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Leonardo Castorina

Leonardo Castorina

2 years 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 :)

Read original post here

More on Productivity

Todd Lewandowski

Todd Lewandowski

1 year ago

DWTS: How to Organize Your To-Do List Quickly

Don't overcomplicate to-do lists. DWTS (Done, Waiting, Top 3, Soon) organizes your to-dos.

Everyone’s got a system.

How Are You Going to Manage Everything?

Modern America is busy. Work involves meetings. Anytime, Slack communications arrive. Many software solutions offer a @-mention notification capability. Emails.

Work obligations continue. At home, there are friends, family, bills, chores, and fun things.

How are you going to keep track of it all? Enter the todo list. It’s been around forever. It’s likely to stay forever in some way, shape, or form.

Everybody has their own system. You probably modified something from middle school. Post-its? Maybe it’s an app? Maybe both, another system, or none.

I suggest a format that has worked for me in 15 years of professional and personal life.

Try it out and see if it works for you. If not, no worries. You do you! Hopefully though you can learn a thing or two, and I from you too.

It is merely a Google Doc, yes.

As an example, here’s my personal todo list. Don’t worry, there’s nothing here I don’t mind sharing.

It's a giant list. One task per line. Indent subtasks on a new line. Add or move new tasks as needed.

I recommend using Google Docs. It's easy to use and flexible for structuring.

Prioritizing these tasks is key. I organize them using DWTS (Done, Waiting, Top 3, Soon). Chronologically is good because it implicitly provides both a priority (high, medium, low) and an ETA (now, soon, later).

Yes, I recognize the similarities to DWTS (Dancing With The Stars) TV Show. Although I'm not a fan, it's entertaining. The acronym is easy to remember and adds fun to something dull.

That feeling when you complete everything on your todo list.

What each section contains

Done

All tasks' endpoint. Finish here. Don't worry about it again.

Waiting

You're blocked and can't continue. Blocked tasks usually need someone. Write Person Task so you know who's waiting.

Blocking tasks shouldn't last long. After a while, remind them kindly. If people don't help you out of kindness, they will if you're persistent.

Top 3

Mental focus areas. These can be short- to mid-term goals or recent accomplishments. 2 to 5 is a good number to stay focused.

Top 3 reminds us to prioritize. If they don't fit your Top 3 goals, delay them.

Every 1:1 at work is a project update. Another chance to list your top 3. You should know your Top 3 well and be able to discuss them confidently.

Soon

Here's your short-term to-do list. Rank them from highest to lowest.

I usually subdivide it with empty lines. First is what I have to do today, then week, then month. Subsections can be arranged however you like.

Inventories by Concept

Tasks that aren’t in your short or medium future go into the backlog. 
Eventually you’ll complete these tasks, assign them to someone else, or mark them as “wont’ do” (like done but in another sense).

Backlog tasks don't need to be organized chronologically because their timing and priority may change. Theme-organize them. When planning/strategic, you can choose themes to focus on, so future top 3 topics.

More Tips on Todos

Decide Upon a Morning Goal

Morning routines are universal. Coffee and Wordle. My to-do list is next. Two things:

  • As needed, update the to-do list: based on the events of yesterday and any fresh priorities.

  • Pick a few jobs to complete today: Pick a few goals that you know you can complete today. Push the remainder below and move them to the top of the Soon section. I typically select a few tasks I am confident I can complete along with one stretch task that might extend into tomorrow.

Finally. By setting and achieving small goals every day, you feel accomplished and make steady progress on medium and long-term goals.

Tech companies call this a daily standup. Everyone shares what they did yesterday, what they're doing today, and any blockers. The name comes from a tradition of holding meetings while standing up to keep them short. Even though it's virtual, everyone still wants a quick meeting.

Your team may or may not need daily standups. Make a daily review a habit with your coffee.

Review Backwards & Forwards on a regular basis

While you're updating your to-do list daily, take time to review it.

Review your Done list. Remember things you're proud of and things that could have gone better. Your Done list can be long. Archive it so your main to-do list isn't overwhelming.

