2023-07-24 Links

John Hagel: Strategy as a catalyst for change. Merit in thinking about this at a personal level as much as at a professional or organisational one.

Jake Seliger: https://jakeseliger.com/2023/07/22/i-am-dying-of-squamous-cell-carcinoma-and-the-treatments-that-might-save-me-are-just-out-of-reach/

Music for the soul: Vivaldi

A reminder for when in a downward spiral: "let us spend time with something or somebody we admire!"

2023-07-23 Links

The 5G Hype is dying out, observes Tom Noelle.

Nathan Baugh: 3 ways to get better at storytelling

Dave Snowden: Better ways to get purposeful

Tyler Cowen: When’s the best time to read or reread many of the greatest classic novels? I say: read when young… read whenever you can… read before you die

And another reader of MR writes in about Singapore, an interesting approach to how the civil servants functions there

Ed Brenegar’s advice to a new young friend: Create a life of impact

Richard Merrick on letting go.

Living through this right now:

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect”.
– Jonathan Swift

Richard Smith & Tommy Emmanuel: Son of a Gun written in memory of Thom Bresh

2023-07-22 Links

Nicholas Carlini: An interesting test of both ChatGPT’s abilities and my own assessment of how ChatGPT will do with my prompts. I’m totally over-confident in my assessment of how ChatGPT-4 will respond, so I have some work to do on discerning the problems to get the AI to be useful.

Bill Gates is optimistic in his assessment of AI’s real risks right now and how to manage them. The technophile’s overarching theme is that humans will get through this too like previous transformations. In general it will be great for humanity. Specifically it already is catastrophic for humans, as several AI researchers have been crying out for a while.

Jessica Hagy’s one sentence seriously cynical case studies had me cackling:

  • let the stakeholders think we care about them
  • change the goalposts often to keep the hamsters running on their wheels
  • your audience must always feel desirable
  • make the turd on the plate seem appetizing
  • always give your audience hope, especially when you know they’re screwed
  • we’re here to take what we can get and run
  • yes, this is nasty work but it pays really well
  • if you can’t outspend them, out think them
  • never forget that your customers are animals, just like you are
  • if you have nothing special to offer, there’s always seduction via poetry

A thoroughly enjoyable interview with Roy Glauber, the Nobel Prize winner who swept the stage free of paper airplanes at the IgNobel Prizes.

Serendipitously, Bob Ewing’s speech writing blog features J Robert Oppenheimer who was also in that interview.

Leo Babauta: We’re mostly trying to escape this moment

practice not escaping. When we feel uncomfortable, stay for a little longer. Not to the point of torture, but just to the point that’s just beyond our comfort zone. We grow our capacity to be with all of life.

Joyful discovery of the day: Edmund Gropl in conversation with Mike Rohde on #Zettelkasten and sketchnotes

Philip Glass: "Closing"

The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without.
-Ernest Hemingway

The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.
– Carlos Santana

2023-07-21 Links

Adam Mastroianni’s invitation to join a secret society is a great read. Not enough people are pursuing science because "qualifications". His suggestions are practical, & more people including myself ought to do this because we’re all naturally curious.

News of hope: How a Brazilian couple replanted a forest

Anne Helen Petersen: Garden Mistakes Were Made. I love how AHP reframes mistakes in the garden as amazing teaching tools. Like people, each plant is different, has different needs, and takes time to get established.

Tom Nolles: Where Telcos Might Find More Opex Savings. My colleague & friend Brad put me on to Tom’s writing. I love his frank if opinionated views on the industry. Learning to pay attention, synthesise and communicate effectively is a skill worth learning anytime

Storytelling with Data shows how to turn a complex looking bar chart into something more simple, elegant, and effective.

Nick Morgan: How to Connect With An Audience Fast. #publicspeaking

We’re in the market for some kitchen appliances. The lady at the consumer goods store we were browsing at was lamenting the fact that all manufacturing had moved overseas. This article in the Economist suggests that bringing back manufacturing is a delusion.

2023-07-20 Links

“The longer I live, the more deeply I learn that love — whether we call it friendship or family or romance — is the work of mirroring and magnifying each other’s light. Gentle work. Steadfast work. Life-saving work in those moments when life and shame and sorrow occlude our own light from our view, but there is still a clear-eyed loving person to beam it back. In our best moments, we are that person for another. <cite>James Baldwin</cite>

Bob Doto: Zettlekasten

Pianist Glen Gould practising at home

The Human Costs of Building AI: Underpaid, Overworked Labellers

Pete Warden: How can AI help everyday objects?

A beautiful visual explainer Understanding SVG paths

2023-07-19 Links

Solving a cryptic is so much fun!

On Appropriate Tension

x Actually Risky Actually Safe
Feels Risky Risky Growth
Feels Safe Dangerous Safe

What did we do after work in 2002?

This is going to be fun – #AI generated webages driving programmatic ads – via MIT Tech Review

Meta’s Llama model

Ed Brenegar: A Persistent, Residual Culture of Leadership

Sara Canaday: Situational Fluency

Ask Yourself: "Why Is Now A Good Time?"


2023-07-18 Links

Good work, however we term it, is dependent on relationships first and structure second. – Richard Merrick

Rishad Tobaccowala: 5 Keys to Ensure Professional Relevance

Fran Drescher’s speech on SAG-AFTRA strike

When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir? – Keynes

Gaping Void: The Peace Sign wasn’t Invented By Hippies

Raymond Luk: Repetition is Sexy In startups, we expect the performance of an elite athlete but we pay no attention to repetition. Why do we expect a first time founder to win a match if they’ve never been on the practice court?

Paul Graham: How To Do Great Work

Am I working on what I most want to work on?

Great work happens by focusing consistently on something you’re genuinely interested in.

