Notes to self

Not gold alone brought us hither

Sep 30, 2012

Ideas

Ideas are what lead to new things. The two different stages in this process of creating something new are – the idea and the implementation. So first, there needs to be an idea – that moment of inspiration when a thought is born which promises to be a seed to doing or creating something new or different, possibly even useful (lucky you if it is useful because most ideas are useless). The second stage is implementation, where the idea generator or somebody else takes that idea and converts that into something useful.

Most ideas die without seeing any effort dedicated to preserving or implementing them. My guess is that ideas die mostly because they are never captured. An idea surfaces as a spark in someones head only to vanish in the next moment because that person got busy with something else.

One common practice successful people say they use to take ideas to implementation is by capturing the idea in the form of a note before they forget the details. They usually do this by always carrying with them a notebook where they can jot down the idea as soon as it occurs to them. Its important to do that right away because in that moment of inspiration, you can get into as much detail as you want about an idea and start taking notes before you forget or lose interest. Its like listening to your brain develop the idea while you quickly take notes before the brain decides to shift its attention to something else. Scott Adams says that you know you have a good idea when you feel a physical sensation in your belly when the idea strikes you. When that happens, grab your notebook and a pencil, and write it down.

The point is, make a note of good ideas and with as much detail as possible. Doing so will greatly improve the chances of that idea being implemented.

Jul 15, 2012

Feature backlog

Joel Spolsky blogs about software development and points out wasteful inventories.

In the post, he makes an interesting observation about feature backlog:

Every product attracts new feature ideas, and you can’t implement ideas as fast as you can think them up, so you write them down, and this list is called the feature backlog. A lot of the ideas on the backlog are bad ideas, and you merely wrote them down to avoid hurting the feelings of the people who thought them up. Backlogs make everyone feel good.

The blog post is here.

Jun 16, 2012

Rescue

Atul Gawande talks about the difference between triumph and defeat.

So you will take risks, and you will have failures. But it’s what happens afterward that is defining. A failure often does not have to be a failure at all. However, you have to be ready for it—will you admit when things go wrong? Will you take steps to set them right?—because the difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks. It’s about mastery of rescue.

May 29, 2012

Mirror

Looking at the profile pictures of people on Facebook and Twitter, I see a pattern. From what I have seen so far, the profile pictures fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Picture of self from the past when they looked much younger/better
  2. Current picture of self
  3. Picture of a celebrity
  4. No picture

I dont know what to make of the last two, but I have been type 1 until recently, and am trying to move to type 2. Let me explain…

When you remember yourself from the past that you like better than your current self, and if you think those days were better than today, then you probably like others to see you the way you looked in those days. That’s type 1.

But if you are happy with yourself today, and that is how you want to project yourself to others, you will tend to put up a recent picture of yourself. That’s type 2.

Up until now, my profile picture used to be from 2004, when I used to be at the peak of my physical fitness (no, not the 6-pack kind – just less fatter than today). That was the self that I always wanted others to see me as. But I have come to a realization that hanging on to the past will not make my present any better, leave alone the future. I like to think that my tomorrow will be better than today. So I recently changed my profile picture to one that was taken recently. This picture is almost like a mirror in front of me, reminding me of what I look like today. And if that image does not match the image that I want to see, I better do something about it now. Be regular at my daily excercise perhaps. It is almost like looking in the mirror.

May 27, 2012

Autosave

My laptop battery has now reached a point where it cannot hold even for a second, and that requires the machine to be connected to the mains all the time. This works as long as it works, until there is a power failure. This happened recently and it was a reminder that things that we now take for granted were different only a few years ago. In those days, we were reminded to save our work frequently and for those unlucky ones who lost an hour or more of work, we would laugh at their plight.

Now, we don’t pay attention to saving frequently because:

  • OS’s do not crash often
  • Power supply is reliable because the battery on your laptop will give you enough warning before it drains out completely
  • Most email clients will autosave your email drafts every few minutes
  • Most text editors will save a recovery file that can be used for recovery

Recently, for some reason, I turned off the backup file in my Vim editor and realized how misguided that step was when I lost just 10 minutes of work due to a power failure (remember, my laptop battery cannot hold even for a second). Every single minute I spent reproducing the lost text, I kept saving the text while cursing to myself about what had just happened.

Of course, the solution is simple. Next week, I will find a replacement for the battery and just to be safe, have turned on the backup files in my Vim configuration. I hope to forget about having to repeatedly save files once again.

May 26, 2012

Test post from Xubuntu

This is my first post from the Linux system since I moved from Windows to Linux on my work computer. If you are seeing this post, the setup is now complete. But I have to say what a pain it is to get the Octopress setup right, if you are not a ruby developer. But there is no point in complaining too much because Octopress in general is very likable.