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Leonardo Castorina

Leonardo Castorina

4 months ago

How to Use Obsidian to Boost Research Productivity

Tools for managing your PhD projects, reading lists, notes, and inspiration.

As a researcher, you have to know everything. But knowledge is useless if it cannot be accessed quickly. An easy-to-use method of archiving information makes taking notes effortless and enjoyable.
As a PhD student in Artificial Intelligence, I use Obsidian (https://obsidian.md) to manage my knowledge.

The article has three parts:

  1. What is a note, how to organize notes, tags, folders, and links? This section is tool-agnostic, so you can use most of these ideas with any note-taking app.
  2. Instructions for using Obsidian, managing notes, reading lists, and useful plugins. This section demonstrates how I use Obsidian, my preferred knowledge management tool.
  3. Workflows: How to use Zotero to take notes from papers, manage multiple projects' notes, create MOCs with Dataview, and more. This section explains how to use Obsidian to solve common scientific problems and manage/maintain your knowledge effectively.

This list is not perfect or complete, but it is my current solution to problems I've encountered during my PhD. Please leave additional comments or contact me if you have any feedback. I'll try to update this article.
Throughout the article, I'll refer to your digital library as your "Obsidian Vault" or "Zettelkasten".
Other useful resources are listed at the end of the article.

1. Philosophy: Taking and organizing notes

Carl Sagan: “To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”

Before diving into Obsidian, let's establish a Personal Knowledge Management System and a Zettelkasten. You can skip to Section 2 if you already know these terms.
Niklas Luhmann, a prolific sociologist who wrote 400 papers and 70 books, inspired this section and much of Zettelkasten. Zettelkasten means “slip box” (or library in this article). His Zettlekasten had around 90000 physical notes, which can be found here.
There are now many tools available to help with this process. Obsidian's website has a good introduction section: https://publish.obsidian.md/hub/

Notes

We'll start with "What is a note?" Although it may seem trivial, the answer depends on the topic or your note-taking style. The idea is that a note is as “atomic” (i.e. You should read the note and get the idea right away.
The resolution of your notes depends on their detail. Deep Learning, for example, could be a general description of Neural Networks, with a few notes on the various architectures (eg. Recurrent Neural Networks, Convolutional Neural Networks etc..).
Limiting length and detail is a good rule of thumb. If you need more detail in a specific section of this note, break it up into smaller notes. Deep Learning now has three notes:

  • Deep Learning
  • Recurrent Neural Networks
    - Convolutional Neural Networks

Repeat this step as needed until you achieve the desired granularity. You might want to put these notes in a “Neural Networks” folder because they are all about the same thing. But there's a better way:

#Tags and [[Links]] over /Folders/

The main issue with folders is that they are not flexible and assume that all notes in the folder belong to a single category. This makes it difficult to make connections between topics.
Deep Learning has been used to predict protein structure (AlphaFold) and classify images (ImageNet). Imagine a folder structure like this:

- /Proteins/ 
     - Protein Folding
- /Deep Learning/
     - /Proteins/ 

Your notes about Protein Folding and Convolutional Neural Networks will be separate, and you won't be able to find them in the same folder.
This can be solved in several ways. The most common one is to use tags rather than folders. A note can be grouped with multiple topics this way. Obsidian tags can also be nested (have subtags).

You can also link two notes together. You can build your “Knowledge Graph” in Obsidian and other note-taking apps like Obsidian.


My Knowledge Graph. Green: Biology, Red: Machine Learning, Yellow: Autoencoders, Blue: Graphs, Brown: Tags.


My Knowledge Graph and the note “Backrpropagation” and its links.


Backpropagation note and all its links

Why use Folders?

Folders help organize your vault as it grows. The main suggestion is to have few folders that "weakly" collect groups of notes or better yet, notes from different sources.
Among my Zettelkasten folders are:


My Zettelkasten's 5 folders

They usually gather data from various sources:

MOC: Map of Contents for the Zettelkasten.
Projects: Contains one note for each side-project of my PhD where I log my progress and ideas. Notes are linked to these.
Bio and ML: These two are the main content of my Zettelkasten and could theoretically be combined.
Papers: All my scientific paper notes go here. A bibliography links the notes. Zotero .bib file
Books: I make a note for each book I read, which I then split into multiple notes.

Keeping images separate from other files can help keep your main folders clean.

I will elaborate on these in the Workflow Section.

My general recommendation is to use tags and links instead of folders.

Maps of Content (MOC) 

Making Tables of Contents is a good solution (MOCs).
These are notes that "signposts" your Zettelkasten library, directing you to the right type of notes. It can link to other notes based on common tags. This is usually done with a title, then your notes related to that title. As an example:

An example of a Machine Learning MOC generated with Dataview.

