mindfulness
November 30, 2022

Exposure Training

exposure

Tell me something you are scared of doing and I’ll tell you something you need to do.

Some forms of obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior can be managed with exposure therapy. The idea is that exposing the subject to the things that cause the obsession weakens the effect of the obsessive thoughts (and therefore limits the triggering of the compulsive action.)

This exposure to pain is similar to that of those who prepare for public speaking. Toastmasters, one of the most popular groups for this kind of training, is based mostly on exposure. All members talk in public at least once every session.

Through exposure things don’t necessarily get better–the anxiety might never go away–but things do get easier. We learn what facing our fears looks like, making it easier to repeat the experience knowing we have succeeded in the past.

Doing the things we resist the most is the path toward growth.

November 30, 2022 · #mindfulness

robots
November 29, 2022

Loneliness and Robots

chatbots

i trained an ai chatbot on my childhood journal entries - so that i could engage in real-time dialogue with my “inner child”

michelle huang

Just yesterday I was reading about how Americans are spending more and more time alone:

[I]n 2021, the average American spent only two hours and 45 minutes a week with close friends (a 58 percent decline relative to 2010-2013).

I understand some people might feel uncomfortable about “AI chatbots” (about their inaccuracy, or “fakeness”). However I can’t help to think that the future of humankind will be plagued by artificial entities that we will interact with as we do with other humans. It might be in the form of simple ELIZA models, some ML artifact or full-on conscious intelligences.

I suspect there will be huge benefits to virtual companions to help with this crisis of loneliness that afflict us. In any case I hope humans will evaluate these technologies by the value they derive from them.


Read more about the artist who fed her childhood diary into GPT-3 and had a moving conversation with her younger self

November 29, 2022 · #robots

management
November 28, 2022

Solving the Right Problems

problems

I always say there are two kinds of developers:

A large organization would benefit from both profiles. Embedded within a team, these developers can serve different purposes. They have unique strengths better suited to tackle different problems. Some developers are versatile, but in my experience, I have found that many developers fall into either camp and they don’t thrive when assigned each other’s jobs.

Same thing with life. There are problems you are better prepared for than others. Don’t tackle problems indiscriminately. Be mindful of what problems you work to solve.

Focus on challenges you enjoy because those are the ones in which you are most likely to succeed.

And vice-versa. Focus on challenges you have skill for since those will also give you the most joy.

November 28, 2022 · #management

mindfulness
November 27, 2022

Writing for Mindfulness

writing

I consider writing a form of meditation. As opposed to other forms of meditation that are done sitting down, with eyes closed, still, and in silence, writing is a form of meditation that is active.

Active meditation is a form of meditation in which we focus our attention entirely on the activity we are engaged in. This way of writing requires focus our mind on a single thought and then putting it into words as it comes to us without judgment. In this sense free writing could be considered writing as meditation.

If I can put my judgment aside, and really get into writing, I can get into the flow and lose track of time. (I also experience flow with another form of writing: coding).

Flow is engagement on steroids. Flow is that state of being in which time stands still, you’re totally engaged in an activity, and the challenge of that particular activity matches up with your skill—so you’re neither bored because it’s too easy nor anxious because it’s too hard

Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You

Flow is a state of mind I like to get into with meditation, writing, exercising or any other activity I’m doing.

Writing is one of the most effective ways to achieve mindfulness that I have discovered. A close second to sitting meditation, and up there with reading.

November 27, 2022 · #mindfulness

November 26, 2022

Harmonious Color Palettes

Color palettes are one of the domains where science meets art. Here is a collection of color swatches for different projects.

colors

Solarized

Via: https://ethanschoonover.com/solarized/

Solarized creator Ethan Schoonover sought colors that would look good together, have the same apparent brightness, and work on light and dark backgrounds.

The Very Mathematical History of a Perfect Color Combination

Pico-8

Via: https://romanzolotarev.com/pico-8-color-palette/

Every pixel on PICO-8 is stored as a 4-bit value in memory. Because a 4-bit value can only hold the values 0-15, this means pixels can only choose from a list of 16 colors. This list is referred to as the palette.

Pico-8 Wiki

The 12-bit rainbow palette

Via: https://iamkate.com/data/12-bit-rainbow/

I designed the 12-bit rainbow palette for use in my data visualisations. It consists of twelve colours chosen with consideration for how we perceive hue, chroma, and luminance […] The palette uses a 12-bit colour depth, so each colour requires only four characters when specified as a hexadecimal colour code in a css or svg file:

Dracula (Pro)

Via: https://draculatheme.com/pro

Dracula PRO is a color scheme and UI theme tailored for programming.
Made for terminal emulators, code editors, and syntax highlighters. Designed to be aesthetically pleasing while keeping you focused.

