Category Archives: Strong Opinions

The Thing I Hate The Most

Somebody recently asked me what I hate the most?

I had to think for about 11 seconds…

I really hate it, when people send me calendar invites, via email, without first communicating some context about a meeting – what’s the agenda? does the day and time suit you? maybe you should just read the documentation? maybe you have the wrong person?

First COMMUNICATE with somebody, then figure out if a meeting is needed, then agree a meeting date and time, then – send the ical file… sending a meeting invite and then having somebody reject it seems super lame.

99.8% of the time I’m actually happy to manage my own calendar, but if you send me a calendar invite .ics, ical, it will live happily next to the item I already added. I guess there is a small chance I screw up the timezone, so if you are flying in for this meeting, please send a calendar invite. Thanks bro.

Yeah, I should probably not drink wine and blog, but that’s the point of the strong opinions series, you get to strongly disagree with me. (-:

ps. a close second is probably sending winmail.dat attachments. Don’t do that.

Part of my series on Strong Opinions.

done.

“done.”

When you get something done, just respond with: “done.”, quickly.

Somebody ask you to fix something small?, do it now, respond quickly. Somebody waiting for an invoice to get paid?, don’t pay it and make them check the bank statement, just tell them it’s done. Somebody ask you to configure something, do it, confirm with: “done.”.

This is different to responding to every email with a “Thank You”, that’s pretty pointless.

Get shit done, close the loop, move on. Don’t send extra fluff.

Part of my series on Strong Opinions.

The See Below Problem

After getting way too many people reporting problems in lazy ways, I now have this template. Feel free to use it. Hash Tag What Would Derek Do. #WWDD

The See Below Problem Response Template:

I’d like to help, but you are getting this standard response (yes, I cut and paste this), because I’m finding it hard to work out the details of the problem you are reporting.

You probably spent a few minutes investigating this problem already, and you have an idea of what the cause might be. I often get emails forwarded to me with a one line top-post saying – “see below, go fix!”, which I then have to reverse engineer and harvest for details, many layers deep, to try and begin to understand the problem. This is far from productive, so please help by sharing your understanding of the problem and your theory on what might be causing the problem. Here are a few things to ponder:

* Please describe the problem like I’m a 5 year old.
* Please use accurate and specific names for the various systems or services.
* Please make sure you have read all the documentation related to the system you are using.
* Please feel free to include screenshots and error messages, but also include the text versions of any service IDs, line numbers or customer details – so I can cut and paste these when searching.
* Please make sure you put all of this in the body of the email – subject lines are for subjects.
* Most important: write your questions and comments in a way you would like to receive them.

Thanks. Happy to help, just need a solid starting point, please.

How To Browse The Web

Things you must do before you browse the web…

Step 1) Install Firefox. You want an independent browser. No evil empires.

If you are unsure about Step 1, watch an Enron documentary or two, and then go for a long walk.

Step 2) Install some plugins for Firefox. You need:

a) Privacy Badger, from the EFF. You know who the EFF are right?

b) HTTPS Everywhere. Also EFF, and Aaron Swartz was involved is this plugin, you know who that is right? Watch: The Internet’s Own Boy.

c) uBlock Origin. Because the brightest minds of our generation are building “AdTech”, yet ads are _still_ lame, and because 0.1% of humans (muppets) click on ads, we have to endure this foolish torture, or just block them.

d) NoScript. Because Google “tag manager” is just spyware, and you don’t want people running evil javascript in your browser, trying to sell you things you don’t need.

Step 3) Read Social Media Sanity and Use This Tech.

Social Media Sanity

Social media lost the plot around 2017 when Facebook and Instagram added stories.

Here is my quick guide to save you from this spiral of lame.

