Monday, May 27, 2013

What is spam ?

The traditional definition of spam is not correct.
You might think that spam is whatever ends up in your mailbox that you are not interested in, like ads.

My definition is broader than that.
But to understand it, I must define what is "information".

According to the information theory, information is what is giving clues to a decision you must take.

If I take a stone, take it in one hand, and ask you to guess which hand has the stone, you have no clues.
If god spoils you that the stone is in my left hand, god, a100% trustful being, you just got 1 bit of information.
This information help you to take a decision with more certainty that you would without it.

What is spam ?
Spam is the dark side of information. Spam is everything that don't improve your certainty over a decision you must take, or worse, increase your doubts over this decision, provoking in some case what developers call analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis is what happen when a developer can't write a single line of code, because he has more spam in its head.

A fact can be either a spam or an information. This does not depends on the source and nature of the fact, it depends on the observer.

Does this fact, help the observer takes a decision ?
Yes ? then it is information, read it.
No ? then it is spam, trash it.
It might ? Do not read, reference it, until you know if it is information or spam. (Evernote, I love you)

Now you can reflect on how much spam is around you, not only in your mailbox.
How can you create a life that filter spam without any effort ?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

There is no such thing as reality

My life is somewhat different from my friends.
I sleep and wake up when I want, I don't have a boss, I have greatest customers ever, and don't pay anything for my office and place of living, and if I don't feel working... I don't.

Life is easy.
Then once in a while I hear from them : this is not reality, this is not the real life.
Which we end up arguing over choice and freedom.

How do you define reality ?
Most of them intuitively defend it that way : I live in reality, and you don't, so you can't have any idea about what choice led me to be where I am.

But reality is nothing else than perception of where you live, not only through senses, but also, and more than everything, through your ideas.

Your reality determines who you are, your reality determine the events that will impact your behavior and well being.

As we can't control what our senses are sending to our brain, we can control our ideas, and thus control reality.
This is radical sort of thinking, for people that think there is an universal reality. There is not.

This is crucial to be aware when we are in control of our reality and when it is imposed upon us.
Financial crisis, war, political scandals ? I don't care... well I don't even hear about them since I'm not reading the news. Why ? Because it's not my reality, it is their.

On the other hand, I'll be the first to know when fiscality impacts my bottom line.

This is all a matter of defining what should be in your reality, and what does not, all about finding the dividing line. There are things you can change, other you can't (fact), and other you don't care (noise).
Now decide which category everything belongs to before someone else do.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Work and Entertainment

Work is the refuge of the enchained mind for the dream of someone else.
Entertainment is the refuge of the free mind without any dream.

Flow is the state to be. Full immersion for your own dream.

I got something wrong.
When procrastinating, I advised to change habits so procrastination comes with frictions, for example:
  • Don't remember password to connect to your mailbox,
  • Use a complex password for facebook, hidden in a deep folder of your computer, don't remember the password,
  • Cut off internet
This might work on the short term, the problem is that the mind will always find other distractions.

Another solution is to acknowledge the problem : The world is a direct reflection of your mind, if you are procrastinating, it is because your mind has no goal, or an unclear one, so it try to find one.

Once you understand that, time is to meditate to empty this distracted mind.
Once it is quiet, time is to write down your dream, slowly focusing on its details, until you get an action plan.

Then the mind will feed with this action plan, and you'll be in flow again totally immersed and happy, traveling to your dream at full speed... until you have no more action in your plan.

Then repeat.

Working is the act of consuming the action plan of others.
While it keeps the mind far from distractions, it leaves you with a feeling of emptyness.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The mind, a glass to fill

Our unique skill is to create ideas.
By instinct the mind fill with ideas so it can create new ones.

The mind is like a glass that need to be filled with water, the mind fears the void, a mind can't fill become crazy.
That's why some political prisoner can read books several times in their cell. The mind needs to be filled by whatever mean to keep its sanity.

We can't change this fact.
Meditation do not change that.
Meditation can only empty the glass, and as soon as you drop your concentration, the mind naturally fill in with new ideas.

