Categories
Learning Thoughts

What have I learnt from cycling 2,000 kilometres

30th Oct 2021, I finally hit my personal milestone of cycling 2,000 kilometers in this year alone. It’s inconceivable that I would be cycling this much after getting my first road bike late last year.

It started out as a way for me to exercise, to lose some weight and to regained some of that lost fitness; but it very quickly evolved into a lifestyle. This evolution is intentional, because I’ve noticed over the years that simply relying on motivation or discipline doesn’t work for me.

  • Motivation: only works from time to time, and once time gets scarce it will be quickly discarded.
  • Disicipline: there’s only so much emotional energy and willpower in me to push through and do things I’m not a fan of.

The consistency of taking the bike out for a ride regularly happened once I’ve embraced the idea that I’m a cyclist, and I find myself looking forward to the next ride. It has done wonders for my mental health. So here’s the list of things that I’ve learnt in the past 2,000 km in no particular order.

  1. getting fresh air is amazing especially with the covid situation
  2. flowers smell great when they bloom
  3. listening to music for hours on end gets boring after awhile
  4. podcasts are a great way to learn on the go
  5. pump your tires: it makes a huge difference
  6. maintenance is important: clean your bike, lube the parts that needs lubing
  7. there’s always someone faster than you: stop competing
  8. there’s always someone not paying attention: so YOU have to pay attention
  9. road bikes really fast compared to normal bikes
  10. don’t start a long journey hungry
  11. it’s important to stretch before and after exercise
  12. iike any long journey, companionship makes a huge difference
  13. singapore is a lot smaller than I’ve realized
  14. sometimes it’s faster to cycle than to take a bus
  15. singapore’s roads are not very friendly for cyclists
  16. tour de france cyclists are out of this world
  17. road bikes are rabbit holes that will drain your wallet dry if you fall into them
  18. exercise is good for your physical and mental health
  19. climbing bridges shouldn’t feel like death

The day after hitting my milestone, I sent my bike in for servicing. No idea if it was required but I just want to get it checked out, to make sure that I can carry on the next 2,000 km safely. It’s also a good couple of days break from cycling while I focus on other tasks!

Note: I’m riding a Van Rysel RCR 900 AF bike for anyone curious.

Note: it took 7 days for Decathlon to service my bike so I’ll go to a third party bike shop for future servicing (7 days is too long)

Categories
Thoughts

Breath for one minute

Breathe for one minute.

It sounds extremely easy to do; but when was the last time that you deliberately took a minute to breathe? When you are feeling overwhelmed with work, relationships or external events beyond your control, has it crossed your mind to take a minute to breathe and re-assess your current mental state?

Well up until the past month, these thoughts has never crossed my mind.

I’ve been trying to write more but I’ve been stuck in the cycle of procrastination and self-doubt; looking at the 5 articles that was stuck in my drafts for the longest time. The effects of imposter syndrome hitting me when I least expect it, when I’m deep in the middle of my sprints convincing others why my solution is the “right” one, when I’m a thousand words deep in a tech article. When it feels like I’m on the verge of drowning. When I open my blog and realized it has been 4 months since I’ve posted anything.

Breathe.

It’s okay. That’s okay. Nothing’s on fire. 🔥

One minute of respite from the chaos of the world has been doing wonders for my mental health. It has been far more effective than the 5-15 mins break I used to take, scrolling through social media, or watching a Youtube video. I literally have a post-it stuck on my monitor that says “breathe for 1 min“, cause that’s how much I trust my brain.

So give it a try, oh and also exercise regularly. Who would’ve thought that breathing and exercising helps you feel better huh.

Categories
Learning Thoughts

10 things I learned from working in MyCareersFuture team

Last Friday was my last day at MyCareersFuture team. I have learned way more things than I can keep count of, but here are some lessons that the team have taught me over the course of my stay.

