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New Year's Resolutions

78% of new year's resolutions are doomed to failure, say psychologists who've conducted a large scale study of the matter; so you might think it's pretty useless to even bother with the things. And you'd be right. But that isn't going to stop me making a new year's resolution, even though I know it probably won't work.

I have a gadget habit, and it's a bit out of control. So, subject to five exceptions (below), my proposed New Year's Resolution for 2010 is: buy no computers. A computer, for the purposes of this resolution, is a general purpose computing device with a human user interface that I run apps on. (A wifi router or a car engine management system or a radio might contain a microprocessor, but I'm not classing it as a computer for purposes of this resolution.)

I'm allowing certain exceptions because (a) they're sensible, and (b) if I make no exceptions I'm much more likely to fail completely — this way, if I fall from grace I can climb back on the wagon (to mix a metaphor).

Here's the small print:

  1. I may still buy computers for other people (e.g. parents, spouse, siblings).
  2. I reserve the right to replace machines that are stolen, irreparably damaged, or need replacement due to unforseen emergencies.
  3. Peripherals and consumables are allowed: no limits, as long as they're not general purpose computing devices in their own right.
  4. I reserve the right to upgrade my mobile phone when I get to the end of my contract. (It's due up in May, after 18 months.)
  5. Special exception: I'd be an idiot to tie my hands so tightly that I can't acquire and mess with new platforms that may impact my ongoing/future business. So I am leaving a loophole for category-busting devices that don't resemble anything I already have, can't be emulated by a combination of things I already have, and have major business implications. (For example: rumours surrounding the Apple tablet device suggest that it's going to be announced on January 27th and that Apple are positioning it as a Kindle-killer. If this is the case, I probably can't afford to ignore it. If, on the other hand, it turns out to be a Macbook that's shrunk in the wash, well — I don't need another Macbook.)

What are your new year's resolutions?



My New Years resolution is to not make any resolutions...


I've resolved not to make any resolutions, but instead I'm going to be state some ambitions. It had success last year (to appear on tv) and I'm going to try again.

So, the first one is to be able to run 5k. This is tied into getting fit, losing weight etc, but the ambition is to run 5k easily.

The second ambition is to go to 10 places I've never been before, but this I mean new cities, not just places in the city I live in.

Both are achievable, both can be done in small steps, so I think they can be done.


May I echo Daniel? Except I made the "No More Resolutions" pledge in '87! The only New Years Resolution I've ever manage to keep. ;)


This must be New Years Resolution with the most fine print ever.

I will making New Year Resolutions again this year, even though I have failed in most of the ones for this year.

The trick is to have so many resolutions that some of those won't fail, with 78% failing it should be enough to have five resolutions to have at least one succeeding.

Wikipedia puts the fails higher though:


mine is 'Endeavour to persevere'

  • Graduate College
  • ???
  • Profit!
  • 8:
  • Finish my damn novel
  • Write a short story
  • 9:

    My resolution is to make enough money (đồng around these parts) to have to make your kind of resolution is the near future. The pie-not-in-the-sky-but-in-my-face one is to be a good loving caring father for the little one to come 3 months from now, which I guess kind of tip the first one off balance to make it fall in those 78%...

    Chúc mừng năm mới 2010 from Việt Nam where people care about New Year's Eve as much as they do for Christmas, that is not much...


    I will not vote for any more Democrats.


    1)Submit my accursed MSc thesis. 2)Publish at least one paper in a peer reviewed journal with impact factor 5+ for which I am first author and which is based entirely on my ideas and work. 3)Do back strengthening exercises regularly to prevent my back from making me miserable.


    Christof @4: the fine print is so that when I fail in a small way, I can shrug and continue, thus hopefully not failing in a large way.

    I don't expect to go 12 months without buying any computing devices. But I'll call it a qualified success if I cut my expenditure by more than 50%.


    @12: Charlie, if you're serious about your no more computers resolution, AND about the general resolution failure rate, then I must say that you totally screwed up. What you need to do is to make and hold a resolution to afford to buy a new computer with certain features, provided you and Feorag agree that you can both afford and "need" it. And scrap the fine print. That way, if one of your machines pooches, or some silly category buster comes along, you can fulfill your resolution, and if not, well, sigh you failed in your resolution, AND saved your money in the bargain. Set up your failure modes properly.

