Week in Review – August 6, 2017

Stock image of a person simulating an open office environment

Meditation and Routine:

I took time this morning to meditate. I noticed I was going to rush to make it to the bus, and decided to wait and take the one leaving 30 minutes later. It was a simple decision that has big impact for the day. I leave in a calmer state and am able to get more done in the morning (at a relaxed pace). If only I would wake up earlier to take advantage of the time with my scheduled routine. My alarm goes off just after 7am and the next 20-25 minutes are spent snoozing and scrolling on my phone. I should re-read my routine post.

 

Readings:

Anil Dash on open space workplaces

via Medium

Anil Dash is not a fan of open offices for programmers. Programmers need to get into a state of flow to focus on the work in front of them and go deep. This is difficult with constant visual and auditory distraction.

At home it is quiet and there is little going on. Because of this I am able to stay focused and get work done. Deep work can come at with a loss to collaboration, but Cal Newport details how deep collaboration can be done.

More on open space at Fog Creek.

1000 True Fans

Kevin Kelly

I read this before,

“A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author—in other words, anyone producing works of art—needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.”

but it came up again (via Ryan Holiday)

“So don’t wait. Build your platform now. Build it before your first project, before your first great perennial seller comes out, so that you have a better chance of actually turning it into one. Build it now so that you might create multiple works like that. Build it so you can have a career—so you can be more than just a guy or gal with a book or movie or app. Because you’re more than that. You’re an entrepreneur, an author, a filmmaker, a journalist. You’re a mogul.”

Tuesday’s hard fork of bitcoin

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are fascinating. Some analysis on the bitcoin cash spinoff. I don’t know anything about it him, but I’ll have to read more from Matt Levine.

BCH spun off from BTC on Tuesday afternoon, and briefly traded over $700 on Wednesday (though it later fell significantly). But BTC hasn’t really lost any value since the spinoff, still trading at about $2,700. So just before the spinoff, if you had a bitcoin, you had a bitcoin worth about $2,700. Now, you have a BTC worth about $2,700, and also a BCH worth as much as $700. It’s weird free money, if you owned bitcoins yesterday.

Apple and the Oak Tree

Stratechery

The iPods Shuffle and Nano, the last two iTunes-dependent (i.e. non-iOS) MP3 players Apple sold, were quietly discontinued last Tuesday. The revelation two days later that Apple was, at the behest of the Chinese government, removing VPN apps from the App Store in China, drew considerably more interest

 

Podcasts

Long Distance

Reply All (Ep. 1 and Ep. 2)

Wow. The two part episode lacks closure, but is a captivating detective story that spans the globe.

 

danah boyd — The Internet of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

On Being with Krista Tippett

 

“Even the most fleeting acquaintance with the history of information and communication technologies indicates that moral panics are episodic and should be taken with a grain of salt.”

 

danah boyd on why fake news is so easy to believe

The Ezra Klein Show

 

“Give me more kale”

These interviews are so similar, it’s almost as if they are with the same person. Still, each interviewer provides their own color. Tippett takes a more human approach while Klein focuses on the news, but both are searching for truth

 

 

Interactive thingy

The Evolution of Trust

Nicky Case

“We are punished by our sins, not for them.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

Almost as cool as the game. The history of making it: https://github.com/ncase/trust/commits/gh-pages

 

Movies

 

Earworms

 

Cryptocurrency

Man facing away standing on a Brazilian street

Here’s an unformed thought for the day

What is the value of a cryptocurrency? If something like Ripple makes sense from an application perspective, but the blockchain is not as useful, does it adhere to the crypto manta of fat protocols and lean application layer? Not sure exactly what that means yet, but if the application is the selling point, it seems like blockchain is not the most well suited to the problem.

When we look at Bitcoin, the value of the blockchain is defined by its ability to record financial transactions, and rewarded in the verification, or Ethereum, where the value is the smart contracts and again rewarded in verification, the inherent the value of the coin is in the blockchain, the fat protocols that give life to the thin task layer above.

