Mary Rose Cook's notebook

The public parts of my notebook.

My homepage.

Peak, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Peak, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Some excellent techniques for deliberate practice. Includes plenty of supporting for skill being born of practice, not talent. A good accompaniment to Mindset.


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Principles, Ray Dalio

Principles, Ray Dalio

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The Benjamin Franklin Method of Reading Programming Books

The Benjamin Franklin Method of Reading Programming Books


About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. It was the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand. Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them.


— Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography



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Jonathan Pie, why Trump won

Jonathan Pie, why Trump won

President Trump: How & Why... - YouTube


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Calvin and Hobbes, somehow it's always right now until it's later

Calvin and Hobbes, somehow it's always right now until it's later


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Balenciaga dress

Balenciaga dress


A dress made out of just two pieces of fabric.


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A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates To Investment Management & Business, Charles Munger

A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates To Investment Management & Business, Charles Munger

k3mgi-xcs23.pdf


Use mental models


Models

Advantages of scale



Markets that have healthy profits and markets that don't have healthy profits



Work within your circle of competence



To whom does the money saved by technology go?



Infrequent betting



The long-term view



GEICO formula



Sector rotation



Value to a private owner



Mr Market



Better businesses



Find good businesses young



The psychology of misjudgement


Overall: people have conscious motives and unconscious drivers.


Pick fights you can win



Outcome varies



Why



Elementary probability



Permutations and combinations


Compound interest


Simple algebra


Decision tree theory



Critical mass


Breakpoints (engineering)


Backup system


Cost-benefit analysis


Feedback


Munger's biases


Vocab


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Paperclips

Paperclips

#spoliers




Micro-enonomics


Indirection


You manage what you measure


Risk


Automation


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Playfair and Michelangelo

Playfair and Michelangelo


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Thoughts on Dynamicland

Thoughts on Dynamicland

Layers of abstraction


In Dynamicland, there seem to be three layers of abstraction.


They use the phrase “operating system” to refer to the software that runs the cameras, projectors, dynamic pages and so on. Despite being a low level, this layer seems manipulable. It is still within the system.


Above that layer is the set of programs that run on pages. These seem to be written in Lua.


Above that layer are the dynamic objects that can be manipulated using “real-world” tools: arms, hands, pens, glue and so on.


It seems likely that the higher layers will be changed more often than the lower layers.


It seems likely that, as you go up the layers, the tools become increasingly accessible to non-programmers.


The name


Is the name, Dynamicland, an oblique reference to DisneyLand?


Pretend worlds vs the real world


Ordinary creative programs like Photoshop generate a pretend world inside the computer. The user interacts with the world using only a few of their faculties: sight, hearing and limited movements.


VR also creates a pretend world inside the computer. But the user can interact with the world using a wider range of movements.


AR puts some of the real world into a pretend world.


Dynamicland is the real world. But it projects virtual worlds into the real world.


It feels like the approach of Dynamicland is to start by picking a different set of assumptions. Instead of assuming that the power of a cohesive simulation is too great to let go of, Dynamicland seems to assume that the power of our bodies in the real world is too great to let go of. Starting from that assumption, it seems to try to bring back as many simulated elements as possible.


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Books I read in 2017

Books I read in 2017

The Effective Engineer, Edmond Lau


Make sure you’re building the right thing. Prioritise your day. Reflect.


Universal Principles of Design, William Lidwell


Useful one-page primers on various design techniques.


The Secret of Childhood, Maria Montessori


The most interesting thing I got out of this was that children have a completely different frame of reference to the one you have.


Shoe Dog, Phil Knight


The autobiography of the founder of Nike. Though it had information in it, and a narrative, and I enjoyed reading it, the book left no real impression on me.


The Humane Interface, Jef Raskin


Treatise on some aspects of user interface design. The stuff on modes is fascinating. And the exploration of the Canon Cat is a wonderful view into a computing metaphor that is brilliantly designed, and mostly alien.


Understanding the Four Rules of Simple Design, Corey Haines


An exploration of design decisions made when implementing a small domain.


