Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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.

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.

Reading more, writing more

People around me say I’m well read, or consume a lot of reading materials. That may be true, but lately I feel like I’m in a bit of a constant cycle of going through my subscriptions, and reading shorter form stuff, with a lot more context switching than I expected.

So it was kind of a great surprise that I managed to sit thru and polish off one book on my Kindle in the last day: What Men Say, What Women Hear: Briding the Communication Gap One Conversation At A Time by Linda Papadopoulos. In hindsight, all I can say is I wish I read this book much earlier. I highly recommend it, and maybe will export my notes later, but this quick 240 page read released in 2011 is what I consider “life changing reading”. You really can bridge the he-says/she-says gap.

But back to my point of reading more. It’s probably worth consuming, and then also having some output. Which is why I aim to blog more (I mean I have thousands of notes in Evernote; but that isn’t shared, is it? Current count: 21,457).

Last year started off like this, but I lost momentum as the year progressed; in the first week, I finished reading Choose Yourself by James Altucher. It’s kind of a good book to read once, around the time of the New Year’s, I would reckon.

I don’t know if my thoughts or commentary are worthwhile on issues that I don’t directly involve myself in, but if I’m going to read and even have a one liner comment, I’m thinking it makes sense to blog it. Sure it can also be federated to Twitter. Importantly though is I have my searchable archive on the Web. And I think this is what the crux of blogging is all about – I don’t only have to produce signal all the time, sometimes noise can be good too. (after all, isn’t that the premise of social media? We create a lot of noise, and it seems to work too.)

A blog I once thought was extremely popular in its space, I finally came to realise has quite a pathetic readership on a per article basis. Maybe this is because while RSS isn’t dead, you can’t help people trying to not extend its use (Google Reader’s demise was really an issue).

Anyway, back to my thoughts on consumption. Consumption has to be coupled with some kind of action, beyond it being all in my head. I’m using this process to expose my brain, and clear it up for other more important things.

I also think that there’s plenty of insights one can gain from reading all those news subscriptions I have. One more thing: trying to get reading more stuff, faster. No point going below Instapaper 500, only to see it bloom to 780 again. I’m going to make it more manageable again.

Time is something you can’t get back again which is why I liberally zap thru podcasts these days. I prefer audiobooks.

So while I don’t think I can read 52 books this year, I should feel good if I finish 20 books this year? And remain on top of all my subscriptions: NYT, WSJ, FT, The Economist, Nikkei Asian Review, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Atlantic Monthly (thanks to a friend’s kind gift!), and Monocle. The rule of going thru the item the moment you get it, is very important. I also have a habit of picking up Bloomberg Businessweek in airport lounges; a great resource, but if I’m to stick to my plan of seeing the airports less, I may eventually think of getting a subscription to that (or at least ensuring the Club’s library has a copy). I occasionally also enjoy Harvard Business Review (at the Club and online). Needing to “re-integrate” to Malaysia again, I think I might have to start consuming The Edge daily/weekly, because that’s probably the only sensible newspaper that exists in the country.

So, let’s see how much I can read, how much I can write, and how all this consumption (and output) helps me get great stuff done on a daily basis (connecting the dots, strategy, outreach, ideation, etc.)

P/S: a timely tweet that seems to be going around:

Linda Papadopoulos on the James Altucher show

I don’t listen to every episode of the James Altucher podcast (to be fair, I don’t listen to every episode of any podcast; I skip liberally, preferring to spend quality time with audiobooks from Audible). Anyway, I quite enjoyed Ep. 296 – Linda Papadopoulos: Validation: Why It’s Dangerous…. I listened for thoughts on her book Unfollow: Living Life on Your Own Terms, but stayed for What Men Say, What Women Hear.

Now that the book is on my Kindle, a few notes from the podcast:

  • In a relationship, if you argue for contempt, it would be highly likely that it leads to an end.
  • What is contempt? Having a lack of respect, disregard for the other party, belittling the other party, and so on.
  • Arguing is fine, if you argue to grow
  • If you’re in the above bucket, restructure the way you’re communicating to have a better relationship.

James Altucher also said that men like to solve problems, and Linda Papadopoulos replies that generally women just want to air their problems, not come up with solutions. Maybe we are truly wired differently?

I listen to podcasts when I can’t otherwise read (i.e. when driving a car, walking thru an airport, etc.), and have to admit that I occasionally take rough notes in a Field Notes notebook (I got a subscription). Seems “safer” than using your mobile phone and driving, eh?

Upon reaching my laptop, I decided to research a little more on contempt. How Contempt Destroys Relationships is definitely a good read, because it simplifies things a lot – a mix of emotions: disgust & anger. Listen to understand. Focus on positivity: appreciation, gratitude, affection, agreement, interest and smiles. “Dump the contempt. Listen well. And pump up the positivity!”

Another interesting link that popped up? Avoiding the “four horsemen” in relationships. For one, I’m impressed by the entire site from Berkeley, Greater Good in Action. Avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling — there are always alternatives.

It’s never too late to learn new things, and this for me is part of how I plan to improve in 2018; understanding people better, and hopefully moving on from an INTJ to an ENTJ (go on, get the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – plenty of them exist online too). It is claimed that your personality type is inborn, but you can develop traits and habits that differ or contradict the description of type; so it should be possible to become an Extrovert even if naturally Introverted. Further reading: is it possible to change your personality type?.

Movie for our times: Tulip Fever

I was flying and managed to catch Tulip Fever. Interesting show, considering I have had many conversations recently where people had no idea what the Tulip Mania was all about. It’s a good “plane movie”, and maybe gives you some insight into what occurred then, but it didn’t open to great reviews (e.g. NYT). It has two themes – love, and of course the tulip mania. I choose to focus on the tulip aspect of things, considering I’m in tech, and the crypto space is often referred to as one. Naturally this is spoiler filled.

Some gems:

  • Q: Are they a good investment? A: Well the market’s going up, you won’t go wrong
  • Man has 18 Florens in total, and he spends it all in one go – “an excellent investment”
  • “Took his own life over a Tulip bulb”
  • Man: I paid 18 Florens for these bulbs, I’m told if they continue to rise, they will double. Nun in convent: A month ago, you could have had them for 10.
  • “Cut the flower and sell the bulb, you have a rare one”

Shortly thereafter the man gives up being a fishmonger to become a trader! (A bit like crypto today when Uber drivers talk about investment advice).

More quotes of choice:

  • “of course, free money”
  • Nun: “the more they weigh the more they’re worth” – best bulb, sold for 920 Gilders, but we sold it for 18.
  • “I would like to get a foot into the tulip business. Will you help me?”
  • If the market keeps going up why isn’t anybody selling? Because it can go up three times in a month.
  • “All we have to do is put all our eggs in one basket. A single bulb. The rarer the better.”

Eventually at auction, Admiral Maria – a 2,000 Floren tulip bulb, which goes for 1,500. He asks for 1,200 then they agree on 1,400. He is leveraging everything even though he doesn’t actually have the Admiral Maria. Due to his friend’s drunkenness, the bulb goes missing (eaten?), and the fishmonger sadly has been thrown into the sea

Eventually, 8000 Gilders and 2 houses is what the new owner sold the Admiral Maria for.

Then the Government stepped in to ban the Tulip trade. Prices crashed.

All this points to irrational exuberance and the theory of the greater fool.

This is not a movie I’d watch paying full attention to. You could get away with occasional reading on your Kindle/iPad. But it might get more people to remember a bit about the history of the tulip mania. After all, as George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


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