Does bitcoin, the currency, have financial value because of the Bitcoin blockchain? I am not quite sure. Where does the $2.5k+ price point come from? I sort of understand the opportunity of blockchain as a technology, but the value in the currency still alludes me.

Here’s another coin that makes some sense. Filecoin. This is a cryptocurrency that is paid to users who lend unused hard drive space. File transactions are stored in blockchain and contracts are paid out via a filecoin drop (how to upper and lower case coins differ? Bitcoin vs bitcoin?). With Filecoin is a tangible contract. A seller who has unused hard drive space in s server somewhere. A buyer who needs hard drives to store data. And a currency, filecoin, as a means for the transaction to take place. The Filecoin blockchain (I’m sticking with upper case for the blockchain itself, and lowercase for the coin, maybe that’s right), records all the transactions keeping a history of what went where (again, maybe this is just for Bitcoin). I kinda had it: http://filecoin.io/

What else is out there?

Steemit, Synereo, Akasha? I like the tag line of mining your mind. One could see this becoming the way of the future on the internet. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies solve the problem of advertisers. From the get go, there are blockchains set up to pay people for their creations. I’m still unsure this is the best use of the tech, but it is great to see a new way of funding artists, creators, and makers.

“Within each Bitcoin transaction is the ability to write a little program. For example, you can write a little program in a Bitcoin transaction that says “this transaction isn’t valid unless it’s June 15th, 2016 or later”. This is very powerful because you can move money automatically with computer code and everyone can see the rules by which that money moves and know those rules will be followed.” (From Ethereum is the Forefront of the Digital Economy)

More fascination

We needed to invent something completely different to get people to crowd fund projects. How do we have headlines like “the easiest way to monetize your open source work” that work in currency most people don’t even know about, but we cant’t do the same with fiat currency? It is similar to government efforts to fix hyperinflation. Where was it that changed the currency and tried to replace people’s perception of the money? I think I heard about it in a Planet Money podcast. Ah Brazil: How Fake Money Saved Brazil and How Four Drinking Buddies Saved Brazil (Podcast)

Replace URV with BTC and hyperinflation with spammy internet ads, and you nearly have the same story.

Fact check – URV or BTC?

Create a currency that doesn’t exist. No coins, no bills
URV (its called BitCOIN, duh)

He and three friends had been studying X since they were graduate students — four guys at the campus bar complaining to each other about how no one else knew how to fix this.  And now they were being told “Fine, do it your way.”

Find X: Brazilian Inflation or Spammy Internet Ads
Brazilian Inflation

Enough of that. People will catch on.

Lightening round

DAO sounds fun, but I don’t get it (and neither does coindesk)
(The DAO Just Raised 50 Million, But What is It?)

Only the dull mine Ethereum. Go create!
(An Idiots Guide to Building an Ethereum Mining Rig)

More questions

What do Ethereum miners verify on the blockchain? Completion of all the contracts? What is the Bitcoin verification process for that matter? I think i conflated cryptocurrency and blockchain, what is the distinction?

Getting tired. Taking a break for a few.

Next time on internet ramblings with Ryan: How to prepare a balanced meal of energy usage, water consumption, and animal ethics.

Edit

(this post didn’t publish correctly a few weeks ago)

Now this is happening: Bitcoin is forking to BTC and BCC. Coinbase is only supporting BTC. People are concerned. This seems like a stock split. Speculation abound.

(didn’t post again…)

Some analysis on the fork Bitcoin Exchange Had Too Many Bitcoins

Week in Review – July 30, 2017

A dramatization of our team at the hackathon

Hackathon

Bot framework, bot services, LUIS, and text sentiment

You can make a conversational chat bot in less than a week. It may not understand everything you say, but with some added intelligence, the bot can be very chappy!

Books

Some progress on Sapiens, and my reading list expanded

programming blogs from a YC post

Podcasts

Julia Galen on how to argue better and change your mind more

(from: The Ezra Klein Show)

The first half of this podcast contained some thought provoking ideas on arguments and point of view. Biases can influence the way we view ourselves and learning about biases can make us more worse at fixing our our biases. It was discussed how paradoxes lead us to develop deeper labeling of people and ideas. For example, you say you are of one camp, but you fall into the other camp for certain things. The more you associate with the other camp, the more people will think of you as in that camp. I don’t think this is that bad, but we need to realize we are not so simple creatures. Black and white does not always tell the story.

