Sabbatical Update, Week 3: Grok TiddlyWiki Updates

5 minute read

I can hardly believe it has only been 3 weeks since I left my job at Federated Insurance. These weeks have been packed full and felt very long – which is great.

It's also been extremely refreshing and a rare luxury in today's world to be able to focus on one thing at a time and have nobody else competing for my attention. Things that seem long and complicated like “publish a new version of the book” actually happen in a week of six-to-eight-hour days spent on it. 40 hours is a long time when you actually put in 40 hours on the project in a 40-hour week, rather than 10 hours of work, 10 hours of meetings, 10 hours of unscheduled urgent problems, and 10 hours of getting distracted or bothered by people who didn't need to bother you. The hours go way further in this work configuration.

With that in mind, let's talk about what happened!

If you're currently on Control-Alt-Backspace, you can read this post on Soren's Zettelkasten.



  • GettingThingsDone by MrDavidAllen – I read this once before in 2018 or so, and for a while I had a pretty solid GTD system going. Then the pandemic came and I stopped doing all of the routines. As usual, I've also discovered a bunch of stuff I wasn't doing right or could have been doing better. So I reread the whole thing this week, and I'll be working to re-implement some parts of it over the coming weeks.

Lifetime reading progress: 1/2 books for August.

Tasks and projects completed

  • I haven't publicly released my changes to Grok TiddlyWiki yet, as version 5.2.0 of TiddlyWiki needs to be released before my new edition will be correct, but all the changes I planned to make this week are queued up and ready to go, and I'll release when TiddlyWiki does.
    • Changes include updating the text for the new features and fixes in 5.2.0, fixing a bunch of minor typos and formatting glitches, adding contextual help for new users throughout the interface, and creating a static version of the site for search engines and people on low-bandwidth connections hopping in for a moment.
  • Made my tomato sauce for 2021. This is a yearly ritual for me – an all-day canning project yielding almost two gallons of top-notch tomato sauce, enough for about a month's worth of quick pasta dinners. As a nice surprise, the high was only 72 degrees the day I did it – with peak tomato season happening in August here, usually my apartment gets boiling hot in the process.
  • Captured and clarified a lot of further to-do items, beginning with the Getting Things Done re-implementation.
  • Participated in two community calls for TiddlyWiki:
    • A general one discussing (1) a new effort to produce a file uploader, and (2) the Open Collective implementation for TiddlyWiki. Open Collective is a really neat way to fund and govern OpenSourceSoftware – check it out.
    • A more specific one in which I met with several newbies with the goal of producing some video introductions to TiddlyWiki. I'd love to provide a link, but it doesn't appear that our host has gotten around to posting it yet (it was only yesterday, so this isn't surprising).

Miscellaneous thoughts and anecdotes

  • It is almost impossible to figure out how to recycle old electronics here. Apparently you have to do the research on where to go yourself, call ahead and tell them what you're bringing, and pay a fee. Or at least, that's the best I can figure out. They sure aren't doing a good job of encouraging people to properly dispose of things given that I could just chuck them in the garbage can and nobody would notice. Because I'm a good person, I may just keep that stuff for now and hope there are more options in the city after I move.
  • I couldn't find the hair ties at Target and asked the pharmacist. He said, quote, “I don't know if Target stocks those.” There turned out to be a four-foot-wide floor-to-ceiling rack of all different kinds of hair ties – about six feet away from the pharmacy counter.
  • In 2005, a researcher found that out of 50 elementary-school teachers she spoke with at one school, not one of them could correctly explain how to find the area of a rectangle. Perhaps partly because of the mathematical incompetence of such teachers, an experiment in the 1930s found that students who didn't formally study any math at all until sixth grade performed better at the end of that year than those who had had K-6 math – and the experimental group was the poorest school in the district. To be fair, it's only one study and it's 90 years old, but it also seems hard to screw up a study badly enough to achieve a completely spurious result of “we literally just skipped 6 years of education normally considered necessary and everyone is doing better on the test,” so somebody should probably try this one again, especially given how much more early math education we've added since the 1930s.

Sorry, apparently all my miscellaneous thoughts are outrages this week. Not that I was actually outraged about the hair ties, I thought it was rather funny.

Looking ahead

Plans for next week:

  • Create a public edition of my Zettelkasten. I'm not expecting to have the edition published by the end of the week, but you never know. The meat of the system is already there because it's a mature system I use; I just need to come up with a method for pulling out the bits that other people will want to start with and write some instructions. I will at least:
    • Fix a bunch of glitches in my personal edition.
    • Create a build process that generates the edition from my personal copy.
    • Produce documentation on the basic process of Zetteling with the edition to be incorporated into the system.
    • Compile a list of any further refactoring or interface development I need to do.
  • Continue with cleanup tasks and GTD implementation.