Category: Personal

Book Review: The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

psychopathtest_custom-9fb3036a713639d308b67686c1b07ba6358eae8b-s6-c30I went into this book with the wrong expectation. When it says “A Journey” in the title, it really means it. The book is a journal. It almost feels like the making-of of The Psychopath Test, instead of the book itself. The whole book is written in first person, with no other order than time passing. It’s like a story.

There are some good nuggets of content every now and then but for my taste, they are too far apart. For most of the book the treatment of psychopathy is very prejudicial, but it’s impossible to pin-point examples because everything is either something that happened (so and so said), something the author felt or thought (you can feel something, like, tall people are evil, without claiming it to be true), or an open question (should all psychopaths be locked up?)

I wish for a more descriptive book that was neutral as to morality. If you are after that, look elsewhere, this is not it.

★☆☆☆☆

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Book Review: The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley, Larry D. Rosen

41aipvZ90dLMy review of this book is going to sound a bit negative, but my regard for it is not, hence the four-stars.

The book is nicely divided in three sections. The first one is the brain, how it works, studies, it’s history and evolution. The second section is about the effect of the technological world on the mind and vice-versa. And the third is about how to deal with the world, techniques to be more productive, less distracted, more engaged. I don’t have much to say about the first part except that it’s fascinating and some of the studies were new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The second section is where my surprises begin. For example, it spent a lot of time explaining how you cannot text and drive. I have used my phone while in the car to change songs, podcasts or the route (I use it for navigation) and every time I can clearly see my driving quality going down and thus I only do it in low risk cases (empty highway with lanes on both sides of me, things like that). I can’t believe that there are people that believe they can text and drive.

The second part also spent a lot of time explaining that multitasking is not doing more than one thing at the same time, but doing one for a bit of time, then the other and coming back and that switching has a cost and thus, doing two tasks multitasking is less efficient than doing one task and then the other. Again, is this news? I do multitask but I know both tasks are suffering. Generally I do it for enjoyment or because there’s value in one task being in-progress (silly example: applying coats of paint while reading a book, you need to wait between each coat, so, multitasking has some value).

The third section is what really surprised me the most and made me feel like a very uncommon person. My phone is by my bedside at night in case of an emergency, but only calls from certain people get through; everything else is blocked. I don’t pick it in the middle of the night and I know that when I do, or when I look at it before going to sleep, it’ll affect my sleeping cycle negatively. There wasn’t much new about this in the book but it was a good reminder to improve my sleep hygiene, which I’m going to start doing.

There was a category of recommendations that I found really interesting. Apparently, the presence of a phone, on someone’s hand or on the table, even if it never rings and it’s never touched, even if it’s off, reduces the quality of human interaction. I’m highly skeptical but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and maybe start avoiding having my phone present during these sort of interaction.

If you are struggling with messages, Facebook, mails, and so on, overriding your life, then, this book might have some good information for you. For me, it didn’t feel very applicably as I’m a work-at-home-entrepreneur, so, Facebook, email, IM tend to be much needed human interaction for me.

Aside from my experience of the book, I think the book is good, and if things are as bad as they are painted in it, more people should read it.

★★★★☆

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Book Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

zz48df98ecDo not expect the book to be serious or high brow. It’s silly, predictable and satisfying. Very satisfying if you are a geek that enjoys pop sci fi and fantasy culture. If you enjoyed that aspect of Ready Player One, then you are likely to enjoy Armada too. If that’s you, go ahead and read it, you’ll enjoy it and it’s short.

I feel the book could have spent much more time world building. Maybe Ernest Cline didn’t do that because, unlike Ready Player One, the world is supposed to be our own regular world; but there are a few technological changes that left me wondering how much more advanced it was. I feel that later on, when more information is revealed, a flashback with a lot of world building would have helped me getting more into it.

The audio version read by Will Wheaton is great. Most of the book is read in a more or less neutral voice but every now and then he makes appropriate voices (such as Yoda) which I find suit the book rather well.

★★★☆☆

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Rite in the Rain notepad review

In this video we showcase a Rite in the Rain notebook, an all-weather notebook that can sustain water as well as other things and still be useful as a notebook. Enjoy!

Links:

Rite in the Rain products:
US: http://amzn.to/2ihEaKL
UK: http://amzn.to/2uUen18

Rite in the Rain small black notebook:
US: http://amzn.to/2vdYX35
UK: http://amzn.to/2wlfnvu

Rite in the Rain pen:
US: http://amzn.to/2wdY3rU
UK: http://amzn.to/2fW9nCl

Rite in the Rain pencil:
US: http://amzn.to/2wedTTB
UK: http://amzn.to/2x3hoKa

6 in 1 multitool pen:
US: http://amzn.to/2weaHaj
UK: http://amzn.to/2wedTTB

Disclaimer: some of the links contain affiliate codes that help support my channel.

