My attempt to archive my tea collection

I’ve mentioned time and time again that I’m a big fan of tea. My current tea collection sits at somewhere around fifty different teas, and that’s not including the teas I have just one bag of, or the teas I’ve received through the NaNo tea swap that didn’t include tea names and companies. My tea drawer and cabinet both overflow with tea, along with the teas that have somehow migrated to the boyperson’s apartment.

And then there are the teas I’ve finished or have drunk only once, like in a coffee or tea shop. I want to remember my reactions to those as well.

Enter Steepster. I’ve known of Steepster for a long time but never joined because I didn’t need yet another social site in my life. That is, until January when my tea collection had finally reached the point of not remembering what I’ve consumed and what I haven’t. This is already happening for books, and I’m not as well-read as some readers out there. I knew the same problem would happen with tea if I didn’t do something.

So I signed up with Steepster. You can view my Steepster profile here. The signup process was simple, and I could immediately start editing my profile and adding teas to the my collection.

How to use Steepster

The easiest way to add a tea is to search for it, keeping in mind you’ll probably get multiple results. This is especially the case if you’re searching for a general tea name like “earl grey” or “jasmine green”. Each tea from a company has a different page on the Steepster site, which means, for example, Twinings Earl Grey and DavidsTea Earl Grey are two different teas on the Steepster site. This is good because you can distinguish between the two when reviewing them. This is not so good when you’ve received teas from tea swaps and don’t know what company the tea’s from, therefore making the archiving process more difficult. Since almost all my teas of unknown origin are from the NaNoWriMo tea swap, I asked my swap partners, but there’s a chance that they won’t remember by the time they get around to checking their messages again.

And if a certain tea isn’t already in Steepster’s site, like many of mine weren’t, you can add it. I must have added at least ten teas to the site in my quest to archive teas.

You can also review teas in what Steepster calls tasting notes: your impressions of the tea, how you prepared it, and a score. You can add a tasting note just once or every time you drink the tea. It’s up to you. I haven’t decided what exactly to do with these tasting notes or scores yet, though I did copy most of my Adagio reviews over to Steepster. Since lots of other folks use Steepster, you can see what other people think of a given tea while deciding what teas to get or whether to buy from a certain company.

The best part of Steepster is the discussion board. Here you can discuss just about anything related to tea. A few of those discussions include specific companies, what teas you received today, tea swaps to participate in, and just about anything on anyone’s mind. Like any community, there are some users more deeply involved with tea than others, but that’s okay. There’s a place for everyone to start talking and reviewing, even if you’re brand new to tea. So join in!

The only problem with Steepster is that it makes me want to buy more tea! Unfortunately this can’t happen right now because of my tea-buying hiatus. This means I have a great excuse to drink more tea and drink that collection down. I’ll let you know how that goes.


So you want to follow me on Twitter

Last updated 17 March 2013

Congratulations! You have a Twitter account, and somehow you have stumbled across my account. That follow button may look awfully tempting after you read over the past few pearls of wisdom that I’ve dropped onto the Internet. Before you click that follow button and regret it a few weeks later when I’m linkspamming or retweet-spamming or talking about abstract algebra or open source software or silly hashtags, it’s best that you know what you’re getting yourself into. A page of tweets (or two, or three) rarely does anyone much good. So what are you getting yourself into, anyway?

Here’s my Twtrland profile so you can get a good idea for yourself. It categorizes me as a power user and, for some reason, under the food category. Twtrland is for the eating of sushi. How unfortunate.

First, I direct tweets at people a lot. This means that while it looks like I tweet a lot, you may not see a lot of them for awhile–unless, of course, we happen to follow several of the same people. If you know me through NaNoWriMo, this is not impossible and in fact may be the case. I’ve jumped into several conversations with other Wrimos in my Twitter circle, and they’ve jumped into conversations that I was having because we share followers.

I tweet a lot of links. Honestly, I probably tweet more links than anything else. You’ll probably learn something interesting or want to gouge your eyes out with a spork, or at least wonder where on earth I find my material. Thankfully, I do not tweet every single link that goes into my Delicious account because if I did, at least twenty more tweets would show up on my stream outside of my own accord, and that would annoy even me. Why not? There’s already far too much feed pollution going on with everyone linking their Twitters and Facebooks and Tumblrs and blogs and what have you, and it is time to stop that nonsense. I don’t even tweet every single post I make here–just the particularly poignant ones, like possibly this one.

Some days my tweets will be more interesting than others. What determines that? It’s a complicated formula that involves how interesting my day is, what’s on my mind, my mood, my whereabouts, and the phase of the moon. There’s a similar formula that calculates how many tweets I’ll make in a given day that uses similar variables. In short: it varies a lot. I tweet a lot when I should be doing something else, and sometimes I’ll go nearly a day sans update. Some things just aren’t worth a Twitter update. No, I do not need to broadcast every single aspect of my programming progress to the world unless it’s spectacular in some way. Be grateful.

