Product Review Web Site: a TiddlyWiki Use Case

Within the last several months, I have treated myself with a few really wonderful purchases, most of which belonging to a category I'd call "products for small-scale electric grid independence in an urban setting."  These are all items I really enjoy (or plan to soon enjoy), and I've found myself wanting to write about them.

TiddlyWiki being my preferred choice for writing, I started thinking: "how would I go about creating a product review website, one which showcases not just the products, but also showcases TiddlyWiki and transclusion to organize the content?"

Why do I prefer TiddlyWiki?

I am no fan of "big design up front" (see related article on Wikipedia).  How can I design both a plan of content (what will I write about for each reviewed product?) and, more importantly, a plan of organization/presentation of that content before starting the actual work?  To me, I only discover my plan (content and organization/presentation) as I dive into requirements elicitation via the writing process.

Not knowing everything (or at least all of the critical things) I need at the start of a task becomes an impediment to getting started at all.  So I am easily drawn to a "rapid application development" (see related article on Wikipedia) approach with just about any task.

That's where TiddlyWiki comes in.  TiddlyWiki facilitates rapid:
  • componentization of information into tidy chunks
  • aggregation (via transclusion) of those tidy information chunks
  • adjustments as needs/requirements evolve and/or get discovered

Some will describe TiddlyWiki as software (wiki software, or note-taking software, or a GTD solution, or PIM), but I much prefer describe it as a platform for evolutionary and non-linear creation and organization of content.

Although I am just a humble "white belt" (possibly "yellow belt") user of TiddlyWiki, I am working my way up to another belt with some pretty fancy footwork transclusion-wise.  I intend to present "how to" TiddlyWiki transclusion magic, via a product review TiddlyWiki instance, in future posts

In the meantime and for your immediate consumption, I present to you the very early beginning of CJ's Product Reviews built with TiddlyWiki.

Cheers !

Hanks for Keeping Your Distance !

I love this !!!

Toronto company hoping
Tom Hanks
has 'Big' impact as physical distance marker




Read the full story at CTV Toronto News

Designing a Resistance Training Program - An Intertwingularity Journey

I have been on an extended break from the "iron" (over two years now), and I've recently started getting the itch to move some muscle again.

First things first, I have to put together a Resistance Training Program that suits my persona: a rigorously comprehensive program that somehow manages to stay within a simple/lean (minimalist) design.

It would be so much easier to just pick a workout program from any one of the many weight-lifting/bodybuilding books I've accumulated over the years, but that does not either my creative side nor my analytical side satisfy.  So an "intertwingularity journey" begins...

What's so intertwingled about it?  There are so many things to consider, much of which I'm either not thinking about at the moment, or am thinking of subconsciously and am simply forgetting to include here.  And there is all kinds of science (and various opinions) out there (related to bodybuilding.)

Still, staying quite true to my paralysis by analysis self (possibly caused by knowing too much for my own good), I keep these things in mind while designing my new workouts:

  • There are an awful lot of muscles in the body.  I don't plan on targeting all muscles (well, at least not in the near future), yet I do want to tackle the majority of them.
  • Find a nice variety of exercises and plan a nice variety of workouts to keep things interesting, without going overboard.  In previous exercise plans, I really had too many (overwhelming, really) different workouts and too many different exercises.
  • Design short and no-nonsense workouts.
    • I exercise in my garage (really warm in the summer time, really cold in the winter time), so relatively quick in and out of the garage sounds good to me.  I also have more interests than any sane person ought to have, so short and sweet workouts give me time for other stuff.
  • Workouts and exercises must accommodate my available exercise equipment:
    • Power rack with single high and low pulley for cable exercises
    • Olympic bar and plates, and regular plates for cable exercises
    • Flat bench with multiple adjustable incline positions 
    • Multiple accessories: individual cable handles, chin-up bar ab straps, lat pulldown bar, short-grip pulldown bar, chains, etc. etc. etc.
  • To support short and no-nonsense workouts, choose (for each workout) a selection of exercises that minimizes reuse of any one muscle, and also minimizes excess fiddling with equipment between exercises.

