to get some automatic email letting you know for example, that you still have that book he lent you.

It’s kind of beautiful. Never do I feel like I’ve just been instructed by a robot - the sense of the person is embodied in the scripts he uses to extended himself. The language in his messages are polite, and respectful. And not demanding or abrasive. Much like the man himself.

Side note: if you’re reading this RW, let me know if I’ve misrepresented you.

I’m not privy to the codebase. I’m not sure if I’d want to be, as reading Perl makes me giddy and sick. Ruby’s my fave and Ruby’s where I’ll stay. Yes, possibly even if something better comes along.

To explain: I’m a manager of sorts. I don’t code commercially any more - not much at least. My opportunities for learning new programming languages are limited. Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to get my hands dirty with code again, but right now I’m learning different stuff. Ruby is my COBOL.

But I still spend a lot of my in and out of servers, pulling data out of databases, tweaking apps. When I need to remember stuff I waste time jumping out to a web app, or even writing stuff down on paper. I’m at the keyboard, in a shell, and I just want to go ‘argh, remember this’ and the computer does it.

I don’t know where the ‘argh’ came from just then. Argh like a pirate argh? Argh, I can’t believe I just did that. Argh, argh. OK, I’m having one of those moments where a word stops having meaning from being repeated too often. Argh. The Urban Dictionary has a reasonable definition:

argh N. Used to describe a feeling of frustration or confusion. Often used for school work or trying to understand someone’s lack of words. It’s simple and straightforward.”

Argh, that’s right on the mark. Welcome to Project Argh.

Future Post - TODO: find a todo list tool


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