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The Nicest Thank You Note, Ever

Thank you notes like these only make you fall in love with the folks who do the work.
And make you want to support them even more!

Thank you, Dan Carlin.
For all you do.

Brittany Durbin britt@dancarlin.com
5:26 AM (4 hours ago)
to me

Mario,

When people ask us how we fund our operations around here, I usually tell them about our “global street performer” business model.
A long time ago I realized that there's probably not a whole lot of meaningful difference between what I do and what a violin player who finds a nice location on a street corner somewhere, opens up his/her violin case and begins playing does.
We are both relying on “passers-by” throwing a few coins into the instrument case (or baseball cap as the case may be, haha) to keep us going.
Of course, I work a very busy, global “street corner” (virtually speaking, right?).

I want to thank you for taking the time to both listen to the work that we do, and to contribute to our ability to keep doing it. It's a cliché, but we really WOULDN'T be able to do this without the audience's help and support.
Not just in terms of finances, but also by telling others about the shows and spreading the word to help us grow the listenership. You all have been awesome.

So thank you from all of us (and from the other listeners who enjoy the work as well, but can't afford to help right now).
If everyone did as you did, we'd never have to stop doing this.

So, a thousand thanks. I hope we always live up to your expectations.

Warmly as Heck,

-Dan

P.S. If you enjoy what I write, go subscribe


The Final Word on Building Habits – Atomic Habits

If you want to build a habit, this is the definitive book on the topic. 1 You could read about habits in other books, to learn more, but if you actually want to be building them, look no further.

This was the first book in a long time that moved me to actually take action. Succint, pithy and packed with advice, there isn’t a wasted word in its 300 odd pages. And unlike other, it does not feel like three-hundred-pages. Moving from introduction to positing its arguments to tactical advice to conclusion, this feels more like a fast paced novel.

On we go to the things that moved me.

Read more…

How do we protect our work? How do we get paid for it?

How do we protect our work? How do we get paid for it?
(Or is that really the question we should be worried about when seeking to make our mark. And the importance of writing, of showing up, regularly.)

This is what I admire about Seth Godin. His unique ability to get to the heart of the question.

The question lies in the q & a after this really awesome episode at around the 22.45 mark. (The episode is a replay of this awesome talk. If you haven’t seen or heard it yet, do me (and yourself) a favour and do so.)

Hey Seth, it’s Ben from New York.
I was intrigued by the recent episode about copyright.
My question is … maybe more posing a paradox, because with copyright, there is this corporate ability for greed and control … at the same time for an individual producer or artist or maker of things, it does allow you survival.
And I do agree that the best way to change the culture and to share ideas is to make something you’ve made, widely available. At the same time the concept of copyright does allow you to say to somebody, “Hey, I made this! You’re giving it away for free!”
And in this digital age, where people expect to just click on something and have it, which is sort of like your bakery analogy, except people can now, because of the anonymity and the ease of the digital platforms, walk into a bakery, grab a loaf of bread and walk out, is how to allow ideas to spread in a wide and inexpensive or free way and still be able to make a living at it, without saying, here is a physical thing that you’re taking from me.
Please pay me for it.

And this is what I think, copyright allows an individual or an artist or an entrepreneur like myself to use as leverage so that our stuff like … you mentioned your audiobook being illegally uploaded to youtube … keeping that sort of thing from happening.

Anyway thanks so much for the book, the podcast, the blog. It’s been a great inspiration for me trying to find a way in this new age. Thanks.

Seth answers,

You’re getting at something powerful with this question, which is back to Tim O’Reilly’s comment that the enemy is not piracy. It’s obscurity.
That if you are a nascent artist, designer, writer, video producer, musician, does it pay to give your stuff away?
to give it away? give it away? give it away?
Hoping, that one day you’ll get paid for your work.
So the copyright laws are sort of secondary here, in the sense that, it is voluntary on your part, that as someone who is publishing your own work in a digital format, which means it does not cost you anything to give away one more copy, the question is, when does it end?
Does it mean that everything that is digital, will sooner or later be free?
Well, we’ve seen twenty or thirty years of this unfolding, and here’s what I think we found.
One, Ideas that spread, win.
If your idea reaches more people, you do better than if it doesn’t, and it turns out that ideas that are free spread further and faster, than ideas that arent.
So radio, it was so powerful on radio, that the record labels paid money, payola, bribes, to the radio stations to play the songs for free, because they understood, that being a hit, being popular, was the way for an artist to make money going forward.
The thing is, that doesn’t pay the bills.

