Excursions

by Amit Gawande

September 6, 2021

09:50 PM

I love this Indian Test cricket team that has the belief that they can bounce back from any situation. They have shown it a few times over the last couple of years. Today’s win against England, after conceding a lead, is special again 🏏

September 5, 2021

02:46 PM

Why’s there a sudden rise of alternatives for GoodReads being launched? And curiously, most are open sourced. What is the problem with the existing service — of course, besides the fact that it stays neglected by Amazon?

02:57 PM

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. There’s simply a fear of bad writing. Do enough bad writing and some good writing is bound to show up.

Seth Godin suggests just write something. I agree with him.

03:30 PM

I finished reading: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. In a way, it’s a must read for a lot many people 📚

I am certain it isn’t for dummies neither does it claims to be so anywhere. It is for folks in a hurry, sure. I can’t remember the last non-fiction book that read so easy for me. This feat is even more praiseworthy, given Neil deGrasse Tyson attempts to touch upon some of the most complicated and buzz-wordy topics from the past 13 billion of existence of this universe.

“The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. In other words, after the laws of physics, everything else is opinion,” says Tyson. I have rarely heard someone be so calm, yet extremely badass at the same time.

05:23 PM

I modified my homepage today to group posts by date and sort in chronological order in the day. Why? I never liked the reverse-chronological order across.

11:43 PM

Kids are free, untouched by the necessities of the life. The concept of “necessary” doesn’t register itself with them.

For a kid, everything is necessary and, at the same time, nothing is. Is it necessary to eat? Sure, if he is hungry. Otherwise, it isn’t.

A kid does nothing because it is necessary to do it. He does it because he wants to do it.

In that sense, a kid always emphasises inwards, focuses on what is important to himself. As we grow, we forgot what matters. We emphasise what’s external.

The societal pressures. The fear of missing out. A kid knows none. I like this is all he cares about.

Listen to the kid in you, he sits closest to your heart. And if you can’t hear him, life’s going to a difficult journey, my friend. Be quick and wake up that kid within you.

September 4, 2021

08:54 PM

If you are not fully vaccinated yet — well, McSweeney’s essay is important for you — you need to search for a genuine reason for that. The only reason that’s genuine is that you physically can’t. Either there aren’t enough vaccines where you live, or you have some physical condition which limits you from getting the shot.

09:02 PM

Why do I need to set the skin tone modifiers for every emoji separately? That does not sound right. Did no one think that I would have the same skin tone irrespective of the emotion I want to convey?

10:36 PM

I am seriously considering Dropbox for everything backup - PCs, Mac, Photos across all services. Because frankly speaking, no other cloud storage provider seems to be interested.

September 3, 2021

09:11 AM

Is a third booster shot proven to be helpful for all? Nope. So I don’t understand the rush to administer it to all the populace just because you can. You know what would be better use of those shots? Making sure each person in the world is fully vaccinated.

11:30 PM

While closing a task in most of the task management systems, including to-do lists, you can set it to any of the available states. So, basically, you could say it is completed or fixed etc. There is one state in there that always tickles my funny bone, “won’t do”. I mean, that’s an official way of giving the middle finger, isn’t it? Learn to mark issues with that state and you have found the best way to say no.

11:43 PM

I always wonder what is the right response to people reaching out for guest posts. Most of the time I feel they are just fishing for attentions. So, ignore and mark them as spam? Or be patient, read and decline humbly? Or maybe inform them politely that you are marking them as spam, and then mark as spam.

I am not the one to do the last option here. But I will get fed up someday and that will be my option.

September 1, 2021

07:54 PM

Ulysses looks to be a really great app for writing all types of posts. Sure, it does not work cross platform - something I dearly wish it did. But I have iA Writer for that. My big problem at this point is I have no clue what editors I am paying for currently, for which platforms and in what form - subscriptions from Google Play Store, App Store or I have them out right purchased. I need to sort this mess up pretty soon. Sigh!

09:29 PM

It’s crazy how one’s mind works. Here are two posts separated by 4 years. I recently published one a couple of weeks back. I had published another in 2017. Both the posts talk about a similar observation, about the constant fight between the coder and a writer in me. It reads in such a similar manner. The choice of words, the structure, the flow. It should be pretty apparent to anyone who reads it that both the posts come from the mind. From the same author.

Surprisingly, when I wrote the recent post, I had no clue that I had written about the same topic earlier some time. In a way, then, the adage that “there’s no original work being written, but just rewrites” is not that far off.

10:51 PM

The tension is simple: If a platform is carefully vetted and well-curated, it meets expectations and creates trust. If it’s too locked down and calcifies, it slows progress and fades away.

Seth Godin talking about how open platforms are always in risk of becoming spammy and losing the trust of the users. I entirely agree — it’s a path that most platforms, open and closed, follow.