YouGov

Via: https://blog.datawrapper.de/colors-for-data-vis-style-guides/

v1:

v2:

Lego Bricks 2021

Via: https://lospec.com/palette-list/lego-colours-2021

Tools

November 26, 2022 · #miscellaneous

November 25, 2022

Be careful what you wish for

One of my favorite tropes of fairy tales is the curse of the literal genie. This is the wizard or witch that interprets wishes literally.

So if the hero asks to be so rich they’ll drown in money, you can bet your ass the genie will literally shower them with cash until they literally die. This is the curse of Midas who wanted everything they touched to be turned to gold, and once granted they couldn’t feel the touch of another human being without turning them into a statue of gold including their wife and children.

If you get what you wanted, you might find it doesn’t feel as you expected. The genie might actually make you a rich hot celebrity, but you might find that your new stardom gets in the way of truly meaningful relationships (just a wild guess.)

wish

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it

I believe this same fate has cursed many of us. Work hard for what you want and with some luck, you might just get it. But be very mindful of what you want. Many people only realize too late that what they thought they wanted is not what they needed, and need to keep searching.

What are you willing to sacrifice to get your dream? Do you want money? Be more specific. Think about what you are willing to give up. You might realize that money is not exactly what you want. You might want security. You might want recognition to feel valuable. You might want status symbols to attract a partner. You might want confidence.

I still struggle to define what I want. I might never figure it out! But I have come to believe that the search is a north star and the journey is where the riches are.

November 25, 2022 · #miscellaneous

November 24, 2022

Thank you all

Here is a list of tools, apps and libraries I’ve used this last year. I want to give thanks to all these creators.

🏆 My shortlist

🧰 Libraries

👯‍♀️ My essentials

Thank you all.

thanks

November 24, 2022 · #miscellaneous

November 23, 2022

The power of minutes

Another way to think about micro-tasks to get things done, is to think about micro-moments.

Micro-tasks help reduce the amount of work to small chunks. They help divide an overwhelming goal into sizable bit-size tasks.

A way of taking action on these micro-tasks is to think about micro-time slots. Just as we broke down big jobs into small tasks, we can break down hour-long jobs into minute-long tasks.

Have a bias to action. Focus on minutes, instead of hours. To get started, think about the kind of work (which micro-tasks) could be done in the next few minutes.

We all have minutes to spare. More than we think. Put them to use.

minutes

November 23, 2022 · #miscellaneous

November 22, 2022

Stockpiling

There are three types of things I get out of reading a book:

One must find a mechanism to capture all this knowledge. Highlighting, taking notes, and writing summaries are some of the things I do.

Here is an example of each different kind of knowledge captured from reading Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

stockpiling

Practices

Designing your life encourages readers to “recalibrate their life compass” every year.

The best way to know what you really think and value about the big questions of life is to ask yourself and see what you have to say. We urge you to revisit your compass at least annually, and recalibrate it. This will help you revitalize the creation of meaning in your life.

This “recalibration” is a practice to be done on a cadence. Archiving the knowledge for a later time is not enough. To extract true value one must find a way to put it into practice.

I believe in goal setting and reviewing, and this recalibration is a good way to frame the act of reviewing goals.

Of all the things I read, I compile those habits or practices I should do on a cadence.

Mottos

I like to give mottos special attention. These condensed life lessons have the ability to resonate in a way more words don’t always do. And also, since they are shorter, they are easier to remember and repeat to oneself like a mantra.

Here are some of my favorites from Designing your life:

“It’s never too late to design a life you love”

“Flow is play for grown-ups”

“Building is thinking”

Learnings

Everything else I read that I consider interesting in any way I like to capture. I like to write down these core ideas so I can go back to them for inspiration.

The core ideas behind Designing your life are summarized at the end of the book:

We introduced the idea of life design in this book by telling you five simple things you need to do:

  1. be curious (curiosity),
  2. try stuff (bias to action),
  3. reframe problems (reframing),
  4. know it’s a process (awareness), and
  5. ask for help (radical collaboration).

In sum, when reading a book, capture information, process it, and do something with it. That’s how you turn knowledge into wisdom.

November 22, 2022 · #miscellaneous

November 21, 2022

World-building creativity

We should approach human creativity as a multiplayer world-building activity.