Social Media Complicator…

You should…

  • Remove all social media mobile apps from your phone. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Bonus: you will waste less time.
  • Post photos to Instagram with Flume for macOS.
  • Browse Instagram with Firefox and uBlock Origin ad blocker. They really went overboard with the ads.
  • Browse Facebook on the web only – or with a mobile web browser if you must. You kinda need this to find info about events. Use the Hide Post feature often to manage your feed.
  • Use the Pocket feature in Firefox and the Pocket app on your phone. Useful for catching up on reading and keeps you from ending up with a million open tabs.
  • Avoid Facebook Messenger. Delete the app now. It’s pure evil. Don’t send people Facebook messages unless you have no other option.
  • Avoid WhatsApp, use Telegram.
  • Avoid Twitter, it’s been dead for a while – only use (read) it when you go on a protest march or want to share the odd link to a blog post. Also, you should probably not trust Twitter after they shadow banned Scott Adams.
  • Which brings us to: host your own content! The day Facebook, Twitter and Gmail goes away you should be smiling, not crying.
  • Oh, and – unless you are a real chop, you are probably backing up all the content on your phone daily/weekly right?

Lastly, if you are going to be on these networks, at least post something interesting every week. Write, create, share. Too many time wasters and lurkers. Say something interesting! Share strong opinions.

More of my ideas on what tech you must use.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

How To Get Lean

A quick guide to losing body fat, easily and quickly.

TL;DR: Fasting and 2 hours of walking per day.

Green Tea and Coconut Oil

You can lose about 10kg of fat in four weeks. All you need to do is:

The maths: 7500 kcal per 1kg of body fat. 450 kcal per hour of walking. Aim for 3000 kcal per day, or 400g fat loss per day, or about 2.5kg fat loss per week. You’ll use about 1900 kcal per day by just being alive (depending on your lean muscle mass), so add about 1000 kcal with two hours of walking. In my experiments I can lose an average of 550g of fat per day while fasting.

Two 5-day fasts should do it. The rest of the time eat one super healthy paleo/keto meal per day.

If you get bored, have some green tea with coconut oil.

Fasting and walking. Simple. You can’t screw this up. Yes, I have tested it.

Read this for more detail: Fasting for Fat Loss

ps. I’m not a doctor, read the details of the fasting post above.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

Update Dec 2017: Actually, one of the best long term hacks I’ve found is just to avoid gluten. Simple. Easy to explain in social situations.

Universal Basic Income Is Not The Answer

What do we do when automation systems and robots make the mundane jobs redundant?

We could teach people new skills and let them find other jobs. This might negatively impact people who are already in these jobs. New skills might work for a small percentage of people.

We could ask some people to assist the robots and manage them. That could keep some people working.

The popular answer seems to be: Universal Basic Income.

Many countries probably can’t afford universal basic income, but let’s look past that for a moment.

The cost of living will probably go down a lot in the next twenty years as things get much more efficient. Producing food, transport, housing can all be done much better by machines. We could tax the profits made from the labour of the bots.

The idea with universal basic income is that governments give everybody some money to cover the costs of food and shelter. If there is no need for boring and mundane jobs people will be free to enjoy their lives and be creative. Write novels, make art, make movies, write music etc.

I’d like to think this is true, but I don’t see it working out this way.

Trouble is, only about 5% of people are creative and ingenuitive… and this 5% will probably not be replaced by the bots in the near future.

What are we going to do with all the people that currently drive cars and trucks for a living? It’s a fairly big problem, I think.

Xbox, endless social media feed scrolling, virtual reality and pain killers.

Not ideal. Any better ideas?

Universal Basic Income is not the answer.

Living in big cities without something to do and keep us busy is going to be a mess… unless you like the idea of a mashup of Wall-E and The Matrix.

Let’s try distributed living. Smaller communities. Small towns. Off-grid, sustainable, solar, clean-tech, long distance fibre optics, aquaponics etc. Something to build and do. Get farming again.

We don’t need cities anymore.

ps. I’d really like to see government taken over by machines. Humans don’t have the best track record with running countries. Give the bots a chance.

UPDATE 26 July 2017:

I think a number of people mis-read this post thinking that I’m against giving (poor) people money to pay for their basic needs. I don’t have a big problem with this.

My point with this post was to explore: what will be our reason to get out of bed in the morning when robots do most of the work? What will fulfil us in a useful and productive way? In short: purpose.

My latest answer is:

  • Off grid living in smaller communities, connected with high speed fibre.
  • Modern farming: aquaponics, aeroponics etc.
  • Educating our children. A society of educational abundance.
  • Educating ourselves. Long term continuous learning.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

Use 24h Time

Use 24 hour time when you write something. Set all your devices to 24 hour time. Yes, your watch too. Life is too short to decode confusing messages.

09:00 or 21:00, not 9.

