Always Produce

Good advice on how to do what you love from entrepreneur Paul Graham.

Is there some test you can use to keep yourself honest? One is to try to do a good job at whatever you’re doing, even if you don’t like it. Then at least you’ll know you’re not using dissatisfaction as an excuse for being lazy. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll get into the habit of doing things well.

Another test you can use is: always produce. For example, if you have a day job you don’t take seriously because you plan to be a novelist, are you producing? Are you writing pages of fiction, however bad? As long as you’re producing, you’ll know you’re not merely using the hazy vision of the grand novel you plan to write one day as an opiate. The view of it will be obstructed by the all too palpably flawed one you’re actually writing.

“Always produce” is also a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to that constraint, it will automatically push you away from things you think you’re supposed to work on, toward things you actually like. “Always produce” will discover your life’s work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof.

Tracking deer on Google Earth


Readers of my last several posts may have noticed a strange obsession with wildlife and communications technology. I’m interested in how information technology — especially imagery and mapping tools — can and are being used in service of biology and conservation. I keep harping on cameras and charismatic megafauna, but truthfully that is only one facet of a larger trend of what I would call “ICT4C” – information and communication technology for conservation.

This time, the story that caught my eye was a man in Pennsylvania who built a system for tracking a radio-collared deer in near-real-time using a bunch of free online tools. The radio collar sends GPS coordinates by SMS every five minutes to an email account (unclear if this is through the radio collar itself or jerry-rigged GPS & mobile), where the information is automatically uploaded to a blog linked to a Google spreadsheet and viewable via dynamic KML file in Google Earth.

I speculated about the likelihood of such real-time tracking technology for wildlife almost a year ago, but didn’t think we would see something similar so soon – it shows how versatile the tools are and how far the costs have dropped. I could easily imagine a company selling this capability to pet owners, ranchers, or wildlife preserve managers. In fact, it’s somewhat surprising to me that there is not a military version of this kind of real-time location tracking of items/individuals that has been spun off and packaged for civilian use. Looks like the tinkerers are mapping the territory.

Click the deer diagram for discussion and detailed technical instructions of how the system was created.


[via Evgeny Morozov via Lunch over IP]

Bionic Commando: Rearmed


Nerd alert: my favorite Nintendo game EVAR, Bionic Commando, is being remade for Xbox and Playstation. The best part is — they’re not just making a new game inspired by the old classic, but they are literally recreating the original NES Bionic Commando virtually level-for-level, complete with original terrible enemy dialogue (“Get the heck out of here, you nerd!”) and an update of the excellent 8-bit soundtrack. The new 2D sidescroller will be called Bionic Commando: Rearmed (ha). But the bestest part is — hold on, fanboys — two-player simultaneous play! I am quite looking forward to some lost afternoons this year as I relive my middle school memories.

via devin from crunchgear

Reader of a thousand books

Inspired by this recount of famous shed-writers, I am putting forth my own favorite hermetic book-lover story: that of Joseph Campbell spending several years in a cabin, reading for nine hours a day. Something about the unlikely combination of dedication and freedom involved in this endeavor has wedged it firmly in place at the top of my list of fantasy life plans. Here, the man himself explains the setup, from The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work.

So during the years of the Depression I had arranged a schedule for myself. When you don’t have a job or anyone to tell you what to do, you’ve got to fix one for yourself. I divided the day into four four-hour periods, of which I would be reading in three of the four-hour periods, and free one of them.

By getting up at eight o’clock in the morning, by nine I could sit down to read. That meant I used the first hour to prepare my own breakfast and take care of the house and put things together in whatever shack I happened to be living in at the time. Then three hours of that first four-hour period went to reading.

Then came an hour break for lunch and another three-hour unit. And then comes the optional next section. It should normally be three hours of reading and then an hour out for dinner and then three hours free and an hour getting to bed so I’m in bed by twelve.

On the other hand, if I were invited out for cocktails or something like that, then I would put the work hour in the evening and the play hour in the afternoon.

It worked very well. I would get nine hours of sheer reading done a day. And this went on for five years straight.

The full story of how he came to find himself out there and what happened next is really worth reading, and is included after the jump.

Continue reading “Reader of a thousand books”