As shown above, my Machine Learning MOC begins with the basics. Then it's on to Variational Auto-Encoders. Not only does this save time, but it also saves scrolling through the tag search section.
So I keep MOCs at the top of my library so I can quickly find information and see my library. These MOCs are generated automatically using an Obsidian Plugin called Dataview (https://github.com/blacksmithgu/obsidian-dataview).
Ideally, MOCs could be expanded to include more information about the notes, their status, and what's left to do. In the absence of this, Dataview does a fantastic job at creating a good structure for your notes.
In the absence of this, Dataview does a fantastic job at creating a good structure for your notes.

2. Tools: Knowing Obsidian

Obsidian is my preferred tool because it is free, all notes are stored in Markdown format, and each panel can be dragged and dropped. You can get it here: https://obsidian.md/

Obsidian interface. 

Obsidian is highly customizable, so here is my preferred interface:


The theme is customized from https://github.com/colineckert/obsidian-things

Alternatively, each panel can be collapsed, moved, or removed as desired. To open a panel later, click on the vertical "..." (bottom left of the note panel).

My interface is organized as follows:

How my Obsidian Interface is organized.

Folders/Search:
This is where I keep all relevant folders. I usually use the MOC note to navigate, but sometimes I use the search button to find a note.

Tags:
I use nested tags and look into each one to find specific notes to link.

cMenu:
Easy-to-use menu plugin cMenu (https://github.com/chetachiezikeuzor/cMenu-Plugin)

Global Graph:
The global graph shows all your notes (linked and unlinked). Linked notes will appear closer together. Zoom in to read each note's title. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but as your library grows, you get used to the positions and start thinking of new connections between notes.

Local Graph:
Your current note will be shown in relation to other linked notes in your library. When needed, you can quickly jump to another link and back to the current note.

Links:
Finally, an outline panel and the plugin Obsidian Power Search (https://github.com/aviral-batra/obsidian-power-search) allow me to search my vault by highlighting text.

Start using the tool and worry about panel positioning later. I encourage you to find the best use-case for your library.

Plugins

An additional benefit of using Obsidian is the large plugin library. I use several (Calendar, Citations, Dataview, Templater, Admonition):
Obsidian Calendar Plugin: https://github.com/liamcain
It organizes your notes on a calendar. This is ideal for meeting notes or keeping a journal.

Calendar addon from hans/obsidian-citation-plugin
Obsidian Citation Plugin: https://github.com/hans/
Allows you to cite papers from a.bib file. You can also customize your notes (eg. Title, Authors, Abstract etc..)

Plugin citation from hans/obsidian-citation-plugin
Obsidian Dataview: https://github.com/blacksmithgu/
A powerful plugin that allows you to query your library as a database and generate content automatically. See the MOC section for an example.
Allows you to create notes with specific templates like dates, tags, and headings.

Templater. Obsidian Admonition: https://github.com/valentine195/obsidian-admonition
Blocks allow you to organize your notes.

Plugin warning. Obsidian Admonition (valentine195)
There are many more, but this list should get you started.

3. Workflows: Cool stuff

Here are a few of my workflows for using obsidian for scientific research. This is a list of resources I've found useful for my use-cases. I'll outline and describe them briefly so you can skim them quickly.
3.1 Using Templates to Structure Notes
3.2 Free Note Syncing (Laptop, Phone, Tablet)
3.3 Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef -> Obsidian — Managing Reading Lists
3.4 Projects and Lab Books
3.5 Private Encrypted Diary

3.1 Using Templates to Structure Notes

Plugins: Templater and Dataview (optional).
To take effective notes, you must first make adding new notes as easy as possible. Templates can save you time and give your notes a consistent structure. As an example:


An example of a note using a template.

### [[YOUR MOC]]
# Note Title of your note
**Tags**:: 
**Links**::

The top line links to your knowledge base's Map of Content (MOC) (see previous sections). After the title, I add tags (and a link between the note and the tag) and links to related notes.
To quickly identify all notes that need to be expanded, I add the tag “#todo”. In the “TODO:” section, I list the tasks within the note.
The rest are notes on the topic.
Templater can help you create these templates. For new books, I use the following template:

### [[Books MOC]]
# Title
**Author**:: 
**Date::
**Tags:: 
**Links::


A book template example.

Using a simple query, I can hook Dataview to it.

dataview  
table author as Author, date as “Date Finished”, tags as “Tags”, grade as “Grade”  
from “4. Books”  
SORT grade DESCENDING


using Dataview to query templates.

3.2 Free Note Syncing (Laptop, Phone, Tablet)

No plugins used.

One of my favorite features of Obsidian is the library's self-contained and portable format. Your folder contains everything (plugins included).

Ordinary folders and documents are available as well. There is also a “.obsidian” folder. This contains all your plugins and settings, so you can use it on other devices.
So you can use Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox for free as long as you sync your folder (note: your folder should be in your Cloud Folder).

For my iOS and macOS work, I prefer iCloud. You can also use the paid service Obsidian Sync.
3.3 Obsidian — Managing Reading Lists and Notes in Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef
Plugins: Quotes (required).

