I’ve been listening to Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers, on my iPhone for the last few days. It is, as the subtitle says, the story of success–specifically, how successful people become successful.
I’ve always tried to work smarter, rather than harder, whenever possible. If nothing else, it’s a creed that fits well with being somewhat apathetic about many things. That said, when it’s something I care about, virtually every time, there have been circumstances where I’ve run low on smarter and had to resort to simply throwing more time at a problem than others in order to “win.”
That’s always seemed a bit lame. But Gladwell’s examples point to that being closer to a rule than an exception, and he’s about as witty, and therefore authoritative, as anyone else. It’s comforting.
Most people don’t know how to do it, much less when to do it.
I used to barely sleep at all. Staying up for 24 or 48 hours at a time was a weekly occurrence, and for the most part I could function decently up until I passed out. And after a relatively short rest, I was right back at it. I also found, while spending a summer without any real time commitments, that my natural sleep pattern was entirely capable of having me go to sleep at noon and wake up at 8pm.
Oh how that’s changed. If I go two nights in a row with less than 8 hours of sleep I am in a world of hurt, three and I’m basically useless.
I’ve read the stories of Einstein needing 10 hours of sleep and DaVinci sleeping in 15 minute chunks, and I was always pretty comfortable with the idea that there is no “right” amount of sleep. I’ve also heard that as people grow older than tend to need less sleep, which made sense for a lot of reasons. So it’s a little puzzling that as I grow older I need more sleep. Maybe I’m exerting myself more, although if I am it’s certainly not physically, despite my best efforts.
I’m so curious about what’s going on when I sleep that I actually bought an iPhone sleep analyzer application. It was so useless that I won’t even waste time linking to it, but suffice to say that it didn’t lend any insight other than my room is relatively quiet at night except for my phone buzzing when I recieve emails.
Hopefully one day I’ll be on a sleep schedule that makes some sense to me. Until then I’ll keep crashing at 9pm when I have to and desperately searching for health analysis from my mobile devices.
My first major software project–that is, the first one that’s been intended for other people to use–has been unecessarily difficult because I skipped the common sense step when deciding what to do next. I originally thought that I should avoid building anything that had a dependency on a system I hadn’t build yet. For example, I shouldn’t build a login system until I figure out how to do password recovery and things like that.
It sort of makes sense, since no one wants to use an application that depends on things that don’t exist. But what I’ve learned is that no one actually uses something that’s not finished yet, they test it. Any if people are willing to test a half-baked idea they don’t care if you need to manually reset their password in the database or if they need to use some dummy login credentials until you have a real signup system.
Thinking really gets in the way sometimes.
For someone who is woefully unorganized in pretty much every part of my life, I’m really into to do lists. Currently Outlook tasks are my drink of choice because they easily integrate with email, but nearly every day I have post it notes, spiral notebook pages and .txt files with some flavor of to do’s.
The interesting thing about to do’s is that unlike a lot of organizational items, mobile access is often a net negative. Seeing that I need to write a document when the only device I have access to is a phone doesn’t do anything for me. I think a lot of the companies building stuff in this space (like Evernote, which I do not get the hype about at all) are going about it all wrong. Showing me stuff no matter where I am isn’t helpful. I want to be able to categorize stuff from anywhere so that it shows up in the places I want it–only in the places I want it.
Went on a great trip to Tahoe right before Christmas and had awesome conditions.
I’ve been working on a social media dashboard tool for a few weeks now and I’ve hit a point where certain features are going to require a layer of permissions. I’ve gotten really wrapped up in learning about the creative ways to make logins secure and spent hours reading about the stuff. A couple of posts have been particularly useful (and I want to make sure I can find them in the future):
“Forgot user password” [Stack Overflow]
“Secure login without SSL” [Marakana]
My first ever blog comment led to an interesting conversation on Twitter about tweaking Twitter’s search engine. I’m getting more into programming every day and big data sets with open API’s, like Twitter, are a fun way to test out new ideas.