Cups and Balls


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One of my favorite magic tricks is Penn & Teller's variation on "Cups and Balls".

They begin with three red cups which they place on a table and balls of aluminum foil impossible move from under one to another, from outside of a cup to inside of a cup, and from small to large to a baseball.

That's the beginning of their take on a trick that goes back thousands of years. You can read more about this trick in the PeerJ article Perceptual elements in Penn & Teller’s “Cups and Balls” magic trick.

My favorite part of the trick is when they finish it and Penn announces that they are about to violate four rules of magic: don’t tell the audience how the trick is done, don’t perform the same trick twice, don’t show the audience the secret preparation, and never perform cups and balls with clear plastic cups.

Then, even though we've seen the trick before and are watching for when Teller loads balls into the cups while we're supposed to be looking somewhere else - even though they're using clear plastic cups - even though we've seen Teller put the additional items in his pockets - even though Penn narrates and tells us exactly what Teller is doing - with all of that, it's still a fantastic trick.

Most of us have a different trick.

We tell people what we intend to do. We tell them in great detail. And then we don't do it.

At this point I feel pretty good about letting you know what I'm going to try to accomplish.

For the last year I've been working on this using red cups that you can't see inside of. I've written and shipped books on SwiftUI and Functional Programming, launched a newsletter, cleaned up my websites, added a few more websites, written and delivered training on Swift, SwiftUI, Combine, and FP in person and now online. I've finally launched my video site and produced three videos as proof of concept and to better learn the medium.

Now I think I'm ready to continue the trick using clear cups.

Here are my plans for the remainder of 2020.

Update the Swift, SwiftUI, and Functional Programming books for the current versions of Swift, SwiftUI, and Xcode.

More importantly, I want to experiment with updating them in public. I will try to post regularly on my Editor's Cut site with code and prose describing some of the differences. I'd like to also post on things I get wrong and have to fix.

Start work on my bread baking and Combine books.

Work on two apps that have been calling to me. I've begun work on both and I don't commit to shipping them or sharing them publicly, but I'm having a lot of fun writing them.

Continuing to do online training and conference appearances. I love interacting with other people and this is a wonderful opportunity to do so.

Launch video courses. This is the one I've been putting off the longest and it makes me a bit nervous.

So there you have it - this is the trick I intend to perform in front of you while I tell you how I'm doing with it all.

There will be many missteps that I will make in plain view. Please be kind. I think it's important that you not just see a polished finished product.

Believe me, doing this in public is a bit scary. It takes both cups and balls.