I was able to come up with this list is because I have failed these items in one way or another and had these flaws unearthed from the depths of my shame; but hey, at least there are 10 things that I’m slowly getting better at. /shrug

  1. Give space for others to speak
    • A silent room doesn’t necessary require you to fill it up
    • People need some time to process speech and ideas
    • Especially for important topics, people don’t want to come across as mindless so it’s normal for the pace to slow down
    • Prompt for response instead of glossing over and moving on
  2. Know your audience, change your approach accordingly
    • e.g. for some vendors, instruct instead of prompting
  3. Don’t be quick to judge others (i.e. Practicing mindful openness)
    • it could be an idea or their behavior
    • 99.99% of people do not work with the intention to harm, if they do something that opposes you, consider what are the factors that pushes them to the action
  4. Be mindfully aware of the Curse of knowledge bias
    • don’t assume everyone has the same context as you, it doesn’t hurt to spare a few seconds to check at the beginning of each discussion
    • this is true even if you are working on the same task together
  5. The 7 elements of a complete request; we often make an incomplete request, which explains why many requests are often not fulfilled to satisfaction
  6. Don’t be afraid to speak up; even if you think you might be wrong
    • raise your concerns if there’s anything that damages the team or product
  7. Don’t be afraid to be wrong; but do your own due diligence
  8. Don’t be afraid of admitting that you’re wrong; i.e. growth vs fixed mindset
  9. Don’t punish others for being wrong; this is where learning happens. (podcast – rethinking your position: "that was wonderful! I was wrong" )
  10. Opening discussions to anyone who is interested instead of selected few
    • helps build feeling of inclusiveness
    • helps people to take ownership of decisions made

It has been a great 15 months learning and growing with the team and I’m glad to have been a part of this amazing journey. 🎉

Categories
Deployment DevOps Docker Learning Productivity

Miniflux: self-hosted RSS reader

In an attempt to stay more updated with the things that are happening online, I’ve recently started following the top stories on Hackernews via the Telegram channel. But I’ve very quickly realized that it is just not part of my routine to check news via telegram.

What about RSS readers? I remember using Google Reader donkey’s years ago before it was abruptly shut down and I never did get back to RSS readers from then on; probably something to do with the trauma of losing all my news feed suddenly without a good alternative.

In my search for something that just “works”, Dickson hooked me up again with another recommendation that does exactly what I ask for: works.

TLDR; it’s a very simple and opinionated RSS reader that has a self-hosted option.

Setup

It was so simple that I got the docker up and running on my Synology NAS within minutes. Here’s the docker-compose.yml file that I used to get up and running. Docs on configurable parameters

Categories
Books Thoughts

Practicing mindful openness

Prologue

As I grow older and learn more about the world around me; I noticed that a contradictory process has been happening at the same time. As I figure out more of what’s right and what’s wrong, what are things supposed to be, the more I become closed off to other possibilities. I wish to grow with an open mind; how can I do that?

Let me start from the beginning of my thought process.

Inception

I’ve recently started to read more books as a response to: "hmm, I haven’t been utilizing my Kindle much, it’s such a waste to leave it sitting there". Hence I started my journey of crossing out books that has been sitting on my Todo list for the longest time (e.g. The War of Art).

That was followed by "Atomic Habits" (re-reading it before my reflection) and "Your Money or Your Life" (WIP). I was introduced ideas of how to continuously achieve more; and consumerism: about how we have all fallen into the idea of more is always better. These are conflicting ideologies in my opinion but yet I fully agree with both of them. The acceptance towards this dichotomy of ideologies is giving me a lot of internal conflict because it’s messing up with my value system.

Awareness

When I thought deeper into it, I realized that it is only possible for me to accept both of them at once because this is something new to me. I haven’t formed my own belief of what is right or wrong for me yet. This led me to think about: "how many times have I rejected an idea/solution just because I already have my own pre-conceived notion of what is right?". The answer is probably a lot more than I’m willing to admit, which scares me more than I’m willing to show.

Action

Thankfully, awareness and consciousness is usually always the first step to breaking out of being oblivious to my own biasness. My current proposed solution for such short-sightedness is…

  • keep reading a variety of books
  • keep communicating with people who have different ideas and perspectives on life
  • don’t live in an echo chamber/bubble
  • don’t be quick to judge opposing ideas
  • accept that moderate internal conflict is good for growth
  • accept that almost everything is a spectrum instead of binary

Closing thoughts

It’s not often that I feel this level of revelation, and it does make me feel like I’ve been living my life "wrong". But hey, better late than never right? I still have another 2/3rds of my life to make the changes and reap the benefits.

