How to Study

In theory:

  1. Start up laptop.
  2. Make a cup of tea.
  3. Open a textbook.
  4. Read the textbook. Write notes.
  5. Google the **** out of anything that doesn’t make sense.
  6. After an hour or so, go to step 2. After 2 or 3 repetitions, go do something fun for a while.

Note how simple this seems.

In practise:

  1. Start up laptop.
  2. Make a cup of tea.
  3. Open a few textbooks and arrange them neatly on desk.
  4. Check email.
  5. Check Facebook.
  6. Check blog statistics.
  7. Go get another cup of tea, because the last one has gone cold.
  8. Go and sit on the deck for a bit.
  9. Water the garden.
  10. Unload the dishwasher.
  11. Take out the garbage.
  12. Check Facebook again.
  13. Clean bedroom floor.
  14. Go grocery shopping.
  15. Read Hack-a-Day.
  16. Read Wikipedia articles on things like DIN41612 connectors and VMEbus.
  17. Read the VMEbus specification. In full. Get bored.
  18. Go outside and sit in the sun again.
  19. Parents are home, go inside and look busy at your desk for a while.
  20. Write a blog post.
  21. Polish the dress shoes you haven’t worn in years.
  22. Make a catalogue of every single computer part you own.
  23. Consider building a new alarm clock for a while, then decide not to.
  24. Watch a season or two of Daria and/or Coupling.
  25. Watch every Star Wars movie in order to decide which is best.
  26. Purchase and install a new ADSL modem.
  27. Plant some chilli plants.
  28. Plan a holiday. Spend an annoyingly large sum of money on airfares.
  29. Realise the first exam is only a day away now.
  30. Study.

Ten Reasons I Like Writing With A Fountain Pen

  1. It’s shiny. Very shiny.
  2. The pen flows much more easily across the page. It just glides.
  3. You learn quickly not to chew on the end of it. Metal things are hard on the teeth.
  4. If you suck on the end, ink doesn’t go everywhere (though this is countered somewhat by the refilling process, which can cause ink to go all over your clothes if you do it wrong).
  5. There’s less waste. When the ink runs out, I can just refill it. All I have to buy is the ink, which comes in a glass bottle, which is recyclable. Beat that, ballpoint!
  6. It’ll last forever. It’s made of stainless steel and chrome. Unless I care for it very badly, it’ll outlast any other pen money can buy.
  7. It’s manly.
  8. It’s simple. I can understand all the parts. While I also understand all the parts in a computer and can tell you exactly what happens every time you hit a key on the keyboard, most people don’t. They could however have a good guess at how a fountain pen works (or a pencil, but hey, I don’t care about those).
  9. It impresses other people who like shiny things. I’m an egotistic bastard, and I like it when people are jealous of the things I have. A character flaw, but I don’t care.
  10. It just feels good.

My RSS Feeds

I thought it would be interesting to share some of the blogs and other websites that I’m a regular reader of. It’s quite surprising really that despite how much time I spend on the Internet, I follow very few blogs (I think) especially in comparison to other people I know.

Web Comics:

I only read two web comics, xkcd and Ctrl+Alt+Del. I’m fairly sure everybody on the Internet reads xkcd (and if you don’t, shame on you), so I won’t talk much about that. Ctrl+Alt+Del is a web comic I started reading back in 2007. I remember being in fits of laughter for about 3 days as I read the backlog. It follows the lives of three gaming-obsessed flatmates, Ethan, Lilah and Lucas. I feel quite a lot of empathy for the half-mad protagonist Ethan, so that may be why I read it. 😀

Personal Development:

There are two main blogs I follow in this area: Zen Habits and The Art of Manliness. Zen Habits is a simplicity-focused blog written by Leo Babauta. It focuses on topics mainly revolving around de-cluttering life, both physically and mentally (or spiritually). Seeing as I get stressed quite easily and have a huge desire for simplicity, this is one of my favourite blogs. My other favourite blog, the Art of Manliness (AoM) is centred around reviving ‘the lost art of manliness’. I’ve started doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things since I started reading this blog, such as shaving with a proper double-edged safety razor, write with a fountain pen, learn to tie some knots, get fitter, and so on. I’ve even started dressing better. The resident style guru is very helpful in balancing my innate laziness with style.

