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On time management

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Last December, the Guardian published a long essay by Oliver Burkeman entitled "Why time management is ruining our lives". Those who follow my book reviews know I read a lot of time management books, so of course I couldn't resist this. And, possibly surprisingly, not to disagree with it. It's an excellent essay, and well worth your time.

Burkeman starts by talking about Inbox Zero:

If all this fervour seems extreme – Inbox Zero was just a set of technical instructions for handling email, after all – this was because email had become far more than a technical problem. It functioned as a kind of infinite to-do list, to which anyone on the planet could add anything at will.

This is, as Burkeman develops in the essay, an important critique of time management techniques in general, not just Inbox Zero: perhaps you can become moderately more efficient, but what are you becoming more efficient at doing, and why does it matter? If there were a finite amount of things that you had to accomplish, with leisure the reward at the end of the fixed task list, doing those things more efficiently makes perfect sense. But this is not the case in most modern life. Instead, we live in a world governed by Parkinson's Law: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."

Worse, we live in a world where the typical employer takes Parkinson's Law, not as a statement on the nature of ever-expanding to-do lists, but a challenge to compress the time made available for a task to try to force the work to happen faster. Burkeman goes farther into the politics, pointing out that a cui bono analysis of time management suggests that we're all being played by capitalist employers. I wholeheartedly agree, but that's worth a separate discussion; for those who want to explore that angle, David Graeber's Debt and John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society are worth your time.

What I want to write about here is why I still read (and recommend) time management literature, and how my thinking on it has changed.

I started in the same place that most people probably do: I had a bunch of work to juggle, I felt I was making insufficient forward progress on it, and I felt my day contained a lot of slack that could be put to better use. The alluring promise of time management is that these problems can be resolved with more organization and some focus techniques. And there is a huge surge of energy that comes with adopting a new system and watching it work, since the good ones build psychological payoff into the tracking mechanism. Starting a new time management system is fun! Finishing things is fun!

I then ran into the same problem that I think most people do: after that initial surge of enthusiasm, I had lists, systems, techniques, data on where my time was going, and a far more organized intake process. But I didn't feel more comfortable with how I was spending my time, I didn't have more leisure time, and I didn't feel happier. Often the opposite: time management systems will often force you to notice all the things you want to do and how slow your progress is towards accomplishing any of them.

This is my fundamental disagreement with Getting Things Done (GTD): David Allen firmly believes that the act of recording everything that is nagging at you to be done relieves the brain of draining background processing loops and frees you to be more productive. He argues for this quite persuasively; as you can see from my review, I liked his book a great deal, and used his system for some time. But, at least for me, this does not work. Instead, having a complete list of goals towards which I am making slow or no progress is profoundly discouraging and depressing. The process of maintaining and dwelling on that list while watching it constantly grow was awful, quite a bit worse psychologically than having no time management system at all.

Mark Forster is the time management author who speaks the best to me, and one of the points he makes is that time management is the wrong framing. You're not going to somehow generate more time, and you're usually not managing minutes and seconds. A better framing is task management, or commitment management: the goal of the system is to manage what you mentally commit to accomplishing, usually by restricting that list to something far shorter than you would come up with otherwise. How, in other words, to limit your focus to a small enough set of goals that you can make meaningful progress instead of thrashing.

That, for me, is now the merit and appeal of time (or task) management systems: how do I sort through all the incoming noise, distractions, requests, desires, and compelling ideas that life throws at me and figure out which of them are worth investing time in? I also benefit from structuring that process for my peculiar psychology, in which backlogs I have to look at regularly are actively dangerous for my mental well-being. Left unchecked, I can turn even the most enjoyable hobby into an obligation and then into a source of guilt for not meeting the (entirely artificial) terms of the obligation I created, without even intending to.