Future-gaze. What you considered important may no longer be. Reorder tasks. Backlog grooming is a workplace term.

Backwards-and-forwards reviews aren't required often. Every 3-6 months is fine. They help you see the forest as often as the trees.

Final Remarks

Keep your list simple. Done, Waiting, Top 3, Soon. These are the necessary sections. If you like, add more subsections; otherwise, keep it simple.

I recommend a morning review. By having clear goals and an action-oriented attitude, you'll be successful.

Dr Mehmet Yildiz

Dr Mehmet Yildiz

1 year ago

How I train my brain daily for clarity and productivity.

I use a conceptual and practical system I developed decades ago as an example.

Since childhood, I've been interested in the brain-mind connection, so I developed a system using scientific breakthroughs, experiments, and the experiences of successful people in my circles.

This story provides a high-level overview of a custom system to inform and inspire readers. Creating a mind gym was one of my best personal and professional investments.

Such a complex system may not be possible for everyone or appear luxurious at first. However, the process and approach may help you find more accessible and viable solutions.

Visualizing the brain as a muscle, I learned to stimulate it with physical and mental exercises, applying a new mindset and behavioral changes.

My methods and practices may not work for others because we're all different. I focus on the approach's principles and highlights so you can create your own program.

Some create a conceptual and practical system intuitively, and others intellectually. Both worked. I see intellect and intuition as higher selves.

The mental tools I introduce are based on lifestyle changes and can be personalized by anyone, barring physical constraints or underlying health conditions.

Some people can't meditate despite wanting to due to mental constraints. This story lacks exceptions.

People's systems may vary. Many have used my tools successfully. All have scientific backing because their benefits attracted scientists. None are unethical or controversial.

My focus is cognition, which is the neocortex's ability. These practices and tools can affect the limbic and reptilian brain regions.

A previous article discussed brain health's biological aspects. This article focuses on psychology.

Thinking, learning, and remembering are cognitive abilities. Cognitive abilities determine our health and performance.

Cognitive health is the ability to think, concentrate, learn, and remember. Cognitive performance boosting involves various tools and processes. My system and protocols address cognitive health and performance.

As a biological organ, the brain's abilities decline with age, especially if not used regularly. Older people have more neurodegenerative disorders like dementia.

As aging is inevitable, I focus on creating cognitive reserves to remain mentally functional as we age and face mental decline or cognitive impairment.

My protocols focus on neurogenesis, or brain growth and maintenance. Neurons and connections can grow at any age.

Metacognition refers to knowing our cognitive abilities, like thinking about thinking and learning how to learn.

In the following sections, I provide an overview of my system, mental tools, and protocols.

This system summarizes my 50-year career. Some may find it too abstract, so I give examples.

First, explain the system. Section 2 introduces activities. Third, how to measure and maintain mental growth.

1 — Developed a practical mental gym.

The mental gym is a metaphor for the physical fitness gym to improve our mental muscles.

This concept covers brain and mind functionality. Integrated biological and psychological components.

I'll describe my mental gym so my other points make sense. My mental gym has physical and mental tools.

Mindfulness, meditation, visualization, self-conversations, breathing exercises, expressive writing, working in a flow state, reading, music, dance, isometric training, barefoot walking, cold/heat exposure, CBT, and social engagements are regular tools.

Dancing, walking, and thermogenesis are body-related tools. As the brain is part of the body and houses the mind, these tools can affect mental abilities such as attention, focus, memory, task switching, and problem-solving.

Different people may like different tools. I chose these tools based on my needs, goals, and lifestyle. They're just examples. You can choose tools that fit your goals and personality.

2 — Performed tasks regularly.

These tools gave me clarity. They became daily hobbies. Some I did alone, others with others.

Some examples: I meditate daily. Even though my overactive mind made daily meditation difficult at first, I now enjoy it. Meditation three times a day sharpens my mind.

Self-talk is used for self-therapy and creativity. Self-talk was initially difficult, but neurogenesis rewired my brain to make it a habit.