    My problem is that I generally don't remember my New Years' resolutions, but from what I can recall, my failure rate is over 90 percent. Assuming that failure rate holds, I resolve not to make obscene amounts of money in 2010, and definitely not to finish that novel I've been working on for the last two months.


    @ 10 so you'll vote for (in order of increasing evil) autocrats or communists or fascists, or theocrats then?

    For myself - just surviving beter then we did in the latter half of the year that is passing will do - 2009 has NOT been a good one ....


    If 78% of resolutions fail, then improve your odds by making 10-20 resolutions. Odds are good that a few will survive. (-:


    Do you also resolve not to deliberately damage hardware as an end-run around rule 2? ;)

    I've been having trouble with my resolutions this year. Mostly I just want to waste less of my time and money -- not to spend less, necessarily, I just want to feel that I'm not wasting it, or missing out on opportunity by so doing. Formulating all that into a resolution seems like a useful step in accomplishing it, but I haven't quite managed to yet.


    To complete a Guardian cryptic crossword. Small print: 1. I can use an anagram solver. 2. I can use dictionary/thesaurus.


    I've certainly got a few things I want to get done this coming year. I'm likely to fail, but oh well.

  • Graduate law. This one's actually the most achievable.
  • Pick up coding again.
  • Learn some new maths I didn't know yet. The candidate's looking to be mathematical logic.
  • Make some music, ideally with the analog instruments I'm supposed to know how to play.
  • Do some sort of physical exercise.
  • If I manage 2 of those I'll be happy.


    You said:

    "What are your new year's resolutions?"

    Mostly to find out if you ever sent Ollie North a copy of "a colder war", and if you did if you got any response, though I presume not, seeing as you're still apparently alive, for a given value of "alive[1]".

    [1]/. Yeah, I've read your books and I know what "apparently" means...


    My new year's resolution: Sell a photograph for money, as opposed to giving them away, trading them for bottles of wine, etc


    I resolve to break my new year's resolution.


    To buy whatever it is that Apple announce on January 27th ... Hell Yeah!


    "The same thing as every year —try to take over the world!"

    Nah, I don't bother with resolutions. Though, ToddRM's @8 are something I need to work on too.

    I just want to thank you for not calling this "The Last Year Of The First Decade Of The Twenty First Century!" Cause it ain't. A lot of media people seem to count to 10 as 0-9.


    @14: Last time around I voted for Democrats on the theory that the Republicans had screwed up so badly that they deserved to be massively punished. This time around I think the Democrats have screwed up and deserve to be massively punished. It isn't as if we had a major party in the United States that wouldn't gladly sell out ethical values, individual rights, or the public interest for payoffs from special interests; they're just whores with different favorite customers.

    I just turned sixty, I'm self-employed, and I can't afford what health insurance costs a man my age. So I've been following the debate over health care reform very closely. What the Democrats are pushing is an approach where the uninsured are "helped" by legally requiring us to buy insurance at excessively high prices from the same firms that are selling it now, offering absurdly inadequate subsidies that don't begin to make it affordable, and fining us when we don't comply. That is, it's exactly the approach that Romney (a Republican) instituted in Massachusetts and that Schwarzenegger (another Republican) tried to institute in California: Helping people who can't pay for insurance by punishing us if we don't get it anyway. It's a great deal for the insurance industry, and the people just above the poverty level who will get put on Medicaid may be slightly better off (though Medicaid's nothing to write home about; I live with a woman who gets her health care from Medicaid, so I've seen it in action), but millions of the uninsured will be worse off. If the Democrats suffer as brutally in 2010 as the Republicans did in 2008, it will be well deserved; I just hope they learn more from it than the Republicans have.


    Damn. Sorry about the duplicate post! My brain slipped and I hit the button twice without thinking what I was doing. Please feel free to delete it.


    I think I'll resolve to do the inverse of Charlie's resolution, and actually buy a computer, rather than use a company machine/my girlfriend's/my girlfriend's work machine/college PC lab/etc etc.


