In the year 2019, I re-read over 5+ books and read another 50+ new books in both digital (Kindle) and physical books. I’ve enough books lined up, either purchased or bookmarked on Amazon to last me quite a lot of reading.
I have also made a simple guideline that my daughter can read as many books as she wants. The only caveat being that if she cannot or does not want to finish a book, they have to wait for the week to pass before they can buy another book. She is used to both physical and digital (Kindle) books.
Dan Roam’s Books
I wanted to learn to draw/sketch out my ideas better. The best source for me was the books by Dan Roam. I enjoyed reading Show and Tell, Draw to Win, and Unfolding the Napkin. I’m yet to read Back of the Napkin, and Blah Blah Blah.
I adapted the idea of doing presentations and storytelling to my teams, via sketches and not slides. I have a long way to go to master this beautiful art of storytelling with visuals, sketches, and speeches.
From our history books, Genghis Khan was definitely not a good person. He conquered, murdered, and lay waste to vast lands and inhabitants. However, his advocacy for human rights, freedom of religion, free trade, propagation and preservation of knowledge, turns out to be pretty impressive for that time.
Well, Genghis Khan was a visionary leader whose conquests joined backward Europe with the flourishing cultures of Asia to trigger a global awakening, an unprecedented explosion of technologies, trade, and ideas.
The book will give you enough details to make it applicable to the current world scenarios and events. I’m sure you will like the book.
Recently, I saw an Investor publishing a screenshot of his conversation with an entrepreneur. The investor (VC) was not happy that the entrepreneur texted him at odd hours. He ridiculed and told him not to contact him again. The entrepreneur was not happy and gave references to becoming Jack Ma one day.
Unfortunately, the VC made his unhappiness public on LinkedIn. He did not conceal the identity of the entrepreneur.
I was surprised that someone in that position, who ought to be more humble and modest, made fun of a budding entrepreneur. Such behaviors from Investors, Mentors, and Advisors are the things that create an air of discontent in the eco-system.
What happened to the doctrine, “Praise in Public, Criticize in Private”?
Whatever position you are in, the best policy is to be humble and modest. If you can’t afford do that, then silence is the next best option.
Not long ago artificial intelligence was something found in the pages of science fiction novels. Today it is becoming more and more of a reality. While we don’t have computers plotting to take over the world, AI’s did manage to do some pretty amazing things in 2016.
In March Deepmind’s AlphaGo was able to beat the world champion 4-1 at Go. Go is a very old Chinese game considered much more complex than Chess. For comparison, an AI beat a master at chess all the way back in 1997. Prior to AlphaGo scientists thought AIs were far from being able to beat human Go competitors as they were struggling in even amateur matches. For its win, AlphaGo received an honorary master title.
Human characteristics like imagination and creativity have been the hardest things to get computers to do. In April 2016, however, an AI was able to create a new Rembrandt painting. A team, over the course of more than a year, showed various paintings of the famous artist to the computer. The painting it produced won several awards and generated a lot of discussion about artificial intelligence.
Language is one of the basics of what being human is. Google created the Google Neural Machine Translation, or GNMT, to improve its translation service and it has done some remarkable things. First, it started translating between two languages despite never being given examples of them. It then did something even more amazing and created its own language. Because of its success, Google is now using it in all of the translation service.
Artificial intelligence did a lot more in 2016 besides these three accomplishments. Building on the new advances made 2017 will no doubt bring us even closer to true artificial intelligence.
Pokémon Go has, no doubt, taken the world by storm. It’s estimated that the game has more active users than Snapchat. It’s the first widely popular augmented reality game and people have been willing to go to extreme measures to catch ’em all. Pokémon Go uses real-world locations and virtual images to sends users on wild quests in search of the elusive Pokémon. Here are some interesting stories that demonstrate Pokémon Go’s influence on its players.
Gotta Catch ’em All
To be the very best you have to catch as many Pokémon as possible. The first one is usually located somewhere close by. But after that, you have to leave the comfort of your home if you want to advance in the game. Try going to places that are heavily populated to begin. Pokémon mostly appears in malls, parks, and tourist attractions.
How to Track and Catch Pokémon
The map on your app will show you all the Pokémon that are near you. You can track one by clicking on it. One track will appear if you are close and more if it’s further away. Once you have found the Pokémon you must catch it with your Poké Ball. Throw it by tapping your Poké Ball and flicking it towards your conquest. Don’t hesitate. Throw it immediately to prevent the Pokémon from escaping.