And here I think it has a purpose, but it's not the purpose that the time management industry is selling. If you think of time management as a way to get more things done and get more out of each moment, you're going to be disappointed (and you're probably also being taken advantage of by the people who benefit from unsustainable effort without real, unstructured leisure time). I practice Inbox Zero, but the point wasn't to be more efficient at processing my email. The point was to avoid the (for me) psychologically damaging backlog of messages while acting on the knowledge that 99% of email should go immediately into the trash with no further action. Email is an endless incoming stream of potential obligations or requests for my time (even just to read a longer message) that I should normallly reject. I also take the time to notice patterns of email that I never care about and then shut off the source or write filters to delete that email for me. I can then reserve my email time for moments of human connection, directly relevant information, or very interesting projects, and spend the time on those messages without guilt (or at least much less guilt) about ignoring everything else.

Prioritization is extremely difficult, particularly once you realize that true prioritization is not about first and later, but about soon or never. The point of prioritization is not to choose what to do first, it's to choose the 5% of things that you going to do at all, convince yourself to be mentally okay with never doing the other 95% (and not lying to yourself about how there will be some future point when you'll magically have more time), and vigorously defend your focus and effort for that 5%. And, hopefully, wholeheartedly enjoy working on those things, without guilt or nagging that there's something else you should be doing instead.

I still fail at this all the time. But I'm better than I used to be.

For me, that mental shift was by far the hardest part. But once you've made that shift, I do think the time management world has a lot of tools and techniques to help you make more informed choices about the 5%, and to help you overcome procrastination and loss of focus on your real goals.

Those real goals should include true unstructured leisure and "because I want to" projects. And hopefully, if you're in a financial position to do it, include working less on what other people want you to do and more on the things that delight you. Or at least making a well-informed strategic choice (for the sake of money or some other concrete and constantly re-evaluated reason) to sacrifice your personal goals for some temporary external ones.

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jepler
2 days ago
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"Prioritization is extremely difficult, particularly once you realize that true prioritization is not about first and later, but about soon or never. The point of prioritization is not to choose what to do first, it's to choose the 5% of things that you going to do at all, convince yourself to be mentally okay with never doing the other 95% (and not lying to yourself about how there will be some future point when you'll magically have more time), and vigorously defend your focus and effort for that 5%. And, hopefully, wholeheartedly enjoy working on those things, without guilt or nagging that there's something else you should be doing instead."
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vitormazzi
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What Do Millennials Spend All Their Money On?

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A few days ago, Australian real-estate mogul Tim Gurner had some harsh words for millennials who are unhappy that they can't afford to buy a house:

“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” he said. “We’re at a point now where the expectations of younger people are very, very high. They want to eat out every day; they want travel to Europe every year.

“The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it,” he said, adding that they “saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder.”

This prompted a snarky, avocado-centric Twitter meme for a while, and the next day the New York Times even tried to fact check Gurner's claim:

According to the Food Institute, which analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics expenditure data from 2015, people from 25 to 34 spent, on average, $3,097 on eating out. Data for this age group through the decades was not readily available....As for Mr. Gurner’s second suggestion — skipping the European vacation — there is indeed an opportunity for savings, but research suggests millennials are the generation spending the least on travel.

This is some strange stuff. In its current form, the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey goes back to the 80s, so this data is indeed available through the decades. Still, at least this is an attempt to take Gurner seriously: he's not literally complaining about avocados on toast, but about a cavalier attitude toward money in general. So let's take a look at that. First, here are total expenditures for 25-34-year-olds:

As you can see, millennials spend a smaller proportion of their income than 25-34-year-olds did a generation ago. In the Reagan era, this age group spent 91 percent of their income. Today's millennials spend only 81 percent of their income.1 Still, thanks to rising incomes their total expenditures clock in about $3,000 higher (adjusted for inflation) than young households in the 80s.

But do they spend a big part of that income on fripperies, like lavish vacations and expensive dinners out? Let's look:

Three decades ago, 18-34-year-olds spent 10.5 percent of their income on entertainment and eating out. Millennials spend 8.6 percent. In real dollars, that represents a small decline. In other words, millennials are more frugal about dining and entertainment than past generations.