Smart & Gets Things Done, Joel Spolsky


Useful advice on hiring programmers.


The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook, Jim Smith


Constructivism says that learners have to actively make meaning. This book contains lots of activities and techniques that a teacher can use to push the work of learning back onto the learners.


The Perfect Thing, Steven Levy


Some interesting information about the process of designing the iPod. But mostly boring reflections on the iPod’s cultural effects.


Thinking in Systems, Donella H. Meadows


A useful primer on what systems theory is. I wanted more practical advice on thinking systemically.


Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro


A waste of time.


99 Bottles of OOP, Katrina Owen and Sandi Metz


A fastidious and rigorous exploration of techniques for producing high-quality object-oriented code. I found it extremely useful.


A Life in Secrets, Sarah Helm


A history of some of the women spies dropped into France during WWII. I found the details of the operations much more interesting than finding out what happened to the agents.


Zero to One, Peter Thiel


Peter Thiel’s advice for startups. The stuff about avoiding monopoly markets was very interesting.


How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren


The material on inspectional reading, analytical reading and synoptical reading was useful. The other three-hundred pages of words were not.


Mindset, Carol S. Dweck


I got a lot out of this. I’d read about the growth mindset and the fixed minset before, and had taken some steps to working on my own mindset. But reading lot of examples helped me go much deeper on changing my ways of thinking.


The Stand, Stephen King


A fun story, but I didn’t find it meaningful.


Troublemakers, Leslie Berlin


A history of Silicon Valley. The central thesis, that Silicon Valley is a network that relies on previous generations of entrepreneurs helping the next, is somewhat interesting, but the book is mostly a lot of what, and not much why.


Self-knowledge, author unknown


A short book about examining your life. It has several super-useful reflective techniques.


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Rachel Whiteread, (Paperbacks)

Rachel Whiteread, (Paperbacks)


My Dad and I saw the Whiteread retrospective. I don’t think I like her art very much, but we did talk a lot about it. Which means it’s probably better than I think it is.


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SF

SF




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Computer history

Computer history

It was magical to see some of my favourite computers.


The PDP-1, the machine that started hacker culture.



XEROX Alto, the computer that preceded the Macintosh.



The original Macintosh.




The NeXT Computer, the computer that ran the operating system that preceded OS X.



The Apple campus.



Bandley Drive, where the original Macintosh was designed.



The Google campus.



Palo Alto.



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On the road

On the road

LA to SF.












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LA

LA



The Norton Simon Museum



The insane array of juices at Ehrwone. I had the beetroot, grapefruit and orange one and it was incredible.



Driving around Bel Air



Venice Beach



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My dad and I went to the location of the shootout after the bank robbery in Heat

My dad and I went to the location of the shootout after the bank robbery in Heat

The steps outside the bank.




The trees that Vincent Hanna runs past when he arrives late to the robbery.




The bridge that the robbers work their way towards.




Past the bridge.




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Playboy interview with Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Playboy interview with Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Playboy Interview: Google Guys


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A documentary about the making of Heat

A documentary about the making of Heat

(Gone from YouTube.)


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Playboy Interview: Steve Jobs

Playboy Interview: Steve Jobs

Playboy Interview: Steve Jobs


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Eden

Eden


A reality programme about twenty trying to live in the wilderness for a year. It’s interesting to see some of the mechanics of subsistence.


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Greg Fox

Greg Fox

Greg Fox – Boiler Room In Stereo - YouTube


Lauren and I saw him play at Cafe Oto yesterday.


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Chinatown

Chinatown


Lauren and I saw this at the cinema last weekend. The big screen meant that, in this scene, I noticed Faye Dunaway’s face reflected in the car window.


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Alan Kay, Doing with Images Makes Symbols

Alan Kay, Doing with Images Makes Symbols

Alan Kay: Doing with Images Makes Symbols (Full Version) - YouTube


Tons of good stuff on the intellectual origins of powerful user interfaces.


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Mindset, Carol S. Dweck

Mindset, Carol S. Dweck

I got a lot out of this. I’d read about growth and fixed mindsets before, and had taken some steps to working on my own mindset. But reading lot of examples helped me go much deeper.