To plan my workouts, I made heavy use of ExRx.net's awesome "Exercise Directory" creating a spreadsheet for some heavy-duty analysis.  The process:
  • Setup the first column for exercise names
    • Each row is for an exercise
  • Setup all subsequent columns with names of muscles as per ExRx.net's exercise directory
    • Each column indicates whether or not, for each exercise, the particular muscle participates in the exercise, and (if the muscle does participate) indicates the degree of participation
      • A target muscle gets a participation degree = 4
      • A synergistic muscle gets a participation degree = 2
      • A stabilizer muscle gets a participation degree = 1
      • (BTW: these are just my "gut-feeling" numbers)
  • Setup a "Totals" row at the very bottom, to indicate the relative amount of total exercise each muscle is getting (compared to all other muscles)
    • This gives an idea if, for the gamut of exercises in the spreadsheet, any muscle is getting much more, or much less, attention relative to other muscles (the point here: watch out for any training/strength imbalance in opposing muscles) 
  • Add/remove exercises until relative amount of exercise per muscle feels right.
    • Any exercise can appear in any number of workouts if it helps achieve your goals
  • Add two columns to the left of the exercise names column: one for workout ID, and one for exercise order (i.e. order of the exercise within the workout)
  • Figure out how many workouts and how many exercises per workout
  • Assign workout numbers to the exercises, and assign exercise order numbers per exercise within each workout, and sort the rows of exercises by workout ID's and exercise order numbers
  • Start a recursive process of changing each exercise's workout ID and exercise order, and sorting the rows again, until groups of exercises by workout ID, and order of exercises within each group, all feel right.
My tentative workouts (I have to test it and iron out any kinks) are based on the effort, as described above, put into this spreadsheet.

TODOS!  I will need to figure out, after referencing some of my books (in particular "High Intensity Training" by Mike Mentzer, "Power Factor Training" by Peter Sisco and John Little, and "Serious Strength Training" by Bompa and Cornacchia):
  • How long of a break between workouts, and do I want to get into periodization (as per "Serious Strength Training") ?
  • How many sets per exercise, and how many reps per set ?
    • Tentatively: 3 sets per exercise
      • Set 1: 15 reps, very light weight, just to warm up
      • Set 2: 10-12 reps, middling weight, to get the blood flowing
      • Set 3: 6-8 reps, serious go-for-broke weight 

Once I have my workouts just right and I start exercising regularly:
  • Reassess, once in a while, whether I want to add exercises for:
    • any muscles that are getting no exercise at all
    • any muscles that are not getting enough exercise (due to lack of results, or an imbalance with other muscles)
  • Re-evaluate whether or not I want to measure progress in a quantitative way (via "Power Factor" and "Power Index" measurements as per Peter Sisco and John Little's "Power Factor Training")

If I were planning on competition bodybuilding, things would get much more intertwingled:  I'd have to really pay attention to rest/recuperation and nutrition. However, I'm a foodie (my mantra: some live to eat, some eat to live, but I eat to die!  Bring on the lard!) and a bit of a night owl.  So no standing on a stage in speedos for me.  Well, who knows what the future holds ...

Cheers !


TiddlyWiki Configuration (part2, with a transclusion use case)

Please, if you do not know TiddlyWiki, read "A Gentle Guide to TiddlyWiki" at TiddlyWiki.com .

Latest Updates


I've added a few new items to my standard TiddlyWiki configuration tasks:
  • Create Navigation Tiddler
  • Configure Settings
  • Customize Appearance (Palette)
  • Customize Appearance (Theme Tweaks)
  • Setup "Fancy" TiddlyWiki Title and Subtitle
Please find details in my project,  CJ's Configuring TiddlyWiki.

In the remainder of this blog post, I want to discuss how transclusion helps with the setup of "Fancy" TiddlyWiki Title and Subtitle.  By "Fancy", I mean using formatting with wikitext, as per this TiddlyWiki.com tiddler, and/or using HTML code.

A TiddlyWiki Transclusion Use Case


Some Background Info


 TiddlyWiki's Basic Title and Subtitle


We set the title and subtitle for a TiddlyWiki instance via the Control Panel, on the "Info" tab and "Basics" sub-tab.  (See the screenshot below.) 

(Click here for a larger image)

Whatever value gets entered in the "Title of this TiddlyWiki" field will show in the side bar's "Title Area".  Whatever value gets entered in the "Subtitle" field will show in the side bar's "Subtitle Area."

Quick Mention: EditText Widgets


The fields in which we edit Title and Subtitle values are called "EditText Widgets."

Although I can't explain how this technically works, I know this much: a value entered in an EditText widget is saved in the text area of whatever tiddler linked to that EditText Widget.  (For details about EditText Widgets, please see this tiddler at TiddlyWiki.com.)

As per the screenshot below:
  • the "Title of this TiddlyWiki" EditText Widget value is saved into a System Tiddler called "SiteTitle"
  • the "Subtitle" EditText Widget value is saved into a "System Tiddler" called "SiteSubtitle"
  • (For details about "System Tiddlers", please see this tiddler at TiddlyWiki.com. ) 


(Click here for a larger image)



The Magic of Transclusion References in EditText Widgets


Just going by the images above, the "Title" and "Subtitle" areas in the Sidebar present the content of the "SiteTitle" and "SiteSubtitle" system tiddlers.  This happens, like so many things in TiddlyWiki, via some internal transclusion mechanism.

