Good-Bye, Google

How I am planning on controlling the products and services I use more strictly.

Relatively I’ve gotten a new phone, a moto x4, and since I’m on Project Fi (by Google), this phone ended up being a Google phone, too. I only really got it for one reason: it has a dual rear camera, allowing me to take nicer pics. I can use that, for my Instagram. However! After 3 or so months of using it, I have to say I’m ready to give it up, and finally switch to an iPhone.

Now, why? The short answer is that I really really don’t like the Google assistant. It tells me when I get home, it tells me when my credit card is due, it knows everything about me. My photos are backed up (poorly) on Google cloud – so I can neither get them back easily, nor have any reasonable privacy. And I use google way too much. It has all my data and when I type in a search query in Chrome, it auto-completes it for me, so very often instead of searching for what I want I search for something else – the nearest-popular autocompleted sentence. I don’t feel comfortable with that at all.

Now, Google will still have my data, and true privacy is impossible to achieve. But I should make a conscious choice to at least attempt to mitigate the risk and the problem of privacy. Just look at how much trouble Google+ has been, or how much trouble Facebook has been! Oh, I quit Facebook quite a while ago, I have an account but I don’t rely on it for communication or any part of my social life. However, real tools like the email, calendar, and the physical sellphone are harder to own as private.

Another reason for me to dislike google is that they charged me $1800 according to some 5-year-old contract, because someone used some API keys that were under my name. I’m still recovering these monies, actually. Obviously nobody reads the contracts they sign, but also – let’s sign fewer contracts, and let’s actually avoid unnecessarily giving away control.

In general, I don’t feel comfortable how pervasive Google’s services are. I want to use it less, not more. So I’m in the slow, gradual process of abandoning google services. I feel that email may be the hardest to abandon.

Tools: Water

It took me a whole going into adulthood business to realize just how important water is, and I suspect that as I get older, water will become even more important for me.

It’s not just that it’s critical to survival. It’s quite critical to health in the following ways:

* A guard against hangovers. If you drink enough water while going out, your hangover will be minimal. The suggestion is to chug a 8-12oz water glass with every drink, and that’s what I do. Say at a bar, I order a beer, and also water, chug the water, then sip the beer. Do it between 9pm-3am, not have a terrible hangover in the morning. Without water tho, your hangover will be so much worse.

* Better sleep and shorter sleep requirement! I just kind of discovered it recently, and still subject to validation. If you go to sleep well-hydrated, you need to sleep less to recover your energy. It’s a time saver! Continue reading “Tools: Water”

Fitness: Jiu Jitsu

This is actually a requirement for me now, every day or at least 4 days a week. I love it and I can’t stop. Although, a friend of mine said he’s actually burned out from jiu jitsu: that he has been doing it for, like, 5 years, and he doesn’t really want to do it anymore. For me, I physically cannot stop, it causes inefficiency in everything else I do. So, it’s curious. But the bottom line on physical fitness is, you have to do it, consistently, forever. This way, you can also start being good or great at everything else you do.


That’s a negative term; avoid

At this time in my life (I’m not a teenager anymore), I see less and less use for alcohol. It subtracts from my available time. If I don’t drink, I gain extra 1-2 hours each day I don’t drink. The health considerations are big. If I am on a “good schedule” and eating well, exercising, and doing well overall, and then if I stop or if I drink alcohol, I can physically feel inefficiency creeping in. So, there are some uses which we’ll discuss later, but overall, and especially for people well into their careers, alcohol is much more harm than good. Avoid.

On Respect

respect for others is equally important to respect for oneself

I think of this topic as very much American, in contrast to Russian. (Although in modern world the distinctions between cultures are becoming less.)

The path to greatness

…is 8 hours a day

8 hours a day. The path to greatness, quite simply, is doing something for 8 hours a day. This way you can be good at it, and once you’re good, you can work on being great (which is again 8 hours a day). If you can do it for more than 8 hours – awesome, but that’s by no means a requirement.

Do you have to have a natural disposition, a talent for it, in order to be great? No. Certainly you don’t need it to be good. Talent helps, but there are many people with unrealized talents walking past you on the streets every day. It’s the perseverance and time commitment that counts – not actual talent.

Note that this implies that you can’t give up. If you fail to succeed… try again. Failing to succeed at something for a month does not give you the right to give up. Use balief (see “belief”, the definition of the tool) to determine the goal that you’re pursuing, and then pursue it consistently until you’ve gotten it.