Cold showers, warm baths with Epsom salts, fasting, barefoot walks on the beach or grass, dancing, calisthenics, trampoline hopping, and breathing exercises increase my mental clarity, creativity, and productivity.

These exercises can increase BDNF, which promotes nervous system growth. They improve mental capacity and performance by increasing blood flow and brain oxygenation.

I use weekly and occasional activities like dry saunas, talking with others, and community activities.

These activities stimulate the brain and mind, improving performance and cognitive capacity.

3 — Measured progress, set growth goals.

Measuring progress helps us stay on track. Without data, it's hard to stay motivated. When we face inevitable setbacks, we may abandon our dreams.

I created a daily checklist for a spreadsheet with macros. I tracked how often and long I did each activity.

I measured my progress objectively and subjectively. In the progress spreadsheet, I noted my meditation hours and subjective feelings.

In another column, I used good, moderate, and excellent to get qualitative data. It took time and effort. Later, I started benefiting from this automated structure.

Creating a page for each activity, such as meditation, self-talk, cold showers, walking, expressive writing, personal interactions, etc., gave me empirical data I could analyze, modify, and graph to show progress.

Colored charts showed each area's strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths motivate me to continue them. Identifying weaknesses helped me improve them.

As the system matured, data recording became a habit and took less time. I saw the result immediately because I automated the charts when I entered daily data. Early time investment paid off later.

Mind Gym Benefits, Effective Use, and Progress Measuring

This concept helped me move from comfort to risk. I accept things as they are.

Turnarounds were made. I stopped feeling "Fight-Flight-Freeze" and maintained self-control.

I tamed my overactive amygdala by strengthening my brain. Stress and anxiety decreased. With these shifts, I accepted criticism and turned envy into admiration. Clarity improved.

When the cognitive part of the brain became stronger and the primitive part was tamed, managing thoughts and emotions became easier. My AQ increased. I learned to tolerate people, physical, mental, and emotional obstacles.

Accessing vast information sources in my subconscious mind through an improved RAS allowed me to easily tap into my higher self and recognize flaws in my lower self.

Summary

The brain loves patterns and routines, so habits help. Observing, developing, and monitoring habits mindfully can be beneficial. Mindfulness helps us achieve this goal systematically.

As body and mind are connected, we must consider both when building habits. Consistent and joyful practices can strengthen neurons and neural connections.

Habits help us accomplish more with less effort. Regularly using mental tools and processes can improve our cognitive health and performance as we age.

Creating daily habits to improve cognitive abilities can sharpen our minds and boost our well-being.

Some apps monitor our activities and behavior to help build habits. If you can't replicate my system, try these apps. Some smartwatches and fitness devices include them.

Set aside time each day for mental activities you enjoy. Regular scheduling and practice can strengthen brain regions and form habits. Once you form habits, tasks become easy.

Improving our minds is a lifelong journey. It's easier and more sustainable to increase our efforts daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.

Despite life's ups and downs, many want to remain calm and cheerful.

This valuable skill is unrelated to wealth or fame. It's about our mindset, fueled by our biological and psychological needs.

Here are some lessons I've learned about staying calm and composed despite challenges and setbacks.

1 — Tranquillity starts with observing thoughts and feelings.

2 — Clear the mental clutter and emotional entanglements with conscious breathing and gentle movements.

3 — Accept situations and events as they are with no resistance.

4 — Self-love can lead to loving others and increasing compassion.

5 — Count your blessings and cultivate gratitude.

Clear thinking can bring joy and satisfaction. It's a privilege to wake up with a healthy body and clear mind, ready to connect with others and serve them.

Thank you for reading my perspectives. I wish you a healthy and happy life.

The woman

The woman

1 year ago

I received a $2k bribe to replace another developer in an interview

I can't believe they’d even think it works!

Photo by Brett Jordan

Developers are usually interviewed before being hired, right? Every organization wants candidates who meet their needs. But they also want to avoid fraud.