Casey Neistat

(from: The Tim Ferriss Show)

Two of my three inspirational people on a podcast (throw in Ryan Holiday, and it would be quite the show)
Make it count. Always motivational, Neistat inspires me to write more, create more, do more.

The stupidest thing people can do with their money

(from: Freakonomics Radio)

I do not listen to Freakonomics much anymore, but this episode caught my eye. On the Marketplace Morning Report episode from this Tuesday, they talked about the risks of more people moving to passively invested, low cost index funds. I wanted to learn more about the downsides (as I am onboard with the upsides), and by chance, this week’s Freak podcast was all about the topic! Dubner interviewed John (“Jack”) Bogle, the 88 year old and founder of Vanguard. Definitely worth a listen or two. The contrast between Bogle and Buffett is both similar and remarkable.

Odds and Ends

  • Went for a 10 mile run and made sure Strava was working this time before starting.
  • Edited Iceland Day 2 for half a day. Final video coming soon! Watch Day 1 (which is really day 2)

Relax

Fox sleeping in a tree

Fox sleeping in a tree

Relax. Be mindful of my breathing and body positioning. Rest my muscles and let all tension melt away. Start at the top of my head and slowly scan down how I am holding each part of my body. Relax the mind and loosen the neck and shoulders, slow my heart rate, expand my stomach, stretch my legs, spread my toes, and open my mind.

Test Yourself

work harder blue neon sign

work harder blue neon sign

Over the next few days put your learning to the test. Along with over coming the fear of exposing yourself as an imposter, you will also attempt to keep you ego in check and build relationships with others. That sinking feeling you get when encountering a difficult social situation will be redirected to external action rather than receding inside yourself. Most importantly, you should remember to be yourself, live small, build up others, and keep learning. You’ll be great.

Passion

Person jumping on the beach

Person jumping on the beach

Passionate players will give it their all while winning, but play discouraged when losing big. Purposeful players will see the challenge as an opportunity to show determination, resolve, and sportsmanship. Displaying their grit to continue playing, even when all hope seems lost.

Passion inflates you. Purpose defines you.

Something New

Coin-operated binoculars overlooking a beach

Coin-operated binoculars overlooking a beach

While something may make sense in your head, you must work hard to have it click for others. Furthermore, you must create a space where others can feel safe in being vulnerable and asking questions. Don’t be angry someone doesn’t know certain things. Be happy you are able to teach them something new.

 

Bonus track: Something new at Somewhere New

Explore

Person ties their shoes on a bridge in a city

Person ties their shoes on a bridge in a city

Exploring a new city can be daunting at first. I knew little to nothing of how to get around and barely knew anyone here. I did all the research and tried to avoid routine for as long as possible to take advantage of all the opportunities. To expand my view of the surroundings I went on running tours of the area trying to uncover new places. This slower paced, in person exploration gave me a great feel for the city and where I wanted to venture next. Running out with no destination in mind, I used the few landmarks I knew to guide me back at the end of the day. Running, rather than driving connected me to the city first hand and exposed me to much of what the city has to offer. I noted restaurants, parks, concert venues, and trails to return to later. Physically exploring new areas instead of scrolling on a screen was a fruitful exercise, but I won’t let it stop. Build on my findings, explore more, and keep running.

Questions

Blue green "Ask more questions" framed poster

Blue green "Ask more questions" framed posterLearn to control your biases and impulses around others. Stop and ponder “What are you thinking about? What’s going through your head?” Keeping these thoughts in everyday life humanizes others and allow you to better understand that we are all people with complex histories and emotions. Prodding with simple questions like “What do you think about? What are you thinking about? What do you mean? What are you working on?” Ground conversation on an emotional level and foster deeper connection. This is the type of conversation which brings us together and stimulates growth. It’s not superficial, but thoughtful, on a level helping us come to a better understanding of ourselves and others.

Video of the day