Nerd Corner #39: Patience, power tools and more! 😷

Hi All,

I just published a new article. It is a very short and introspective piece about the importance of being patient and its true meaning. For a long time, I thought it meant to sit still and wait. I was dead wrong. Patience is about doing, it is about action.

Let me know what you think about it by replying to this email!

In other news, Code For Venezuela continues to do great work the help ease the pandemic in Venezuela. We just launched a web-based version of our chat-bot, so that anybody—not only Telegram users—can use it. I’m also super proud and humbled that as part of the #actionagainstcorona campaign, Nasdaq showcased our efforts on their digital Billboard in NYC!

What I am reading 📚

I recently picked up another book from my 2020 reading list, “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. So far the book is a bit dry and the ideas it proposes fall along the lines of Zero To One by Peter Thiel and Jim Collins’ books “Good to Great” and “Build to Last”.

I also recently read two articles that I thought I’d share here. They both have to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first one, Taleb: The Only Man Who Has A Clue, is a must-read. In it, Yves Smith distills how complex systems experts and not policy-makers and epidemiologists got everything right about our current situation. The only problem was that nobody listened to them and many are still not paying attention:

Lucky for us, we have people who DO understand these things. Unlucky for us, our “leadership” doesn’t listen to them. They think that an epidemiologist or two, three, should be enough. But neither the “leaders” nor the epidemiologists understand the limits every single scientific field has. They don’t understand what happens when scientists venture out of their chosen field. And most of all, they don’t understand what complex systems are.

The article is an awesome read in its entirety. You should read it.

The second article was written by Marc Andreessen. It’s Time To Build is a call to action to reclaim the American dream. It starts pointing out the obvious but that most won’t accept:

Many of us would like to pin the cause on one political party or another, on one government or another. But the harsh reality is that it all failed — no Western country, or state, or city was prepared — and despite hard work and often extraordinary sacrifice by many people within these institutions. So the problem runs deeper than your favorite political opponent or your home nation.

Then, Marc points out some of the current problems of American society. For example, “a government that collects money from all its citizens and businesses each year has never built a system to distribute money to us when it’s needed most”. He carries on and argues (rightly so) that The USA has stopped building. The country has stagnated in its efforts to build the infrastructure of the world’s most advanced society:

When the producers of HBO’s “Westworld” wanted to portray the American city of the future, they didn’t film in Seattle or Los Angeles or Austin — they went to Singapore.

If you ask me, this last quote is very sad. I have nothing against Singapore, but that the USA hasn’t managed to build such a place in this vast and amazing land it’s telling. There’s a lot to improve.

The article then turns to what Americans should do. Marc calls for a concerted effort to build the infrastructure of the future that Americans have been dreaming about. He calls out both sides of the political spectrum (Republicans and Democrats) to work together or at least do the actual work to prove the other side wrong. There’s no point in just words.

I think building is how we reboot the American dream…

What’s the American dream? The opportunity to have a home of your own, and a family you can provide for. We need to break the rapidly escalating price curves for housing, education, and healthcare, to make sure that every American can realize the dream, and the only way to do that is to build.

Nerd Corner 🤓

Last week we talked about how to master typing on your keyboard. If you’ve been practicing you should be able to “touch type” by now at a decent cadence.

But on the path to keyboard mastery, touch typing and app shortcuts are only the beginning. You also should spend the time (and sometimes money) on tools that will make your life easier.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • macOS integrated Spotlight. Just type CMD + SPACE and the bar appears. You can search for anything in your mac, from documents to apps. I mostly use it to open apps and do quick calculations.

  • Command E. This is a fairly recent addition. Think of Spotlight but for services that you constantly use and documents that you keep in the cloud. I can just type CMD + E and start searching across my Google Drive folders, Evernote notebooks, and even Slack messages. The best part of it all is that all the data is stored locally, no need to send your data to their servers.

  • Hammerspoon. This is like a Swiss-army knife for your computer. It is not a beginner-friendly tool as there is a lot of scripting involved but it is amazing. Hammerspoon allows you to write your own automation workflows and shortcuts for everything in your Mac. I use it to connect my Bluetooth headphones and speakers directly from the keyboard and I have a variety of shortcuts to open apps, move windows and make sure I keep my hands on the keyboard as much as possible.

    If you’d like to know more about how I use it, reply to this email! I might do a tutorial about it!

A note of caution though, some of these tools can literally save you 100+ hours (as discussed time and time again on Hacker news) but it is also very easy to go down rabbit holes and spent many many hours tweaking and configuring them so invest your time wisely and don’t try to automate everything—I speak from experience 😂.

Cool Finds 🤯

  • This is by far the most comprehensive set of charts showing the impact of COVID-19 across the world. Some charts paint a very sad picture but others show that not everything is bad. Wildlife is certainly enjoying having more space to themselves and people are sleeping more (no need to wake up early for a long commute).

  • COVID-19 completely upended life in a small town in Italy. Life in Chamois, in fact, became better for its ~100 residents after the lockdown started. Nobody has been infected and no tourists mean residents have the town for themselves. It helps that the only way to get into the town is through a cable-car. Link (Italian).

  • I recently discovered LessWrong, a community "dedicated to improving our reasoning and decision-making”. I started reading RATIONALITY: A-Z. I’m loving it so far. The entire site is actually very well executed and with lots of great content and discussions.

Before you go 😎


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