5.11 Rush72 Backpack super detailed overview

In this video I go through every inch of this backpack (almost literally), leaving no stone unturned (no flap unopened?). If you have any questions about this backpack, this video probably answers it. If you still have a question at the end, please, leave a comment and I’ll try to help.

5.11 Rush72 backpack, color: Storm:
US: http://amzn.to/2iguXSZ
UK: http://amzn.to/2vUca3e

5.11 Rush72 backpack, color: Double Tap:
US: http://amzn.to/2vUeTtl
UK: http://amzn.to/2wepSQZ

Disclaimer: some of the links contain affiliate codes that help support my channel.

Goodbye Apple

My main computer was an Apple MacBook Pro for about 8 or 9 years. That is, until last January, when I said good-bye to Apple. It wasn’t easy, but the last iteration of the MacBook Pro is terrible.

I’m not against the touch bar. I think keyboards need more innovation and I applaud the effort. But aside from the touch bar, the keyboard feels weird because they tried to make their power-user product super thin.

Let me repeat that: for their power user product Apple favors a bit of thinness over usability.

I don’t know how much of that also pushed them to produce an underpowered product with not a lot of RAM, very expensive hard drive, very expensive in general.

At the same time as I was in need of a new laptop, I was putting together a gaming computer and I decided instead to add some more funding to that project and turn it into a proper workstation. For the price of a MacBook Pro, I got the most amazing workstation I could ever want. Granted, it’s not mobile, but I need my nice keyboard and monitors to work anyway, so, it suits me well.

I’m really surprised to be back using Microsoft Windows as my main operating system; something that hasn’t happened since Windows NT 4.0. And I’m happy about it.

Goodbye Apple, it was fun while it lasted.

Pedals and Wheels for Elite Dangerous and other cockpit games

In this video I’m showing you how I installed my pedals for Elite Dangerous and other cockpit games so they would be solid including dealing with the wheels in my chair.

The wheels:
US: http://amzn.to/2hvoIdt
UK: http://amzn.to/2wtiv4u

Elite Dangerous: https://www.elitedangerous.com/

My HOTAS setup: http://www.thrustmaster.com/en_UK/products/hotas-warthog
US: http://amzn.to/2v4yFDz
UK: http://amzn.to/2v4DBbK

My startup, Dashman: https://dashman.tech

Disclaimer: some of the links contain affiliate codes and I would get a commission.

Book Review: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

22405This is the most British thing I ever read. It’s quite funny but in my usual fashion, I have lots of questions about the reality of these people.

★★★☆☆

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Book Review: The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon

the-rise-and-fall-of-american-growth-2I read it as an audiobook and it doesn’t make a good one. It’s full of figures, numbers, charts, diagrams, etc which get lost in the audio version. This might cause a bias on my review.

The book feels thoroughly researched. I caught a couple of small errors but most time when I thought “What about this or that” the book answered my objection a couple or paragraphs earlier.

The first two parts cycle between a dry list of numbers and little stories or descriptions that are very interesting. It is, as the title suggest, very American centric but every now and then it compares USA with Europe.

The last part is different, specially the last two or three chapters, which talk about the present and the future. I was heavily entrenched in what this books call techno-optimisim. Techno-optimists believe progress is happening and it will accelerate. AI will solve all problems and destroy all jobs. We also believe robots are the biggest source of unemployment today. This book made me challenge these assumptions. I’m not sure what to believe. Some of the conclusions that you may arrive at from the information here can be very xenophobic/protectionist.

The postscript, America’s Growth Achievement and the Path Ahead is great and concise. I think it should be mandatory reading to be a politician of any kind. Actually, the US should elect Robert J. Gordon as their president.

★★★★☆

Buy The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War in USA
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Book Review: Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century by Lauren Slater

711eVpNBKRLThis book is very entertaining and contains a lot of details I wasn’t familiar with but to be honest, not many that are important in my opinion; so, if you are as familiar as I am with the great psychological experiments, it’s just entertainment (and I’d say good one).

I really like that she managed to locate and talk to some of the participants of the Milgram experiment. I never gave too much thought about the impact the experiment might have had on their lives. At the same time she ignored some of the more important Milgram findings: adding a white coat and other authority symbols increasing compliance by a lot.

★★★☆☆

Buy Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century in USA
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