The outcome that matters is what we put out as a group, not as individuals

It doesn’t matter how “bad” your art is. It doesn’t have to be “good”. It has to be yours. It’s your voice that this multiplayer game is missing without it.

It’s a game the magnitude of our species.

This game of making, mixing, remixing, digesting, turning, and creating, it’s all a game where all can play, where all are welcome, and the more that participate the more wonderful the output.

Think of creativity as a group exercise, not a solo endeavor

Add your voice to the mix. Let it be heard. Even if out of pitch. It’ll only make the chorus that much richer.

creativity

November 21, 2022 · #miscellaneous

management
November 20, 2022

Being right

being right

Do you want to be right or do you want to create something?

— Phil Stutz, Stutz

I like to say that being right is half the battle. And not even the most important battle at all.

Many people believe being right is all there is. That once you are right you are deserved recognition for it. The struggle comes when those who believe are right don’t get their way. Their ideas don’t move forward. Their suggestions are shut down. They don’t get support for their projects. They get pushed aside, or worst, ignored entirely.

Being right is half the battle, the other half is getting people on your side. Without support nothings moves forward. The hardest part is not having ideas, or even correct ideas. The hard part is making other see your point of view, having them understand why you think your ideas are better than those of others.

There are a lot of ways to get people on your side, and many of them have nothing to do with being right. In fact, some of the most successful people are wrong more often than they are right. But they are also very good at selling their ideas, at getting people to see their point of view.

The ability to persuade, to convince, to gain support, is a skill that’s worth honing. It’s a skill that’s just as important as being right.

Most people want to be right, but the few who win are the ones who also know how to get others to see their side.

November 20, 2022 · #management

November 19, 2022

Which way you ought to go

Most times in life, there is no arriving. What counts is the work we put in along the way without obsessing about the outcome.

The recently popular motto “failing is good” is there to remind us that the effort put towards a failed enterprise is valid in and of itself.

The journey is the destination.

“Destination” can be seen as a metaphor for success, or any other goal we may have. We should enjoy the journey because it is the only thing we can control. The destination is out of our hands.

This seems most relevant in the current climate of layoffs and looming economic recession. To me, the future never felt more uncertain. We don’t know what’s going to happen. All we can do is focus on the present and make the most of it.

So, next time you find yourself stressing about the future, or feeling disappointed about not yet having reached your goal, remember: the journey is the destination.

Enjoy the ride.

alice

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

November 19, 2022 · #miscellaneous

November 18, 2022

Adequate progress

That’s what they used to say at my elementary school if you were doing as expected and learning along: “adequate progress.” That was my report card.

Adequate or “extraordinary” (that’s the other word they used), I care most about progress itself.

1% compounded daily for 365 days amounts to 3678.3% profit. Slow or fast, consistency beats the market any day.

Constant daily improvements are the key to sustainable success.

progress

November 18, 2022 · #miscellaneous

November 17, 2022

Reach out

Reach out to people around you. Don’t wait for them to take the first step. Be generous and vulnerable.

You will be doing them a service but also to yourself.

Relationships need care. Like a plant that needs regular watering, people need attention. The good news is relationships are more resilient. You can bring them back to life even if you haven’t watered them in a while.

If you haven’t talked to somebody for a while, reach out. They will be happy to hear from you. We live in a chronic state of solitude. Loneliness is the plague of the century.

Be generous. Be vulnerable. Reach out.

reach

November 17, 2022 · #miscellaneous

management
November 16, 2022

Never give up, never surrender

Take a thousand shots. One might hit the target.

Good advice, but it requires a lot of stamina. When the odds are not in your favor and everything feels uphill, you have to have a lot of confidence to keep trying.

But there is no other way, right? Such is the path of the hero.

My best trick is to focus on the process and not on the end goal. The journey is the destination, so enjoy the journey. One step at a time.

Never give up. Never surrender.

surrender

November 16, 2022 · #management

management
November 15, 2022

Why work

I’ve always said a job needs at least one of two elements (and ideally both):

But that’s not what makes my job click. There is more to a role than the above.

work

Engaging in intellectually stimulating tasks is very rewarding. I like to spend time-solving puzzles. I like challenges I haven’t faced before and trying to engineer my way to solve them.

Socialization is a key part of work. The workplace is a very significant space for relationships. The office is one of the spaces where I get to be most social (even if it’s also very draining). I need that socialization. Feeling like part of a team, contributing, collaborating, etc, are essential parts of my well-being.