So what do millennials spend their money on each year? They may have $3,000 more in disposable income than young families of the 80s and 90s, but they also spend:

  • About $1,000 more on health care.
  • About $1,500 more on pensions and Social Security.
  • About $2,000 more on overall housing (rent, maintenance, utilities, etc.).
  • About $700 more on education.

If they're not buying houses, this is why. It's not because houses are more expensive: the average house costs about a third more than it did in the 80s and early 90s, but thanks to low interest rates the average mortgage payment is about the same or even a bit lower. But it's tough to scrape together a down payment when you're already running a tight ship on dining and entertainment and paying more than previous generations for health care, education, retirement, and student loans.

That said, I'll add one more thing: our perceptions are probably a bit warped about this. Millennials who write about this stuff tend to live in media centers like New York or San Francisco or Washington DC, where housing is extremely expensive. Even with a decent income it's hard to afford anything more than a cramped apartment. In the rest of the country things are different, but we don't hear as much about that. Caveat emptor.

1The share of income not counted as expenditures includes taxes, student loans, credit card payments, savings, etc.

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vitormazzi
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luizirber
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Sending GitHub pull-request from your shell

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I've always been frustrated by the GitHub workflow. A while back I wrote how Gerrit workflow was superior to GitHub pull-request system. But it seems that GitHub listened and they improved the pull-request system these last years to include reviews, and different workflow implementation, e.g. requiring continuous integration tests to pass before merging a patch.

All those improvements great helped the Gnocchi team to consider moving to GitHub when leaving OpenStack. Our first days have been great and I cannot say we miss Gerrit much for now.

The only tool that I loved and miss is git-review. It allows pushing a branch of update easily to Gerrit.

Unfortunately, in the GitHub world, things are different. To send a pull-request you have to execute a few steps which are:

  1. Clone the target repository
  2. Push your local branch to your repository
  3. Create a pull-request from your pushed local branch to the target branch

If you want to update later your pull-request, you either have to push new commits to your branch or, more often, edit your patches and force push your branch to your forked repository so you can ask for a new review of your pull-request.

I'm way too lazy to do all of that by hand, so I had a tool for a few years that I used based on hub, a command-line tool that interacts with GitHub API. Unfortunately, it was pretty simple and did not have all the feature I wanted.

Which pushed me to write my own tool, humbly entitled git-pull-request. It allows to send a pull-request to any GitHub project just after you just cloned it. So there's no need to manually fork the repository, send branches, etc.

Once you created a branch and committed to it, just run git pull-request and everything we'll be done for you automatically.

# First pull-request creation
$ git clone https://github.com/gnocchixyz/gnocchi.git
$ cd gnocchi
$ git checkout -b somefeature
<edit files>
$ git commit -a -m 'I did some changes'
$ git pull-request
Forked repository: https://github.com/jd/gnocchi
Force-pushing branch `somefeature' to remote `github'
Counting objects: 5, done.
Delta compression using up to 4 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (4/4), done.
Writing objects: 100% (5/5), 562 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 5 (delta 3), reused 0 (delta 0)
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (3/3), completed with 3 local objects.
To https://github.com/jd/gnocchi.git
+ 73a733f7...1be2bf29 somefeature -> somefeature (forced update)
Pull-request created: https://github.com/gnocchixyz/gnocchi/pull/33


If you need to update your pull-request with new patches, just edit your branch and call git pull-request again. It'll re-push your branch and will not create a pull-request if one already exists.

