Elements of Narrative Improv

This post provides a paraphrased summary of the elements of Narrative Improv as laid out by Parallelogramophonograph or "Pgraph" in their excellent little book, "Do It Now: Essays on Narrative Improv."

Narrative Improv is a form of improvised theatre in which the group creates a full-length play that result in a more-or-less coherent story that runs all the way from "once upon a time" through to the "happily ever after" (or not so happily, if you like).  It's a flexible form that stands in contrast to both highly structured forms like the Armando or Harold, and to the unstructured "montage" improv of somewhat-connected scenes with once-off characters.

I recently took a class on Narrative Improv with Neil Curran of Lower The Tone (based in Dublin, Ireland), and our group "The Players" has been doing some shows. You'll want to do such a class or buy the book to follow the rest of the post as a handy reminder. What follo…

Cutting down on clutter with the Outbox Method

We are only human, descendants of Homo Habilis the tool user, and we get emotionally attached to our tools and memorabilia, loath to discard anything that has use or value or recalls memories.  In time this causes clutter as we acquire more durable goods than we donate, recycle or discard.  When I chose to move from Cape Town to Ireland, I also desired to strip away clutter and start afresh with only things I would actually use, plus a few sentimental or beautiful items.  In the process, I've refined a trivially simple but effective method to cut down clutter and prevent accumulation sometimes called the Outbox Method.

Taking notes in a notebook made from trees

A few weeks ago I started a new job that calls for a lot of training, and I chose to take notes using a dead-tree notebook instead of a notebook computer (gasp!).  The notebook itself was conference swag dating from 2011, and happened to be a a Moleskine Ruled Soft Notebook Large (13x21cm, 192 pages). I have since grown fond of it and finished the last page today. Yesterday I bought another despite the disturbingly high price per page (on Amazon it's about 30% less and still pricey).

Review and summary of "The Blue Zones"

The book is titled "The Blue Zones: Lessons for living longer from the people who've lived the
longest" by Dan Buettner.  The big idea is that some parts of the world have significantly more people living to 100 years old than the global average, so let's see what's different or notable about how them and their ways of living, because maybe there's something to learn from them.  There's a smattering of input from scientists at the beginning and end of the book, but the bulk of the content is personal observations, anecdotes from centenarians, and travelogue of Buettner's "Blue Zone Quest".

Warning: "look at the successful people" is a common approach popularised by the "get rich" sub-genre of self-help books. But what the approach finds is possibly-spurious correlations.  For example, Dan observed that several centenarians are fond of an evening glass of red wine , or port, or saki - but it is a massive jump from observin…

Summary of Time Management for System Administrators

This post summarises and reviews the book "Time Management for System Administrators" (companion site: Everything Sysadmin) by Thomas A. Limoncelli.   My role increasingly includes systems to administer, which means more interruptions taking away from development projects, so hopefully this will be useful.

MemSQL's recipe for a SQL database that's as fast as memcached

This post summarises the points I found interesting in the longer High Scalability post entitled "MemSQL Architecture - The Fast (MVCC, InMem, LockFree, CodeGen) And Familiar (SQL)" that gives an overview of the architecture of MemSQL, which is a SQL database reinvented for 21st-century hardware.  MemSQL's developers claim it to be the fastest database in the world, or at least so fast that you won't benefit from memcached, thus simplifying your app architecture.

A comparison of file synchronisation software

This is my biased comparison of the following free software for local file
synchronisation: FreeFileSync, SyncToy, Create Synchronicity, cwRsync, WinRoboCopy, Unison, DirSyncPro and Synkron.

TL;DR: FreeFileSync is the best of the bunch, especially for two-way sync.

Given uncapped internet and money to spare, Dropbox would be an excellent all-round solution that puts your files on every computer you use and keeps them all in sync, and lets you recover deleted files.    I also use Google Drive for for document storage: word processing, spreadsheets and PDFs.   However, for those of us with multiple computers, need for backups, and caps on our home internet connection, there remains a requirement for offline software to synchronise camera photos, videos and other large files.