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Speed reading

speed reading

Is your “to read” backlog longer than 100 books? Is there more books than you can read in one year? Mine too!

Solution? Pick top 20, and remove the rest?

That’s one way to go, but there is also another one: speed reading.

I decided to learn a little about speed reading in order to get to some books that I’m curious about, but…not enough to devote a month of reading for them. There are some books I just want to just know what’s in there.

Speed reading is also useful for articles. How many times your friends send you things that take 20 minutes to read, and then you are like “meh…I wish I spent this time by going for a walk”?

How many times you decided that you want to read something because you are very interested in particular topic? How many times you ended up in reading it, and concluding: “if I could go back in time I wouldn’t read it” or “content was not what I was expecting”? How many times you read something and you think: “Yeah, it’s good, but it can be summarized in 1 paragraph”?

Resources to get started

Here is a list of good resources I went through to get familiar with speed reading:

My approach

When I see something that interests me I do not read it from back to back anymore. I skim first, and if it’s good I read it more carefully, or do another, more comprehensive skim. If it’s a book, I read table of contents first.

Sometimes I also read summary at wikisummaries, fourminutebooks or blinkist.

Another heuristic that helps me to make a decision about reading books is to check GoodReads score. If it’s above 4 then it’s promising. Around 4.5 usually end up being very good, worth reading back to back.

For storytelling books, like biographies, I usually pick up an audiobook on Libby or Audible. Then I listen to it while making breakfast or home errands.

For articles, I usually start with summary/conclusion. Many times that’s where I stop…

Summary

It’s all about skimming.

If you want to read fast: skim the words, read first sentence of every paragraph, or even just headers or book/article.

Faster reading = worse comprehension. The art of speed reading is to find the sweet spot of how much comprehension you are willing to sacrifice for speed of reading.


Future of Package Delivery is Underground

Underground Package Delivery System

Back in 2016, after reading Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, I came up with an idea of Underground Package Delivery System. At first it would connect just distribution centers. Then we gonna have local dropbox stations. Like Amazon Lockers. Ultimately: everyone will have dropbox in their homes. You order something on amazon, worker machine sends this to you through underground pipes, you get notification, open dropbox which is next to your closet…and it’s there! Packages will travel like internet packages.

At first, everyone was laughing and told me that it is IMPOSSIBLE! Only a few months later, Amazon was granted a patent for that idea.

I recently discussed this idea with one friend, and decided to re-research it. It looks like a company from UK (Magway) is working on it! Another company, Mole Solutions, has even built 344-foot prototype. They also created awesome video with an overview of the idea:

This is another video of how it would look like:

Are underground delivery systems realistic options for moving packages quickly?

Magway estimates that it would cost 6 Million Dollars per mile. This is actually not bad! Compare this with urban rail cost per mile being up to 1 Billion Dollars (source)!

I know that majority of people see the future in drones, but…do you really want to have entire sky polluted with packages?

Sky of Drones

There is one man, who really believes in tunnels. You know who that is 😉 Hint.

What do you think?


Don’t hate the player! Hate the game!

Over years, I noticed that people develop a grudge against coworkers or their bosses.

Often, if not always, this is caused by others goals and job constraints.

Example: “I deserved a promotion, but I didn’t get it because HE/SHE THINKS I DIDN’T DESERVE IT”. Usually this is caused by manager having budget and needing to play bonus allocation tetris AKA calibration. Probably (most likely) if he didn’t have these constraints it would look differently.

Another example: “I hate this guy. He is always against me.”. The reason why somebody oppose an idea is usually because of reasons. Reasons are caused by constraints a person operates in, and past experiences.

Of course somebody may just not like you. That happens too.

Maybe I’m the luckiest employee in the World, but over 7 years I didn’t have boss that sucked. Did I work with some people who didn’t like me? Probably, but I was always focused on solving problems, and cared less about their personal feelings. It also happened to me that I didn’t get promotion/bonus when I deserved it. However, after digging in, I understood why, and it was because of constraints others operated in.

A few years ago, while learning about AI from Peter Norvig (director of research at Google), I learned about Paradox of Rationality – people making rational decisions often end up with worse outcome if they would make irrational decisions. This is foundation of game theory, and obviously happens in life. Did you see irrational outcome coming out of congress lately? Do you think it’s because politicians are stupid? Maybe it’s because of how the game is setup?

Don’t hate the player! Hate the game! Your life will be better 🙂


Boogie board – notepad of the future

Are you using paper notepads to write down ad-hoc notes?

These multi page paper notebooks are super useful. You can just turn the page, save your old sketch and have clean page for new one! WRONG! This is the worst feature! You never look at these notes again, and they just pile up.

Recently, I got Boogie Board – an LCD writing tablet! It cost $20 and it changed my life.

BoogieBoard

You can sketch whatever you want, and erase with one button click. It’s like a pocket whiteboard. If something is important I just dump it to my OneNote before erasing (rarely happens). You don’t have to look for pen anymore. You have one that can be attached to the board, and you can even write with your hands (nails) on it.

I also got bigger one for in-office use. My desk before and after:

BoogieBoard - before BoogieBoard - after

Get one or big one for yourself! It will change your life!


I created Windows app over the weekend and you will not believe what happened next

Pomidoro

Over four years ago I created a simple Pomidoro Windows App in order to learn Windows RT app development. Yeah! Windows RT was a new thing back then! My app was a simple timer that counts down from 25 minutes to 0. It was designed to use when applying the Pomodoro Technique. I published it to Windows Store as a free app. Since then me and a few friends of mine were using it. It made it to top 600 productivity apps on Win Store.

The main purpose of creating this app was to get insight into Windows RT apps development, and experience publishing app to Windows Store.

Last year, somebody from Pomodoro Technique filed Content Infringement Complaint stating that

App name has a name including “Pomodoro Technique®” and “Pomodoro®” or significative parts or misspelling of Pomodoro and Pomodoro Technique

What that means? My app, created over the weekend, is serious competition for their app. What’s more, they removed my app from Windows Store!

good job meme

Recently, my friend Pawel Sawicz – who co-founded dotNetConfPL with me – asked me about this app. He was using it from day to day, but he got a new ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 3, and he had to install a new system. When he wanted to install my Pomidoro app from the Windows Store he couldn’t find it. He thought that the search was broken. Then he reached out to me, and I explained him the situation. Fortunately, source code is on github.