Mess with the right people

Because you only grow up in expertise when you mix with people that are better than yourself in a particular area of knowledge, it can be easily understood the importance of using the limited available time wisely. It is mandatory (if you want to improve) to spend time with people that make you grow, rather than with people that just waste your time and sink you into deep waters.

I am aware that this could sound a little bit like a “Nazi manifesto”, but is not at all. I firmly believe that everyone excels in something, and therefore no one should be measured just by the performance displayed in one particular field.

As the said says: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Or in other words: maths could be not your thing, but you could be an exceptional writer. Hence using a fixed rule to measure performance is not how life works, and the reason why some people that underdelivered academically in his/her early years, lately overpass in achievements those that did. They were simply measured wrongly. Once life moves on and goes from the school desks to the real day to day life, is when people that did not do well at school (but had another life skills) have an opportunity to glow up.

Normally they always take advantage to demonstrate their real potential, because they were frustrated at school, and that stuck to themselves. Therefore when they have the chance to demonstrate that they were not stupids (just measured by criteria not suitable for them), they embrace it as an opportunity and they normally crush it.

Following up on the above (the importance to be measured by your own parameters), there are two things that become utterly important:

1) Knowing by heart which one is your area of interest.

2) Acknowledging the importance of choosing the right people to mix with (at least if you want to keep improving and progressing).

About determining your area of interest. That is a simple question.
The only person that can know what is your favorite area of interest is yourself. You have to be rawly self-honest, but identifying what motivates you is simple: your area of interest is that thing that ignites your passion. That particular thing that makes your time fly, and makes you forget about the environment that surrounds you. Name it writing, programming, reading or cycling. When you feel that your heart beats intensively and happy, you will know that what you are doing at that time is “one of your things”

About mixing with the right people. That is a slightly more complicated question to reply, but actually simple when you remove the emotional variable.

Who are them, the right people? The right people for improving your development are those in your area of interest that are slightly better than yourself on that particular topic that you like and share their knowledge and passion.

Feeling the smarter guy in the room does not normally mean that you actually are, it only means that the circle you have selected is wrong for your development. Because it is a fact that if you mix all the time with people that are worst than you, you will never grow up.

It is also a fact that if you mix with people that have much more level than yourself doing something, it could be daunting and discouraging. So there is a thin balance line here. You need to mix with people that are better than you, but not to the point that you feel intimidated by them.

And where are those people?

Is difficult to find those persons randomly. Is barely impossible that you walk into a bar and find them. Those persons are pursuing her passions currently, or they are dead and pursued their passions in the past (and wrote everything they knew in books).

So where can you find them?

1) On the Internet.

What a marvelous thing Internet is. You can have an interest in a weird subject, and still find forums, wikis, and posts about “your thing”. Internet forums are a good place to find the right people, and to make good contacts among them. People that share your same interests are there, and you can really learn from them. Also, social networks used carefully can put you in contact with brilliant people, so they are not a tool to totally be dismissed.

2) Books.

Books are like the Internet of the past, and also the place where authors put their condensed knowledge. A book is normally knowledge pearls or distilled knowledge. In an era where we have all the data reachable just a few keyboard clicks away, it is becoming more and more important to process data and convert it into useful information. Good books are good precisely at that: “converting raw data into information” The author of a book normally puts a lot of effort into writing it, so you can expect to have a lot of information per page. Books are incredibly powerful. Read the right book and you could end up being transformed forever.

3) Specialized magazines.

I have been a big fan of magazines my whole life, and I still think that they are useful to some extent. A good specialized magazine can cover in deep topics that are appealing to yourself. Just be careful picking the right magazines and subscribe just to those that really have something to contribute.

And remember, keep your passion, never let other people tell you what you have to do or like, and once you find your passion, give it all .

Learning by doing

I am a huge fan of the concept of “Learning by doing”.

In today´s world, with all the information immediately available at the reach of your fingertips, it has become more and more important to condensate huge amounts of information in small chunks of gold or “know-how snippets”.

The bigger the information we have to process, the harder to obtain practical and useful know-how. Hence, it is more relevant than ever to be able to put all the parts together sticking with glue everything required to build something useful and practical.

I am also big fan of setting specific challenges to spark the “Learning by doing” concept.

Let´s imagine that you want to learn HTML+CSS

What a better trigger for your desire to learn that setting a challenge like “I am going to build a webpage for my cyclist club that everyone there is going to use”. None.

Briefly: doing cannot be replaced by anything, as it transfers knowledge from the romantic (but useless) world of the ideas to the (cruel but practical) real world.

Doing is the best way of learning. Let´s keep doing, doing and doing…

 

Vehicle design

I have a personal frustration. At the beginning, it  was small, but I have noticed recently that the pain  is increasing over the years, and not getting better.

My issue is that I am cannot draw properly,  but still I am fascinated about product design. I am doomed by my lack of ability, and each year that passes the frustration weights more and more.

So, if it is true that we reincarnate into something new in the next iteration of this bucle called life, I want to know right now what do I have to do in my remaining existence, so I will behave properly for the rest of my life in order to reincarnate myself as an industrial designer in my next existence.

I am particularly eager to reincarnate as a vehicle designer, but if that is not possible, I will settle being “just” a good product designer.