3.3 Zotero/Mendeley/JabRef -> Obsidian — Taking Notes and Managing Reading Lists of Scientific Papers

My preferred reference manager is Zotero, but this workflow should work with any reference manager that produces a .bib file. This file is exported to my cloud folder so I can access it from any platform.

My Zotero library is tagged as follows:

My reference manager's tags

For readings, I usually search for the tags “!!!” and “To-Read” and select a paper. Annotate the paper next (either on PDF using GoodNotes or on physical paper).
Then I make a paper page using a template in the Citations plugin settings:


An example of my citations template.

Create a new note, open the command list with CMD/CTRL + P, and find the Citations “Insert literature note content in the current pane” to see this lovely view.


Citation generated by the article https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.24.22269144

You can then convert your notes to digital. I found that transcribing helped me retain information better.

3.4 Projects and Lab Books

Plugins: Tweaker (required).
PhD students offering advice on thesis writing are common (read as regret). I started asking them what they would have done differently or earlier.

“Deep stuff Leo,” one person said. So my main issue is basic organization, losing track of my tasks and the reasons for them.
As a result, I'd go on other experiments that didn't make sense, and have to reverse engineer my logic for thesis writing. - PhD student now wise Postdoc

Time management requires planning. Keeping track of multiple projects and lab books is difficult during a PhD. How I deal with it:

  • One folder for all my projects
  • One file for each project
    I use a template to create each project
### [[Projects MOC]]  
# <% tp.file.title %>  
**Tags**::  
**Links**::  
**URL**::  
**Project Description**::## Notes:  
### <% tp.file.last_modified_date(“dddd Do MMMM YYYY”) %>  
#### Done:  
#### TODO:  
#### Notes

You can insert a template into a new note with CMD + P and looking for the Templater option.

I then keep adding new days with another template:

### <% tp.file.last_modified_date("dddd Do MMMM YYYY") %>  
#### Done:  
#### TODO:  
#### Notes:

This way you can keep adding days to your project and update with reasonings and things you still have to do and have done. An example below:


Example of project note with timestamped notes.

3.5 Private Encrypted Diary

This is one of my favorite Obsidian uses.
Mini Diary's interface has long frustrated me. After the author archived the project, I looked for a replacement. I had two demands:

  1. It had to be private, and nobody had to be able to read the entries.
  2. Cloud syncing was required for editing on multiple devices.

Then I learned about encrypting the Obsidian folder. Then decrypt and open the folder with Obsidian. Sync the folder as usual.
Use CryptoMator (https://cryptomator.org/). Create an encrypted folder in Cryptomator for your Obsidian vault, set a password, and let it do the rest.
If you need a step-by-step video guide, here it is:

Conclusion

So, I hope this was helpful!
In the first section of the article, we discussed notes and note-taking techniques. We discussed when to use tags and links over folders and when to break up larger notes.
Then we learned about Obsidian, its interface, and some useful plugins like Citations for citing papers and Templater for creating note templates.
Finally, we discussed workflows and how to use Zotero to take notes from scientific papers, as well as managing Lab Books and Private Encrypted Diaries.
Thanks for reading and commenting :)

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More on Productivity

Jari Roomer

Jari Roomer

1 month ago

5 ways to never run out of article ideas

Perfectionism is the enemy of the idea muscle. " — James Altucher

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

Writer's block is a typical explanation for low output. Success requires productivity.

In four years of writing, I've never had writer's block. And you shouldn't care.

You'll never run out of content ideas if you follow a few tactics. No, I'm not overpromising.


Take Note of Ideas

Brains are strange machines. Blank when it's time to write. Idiot. Nothing. We get the best article ideas when we're away from our workstation.

  • In the shower

  • Driving

  • In our dreams

  • Walking

  • During dull chats

  • Meditating

  • In the gym

No accident. The best ideas come in the shower, in nature, or while exercising.

(Your workstation is the worst place for creativity.)

The brain has time and space to link 'dots' of information during rest. It's eureka! New idea.

If you're serious about writing, capture thoughts as they come.

Immediately write down a new thought. Capture it. Don't miss it. Your future self will thank you.

As a writer, entrepreneur, or creative, letting ideas slide is bad.

I recommend using Evernote, Notion, or your device's basic note-taking tool to capture article ideas.

It doesn't matter whatever app you use as long as you collect article ideas.

When you practice 'idea-capturing' enough, you'll have an unending list of article ideas when writer's block hits.


High-Quality Content

More books, films, Medium pieces, and Youtube videos I consume, the more I'm inspired to write.

What you eat shapes who you are.

Celebrity gossip and fear-mongering news won't help your writing. It won't help you write regularly.

Instead, read expert-written books. Watch documentaries to improve your worldview. Follow amazing people online.

Develop your 'idea muscle' Daily creativity takes practice. The more you exercise your 'idea muscles,' the easier it is to generate article ideas.

I've trained my 'concept muscle' using James Altucher's exercise.


Write 10 ideas daily.