Work facilitates security. Something I have come to appreciate more and more as I stepped into adulthood as a gay man, and realized I am responsible for caring for myself as I grow older. I am not scared of death, but I have respect for it and approach it with stoicism. I can’t change it, I just need to prepare for it. Money provides a standard of living today and security for retirement tomorrow.

Helping others is my main driving force behind being a manager. I started down the management path in order to unblock the rest of the team I worked with. I wanted to make the work experience as smooth as possible for them. I started taking ownership of more things, having conversations that needed to be had, mentoring junior people, etc.

Eventually, the opportunity to take on the manager role presented itself. This opened the door to big-picture thinking. I enjoy helping solve problems from a high level in a more holistic way.

Above it all, I care about designing products that put the customer first. User experience is a key principle of my work since I started. Strong conceptual creative work is another.

November 15, 2022 · #management

management
November 14, 2022

Create memes to exert influence

Part of being successful working at a large organization is being effective at socializing your ideas. This could be anything from vision and strategy, project proposals, logistics, etc. To gain adoption, it helps to think of these ideas as memes.

I am talking about “memes” as described in Richard Dawkins’s book The Selfish Gene. Memes are ideas that spread.

“Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.”

― Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

Here are two suggestions to help your ideas catch on.

1. Visualize your idea

People react to visuals. A good image is attention-grabbing. Graphs, data visualization, diagrams, etc. are a form of condensed information that make concepts easier to understand and share.

Visuals can help when explaining certain complex thoughts. Hierarchies, data flows, group relationships, taxonomies, and architectural diagrams, are all examples of topics that are easier covered/explained with visuals.

Another advantage of using visuals is that images don’t rely on the language processing centers in our brains. Speaking over a slide of bullet points is the best way to confuse your audience. On the other hand, you can display a visual and talk over it at the same time without confusing our interlocutor. Visuals allow you to increase your communication bandwidth.

2. Label your idea

I already talked about [[2022-11-03 - The Power of Labeling|labeling]], the process by which we give an idea a concrete name to refer to it. Labeling helps people to pay more attention to new ideas, as well as help recollection at a later time. Labeling also helps give ideas authority, which in turn can help adoption.

memes

Lastly, keep in mind that a successful meme has a tendency to evolve as it spreads through your organization. As the meme brain-jumps, it might change or lose its meaning.

This should be ok if you care about your idea being implemented more than about recognition.

In my experience, it’s a risk worth taking, even if it has caught me by surprise when my memes served slightly different purposes than what I had intended.

“When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme’s propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.”

― Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

November 14, 2022 · #management

mindfulness
November 13, 2022

What can you obsess about

What can you obsess about? That is the question we should ask ourselves.

“Follow your passion,” they say.

I say let’s replace passion with obsession.

“Follow your obsession.”

When we are obsessed about something we get in the flow.

“[Flow]—the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

flow

Being in the flow is the most efficient and likely satisfactory way of being productive.

What activities can you engage in that make you lose track of time? What activities take your total focus and attention away from everyday concerns? What activities give you energy instead of taking it?

What can you obsess about?

November 13, 2022 · #mindfulness

November 12, 2022

Core concepts for a macOS native development newbie

Before I jump to learn native development I needed to get my basic concepts straight. Here is what I learned so far.

iOS

iOS gets much of attention for native development (vs macOS)

Swift

Swift and AppKit ****are used to make native UI for macOS

Catalyst

UI libraries

There are three UI libraries for native development

SwiftUI seems to be the way forward but still not fully developed.

Declarative programming

Declarative UI programming patterns seem to be all the rage.

Web-based technologies

Web-based technologies are an alternative for native development are

swift

Right now, it feels a little bit like the three main MacOS app frameworks are floating in unanchored space: AppKit is not the future, Catalyst is not ready to replace it, and using SwiftUI remains a long way off for big, complicated apps

Where Mac Catalyst Falls Short

Ok, so SwiftUI is not ready, but it seems the learning curve is small and for simple application it might be enough. It might be a good place to start for me. Alternatively I could go with React Native since I’m dabbing into React these days.

I’m sure I got something wrong. Will try to remember to update.

References

Articles

Learning

Books

November 12, 2022 · #miscellaneous

management
November 11, 2022

Passion for learning

A second career doesn’t have to be a professional one. We need vocations apart from employment.

We focus too much on learning or getting degrees for work. Work, as always, drives lot of our desire for self-improvement.

We should challenge this inertia. We must encourage ourselves to get into new fields as a way of personal growth. Maybe those explorations will have a professional applications, but we should make that a secondary goal.

We need to regain the passion for learning.

learning

November 11, 2022 · #management

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