How do you even start explaining the Six-hour clock?

Bonus points:

Set all your servers to UTC. Especially if you have servers in more than one timezone.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

Listen to Podcasts

Radio killed the video star…

In the future everybody listens to podcasts

Start listening to podcasts today! Use spare cycles – while driving / walking etc.

Listening to stories lights up a huge number of areas in your brain. It’s probably good for you. The joy of learning. Stay curious.

Podcasts offer an incredible storytelling medium. They’re made with passion, accessible and entertaining. You basically get the very best radio content from all over the world, for free.

Upgrade your brain

Start here:

Some of my favourite podcast episodes.

A list of podcast shows to get you started.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

Save Water

How to save water in Cape Town…

The usual answer:

  • Shower less and keep it quick.
  • Flush toilets only when needed.
  • Minimise laundry.

If everybody who lives in an apartment does the above, we might save up to 6% of our water resource. Hmm. Not that much of an impact? Yeah, sadly.

The total percentage of water that ends up in our homes is only 19%.

Solution:

  1. Cut down on outdoor water use.
  2. Fix the 20% of leaks that cause the most waste.
  3. Figure out some form of tax on commercial and agricultural water use, to incentivise optimal use.
  4. Rethink agriculture. Create aquaponic urban / rooftop farms.
  5. Build more dams since Cape Town water demand will probably surpass supply by 2020, even if climate change does not impact us.
  6. Reduce evaporation from our existing dams. Cover dams with solar panels maybe.
  7. Make sure the stuff we do grow and export is high value and healthy. Don’t grow soy to feed chickens to make KFC.
  8. Bonus item / global context: Support aquaculture projects. Drink less coffee.

Lastly, don’t feel so bad about showering.

btw. I had to hack together some numbers from a few data sources. Could be out a bit. If you have better data, let me know.

Data:

GreenCape report. Seems the Cape Town water distribution network wastes about 15% (well below the 37% national average).

Use This Tech

Stating the obvious, but…

Get an iPhone. Use Prey and Find My iPhone. Use True Caller. Use SwiftKey.

Get a Macbook Pro. Make Dvorak your keyboard layout. Make an encrypted file system on your laptop. Install MenuMeters.

Use Telegram, Firefox, Vienna RSS, Pocket, and Wunderlist.

Sync your RSS reading on your phone with Inoreader app.

Use Duck Duck Go for search.

Install Pocket Casts and listen to an unhealthy number of podcasts.

Use iTerm2, mosh, mutt, zsh with oh my zsh, emacs with prelude and jed if you want something light.

Learn a photo management tool like Aperture or Lightroom.

Learn to code Python, use Django to build web apps and APIs. Get PyCharm and PyCharm Edu.

Learn Linux, run Ubuntu or Debian.

Run your own email server, don’t use Gmail. Try to avoid “the cloud” as much as you can, this includes things like iCloud. Use a bit of Dropbox if you must share a big file. Keep all photos of your children private! Don’t share these online or in “the cloud”.

Make regular off-site backups. Delete Facebook and Instagram off your phone, forget about Twitter.

Get a personal server at Linode or Digital Ocean.

Host your own personal homepage and blog, use WordPress. Write about interesting things you do.

Share strong opinions.

Full Unemployment

After a recent chat with a friend about saving the planet, I kept thinking: technology is the answer.

The economics of the future are somewhat different…

I hope you are not busy creating jobs. Jobs are things people hate which they get paid to do. Don’t create jobs. Create an abundant and automated future.

“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. Life is too short to be busy.” — Lazy: A Manifesto

Things you should be working on: UN, SU, YC.

Create these things, which impact the lives of billions of people, then scale and automate. Go read this.

Don’t build things which need “admin staff” or “support staff”.

Work on things that scale.

In 2001 I had a 64Kbps leased line at home. The general market price for this was about R5000/m. Considering inflation and how easy it is to get a 100Mbps home link now, fixed line home internet has improved a fair bit in the last 16 years. 1600x the speed, at 1/10 of the price… or sixteen thousand times better value! I now have a gigabit internet connection at home. About 100k times better value. Not bad.

If we do technology right, we don’t need jobs. We just need to work out how to let most of society benefit from improvements in technology.

Technology is the answer.

ps. I now have a blog category for strong opinions.