First I wanted to share with you some of the projects we’ve been working on at Code For Venezuela:
CovidVzlaBot. This is a chatbot we launched in partnership with Médicos Por La Salud. With their guidance, we developed a quick and effective way of self-diagnosis. So far more than 8,000 people in the country have used it! If you think you have covid-19 symptoms and are currently in Venezuela, please use it and share it with your friends and family!
With the help of our partners in Venezuela, we put together a group of 3D printing hobbyists and experts who are now printing some of the equipment that is needed in hospitals across the country. If you are a maker and want to collaborate or work at a healthcare facility in need of supplies, please check the website.
What I am reading 📚
With the lockdown, I was hoping to have more time to read, but with everything that’s going I’ve been busier than usual so I’ve cut my reading time by a fair bit. Nevertheless, I managed to start “How to Live –or— A Life Of Montaigne In One Question and Twenty Attempts At An Answer” By Sarah Bakewell. Despite the long title, it is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read and I am not yet done with it.
Bakewell succeeds in extracting timeless anecdotes and lessons from Montaigne's Essays and reminds us that it was he who
in writing about his experience as if he were a river, he started a literary tradition of close inward observation that is now so familiar that it is hard to remember that it is a tradition.
Throughout the book, Bakewell manages to blend Montaigne’s stories and anecdotes with the historical context of the time, and by re-imagining how the world looked like when he was writing them, she tells a beautiful story of a normal human being discovering his inner self:
He tells us, for no particular reason, that the only fruit he likes is melon, that he prefers to have sex lying down rather than standing up, that he cannot sing, and that he loves vivacious company and often gets carried away by the spark of repartee. But he also describes sensations that are harder to capture in word, or even to be aware of: what it feels like to be lazy, or courageous, or indecisive; or to indulge a moment of vanity, or to try to shake off an obsessive fear. He even writes about the sheer feeling of being alive.
To me—as to most of his readers—Montaigne’s words feel very close and real probably because in trying to live he uncovered lessons, fears, doubts and feelings that are common to all humans and understood that in order to do so we must start by accepting life as it is:
If I had to live over again, I would live as I have lived.
Nerd Corner 🤓
I just published a summary of "Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming" by Peter Seibel. It is the longest and most complete one I’ve written so far. I hope you enjoy it.
Here’s the link!
Cool Finds 🤯
This photo of the 2019’s Solar Eclipse, is simply awe-inspiring. It is not just the colors of the sky but also the patience and luck that the photographer must have had in order to capture the full sequence!
Everything has “unintended consequences”, even the covid-19 pandemic. We’ve already seen some, like the reduction in pollution across most industrialized countries and monkeys gang-fights in Thailand. But there might also be other silver linings like the overall reduction in deaths across the US compared to 2019. The data is probably incomplete at this point, but there is hope that because of the lockdown there have been fewer deaths overall. Only time will tell.
Fast Company has an interesting article on the history of the N95 masks which are hard to find these days.
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