Write ten book ideas every day if you're an author. Write down 10 business ideas per day if you're an entrepreneur. Write down 10 investing ideas per day.

Write 10 article ideas per day. You become a content machine.

It doesn't state you need ten amazing ideas. You don't need 10 ideas. Ten ideas, regardless of quality.

Like at the gym, reps are what matter. With each article idea, you gain creativity. Writer's block is no match for this workout.


Quit Perfectionism

Perfectionism is bad for writers. You'll have bad articles. You'll have bad ideas. OK. It's creative.

Writing success requires prolificacy. You can't have 'perfect' articles.

Perfectionism is the enemy of the idea muscle. Perfectionism is your brain trying to protect you from harm.” — James Altucher

Vincent van Gogh painted 900 pieces. The Starry Night is the most famous.

Thomas Edison invented 1093 things, but not all were as important as the lightbulb or the first movie camera.

Mozart composed nearly 600 compositions, but only Serenade No13 became popular.

Always do your best. Perfectionism shouldn't stop you from working. Write! Publicize. Make. Even if imperfect.


Write Your Story

Living an interesting life gives you plenty to write about. If you travel a lot, share your stories or lessons learned.

Describe your business's successes and shortcomings.

Share your experiences with difficulties or addictions.

More experiences equal more writing material.

If you stay indoors, perusing social media, you won't be inspired to write.

Have fun. Travel. Strive. Build a business. Be bold. Live a life worth writing about, and you won't run out of material.

Cammi Pham

Cammi Pham

17 days ago

7 Scientifically Proven Things You Must Stop Doing To Be More Productive

Smarter work yields better results.

Tim Gouw on Unsplash

17-year-old me worked and studied 20 hours a day. During school breaks, I did coursework and ran a nonprofit at night. Long hours earned me national campaigns, A-list opportunities, and a great career. As I aged, my thoughts changed. Working harder isn't necessarily the key to success.

In some cases, doing less work might lead to better outcomes.

Consider a hard-working small business owner. He can't beat his corporate rivals by working hard. Time's limited. An entrepreneur can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but a rival can invest more money, create a staff, and put in more man hours. Why have small startups done what larger companies couldn't? Facebook paid $1 billion for 13-person Instagram. Snapchat, a 30-person startup, rejected Facebook and Google bids. Luck and efficiency each contributed to their achievement.

The key to success is not working hard. It’s working smart.

Being busy and productive are different. Busy doesn't always equal productive. Productivity is less about time management and more about energy management. Life's work. It's using less energy to obtain more rewards. I cut my work week from 80 to 40 hours and got more done. I value simplicity.

Here are seven activities I gave up in order to be more productive.

1. Give up working extra hours and boost productivity instead.

When did the five-day, 40-hour work week start? Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company founder, experimented with his workers in 1926.

He decreased their daily hours from 10 to 8, and shortened the work week from 6 days to 5. As a result, he saw his workers’ productivity increase.

According to a 1980 Business Roundtable report, Scheduled Overtime Effect on Construction Projects, the more you work, the less effective and productive you become.

Source: Calculating Loss of Productivity Due to Overtime Using Published Charts — Fact or Fiction

“Where a work schedule of 60 or more hours per week is continued longer than about two months, the cumulative effect of decreased productivity will cause a delay in the completion date beyond that which could have been realized with the same crew size on a 40-hour week.” Source: Calculating Loss of Productivity Due to Overtime Using Published Charts — Fact or Fiction

AlterNet editor Sara Robinson cited US military research showing that losing one hour of sleep per night for a week causes cognitive impairment equivalent to a.10 blood alcohol level. You can get fired for showing up drunk, but an all-nighter is fine.

Irrespective of how well you were able to get on with your day after that most recent night without sleep, it is unlikely that you felt especially upbeat and joyous about the world. Your more-negative-than-usual perspective will have resulted from a generalized low mood, which is a normal consequence of being overtired. More important than just the mood, this mind-set is often accompanied by decreases in willingness to think and act proactively, control impulses, feel positive about yourself, empathize with others, and generally use emotional intelligence. Source: The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest

To be productive, don't overwork and get enough sleep. If you're not productive, lack of sleep may be to blame. James Maas, a sleep researcher and expert, said 7/10 Americans don't get enough sleep.

Did you know?

  • Leonardo da Vinci slept little at night and frequently took naps.

  • Napoleon, the French emperor, had no qualms about napping. He splurged every day.

  • Even though Thomas Edison felt self-conscious about his napping behavior, he regularly engaged in this ritual.

  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt's wife Eleanor used to take naps before speeches to increase her energy.

  • The Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry, was known for taking regular naps in his dressing area in between shows.

  • Every day, President John F. Kennedy took a siesta after eating his lunch in bed.

  • Every afternoon, oil businessman and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller took a nap in his office.

  • It was unavoidable for Winston Churchill to take an afternoon snooze. He thought it enabled him to accomplish twice as much each day.

  • Every afternoon around 3:30, President Lyndon B. Johnson took a nap to divide his day into two segments.

