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MathJax on a Ghost Blog

Everything below is broken. Kept just for posterity

mj-logo


Install this script into the footer in the Code Injection section

<script type="text/javascript" async
  src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/mathjax/2.7.4/latest.js?config=TeX-MML-AM_CHTML">
</script>

(that should autoupdate MathJax versions or if it all breaks and goes to hell, get the latest install instructions here)

If I’ve done this right, this little piece of LaTeX should give me the quadratic equation

$$ x=\frac{-b\pm\sqrt{b^2-4ac}}{2a} $$

$$x=\frac{-b\pm\sqrt{b^2-4ac}}{2a} $$

Et voila!

On Capturing Value; my newest mental model

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I’ve found it difficult to figure out why I did not make money (or at least intentionally make money, not counting my lucky breaks) as I expected to, in the old consulting gig. This, despite the fact, that I knew I was smarter than the average bear when it came to my field of work.

And that same fear still remains1 as I pivot careers. I know I’ll pick up stuff with programming. I know I’ll get fluent. But will I be able to make a comfortable living?

Read more…

Booting CentOS into Graphical or Command Line Mode by default

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Ok, now that I’ve installed CentOS, I decided to install X Windows. And like Rip Van Winkle, I learnt that a lot has changed in 20 years :)

A windowing environment was easy to install …

sudo yum groupinstall "Gnome Desktop"

and the trusty old startx & gave me a Windowing Environment (which I have yet to explore)

However, switching permanantly to graphics mode (or vice versa) wasn’t so easy. I wanted to set my command line as the default startup environment and so I went to look for the default runlevel. I coudn’t find it. That’s because they don’t exist anymore. No inittab of old, nothing.

The init scripts of old have now been replaced (for quite a while) by systemd. And while it’s old (most Linux distributions have adopted it for nearly 3-5 years now) it’s still new to me :)1

So, systemd targets something called targets2 instead of runlevels. (Haha, see what I did there? :P) Targets to my mind involve a collection of settings in a file all relating to … something … a service.

You could group all of your network stuff in a network target, or like I needed it all your runlevel settings in a command line target or a graphical target.

Aha!

So a quick search led me to the systemctl get-default command which gives my my default target graphical.target

Another search gave me the multi-user target to use if I wanted a multiuser command line environment.

So to switch all I had to do was, systemctl set-default multi-user.target

Et voila!

If I ever wanted my graphical environment back as a default setting, systemctl set-default graphical.target

And Bob, as they say, is my uncle.


  1. and apparently still quite a source of controversy and debate 

  2. which I need to learn lots more about 

Creating a bootable Linux USB installer disk from an ISO on the Mac

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I got myself a new pc to learn Linux and do all my crazy experimenting on.

What’d I use as my primary OS? Why CentOS, ofcourse. Two reasons … - These are long term, slow stable releases, just the way I like my software to be. - My last exposure to Linux was Red Hat Linux v5 & 6 way back when1. CentOS looks familiar enough to ease my apprehensions.

First step on the way, was getting the OS installed on the machine. Slight hiccup though. I had the ISO and no optical drive!

I’d disconnected and given away the optical drive on my server, because I thought,2 I didn’t need a device sucking power, needlessly. And ofcourse my trusty old MacBook Air has none.

So how do I do about installing?

Well, I got the ISO down, via bittorrent and then “burnt” it to a USB drive, making myself a bootable USB installer.

How? Well here goes3

  • Get the ISO4.
  • Convert the read only ISO to a read/write image using hdiutil5 like so. sudo hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o 'call-it-what-you-want.img' 'path-to-iso-file.iso It’d be simpler if you’re in the same directory as your iso file. Saves you making booboos with paths.
  • You’ll end up with an img file (it might also get appended with a .dmg extension, so that you end up with CentOS.img.dmg. Doesn’t matter.)
  • Partition your USB drive so that it’s empty.6diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk2 "Free Space" "unused" "100%"
  • Write the converted image file to your USB drive using dd. sudo dd if='path to your new img file' of=/dev/disk2 bs=1m
  • Once dd is done, the USB installer’s ready.

You can then go right ahead and use it to install CentOS.


  1. 1999 — 2000. Yes, I’m that old. 

  2. Don’t laugh! 

  3. Instructions for reference purposes only. Be careful. Don’t be a cargo cult sysadmin. Don’t blame me, if you hose your system

  4. that you think you’d need. I got the everything ISO. If you’re comfortable doing everything over your fast broadband connection, a minimal ISO should suffice. 

  5. You’re obviously doing this in the terminal. Just thought I should tell you that :P 

  6. Your device might not be disk2. Find out what it is by using “diskutil list” 

Grit!