The mind will immediately fill with ideas coming from your senses.
Resisting poisonous idea coming through your senses demand self-control.
And self-control is a limited supply your get each day after sleeping.

Instead of wasting your self-control, you can modify your habit to move your sense where clean ideas are.

The habit of most people, after a long day of hard work, is to turn on television.
Television is filled in its biggest part with hatred, jaelousy, and scandals.
But at the end of the day no self-control is left to resist these bad emotions and they make their way in the glass.

On the other hand, clean ideas are filled with curiousity, compassion and empowerment.
Clean ideas never complain about how bad are things, clean ideas think about how you can make things better. This is a totally different point of view that remove all trace of hatred and weakness.
Ted Talks are obviously a great place with clean ideas.

Most of the times the communities you belongs to are filled with clean ideas.

At everytime, the world is exactly the same as the content of your glass.
If it looks miserable, there is too much dirty water in it.

Empty your glass. (meditation)
Change your habits so you are more exposed to the sources of clean waters. (Most likely, other clean mind)

Sleeping do not replace meditation.
Sleeping does not empty your glass.
Sleeping will repair your body, and fill your self-control, but will never empty your mind.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Best practices

When you start doing new things, you learn about the "best way to do thing" or "rule of thumb to follow". This is specially the case in software development.

A best practice is composed of two parts : the action, and the purpose.

For example, a convention is a best practice.
The purpose of convention is to make your work easy to read for other people.

The problem is that newbies only remember the action part of the best practice, but rarely the purpose.
The action of the best practice applied to the wrong purpose is not application of the best practice.

Example :
I follow a nutrition plan and I need 2 slices of avocado.
A friend told me that the best practice is to cut the avocado vertically, and remove the kernel.
But she was wrong. She forgot the purpose of doing it that way.
If I cut the avocado that way, the rest of the avocado will rot quickly in my fridge, because I only need 2 slices.

That's why, I always ask my students "what do you want to do, and why ?" so I can explain the best way to do that in their context.

That's why, I also never says : "Always do blahblah because blahblah".
Because the students will remember "Always do blahblah"... or just forget.

On the other hand, you can say : "You are doing blahblah, what problem are you stumbling on ? ok, here is a best practice that solve it nicely".

The purpose must be taught before the action. And through practice the action will become automatic when the purpose appears.
This also teach to be practical and critical.

Memory is like a network, the more link lead to an idea, the stronger and longer it will stay.

Your students will never respond immediatly to a question like "what are the best practices in software programming ?"
However, as they write code, their brain muscle will automatically bubble up the right way of solving the current problem. The memory becomes contextual.
Retrieving contextual information is what a network is the best at, your memory retrieve contextual information without any effort on your part.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Physical and functional definition

I'm a trainer, and my first customer is nobody else than my dad.

He is using computer for his work for more time he remembers, but last time I almost lost patience when he asked me how to open a file.

"Click on it", I said
"Click ? how do I click ?", he responds

First, I suspected he lost his head for a moment, but then I understood the big deal.
He has a physical definition of the mouse.
He knows that what is clicking on a mouse.
But for him a mouse was that :
And here is what he got :

From his point of view, a touchpad is not a mouse, even if he already used that to control the computer.
For him, he was never clicking with it, he was pushing a button. He was not clicking because this is not a mouse, this is a touchpad, and you can only click on a mouse... and you push buttons on a touchpad.

The problem was that people should understand that every definition for your OS is functional and not physical. A mouse is not the physical object. A mouse, for the OS, is everything that can move a cursor on the screen, click and right click.

On a single touch screen, your hand is the mouse. And this is not a metaphor, a mouse is whatever click and move a cursor.

For the OS, everything is a functional definition and any physical definition is irrelevant.

This is the kind of stuff that we don't know we know when we are working with software for a long time... But when we think about it, it is not always obvious for occasional users.

Question : Imagine your device run on Android. Your screen is not multi touch, but you can plug multiple mouse to simulate each touch. Does Android consider you are multi touch ?

Response : Yes, as far as android knows, there are different cursors that come and go, thus you are multi touch... even if physically, you are not.

Stupid observation for geeks, but this is a dig to cross for occasional computer users like my dad.