  • Ronald Reagan, the 40th president, was well known for taking naps as well.

Source: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day — Michael Hyatt

Since I started getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, I've been more productive and completed more work than when I worked 16 hours a day. Who knew marketers could use sleep?

2. Refrain from accepting too frequently

Pareto's principle states that 20% of effort produces 80% of results, but 20% of results takes 80% of effort. Instead of working harder, we should prioritize the initiatives that produce the most outcomes. So we can focus on crucial tasks. Stop accepting unproductive tasks.

The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.” — Warren Buffett

What should you accept? Why say no? Consider doing a split test to determine if anything is worth your attention. Track what you do, how long it takes, and the consequences. Then, evaluate your list to discover what worked (or didn't) to optimize future chores.

Most of us say yes more often than we should, out of guilt, overextension, and because it's simpler than no. Nobody likes being awful.

Researchers separated 120 students into two groups for a 2012 Journal of Consumer Research study. One group was educated to say “I can't” while discussing choices, while the other used “I don't”.

The students who told themselves “I can’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bar 61% of the time. Meanwhile, the students who told themselves “I don’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bars only 36% of the time. This simple change in terminology significantly improved the odds that each person would make a more healthy food choice.

Next time you need to say no, utilize I don't to encourage saying no to unimportant things.

The 20-second rule is another wonderful way to avoid pursuits with little value. Add a 20-second roadblock to things you shouldn't do or bad habits you want to break. Delete social media apps from your phone so it takes you 20 seconds to find your laptop to access them. You'll be less likely to engage in a draining hobby or habit if you add an inconvenience.

Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change. Source: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

3. Stop doing everything yourself and start letting people help you

I once managed a large community and couldn't do it alone. The community took over once I burned out. Members did better than I could have alone. I learned about community and user-generated content.

Consumers know what they want better than marketers. Octoly says user-generated videos on YouTube are viewed 10 times more than brand-generated videos. 51% of Americans trust user-generated material more than a brand's official website (16%) or media coverage (22%). (14 percent). Marketers should seek help from the brand community.

Source: Earned Media Rankings on YouTube — Octoly

Being a successful content marketer isn't about generating the best content, but cultivating a wonderful community.

We should seek aid when needed. We can't do everything. It's best to delegate work so you may focus on the most critical things. Instead of overworking or doing things alone, let others help.

Having friends or coworkers around can boost your productivity even if they can't help.

Just having friends nearby can push you toward productivity. “There’s a concept in ADHD treatment called the ‘body double,’ ” says David Nowell, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist from Worcester, Massachusetts. “Distractable people get more done when there is someone else there, even if he isn’t coaching or assisting them.” If you’re facing a task that is dull or difficult, such as cleaning out your closets or pulling together your receipts for tax time, get a friend to be your body double. Source: Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are

4. Give up striving for perfection

Perfectionism hinders professors' research output. Dr. Simon Sherry, a psychology professor at Dalhousie University, did a study on perfectionism and productivity. Dr. Sherry established a link between perfectionism and productivity.

Perfectionism has its drawbacks.

  • They work on a task longer than necessary.

  • They delay and wait for the ideal opportunity. If the time is right in business, you are already past the point.

  • They pay too much attention to the details and miss the big picture.

Marketers await the right time. They miss out.

The perfect moment is NOW.

5. Automate monotonous chores instead of continuing to do them.

A team of five workers who spent 3%, 20%, 25%, 30%, and 70% of their time on repetitive tasks reduced their time spent to 3%, 10%, 15%, 15%, and 10% after two months of working to improve their productivity.

Source: Using Automation Software To Increase Business Productivity & Competitiveness -Tethys Solutions

Last week, I wrote a 15-minute Python program. I wanted to generate content utilizing Twitter API data and Hootsuite to bulk schedule it. Automation has cut this task from a day to five minutes. Whenever I do something more than five times, I try to automate it.

Automate monotonous chores without coding. Skills and resources are nice, but not required.  If you cannot build it, buy it.

People forget time equals money. Manual work is easy and requires little investigation. You can moderate 30 Instagram photographs for your UGC campaign. You need digital asset management software to manage 30,000 photographs and movies from five platforms. Filemobile helps individuals develop more user-generated content. You may buy software to manage rich media and address most internet difficulties.

Hire an expert if you can't find a solution. Spend money to make money, and time is your most precious asset.

Visit GitHub or Google Apps Script library, marketers. You may often find free, easy-to-use open source code.

6. Stop relying on intuition and start supporting your choices with data.

You may optimize your life by optimizing webpages for search engines.

Numerous studies might help you boost your productivity. Did you know individuals are most distracted from midday to 4 p.m.? This is what a Penn State psychology professor found. Even if you can't find data on a particular question, it's easy to run a split test and review your own results.

7. Stop working and spend some time doing absolutely nothing.

Most people don't know that being too focused can be destructive to our work or achievements. The Boston Globe's The Power of Lonely says solo time is excellent for the brain and spirit.