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Started: 2018-01-27 Finished: 2018-01-28

I started my modern non-fiction journey only a couple of years back, with Antifragile and Thinking Fast & Slow. (I’d only read older, motivational self help before then, Ziglar, Carnegie etc) I made the mistake of thinking everything was as wonderfully dense, yet rambling and well written.

I was sadly mistaken. I realised that just like fiction, most non-fiction wasn’t worth my time and that just like most fiction, non-fiction followed a beat; a predictable path.

  • You present the lay of the land
  • The problem with the way things are
  • Present your hypothesis for a solution
  • Support your hypothesis with your findings and supported studies and articles
  • Exposition (or you’d how to apply the solution in your life or to your problem)
  • Expand it across domains if possible
  • Optional, an upsell if possible to talks or events.
  • The End

This has made it so easy for so many to fit so much drivel into the standard 300 pages. Yet it is now just as easy for me (like someone lifting off a veil,) to skim books and junk the ones I don’t like.

And further yet, when well done, this same pattern allows for such amazing exposition of knowledge. Seth Godin and Cal Newport are masters at the game. And so is Angela Duckworth, author of Grit. I’ve marked the book blue, so I can’t hope to even summarise it here. Just a few inspirational notes follow. I’ll leave the entire exposition for the book.


“With everything perfect,” Nietzsche wrote, “we do not ask how it came to be.” Instead, “we rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic.” 2

As did I. I see people writing prodigious pieces of software, figure out how to move mountains of data, keep hundreds of machines in sync and am filled with awe. I see Ansel Adams’ photos and despair of ever being even a tenth as good as he was. I watch Ian Ethan do what I can only describe as crazy making with polyphonic tones and God knows what else on a guitar with two fretboards while I struggle to play a single scale on one. Scott H. Young self-learns a 4 year MIT CS degree in a single year, goes on to learn four languages in a year and then just for kicks, learns to draw portraits in a month, while I struggle with to pick up programming and cannot draw to save my life.

So, how do I get to be that good? Or at least part way competent? The answer lies in being gritty.

First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction. It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.

Talent however, is no guarantee of grit. (Or I’d be destined to forever be at the bottom of the totem pole :) )

Which is why I loved it when Angela held up Charles Darwin as a shining example of grit.

Darwin’s biographers don’t claim he possessed supernatural intelligence. He was certainly intelligent, but insights didn’t come to him in lightning flashes He was, in a sense, a plodder. Darwin’s own autobiography corroborates this view: “I have no great quickness of apprehension [that] is so remarkable in some clever men,” he admits. “My power to follow a long and purely abstract train of thought is very limited.” He would not have made a very good mathematician, he thinks, nor a philosopher, and his memory was subpar, too: “So poor in one sense is my memory that I have never been able to remember for more than a few days a single date or a line of poetry.”

So how then did Darwin, get to be … well, Darwin?

Darwin’s (less famous, yet arguably more talented, more genius) cousin, Francis Galton, provides us with the answer

Outliers are remarkable in three ways: they demonstrate unusual “ability” in combination with exceptional “zeal” and “the capacity for hard labor.”

Here’s Darwin, himself …

“I think I am superior to the common run of men in noticing things which easily escape attention, and in observing them carefully. My industry has been nearly as great as it could have been in the observation and collection of facts. What is far more important, my love of natural science has been steady and ardent.

One biographer describes Darwin as someone who kept thinking about the same questions long after others would move on to different—and no doubt easier—problems

Gritty folks, in Angela’s words, were constantly driven to improve … and were paragons of perseverance.

The focus on talent distracts us from something that is at least as important, and that is effort. As much as talent counts, effort counts twice. The main thing is that greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable. A high level of performance is, in fact, an accretion of mundane acts.

More words on perseverance …

The bigger impediment to progress is that sometimes we stop working out altogether. … Consistency of effort over the long run is everything. Many of us, it seems, quit what we start far too early and far too often. Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day, what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going. If the quality and quantity of those pots, books, movies, and concerts are what count, then the striver who equals the person who is a natural in skill by working harder will, in the long run, accomplish more.

Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare. Grit is about holding the same top-level goal for a very long time.

How do you figure which pursuit of yours is worth following?
Have a few, big overarching goals and let the rest of your actions and smaller goals drive you to that big one. You can drop, change, blow up the small things, but keep your eye on the prize.

Here’s Warren Buffett and Angela, explaining this a lot more clearly,

First, you write down a list of twenty-five career goals. Second, you do some soul-searching and circle the five highest-priority goals. Just five. Third, you take a good hard look at the twenty goals you didn’t circle. These you avoid at all costs. They’re what distract you; they eat away time and energy, taking your eye from the goals that matter more.

To Buffett’s three-step exercise in prioritizing, I would add an additional step: Ask yourself, To what extent do these goals serve a common purpose? The more they’re part of the same goal hierarchy—important because they then serve the same ultimate concern—the more focused your passion. If you follow this method of prioritization, … you’ll stand a better chance of getting somewhere you care about—a better chance of moving closer to where you want to be.