I livetweet things on occasion. Not often, but it does happen. The last time it happened was with the national spelling bee finals. The time before that was something Apple-related, not because I’m an Apple fangirl, but because I knew I’d be hearing all about it in the tech blogs I read, so I may as well get the news firsthand. In case you’re wondering, I’m not an Apple hater, but I do use Linux. That should tell you a lot. However, when I do livetweet, I try to keep it interesting. Well, except for the spelling bee. Then I just do whatever I want.

It’d be a good idea to know what I like to talk about, isn’t it? After all, my Twitter profile (at the moment) says “The Sushi from NaNoWriMo. Writer. Math nerd. Geek of many trades. admin. I’m the Internet, not food. thisnameATgmail”. The first line is because yes, people have asked, despite using the same name at both sites. I’ll talk about anything. Between October and December, I talk about NaNoWriMo a lot. Current interests are a popular topic, and they tend toward the geeky and techy.

So for the big question: Will I follow you back? Well… probably not. Not because you’re a terrible human because I’m sure you’re wonderful. But I’ve crept up past 1300 followers (aah! who are you people? where did you find me?), and there is no reasonable way for me to keep up with every single person and still keep Twitter fun while getting work done. (I work from home. This is a serious issue.) Fun fact: I now have far more Twitter followers than Facebook friends and am completely okay with this. These days many of my new followings are folks I know in some way from outside of Twitter. I do read all my @mentions and reply to many of them, though.

Convinced yet? Scared off? Follow away.


NaNoWriMo’s history and the function of a search term

As I’ve mentioned before, researching the culture of NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy for Wikiwrimo is hard. Really hard. Blame the lack of Wayback Machine in recent years, blame the lack of site and forum archives in 2002 and 2004 and 2008, blame whatever you want. When a tradition starts early, it’s hard to dig through all those search results, and even if you wanted to dig through all of them, the search engine will cut you off eventually for site performance reasons.

So I started investigating the features of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. I had a hunch from the start that Google would come out as the winner, and as much as I love using Goodsearch for my searching needs, there are some things that the Yahoo-powered Goodsearch just can’t find. (Sorry.)

The primary item I investigated was searching within a timeline. If I knew that, say, Mr. Ian Woon came along before 2003 (and he must have since he’s mentioned in the 2003 forums quite a bit, though I can’t find a post where someone realized that Mr. Ian Woon is a nifty NaNoWriMo anagram), then being able to search the pre-2003 Internet would be a wonderful thing. There’s just one problem.

None of the major search engines can do that. Bing can’t do it at all from what I can tell. Yahoo and Google’s time-sensitive results can search only recent results, not exclude them. Yes, excluding recent results would likely lead to a much wider pool of results, but not if you can put a cap to when the results were created. It would be a great way to create a function of that search term. How many terms were being added in this interval, and how quickly were they being added? How many disappeared because the pages or relevant search terms were removed? This function would definitely be increasing with large derivatives when the term is getting discussed a lot. As an example, last week the iPhone would have a large derivative. Actually, the derivative would still be large and probably increasing since people have the things in their hands and rumors are buzzing even more loudly about the iPhone going to Verizon.

But what’s the long-term behavior of a given search term? Or more interestingly, how could such a function be useful?


Tweet it. He’ll do it.

Imagine giving up your free will. Beginning June 21st, David on Demand will be giving his free will to the Internet for a whole week. Not just to the Internet as a whole–to the Twitter community. If you request something by telling @davidondemand, he’ll do it–as long as it’s legal. He should really add a few more clauses to that to prevent starvation and sleep deprivation.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Twitter community reacts to David. Will they tweet food to him on a regular basis? How about sleep? What about hygiene? What about basic bodily needs? What will David do about two contradicting commands that come in at the same time? Will there be a couple of people making sure he gets those basic needs, or will it be up to a few altruistic followers to do that?

And what if someone tells him to stop taking commands? What happens then? Given the conditions of the stunt, part of me wants to find out for kicks. Another part of me doesn’t want to disturb that part of the universe.


Is IM on the decline?

A writer for the BBC Magazine thinks so. Texting and Twittering are the new way to communicate instantly, the writer argues. I disagree. Yes, I text, though my phone isn’t conducive to texting because I have to hit the 2 three times in order to make a C. Typing a complete sentence takes much longer than typing on a keyboard. Yes, I have a Twitter account. I IM with several people who aren’t on Twitter, and (gasp) with more who do. I IM with people who live outside my country, and the texting charges are more than I’m willing to pay. Let’s not forget group chats. While there are several well-known Twitter hashtags used for chats, particularly in the writing community, Twitter isn’t an ideal chat platform, especially with the time it takes to load new tweets on a topic. Texting and Twitter are good on the go, but when you really want instant replies, instant messaging is still the way to go. Unless, of course, they do as I do on occasion and wander off.