How to Battle
Once you have reached level 5 you can begin battling. You join a Pokémon Gym and battle other players. You have to pick a side; Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor are the three opposing teams. To battle, you have to enter a gym that is controlled by an opposing team. Select six of your Pokémon to use in battle. You can either attack or dodge. After the battle is over, the winning team gains prestige. Prestige levels determine how difficult it will be to defeat a gym. This is just a glimpse into the complex adventure game, Pokémon Go.
Stabbed, not stirred
ABC 7 reports that Oregon resident Michael Baker was out playing Pokémon Go when he approached what he thought was a fellow Pokémon Go player. Turns out, this other man was not playing Pokémon Go and instead turned around and stabbed Baker. Baker refused any medical service and continued playing.
“I basically risked my life,” Baker said in an interview with ABC 7. “It’s important to me. I gotta basically catch them all.”
“It wasn’t the most responsible thing to do, but hey, gotta catch ’em all,” Bartholomy said in an interview with the Toledo Blade. The two, having been spotted by security cameras, were eventually caught by a tiger exhibit.
Within days of the game’s release, Shayla Wiggins found a dead body while playing Pokémon Go. She said she hoped to find unique Pokémon by a natural water resource. She might have found Pokémon by the river, but she found something else too.
“I probably would have never gone down there if it weren’t for this game,” Wiggins told CNNMoney. “But in a way, I’m thankful. I feel like I helped find his body. He could have been there for days.”
Laaija’s Pokémon Go Adventure.
Pokémon Go in India
In the early days of its release, even though it is not officially launched, Indians were fortunate enough to play Pokémon Go. Unfortunately, it is no longer playable and Indians have to wait for the official release of Pokémon Go.
So while you’re out there on the search for Mewtwo, remember to play responsibly.
Update: Dec 14, 2016 – Pokémon Go is officially launched in India.
The Alaris Prime Team, recently, completed a highly performant re-write of the front end visual layer of Aditya Birla’s flagship eCommerce site ABOF.com. The team was able to make the site exceptionally fast, even on a low 3G Bandwidth connection in India. The CEO of ABOF happily claims their site is the fastest eCommerce site in India. You can read more about our journey, experience, and our learnings during that 5-month stint with ABOF.
Seats are limited to a max of 10 developers. Bring your development friendly computers.
We were planning to charge a premium for the workshop to make sure only the most interested developers can join and benefit. However, we have decided against it. but the seats will remain limited to 10.
BEM is awesome and we all love it. Our team at Razorfish, India have successfully moved bag-n-baggage to writing BEM style class names. The best benefit so far is that it is easier to work together in larger teams and much faster while fixing bugs. The other advantage I’ve seen is that we can move and/or switch team members across projects without having to do an extensive knowledge transfer. They feel right at home and in ease with the patterns across projects.
So, when Sass 3.4 released with a well-defined &-rule, we went crazy and went BEM-BEM with it on everything we wrote. Here is how it goes;
This looks pretty good and harmless. In-fact, you feel that you can now avoid writing that classname, .block multiple times and thus DRY everything. Unfortunately, we realized that the moment we go deeper, wrote more codes, switch/add more people to the team – it was getting harder to do the usual global search to debug the codes.
What happens now is that we can quickly do a project-wide search for that ‘element’ or the ‘modifier’ with its full namespace as seen in the HTML. The question though, that might arise, is what happens if we have to change the block’s classname. Well, it is matter of an easy find-n-replace. With IDEs capability to select multiple selections, this should not be an issue at all. For instance, you can do a quick CMD + d in Sublime Text and Atom to select all the ‘block’.
So, the thumb-rule is to avoid &-rule for full classnames that you find in HTMLs but use it with ones that you do not really see it in your HTML code – pseudo classes.
There are quite a lot of Screenshot management apps for Mac OS X. I like most of them but I also like Dropbox a lot. With the Screenshot management feature from Dropbox, you can now do away with all those Screenshot apps and use the tool you already have.
First, enable Dropbox to handle your Screenshots.
Second, drop your OS X screenshots automatically into Dropbox’s Screenshot folder.
I’m guessing you can do this on Windows and Linux too if you can automatically drop your screenshots to the Dropbox/Screenshots folder.
Now, the screenshots you take with your OS X is now in Dropbox and the URL is copied and ready to be pasted anywhere.