So how is it that someone who creates digital items is ever going to get paid?
Well, let me give you a couple of ways this could happen.
The first one is, the souvenir edition. The souvenir, concrete, limited edition of the thing you make, so that the true fan, the superfan will happily and eagerly pay for it.
We keep seeing this thing happening. It’s not going away.
People want to pay for something, others can’t have.
They want to pay for something that gives them status.

Number two is the idea that we can sell the specific.
So we can go to people and say, “Yea, if you want the traditional version of this song, or this digital artifact, that’s free. It’s in the world because it’s popular, but, if you want it to be specific to you, if you want us to play it live for you, that, that’s gonna cost money.”
And we certainly see that in the world of consulting.
So that you can give away a 300 page or 200 page or 20 word BIG idea, just give it away constantly, but if someone wants your specific advice, that, that’s going to cost money.

And the third way, that I’m going to propose that we can charge for the work we do, is that it can be now. That if you want it now, if you want it live, if you want it first, that costs money.
People will wait in line, because again they get status, from going first.

So it’s not really the answer to your question. I’m not proposing that copyright go away, but I do think that individual creators have a huge unfair advantage over institutions that need to pay big bills.
And that advantage is that we can give ideas away.
A blog post a day.
A podcast a week.
We can give them away, because the digital environment makes that a powerful way to spread our ideas, but then we can sell the other thing to people who want to pay for it.

P.S. If you enjoy reading my posts, share them with your friends. And tell them to subscribe!


William Vincent’s list of programming books for 2019

Will Vincent, author of Django for Beginners and Rest APIs with Django has his list of book recommendations for the year.
Read the latest posts on his website to get at them.

If you are a learner like me and wanted a professionally filtered list, (as in too lazy to go hunt them down), this is a godsend.
He covers books on Django, React, Flask, & JavaScript and tutorials for Python, Django & React.

Also check out his year in review.

Thank you muchly, Will.


Reasons to Write #339

Reasons to Write #339

From Eric Barker’s, “The 3-Step Evening Ritual That Will Make You Happy
Writing helped people suffering from depression, anxiety or PTSD.
It helped their relationships too. But that wasn’t all …

Their physical health improved as well.

Women with breast cancer reported fewer symptoms and required fewer cancer-related doctor visits. People with asthma and arthritis “reported meaningful improvements in quality of life similar to benefits that would be expected by a successful new drug treatment.”

They landed jobs.

Within three months, 27 percent of the experimental participants landed jobs compared with less than 5 percent of those in the time management and no-writing comparison groups.

They gained insight.

what’s the biggest benefit people report after a few evenings of expressive writing? “Insight.” Most people said they understood themselves better. They felt more meaning in life. To my knowledge, nobody has ever reported effects like that from buying a ShamWow or a Foreman Grill.

Want to know how all this writing sorcery works?

Read the whole article over at Eric’s blog.


English is a “Phunnny” language (or When I Fell in Love with English and Reading)

As a kid, I read a lot of books above my level of comprehension.
More to show off and show folks my “smartness” and give off that snooty “I am a well read boy” air1 than from any sense of love or learning.

I know better now (I hope, I do) :)

But two books from those days will always stay with me.

One was my father’s science textbook, which I no longer have or remember the title of. I used it for four years in high school to understand what I was learning. The book was my secret weapon :)
The language in that old textbook was far more engaging and lively than the teachers in class. And it was beautiful with all those black and white line drawings, and anecdotes of the folks who made those amazing discoveries. (Faraday and Tesla and Watts and Madam Curie). It actually was a textbook from before science became “Science”; when it was Natural Philosophy
Despite years of searching, I haven’t found it again.
The closest textbook of that style I could point you to, would be Thompson’s Calculus.

The other book was a tattered copy of The Complete Yes Minister.2 I thought then, that the book was the real deal, an actual tell all, with its newspaper clippings and copies of memos. It took me a couple more years to realise what satire was. And it was a line in there, a really obtuse, verbose line that took my young brain a couple of days to “get”, that made me realise that reading was a dialogue, that a good book was not something to be just “read”. A good book is friend telling you jokes, a prankster scaring you, a father figure consoling you, a friend giving you advice and in this case a master exposing that language in general (and English in particular) was not something to be scared of, but just tools of expression, toys to be played with and enjoyed, and tools that could be expertly wielded.

It was this line and the delight I got in deciphering it, that turned me into a lifelong bookworm. You can see Nigel Hawthorne’s brilliant rendition, here.