There are cheaters in every field. Only two come to mind for the hiring process:

  • Lying on a resume.

  • Cheating on an online test.

Recently, I observed another one. One of my coworkers invited me to replace another developer during an online interview! I was astonished, but it’s not new.

The specifics

My ex-colleague recently texted me. No one from your former office will ever approach you after a year unless they need something.

Which was the case. My coworker said his wife needed help as a programmer. I was glad someone asked for my help, but I'm still a junior programmer.

Then he informed me his wife was selected for a fantastic job interview. He said he could help her with the online test, but he needed someone to help with the online interview.

Okay, I guess. Preparing for an online interview is beneficial. But then he said she didn't need to be ready. She needed someone to take her place.

I told him it wouldn't work. Every remote online interview I've ever seen required an open camera.

What followed surprised me. She'd ask to turn off the camera, he said.

I asked why.

He told me if an applicant is unwell, the interviewer may consider an off-camera interview. His wife will say she's sick and prefers no camera.

The plan left me speechless. I declined politely. He insisted and promised $2k if she got the job.

I felt insulted and told him if he persisted, I'd inform his office. I was furious. Later, I apologized and told him to stop.

I'm not sure what they did after that

I'm not sure if they found someone or listened to me. They probably didn't. How would she do the job if she even got it?

It's an internship, he said. With great pay, though. What should an intern do?

I suggested she do the interview alone. Even if she failed, she'd gain confidence and valuable experience.

Conclusion

Many interviewees cheat. My profession is vital to me, thus I'd rather improve my abilities and apply honestly. It's part of my identity.

Am I truthful? Most professionals are not. They fabricate their CVs. Often.

When you support interview cheating, you encourage more cheating! When someone cheats, another qualified candidate may not obtain the job.

One day, that could be you or me.

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Laura Sanders

Laura Sanders

2 years ago

Xenobots, tiny living machines, can duplicate themselves.

Strange and complex behavior of frog cell blobs


A xenobot “parent,” shaped like a hungry Pac-Man (shown in red false color), created an “offspring” xenobot (green sphere) by gathering loose frog cells in its opening.

Tiny “living machines” made of frog cells can make copies of themselves. This newly discovered renewal mechanism may help create self-renewing biological machines.

According to Kirstin Petersen, an electrical and computer engineer at Cornell University who studies groups of robots, “this is an extremely exciting breakthrough.” She says self-replicating robots are a big step toward human-free systems.

Researchers described the behavior of xenobots earlier this year (SN: 3/31/21). Small clumps of skin stem cells from frog embryos knitted themselves into small spheres and started moving. Cilia, or cellular extensions, powered the xenobots around their lab dishes.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Dec. 7. The xenobots can gather loose frog cells into spheres, which then form xenobots.
The researchers call this type of movement-induced reproduction kinematic self-replication. The study's coauthor, Douglas Blackiston of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and Harvard University, says this is typical. For example, sexual reproduction requires parental sperm and egg cells. Sometimes cells split or budded off from a parent.

“This is unique,” Blackiston says. These xenobots “find loose parts in the environment and cobble them together.” This second generation of xenobots can move like their parents, Blackiston says.
The researchers discovered that spheroid xenobots could only produce one more generation before dying out. The original xenobots' shape was predicted by an artificial intelligence program, allowing for four generations of replication.

A C shape, like an openmouthed Pac-Man, was predicted to be a more efficient progenitor. When improved xenobots were let loose in a dish, they began scooping up loose cells into their gaping “mouths,” forming more sphere-shaped bots (see image below). As many as 50 cells clumped together in the opening of a parent to form a mobile offspring. A xenobot is made up of 4,000–6,000 frog cells.

Petersen likes the Xenobots' small size. “The fact that they were able to do this at such a small scale just makes it even better,” she says. Miniature xenobots could sculpt tissues for implantation or deliver therapeutics inside the body.

Beyond the xenobots' potential jobs, the research advances an important science, says study coauthor and Tufts developmental biologist Michael Levin. The science of anticipating and controlling the outcomes of complex systems, he says.

