For the last few days I have been on an Internet fast. That means no news, no Twitter, no surfing, no games, no Netflix. I still check my email, and I send and receive the occasional WhatsApp message, but that’s about it.
I feel so much more productive! When I would normally reach for my phone to check twitter, or read the news, I have been studying, or doing something active. When I go back to accessing the Internet again, I will probably try and limit myself to certain times of the day.
I use Emacs and GnuPG to save my passwords to an encrypted file. I’m really happy with this, as I save the encrypted file in Dropbox, and I can decrypt it across all machines and Operating Systems, and it syncs automatically. My Emacs config looks as follows:
(setenv "GPG_AGENT_INFO" nil)
(setq password-cache-expiry (* 15 60))
(setq epa-file-cache-passphrase-for-symmetric-encryption t)
Continue reading “Emacs, gpg and pinentry on Mac”
The key to fast improvement is to iterate as quickly as possible and have good feedback loops built in from quality sources. This is why sketches, outlines, designs, and rough plans are so important. The goal is gather as much feedback as possible, and then to iterate quickly. When enough information about the optimal solution is gathered at a particular level of granularity, then drill down into greater detail. It’s essentially the gradient descent algorithm applied to life.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work on automating my life. It’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been using Python and Jupyter a lot to create scripts to make myself more productive. I have been customising my notebook to create an optimal work environment. I’ve been setting up my Emacs environment to make it more effective. It’s been nice having the space to do this!
Some days I feel flat and completely unproductive. It’s a struggle to get anything done. I find that time-boxing helps. Today I found that going for a run really helped. This morning I felt totally discombobulated. This afternoon after the run, I had a lot more focus. I still need to ensure that I get the right things done though.
Today I discovered the sheer awesomeness that is Emacs with EIN. This lets my Emacs environment to to Jupyter Notebooks. Through it, I have the power of Emacs Python completion and editing while writing iPython functions. It works really well! I can display matplotlib graphs inline in my Emacs buffer. There is even symbolic computation via the sympy package! Bliss!
I have been studying continuously for many years now. I am still refining my studying technique though. One of the things that I am being forced to do with the maths I am doing at the moment, is to read and re-read the course materials over and over again. My workflow at the moment is:
- Skim the chapter. Scan the headings and sub-headings and try to build up the outline in my head.
- Skim through the problems within the chapter.
- Speed read the chapter. Get more of an idea of what is going on.
- Read through the problems and the answers.
- Read the chapter more thoroughly. Try and get a good understanding.
- Work through the problems.
- Repeat 5 and 6 until either clarity or the exam arrives!
The World-champion chess player Gary Kasparov concluded that “Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkable, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.” He created “Freestyle Chess”, pairing a computer and a human to make a stronger chess player. This hybrid combination is sometimes called a “Centaur”.
Continue reading “Centaur Living”
I’ve been using Todoist for my daily tasks, but today I decided to upgrade to a Premium account. I used Things for a while, but when I switched to using an Android phone (OnePlus One), I had to switch to something that was cross-platform. Todoist allows me to structure my projects hierarchically and put priorities on the tasks. The Premium account means that I can add labels and comments to the tasks. It integrates with Amazon Alexa, and there are apps for all my devices!
When I was young, I did this thing called Silva Mind Control. It taught me meditation, and various other mental techniques that have come in handy throughout my life. One of the techniques that we learnt was for memorising lists of things – they called it “Memory Pegs” in Silva. It turns out that this technique is generally known as “The Major Mnemonic System” derived from a technique developed in the 1600s. I became more interested in mnemonics after the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” shot to fame, especially combined with all the studying I have been doing over the years which made me desperate for faster ways of remembering things. It made me dust off this technique and start to use it again.