My favorite books and movies of 2018

My favorite books and movies of 2018

2018 is about to end, but before it does, here are the books and movies I enjoyed the most this year. Books: Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. Self-improvement from first principles. While some meditation techniques and philosophies like Vipassana and stoicism teach you how to become robust to emotions and thoughts, Tony shows how to use them to your advantage (antifragility). I find both approaches complementary and I’m getting great results from both.
Thirty days after my first Vipassana meditation course

Thirty days after my first Vipassana meditation course

In the last 40 days I have spent 160 hours meditating and it’s been the best investment I’ve done in years. Here is why. Earlier this year I came across an interview with Yuval Harari in which he talked about Vipassana, a meditation technique that he has been practicing for 17 years. I found it interesting that a lay person would spend two hours per day and a full month per year meditating, so I looked for more information and this is what I found: you learn the technique by attending a ten day course where all you do is meditate for ten hours a day.
AI beats human champions at Go

AI beats human champions at Go

AI is now beating human Go champions. From the article, on the fear of building something more powerful than ourselves: Kwon even went so far as to say that he is now more aware of the potential for machines to break free from the control of humans, echoing words we’ve long heard from people like Elon Musk and Sam Altman. “There was an inflection point for all human beings,” he said of AlphaGo’s win.

How to get better at anything

You probably have at least a skill or two that you would like to improve. What kind of exercises do you need to do to get better as fast as possible? There are people who seem to learn and progress much faster than others who have been at it for years. Why is that so? K. Anders Ericsson has studied for many years how top performers in a variety of activities train and what he has found is this:

How to measure your progress

There are many exercises you can try to improve your performance but they are not all equally useful. Besides that exercises that were useful in the past may not be useful anymore after you reach a certain skill level. If you don’t measure your progress you are in the dark and you could be wasting precious practice time. And when you are by yourself measuring is the only objective coach you have to tell you this.

Learning new habits through spaced repetitions

Habits drive our behavior during most of our waking hours and they represent a big part of who we are. If you have bad habits that you want to get rid off or if you have new habits that you want to adopt the following method may be of help. A well known way of integrating new habits into our lives is to do 30 day challenges: you decide what habit you want to acquire, for example running every day, and then you commit yourself to do it for 30 days.

Deliberate Practice Cheatsheet

If you have read Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin and you want a quick summary of what and how to do deliberate practice you might find the following cheatsheet handy: deliberate_practice_letter.pdf (53Kb) These days I keep a printed copy with me at home and at work. Feedback strongly welcome.

Resources for software engineers

This is a compilation of algorithms, interview questions and other resources. It is intended for students who want to become professional software engineers and a reference to professionals. Algorithms Articles Topcoder Algorithm Tutorials Algosort – repository of algorithms Courses Jeff Erickson’s Algorithms Course Materials MIT OpenCourseWare’s Introduction to Algorithms Problems CareerCup Facebook Puzzles UVA Online Judge ICPC Project Euler Sphere Online

Four sentences emails

Why is it bad? Opening my inbox and seeing all those email sitting there and looking at me is frustrating and makes me feel guilty. It’s also time wasting because less than 1 out of every 20 emails I receive are so contrived or life changing that I need to read them multiple times. A consequence of being a time wasting activity is that I lose time that I could spend in other activities that I enjoy more like continuing my Division by Zero webcomic.

How to study for an engineering major

Are you going to college and planning to become an engineer? After a few years there here are 5 tips that I’ve got from the trenches: What Be prepared to spend time understanding and think that you are stupid. Why I wasn’t born with an engineering mind. I still probably don’t have a full one but I am more engineer than before. And I’m probably not the only one. A big part of what you get from an engineering major is a mindset and that is not something that you achieve by studying the night before.