“No one could have predicted this,” Levin says. “They regularly surprise us.” Researchers can use xenobots to test the unexpected. “This is about advancing the science of being less surprised,” Levin says.

Atown Research

Atown Research

1 year ago

Meet the One-Person Businesses Earning Millions in Sales from Solo Founders

I've spent over 50 hours researching one-person firms, which interest me. I've found countless one-person enterprises that made millions on the founder's determination and perseverance.

Throughout my investigation, I found three of the most outstanding one-person enterprises. These enterprises show that people who work hard and dedicate themselves to their ideas may succeed.

Eric Barone (@ConcernedApe) created Stardew Valley in 2011 to better his job prospects. Eric loved making the game, in which players inherit a farm, grow crops, raise livestock, make friends with the villagers, and form a family.

Eric handled complete game production, including 3D graphics, animations, and music, to maintain creative control. He stopped job hunting and worked 8-15 hours a day on the game.

Eric developed a Stardew Valley website and subreddit to engage with gamers and get feedback. Eric's devoted community helped him meet Steam's minimum vote requirement for single creators.

Stardew Valley sold 1 million copies in two months after Eric launched it for $15 in 2016. The game has sold 20 million copies and made $300 million.

The game's inexpensive price, outsourcing of PR, marketing, and publication, and loyal player base helped it succeed. Eric has turned down million-dollar proposals from Sony and Nintendo to sell the game and instead updates and improves it. Haunted Chocolatier is Eric's new game.

Is farming not profitable? Ask Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone.

Gary Brewer established BuiltWith to assist users find website technologies and services. BuiltWith boasts 3000 paying customers and $14 million in yearly revenue, making it a significant resource for businesses wishing to generate leads, do customer analytics, obtain business insight, compare websites, or search websites by keyword.

BuiltWith has one full-time employee, Gary, and one or two part-time contractors that help with the blog. Gary handles sales, customer service, and other company functions alone.

BuiltWith acquired popularity through blog promotions and a top Digg ranking. About Us, a domain directory, connected to BuiltWith on every domain page, boosting it. Gary introduced $295–$995 monthly subscriptions to search technology, keywords, and potential consumers in response to customer demand.

Gary uses numerous methods to manage a firm without staff. He spends one to two hours every day answering user queries, most of which are handled quickly by linking to BuiltWiths knowledge store. Gary creates step-by-step essays or videos for complex problems. Gary can focus on providing new features based on customer comments and requests since he makes it easy to unsubscribe.

BuiltWith is entirely automated and successful due to its unique approach and useful offerings. It works for Google, Meta, Amazon, and Twitter.

Digital Inspiration develops Google Documents, Sheets, and Slides plugins. Digital Inspiration, founded by Amit Agarwal, receives 5 million monthly visits and earns $10 million. 40 million individuals have downloaded Digital Inspirations plugins.

Amit started Digital Inspiration by advertising his blog at tech events and getting Indian filter blogs and other newspapers to promote his articles. Amit built plugins and promoted them on the blog once the blog acquired popularity, using ideas from comments, friends, and Reddit. Digital Inspiration has over 20 free and premium plugins.

Mail Merge, Notifications for Google Forms, YouTube Uploader, and Document Studio are some of Digital Inspiration's most popular plugins. Mail Merge allows users to send personalized emails in bulk and track email opens and clicks.

Since Amits manages Digital Inspiration alone, his success is astounding. Amit developed a successful company via hard work and creativity, despite platform dependence. His tale inspires entrepreneurs.

Dylan Smyth

Dylan Smyth

2 years ago

10 Ways to Make Money Online in 2022

As a tech-savvy person (and software engineer) or just a casual technology user, I'm sure you've had this same question countless times: How do I make money online? and how do I make money with my PC/Mac?
You're in luck! Today, I will list the top 5 easiest ways to make money online. Maybe a top ten in the future? Top 5 tips for 2022.