Although the EditText widgets for SiteTitle and SiteSubtitle do not provide enough room for anything but very simple text, we could setup "Fancy" Title and Subtitle by editing the related system tiddlers.

I wouldn't recommend it.  To me, messing around directly with system tiddlers risks causing all kinds of headaches.

It seems so much safer (and orderly, if you are at all like me), to create our own tiddlers for Title and SubTitle, and to put tiddler transclusion references in the related EditField widgets.

  • Created a tiddler called "Fancy TiddlyWiki Title"
  • Set the value of "Title of this TiddlyWiki" EditText Widget to "{{Fancy TiddlyWiki Title}}", which gets saved into the "SiteTitle" system tiddler
  • Created a tiddler called "Fancy TiddlyWiki Subtitle"
  • Set the value of "Subtitle" EditText Widget to "{{Fancy TiddlyWiki Subtitle}}"

This turns into transclusion of a transclusion.  Double-Transclusion?Transclusionx2?  Meh.

At some point soon after opening the TiddlyWiki, the Title Area fills up with the content of the "SiteTitle" system tiddler (i.e. {{Fancy TiddlyWiki Title}}.)  Because {{Fancy TiddlyWiki Title}} is a transclusion reference, that gets replaced in the Title Ara with the content of the "Fancy TiddlyWiki Title" tiddler.

Same thing happens with the Subtitle Area.

Well, that explanation came out right clumsily.  So, let's show all of that in pictures:

"Fancy TiddlyWiki Title" Tiddler


(Click here for a larger image)

"Fancy TiddlWiki Subtitle" Tiddler


(Click here for a larger image)

Control Panel's Title and Subtitle Values


(Click here for a larger image)

The "Fancy" Result:  Sidebar Title and Subtitle Areas


(Click here for a larger image)


Nothing can match experiencing things with some hands-on exploration.  Please go to the CJ's Configuring TiddlyWiki TiddlyWiki instance and play.

Cheers !


Intertwingularity Mapping with TiddlyWiki: TiddlyWiki Configuration (part1)

For my take on "Intertwingularity Mapping", please view the post Intertwingularity Mapping Defined (alpha version 0.1?)

An Intertwingularity Mapping project may very well "unofficially" begin with discussion and recording of information in whatever medium, for example:

  • sticky notes or any kind of pen-to-paper scenario
  • electronic files (documents, emails, etc.)
  • chalk/white boards

Sooner more likely than later, though, Intertwingularity Mapping necessitates some kind of formal medium with which to record, organize, and share information.  That likely requires software along with some hardware infrastructure / architecture (at its simplest: one or more files in some folder hierarchy somewhere; at its most complicated: some sort of solution requiring web servers and/or database servers.)

Aside:
  • To me, no solution can handle Intertwingularity Mapping better than a wiki.  I'll do some ranting and raving about that in some future post(s).
  • For my purposes (various personal Intertwingularity Mapping projects), TiddlyWiki easily takes first place for Intertwingularity Mapping.  Sometimes, though, I need to quickly sort out deeply intertwingled information with help from Vym (a light mind mapping tool) or from Treesheets (a wickedly cool and agile hierarchical spreadsheet for free form data organization.)

Regardless of the solution used for an Intertwingularity Mapping project, a few things need some attention before recording and structuring information:
  • technical configuration of the solution
  • "look and feel" design/configuration
    • From Wikipediacomprises aspects of its design, including elements such as colors, shapes, layout, and typefaces (the "look"), as well as the behavior of dynamic elements such as buttons, boxes, and menus (the "feel").

I've recently started pondering about setting up a sample project to demonstrate Intertwingularity Mapping, and this has become a bit of a challenge: what kind of project can I imagine that will keep me motivated with a practical end-product goal?

Since I am a huge fan of TiddlyWiki, and am often creating new Intertwingularity Projects with TiddlyWiki, and have been wanting to somehow contribute to the TiddlyWiki community (without coding, for lack of Javascript programming skills), it dawned on me:  map information related to my standard approach to configuring every TiddlyWiki instance I create !

And so I've created this brand new Intertwingularity Mapping project:


This project will attempt to:
  • showcase how I like TiddlyWiki configured
    • technical configuration
    • look and feel configuration
  • describe each configured item
    • why I've configured as I've done
    • how to achieve the configuration 
  • showcase/describe Intertwingularity Mapping on this project

I've seeded my intertwingled project with the first two configuration items:
  • Install Relink Plugin
  • Configure Default Tiddlers

Me thinks I'll be having a good time with this, and I hope you find the information useful.  Stay tuned !

Cheers and best regards !