Tag Archive: Stanford


For the last two weeks, I have tackled issues, and I’m still tackling new ones.

(Have a look at my past posts to know what I’m writing about).

Needless to say: it is exhausting.

I always find myself awake at 4:30 am, super energetic (it is usually my energy peak) , and I hate wasting energy.

So, I grab my iPad and read books nobody will. at least I think so.  Would you be interested in reading a book called “Inside Apple“? Unless your are a fanboi computer geek which is interested in HR and temperaments/personalities and their pros and cons, I bet you wouldn’t.

Not a safe bet.

My health has never been great, and I don’t want it to deteriorate.

There are a few tricks that I do before giving in (and I gave in once in my life: I had a lung infection and spent a few days in the coma. OK, I digress, but bear that in mind)!

Taking a shower after having triggered my mind with an insanely intricate computer science lecture, or an inspiring TED talk, is what I usually do.

Solutions and ideas appear when you least expect them. It is common sense.

The next Joe would say the same, but I’m not the next Joe.

When you let purposely your mind wander, it will certainly bring you where it wouldn’t if you were hyper-active and focused obsessed.

My weapon of choice is a simple shower, or a bath.

I soak my hands in warm water before playing keyboards or cello. Any tension disappears, and I can warm-up, then play confidently knowing that I prepared myself.

See… This is a borrowed parallel paradigm (a term I coined a few blog posts ago and didn’t use in a blog post)!

I use a “model” totally unrelated to the task at hand to solve it. I transpose it (sorry for the musical pun).

Well, it’s time for a new TED talk and to catch up on my Stanford lectures (I have a strong disgust for the C language, and we are comparing Objective-C and ANSI C. I want to move on to the next step, yet I know that my teacher is doing what we’ll need ten lectures later).

Oh, one last thing: nothing beats a cup of Yunnan tea.

One more thing: this is the post where my 666th tag will appear. I’m an unabashed metal freak, but in no way Satanist. I just find that ending my post with something less serious could release some tension!

Which are your strategies to kick out stress and burn-outs from tearing you apart?

Do you let your mind wander to find solutions, or do you keep working until you run out of gas?

 

 

 

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Everything that goes through any of our senses is stored in our memory as a mental picture.

It uses our occipital cortex. So, don’t scratch the top of your head if you can’t recall. It happens behind your head!

Just google “visual memory” and countless search pages will show up with miracle recipes on how to improve it.

This is totally uninteresting to me. However, I often take a quick look at all those self-help things, then discard 99% of them.

What is interesting is how our brain works, and thorough studies, serious stuff won’t appear on the first search page. Go further.

I find it fascinating that our memory transforms everything into a mental image. Vivid, exaggerated, lurid, hilarious… Unexpected ways are to be expected!

One of the most important aspects of it, is that if you aren’t actively participating in memorizing, your “file” (memory) will be lost somewhere into some random place you can’t easily recall, or can’t recall at all. Unlike computers, we have no indexing and search option available to find where our file is.

Actively participating means “abstracting” the (usually) boring stuff. You’ll need to find ways to get mnemotechnic in remembering things. It will take some time and practice, but it is worth the sweat!

If you just absorb, you are not memorizing. You are listening, watching, smelling… but not memorizing.

When memorizing, don’t lay on a couch and repeat ad nauseam the same thing, hoping it will get into your memory. You have to add emotion to it to work properly.
Being on a couch is not what I call an emotional trigger (unless you get laid, but that’s another story).

Stand up. Read aloud. Repeat each syllable many times. Let the music come.

Don’t worry, your music will anyway be associated with a mental image. Not a mere image, but a mental one. Those are discrete things!

I hope that by now, you start figuring out why I called this post “our memory is a GUI”. Yes, it is a graphical user interface. Touch this icon / click on it, and it will react.
An icon is an object which has properties. Exactly like our memory.

I am still studying this overlooked aspect of our memorizing process, so expect an update or another post as soon as I have new and relevant content.