Be professionally curious about a few topics and idly curious about many more

One way to (see more possibilities) is to ask what would be good ideas for someone else to explore. Then your subconscious won’t shoot them down to protect you.

People show much more originality in solving problems than in deciding which problems to solve.

If you were to take a break from serious work to work on something just because it would be really interesting, what would you do?

People think big ideas are answers, but the real insight was in the question.

2023-07-17 Links

Jeremy Keith: Permission Instead of responding to search queries by linking to the web pages we’ve made, Google is instead generating dodgy summaries rife with hallucina… lies

MonaLisa Twins: Mercedes Benz

Found on John Naughton’s blog: Claude’s Model Context Length in Context

Douglas Hofstadter: Godel, Bach, Escher To fall for the illusion that vast computational systems “who” have never had a single experience in the real world outside of text are nevertheless perfectly reliable authorities about the world at large is a deep mistake, and, if that mistake is repeated sufficiently often and comes to be widely accepted, it will undermine the very nature of truth on which our society—and I mean all of human society—is based.

Richard Merrick: Improvisation has an energy to it. Compromise does not.

It’s hard to soar like an eagle if you keep company with turkeys

Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Elizabeth — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, “Call me Trim Tab.”

The truth is that you get the low pressure to do things, rather than getting on the other side and trying to push the bow of the ship around. And you build that low pressure by getting rid of a little nonsense, getting rid of things that don’t work and aren’t true until you start to get that trim-tab motion. It works every time. That’s the grand strategy you’re going for. So I’m positive that what you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count. To be a real trim tab, you’ve got to start with yourself, and soon you’ll feel that low pressure, and suddenly things begin to work in a beautiful way. Of course, they happen only when you’re dealing with really great integrity.
Buckminster Fuller

Uncertainty Project – A toolbox of ideas

Blast from the past: Training video for the Bell Labs Computing Centre #computing

Casey Handmer: Why Batteries Will Win Batteries and transmission are in direct competition. Both enable electricity arbitrage – the profitable repricing of a resource by matching different levels of supply and demand. Transmission moves power through space (technically null space, at the speed of light) and batteries move power through time. And while batteries have a fixed cost per MWh delivered (that is falling about 10% per year), transmission lines get more expensive as they get longer.

Wired: The History of Autocorrect

The Shift to Obsidian

Notion. Evernote. OneNote. Notebook. The list goes on and on. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve littered so many apps with my ‘notes’, only for them to be either lost for ever through disuse, or for the apps to disappear with my notes.

The last few months I got used to storing my notes and writing in Notion. Easy to use on the computer – and has a mobile app too. I can write on the fly (never did actually). I can search stuff on the fly (didn’t do that either). And what’s bothering me a lot is the fact that all that consumption and note taking has not resulted in any real creation, other than a few links being posted on my blog.

I will admit though that the way my brain works is to make these random connections between things I’ve seen, read, listened to, or felt (I don’t seem to have much association with taste or smell as triggers, or maybe I don’t pay too much attention to those). I’m messy with my organisation – things are all over the place, but I know I’ve put them somewhere. What if there was a tool that worked a little bit like my mind?

I’ve heard about Obsidian from many of the bloggers I read and follow. They’ve gushed about its transformative power on their workflow, but I’d never really bothered to investigate it. After all, why would I want to waste my time moving notes from one place to another just because of a new shiny tool?

This weekend, as I lay in bed, I chanced upon a YouTube video on the No Boilerplate channel titled Hack Your Brain with Obsidian. It was persuasive enough (& I was uninspired enough with the work situation) that I made the decision & the time to install Obsidian. I watched a few more videos from Vicky Zhao and Nicole van der Hooeven to get a sense, and finally moved all most of my Notion pages to Obsidian.

I’m blown away. Seriously. I spent a bit of time wondering if I could publish to the blog directly from Obsidian. Yes, I could, and I did today. I got help from this page and this wordpress plugin. Took a bit of time, a little bit of elbow grease, and specific help on how to alter the permalinks format.

I published links for today using just a button push, and some markdown to format the page. I’m impressed already with the connections between the ideas in my notes already! I suspect that this image will need to be reposted on the blog as Rolf Mistelbacher refers to on his page I’ve linked above. Small price to pay, I’ll say for now. For the record, the big node is . The second biggest is I’ll expect to see more connections start to show up in due course.


The clean UI encouraged me to write too: I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I wrote a bunch of grad recommendations today using this simple clean interface. I now also have a list of ideas I can pick up directly from the notes I take every day. I can see Obsidian becoming more important to my workflow.

2023-07-16 Links

Strategy in Praxis: Emergent Organisations

Tony Kulsea: A Relatively Small Amount of Force What you’re really doing (and to the dismay of some observers, all you’re really doing) when you start a startup is committing to solve a harder type of problem than ordinary businesses do

“women relate face to face, men relate shoulder to shoulder” – Richard Reeves

Ed Brenegar: Start Right. now If you want to be strong, or find the strength to be resilient, do these five things: Educate Yourself. Simplify Your Life. Create a Purpose for Impact. Establish a Network of Relationships. Write to Understand What You Think & Feel.

Puzzle Theory there are no cheat codes for people. You’ve actually got to use empathy with each other and build a community made of three dimensional human beings

Ben Werdmuller: How I think about Technical LeadershipThe output of a technical team is not code

Amber Case: How To Identify Truthy Trends After seeing outbreaks of truthiness repeatedly come and go for several decades, I’ve started to wonder if there is any reliable way for us to immunize ourselves against technology’s most grandiose, unsustainable promises. Maybe it’s just human nature for us to get momentarily excited about the latest bauble. Perhaps all we can do is keep in mind that being dazzled by truthiness is basically part of our DNA. Truthful tech, by contrast, wins out over the long haul!