    William: duplicate nuked. I understand your desire to punish the democrats, but I'd question its wisdom; from over here, it looks like punishing your poor-quality electrician for doing a bad job by hiring a pyromaniac instead. (If there was a third dog in the race it might make more sense, but: you're going to punish the Democrats for instituting a Republican-lite healthcare bill which you don't like by, er, voting Republican?)

    There's ought to be a better way.

  • FINALLY go to Tokyo - April
  • Engage with other people more fully.
  • Get my garden into a magazine.
  • Start prepping the Palm Springs condo for retirement.
  • Watch more Three Stooges and I'm starting today with the AMC Marathon.
  • 29:

    @23:Padraic, you know, I looked into taking over the world, but the monthly fees from the local POA (planetary owner's association) are so obscene that it's really not cost effective. I recommend subletting a continent from our current owners, or looking into a timeshare arrangement. Happy New Year!


    The actual content of your 'resolution' is that, in your heart, you recognize that the general-purpose computing devices you already own are perfectly adequate for the tasks you actually use them for. Therefore, your resolution actually amounts to "I won't buy one unless it does something really new and really different, and, um, really important. Also."

    So, you might as well just go ahead write that check to Apple Computer for $999. You know you're going to do it.


    resolution number one is kindof a must: * finish the damn phd-thesis. "must" because my contract will be finishing sometime this year. * after that, find a job (wife and kids, yer know) * also, I do have a bad gadget-habit but mine is largely an unfulfilled habit. So I have in my mind, every year, this looong string of things I didn't buy but wanted to buy but there wasn't enough money because even though I thought there might be enough money but then there was something about the car to be fixed or a tooth to be fixed (and OK-ish as the German health insurances might be, dental coverage is crap) or we had to buy something for the kids and so on and so on. This year, I WILL buy SOMEthing shiny for myself. Nokia N900 probably. And to hell with the price.


    MattF: I'm not sure I am, actually. If the iSlate turns out to be as locked-down as an unjailbroken iPhone ... let's just say that, much as I like the iPhone experience, not having root really got up my nose so much that I had to jailbreak mine. (There are certain must-have utilities that simply aren't available from the App store, because they violate apple's idea of what I ought to be doing with my device.) I gather the 3GS is nearly impossible to jailbreak. I can stick with my iPhone 3G a while longer, but if/when it dies I'm not sure I want to replace it with something that's even more tightly locked down.

    Indeed, I'm not terribly keen on Android either: I own my data, not some big cloud-computing/advertising conglomerate. Maemo, on the other hand, is (a) familiar (from the old Nokia web tablets) and (b) a lot more open; you can run full-blown ARM Debian on it without invalidating your warranty. If Dataviz port the full Documents to Go office suite -- as opposed to the current cut-down file viewer -- that'd suit my phone/PDA needs.

    However, there are rumours that Apple are making a play for the publishing biz. In which case I may not be able to ignore the iSlate, even if it's a closed platform.

    (As a long-term afternote: I love Apple's industrial design, but I really don't like the control freakery. I'm willing to put up with Mac OS X on the desktop, because I've got root. But if they try to take root away from me, I will jump ship in a split second, no second thoughts needed.)

    NB: the root password on my iphone ceased to be "alpine" within a minute of me jailbreaking it, thanks. And if it wasn't for a need to run some very specific tools, I wouldn't have bothered.


    Charlie @ 27: Is there a major party locally that you feel OK voting for? IME, it is very common for voting to be a hold your nose type of exercise.


    "well — I don't need another Macbook"

    This is the mantra they make us repeat at the GA meetings right before we have cookies.


    martin: I live in a Labour marginal constituency. The snapping-at-their-heels second place candidate is a Liberal Democrat. I'm on board with about 90% of the LDP's policies, so I have the luxury of voting for a party who (a) aren't a forlorn hope and (b) who are mostly sane.


    so. since I live in Germany/Austria, allow me to wave from 2010 to our host who is still in 2009 .. it's not much different here from 2009. So .. happy crossing in about 31 minutes!


    I have resolved to learn to beat people up.


    @27: I'm not sure that I'm going to vote Republican, either. I'm seriously thinking about, in order of likelihood, abstaining from voting for political candidates, voting Libertarian, or voting Green. Or there might actually be a new third party with some substance by then.

