Sunday, May 20, 2018

Something to Say (But No Time to Say It)


This is technically a “Nothing to Say” post, except that I don’t have nothing to say, so it’s also not really.  But, then, the “Nothing to Say” posts have always been among the most paradoxical posts in a huge sea of paradox, so no huge surprise there.  You could start with the last post in the series and work backwards from the internal links, or you could just go check out the series listing for ”the informals” and get links to them all.

The main point of the posts in this series is to do a bit of a retrospective on the Blog So Far—how many posts, how many words, that sort of thing.  Typically I do them whenever I can’t think of any other good topics, not when I just ran out of time.  However, this time I really did just run out of time: I’m attending another YAPC this year (yes, yes, technically they’ve changed the name to “The Perl Conference,” but it’ll always be “YAPC” to me), and, for the second time ever, I’m presenting a talk.  So I’m mildly stressed about it, because I radically overprepare for these sorts of things (which is amusing, as I’m terribly disorganized in nearly every other aspect of my life).  Preparation is the way I overcome stagefright: when people ask me if I’m nervous when presenting a talk, the answer always depends on how much I’ve prepared for it.  With little to no prep, I’m nervous as hell.  But my typical procedure is to write an outline, and then create slides or somesuch, and then write speaker’s notes, and then practice it over and over again (often in the shower), until I know it all cold.  And then I’m not nervous at all.  So I’m right in the midst of doing all that, and feeling like I’m running a bit behind (the talk is only about a month away, and I haven’t finished all my notes yet), and, while I do have a couple of topics worked out that I’d love to present, I just don’t have the time this weekend.  So I’m cheating a bit in calling this a “Nothing to Say” post. But it’s definitely a “Blog So Far” post, because I can do that fairly quickly and it’ll still be somewhat informative, without taking up a ton of my time.

How I usually start one of these posts is by checking the control panel of my blog.  Today it tells me that I have 423 total posts, from the first post (March 28th, 2010) through last week (May 13th, 2018), which is 425 weeks (if you count both endpoints, which you have to, because there’s a blog post at either end).  Assuming my date math is right, of course ... which, considering my upcoming talk is all about date math, it damned well better be.

(For those who are familiar with my Perl work and know of my Date::Easy module, this is the code to get that answer:
perl -MDate::Easy -le 'print( (date("5/13/2018")->epoch - date("3/28/2010")->epoch) / 86_400 / 7 + 1 )'

Which is really not as easy as it should be.  I’d like to add subtracting two dates—properly!—to the module before YAPC next month, but we’ll see how my time holds out.)

So, how many of those posts should count as actual posts is always up for debate.  The first thing we should subtract this time around are the “series listing” posts, which are categorized as “crosslinks.”  They super don’t count as weekly posts, because I did them all at once, not one per week.  So that leaves 415 posts in 425 weeks, which means I’ve missed 10 weeks in a little over 8 years.  Not awesome perhaps, but not particularly tragic either.

Then we have 55 posts on my Other Blog, but they totally count.  There are 38 interstitial posts, and they really shouldn’t count.  And there are 77 partial posts, which I last time tried to count as ⅓ of a post each (on the grounds that my normal posts average about 1,500 words and my partial posts are closer to 500).  Which is mildly odd math, but, if we roll with it, that puts us at just under 334 posts across 425 weeks, which is roughly a whole post every 9 days, so that’s still respectable, I’d say.

When it comes to words, I don’t do rough word counts any more.  I wrote a script a long time ago that I keep revising: it sucks in the whole blog post file, splits the text on three things—whitespace, pipe symbols (which I use to format links), and double-hyphens, which my posting script turns into proper em-dashes—filters out anything that doesn’t have any letters in it, throws out any formatting symbols I use that do have letters in them (e.g. “h1.” or ”{img}” or ”~~CENTER~~”), then counts the results.  And then I start removing things and recounting, so that I effectively subtract out certain kinds of words that I feel shouldn’t count towards my final word count.  The things I throw out are:

  • “type” lines: These are lines at the very top of my post that tell my formatting script which blog they’re destined for, possibly the name of the post, etc.
  • block quotes: If I’m quoting a long passage of text from someone else, that should hardly count towards my word count, right?
  • links: Meaning the actual URLs themselves, not the words you click on (those still count).
  • footnotes: This one is a bit more controversial, but I figure you can choose to skip over the footnotes if you like, and, assuming you do, then I shouldn’t count them in my total words.
  • code blocks: Sure, I wrote them (usually), but code is not words in the traditional sense, and it often artifically inflates word count (e.g. ”$d” shouldn’t really count as a “word”).
  • fine print: By which I mean those disclaimer-y things at the tops of my posts, like “this is part of a series” and “don’t count on the next part of the series being next week” and so on.  A lot of that is reused boilerplate, and, while I did have to write it once, I don’t feel like it’s fair to count it for every post.

So, according to this script, if I suck in every post in the “published” directory and every post in the “novel” directory, I come up with this:
total words          551189
- in links           3645
- in blockquotes     64602
- in footnotes       19457
- in code blocks     6128
- in fine print      5568
net words            451789

That’s around half a million words, even discounting as much as I do.  (I suspect there’s a few more posts somewhere that I’m not including, but I seriously doubt it could be more than 50 thousand words’ worth.)  About 20 thousand words just in footnotes (I thought it’d be higher, actually), and over 60 thousand that I’m quoting of other people’s words (of course, some of that is quoting myself, and some of it may be just for formatting purposes, like poetry or whatnot).  Still, a perfectly reasonable total, I think.  I have no complaints.

This post itself is a bit light, but not so much that I’ll mark it as “partial,” I don’t think.  I’m already over 1,100 words (final count, after editing, and adding this not-quite-a-footnote: 1,330).  And that’s good, because, despite the lack of time this weekend, I really don’t want to fail to deliver on my new blog schedule.  I already feel a bit lame for dropping back to half as many posts as I was making.  If I can’t even maintain that level, I really will feel a failure.  So this week I’m cheating a bit by doing a topic I can pound out very quickly, but I think it still qualifies as a full post ... even if mildly short on really interesting topics.  But celebrating half a million words spewed forth into the void of the Internet is not nothing, even though it may not particualrly impress you, dear reader.  But, as always, I can but point out that you really shouldn’t be reading this blog anyway.

See you next week.