Month: December 2015

Happy 2016!

Happy 2016! Or 7E0, if you use hex. And, if you use the dozenal, enjoy your new century!

Blimey, a new century. Prepare yourself! Make your goal list, accomplish your goals (pretty please) and enjoy everything this year has to offer.

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Wikipedia’s got an App!

I know, this might be old news for you. But when I discovered it, I was quite happy about it. I could have access to EVERYTHING from my phone!

Actually, I already had it in the phone’s browser, but here is where I get into fanboy mode. “No!” I say “It’s not the same! With the app, you make a vow to yourself. A vow to look for knowledge and keep learning. A vow to be true to yourself!”

But still, it’s basically the same, even though it has some differences. For example, who uses the phone browser without necessity? And an app? Ha.

Also, have you ever experienced that feeling when you’re reading a wikipedia article and felt you didn’t understand a word? I have, and it has made me open up to 17 tabs at the same time.

But, with the app, you only have to click once and a quick definition appears. And that’s quite helpful, actually. If you’re still curious, you can click “Go to the article” to… Well, go to the article. There’s no big surprise in the function of that button.

On a side note. If “Click” is a word used to describe the click on the computer by the sound it makes, shouldn’t we find a new one for smartphones and tablets?

Obviously not, because we already have a word for that. End of the side note.

As I was saying, give a try to Wikipedia’s app. It’s nice, it’s simple, it’s suitable for all. Get Wikipedia!

*Article not sponsored by Wikipedia, but it should be. Seriously guys, this is prime publicity*

Merry Oncoming Christmas

CHRISTMAS IS HERE!

Well, almost.

And I’m very, VERY excited! Like, a LOT!

“Why?” -you ask- “Well” I answer “It’s not because of the family. Or the gifts. Or the food. Or the snow. Or the decoration. It’s because of one simple thing: CAROLS!”

Also, marzipan. But mainly carols. And the Christmas ambiance and the cold. But still, Carols.

So here are my favorite carols, just because. I like a helluva lot, but songs are quite long, so I’ll just post my top 4, because I know you don’t have time to waste. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas Everybody

I love this guy. His sideburns may be slightly scary, but the song is awesome. AWESOME I SAY. His song is cheery, bursting with energy and stuff.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

This one is brilliant, too. Twelve days, twelve Doctors… That’s a good help to remember the lyrics. Also, the music is awesome.

The Little Drummer Boy

I like drums. And the concept of a drummer. And this song is calm. I don’t know what you think, but this makes it one of my favorite carols.

All I want For Christmas is You

The only thing this has in common with Christmas is the title. But still, it’s mostly heard around this time of the year, so that makes it technically a Christmas song.

Intuition

I love intuition, though I have many problems with the meaning of that word. Being a fanboy of Jungian Functions (on which I will write some day) I have a somewhat strange idea of it, making it a mix of creativity, imagination, abstract thought and hunches.

And that’s what I will write about today.

First, they come out of nothing, aka the unconscious. Our brain is working all the time, though we can’t pay attention to it. So it just gives the answer without showing the steps.

It goes on three phases:

First, you work on the problem. You brain can’t make bricks with no clay, and it can’t solve a problem without a problem and without background information.

Then, there’s incubation. You get tired and do other stuff. You take a shower, you walk, you read… Do NOT watch telly, it doesn’t help. Meanwhile, your problem is submitted to the little slaves on your unconscious, who do the work for you without getting any pay.

And, finally, BAM, the problem is solved and the answer pops up. Or maybe it doesn’t, but the next time you try to tackle the problem you feel as if it were incredibly easy. That’s the inspiration.

I’ll give a few examples taken from my life, which show different ways this can happen.

First, I was doing a work in primes. I spent an hour or so, and got tired, and went to do other stuff. When I came back, it was as if my pen write on his own, and I had at least five different ways to solve it.

For the record, none of them worked on the main problem (It has been unsolved for four hundred years, give me a break, you people!) but I did discover a lot of interesting stuff on my way.

 

I spent a whole day playing chess. It got me addicted, and I had many competitions with friends, so I needed practice. I went to sleep. I woke up confused in the middle of the night, and looked at my chessboard, which was still on the floor. And suddenly I thought “Hey, the knight can move as an L of two and one squares in one move, as an L of three times one in two moves, and as an L of four and one squares in three moves” I was tired, so I noted it and went back to sleep. Next morning, I checked, and it was correct indeed.

