Excursions by Amit Gawande

Imagination and Creation

I read this wonderful quote by Charlie Chaplin today - I am going to use this leniently to keep the creative corner of my mind inspired.

Imagination means nothing without doing.

Such a small bunch of words, but oh-so-meaningful. I also came across this post that I had written exactly a year back on using the time we have at our hands well. Especially on why it is important not to stay focused on the things not done or done but in non-perfect way.

(Time that dawns) with a promise to do so much more than there is time for. Till you realise those 24 hours the day dawned with? They just aren’t enough. Not enough for everything. Barely enough for something.

So you can either spend those fleeting moments on (doing) that something, anything. Or get bogged down with the burden of those others things left untouched. Because there’s just not enough time.

This is a good reminder for myself about something that I had realized some time back, but had forgotten recently. I did face a lull in my reading and writing time recently. When I look back, I believe one of the reasons behind that was the fact that I was waiting for that right space” to work on my thoughts. One that never arrived. I need to stop waiting and spend more time doing stuff than to think whether the moment or the place or the environment or even the words are right. Andy Warhol has put it so perfectly.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.

Tue, Apr 2, 2019 thoughts

I see iA Writer for Windows finally supports the much needed feature, Library of posts. It’s the one feature that I missed the most from its versions from Apple platforms. I just hope that there would be a way to share the Library across platforms — mainly Windows and iOS.

Tue, Apr 2, 2019 thoughts

Joining a new place of work is always full of anticipation, hope for what the day, coming months and possibly years hold. That kind of day today.

Mon, Apr 1, 2019 thoughts

A visit to a hair dresser is always a frightful experience. With each question they ask, I can’t help but think things are getting messy. Bloody, you are the experts, you take the call. You won’t like it if a doctor asks you about everything during an operation, would you? 🙄

Sun, Mar 31, 2019 thoughts

Pleasing to be back to reading. Keeping my Kindle always next me has helped and I have started carrying it everywhere. I have realised it is extremely difficult for me to find a specific focused time marked just for reading books. Kindle replaces the distracting smartphone.

Fri, Mar 29, 2019 thoughts

The convenience of Bluetooth headphones has stifled the hatred I had for the inherent lag it brings. Sure, it’s still not good enough for videos. But it is so freeing to not be roaming around with the source of music. Even laptops at times. I am listening to a lot more music.

Thu, Mar 28, 2019 thoughts

I am reversing my judgement on Spotify, I just didn’t like the interface when it launched. I still don’t (though I have started liking the real part). But it is the desktop application that has sold me on the overall experience — plus hand-off to other devices is brilliant.

Wed, Mar 27, 2019 thoughts

It is so easy to screw up one’s YouTube experience. Just watch something you aren’t interested in, but are because you need to just this moment. All it shows for days is things related to that, as if you have no other interests. Terrible recommendations engine.

Wed, Mar 27, 2019 thoughts

Today’s Apple event was the first one where I have no opinion on. They showed many services that can potentially be great one day. But that day is not anytime soon. And I won’t even be able to use some of them. Cynicism, though, will be pretty prevalent in the tech outlets.

Tue, Mar 26, 2019 thoughts

Discussing Social Networks, Again

Another week, another discussion on the state of social networks on TWiT network. This time it took place on the latest episode of This week in Google . The discussion went on and on about how Google Plus was great. And how other social networks have ruined what made them the best in the first place — the posts from the real people and the social aspect around them — in their quest to monetize by jacking up the engagement”.

Such discussions happen very often these days. Eventually, they turn towards the alternatives that exists, but always take a long trodden path.

Facebook is hated by everyone but is ubiquitous, too big. Twitter is loved by no one but stays relevant in discourse. IndieWeb is dull, abstruce. Federated services are great, but no one can get them working. Instagram’s the lone messiah, but Mark’s working hard to ruin it.”

Finally, the original point on the available alternatives is all but left untouched. I am left frustrated every time by this sheer defeatism, this complete lack of attempt to try earnestly to understand and comment on the alternatives. What all alternatives have you tried? Were there none that were good? If so, why? What is missing? How can they be made better? What is it that you are looking for in a social network?

Mike Elgan had this comment on the recent episode of TWiG.

I would love a social network that had basically two rules. One is no algorithmic sorting or filtering, when I follow somebody I want everything they post. Second thing is I don’t want to get any content that isn’t the actual words or photos taken my the person I follow. No sharing, no retweeting.

I thought great, I know of one that meets these two rules. May be they will recommend it. Or comment on why it is lacking. Nah. Nothing. The topic ended there. I am perplexed at why Micro.blog isn’t referenced more often during these discussions on social networks. Sure, it may not be perfect. So go ahead, criticize it. Tell the makers of the service why they can’t use it. But do talk.

And micro.blog isn’t the only one. There’s Mastodon. And then there are the independent blogging solutions and RSS. Generate some buzz for them. You are not helping the situation by cribbing incessantly about the unending missteps of the existing services. Put these same old rants to rest now and crib about the new services. At least, the normal users would know there exist other alternatives and the developers would know what they need to work on.

Mon, Mar 25, 2019 opinion social media

With growing age, I have become too choosy about the type of movies/shows I watch. There was a time when I used to enjoy intense drama that would make me uncomfortable. Not any more. Applies to the books too. This has drastically limited my selection — mystery and humor.

Mon, Mar 25, 2019 thoughts

When I had found Stoop, the newsletter app, I instantly became a big fan. But I have realized the issues kept piling up as I could hardly get a chance to scroll through them on the small mobile screen. So much potential, but it needs a desktop reader to be useful.

Mon, Mar 25, 2019 thoughts

When you have a mind not too clogged with some insignificant thoughts, one can get things done. I managed to add support for syndicating posts to Twitter from Blotpub. A minor update, sure. But an update nonetheless after a long time. Good to have the focus back.

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 update dev

Selecting and Reading Books

I keep mentioning every time I get a chance that I am too picky while selecting the books I read. So it was fascinating to read few suggestions from Austin Kleon on how to read more. Especially his first tip - quit reading books you don’t like

It helps if you choose the right books in the first place. Stop reading what you think you should be reading and just read what you genuinely want to read.

Yep, I follow this rule diligently. And I have my own list of gems” that just aren’t for me.

I also keep my currently reading list loaded with multiple books at a time. Some are as audiobooks, some as e-books. (It’s been very long since I read a paperback and it was primarily because I just don’t enjoy them.)

Feel free to read promiscuously — date 3 or 4 books at the same time until one makes you want to settle down with it.

I do that, but not for the reason Austin mentions. I just like to hop between books at times. Many a times before I give up on one.

I really liked these quotes that Austin has included in his post. Ah, I think I need to read a lot more.

Nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren’t enjoying but think they ought to read.

—Nancy Pearl

There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag — and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice-versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.

—Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 reading opinion

I’ve been using Spotify for a couple of weeks now. I still hate the interface — it’s barely usable. So difficult to browse around, find what you want. But it overcomes that need with its brilliant list of playlists. I can select one and just let it play what I want.

Sun, Mar 24, 2019 thoughts