Meanwhile, know that nobody has a bad memory. If you want to have a really hard time remembering faces, events, sounds, etc, keep saying to yourself that your memory is poor, or bad, or that you suck.

I encourage you to do your own search. I want us to discuss and debate around this topic.

Well. I’m going to find ways to memorize five high-level programming languages. I’ll focus primarily on Objective-C.

The meaning, the syntax, the words or signs used all have some potential for visual memorizing. What can I do with @synthesize ? Split it into syllables and repeat them until I find a way to relate what is on my screen to what it means. Make music out of it (“synth” could already be “synthesizer”. Or maybe should I try to merge “sin”, “in”, “the”, “size and visualize a huge cock)?

I told you that the more exaggerated, gory or porn, the better and easier to remember. Summarize it into a vivid mental image (not an image like a photo) and link it to its meaning (meanings aren’t obvious in programming). That is why Stanford has a “programming abstractions” course, in my opinion.

Again, don’t merely absorb, but stand up (to stay alert) and actively participate in memorizing.

In those big “memory contests”, they give you energizing beverages. It is not a coincidence, is it?

 

What I mean by a “borrowed parallel paradigm” is that a paradigm out of my field of study or biz can help me shape – or reshape- my thinking and my doing.
It broadens my vision, or help me see the world through new lenses.

If I use Apple’s biz paradigm (mainly, a platform, to be studied) to improve my creative musician skills, it’s a win. However, it is not easy to draw parallel lines with those unrelated areas.

To create, to innovate, to shape, call it what you want, you need to borrow or shamelessly steal from unrelated industries, areas, businesses -even if the models are outdated- to make your very own product, be it a symphony or a startup.

That’s what Google does, what Amazon does, what a schmazillion of other successful people do. They succeed at what they aim for.
Success is not a one-size-fits-all word!

A pattern can be transposed successfully if applied in a clever way. If you stay in your area, you are likely to learn nothing. If you go where everyone else goes, you end up doing what everyone does. Is it what you want?

Picasso famously said that great artists steal. Is Picasso a great artist? This up to you to judge. The statement is true, though.

Today, the word artist has a broader meaning. A VP or a CEO can be artists, not because they are hobbyist painters or musicians, but because they -the succesful ones- totally pour themselves into what they do. Stravinsky used to say that a succesful piece of art is 99% work!

As far as I am concerned: I come from a very complex background.

I am a musician. That is the core of my being. 26 years of mayhem, and counting!

I sing, I play snare drum, timpani, vibraphone, drums, cello, viola da gamba, guitar, harpsichord, piano, organ… All those instruments have one thing in common: they require the use of fingers (in this case, parallels are drawn quite easily. Starting small is not a bad thing), and demand a very high degree of commitment.
I also produce, edit, mix and master. I started as a FOH engineer, but moved on to my comfy studio more as my back pain increased with FOH muck work. I am now settled.

However, I read business books, blogs about education, biographies, I love CDs and LPs artwork and do my own, I hang around with TED speakers, I study iOS programming and programming abstractions (courtesy of Stanford University). I read other people Ph.Ds’ stuff, too, no matter the subject.

How does all that relate? How does one model applies to the other to foster creativity? I’m diligently working on it.

Easy is not a word I can use to describe that task. I have to learn critical thinking, which is not taught at school/college.

I have to ask for mentorship, sometimes. I have to ask myself the right questions. It’s exhausting, and I already wanted to throw the towel many times. I didn’t, because I’m passionate about what I do.

Of course, it is easy to get lost into all those unrelated areas. Focus on your primary one and look around. How can you improve or change your existing model?

Borrow paradigms. Shamelessly. The more unrelated, the better.
Get the broadest scope you can get, yet keep in mind that you want to raise the bar of your primary activity, foster creativity and get smarter at what you do.

One last thing: don’t lose sight of your own goals.

I’d love to hear from you. You are encouraged to share your experiences and thoughts. Your personal info will never be shared.

Write about the one that got away

Write about the one that got away.

