Progress Update: June 1st

So… my life has been rather hectic recently.  There was a huge push to get the May Minicamp units done, and now we need as many more units again for the weeklong July minicamp.  (On the plus side, the May minicamp was an overwhelming success by all the measures we tried – the units were perfected in time, everyone visibly enjoyed the hell out of it, all the participants are keeping in touch afterward, and a lot of people were tossing around words like “life-changing”, though, of course, long-term life-outcome followup tests won’t be in for a while.)  I basically put everything else aside and tried to finish up my units for the May minicamp, and then when the first Minicamp was done (on May 15th) I had to write up a rationalist wedding ceremony for two adorably-in-love rationalist friends who asked me to officiate.  (I’ll also be doing a lower-key wedding ceremony this Saturday – you know how it is, you don’t officiate any weddings for years and years, and then you have to do two in 6 days.)  Composing the ceremony used up my background-writing thoughts or a while after Minicamp, I’m afraid.

And then there was the failure of my Buffalo Terastation Pro II, followed by literal smoke coming out of my other drive.  As of yesterday night and $60 worth of SATA-to-USB converters and a crazy amount of work getting mdadm to read my degraded RAID-5 array, I am successfully reading off data into my nice new simple RAID-1 mirrored drive.  Word to the wise:  Don’t buy Buffalo Terastations, and don’t trust RAID-5.  (All this would have been a hell of a lot more inconvenient if I hadn’t already put all my active works-in-progress into Dropbox.  Dropbox is awesome.)

The upshot is that I’m just now getting back to HPMOR, literally yesterday.  And since people have started trying to make printed books of HPMOR – which I neither permit nor deny, but accept as inevitable regardless – I figure I’d better get around sooner rather than later to some intended revisions to the earlier chapters…

No!  Don’t panic!  This isn’t a rewrite, just a few revisions.  Ch. 1-20 have some stylistic and character inconsistencies with the later chapters; they were written before everyone’s personality had settled down more firmly in my mind, and there are some basic writing errors I now know how to correct.  Yesterday I revised Ch. 1-4 on, and if you don’t see any visible alterations it’s because the changes were pretty minor.  6, 7, and 9 are the main chapters that might require larger revisions, and I expect there to be some controversy.

Today I got to Ch. 5 (again minor alterations only) and am, at this instant, almost done with Ch. 6, which was the first chapter to require major repair.  One section of the chapter had Mood Whiplash – tension rising too quickly, with insufficient warning – which I think I’ve now repaired mostly.  The deeper problem in Ch. 6 is that Harry’s conflict with Professor McGonagall looks too much like a victory – it is a major flaw of Methods that Harry doesn’t lose hard until Ch. 10, so he must at least not win too much before then.  That’s the part I’m working on at this very instant.

Tomorrow I hope to get to Ch. 7 and Ch. 9.  In Ch. 7, the Harry-and-Draco conversation needs to be toned down even further because multiple parents have announced their intention to have their children read this fanfic – and I know that revision is going to be controversial, but Draco’s current conversation is also a little out-of-character by the standards of the Draco in later chapters.  And in Ch. 9, I’m trying to decide whether to remove the Ghostbusters song entirely, or just foreshadow/explain it harder – a lot of people loved it, but a lot of people hated it, and I’m not sure HPMOR needs the extra variance.

And before anyone asks, the printed version of HPMOR that someone made briefly available on Lulu was taken down – probably due to complaints from the troll forum Dark Lord Potter; from what I can see of the chronology, the book was taken down a few moments after someone posted a Dark Lord Potter thread accusing me (it wasn’t me) of selling the book for a profit (the poster made it available at Lulu’s base cost).  This particular forum hates hates hates Methods and anything to do with it, so you can probably assume they’ll complain to any service you use to make HPMOR generally available in printed form.

I am now biting the bullet and starting on Britpicking Ch. 1-37 – trying to eliminate Americanisms from the test.  See the just-launched Official Britpick Thread on /r/HPMOR.  Please note that after some bad prior experiences, I am hoping for actual British readers, rather than Americans working from Internet guides, to offer their advice.  No Britpicks have been contributed yet, so assistance is much desired!

Also much desired are more Bay area test subjects for testing rationality-training units.  We’re starting to run out!  So if you’re in the Bay area and willing to be a test subject For Science! and For Rationality!, please help out!

One of the earliest funders of the Singularity Institute, Edwin Evans (literally the first person ever to support my research – for which he was made Harry’s maternal grandfather in Ch. 36 – also he serves as the Chair of the Singularity Institute) is looking for competent programmers to join the startup he cofounded, Proximiant, located in Mountain View, CA.  They’re trying to replace paper receipts, which besides saving paper and a lot of corporate accounting bureaucracy, will also allow people to do science to their spending habits in greater detail.  Your job will involve, in Edwin’s terms, “getting inanimate objects to communicate telepathically”.  They have funding and are offering competitive salaries along with early-stage startup experience.  Their jobs page is here – and tell them I sent you!

When I’m done with the early-chapter revisions – hopefully tomorrow before I officiate my next wedding – I will fire up Scrivener, the new novel-writing software I’m trying, and start work on the next HPMOR arc, possibly with an altered Ch. 85 thrown in.  (I had something different in mind for Ch. 85, but failed to write it to an acceptable level before the posting deadline; I may try again now that I’ve had a while to think about it.)  For the actual next arc I intend to try plotting out the entire arc scene-by-scene before I write it, using Scrivener’s side-notes pane.  With any luck, that will make the next arc go faster.

But (I hastily disclaim) there’s still a lot of work to be done at the Center for Applied Rationality, as it is now known, getting ready for the weeklong July minicamp, and then the August SPARC mathcamp for exceptional math talents of high school age.  I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that I am, at the moment, busier than usual.  Try not to panic; I still mean to finish what I start, and when I actually got a few moments to work on HPMOR, I was able to revise Ch. 1-6 pretty quickly.  On to Ch. 7-9 and beyond!

The next Author’s Note / progress update will be posted at on July 1st, 2012, at 10pm Pacific Time.