And the way to get better at grit and perseverance and getting slowly better by the day is through Deliberate Practice. Angela has a chapter dedicated to it. But Cal Newport has a written about this at length, showcases process and success stories and even has a whole book dedicated to Deep Work & Deliberate practice. So go, read.

She goes on to write at length on the mindsets you’d need, which you could develop both intrinsically and extrinsically, finding purpose, having hope, and how to develop grit personally and as parents and leaders in society. You really ought to read the book cover to cover.

I’ll close with Nietzsche’s plea to peek behind the curtain and appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making magic …

Nietzsche implored us to consider exemplars to be, above all else, craftsmen: “Do not talk about giftedness, inborn talents! One can name great men of all kinds who were very little gifted. They acquired greatness, became ‘geniuses’ (as we put it) … They all possessed that seriousness of the efficient workman which first learns to construct the parts properly before it ventures to fashion a great whole; they allowed themselves time for it, because they took more pleasure in making the little, secondary things well, than in the effect of a dazzling whole.


  1. The West African, Adinkra symbol of perseverance 

  2. All the quotes are from the book 

Show Your Work

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Started: 2018-01-24 Finished: 2018-01-24

The book had so many parallels to what I’ve learnt at DGPLUG that I decided to do this book’s notes here, instead of over at the home blog.

I want to grow and become known enough to find my thousand true fans. I was lucky then, to find this book that has the exact same premise.

You don’t really find an audience for your work; they find you. But it’s not enough to be good. In order to be found, you have to be findable.

Talk about finding water in the desert!

And then on it’s an awesome, rollicking, unputdownable ride across Austin’s ten rules of putting your work out there.

One of the best parts, when starting out was finding a Scenius.

If you believe in the lone genius myth, creativity is an antisocial act, performed by only a few great figures—mostly dead men with names like Mozart, Einstein, or Picasso. The rest of us are left to stand around and gawk in awe at their achievements. There’s a healthier way of thinking about creativity that the musician Brian Eno refers to as “scenius.” Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals—artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers—who make up an “ecology of talent.” What I love about the idea of scenius is that it makes room in the story of creativity for the rest of us: the people who don’t consider ourselves geniuses.

You know where this is going, right? DGPLUG is my scenius :)

As a shot of courage, the advantage us amateur punks have, over the likes of Kushal, Sayan & Shakthi (I kid guys, I kid :) )

We’re all terrified of being revealed as amateurs, but in fact, today it is the amateur—the enthusiast who pursues her work in the spirit of love (in French, the word means “lover”), regardless of the potential for fame, money, or career—who often has the advantage over the professional. Because they have little to lose, amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” said Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki. “In the expert’s mind, there are few.”

The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning us all into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty and the unknown.

“I saw the Sex Pistols,” said New Order frontman Bernard Sumner. “They were terrible. . . . I wanted to get up and be terrible with them.” Raw enthusiasm is contagious.

He speaks about the process of creation being messy, but there’s still incredible value in letting people see how it’s done, to let folks have a connection and an ongoing conversation with us, the creators.

And echoing Shakthi, here’s Austin on breaking down goals to the day.

rhythm

Overnight success is a myth. Dig into almost every overnight success story and you’ll find about a decade’s worth of hard work and perseverance. Building a substantial body of work takes a long time—a lifetime, really—but thankfully, you don’t need that time all in one big chunk. So forget about decades, forget about years, and forget about months. Focus on days. Seasons change, weeks are completely human-made, but the day has a rhythm. The sun goes up; the sun goes down.

While you might think, that you’ll make a better mouse trap and the world’ll beat a path to your door (or in programmarese, build it and they will come), you couldn’t be more wrong. You need to tell people your story. And if you aren’t already, you need to become a good storyteller.

The truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it. “‘The cat sat on a mat’ is not a story. ‘The cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is a story.” —John le Carre

Obviously stealing what Kushal has been yammering on about for years, “শেখ এবং শেখাও”1

Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. People feel closer to your work because you’re letting them in on what you know.

Best of all, when you share your knowledge and your work with others, you receive an education in return. Author Christopher Hitchens said having his work out in the world was “a free education that goes on for a lifetime.”

There’s a shit ton of advice in this small volume - The importance of owning your own domain, your own blog. - Crediting people you steal from - Being someone worth following - Being just selfish enough to protect your time and your work - Learning how to deal with life’s punches - on the importance of “selling out” to earn your daily bread and feed your soul - and the importance of paying it forward

“Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck—and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.” —Michael Lewis

00006 “Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you.” — Dan Harmon

It’s lovely. It’s concise. It’s full of practical wisdom. It’s definitely worth many reads.


  1. Learn & teach others