<edit some more files>
$ git commit --amend -a
$ git pull-request
Forked repository: https://github.com/jd/gnocchi
Force-pushing branch `somefeature to remote `github'
Counting objects: 5, done.
Delta compression using up to 4 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (4/4), done.
Writing objects: 100% (5/5), 562 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 5 (delta 3), reused 0 (delta 0)
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (3/3), completed with 3 local objects.
To https://github.com/jd/gnocchi.git
+ 73a733f7...1be2bf29 somefeature -> somefeature (forced update)
Pull-request already exists at: https://github.com/gnocchixyz/gnocchi/pull/33


This tool was definitely the missing piece to smooth my GitHub workflow, so I'm glad I took some time to write it. I hope you'll enjoy it and will send me awesome pull-requests, so go check it out. This program is written in Python and uses the GitHub API.

And feel free to request new fancy features!

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vitormazzi
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jepler
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A beleza nostálgica da Fórmula 1 fotografada com uma câmera de 104 anos

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Monopostos com tecnologia híbrida e motores V6 sobrealimentados que podem até girar menos e não roncar tão bem, mas estão mais confiáveis, eficientes e mais potentes que nunca (apesar das restrições do regulamento). A Fórmula 1 nunca esteve tão avançada, mas junto com o avanço, veio o marasmo. Sabemos que isto tem jeito, e até fizemos uma lista de mudanças que a F1, agora sob nova administração, deveria se preocupar em promover caso queira salvar a categoria de uma morte dolorosa e não tão lenta assim. Mas e se o problema for, na verdade, o modo como a gente enxerga a categoria – literalmente?

ABU16Renault_3853

A fotografia automobilística é uma arte bela porque trata de preservar, congelado no tempo, a imagem de um ato de velocidade. Estáticos, para sempre, automóveis feitos exclusivamente para andar no limite o tempo todo, pois sua razão de ser é aproveitar ao máximo tudo o que se tem em termos de engenharia de competição na atualidade.

E, da mesma forma, com os atuais equipamentos de fotografia é possível retratar de forma impressionante o mundo das corridas de Fórmula 1 de uma maneira imersiva e detalhadíssima. Fotos em 360 graus, vídeos em 360 graus, imagens com gigapixels de resolução. Por isto, pode parecer absurda a ideia de fotografar uma corrida de F1 usando uma câmera mais antiga que a própria categoria. No entanto, é este contraste que torna as fotografias feitas por Joshua Paul, fotógrafo da revista Lollipop, dedicada exclusivamente a fotografias da Fórmula 1.

OZ16Nasr_3865 ABU16Alonso_3799

Fernando Alonso em Abu Dhabi, 2016

A ideia não é simplesmente documentar a Fórmula 1 como ela é, e sim apresentá-la sob diferentes visões artísticas. O resultado são ensaios muito mais conceituais, como este todo em preto e branco.

MX16GG_3754

Claro, ensaios em preto e branco são até clichê hoje em dia, assim como a própria fotografia com câmeras vintage – há algum tempo as câmeras analógicas vêm sendo resgatadas por fotógrafos em todo o mundo –, mas nenhum deles usa uma Graflex 4×5 fabricada em 1913. A Graflex é a fabricante das famosas Speed Graphic, tradicional câmera fotográfica que era onipresente na imprensa americana na primeira metade do século XX. A Speed Graphic era uma câmera portátil, leve e resistente para documentar situações de forma rápida e prática… há 104 anos. Mas não dá para chamar isto…

… de portátil, não é? Não hoje em dia.

O desafio de carregar uma câmera enorme como esta compensa. Joshua é um dos fundadores da Lollipop, e diz que uma das missões da revista é “retratar a paixão, os detalhes e os momentos que fazem da Fórmula 1 uma obsessão”. Isto significa fotografar as corridas em si e os bastidores durante todo o fim de semana, buscando uma técnica diferente em cada matéria. Joshua se inspirou a usar uma câmera antiga depois de ver um ensaio em preto-e-branco da Indy 500 de 1969. Depois disto, dedicou-se a assistir algumas provas empunhando (ou seria vestindo) sua Graflex. As fotos tiradas por ele nos últimos anos foram publicadas em um ensaio na edição de março da Lollipop, e também na página da revista no Instagram.