One ongoing Harvard study indicates that people form more lasting and accurate memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone. Another indicates that a certain amount of solitude can make a person more capable of empathy towards others. And while no one would dispute that too much isolation early in life can be unhealthy, a certain amount of solitude has been shown to help teenagers improve their moods and earn good grades in school. Source: The Power of Lonely

Reflection is vital. We find solutions when we're not looking.

We don't become more productive overnight. It demands effort and practice. Waiting for change doesn't work. Instead, learn about your body and identify ways to optimize your energy and time for a happy existence.

Darshak Rana

Darshak Rana

4 months ago

17 Google Secrets 99 Percent of People Don't Know 

What can't Google do?
Seriously, nothing! Google rocks.
Google is a major player in online tools and services. We use it for everything, from research to entertainment.
Did I say entertain yourself?
Yes, with so many features and options, it can be difficult to fully utilize Google.

#1. Drive Google Mad

You can make Google's homepage dance if you want to be silly.
Just type “Google Gravity” into Google.com. Then select I'm lucky.
See the page unstick before your eyes!

#2 Play With Google Image

Google isn't just for work.
Then have fun with it!
You can play games right in your search results. When you need a break, google “Solitaire” or “Tic Tac Toe”. 

#3. Do a Barrel Roll

Need a little more excitement in your life? Want to see Google dance?
Type “Do a barrel roll” into the Google search bar.
Then relax and watch your screen do a 360. 

#4  No Internet?  No issue!

This is a fun trick to use when you have no internet.
If your browser shows a “No Internet” page, simply press Space.
Boom!
We have dinosaurs! Now use arrow keys to save your pixelated T-Rex from extinction.

#5 Google Can Help

Play this Google coin flip game to see if you're lucky.
Enter “Flip a coin” into the search engine.
You'll see a coin flipping animation. If you get heads or tails, click it. 

#6. Think with Google

My favorite Google find so far is the “Think with Google” website.
Think with Google is a website that offers marketing insights, research, and case studies.
I highly recommend it to entrepreneurs, small business owners, and anyone interested in online marketing. 

#7. Google Can Read Images!

This is a cool Google trick that few know about.
You can search for images by keyword or upload your own by clicking the camera icon on Google Images.
Google will then show you all of its similar images.

Caution: You should be fine with your uploaded images being public. 

#8. Modify the Google Logo!

Clicking on the “I'm Feeling Lucky” button on Google.com takes you to a random Google Doodle.
Each year, Google creates a Doodle to commemorate holidays, anniversaries, and other occasions.

#9. What is my IP?

Simply type “What is my IP” into Google to find out.
Your IP address will appear on the results page.

#10. Send a Self-Destructing Email With Gmail, 

Create a new message in Gmail. Find an icon that resembles a lock and a clock near the SEND button. That's where the Confidential Mode is.
By clicking it, you can set an expiration date for your email. Expiring emails are automatically deleted from both your and the recipient's inbox.

#11. Blink, Google Blink!

This is a unique Google trick.
Type “blink HTML” into Google. The words “blink HTML” will appear and then disappear.
The text is displayed for a split second before being deleted.
To make this work, Google reads the HTML code and executes the “blink” command. 

#12. The Answer To Everything

This is for all Douglas Adams fans.
The answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42, according to Google.
An allusion to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which Ford Prefect seeks to understand life, the universe, and everything.

#13. Google in 1998

It's a blast!
Type “Google in 1998” into Google. "I'm feeling lucky"
You'll be taken to an old-school Google homepage.
It's a nostalgic trip for long-time Google users. 

#14. Scholarships and Internships

Google can help you find college funding!
Type “scholarships” or “internships” into Google.
The number of results will surprise you. 

#15. OK, Google. Dice!

To roll a die, simply type “Roll a die” into Google.
On the results page is a virtual dice that you can click to roll. 

#16. Google has secret codes!

Hit the nine squares on the right side of your Google homepage to go to My Account. Then Personal Info.
You can add your favorite language to the “General preferences for the web” tab. 

#17. Google Terminal 

You can feel like a true hacker.
Just type “Google Terminal” into Google.com. "I'm feeling lucky"
Voila~!
You'll be taken to an old-school computer terminal-style page.
You can then type commands to see what happens.

Have you tried any of these activities? Tell me in the comments.

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Pat Vieljeux

Pat Vieljeux

2 months ago

In 5 minutes, you can tell if a startup will succeed.

Or the “lie to me” method.

I can predict a startup's success in minutes.

Just interview its founder.

Ask "why?"

I question "why" till I sense him.

I need to feel the person I have in front of me. I need to know if he or she can deliver. Startups aren't easy. Without abilities, a brilliant idea will fail.

Good entrepreneurs have these qualities: He's a leader, determined, and resilient.

For me, they can be split in two categories.

The first entrepreneur aspires to live meaningfully. The second wants to get rich. The second is communicative. He wants to wow the crowd. He's motivated by the thought of one day sailing a boat past palm trees and sunny beaches.