Also, I think that reading a book lets you learn a lot more than a long article, even if they have the same content. Reading a book means you live with its subject. Your life is immersed in it for a while. There’s more chance for regularly-occuring thoughts or events to come up that you can tie into the material.


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The Big Sick

The Big Sick


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An interesting documentary about the making of The Last of Us

An interesting documentary about the making of The Last of Us

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0l7LzC_h8I


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An oblique account of a visit to Bret Victor's lab

An oblique account of a visit to Bret Victor's lab

Utopian Hacks | Limn


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In Barcelona

In Barcelona


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What job do you hire a milkshake to do? Clayton Christensen

What job do you hire a milkshake to do? Clayton Christensen

Market Disruptions & Online Learning - YouTube


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Check It

Check It

CHECK IT (2017) Official Trailer - YouTube


A good documentary about a gay, black gang in Washinton D.C.


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The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger

The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger


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Interview with Scott Forstall, Software Team Lead on the original iPhone

Interview with Scott Forstall, Software Team Lead on the original iPhone

CHM Live │Putting Your Finger On It: Creating the iPhone - YouTube


Fascinating.


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Aged 8 in Paxos

Aged 8 in Paxos


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Lauren and me in Rome

Lauren and me in Rome

Laocoön and His Sons, the Vatican. The high priest of Troy was suspicious of the Greeks’ Trojan horse. The Gods wanted Greece to win the war with Troy, so they sent snakes to kill the high priest and his two sons.



Apollo Belvedere, the Vatican



The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican



The Oculus of the Pantheon



A column in the Pantheon



Saints at St. Peter’s Basilica



Pietà, Michelangelo. Sculpted when Michelangelo was 23



The Forum



Lauren and a column at the Forum



Lauren and me at the Forum



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A speedboat in Venice

A speedboat in Venice


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Your War (I’m One of You): 20 Years of Joan of Arc

Your War (I’m One of You): 20 Years of Joan of Arc

Your War (I'm One Of You): 20 Years Of Joan Of Arc - YouTube


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Norman Foster’s sketch of the evolution of the design of Apple’s new campus

Norman Foster’s sketch of the evolution of the design of Apple’s new campus


From Steven Levy’s article.


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Alan Kay, How to Invent the Future

Alan Kay, How to Invent the Future


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Michael Nielsen

Michael Nielsen

http://cognitivemedium.com/trouble_with_definitions/index.html


A book I love is “Proofs and Refutations” (Imre Lakatos). A big point of that book is that people tend to think of definitions & categories as starting points, from which we derive theorems or scientific results about the world. But the process really works the other way round. Definitions and categories are things which emerge after we’ve understood phenomena in the world, and as a consequence of that understanding. And so while it’s worth making very tentative definitions, it’s a mistake to do so too prematurely, or to hold too strongly to them. Those tentative definitions are, at best, scaffolding to help arrive at an understanding, which may eventually result in good definitions.


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The Social Network- Sorkin, Structure and Collaboration

The Social Network- Sorkin, Structure and Collaboration

The Social Network — Sorkin, Structure, and Collaboration - YouTube


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Thinking in Systems, Daniella H Meadows:

Thinking in Systems, Daniella H Meadows:

President Jimmy Carter had an unusual ability to think in feedback terms and to make feedback policies. Unfortunately, he had a hard time explaining them to a press and pbulic and didn’t understand feedback.


Carter was trying to deal with a flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico. He suggested that nothing could be done about that immigration as long as there was a great gap in opportunity and living standards between the United States and Mexico. Rather than spending the money on border guards and barriers, he said, we should spend money helping to build the Mexican economy, and we should continue to do so until the immigration stopped.


That never happened.


You can imagine why a dynamic, self-adjusting feedback system cannot be governed by a static, unbending policy. It’s easier, more effective, and usually much cheaper, to design policies that change depending on the state of the system. Especially when there are great uncertainties, the best policies not only contain feedback loops, but meta-feedback loops - loops that alter, correct and expand loosp. These are policies that design learning into the management process.


