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What I'm reading - May 2022

871 words • 5 min read

Maybe you should do less ‘work’

A short article describing how you can effectively use your time at work when you’re not doing ‘work’ work. I especially like the fact that in the end the author says that they themselves don’t practice what they preach and spend all the time delivering business value in their job :P

Be suspicious of stories

“To think in terms of stories is fundamentally human. We use memories and stories to make sense of what we do, to give meaning to our lives and to establish connections with others.” An economist’s perspective on whether we should be more wary of the stories that we are made to hear.

How to Contribute to Open Source or: From No Experience to the Core Team in 15 Minutes Per Day

The Patriot Missile Failure

The bugs we face feels really insignificant in terms of its consequences while reading such incidents caused by errors in software/hardware.

How blogs broke the web

An interesting anecdote on the evolution of blogs and publishing content online, and how chronological ordering of posts ruined the beauty of the ‘homepages’ people made in the early days of the internet.

How falling behind can get you ahead

Interesting comparison of what the speaker calls kind learning environments and wicked learning environments. Kinder learning environments depends on patterns and what you do this year will be the same as what you will be doing next year. An example for this is chess. This enables people who start very early to go on and become grandmasters.

The speaker then goes on to say how people who worked in the intersection of different fields also end up successful in life compared to people who pick a specialization very early on in life. He tells the story of Gunpei Yokoi who used to sell playing cards and ended up founding Nintendo, a video game company, as a result of his knowledge from different fields. (I’m a huge fan of some Nintendo franchises and love the games they make 😄)

Developing your intuition for Math

“Math is about ideas. Formulas are just a way to express them”

How we work at egghead.io

How I learnt programming by Dan Luu

Great post. I read it over a couple of days. Sharing some of the parts that I liked the most.

“... but I learned two meta-items that were useful. First, no one's going to stop you from spending time reading at work or spending time learning (on most teams). Micron did its best to keep interns from learning by having a default policy of blocking interns from having internet access (managers could override the policy, but mine didn't), but no one will go out of their way to prevent an intern from reading books when their other task is to randomly push buttons on a phone.”

“After undergrad, I decided to go to grad school for a couple of silly reasons. One was a combination of "why not?" and the argument that most of professors gave, which was that you'll never go if you don't go immediately after undergrad because it's really hard to go back to school later. But the reason that people don't go back later is because they have more information (they know what both school and work are like), and they almost always choose work!”

What every computer science major should know

I majored in electronics and communication engineering and by the time I realized that I liked computer science as much as dabbling with hardware, it was too late for me to switch majors (Although I usually justify the supposedly ‘outdated’ engineering syllabus, this is one gripe I have about engineering colleges in Kerala/India. They expect you to know what you want to major in before you even get to learn the basics). I was interested to find such a comprehensive list that I’ve decided to use a reference to select interesting topics to study from.

Learning at work by Julia Evans

Telling people what you’re working on

Progressive Summarization: A Practical Technique for Designing Discoverable Notes

The crux behind writing good notes is to optimize it for future usability. Think of it like creating a product, where the user is future you.

How to learn (from Learning to learn Haskell)

The author goes to prove how spending long periods of time occasionally is unsustainable for learning something new. Progress is momentum based and we’d progress much faster even if spend like 10 minutes everyday of consistent practice.

In the latter part of the article, an interesting case study of chess players is also discussed. It talks about how younger players who didn’t “fail” much while in their local chess clubs or schools grew out of chess since they didn’t have any challenge and how failing at a task is essential to our growth.