Take a look to the videos of the Royal College of Art

http://www.rca.ac.uk/schools/school-of-design/vehicle-design/

Amazing

Prehistoric computing

Thanks to the effort of microhobby.org I have discovered that all the numbers of the old Spanish computing magazine: MicroHobby, can be downloaded in a PDF format.

When I saw them, I remembered almost every single cover of the magazine (and I am impressed by the quality of those covers).

Furthermore I have discovered amazed that I did a very small contribution on number 1 (I completely forgot about this, truly)

This was probably 1990.

http://microhobby.speccy.cz/mhf/196/MH196_14.jpg

Yes, computers have been part of my life always.

Why I keep this blog?

Running this blog is my way to celebrate life, and to try to achieve more.

By writing down what I do and what do I accomplish, I definitively feel that I do more things, and I am more conscious about how time flies. This is my way of realising that although it flies (that bastard called time), I accomplish things every single day of my life. A life well lived, that´s the only epitaph I wanna read on my grave, and yes, I am doing all the best to make it real.

So, definitively I will keep posting during 2016.

Welcome 2016

2016 is coming straight, and once again, is time for new year resolutions.

Is frightening how time flies, but we must keep the illusion for what is yet to come.

My list for new year resolutions is small

  1. Keep fit and practice as much sport as I can.
  2. Read one book per month.
  3. Pass a professional certification per quarter.
  4. Keep enjoying my job.
  5. Create something my own.

And that is it!

Google Campus Madrid

Google is a company that I deeply admire. After reading the Google History,  I wrote some time ago an article about how the company started: “Cien mil dólares para cambiar el mundo

I know that Google is a company which primary goal is to make money.

I do not have a problem with that. Is it not the main reason why every single company is started for? A company is not a non-governmental organization after all, and being profitable should be between their first objectives if they just want to survive.

I truly think, however, that making money is not the only interest of Google, and that they truly believe in making the world a better place for all of us.  And you know what? In this world where almost everybody complains constantly, but only few people makes things to progress, I do thing that Google is an example to follow.

Besides that,  I do work on a regular basis from Campus Madrid, and have to say that the place is marvellous, and I am very proud of  having the possibility to work from there, for free.

 

Hats off to Google!

Problem contemplation

Some people, when confronted with an issue, can never pass the contemplation phase.

Almost eternally thinking how to resolve the issue presented, focusing on the causes and implications of the problem.

Analyzing an issue for days, weeks, months, years… usually just converts the original problem in a split of several others, where every single fragment of the original issue, is even bigger than the starting point.

I am not saying that analysis is not required. Divide and conquer, we have been told for years: yes. Hence, the analysis is required, but working on the actual issue is even more necessary, and it is something that these days, people tend to forget.
Most people are just theory.It seems like no one likes to get the hands dirty any more.

Therefore lots of individuals, when confronted with an issue, can never pass the contemplation phase. They spend their time, just almost eternally, thinking how to resolve it, rather than trying something to resolve it. Nobody seems to like the idea of getting their hands dirty.

So, when confronted with an issue: stop, think and define properly what are you trying to resolve, problem definition is crucial, but once clarified work step by step towards the resolution.

Do not forget to move on from the analysis phase, for the sake of the final resolution.

Just by doing that, by starting to work on the real problem as fast as you can, you will be much better than the average Joe, which remains contemplating the issue almost forever. Do no stop doing.

The cryptographic assassin

Is she still alive? That was the first question asked.

But she was not. She was clearly dead. That was undeniable. It was so clear by simply glancing over the crime scene, that the question was offensive for the policeman who first inspected the body of the young lady, now died on the floor.

The rest of the questions: who? what? why? how? were all still floating on the air like those flies trying to suck blood from the dead body.

The police inspector could only answer one question: the how.
He was over 50, and had been serving in the police department for more than twenty years, hence he had already seen too many dead bodies.  Somebody had strangulated her from behind, using a barbed wired cable – was his verdict.

Brutal, disgusting… All that was left behind was a memory stick and a beheaded body.

Call her! – the inspector shouted in anger.

Call who? – Replied the policeman

Call her!!! Call that bastard, we need her here now!!!

Hmmm, you mean the hacker? – replied the policeman knowing that his question could irritate even more the inspector.

Yes, I mean that punk lady that knows everything about computers.

And… in the meanwhile, and this is a direct order, no one is going to insert that memory stick in any computer  -continued the police inspector.

Is it that sufficiently clear to everyone? It is strictly forbidden to touch that thing, no one, not even the fingerprint team can touch it!

Only God knows what kind of atrocity it does contains.

Let’s leave her to puzzle out what all this shit is about – mumbled the inspector.

Side Projects are good

Unfortunately, when we are working, we normally do focus on some specific tasks that need to be accomplished in the shortest period of time, and with the maximum efficiency. That makes us highly productive at work, which is great, but on overall reduces our knowledge limiting it to what we use on a regular basis at work.

Hence, having a side project is important, as it is a terrific way of taking us out of our comfort zone. When you start a side project, nobody is going to answer the questions. There is no one you can directly ask something. As you are flying solo, you really need to evolve yourself to walk the path.
Do you want to learn web programming? Start a side project to create that website you always thought about.

Do you want to finish that book? Keep writing!

Do you want to create your first Iphone app? Start today better than yesterday to learn the required skills.

I know, is so hard to crash against the white paper.

But, there is no other way, and it never was.