I sat down with my dear friend Hugo Castellanos host of the Conexiones Podcast to chat about Stoicism, productivity hacks, apps, and other nerd stuff. The episode is available on Spotify and YouTube. I had a great time speaking with Hugo. I hope you enjoy it as well. Let me know what you think!
For the past 4 weeks, I’ve written about the future of food. We’ve covered a lot, from insect farming to food supply chains and lab-grown meat. This topic is as fascinating as it is never-ending so I will continue to explore it in the coming weeks with the objective of writing and publishing a “Food Tech FAQ”, stay tuned.
This week though the Nerd Corner will be devoted to a discussion about email and email clients.
What I am reading 📚
After a couple of weeks of “workation” (working but feeling like in a vacation) and little reading, I’m finally getting back on track.
I recently finished “Deep Simplicity”. It ended up being a fascinating read. The book felt more a history book than a science one. Gribbin tries to pack all the relevant scientific discoveries from Newton to Lovelock to explain how life on Earth is possible.
I will be expanding on Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis and its history in the coming weeks. For now, it suffices to say that the Stoics had a similar view (they spoke of sympatheia), and in the 1800s Alexander von Humboldt wrote about the “interconnectedness of Nature” as portrayed in the “Naturgemälde”, a sketch of the Chimborazo (a volcano in Ecuador) with details of plants from all over the world and their respective altitudes.
Nerd Corner 🤓 📩
A few months ago Basecamp (a software company) announced that they would soon launch HEY a new email service set to upend our love-hate relationship with electronic mail and put our privacy first. I, of course, was excited about this. After all, email is still ripe for disruption as seen by Inbox—a Gmail revamp that was then killed by Google—and services like Superhuman that are trying to rethink how email is used.
Hey’s appeal was a set of features set to protect users from spy-pixels and other user-tracking technologies. I was instantly sold by these and signed up for an invite, which I got two weeks ago. What follows are my brief remarks about the service.
The good parts
Hey really delivers on its promises. It is packed with privacy-focused features not seen anywhere else.
First, we have “The Screener”, a folder where all emails from a new sender land. You then choose if you want to keep receiving emails from these addresses or not. This is like a manual spam filter. I can see the appeal for power users that receive thousands of emails a day. Sifting through the noise can be hard. But for the average user like me, it can create more friction than it removes.
Once you start receiving emails you start noticing the privacy features. On every email you receive that has a spy-pixel, HEY notifies you that you’ve been protected from tracking scripts. This is very cool because it exposes a lot of harmful practices and helps you protect your data.
Where HEY really shines is in its simplicity. It has support for labels—similar to Gmail—and has three main folders: the “Imbox” (not a typo, Im = Important), “The Feed” where all your newsletters are meant to live and the “Paper Trail” a sort of archive for all the receipts, notices and the like.
The Bad Parts
HEY is very opinionated. It is meant to be a “clean slate” for your email. While you can forward your old email to it, you can’t set it up to use multiple accounts. It is not an email client, so if you have multiple work and personal email addresses HEY won’t really help you, you’ll just end up with another address.
And, while the simplicity is appealing and the UX is impressive (the iOS app is pretty neat) there’s no way to set up filters, rules, and other complex workflows. There’s a point where simplicity can become harmful.
Perhaps it is homeostasis preventing me from making the switch to HEY or perhaps I’m not as big an email user to justify the price. For all its nice features I’ll keep using plain old Gmail for the time being.
This said, HEY is revolutionizing the email space. I expect most email services to add some of HEY's features in the near future. And, since HEY went to war with Apple, we’ll likely see some policy changes in the Apple App Store. But that discussion is for another time.
If you’re curious about HEY I recommend Jason Fried’s (Basecamp’s CEO) walkthrough.
Did you sign up for HEY? I’m super curious to know your thoughts and experience!
Cool Finds 🤯
China’s “re-education programs” (i.e. slavery programs) use some of the most advanced technology out there to track and monitor subjects inside de-facto labor camps. This is sad and infuriating and should get more attention. The road to justice, freedom of speech, and equality of opportunities is still very long.
This website tracks all the books that Springer has made available for free during this pandemic. Go check it out, you might find something interesting. In my case, it was difficult not to download them all!
Chess is having a moment on Twitch. Thanks to USA grand-master Nakamura, famous Twitch streamers are learning to play chess and streaming it. Although I’m not a fan of watching other people play video games, Nakamura’s comments on chess games are very good and help one better understand what goes on in the minds of grandmasters.
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