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Photo by MIO ITO on Unsplash

It’s December 28th as I write this, and 2020 is rolling to a slow, painful, and unsanctimonious end. As I look back on the last year of my life, I’m filled with conflicted emotions. This year has had some incredibly high-highs, and some depressingly low-lows. I’ve been trapped on a rollercoaster of ups, downs, loops, with seemingly little control on my part.

Still, I’m proud of the year I had — it could have been far, far worse. My heart goes out to all those whose lives were irreversibly shaken by the pandemic (among other major disruptions) of 2020.

The Wins

Despite the pretenses, 2020 has had its share of major wins for me. The transition to remote work — and the removal of my entire social life — left me with significantly more free time than I had in 2019. And where did all the free time go? Well: some mischief, some misery, some procrastination, and a metric shitload of projects. Indulge me, while I share some of my favorites, won’t you? …


Note: I fully recognize the insanity of publishing a post about 2019 in November 2020, and I choose to ignore it. Sorry, not sorry.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

2019 held a lot of surprises for me, but one welcome surprise was the return of my voracious appetite for reading. I read 29 books in 2019, most of them great.

Of those books I’ve chosen just 5, the creme dela creme, accompanied by a short summary of the lessons I learned, and a grade of the book. I wholeheartedly recommend all of these books. Read them.

Honorable Mention: When Breath Becomes Air — Paul Kalanithi

What happens when a young, smart, ambitious neurosurgeon is given only a few months to live? …


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Photo by Taylor Vick on Unsplash

What is a web server?

You’re probably familiar with an explanation that goes something like this: A web server is a process running on a computer that accepts HTTP requests and sends back HTTP responses. But what type of process? Where is it running? How is it running? And most importantly: how do I build one?

In this article, I’ll dissect the basic software components of a simple web server — these concepts are language agnostic, and use some of the core infrastructure provided by our operating systems. …


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We’re indoctrinated to think of others as “winners” or “losers” from a young age

Whether you like it or not, you’re either a winner or a loser.

I wish I could say you had a significant choice in the matter, but you didn’t; it was mostly decided for you by a society that believes in a limited number of seats at the top.

The winners are those who are deemed worthy of the top, and who now get to pursue their own interests & leisure, knowing that — even if they’re not rich now — surely they will always be comfortable. They succeeded in school, learned the right lessons, and befriended enough people; so they have the network, career, and education to sustain themselves, forever.

One common misunderstanding about winners is that they “got lucky”, but this is only half true. Most winners (aside from the true trust-fund babies) genuinely have what it takes — they’re smart, competent, and sociable. The luck (if you care to call it that) is in being told that they’re special, and often from a young age. …


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Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash

There’s a tendency among those of us that dream big to… undermine our own ambitions. We grew up dreaming of the big screen, and rocket-ships, and political reform — but in the end, we eventually decided “it’s just not worth it”. We gave up before we really got started.

We threw away our shot.

We sell ourselves attractive stories about why giving up is actually the best thing to do:

  • “Wanting to change the world was actually just an egotistical dream. Giving up on that is a sign of maturity.”
  • “I just want to be happy. I couldn’t work that hard and pursue happiness at the same time.” …


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Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

As you may know, I recently attempted a 30-day polyphasic sleep challenge.

On day 10, I gave up. Here’s why:

1. Lack of focus

First and foremost, focus was at an all-time low. I could hardly maintain focus on a task if it was boring.

In particular, I found this difficult with the PVT (reaction speed test). I’d find myself zoning out by the time the next timer popped up, and I’d have to use all my energy just to keep paying attention.

Multi-tasking was completely out of the question, and I would sometimes just forget one of the tasks I was trying to maintain. (This happened once with a video game I was playing — I started browsing the web while on a loading screen, and forgot to go back.) …


Cats are a classic example of polyphasic sleep schedules
Cats are a classic example of polyphasic sleep schedules
Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash

Quarantine has left me with a completely flexible schedule, and a lot of time on my hands: but what if I could have even more?


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Photo by Djurdjica Boskovic on Unsplash

The Problem

COVID-19 brought a variety of changes: the roads are empty, friends are bunking with parents for the first time in years, and some people have a year’s supply of toilet paper while others have none (yikes 😬).

The biggest post-COVID change to my day-to-day is that I work from home now. Working from home is a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have no commute and can work in your jammies; on the other hand, you have real s*** to do, and no one is there to keep you honest. Dilemma.

Work from home should be idyllic for knowledge workers. A perfect blend of comfort, productivity, and focused quiet. Everything we do is on a computer, anyway; this just eliminates the commute, the distraction, and the unnecessarily expensive lunches. …


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Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

How frequently do you tell yourself you’ll do something and completely fail? How many times have you thought “I’m going to the gym after work today”, or “I’m going to workout when I get up this morning”, or “I’m going to do my homework ahead of time for once” — only to promptly ignore your intention?

We all do this — it’s normal. But does it have to be?

I’ve been thinking recently about integrity… I heard someone give a definition as: “Integrity is following through on that which you said you would do.” …


Learn how to take the next step, when you can’t confront your problems.

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Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to hide your face from … no one? Or maybe from yourself, it’s hard to tell. You feel ashamed, alone, frustrated, avoidant.

You want to hide; from who? Everyone. No one. Agh!

So you do something comfortable for the moment, something mentally absorbing. Message that friend you always message, play that game you always play, listen to that podcast you love so much.

The distraction helps. It feels good to be busy.

But you know that you shouldn’t be distracting yourself. You should be thinking, journaling, working, writing, crying… Whatever it is you should be doing, you just can’t quite muster the courage. …

About

Andrew Roberts

Looking to grow.

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