Links and Notes - April 10th 2021

Microsoft MakeCode is my favourite tech in a long time

I see new tech show up regularly. I see new versions of existing tech show up regularly. I harbour hopes and dreams of trying them out each time. Very rarely do those hopes materialise.

There's some saying out there whose meaning is: "You'll do it only if you are really interested. If you don't, you probably won't procrastinating. You were just not really as interested as you believed yourself to be." I don't know about the latter bit regarding procrastination, but I do believe that if you are interested in something, truly interested, nothing will stop you from trying it out.

I think I've hit that with Microsoft MakeCode. I picked it up while I was out on a trip yesterday. There was downtime where it was just me with my son. I've been talking to him about creating a game together for a while. Yesterday we decided to try it out. Within an hour, I'd already created my first game for him to play. I also took existing games, edited some variables here and there to adjust the difficulty levels and we were in business. Now that I've had my taste of this environment, I don't think I want to stop working with it. I've been addictively completing tutorial after tutorial. And I feel like I have a pretty decent grasp of most of the core possibilities made available by MakeCode.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around how amazing this tool is. I'll even put a stake down here. I've never thought of leaving Buffer. I'm still not thinking of leaving Buffer. But if Microsoft ever invited me to work remotely with them as an advocate and contributor to this platform? It'd be near impossible to say no.

The organizing of the projects section is almost complete

Spent some time today organizing the projects section of the site. This is related to the post I made on April 5th. The work is almost complete here. At this point, no more posts tagged with project-logs exist. They've all been transferred to project-blogs. That said, I did encounter a few interesting posts where I had made one off explorations into a particular topic. These logs didn't fit into any particular project. In fact, they made for good "log" style notes. After some thinking, I shifted it off to the standard blog. Tis my site. I shall organize whichever way I want to.

I have a pending item of cleaning up the routes.yaml file in ghost and closing off the paths off. I'll also need to remove reference to it from the Projects page. And finally, I need to add Projects to the home page.

Still pending as a decision is whether or not I want to use Projects for just my technical work or if I should include non technical stuff as well.

Story telling and speeches

Just completed a call with the toastmaster I mentioned my wife and I had been mentoring ahead of the Toastmasters competitions. We are now well into the practice for the divisional level so today all of us spent time massaging the speech into being more impactful.

The whole time we were working on it, I kept asking myself, "how good is the story?". The mentee, our friend, is giving a speech of leaning on others and accepting their help when stuck. After the Area level contest, one element that was key to improve was the opening. The whole process of improving the opening, tying it to the end of the main body, and bringing the speech to its conclusion found me working mental muscles I haven't used in a long time.

There are so many questions to answer when crafting a good story to be told as a speech. I shared the idea with my friend that a speech is far more than just well written words. Relying on just writing is like drawing a house in a single flat dimension. You can make it as detailed and pretty as you want, but it's still a single dimension. You bring in other elements, perspective, lighting, composition, and suddenly you'll have a more interesting piece of art even if it's not as detailed as the flat one. That's what we want to do with the speech. The message while being solid, needs to be augmented by vocal variety. Facial expressions. Use of body. Of props. Each sentence is an opportunity to ask "is there another dimension I can show or enhance this through?". But that's not all of it even. There's contrast you want to have in the story; how strong do you want opposing elements to be in order to strengthen the primary message. Can you risk more exposition? Are you showing? Telling?

There's a reason I used to love Toastmasters so much. If you are truly into it, speech crafting offers a world of depth and problem solving that you can end up spending days on just to create a single speech.

This blog doesn't have a comment box. But I'd love to hear any thoughts y'all might have. Send them to [email protected]

Previous links and notes (April 9th)

Next links and notes (April 11th)

Posted on April 10 2021 by Adnan Issadeen