My favorite books and movies of 2018

Dec 31, 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

Sep 19, 2017
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.

How to get better at anything

Feb 1, 2014
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

Jan 21, 2014
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

Feb 13, 2013
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.

Resources for software engineers

Sep 22, 2011
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

Four sentences emails

Jun 21, 2011
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

Jan 29, 2011
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.

Oblique strategies

Nov 27, 2010
Oblique strategies is the name of a deck of cards published by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt where each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation. Here is a compilation of all the freely available phrases across all the different editions: (Organic) machinery [blank white card] A line has two sides A very small object -Its centre Abandon desire Abandon normal instructions Abandon normal instruments Accept advice Accretion Adding on Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture) Always first steps Always give yourself credit for having more than personality (given by Arto Lindsay) Always the first steps Are there sections?

How many uses can you think of a paper clip?

Oct 23, 2010
Today I read this article from PresentationZen about the following wonderfully crafted presentation from Sir Ken Robinson on the topic of education and creativity. On it Sir Ken explained, among other ideas, the difference between creativity and divergent thinking which I found fascinating (min 7:48 in the video). Before going any further if you have a few spare minutes imagine a paperclip and give yourself as much time as you want to come up and write down a list of all the things that you can use a paperclip for like for example bending it to make a hook.