    However, I'd also note that the Republicans have shifted position over the past year or two. What used to be fairly mainstream for them is now mainstream Democratic, and a lot more of them are flatly opposed to mandated health insurance. So it's also possible that I might be able to vote for Republican candidates who don't support a health care policy I detest.

    In saying this, I should note that my political priorities are almost certainly not the same as yours, even though there are important issues on which we agree. I'm a libertarian, not a socialist. I find the two parties nearly equally detestable, so I don't think in terms of voting for a party that will actually be any good, but in terms of voting against the party that has done something really bad. This year, that's the Democrats. This would also be a good year to have the Republicans gain back control of at least one house of Congress, because it would leave a Democrat in the White House, and thus prevent the Republicans from doing a lot of the really harmful things they would otherwise favor. If McCain were president, I wouldn't dream of voting for Republicans for Congress . . . but if McCain were president, I doubt we've have seen Congress trying to "reform" health care in the first place, so the Democrats wouldn't have pissed me off so royally.

    It's kind of sad, I admit, that I'm looking to my country's being ungovernable as my best realistic political hope. But consider the alternatives.


    @23, if you are going to celebrate something as arbitrary as digits changing in the year, you might as well celebrate when TWO of them change (09 to 10) instead of only ONE (10 to 11). Which is why we celebrated 1999 to 2000. A simple 2000 to 2001 would have been blah.


    As someone else already said, my NYR's are the same as they are every year: not to be so impatient, and not to fly off the handle so easily(especially when driving.) Unfortunately, I'm surrounded by idiots . . .

    Come to think of it, all of my NYR's have been more on the spiritual or psychological side than they've ever been on the material as far back as I can remember.


    Just resolving to finish whatever projects I have in front of me. They can be edited/pruned/trashed later, but they must be finished first.


    Charlie @ 35

    You bastard.

    If I may unpack: I have in the past envied your profession (somewhat), wit (significant), or talent (a lot), but that is nothing compared to the massive towering green monster that is my envy for a viable political choice.



    I think there are better ways to control a gadget habit. How about the following set of rules:

    • only one object of insane desire at any one time
    • only one object of insane desire for a given period (each quarter/half year ...)
    • set a fixed price level before you know the price of the object
    • set down concrete minimum specifications before you know the device

    The point really is to make sure you have a very clear picture of what you want, how much you would pay for it and how much you can afford to pay before you buy it. (Actually just what you should do before even thinking about bidding at an auction on ebay.) That way it is much easier to dismiss something as junk without too much regret.


    Ha ha. I was going to say "apple tablet, apple tablet" but you already covered yourself.

    Too bad you have apparently picked up a teabag troll. Oh well. Maybe you can snap him out of his navel-gazing wishful-thinking past-worshipping whatever. The future, the future, the future ...


    Chris: teabag troll?


    New curtains for the New Year Charlie? I like how the sidebar on individual post pages means that the width of the text is more in line with common layouts. I often used to read your comments in a separate (narrow) Firefox window so that the lines weren't too long.


    Charlie @45 - Teabaggers are very anti-Democrat people who are protesting the stimulus act and Obama and the health care act and taxes etc. etc. They're one of the weird wings of the Republicans.

    As to the new layout -- I like it in general, but I'd like to be able to move from one post to the others on each side with that post still up, instead of having to move back to the front page.

    The Reply still doesn't work.

    The options for signing in only give me my LJ name, which is what I use almost everywhere online, but I like having my full name associated with it, like it is on LJ.


    Chris: teabag troll?

    Errolwi: yup, and the eight-hour downtime was due to what was expected to be a fifteen-minute upgrade running over ...


    mljayman @47 has the guist of teabag troll. I should have referenced the response I was referring to, I'm not sure who it was now??? It looks like it must have been William H Stoddard @ 10 and following?

    Actually not so much of a teabagger as a misguided libertarian. I think we are all libertarian in principle, but, I thought that this, from John Shirley as 14th worse thing of the decade, rang true: "The movement of people who used to be on the left into Libertarianism, which is allied with conservatives and corporations, whether they know it or not."

    I have a coworker who votes libertarian and claims at heart to be an anarchist. He's an 12th degree Karate black belt, seems to be wanting to end up in a post-apocalyptic SF novel rather than a post-singularity one as I do -- probably too old tho, I'm 58 :-< He's a bright guy, but there's some very odd thinking going on there that I can't get him to confront.