 

Finally, I was discussing science with my father. He said he couldn’t understand relativity, and showed me a contradiction he found. I was baffled. It looked as a contradiction at the chore of relativity! And in the most simple part! I couldn’t believe it, and I spent 10 minutes thinking it through. Then I had to leave, so I shifted my focus to other stuff. But as I was walking, I had it. I didn’t have the answer, but I managed to get out of the box, and it was obvious that the answer was right there. And I found it.

 

As you can see, it works on many ways, but they’re fundamentally the same. So, to sum up:

-Your brain works on his own
-It can help you to solve problems
-But you need to try first, and try hard
-Intuition is like happiness: if you’re looking for it, it won’t come.

Working Memory

There are many kinds of memory: long term memory, mid-term memory and short term memory.

This one’s also called “working memory”, and it’s vital.

Most people have a working memory of between five and nine spaces that can be filled with numbers, words, and so on.

That’s for short term. The thing is, this memory is usually related to intelligence. And that’s for a reason. It can be compared to the RAM or the speed of a computer.

This means that working memory helps you to think faster and to think deeper.

Imagine you’re a philosopher. You have to juggle in your head with many abstract terms at the same time: definitions, examples, arguments for and against…

And many times you can’t write them down, either because you’re not a word thinker, either because the simple change of subject resets your working memory, causing you to forget your brilliant idea.

Of course, that’s a big problem. So you want to keep your short term memory sharp.

How?

Well, by using it, of course!

You can crutch it with paper and pencil, of course, and that would be very, very useful. Personally, I do it often. But you can not do it.

Today, for example, I had a hard time grasping a physics concept about different times and relativity and movement. Since it involved time flow and movement (and I was walking on the street, too) I couldn’t write it down on paper (and the drawing I did on the sand didn’t help either, and made people look at me strange), so I had to use all my RAM to think about it. Eventually, I got to the concept. I still can’t make it words, but hey! I understand it! And I solved the problem!

And that’s something.

Willpower

There are clever people. There are strong people. There are fast people, risky people, cunning people. All those have talents. But there’s a talent to rule them all: willpower.

Practice makes everything. Absolutely everything. Maybe some people get a head start determined by genetics, but ultimately it’s all about practice.

In a study made on people at the top of their job (be it chess players, musicians or whatever) they all had 10 000 hours of practice. All of them.

Maybe there was a lot that started with some talent. But they, too, had to get the 10 000 hours to keep that way.

Willpower makes everything. Even willpower. As always, there are some ways to help it. And, obviously, I’m going to talk about them.

The Rule of 40%

Your brain wants to save energy. When you run, or solve math problems, or whatever, it loses energy. And it doesn’t want to. So, when you’ve wasted around a 40%, it says “I can’t keep going. This is my limit”

Well, it isn’t. You still have 60% left. Think of marathon runners. They say they can’t keep going around mile 10. They finish them.

So every time you think “I can’t keep going”, answer yourself “Yes I can! I still can double what I’ve done!”

And it works.

The Pomodoro Technique

Take a clock. Set it for 20 minutes, and force yourself to do something until it finishes. Did you finish before? Well, bad luck. Keep working. Work the full 20 minutes with zero distractions.

There is an app I recommend that’s called “Forest”. It works exactly like that, except it plants a tree (a virtual tree) every time you set it. And it kills the tree if you get out of the app during that time. It also graphs your progress and all.

Suffer

Oh, yes, you will suffer if you work every waking hour, without a minute to do nothing. Your head will hurt and feel tired if you’ve been doing hardcore thinking for two hours, and your feet will try to let you fall after running as if a demon was trying to kill you.

And it’s that suffering which counts. That means you get better. That means you’re getting closer to your objective.

But know when to stop

You can’t work the whole day, unless you’re a robot. In that case, feel free to do it. But you really need some rest. Maybe, if you’re feeling strong enough, you don’t want to stop working hard. Okay.

But work hard on other things. After having written ten pages of a novel, go and work hard on playing the piano. But don’t keep writing.

 

And that’s all. Remember: willpower is stronger than talent, and willpower can be gotten by everyone. But it won’t be easy.