The Art of Zettelkasten

While I’m not about to purchase The Archive as another app (I’m all in on Evernote and Ulysses, with a little help from Drafts 5), it seems like reading the principles behind zettelkasten seemed rather interesting.

Some highlights for me, which I totally agree with include the fact that reading is easy, writing notes is also easy, but the processing does take time. In the Collector’s Fallacy Confession, you’ll note that “For every hour of reading, it can take up to double the time to take proper notes.” I tend to agree. I don’t process notes like the author, but I myself do write down stuff with a pen and on paper. Sometimes I scribble in the physical book itself. I find that when I read on Kindle, I highlight, but don’t make notes (at which point, I’ll have to export the highlights and make notes around it).

Then I move on to reading The Collector’s Fallacy. Collecting itself isn’t progress, “Collections make us drown in liabilities.”. “kept isn’t read”.

I myself am a big consumer of RSS. There are thoughts on note taking from RSS. For me, I tend to tweet links that I think others might find interesting. But if I want to archive it, I quite happily send it along to Evernote.

When it comes to reading, you need to read analytically, practice so you know the topic, and then gain insight. I’m all in on Learn Faster by Writing Zettel Notes.

The writer refers to the short knowledge cycle, which more or less can be summed up as research (find the materials), read, take excellent notes, then compose notes. So you read, process, reflect, then adapt/change the routine as you see fit.

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process

I was about to purchase Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee, but then I read Who Can Afford to Write Like John McPhee?. Apparently most of the book has already been published in The New Yorker. So I might just settle for the audiobook, and/or read the articles in Instapaper (probably both; to listen to it in transit, with the ability to highlight notes in the articles).

First, I needed a table of contents. Then I found pretty much all his work at his author page. Now the articles, presented in order:

Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

I listened to Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang and I quite enjoyed it. Its clear you need to rest for success.

Some key takeaways: rest, take regular vacations (maybe coupled with a think week), have focused mornings (when the alarm goes off, don’t read social media or your email; have a plan for what you want to achieve before being interrupted – consider this your leader time), allow your mind to wander, and exercise regularly.

Some quick notes:

  • Rest is not the adversary of work. Rest is the partner of work. They complement and complete each other.
  • A stoic would say, no good life without good work. One provided means to live, while one gave meaning to life.
  • If you want rest you have to take it
  • Learn to breathe (I think this is something the Apple Watch helps with as well; it reminds you from time to time to take a breather for a minute, and then it quantifies it for you as well).
  • Rest in ways that are challenging or rewarding
  • Long creative lives tend to be lives rich in work and rest. Don’t worry about age
  • Don’t say labor rather than contemplation is what gives you success – this is why you have workaholics
  • Do you have convergent or divergent thinking? Wikipedia has some good reading on this: Convergent thinking, Divergent thinking.
  • Brief periods of mind wandering boosts creativity
  • Associative thinking – maybe this is why people like working in cafes
  • Deliberate practice
  • Have focused mornings
  • Inspiration must find you working
  • Awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up – our brain can only do one not the other (our brains don’t multitask)
  • There’s a link between lack of sleep and dementia as well as sleep disturbance and dementia
  • Vacations are like sleep. Take them regularly.
  • Build rest into your schedule
  • Use recovery activities to help with creativity (why exercise is useful)
  • Exercise regularly. Otherwise strenuous exercise will tire you out!
  • Finishing an entire book is close to manual labor according to Murakami (quote from: Haruki Murakami: Writing Novels Is an Endurance Sport)
  • Exercise in your mid life (40–50s) will really help you later in life
  • To stay ahead, it’s necessary sometimes to step back
  • Bill Gates think week – he spent a week away from everyone including family to read and figure out new things. Very interesting concept, WSJ In Secret Hideaway, Bill Gates Ponders Microsoft’s Future reports its a twice yearly ritual for him.
  • The Samsung Electronics sabbatical plan is quite interesting; you go around the world, immerse in local culture, and it helps the company overall. Read Why Samsung pays its stars to goof off.
  • Depth of experience abroad is important. More important than breadth, i.e. just travel abroad. Working in 2 countries a year is good but 8 will be too much (I personally like this idea tremendously; it also makes for diverse networks).
  • Detachment is important during a sabbatical
  • Annie Dillard: “who would call a day reading a good day? But a life spent reading, that is a good life” (full quote)
  • From a book in 1895, titled The Use of Life by John Lubbock, he makes a distinction between idleness and leisure: “Leisure is one of the grandest blessings, idleness one of the greatest curses. One is the source of happiness, the other of misery.” People sometimes mistake rest for idleness but this is obviously a mistake.

MariaDB Developer’s unconference & M|18

Been a while since I wrote anything MySQL/MariaDB related here, but there’s the column on the Percona blog, that has weekly updates.

Anyway, I’ll be at the developer’s unconference this weekend in NYC. Even managed to snag a session on the schedule, MySQL features missing in MariaDB Server (Sunday, 12.15–13.00). Signup on meetup?

Due to the prevalence of “VIP tickets”, I too signed up for M|18. If you need a discount code, I’ll happily offer them up to you to see if they still work (though I’m sure a quick Google will solve this problem for you). I’ll publish notes, probably in my weekly column.

If you’re in New York and want to say hi, talk shop, etc. don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Roaming data, revisited

I’m reminded about roaming data as we’re now in 2018.

For me, in the last few years, it has already become common to turn on roaming data at the RM36/day rate for unlimited Internet access. I of course plan/optimise this (since it follows a midnight-midnight regime). I tend not to have roaming data turned on when it is RM56/day (so in the USA, UK, I actually have local SIM cards; I have them in a few other places too, but the reality is they’re for other things like local banks, etc.).

Lately, it’s becoming more common to get for RM25, a 3-day pass, with roaming data. It’s not unlimited, but maybe capped at 2–4GB. 2GB in 3 days is pretty generous. Sure I don’t download podcasts over the 4G connection. But it suffices for all my mobile and tethering needs generally.

This to me has recently become somewhat of a new window, because in a country like China where you almost definitely need to turn on your VPN, you’re still getting a Malaysian IP while roaming and still enjoying access to all websites as per normal (so its great for Google products; still no Medium access though).

I have still not bothered to try a service like Flexiroam.

It’s never really about the product

From an excellent Medium post: The 3 Most Important Things I Know About Consumers I Learned From Bartending:

  1. It’s never really about the product – people drink to feel (or to stop feeling) something. True again about buying clothes. “Understanding these needs goes a long way. You almost never want to speak or market directly in terms of these needs, because it freaks people out and breaks the “magic” of what they’re doing, but understanding the deeper motivations goes a long way in building rapport.”
  2. People want to be guided – so true, I always do say, “what do you recommend?” For me, it makes or breaks my visit to the place; a passionate person would give me a recommendation they themselves consume, rather than what they think I would like to consume. Interesting to also see that people care about what others do… “Social proof is a powerful thing. And with great power comes great responsibility.”
  3. Consistency vs. Novelty – Customers want rapport with you (and themselves). “People love new. They love novelty.”

Giving stuff away gets people engaged (well yes, who doesn’t love a free lunch?).

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is also that people want to like you, and they do want others to like them (and they also want to like themselves).

So when making products, think about fulfilling all these needs.


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