I was listening to The Economist “Babbage” podcast yesterday, and was really struck my something Timoni West said. She mentioned Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law - “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. She then said; “The reverse is also true - any sufficiently rigorous technology doesn’t feel like technology any more”.
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.
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.
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".
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!
I have both an iPad Pro and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet running Linux. Depending on what I am planning on doing on a day-to-day basis affects which device I carry around. Mostly I carry my Surface, as I have Linux installed, and it allows me to easily do development, remotely administer machines, or do general computing tasks. The keyboard on it isn't great however - it's kind of flimsy and doesn't work well if it's not on a firm surface. I can't easily use it on a train for example. It was perfect when we were in Australia for a month, and allowed me to both work and do University assignments. I can use it as a tablet for reading, but it isn't great for that.