Saturday, November 21, 2009

- willpower index -

Numbers are a great invention - they can put real life events and ideas into a different context.

For instance, it's recommended that you write down your numbers when working out: how many push-ups or pull-ups you've done, what weights you used in various weighty activities, and so forth. The point of tracking is to know how far you can go (whether it be repetitions or the weight of your weights) for next time. After awhile, if you graph the data, it'll hopefully be a nice line going upwards and it'll be super motivating.

Similar to levelling up in a game (as xkcd already noted).

But what if we want to track mental rather than physical strength? It's just as - if not more - important, considering studies have shown that self-control is correlated to success and happiness.

Can it be measured? Call it self-control, self-discipline or willpower, that stuff seems to be abstract and untrackable. On the other hand, research has shown that willpower is like a muscle: it gets strengthened with exercise, and it gets depleted with over-usage.

So why not have a go at it?

[Has gained 1 experience point from writing this entry]

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

- the spider's toolbox -

Lately, I've been digging up and trying out online networking and sharing tools. All of the following already have a sizable chunk of users - some have been around for ages - so it's not like I'm trying to be cutting edge. The list is sorted by how much experience I've had with it and each item links to my page. Maybe you might find some of these to be useful or fun to use!

# Livejournal

An online diary that's good for writing down day-to-day events, and keeping in touch with friends. LJ makes filtering posts simple, so it's easy to write whatever you want and share it with people you have an acceptable comfort level with. Very spiffy for letting off steam and putting it in a box. The community feature is a nice touch. I use the uwaterloo one and people there are helpful and responsive. Seriously, if I ask about - say - a professor, I'd get replies within the hour.

Recommended Use: Journaling - especially for drama and angst. Keeping in touch with faraway friends or family (hi sis!)

# Blogger

At first, I tried using this like LJ to keep in touch with friends. But honestly, it's a major pain: you'd need to bookmark or link to your friends' blogs, whereas other places (see Livejournal, Facebook, Twitter) keeps all friends update on one page. What most or all blogging tools *will* do for you is give you freedom to customize your page. It's good for publishing your own content - writings, thoughts or news.

Recommended Use: Decently long thought-provoking and-or humorous entries. Or pseudo-intellectual, pretentious writing. The latter sums up my blog perfectly!

# Facebook

Facebook needs no introduction and everyone knows its many tricks. However, there are ways in which people are doing it wrong. In addition to what that dude said, I personally find LJ better for keeping track of friends: less cluttered and easier to read. Other than that, Facebook does many things well - which is why it's the market leader in social networking and killed off crappier attempts like Friendster.

Recommended Use: finding old friends, contacting people, organizing group events, sharing photos, stalking

# Twitter

Same as LJ except for people with ADD. Or likes constantly receiving updates on mobiles. Useful for tracking/talking to celebs. 140 char lim

# StumbleUpon [echoblaze]

As mentioned earlier in the facebook entry, StumbleUpon is good for discovery cool things on the web. If you have time to burn, you can continuously click that "Stumble!" button and be forever amused by the vast expanse that is the intertubez. Or if you have a lot of interesting content to share (i.e. whoring your own stuff), then you could attempt to push it here.

Recommended Use: killing time


Social bookmarking. You upload your bookmarks and share it with friends or others; you could check out cool stuff by looking at the most bookmark-ed items ever. To be honest, I didn't use StumbleUpon or this much because I don't have too much time to burn. Also, if you start having tons of bookmarks - it's honestly easier to search for what you want in Google.

Recommended Use: killing time

# LinkedIn [Emerson Cho]

I'd call this "professional networking" as opposed to social networking. On the recommendation of my coop advisor, I went and played around with this toy today. Functionality is similar to Friendster - the coworker recommendation system is similar to ye olde testimonials, but there's a lot of extra structure in place: job searches, sorting by companies or fields of work, finding coworkers. Not sure whether this will pay off - I find it more likely that people will add to their professional networks IRL. But if nothing else, it'll be good for keeping track of ex-employers and ex-coworkers.

Recommended Use: too early to tell. I suspect it will become an e-rolodex.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Not only do we want choice, we want the choice of when we want to choose.

The corollary to this is that sometimes not having a choice is preferable.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

- The Burning Tower -

I could not
bare to watch
the candle slowly
burning down,
And in the ensuing darkness I realized:
I am now truly alone.