I used to read a lot more blogs in this area, such as Steve Pavlina’s blog and Puredoxyk’s blog, but I found the signal/noise ratio to be too high. I still check in with them every so often, just to see how they’re doing.

Personal Blogs:

The blog roll to the left contains a list of the personal blogs I follow, all of which (currently) are my personal friends. I won’t say much more, except that they’re all absolutely awesome, and much smarter and wittier than I.

And Just One More:

I wasn’t quite sure where to put it, but it just has to be included. PostSecret is a community-driven art blog where people write their deepest darkest secrets on a postcard and send it in to be published anonymously on the website. It’s thrilling stuff, and it serves as a wonderful reminder that absolutely everybody is simply human. Here’s one of my favourite secrets of all time. I can’t work out if it simply means what it says, or whether there is some hidden meaning… but it’s just beautiful.

Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Eat

Today, I’d like to talk briefly about water.

It’s one of the most amazing substances on earth, and also the one most taken for granted. It’s mind-bogglingly small. A single water molecule is made up of just three atoms. Two hydrogen, one oxygen. Of course, we never see it as just one molecule (outside a chemistry textbook, anyway). There’s actually an amazing amount of water on the planet. The oceans of the planet cover 71% of the surface of the earth to an average depth of 4 kilometres. That’s huge.

Unfortunately, due to the rampant consumerism in western countries, coupled with our love of dodgy waste disposal methods (and a bit of bad luck), the oceans are fast filling up with human rubbish. A single litre of oil can contaminate 8 million litres of sea water. That’s 8 million litres that isn’t suitable for aquatic life. Chris Jordan has some amazing photographs of sea birds who have stomachs full of junk. All the junk that ends up in our oceans (either deliberately or accidentally) takes a huge toll not only on aquatic animals, but on our future.

The trash we put into the ocean will slowly be crushed into minuscule pieces, which poison the tiny plankton (among other animals). Any animal that eats plankton is then affected by the lower populations, and it all works it’s way up the food chain until eventually we run out of fish because they have nothing to eat, and we all run out of fish and chips and have to eat chicken instead die.

So what can we all do about this salty, vinegary problem?

  • Firstly, we can put rubbish in it’s proper place. Rubbish in rubbish bins, recycling in recycling bins, compost in compost bins. Throwing plastic or cigarette butts out the car window is probably the worst thing you can do.
  • Secondly, whenever you see a rubbish bin somewhere (like a bus stop or a food court) that doesn’t have a matching recycling bin, ring up the relevant authority and complain.
  • Thirdly, cut down on the amount of plastic you consume. Plastic products take years and years to break down (if they aren’t recycled) and use up precious supplies of oil that we need so that I can drive to the beach and take a  swim in that lovely 71% of the planet.

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2010, an annual event in the blogging community that brings global attention to a single issue.

Where’s My Server? There it is!

If you enjoyed my review of some of the hosting providers I have used over the past few years, you may be interested in Michael Wheeler’s review of Where’s My Server?, a New Zealand-based VPS provider.

One of the most interesting things about WMS, and certainly the thing that caught my eye, was the on-demand pricing they have available, making it very much like cloud computing (as far as the user is concerned, anyway). It’s an interesting concept, and certainly a move that I support (I hardly ever use 100% of my servers’ resources, let alone 100% all month). The only problem is that it makes comparisons with traditional VPS providers who charge a fixed price per month a bit of a pain, and I haven’t quite figured out how to do it exactly.

The other issue I notice is that bandwidth out of New Zealand is very expensive, but this being a function of New Zealand and not Where’s My Server, I don’t think that’s cause for complaint.