Also I just thought it would be funny to have a section called "Closing thoughts" when this post is about openness.

Categories
Books Productivity Thoughts

The War of Art reflection

In the recent months, I realised that I’ve been feeling more stress than I’ve typically felt. Perhaps it’s the increase responsibilities at work, perhaps it’s the plateau in my weight loss regiment, perhaps it’s me not taking good enough care of my body.

Perhaps it could be a thousand other things, but the question was, “What am I doing about it?”. It dawned on me that I know the solution to each one of the stress-givers, but I have not worked on them consciously and meticulously. Following the theme for 2021, it became clear to me that my goal is to make progress on my health.

Reading books has been on my todo list for the longest time but I’ve rarely found the time/effort to execute my will. Cue the sign from universe. I happened to watch a productivity video that promoted this book titled: The War of Art. The video summarised the book in a way that clicked in my head, so I decided to procure it on my nearly-defunct kindle; I could only turn the Kindle on after charging it for 30mins.

Of all the topics that was covered in the book, there are two concepts that stood out and caused a seismic shift in my perspective on procrastination.

Disclaimer: this is my personal reflection of the book based off my memory so this is my own understanding of what the book is about.

Resistance

The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.

i.e. our current life style/choices vs the life that we want to achieve but didn’t.

What is resistance? It’s the evil force that stops you from living the life unlived. We experience it all the time, we are just not consciously aware of it.

If you’ve ever bought a gym package and barely used it, when you want to save the environment, when you want to be a dancer, when you want to help the weak; but you didn’t. That’s resistance.

Categories
Deployment Productivity Thoughts

Setting up WebDav

In my pursuit of Building a second brain, I hit a blocker fairly early on: Obsidian doesn’t support mobile applications currently. This makes the experience rather disjointed as I’m not able to build on it when I’m not sitting down at a computer, or that I can’t refer to my notes when I need to. In order to remedy this, I searched high and low for an application that has [[url handing]] as a feature and finally stumbled upon 1Writer as a “good enough” solution when I was finding more uses for my first ipad.

In order to sync my notes across multiple devices, I either need to pay $10/month for Dropbox, pay for some other service, or find a self-hosted option.

(Pretty pissed when Dropbox decided to limit the number of devices that can sync with Dropbox else I wouldn’t have to spend so much time on this)

Choices 💭

Of course, being Asian, I went with the free option of self-hosting. The protocol of choice was Webdav because it’s the one that 1Writer supported, and I’ve had some experience with it in the past.

Categories
Productivity Reviews Thoughts

My first iPad

In 2019 September, I bought my first ever iPad: the iPad Pro 11″ 2018. I remember how excited I felt when I finally got it. The reason why this took 8 years since the launch of the first iPad for me to get one was for two simple reasons.

  1. I was poorer back then
  2. iPad was still using iOS and the software was limited

The moment that they announced iPadOS, it really piqued my interest that I can potentially have a small portable tablet that can act as a laptop replacement. The “meh” part about this is that the cost of the iPad is pretty much the same as a laptop; but at least I get to experience an entire different class of computing device.

You might be looking at the date of this post and think, what took you 1.5 years to write about this tablet that has already been outdated by the latest 2020 iPad lineup? I was taking my time to evaluate the things that I do on it, and how those activities change over time. It’s absolutely not because I procrastinated and forgot to write about it.

Leisure 📺

If I had to choose the one thing that the iPad does well, it would be leisure and content consumption. My desktop setup consist of a 32″ 4K Curved Monitor with Logitech Z623 (THX) Speakers, yet I absolutely love watching Netflix on my iPad. Consuming media on the iPad provides a really satisfying experience, and it’s an experience that I can bring with me on my commute.

At the beginning I felt like I was standing out like a sore thumb for being “that guy” who watches shows on a tablet on the train/bus. But after a couple of months, I completely internalized that people really care a lot less about you than you think (the spotlight effect) and just focus on finding a comfortable position for my journey and not watching any questionable content (p.s. please don’t watch Redo Healer in public).

Categories
Learning Thoughts

Communication is hard

Recently watched something from CGP Grey on YouTube again that really clicked in my head and just wanted to note it down on my blog in case I forget about it.