My first and only thought is for Steven Paul Jobs.

I know it isn’t original, and I really don’t care about being original right now.

He left us, yet not enough to be considered as leaving us. Apple is his baby and a pretty damn huge legacy.

Here’s my favourite quote from Steve:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

From College Drop-out To Craving Stanford…

The past days have been a real emotional rollercoaster. I’m damn exhausted.

Why should you give a rat’s ass about the meaning of the life of one of the 7 billion humans plaguing the Earth?

Because you’re human as well, right?

I finally sent my mail to Jonathan Ive. No big hopes there.

Today, I grabbed my balls and my iPhone… And wrote to Stanford about my chances to enroll.

They replied few hours after my scream for help. I can really tell you that I feel down… But my unmatched tenacity will keep me alive and thriving.

Well. Transfer: 1400 applicants, 23 lucky bastards.

This was Stanford last year.

You may really wonder if I still care about my mental health. Not really.

I’m shamelessly berating the powers-that-be and bashing the antiquated schooling system. I’ve done that for as long as I can remember.

My first day in school was also my last. My body was there, but my mind was not. The “great divide” lasted 12 years.

I was then forced into studying. Ok dad, if that’s what you want…

Wreaking havoc and temper tantrums eventually got me ousted.

I just miss the helluva cool peeps I’ve met. I don’t even remember their names, but their faces are forever in my memory.

Is it out of some 30’s-crisis nostalgia that I was prone to improvise a mail to Stanford, which I eventually sent?

Highly probable.

What is less probable is that I will take one academic year to have records to send to Stanford. I doubt I could bear others, and the gloomy uni. life here in France.

I should include in this post photos of the buildings -devastated beyond comprehension- we are supposed to learn something in. [Edit:heading to the Uni. tomorrow. I bet all is shiny-spanky-new. Of course when I was there, we choked in dust.]

Moving to Sweden or Iceland is an option I’m considering.

One year abroad, then…

Perhaps years abroad. If I don’t drop out again.

I should carry the torch and fulfill Steve Jobs’ vision of schooling… And merging biology with technology.

I just can’t make mine the Apple legacy.

Screw it. I’m not dealing with products, but with a culture, a way of life. Something I already have… and happens to be found in Apple.

I’ll know next year, same period, if…

Yes, if.

By the way, I’m becoming a B writer (for a while. I decided to unveil my feelings) and A writers might hate me for being less than mediocre.

I’m perfectly fine with that.

[EDIT: 4/1/2012]

Thanks to the iTunes U app, I can get an insane wealth of courses from Stanford, for free, at home. This is absolutely invaluable. It saves me four years and $200.000!

Of course, starting is easy. Postponing is pandemic.

The only way is follow-through.

See you in ten weeks (duration of the course).

I don’t even have the official prerequisites, however I dropped in the course (CS193P) and I’m confident enough to see a positive outcome. Whatever I lack, I’ll get it anyway.

Do this experiment to generate a post idea

My guess was absolutely spot on. I knew I will fall asleep soon and wake up quite as I’m writing now…

Hey, I just found myself waking up with an iPhone on the chest and in my bed!

As much as I did a crazy and trippy dream with clouds and apples everywhere yesterday, i don’t remind anything but perhaps… Yeah, drums again, practicing again and hanging around with Machine Head. That is how it started to wander, I think.

No fear at all! That was so relieving because I’m such a perfectionnist and a control freak when it comes to music.

I didn’t feel any fear because I have nothing to lose. I will disappear someday and everything will vanish. Please go to YouTube or TED and search for Steve Job’s commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. You’ll know what I mean.

Topic #279: Sometimes you can make a topic appear out of nothing at all. Do the following. Make sure you are somewhere safe. Guess how long you can keep your eyes closed. Close your eyes. Start counting. See how long you can go. Write about any or all of: How close your guess was to your actual performance. What thoughts did your mind wander to while you were counting? Did you feel any fear? Why or why not? … Read More

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