Home Office

As an introvert, I’m enjoying this “work from home” policy.

It’s an opportunity to use introspection and slow down a bit. Look around. Reflect on where we want to be next as inhabitants of this planet. Focus on taking care of ourselves and our loved. Remembering that we are all in this together.

Stay safe!

My home office setup today

Free time with no Facebook

This week Cal Newport talked about this paper titled “The Welfare Effects of Social Media.” I don’t have access to the paper but research of this type always interests me. The social media site used on the research was Facebook and it’s not surprising to see that:

“Deactivating Facebook freed up 60 minutes per day for the average person in our Treatment group.”

I deactivated my Facebook account last year and I don’t miss it. Not having the urge to open Facebook and get lost in its endless timeline and roller-coaster of “likes” gave me more time and mental space. Time to read more books, time to reflect on what I read, time to meditate, time to do Yoga, time to do… nothing.

After doing this little experiment myself I’m sure social media, as it is available today, really hijacks our minds and changes our behaviours. It creates a weird feedback loop in which we click, click, click, get small amounts of dopamine due to its intermittent novelty and the return of our time investment is not proportional to the effort.

After I stayed away from social media for a while I realized I don’t enjoy snippets of information anymore. And by that I mean: I deactivated Facebook, I drastically reduced the number of accounts I follow on Twitter and I deleted my accounts on Instagram and Pinterest. So even the short science/educational videos on You Tube started to annoy me. I prefer now to watch a full length documentary about a topic instead of watching 4-5 short videos about cool and interesting science facts.

I’m changing the way I consume content. It takes time because all around us everybody is still on this fast-paced mode of paying attention to quick snippets of information. And the way this information is presented to us is addictive. That’s why I’m changing.

What I read in February 2020

This month was all about The Witcher books. I will definitely go through all the books in the series because: 1) I love the characters; 2) I like the writing style and 3) It’s classic D&D with a twist.

  1. The Time of Contempt (The Witcher, #2) by Andrzej Sapkowski, 337p: It’s an action-packed book with cool worldbuilding lore. Fun at times but also violent and dramatic. It left me wanting to jump into the next one right away.
  2. Baptism of Fire (The Witcher, #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski, 378p: This book has that vibe of a good old Dungeons and Dragons adventure. It has the best group of characters travelling together: Milva (a hunter and bad-ass archer), Dandelion (the curious and talented bard), Regis (a weird druid), Zoltan Chivay and his group (a resourceful dwarf who is leading other dwarves and gnome) and Cahir from Nilfgaard (although he says he isn’t). It was exciting, it had some gore, violence, but also friendship and happy moments.
  3. Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life by David Allen, 192p: Short chapters: each one exploring one aspect of the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology. It’s a collection of David Allen’s newsletters throughout the years. It contains various of his famous quotes and some of his A-HA moments working with the methodology.

#readinglist #books #reading

What I read in January 2020

This first month of the year I read way more than I thought I would. It was surprisingly very productive in this regard.

  1. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff : This one was a dense and dry read, maybe a little bit too long. It brings a detailed account of the emergence of Surveillance Capitalism and how it threatens democracy, privacy and information.
  2. Letters From An Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson : Such a delight! I listened to Audio book which is narrated by the author and it’s excellent. Clever answers to people’s questions about science and religion, aliens, life and the universe.
  3. The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Christine Carter: A productivity blogger recommended this book and it was okay. It’s basically a compilation of best practices that work for the author. It was a relaxing read that reminded me of how important it is to pause and rest. And to simplify things.
  4. Blood of Elves (The Witcher, #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski: This the first full length novel of the Witcher series (the previous 2 books are basically a collection of short stories). The story follows the aftermath of the attack on the Kingdom of Cintra by the Nilfgaardian empire. Ciri starts her training as a Witcher but she starts to demonstrate weird powers so Geralt asks for the help of Triss Merigold. They decide that Ciri needs a normal education as well as some magic training, so Yennefer starts training her too. The story and the world building are extremely well done. I couldn’t put it down until the end and then I had to continue reading the next book…
  5. Sword of Destiny (The Witcher, #2) by Andrzej Sapkowski: This one is a darker book where the characters are temporarily separated from each other, and some serious confrontation between the mages/sorceress take place. Everyone is looking for Ciri and she is on the run. And there are donuts in the Witcher’s world! Another read I couldn’t put down that lead me to Book 3 straight away.
  6. Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson: A continuation of the “Second Machine Age” with focus on crowd-sourced technologies. Cloud computing, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, network platform businesses. An up-to-date book about the decentralized technologies that are out there and how will they impact our future.