    Speaking of my age, I am in a few months reaching a point of deciding: stay in my safe corporate job or go back to a startup or retire. And of course, one of the primary considerations is, what do I do about health care? Our system sucks, I don't care how bad the new bill is, somebody's got to try to do something about it. In the healthcare debate here, the "death panel" silliness did lead me to the realization, based on the fact that "death panels" do exist now as faceless corporate employees trying to maximize profit, that profit and healthcare should not go together. For-profit life insurance, car, home insurance are OK, for-profit health insurance = bad -- it puts people's lives on the other side of the corporate bottom line.

    Which led me to the realization of another basic government service which should never be for-profit: war-making. Haliburton et al are the wrong way to go. I often think that the Iraq war was primarily to let them get the kinks out of the "outsourced war" model.

    Sorry if I'm somewhat incoherent, I caught a stomach virus while visiting my in-laws Tuesday, apparently still a little feverish. Happy New Year!


    Like the new format. How long has this been waiting in the wings?


    I want to resolve to get rid of a lot of stuff encumbering my life (boxes of books, mostly) ....

    On the new look: nice design (but the software logged me out and I had a time finding out the log-in I was using.)


    Translating Accelerando into Spanish as best as I can without going mad in the process!

    (and yes, I also find the new look of the blog nicer that the previous one).


    I can add the navigation back quite easily, I think - my own blog has it so I'll just have a poke at the templates. The Reply thing is a bit of a pain. It works in the testbeds, but not in the live blogs. What I think it is is that the blogs were created in old versions of MT and when we upgraded to a version which has blog types, there's no way to convert an old blog to a new type. The testbeds are set up as "community blogs" from the start, and this already caused some problems with bits of the redesign not working at first. I had to do some serious prodding around for those bits.


    No resolutions for me. I don't find the extra baggage of making a resolution as the year rolls over to be helpful. If it's that important, make the change already! If I were to make a resolution, it would be along the lines of reading more SF&F, but that's really about juggling priorities.

    BTW, liking the new look: still minimalist but now with added elegance.


    Judging by the new layout, Charlie's new year's resolution seems to be about 1024x768.


    I tried to leave this in the morning (US), hit preview, but no way to submit, went away for a few minutes and everything was different, still couldn't comment and decided to wait awhile. Seems to be easier to read. Anyhow...where was I?

    umm, Teabagging, see:

    I'm guessing he was referring to someone mentioning Republicans and Health Care in the same comment. Apparently conservatives are unaware of the original meaning of the term. I only know of it from hearing John Waters interviewed on NPR.

    heteromeles @29, The membership fees are steep, but my main Point Of Argument with the POA is that they won't let you paint your house whatever color you want.

    Michael @39, sure, I get that, but it's still inaccurate. I could rant about the state of sci/math education in the US, but I shouldn't talk. Two digits may be changing but it's still +1. Not that it actually matters. And, yes, I was mildly annoyed by the talk of 2000 as change of the millennium -blame it on reading too much A.C.Clarke. Okay, I resolve to try not to fall into pedantry. Nuts, broke it already.


    Ross@54: 1680x1050.


    @55: Some Republicans did know the meaning of "teabagging." But I have the impression that the name was not coined by Republicans; it was coined by hostile liberals who couldn't understand why anyone would oppose the latest American incarnation of socialism for the rich. The people attending the events called them "tea parties," referring to a well-known incident in American history. By now, a lot of people attending the events have heard about the slang meaning and take its use as a deliberate attempt to give offense and to deny the validity of their concerns, which of course it is.

    The link to health care policy came many months after the first "tea parties."


    speaking as an older old fart, the new layout is OK, but I rather liked the old very plain setup..

    New Years Resolutions: 1: seriously attempt to pass the Discrete Mathematics unit that I have dropped out of twice! 2: lose at least 10 kg in the next six months... 3: not bother any further trying to get Windows 7 to work and stick with XP.


    My one resolution is simple. I resolve to stay alive for another year. All else is gravy . . .


    mjlayman@47: If you look at this comment, you will see that it is a reply to yours, and I didn't do it through the admin interface this time. I did try to implement it so that it would automatically insert the name@comment-number bit, but the comment number tag is broken so it was always off by one.

