Polymercation aka Polymath Programmer Publication

I’m feeling restless. There’s a bunch of stuff I want to share and somehow they don’t make it here to the blog. There’s so much I want to learn, and I have the usual excuses of too little time, little motivation, little interest…

I find myself talking and writing and thinking more about software than actually coding. Much of the software work I do nowadays are quite simple… after I’ve done the heavyweight thinking that is. I think and scribble on paper a lot.

Truth be told, I feel like I’m stagnating. Which isn’t too bad if it’s restricted to only coding. I kind of miss the feeling of learning something because I’m interested and excited about it, and just because I’m learning something new.

I want to do something about it.

Newspaper printing machine
[image by Gabriela Schaufelberger]

I’m starting a newsletter. I know, I know, the last time I started a newsletter, it didn’t quite work out. The topics seem to overlap very much with the blog topics, and I felt the blog format worked better. I can easily include images and videos on the blog.

This time round, I’m treating it more like an informal lesson plan to myself. Hopefully, it’s also useful to you too.

The schedule will be about once a month. Maybe twice a month, if there’s a lot of material to cover. But 3 times a month is the maximum. I didn’t keep to the once-a-fortnight schedule the last time, so there’s no reason to believe I have the fortitude to come up with 3 newsletters in a month…

I still want to include stuff from both the arts and the sciences. Actually I’ll be covering a lot of ground. I plan to also touch on marketing, sales, and other business-related stuff (I got interested because I wanted to know more about how my employer operates). I may not write about those topics, but I can certainly provide links to people who wrote great articles on them. Psychology-related articles too, since I’m fascinated by human behaviour.

My blog seems to be stretching to cover a lot of topics, even if they circle around mathematics and programming. Am I setting myself up for failure by creating a newsletter that’s even broader in scope? I don’t know.

Right now, I have 2 main goals. Be curious, and to make the world a better place. With the rise of technology, and its usefulness to our lives, I believe a programmer can do much more to help.

I don’t know how as a programmer I can contribute to making the world a better place. Making better user interfaces? Creating better software so there’s less toxic emissions?

But I do know that curiosity plays a part. It’s not about “I can learn to do X when I need to do X, not before”. It’s about cultivating the habit of being curious. The moment I stop being curious, then I stop learning, and I stop trying to make a difference.

I quote:

Creative work only seems like a magic trick to people who don’t understand that it’s ultimately still work. – Merlin Mann

If you haven’t figured it out, programming is creative work. So I’m working harder on getting better at it. I’m just approaching it from all kinds of angles.

Medicine? Those machines and reports and medical records? Someone has to write software for them. Space shuttles, trajectory calculations and fuel usage? Someone has to write software for them. Traffic simulations, city modelling and urban planning. Someone has to write software for them.

I’d rather that someone be you. Sure, I may not know much about you, but if you’re reading my blog, then you probably care about your education (not necessarily in an academic setting) and the world at large. Ok, back to the newsletter thing.

The original newsletter was named P3, as a shortening of Polymath Programmer Publication. For some reason, I really want to actually publish something. A blog doesn’t quite fill that urge. A newsletter sounds very fun. Anyway, “Polymath Programmer Publication” is too long, and P3 doesn’t quite have a characteristic distinction.

Following my portmanteau of Polymath Programmer into Polymer, you now have Polymercation, a newsletter for Polymers. The newsletter will contain content that’s separate from the blog content, a mishmash of tidbits and thought-provokers. And I want to do this together with you, because it’s as much an informal lesson for you as it is for me. The sign up form is on my blog (so if you’re reading this in a feed reader, please visit my blog).

You know the making the world a better place part? I have a problem. I can’t do it alone. I need your help. If you know anything that can help expand my education, let me know. In return, I’ll source for material to help you in your life, on your education, on your goals. Fair?

This will be an exciting journey.

Not April Fool joke

With the proliferation of humour posts on April Fool’s day, I realised that my newsletter might be taken as a joke. It’s not.

I intend to publish my newsletter on the 1st and 15th of every month. And my first issue happened to be on the first of April. It’s an unfortunate coincidence. *sigh*

So if you want interesting articles, programming related and otherwise, please subscribe to my newsletter, Polymath Programmer Publication (P3). You’ll receive new content apart from this site’s content, so it’s not like an email summary of the week’s articles. Subscription form available from the main site.

I talked about regular expressions and recommended 2 demos from the Breakpoint 2008 demoscene event in my first issue. So P3 launching on the 1st April is not a joke.

BBC’s flying penguins on the other hand…