In the course of this you may discover that you don’t want to be good at it anymore. Up close the goal didn’t look the same as from the distance. Again, use belief to continue working on it (getting from good to great). It is helpful to determine at the very beginning, and promise yourself – what is it that once you achieve it you won’t back out of? Make that decision at the beginning, and when you want to back out, remember that decision being made in the beginning. Because if you back out of your own success you will be lost.

Structure of Information (SoIII) Part I

Let’s talk about how I structure files and data

Disclaimer: I’m a technologist so some tools I use may be a bit uncomfortable.

Continuous Backup

The idea is that losing any hardware should not cause data loss. I use Dropbox and it works great. My main folder on my laptop where I keep everything that isn’t otherwise archived, is synced to Dropbox, so if I lose my laptop (as has happened, for example, reinstalling the compiz library destroyed my OS) – I actually lose no data at all.

I’m fortunate in that I don’t really deal with large files. A media professional, for exampe, may create gigabytes or terabytes of data over a weekend, or a workweek. They have to have specific tools to address the data persistency problem. Having two copies of critical data, and continuously buying storage (terabytes of solid-state drives, 1Tb/week purchase, or monthly purchase of 1Tb of hardware space at the cost of $100/mo, etc). So, I guess one of the main things they do is continue buying storage hardware, although again I’m not an expert on this aspect because most of my data is text and I don’t deal with terabytes of generated data per week/month.

My code projects are quite simply in git, and on either bitbucket or github. It’s super difficult to lose git projects.

I also have several s3 (amazon storage) accounts for “large” (gigabytes) data that I don’t want to lose. It takes a while to upload things to s3, and it may be difficult while you are abroad, but again, you don’t lose data when you lose hardware.

You have to specifically worry about access keys. Don’t put everything in one bucket and then either lose the credentials or have them stolen. Ideally, distribute the data across multiple buckers and use IAM to manage permissions, and disable the root account – although admittedly this is more complicated than just keeping data in one place. It depends on how many people are interested in you, how likely you are to come under attack, and how valuable your data is.

Archive folder

From “cool uri’s don’t change” – it’s nice to not rename files, and always know where your stuff is. It’s nice to standardize on file naming conventions. Linux has already done it a long time ago, and individuals should be consistent with their files as well. I structure the archives as follows:

/archive/2018/Clients//{sow, done, trash, invoices }
/archive/2018/Canon//{src, raw, fin, src2, fin2, thumbs}
/archive//{Meeting_Minutes, Wacom, UIUX_Mockups, Print_Material, Legal_Screenshots, Clients, Content, Canon, WasyaCo, ... }
/archive//hunter # even though there is quick-access "/hunter/", there are archives per-year of 
/hunter/{finances, taxes, forms, job-seeking, done, trash }
/--workbench/ # current active client's files
/lib/{images, fonts, forms, games, music, mac_os_x, wordpress, ... }
/doc/{economics, mba, spanish, ... }
the same
/{done, trash, Meeting_Minutes, ...}
/archive//{Meeting_Minutes, ...}
/archive//Print_Material/{Project-1, Project-2, done, trash, ... }

I historically keep very personal stuff in folder “hunter/” – for example, a copy of my drivers license, excel spreadsheets with people’s contact into, some financial data, etc. Note how the name is not very semantic and doesn’t mean anything in particular.

I keep folders “done/” and “trash/” in pretty much every folder. I’m used to having them and they’re not an eye sore. Trash can be destroyed at any time, and “done/” can also be destroyed, but I keep it for archiving and if I need it in the future. Since folder names have rolling date in their names (e.g. “archive/2016/meeting_minutes/201602_meeting_minutes/done/”), it’s not just one big folder “done/”, it’s multiple such folders and you can keep track of your datas somewhat easily.

I don’t like spaces in filenames. I use underscore (_) for spaces pretty much everywhere.

If something is important, capitalize the folder name. If it’s not important, don’t capitalize it. A capitalized folder name often means I spent significant time on it, it’s a standalone project, I’m collaborating with other people on it, or something else significant.

Don’t be afraid to reuse the folder name on several occasions. For example, I have multiple places where I keep forms such as NDA’s, and multiple folders “meeting_minutes/” and “hunter/”.