From 1:42 to 2:28

If there is anything I’ve learned from thousands of spoken words, it’s that human communication is hard. Way harder than people think. Precisely because people think it’s easy. You just say the words and the other person hear them and bam! Understanding! Alas, no. Words are fuzzy things and you don’t realize how poorly you string them together until you are forced to listen to yourself saying those words. And even if you’re happy with your string of words, you just don’t know how those fuzzy patterns of sound will pattern match in someone else’s brain. Human communication is a dance, and a dance requires partners. We all create content and I think we should all keep that in mind and be much more willing to work with the intended intention of our interlocutors.

CGP Grey

This really clicked in my head because there are so many occasions where I felt that I wasn’t communicating the thoughts in my head across effectively and I search high and low for the right combination of words that I hope would make sense to the others, often following up with “did that make sense to you?”.

But this also made me realize the many other occasions where I thought that I had explained something that seemed obvious to me and simply assumed that the other party understood exactly what I meant.

It also made me aware that many disagreements where the other party said something I found offensive and they said, “that’s not what I meant!”, and I retorted with, “but that’s what you said”; is a counterproductive response which doesn’t help the situation. Being aware of this made me think that I should’ve held my feelings and judgment at the moment and clarify with, “well, what do you mean then?”, and give the benefit of the doubt that the other party simply chose the wrong string of words to express their intention. Alas, it’s not that simple all the time because humans are complicated and will often obfuscate their intentions for various reasons; but simply being aware of this will at least help me navigate the murky waters of communication.

Categories
Productivity Thoughts

Theme for 2021

Health and Progress

What is a theme? Think of a new year’s resolution, only broader and more vague. This is an idea that I was introduced to when I watched this Youtube video last year; and it really resonated with me, hence I’m going for a theme instead of a resolution.

TLDR; of the idea is, a resolution is too stiff, and it usually only sets you up for failure; cause I end up beating myself up over and over for not achieving a certain goal. But a theme is more of a guiding principle than a concrete task. When given a choice, choose the option that follows your theme.

Health

Well, health is something that slowly deteriorate over time if you don’t take good care of it. I am starting to feel the effects of sitting in front of a computer for a 9-6 job. This is effect is compounded with the Covid pandemic and not going outside as often. I was also made painfully aware when I couldn’t fit into my old army uniform pants anymore and had to purchase new ones last year.

I want to do something about it, but setting something like, “I’m going to the gym everyday!”, or “I’m going to lose X kg by Y date!”, puts a ton of pressure on myself and honestly these kinds of resolution has never stood the test of time.

So I bought a road bike for myself because I liked cycling, just that I’ve stopped when my old bike died and didn’t really bother repairing it. For the past month or so I’ve been cycling at least 15km about every other day. Even though I’ve barely lost any weight, I can certainly feel my stamina increasing and walking up stairs has been getting just tad easier.

For diet, when given a choice, I’ll try to go for a healthier option. The point is not to shame myself when I don’t, but to just have a little angel sitting on my shoulder telling me that, “hey, have you considered this other option?”. So far, I think it’s working out. I’ve cut down on a lot of sugary drinks, but… steaks are still a weakness for me.

Progress

This theme is extremely vague, partially because I usually have quite a few things going on at once. The idea is to make progress on all the things that I’ve set out to do; even if I don’t finish them, I want to nudge all of them a little in the right direction and eventually I will finish it. One way of doing this is the second brain methodology that I’ve tried and am still using currently.

For learning, I’ve went for a course called Facilitating Powerful Conversations 1 and I’ve found it extremely helpful in improving my understanding of my own emotions and language in general. Went for online and physical workshops to improve my technical skills. Had some long running tasks for work that I’ve slowly but surely been able to clear them off one by one everyday. The improvement on my health has also been a form of progress. Ideas on making videos about keyboards have been progressing slowly but surely.

p.s. it was ironic that I paused this post halfway to do something else but totally forgot to finish it up until 2 weeks later.

Coming back to this draft made me realize that I have not been making as much progress and I wish on all the secondary stuffs (i.e. side quests). It’s a bit of wake up call but I’m glad I was made aware of this early on in the year. Time to get these gears cranking.