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I write about design, technology, and people. Sometimes I take photos of places I visit.

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Ireland road trip

A view of a valley from a mountain pass road.

Last week I came back from a family road trip through Ireland. While most of the world was overheating, we’ve worn long sleeves and sometimes taken out a second blanket. The locals have worn shorts and called it a regular summer. Read more

Technology that can last a century

My last two grandparents passed away in the last year or so. As it’s customary in those life situations, one has to sort through things that were left behind. Some of those things were books. Very old books.

A front cover of a book showing it was published in 1920.

The full cover of the Crime and Punishment book by
Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

As I was holding Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky from 1920 in my hands, I started to think about the longevity of technology. How many of the things in tech we’re building today are going to survive a full century and still be usable and useful?

Selling

From a talk by Richard Hamming, a mathematician:

I have now come down to a topic which is very distasteful; it is not sufficient to do a job, you have to sell it. “Selling” to a scientist is an awkward thing to do. It’s very ugly; you shouldn’t have to do it. The world is supposed to be waiting, and when you do something great, they should rush out and welcome it. But the fact is everyone is busy with their own work. You must present it so well that they will set aside what they are doing, look at what you’ve done, read it, and come back and say, “Yes, that was good.”

I recognized my younger self in this so much. Ten to fifteen years ago, I believed that if you do good work people will just come and admire it. Sounds so naive looking back at it. Today, I understand there are two steps needed to push any new idea into the world: 1) do good work and 2) convince people you did good work. Sell it.

Skilled at working around the system

From Flash Boys, an excellent story about high-frequency trading by Michael Lewis:

Constantine was also Russian, born and raised in the small town on the Volga River. He had a theory about why so many Russians had wound up inside high-frequency trading. The old Soviet educational system channeled people away from the humanities and into math and science. The old Soviet culture also left its former citizens oddly prepared for Wall Street in the early twenty-first century. The Soviet-controlled economy was horrible and complicated but riddled with loopholes. Everything was scarce; everything was also gettable, if you knew how to get it. “We had this system for seventy years,” said Constantine. “People learn to work around the system. The more you cultivate a class of people who know how to work around the system, the more people you will have who know how to do it well. All of the Soviet Union for seventy years were people who are skilled at working around the system.” The population was thus well suited to exploit megatrends in both computers and the United States financial markets.

Reminds me of Yugoslavia and post-war Croatia.

Drawing comics together

You like drawing, right?”

That was my opening line when I approached a few friends and colleagues almost a year ago. I wanted to get back to drawing on regular basis. I also wanted to improve my storytelling skills. Drawing comics seemed like a good way of combining both, but it could be even better if done in an excellent company that keeps you accountable and helps you improve. The four of us sat together, and I explained that the current skill doesn’t matter and the commitment is flexible. We were all in. Read more

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