They enjoy the carefree attention from the excited early adopters who associate with the core values of the platform creators. But as the platform grows, it attracts users which would neither share the excitement nor the patience of the early adopters. They get noisy — they want to use the platform like their old one they are comfortable with. They need features that they are used to, not what the platform provides.

So, eventually, the tension that Seth refers to above gains prominence.

11:04 PM

I’m cleaning the list of the RSS feeds I am subscribed to. There are a few subscriptions that I have no interest in today. They simply get marked as read every few weeks. Plus the list is missing a few voices I follow that regularly write long form posts. Time to curate again.

August 31, 2021

08:54 AM

China puts limits on playing video games

Children and teenagers are now banned from online gaming on school days, and limited to one hour a day on weekend and holiday evenings under government rules

Is that really a government? That sounds utter crazy!?

10:06 PM

I see the dark mode is enabled for Micro.blog on the web. Nice to see the update @manton @vincent. However, to my eyes, there’s too much contrast with the choice of colors. For some reason, it strains my eyes. The changes are welcome, but felt this was a necessary feedback.

10:22 PM

Google’s inability to decide the story of its messaging apps is laughable. Sure, there’s some dev in there who looks at the old screenshot of Google Talk and says, “we should have never stopped working on this.”

That app has a special place in my mind. Just like Google Reader.

11:16 PM

Now that I think about it, the overall messaging space is a mess and personally it’s a frustrating issue for me. We are so close, yet so far. Here’s what I want.

  1. A service for messaging folks, share text and images
  2. A service for voice/video calls
  3. A service that does both 1 and 2 with apps across platforms - mainly iOS, Android and Web

This will allow me to not worry about device on which I am using it.

iMessage and FaceTime combination is brilliant, but Apple continues to see them as differentiators for its ecosystem. I don’t blame them — but it hurts me. I interact with only a handful of people that own an Apple device.

Google, well, decides to live in a fantasy world where there can exist no perfect messaging app. They get close to finding that right solution and throw it all away.

I had hopes from Microsoft. But for some reason they seem not to be interested in consumer space. Skype is ugly, its too bloated and the experience is terrible. It is not easy for families to join from.

WhatsApp, amidst all the mess, remains the only solution that does the required to any extend. It’s a terrible experience, but at least it works.

August 30, 2021

08:12 AM

Ah, the new iMac is in the house and am setting it up as a, well, new iMac. No restore from backup. Or time machine. What’s that I have to do? What’s that I should do? What’s that I can do? 👨🏽‍💻☺️

03:14 PM

You can have a broad sense of direction without a specific goal or a precise vision of the future. I think of it like jazz, like improvisation. It’s all about meandering with purpose.

– A quote captured by Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote

August 28, 2021

06:25 PM

I came across this suggestion from Oliver Burkeman a few time in the last couple of weeks.

What if you worked on the basis that you began each day at zero balance, so that everything you accomplished – every task you got done, every tiny thing you did to address the world’s troubles, or the needs of your household – put you ever further into the black?

Basically, the idea is to keep a done list rather than a to-do list. I am absolutely certain that it benefits one’s morale. I know that because I have been maintaining a form of done list – just that my method is different. For me, the two lists are complementary. I use a to-do list as a way to free my mind of the burden to remember things I need to do.

I do not set a target, an end date, for any of the tasks on the to-do list. So, they are not burdensome to me as my day begins. I look at the list, prioritize and just plan it through the day, if possible. A bullet journal helps me here - and also acts as a done-list. More the crosses on a page, more is the satisfaction.

August 27, 2021

06:22 PM

I finished reading Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath. I wanted to love this book - the premise is brilliant. But it reads like a textbook, and that’s no way to make a message stick with your readers. For that matter, that doesn’t even look to be the author’s intention.

To start with, the book lacks a clear, central idea that every chapter circles back to - it’s all over the place. It digs into the history to find and describe every event, research or anecdote where a difficult message was conveyed effectively. Once it does that, the author summaries his understanding of why that worked.

First, the author nonchalantly tells you what the learning is – “Which message do you think works best? Of course, second”. I’m sorry, but let the reader come to that conclusion. Don’t beat him on the head till he gives up and agrees in frustration.

Second, each time the reasons that the message was effectively conveyed in each story are too varied – it references almost every phycological/managerial techniques - Maslow’s hierarchy and five whys and on & on.

Finally, suggestions like be simple/concrete, don’t bury the lead, capture attention etc are easier said that done. They are a set of skill that all understand they should have, but not every person has in equal doses. Please, your suggestion cannot be “become a master public speaker or leader or designer”.

Sigh, it was frustrating to read through this book. Ironically, it fails to follow the message it wishes to convey - talk about one message, be simple and concise. It would have stuck with me then. 📚

10:13 PM

There a few people who are natural “gifters”, I am not one of them. Why is it so hard to choose gifts? The gift cards have saved me to an extent when I need to gift acquaintances. But I get stressed every time I need to gift a loved one. Not that I don’t care – rather, my problem is that I care too much.