    The name - the tag used should give your "full" name rather than your user name. I suspect it's something to do with LJ.


    How's about resolving not to have any more 'all new articles!' style hiccups with your atom feed this year. After today's :)



    William @57: the "teabag" reference actually started when anti-American protestors planned to re-enact the Boston Tea Party event but discovered that they wouldn't be allowed to dump tea in Boston Harbor because of the anti-pollution laws. The anarchists eventually came up with a symbolic dumping of tea which took place in an business office somewhere. To prevent them making too much of a mess they used teabags rather than loose tea. The rest is history.


    Resolution: to actually spend more time writing every day instead of wittering away several hours in pointless vacillation and general work-avoidance. Broken it already, naturally.


    @62: Do you have a URL for that event? I'm not sure it's historically continuous with the recent "tea parties." It hasn't looked to me as if they had any significant anarchist presence. I follow a few anarchists online and I haven't seen any of them talk about attending.


    "I'd like to be able to move from one post to the others on each side with that post still up, instead of having to move back to the front page."

    That navigation had been moved to the sidebar, but as it's you I've put it at the top of each entry's page too.


    That navigation had been moved to the sidebar, but as it's you I've put it at the top of each entry's page too.

    Perfect :-)


    Aieee! I don't like change! What are these pictures doing here? It's like Myspace! Charlie and Feorag's names aren't blue anymore! The black bar makes me think I'm reading a chocolate eclair or the ghost of an early TNG Starfleet uniform!

    Aaaaaand I'm done. The blog may have lost some minimalism by adding pictures and colour changes, but it's certainly gained style. We'll all know how good it actually is when we've been reading it for a few weeks, I suppose.


    Russell@68: Wait until you see the multi-colour, 3D-effect blinking masthead I have waiting in the wings...


    Until then I'll just have to be happy with the animated stick-figure endlessly digging a magically replenishing pile of dirt.

    What, the rest of you can't see it? You just need to download RealPlayer and Quicktime VR, it only takes a second.

    Peripherals and consumables are allowed: no limits, as long as they're not general purpose computing devices in their own right.

    Since I have for some time now been thinking of replacing my large and growing pile of Firewire and USB drive "peripherals" with some kind of box-of-disks NAS arrangement - homebrew or otherwise - I can spot that particular WEASEL CLAUSE a mile off.


    Feorag @53 -- and you got the sign-in system changed back, too! Thanks!

    William H Stoddard @58 -- dear Ghu. Here in the DC area, we see lots of teabaggers who have taken up the name. There were batches of women at summer protests who wore large-brim hats with tea bags hanging off the edge. They wanted to throw boxes of tea into a park pool and were stopped by Park Police.


    For my 2010 New Years resolution I've decided to only eat the amount of calories per day required for basic survival.

    Here's the small print:

  • I may still buy food of excess calories for other people, and if they feel they would like to share those calories with me I will be allowed to accept. This seems only fair, since I do not want to jeopardize my relationships with relative or friends over a few excess calories.

  • I reserve the right to replace calories that have been lost do to unforseen circumstances. Perhaps I may excercise more than I think is usual someday, I will want to replenished the calories lost by these events. Or perhaps there is an emergency that will require exceptional alertness, I may which to bulk up in calories to assure that I am at my very best in case I am needed. I realize that this did not happen in 2009, but I feel it is better to be safe on this front.

  • Fruits and Vegetables are allowed: no limits, as long as they're not artificially sweetened. My health plan says that it is important to increase fruits and vegetable consumption so I will allow this.

  • I reserve the right to upgrade by dinners to a higher calorie option when I am at a really good restaurant. If I am paying extra for these calories I want to select the best option. Don't worry though, my wife says that this does not happen often.

  • Special exception: I'd be an idiot to tie my hands so tightly that I can't taste a new or interesting food item. Perhaps I will travel to the India, which I have never done, I will want to sample all the flavors available to me and determine if I want to add them to may normal calorie intake. This just makes sense.

  • 74:

    I read somewhere that the first half of your life is collecting, and the second half is getting rid of the crap you've accumulated.



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    This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on December 31, 2009 1:12 PM.

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