This is what he said. “The identity of this official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent speculation is not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume, and, in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question was, it may surprise you to learn, the one to whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of identifying by means of the perpendicular pronoun.”

“I beg your pardon?’ I said.
There was an anguished pause.
‘It was I,’ he said.”

Like our grand old thespian says, “English is a very phunnny language.”


  1. Aah, vanity! :) 

  2. Yes, I read the book first and discovered the show much later. 

Are You Learning Something New This Year? This Course Will Help.

Learning a new skill this year?
Putting your mind to learn programming?
Looking to wow folks with your newly acquired French?
A professional exam, you want to ace?

And yet, as you look back over years of broken resolutions, you think it might not be worth it?
That you aren’t cut out for learning physics on your own if you wanted to?
That you are “slow”?

Maybe that’s just because you haven’t realised that learning itself is a skill?
That you need to learn, how to learn?

Barbara Oakley has been teaching this critical skill for a few years now.
Her course on Learning How to Learn is the most popular course in the world.

How do you beat procrastination?
Do we still need to memorise?
How important is sleep?
What is learning?

Barbara takes you through all these and dives deeper into brain chemistry and modes of learning and a whole lot more!
At the end, you get prepared to learn anything.
Barbara’s story also serves as tremendous inspiration. A girl who flunked Maths & Science as a kid is now a distinguished professor of engineering.

The course is spread over 4 weeks
And it’s free!
The only thing that is needed of you is to commit.
And even that is not too much. 12-15 hours spread over 4 weeks.

You can go enroll in the course here.
If you are pressed for time or are a student, you can go enroll in the youth oriented version of the course here.

And hurry! Today is the last day to enroll.

Imagine spending 15 measly hours to learn a skill that will then enable you to learn and master anything that you set your mind to!
Here’s to a Happy New Year full of learning!
Jason

P.S. As a Happy New Year to me, you could do me a favor and forward this mail to folks and asking them to subcribe to the list here.
https://janusworx.com/subscribe-mail.html


Be Persistent

More Gaiman truisms for me.
He talks about writing.
Holds true for all of my endeavours though.

lazynoodlepuff asked: Hi Neil, I wonder what could tell not native speaker like me. I struggle with writing anything. Words don't flow in my native language and in English it's even more difficult. Sonetimes I struggle with every sentence. But I really want to create things in English and be a part of English-speaking culture. Is this too much to try learn not only to write but also write in another language? I feel like I am so far behind everyone and have to try so hard just to keep up (I moved to the UK to study)

Two of the finest writers of English – Nabokov and Conrad – were not native speakers.
So I would not worry.
It’s okay to struggle.
Just have patience with yourself, and keep learning.


Write with Respect and Interest

For me. For posterity. From Neil Gaiman.

miriams-song asked: Hey Neil. Someone recently told me that because I’m not ethnically Jewish (I’m a conversion student set to be “official” within the next year), I shouldn’t be writing ethnically Jewish characters. What do you think? I’ve been actively involved with my Jewish community for years so accusations like that are pretty hurtful.

As a writer of fiction part of your duty and obligation is to write characters who are not you.
Write them well, write them with respect and interest.
And don’t listen to anyone who tells you you aren’t allowed to write people who aren’t you.
You are.


Looking for Something to Read in the New Year?

As the year draws to an end, here’s what the folks I follow read this year.

Vishal Khandelwal, has a couple of short, sweet posts on “The Books That Made Me.” Here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

If you’ve already read (and reread) Taleb’s books, here’s a list of books he loves (and hates).

Here is Ryan Holiday’s evergreen list and here’s what he was unto in 2018.

Patrick Collison has a whole antilbrary. (via this ttfs episode).

James Clear wins most organised list.

I follow this not a blog and this tumblr, because these giants who I have grown up on, always have something to recommend.

Not an annual list per se, but Brett McKay’s recommendations have always been awesome!

And finally the big daddy of them all, the annual Farnam Street reading list. While Shane Parrish changed my life in more ways than one, by teaching me how to read and focus, it was his opinions on the books he read that made me follow him all those years ago.

My own eccentric list of books is here.

And there you have it. My little gift to you.

I have about a hundred of you awesome folk on this list. And no matter how infrequent or erratic I am, more than half of you always read every mail I send.
And you always have an encouraging word for me.

For your time, and your attention, and your little acts of kindness, I am truly humbled and thankful.

Merry Christmas to you all! And a Happy New Year!

Gratefully, Jason

P.S. And if you haven’t already, you can always subscribe here.