What drives the first entrepreneur is evident in his speech, face, and voice. He will not speak about his product. He's (nearly) uninterested. He's not selling anything. He's not a salesman. He wants to succeed. The product is his fuel.

He'll explain his decision. He'll share his motivations. His desire. And he'll use meaningful words.

Paul Ekman has shown that face expressions aren't cultural. His study influenced the American TV series "lie to me" about body language and speech.

Passionate entrepreneurs are obvious. It's palpable. Faking passion is tough. Someone who wants your favor and money will expose his actual motives through his expressions and language.

The good liar will be able to fool you for a while, but not for long if you pay attention to his body language and how he expresses himself.

And also, if you look at his business plan.

His business plan reveals his goals. Read between the lines.

Entrepreneur 1 will focus on his "why", whereas Entrepreneur 2 will focus on the "how".

Entrepreneur 1 will develop a vision-driven culture.

The second, on the other hand, will focus on his EBITDA.

Why is the culture so critical? Because it will allow entrepreneur 1 to develop a solid team that can tackle his problems and trials. His team's "why" will keep them together in tough times.

"Give me a terrific start-up team with a mediocre idea over a weak one any day." Because a great team knows when to pivot and trusts each other. Weak teams fail.” — Bernhard Schroeder

Closings thoughts

Every VC must ask Why. Entrepreneur's motivations. This "why" will create the team's culture. This culture will help the team adjust to any setback.

Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore

2 months ago

Web 2 + Web 3 = Web 5.

Monkey jpegs and shitcoins have tarnished Web3's reputation. Let’s move on.

Web3 was called "the internet's future."

Well, 'crypto bros' shouted about it loudly.

As quickly as it arrived to be the next internet, it appears to be dead. It's had scandals, turbulence, and crashes galore:

  • Web 3.0's cryptocurrencies have crashed. Bitcoin's all-time high was $66,935. This month, Ethereum fell from $2130 to $1117. Six months ago, the cryptocurrency market peaked at $3 trillion. Worst is likely ahead.

  • Gas fees make even the simplest Web3 blockchain transactions unsustainable.

  • Terra, Luna, and other dollar pegs collapsed, hurting crypto markets. Celsius, a crypto lender backed by VCs and Canada's second-largest pension fund, and Binance, a crypto marketplace, have withheld money and coins. They're near collapse.

  • NFT sales are falling rapidly and losing public interest.

Web3 has few real-world uses, like most crypto/blockchain technologies. Web3's image has been tarnished by monkey profile pictures and shitcoins while failing to become decentralized (the whole concept is controlled by VCs).

The damage seems irreparable, leaving Web3 in the gutter.

Step forward our new saviour — Web5

Fear not though, as hero awaits to drag us out of the Web3 hellscape. Jack Dorsey revealed his plan to save the internet quickly.

Dorsey has long criticized Web3, believing that VC capital and silicon valley insiders have created a centralized platform. In a tweet that upset believers and VCs (he was promptly blocked by Marc Andreessen), Dorsey argued, "You don't own "Web3." VCs and LPs do. Their incentives prevent it. It's a centralized organization with a new name.

Dorsey announced Web5 on June 10 in a very Elon-like manner. Block's TBD unit will work on the project (formerly Square).

Web5's pitch is that users will control their own data and identity. Bitcoin-based. Sound familiar? The presentation pack's official definition emphasizes decentralization. Web5 is a decentralized web platform that enables developers to write decentralized web apps using decentralized identifiers, verifiable credentials, and decentralized web nodes, returning ownership and control over identity and data to individuals.

Web5 would be permission-less, open, and token-less. What that means for Earth is anyone's guess. Identity. Ownership. Blockchains. Bitcoin. Different.

Web4 appears to have been skipped, forever destined to wish it could have shown the world what it could have been. (It was probably crap.) As this iteration combines Web2 and Web3, simple math and common sense add up to 5. Or something.

Dorsey and his team have had this idea simmering for a while. Daniel Buchner, a member of Block's Decentralized Identity team, said, "We're finishing up Web5's technical components."

Web5 could be the project that decentralizes the internet. It must be useful to users and convince everyone to drop the countless Web3 projects, products, services, coins, blockchains, and websites being developed as I write this.

Web5 may be too late for Dorsey and the incoming flood of creators.

Web6 is planned!

The next months and years will be hectic and less stable than the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. 

  • Web1 was around 1991-2004.

  • Web2 ran from 2004 to 2021. (though the Web3 term was first used in 2014, it only really gained traction years later.)

  • Web3 lasted a year.

  • Web4 is dead.

Silicon Valley billionaires are turning it into a startup-style race, each disrupting the next iteration until they crack it. Or destroy it completely.

Web5 won't last either.