#readinglist #books #reading

My Reader Goals 2020

My Reader Goals 2020

I set up an ambitious goal last year: to read 52 books. It’s about a book per week. I made it in the end but I gotta say that reading the Saga graphic novel series helped a lot in terms of numbers!

I ended up reading 57 books in 2019, which was awesome!

Anyway, for 2020 I’m repeating the same goal: 52 books. I don’t want to be too ambitious because I know the amount of time available I have to read and I know it’s not getting any better in 2020.

I will work with the time I have available and I already have 33 books loaded into my Kindle. That means, I already own these books. It’s a virtual pile of books.

A partial glimpse at the “book pile” waiting for me in 2020

My reader goals for 2020 will be simple:

  1. Read the books I already own. These will be my priority.
  2. Read selected books from the Ottawa Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club (I will pick which books I want to invest in).
  3. Continue with series that I know I enjoy (The Expanse, for example).
  4. And pick some books about technology that’s been on radar lately.

List of Books I already own (#1 priority):

  1. The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less eBook: Christine Carter Phd
  2. Sword of Destiny: Andrzej Sapkowski, David A French
  3. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg
  4. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
  5. Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  6. Blood of Elves (Witcher, #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski
  7. Time of Contempt (The Witcher, #4) by Andrzej Sapkowski
  8. Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich
  9. The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara
  10. Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2) by Meljean Brook
  11. The Pride of Lions (Highlands, #1) by Marsha Canham
  12. The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
  13. A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2) by Becky Chambers
  14. Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5) by James S.A. Corey
  15. Extend Your Mind: Praxis Volume 2 by Tiago Forte
  16. Dragons of Winter Night by Margaret Weis s
  17. The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World by Jenn Granneman
  18. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  19. The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
  20. The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
  21. The Ghost Brigades (Old Man’s War, #2) by John Scalzi
  22. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  23. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
  24. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
  25. Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
  26. Kenobi by John Jackson Miller
  27. The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency, #1) by John Scalzi
  28. Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day
  29. How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil
  30. Dopamine by Mikhail Voloshin
  31. Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1) by Tamsyn Muir
  32. Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein
  33. LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer, Emerson Brooking

Books I want to buy and read in 2020:

(mostly related to technology/digital information)

  1. Surveillance Capitalism – Shoshana Zuboff
  2. Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton
  3. A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age: Scientific Habits of Mind by David J. Helfand
  4. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
  5. LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer, Emerson T. Brooking

#2020

What I read in December 2019

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: I finally read the book behind the System 1 / System 2 thinking idea. The research on this book was cited so many times in other books I read before this one so it was good to go to the source. Fascinating with lots of examples.
  2. Cibola Burn (Expanse, #4) by James S.A. Corey: A very enjoyable read with a more focused plot. The action is basically in one place, surrounding a group of people and three ships orbiting everything.
  3. Hogfather (Discworld, #20; Death, #4) by Terry Pratchett: This was a fun read for the Holidays! Terry Pratchett is a genius about criticizing without being offensive or mean about anything. He just slaps the ridiculousness of things in our faces and laughs about it.
  4. You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible Of Bodyweight Exercises For Men And Women by Mark Lauren, Joshua Clark: Brings the fundamentals of bodyweight exercise and nutrition in an uncomplicated way. I wanted to have some basic information about these types of exercises and the book brings a good list of them with their variations.

#readinglist #books #reading