Chad Perrin: SOB

6 November 2006

work, novel writing, and PROCRASTINATION

Filed under: Geek — apotheon @ 12:46

I’ve been working my butt off. I had to write a one time password system for a PDF download on a commercial website, have been working in off-time on The Torch and Bell, writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month, and on occasion even procrastinating.

Have a look at some of my procrastination: closeup from a screenshot

That’s a system monitoring tool called conky that I recently installed on my laptop. I decided to add a section to it for showing my novel writing word count progress, so I wrote a Perl script to handle generating percentages of total, configured conky to use the script to show percentages and a completion bar, and added in wc for showing an actual number of words.

Clearly, I hadn’t procrastinated enough, so I decided to turn the Perl script into something others could use, complete with default behaviors and command line options to override those defaults. I then wrote up some instructions on how to make my mojo work for yourself on a free unix system (Linux or *BSD, presumably). I haven’t tested it anywhere but Debian, mind you, so I don’t know how well it’ll work for other distros of Linux or other free unices. All that accomplished, anyway, I then posted it to the web, creating my NaNoWriMo Doohickeys page. Enjoy, or merely marvel at the geeky ways I waste time, if that’s your preference — you may enjoy that as well.


  1. I had a somewhat libertarian themed story bouncing in my head that I wanted to use Nanowrimo as a chance to put onto paper. Come november, I sign up for Nanowrimo, open up word and… realize the plot is unworkable.

    I’ve been too busy looking for a job procrastinating from looking for a job by playing old DOS games to write procrastinate from writing. Oh how I love thee, Settlers 2.

    You might be wasting time, but at least you started ;)

    Comment by Mina — 6 November 2006 @ 01:41

  2. Now I’m curious. What was this “unworkable” plot?

    Comment by apotheon — 6 November 2006 @ 02:53

  3. Your procrastination is awe-inspiring.

    Comment by Sterling Camden — 6 November 2006 @ 02:21

  4. Thank you!

    My procrastination has led to the release of two minor versions of wcpercent, the current being a hopefully stable minor release version. I have plans in mind for expanding the functionality of it even further (still without breaking backward-compatibility with conky configuration). I’ve also created a release notes page for wcpercent while I was at it, so you can keep track of how little novel writing I’m getting done.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 November 2006 @ 02:44

  5. Perhaps it’s not unworkable, but first!

    Utter hilarity.

    As for the plot, I was reading an article some time ago about how small a percentage of those on death row have gotten DNA testing, and some firm went into some state (forget which one now) and did testing for all of them, and a significant portion came up with DNA evidence that indicates innocence, so the governor suspended the death penalty in the state.

    Thus in my fictional world, some entrepreneur starts a lab that provides cheap, voluntary DNA testing for anyone who wants it, but mainly aimed at those facing criminal charges or the death penalty, with complete anonymity. The story starts after a costly legal battle against the state for the rights to operate. First with complete freedom, but as the story progresses the state starts heaping regulation, some out of misguided public opinion and some out of power grabbing by the state.

    These regulations are pesky at first, but soon enough require him to run his business in a way that contradicts his ethical beliefs (ending anonymity and forced testing are some ideas I had). After a particularly high profile case (maybe someone tries to shoot the president or some other cheesy occurance) the state nationalizes his lab and as it occurs to the man he created something that was completly twisted beyond it’s original design, he sets it on fire before the government can take over.

    The big impetus of state control was the desire to not let any potentially incriminating evidence not be brought to court since the lab didn’t report the results to anyone but the person being tested. But since the testing is voluntary, the big hole is why would any guilty man ever send in his samples if he just knows it’ll find him guilty?

    Comment by Mina — 6 November 2006 @ 02:45

  6. That sounds like an excellent idea for a story! It also sounds completely workable as a plot to me.

    I’m sure that many guilty men on death row would be quite willing to get tested on the off-chance their DNA wasn’t picked up at the crime scene, as even the absence of corroborating evidence can introduce uncertainty at trial. If it’s private, it’s even more worth it because at worst it will provide you with evidence of what you already know, but it won’t provide anyone else with any evidence.