Robert Kim

Robert Kim

8 months ago

Crypto Legislation Might Progress Beyond Talk in 2022

Financial regulators have for years attempted to apply existing laws to the multitude of issues created by digital assets. In 2021, leading federal regulators and members of Congress have begun to call for legislation to address these issues. As a result, 2022 may be the year when federal legislation finally addresses digital asset issues that have been growing since the mining of the first Bitcoin block in 2009.

Digital Asset Regulation in the Absence of Legislation

So far, Congress has left the task of addressing issues created by digital assets to regulatory agencies. Although a Congressional Blockchain Caucus formed in 2016, House and Senate members introduced few bills addressing digital assets until 2018. As of October 2021, Congress has not amended federal laws on financial regulation, which were last significantly revised by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, to address digital asset issues.

In the absence of legislation, issues that do not fit well into existing statutes have created problems. An example is the legal status of digital assets, which can be considered to be either securities or commodities, and can even shift from one to the other over time. Years after the SEC’s 2017 report applying the definition of a security to digital tokens, the SEC and the CFTC have yet to clarify the distinction between securities and commodities for the thousands of digital assets in existence.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has called for Congress to act, stating in August, “We need additional Congressional authorities to prevent transactions, products, and platforms from falling between regulatory cracks.” Gensler has reached out to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), who has expressed her own concerns about the need for legislation.

Legislation on Digital Assets in 2021

While regulators and members of Congress talked about the need for legislation, and the debate over cryptocurrency tax reporting in the 2021 infrastructure bill generated headlines, House and Senate bills proposing specific solutions to various issues quietly started to emerge.

Digital Token Sales

Several House bills attempt to address securities law barriers to digital token sales—some of them by building on ideas proposed by regulators in past years.

Exclusion from the definition of a security. Congressional Blockchain Caucus members have been introducing bills to exclude digital tokens from the definition of a security since 2018, and they have revived those bills in 2021. They include the Token Taxonomy Act of 2021 (H.R. 1628), successor to identically named bills in 2018 and 2019, and the Securities Clarity Act (H.R. 4451), successor to a 2020 namesake.

Safe harbor. SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce proposed a regulatory safe harbor for token sales in 2020, and two 2021 bills have proposed statutory safe harbors. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Republican leader of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced a Clarity for Digital Tokens Act of 2021 (H.R. 5496) that would amend the Securities Act to create a safe harbor providing a grace period of exemption from Securities Act registration requirements. The Digital Asset Market Structure and Investor Protection Act (H.R. 4741) from Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) would amend the Securities Exchange Act to define a new type of security—a “digital asset security”—and add issuers of digital asset securities to an existing provision for delayed registration of securities.

Stablecoins

Stablecoins—digital currencies linked to the value of the U.S. dollar or other fiat currencies—have not yet been the subject of regulatory action, although Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell have each underscored the need to create a regulatory framework for them. The Beyer bill proposes to create a regulatory regime for stablecoins by amending Title 31 of the U.S. Code. Treasury Department approval would be required for any “digital asset fiat-based stablecoin” to be issued or used, under an application process to be established by Treasury in consultation with the Federal Reserve, the SEC, and the CFTC.

Serious consideration for any of these proposals in the current session of Congress may be unlikely. A spate of autumn bills on crypto ransom payments (S. 2666, S. 2923, S. 2926, H.R. 5501) shows that Congress is more inclined to pay attention first to issues that are more spectacular and less arcane. Moreover, the arcaneness of digital asset regulatory issues is likely only to increase further, now that major industry players such as Coinbase and Andreessen Horowitz are starting to roll out their own regulatory proposals.

Digital Dollar vs. Digital Yuan

Impetus to pass legislation on another type of digital asset, a central bank digital currency (CBDC), may come from a different source: rivalry with China.
China established itself as a world leader in developing a CBDC with a pilot project launched in 2020, and in 2021, the People’s Bank of China announced that its CBDC will be used at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022. Republican Senators responded by calling for the U.S. Olympic Committee to forbid use of China’s CBDC by U.S. athletes in Beijing and introducing a bill (S. 2543) to require a study of its national security implications.

The Beijing Olympics could motivate a legislative mandate to accelerate implementation of a U.S. digital dollar, which the Federal Reserve has been in the process of considering in 2021. Antecedents to such legislation already exist. A House bill sponsored by 46 Republicans (H.R. 4792) has a provision that would require the Treasury Department to assess China’s CBDC project and report on the status of Federal Reserve work on a CBDC, and the Beyer bill includes a provision amending the Federal Reserve Act to authorize issuing a digital dollar.

Both parties are likely to support creating a digital dollar. The Covid-19 pandemic made a digital dollar for delivery of relief payments a popular idea in 2020, and House Democrats introduced bills with provisions for creating one in 2020 and 2021. Bipartisan support for a bill on a digital dollar, based on concerns both foreign and domestic in nature, could result.

International rivalry and bipartisan support may make the digital dollar a gateway issue for digital asset legislation in 2022. Legislative work on a digital dollar may open the door for considering further digital asset issues—including the regulatory issues that have been emerging for years—in 2022 and beyond.