1. Using the gig economy

There are many websites on the internet that allow you to earn extra money using skills and equipment that you already own.
I'm referring to the gig economy. It's a great way to earn a steady passive income from the comfort of your own home. For some sites, premium subscriptions are available to increase sales and access features like bidding on more proposals.
Some of these are:

  • Freelancer
  • Upwork
  • Fiverr (⭐ my personal favorite)
  • TaskRabbit

2. Mineprize

MINEPRIZE is a great way to make money online. What's more, You need not do anything! You earn money by lending your idle CPU power to MINEPRIZE.
To register with MINEPRIZE, all you need is an email address and a password. Let MINEPRIZE use your resources, and watch the money roll in! You can earn up to $100 per month by letting your computer calculate. That's insane.

3. Writing

“O Romeo, Romeo, why art thou Romeo?” Okay, I admit that not all writing is Shakespearean. To be a copywriter, you'll need to be fluent in English. Thankfully, we don't have to use typewriters anymore.

Writing is a skill that can earn you a lot of money (claps for the rhyme).
Here are a few ways you can make money typing on your fancy keyboard:
Self-publish a book
Write scripts for video creators
Write for social media
Book-checking
Content marketing help
What a list within a list!

4. Coding

Yes, kids. You've probably coded before if you understand 
You've probably coded before if you understand 

print("hello world");

Computational thinking (or coding) is one of the most lucrative ways to earn extra money, or even as a main source of income.
Of course, there are hardcode coders (like me) who write everything line by line, binary di — okay, that last part is a bit exaggerated.
But you can also make money by writing websites or apps or creating low code or no code platforms.
But you can also make money by writing websites or apps or creating low code or no code platforms.
Some low-code platforms
Sheet : spreadsheets to apps :
Loading... We'll install your new app... No-Code Your team can create apps and automate tasks. Agile…
www.appsheet.com

Low-code platform | Business app creator - Zoho Creator
Work is going digital, and businesses of all sizes must adapt quickly. Zoho Creator is a...
www.zoho.com

Sell your data with TrueSource. NO CODE NEEDED
Upload data, configure your product, and earn in minutes.
www.truesource.io

Cool, huh?

5. Created Content

If we use the internet correctly, we can gain unfathomable wealth and extra money. But this one is a bit more difficult. Unlike some of the other items on this list, it takes a lot of time up front.
I'm referring to sites like YouTube and Medium. It's a great way to earn money both passively and actively. With the likes of Jake- and Logan Paul, PewDiePie (a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg) and others, it's never too late to become a millionaire on YouTube. YouTubers are always rising to the top with great content.

6. NFTs and Cryptocurrency

It is now possible to amass large sums of money by buying and selling digital assets on NFTs and cryptocurrency exchanges. Binance's Initial Game Offer rewards early investors who produce the best results.
One awesome game sold a piece of its plot for US$7.2 million! It's Axie Infinity. It's free and available on Google Play and Apple Store.

7. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a form of advertising where businesses pay others (like bloggers) to promote their goods and services. Here's an example. I write a blog (like this one) and post an affiliate link to an item I recommend buying — say, a camera — and if you buy the camera, I get a commission!
These programs pay well:

  • Elementor
  • AWeber
  • Sendinblue
  • ConvertKit\sLeadpages
  • GetResponse
  • SEMRush\sFiverr
  • Pabbly

8. Start a blog

Now, if you're a writer or just really passionate about something or a niche, blogging could potentially monetize that passion!
Create a blog about anything you can think of. It's okay to start right here on Medium, as I did.

9. Dropshipping

And I mean that in the best possible way — drop shopping is ridiculously easy to set up, but difficult to maintain for some.
Luckily, Shopify has made setting up an online store a breeze. Drop-shipping from Alibaba and DHGate is quite common. You've got a winner if you can find a local distributor willing to let you drop ship their product!

10. Set up an Online Course

If you have a skill and can articulate it, online education is for you.
Skillshare, Pluralsight, and Coursera have all made inroads in recent years, upskilling people with courses that YOU can create and earn from.

That's it for today! Please share if you liked this post. If not, well —