Aside: I use Hazel to clean up my Screenshots folder to remove file older than a month. You can use any of your favorite cleaning utility to clean yours to avoid Screenshots piling up your Dropbox folder.
Just in case:
CMD + SHFT + 3: Fullscreen Screenshot.
CMD + SHFT + 4 & drag crosshair: Screenshot of your desired area.
CMD + SHFT + 4 & Spacebar: Screenshot specific app, dialog boxes, etc.
We all want to boost our productivity and avoid procrastination. The problem is that we live in a world where it’s a norm to check our phones as soon as we wake up, read and send email at the breakfast table, catch up on Twitter and Facebook in the Bathroom. It is no longer surprising to hear terms like “screen-off days”, “no phones at the dinner table”, “no devices in the bedroom”, “screen-time for kids”, “phone jammers in the classroom” et al.
Many articles about productivity have been written and published by industry pundits, time management experts and productivity gurus. They are all good, and honestly I tend to read anything that helps productivity and try to practice the ones that suits me.
I’m no productivity guru nor a time management expert but I have experimented with quite a lot of routines and disciplines. I have somehow come to the realization that none of these productivity advices, tips, tricks and routines are useful and effective if we have one thing constantly nagging us – Notifications. So, I’ll focus on one, just one, sure shot routine that will change the way you focus and increase productivity.
Stop the Notifications.
Yes, that’s it — stop all form of notifications — in all of your devices, be it the phones, tablets or your computer. Here are few of the ones that you can start with, feel free to experiment and stick to a routine that serves you best.
Let’s start with your phone. Every app in your phone will try to notify you for everything. Well, it turns out you don’t need to be notified at all. Head over to the Notification Center of your phone and disable the notifications, except the ones that needs to be really ON – Phone Calls, Calendar and other apps that notifies when needed such as Cab Booking Apps, Flight Timings, etc. Experiment with the notifications but remember, “If everything is important, then nothing is important.”
Disable Phone Battery Percentage Display.
Let’s study a very simple example.
Here is a simple passive notification that can keep you on your toes and stress you out the most – phone battery percentage indicator. We have become so obsessed with ‘juicing-up’ our phones that our level of happiness and relaxation decreases exponentially with the decrease of the battery percentage display. Seriously, disable that. The same goes for your Laptop Battery Indicator – turn that percentage indicator off.
Yes, during the initial days, it will be hard for you and many will give up. It’s OK but now you know you can do that, give it a try another time. Try if for about a week and once you get used to it, you’ll realize that you no longer care that much. You’re much more free than before – Free Your Mind.
Disable any form of Email Notification.
Another major source of distraction and productivity drain is emails. I won’t have to repeat what experts have already said a thousand times, do not check your emails often, do not check emails in the morning, deal with emails twice or thrice in a day. If you plan and work based on emails, then you’re letting the person on the other end of that email control your life, your work and your family.
All those tips, tricks about managing and taking care of your emails will not be fruitful if you have email notifications for everything – newsletters, offers, discounts and of course, spams. Just disable that email notification.
No, you won’t miss anything important. If something is so important and life-changing, they will call you on your phone. Email is not a synchronous communication channel, it is supposed to be totally asynchronous.
Go ahead and disable all those notifications – stop all audio notifications, don’t allow your apps to bounce repeatedly when a new message arrives, don’t let Instant Message apps ping you with every new message, perhaps hide your Dock to avoid looking at the notifications counters of new messages, things to-do, etc.
Once you can live with no notifications, you’ll find that you’re no longer disturbed out of your zone. You’ll also realize why all those productivity tips and tricks didn’t work before. With no notifications, all the experts’ advice, productivity to-do and activities will begin to work. Give it a try.
I was lucky to be one of the speakers at the WordCamp Mumbai, Mar 15-16, 2014. When I stumbled upon their Call for Speakers, I was excited with the speaking opportunity and an uncanny chance to visit Bombay after so many years. Thankfully, the organizing team accepted my proposal and thus, presented and spoke on, “A Smarter WordPress Theme Design & Development Workflow with node.js, ruby, sass, bower and grunt.”
Jaaga is a Bangalore-based evolving community sculpture. They support and connect entrepreneurs, activists and artists.
Jaaga is starting a new initiative – Jaaga Study – an intensive one year program designed to help young people become solid software developers who are financially independent and can create the next generation of web and mobile applications.