    Don’t forget that there are probably people being convicted every day that are innocent of the crimes of which they’re accused. In serious cases, it would definitely be worth the expense to get DNA testing, especially if it’s private so that you get to choose for yourself whether the evidence will be introduced at trial. This sort of thing could lead to a significant drop in conviction rates, initially in local cases primarily but eventually nationwide. That’d provide interesting story material, and would also provide a lot of motivation for the US Department of (in)Justice to exert increasing control over the process, ultimately turning it into a means of increasing conviction rates.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 November 2006 @ 03:16

  7. Also, I’m not really sure forcing someone to provide proof of guilt when you’re reasonably sure they might have it is all that unethical, so that kind of throws a damper into things.

    Comment by Mina — 6 November 2006 @ 03:16

  8. Look at it this way:

    If the state wants a DNA test, they can get one — if they have enough evidence for a warrant. If the state doesn’t have a warrant, the guy shouldn’t just hand over DNA test results. Thus, ethically, he shouldn’t be turning over test results.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 November 2006 @ 03:20

  9. … and would also provide a lot of motivation for the US Department of (in)Justice to exert increasing control over the process, ultimately turning it into a means of increasing conviction rates.

    This is what I had in mind, but you put it into words for me :). Maybe I will write this after all, I’d be curious to see if I can do the story justice.

    Only six days wasted, heh.

    Comment by Mina — 6 November 2006 @ 03:45

  10. Man, you are the king of time wasting! :p

    I’m not doign NaNoWriMo this year, for obvious reasons.

    Comment by Joseph A Nagy Jr — 7 November 2006 @ 11:18

  11. I voted democrat today because it was the lesser of the five available evils.

    I feel so dirty.

    Comment by Mina — 7 November 2006 @ 09:01

  12. Joseph: Did you vote?

    Mina: We do what we have to, I suppose. A half dozen showers or so should clean you right up. It worked for me when I voted for a Democrat for the state department of education.

    Comment by apotheon — 8 November 2006 @ 01:47

  13. I wish I had, apotheon. I lost my registration card and didn’t realize I could vote with just my ID. I’m so angry at myself because an unethical State Constitutional amendment might pass (it needs to receive a supermajority to pass, and it just might get it). ):

    Comment by Joseph A Nagy Jr — 9 November 2006 @ 09:24

  14. I really like what I see of your book, if that is your book in the aterm in your screenshot of conky. yer gonna kill your eyes using aterm to write that thing ;p

    don’t give up on the book! is this the same project you were talking about a year or two ago? also, are you still gonna do the ethics book?

    Comment by Justin M. Keyes — 11 November 2006 @ 06:25

  15. Yeah, that’s the book I was writing at the time. I’ve sorta back-burnered that one in favor of another that is proving a lot easier to write quickly for NaNoWriMo this year, but the one in the screenshot is still saved and I’m still going to be writing it — just probably not this month.

    The one from the screenshot is actually a new concept that occurred to me just a week or two before November kicked off — so no, it’s not the same one I was talking about a couple years ago. I have so many books going at anyone time that I don’t even know for sure to which book you might be making reference when you say that. Sorry.

    I really am going to write that ethical theory text at some point, I swear. So far, all I’ve really done with it is some basic outlining, but every couple months I get a little more of the preplanning stuff done. It’ll just take a while at this rate, I guess. I guess what I need for that is a month-long “event” kinda like NaNoWriMo, but for outlining and researching a nonfiction book rather than for writing 50k words of a novel. While I’m at it, I need to finish my translation of the Tao Te Ching — maybe I’ll declare January my “National Text Interpretation Month” or something like that, and finally just buckle down and finish that.

    Comment by apotheon — 11 November 2006 @ 06:51

  16. Well, I’ve got the rest of my life, so I can wait.

    Comment by Justin M. Keyes — 18 November 2006 @ 01:54

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License