Kimi Raikkonen ficou curioso com a Graflex durante o GP da Espanha em 2017

MUITO curioso

Lollipop, caso você não tenha percebido (ou não entenda muito bem inglês) é o nome internacional do “pirulito”, aquela placa que um dos mecânicos da equipe coloca na frente do piloto durante os pit stops – que tem esse nome justamente por parecer um pirulito gigante.

O formato digital não afeta a percepção de que estas fotos estão, de fato, com a cara do início do século passado. A vinheta nas bordas, muito reproduzida em softwares de edição para dar um efeito vintage às fotos, é de verdade aqui. Somado à textura granulada dos filmes (principalmente nos de maior sensibilidade) e à perda de nitidez na borda das fotos o que se tem é um autêntico registro antigo de um acontecimento atual.

MX16Nico_3749-800x626

A foto acima, que mostra o campeão de 2016 Nico Rosberg nos boxes do GP do México, é um bom exemplo destas características: note como os contornos estão pouco definidos e a textura granulada. Perceba também como a latitude da foto é bastante generosa – ou seja, tanto o plano de fundo quanto os elementos no primeiro plano da foto são iluminados de forma satisfatória. Com uma câmera digital moderna, o fundo ficaria estourado ou o primeiro plano ficaria escuro demais. Só as mais modernas e caras vêm revertendo este efeito.

WT17RBR_3746

A vinheta desta foto, bastante pronunciada, é um efeito bastante comum em filtros digitais modernos. Esta foto mostra Max Verstappen, da Red Bull Racing, entrando nos boxes durante o GP da Espanha de 2017, em Barcelona.

ABU16Massa_3855 ABU16Renault_3853 CA15Alo_3835 CA15Andy_3831

A pose dos três mecânicos da McLaren complementa perfeitamente a estética vintage da foto – é fácil imaginar exatamente esta mesma cena há 80 ou 90 anos, graças ao modo como a foto foi tirada e revelada.

IT15DR_3825

Mesmo um retrato simples como este de Daniel Ricciardo no GP da Itália em 2015 ganha muita dramaticidade com as texturas carregadas e as bordas desfocadas da Graflex.

H14MBinRain_3678

Outra foto que explora muito bem o desfoque nas bordas dos objetos. Aqui, o efeito de profundidade de campo é bastante interessante, lembrando muito o efeito de tilt-shift usado para dar o efeito de “miniatura” na fotografia automotiva e panorâmica. Na foto, os mecânicos empurram o carro de Nico Rosberg para os boxes durante o chuvoso GP da Hungria de 2015.

H14_3683CA15Race_3829

Uma das nossas favoritas é esta: no GP do Canadá em 2015… ou seria 1915?

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Lewis Hamilton na curva La Racasse, no GP de Monaco de 2014.

The post A beleza nostálgica da Fórmula 1 fotografada com uma câmera de 104 anos appeared first on FlatOut!.



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vitormazzi
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MOnSter 6502 Video

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We’ve been working on the MOnSter 6502 project for quite some time. We first introduced it last year, and since then we have brought it up to the stage of successfully running programs in assembly, BASIC, and Forth. We have taken this opportunity before Maker Faire to put together an introductory video for the project.

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vitormazzi
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jepler
13 days ago
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Code Quality 3

4 Comments and 15 Shares
It's like a half-solved cryptogram where the solution is a piece of FORTH code written by someone who doesn't know FORTH.
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popular
21 days ago
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vitormazzi
23 days ago
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4 public comments
majuje19
13 days ago
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Que lo mire alguien que no sea el Cuco
hansschmucker
23 days ago
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Why do I see many colleagues (past and present) in this picture 😆
alt_text_bot
24 days ago
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It's like a half-solved cryptogram where the solution is a piece of FORTH code written by someone who doesn't know FORTH.
rickhensley
24 days ago
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So it's securely obscured?
Ohio
Brstrk
24 days ago
It was until the new hire pushed the keys to their branch.
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