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An MVP for a car

An MVP for a car


An incredibly touching gift from the developers I coached at Makers Academy.


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Thinking in Systems, Donella H. Meadows

Thinking in Systems, Donella H. Meadows

No physical entity can grow forever. If company managers, city governments, the human population do not choose and enforce their own limits to keep growth within the capacity of the supporting environment, then the environment will choose and enforce limits.


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A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Bob Dylan:

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Bob Dylan:

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color, where none is the number

And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it

And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it

Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’

But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’


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Pieta, Michelangelo

Pieta, Michelangelo


I saw a reproduction of this in the Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition at the National Gallery. I’m really excited to see the original in Rome this summer.


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Talking Funny

Talking Funny

Talking Funny - HBO - YouTube


A discussion between Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Louis C.K. and Jerry Seinfeld.


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Thinking in Systems, Donella H. Meadows

Thinking in Systems, Donella H. Meadows

The system starts out with enough oil in the underground deposit to supply the initial scale of operation for 200 years. But, actual extraction peaks at about 40 years because of the surprising effect of exponential growth in extraction. At an investment rate of 10 percent per year, the capital stock and therefore the extraction rate both grow at 5 percent per year and so double in the first 14 years. After 28 years, while the capital stock has quadrupled, extraction is starting to lag because of falling yield per unit of capital. By year 50 the cost of maintaining the capital stock has overwhelmed the income from resource extraction, so profits are no longer sufficient to keep inventment ahead of depreciation. The operation quickly shuts down, as the capital stock declines. The last and most expensive of the resource stays in the ground; it doesn’t pay to get it out.


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Maria Montessori felt that children learn to write before they learn to read

Maria Montessori felt that children learn to write before they learn to read

Here’s what she wrote in The Secret of Childhood:


One day two or three mothers came to me and asked me to teach their children how to read and write…All that I taught these four- or five-year-old children were some letters of the alphabet which I had the teacher cut out of cardboard…They would march up and down in procession holding up the letters of the alphabet like banners and uttering shouts of joy…“To make Sofia, you have to have an ’S’, an ‘O’, an 'F’, an 'I’ and an 'A’.”…In the beginning, a written language is distilled from its spoken counterpart…The child who first make the discovery was so astonished that he shouted out loud: “I’ve written, I’ve written!” The children excitedly ran up to look at the words which he had traced on the floor with a piece of chalk…The children were rarely interested in reading what another had written. Many of the children would turn around and look at me in amazement when I read out loud the words they had written, as if to ask, “How do you know it?” It was only after some six months that they began to understand what it is to read, and they did this only by associating reading with writing. They watched my hand as I traced letters on a piece of white paper and came to realise that I was communicating my thoughts.


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Now Play This

Now Play This

This weekend, Lauren and I went to Now Play This, an experimental games festival. It was at Somerset House. We played some really cool stuff.


Many of my favourites are hard to talk about. This seems like a good thing.


A game where you catch balls on a wire. You control the wire with a physical rope that you can stretch and relax. In this way, you can gather the balls and spring them into the air.


A game where you try to draw a replica of a work of art. You draw by pressing one of the many buttons. Each button does something different. It might shift certain colours, or move sections of the drawing. Because the labels on the buttons are cryptic, and because each action tends to act on the whole drawing, it’s hard to act intentionally. The game shows a score for the similarity between the two pictures. This is the one guide. Press a button for a moment. If the score goes up, keep pressing the button. If the score goes down, press a different one. Following this metric makes your drawing a secondary, surprising result.


A game where you cooperate. Each level has a key, a door and some obstacles to jump over. The goal is to pick up the key, unlock the door and walk through the door. There are ten players. Each player controls a little guy who can jump. The trick is that the little guys need to stand on each other’s heads to reach the key or get over obstacles. What really left an impression on me was that, when I saw it, the game was being played by ten people who were strangers to one another. Yet, wordlessly, they cooperated. They developed simple techniques like standing on each other’s heads. They developed more complex techniques like standing on each other’s heads and staggering their bodies to create stairs.


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Index pages: home, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11