Category Archives: Technology

Two Questions Every Genius Always Asks

First of all, there are no such things as a genius. There are only people who seek out better ways to do things and apply what they know, and then there are the rest of the humans.

With that said, I’ve noticed that every ‘genius’ I’ve come across are armed with two ridiculously simply questions:

Genius Question 1: How is this like something I already know?

genius look alike

Past experiences are the ultimate asset when trying to learn something new. It’s how polyglots generally struggle with their first couple languages and then landslide right into learning 20 like Timothy Doner did in just four years. Arguably for other reasons as well, It’s also why entrepreneurs like Richard Branson or Tony Robbins repeat the saying “making the first million is the hardest.”

I personally struggled grasping compute science concepts like queues and polymorphism until I began relating them to “the Real World”.

Queues are fancy “British” for lines, like the one at the grocery store when there is a trainee doing an item check on produce for the first time. It’s horrible, more people are entering the line than there are leaving it, and we all have to endure my biggest pet peeve… waiting.

Polymorphism is a fancy term for using the same word for many actions. I gave it a lot of thought beforehand and ended up totally nailing it in an interview.

Prompt: ” Can you please describe what Polymorphism is?”

Answer: “Let’s just look at the word ‘open’. If I ‘open’, that door I will turn the knob and pull. If asked to ‘open’ my mind, I’ll read literature and books. To ‘open’ a woman’s heart, I’ll recite poetry and tell her I love her.”

The interviewer was very impressed. We talked for over an hour after that.

Leveraging past experiences is what allows rapid learning and solidifies long term recall. Also helps you kick butt in interviews.

Genius Question 2: What’s different?

“Never under estimate the power of differentiation”

genius differentiate apples

When facing similarities, finding differences is what sets geniuses apart from the common folk. It’s what allows them to quickly pivot into getting the results they want.

Whenever a colleague, rival, or model is getting different results from me, I always make sure to prompt my mind with questions like:

  • What am I doing differently?
  • What’s different here?
  • What more (or less) can I do to get the same result?

Priming the mind to discover differences is not only key to getting the result you want, keeps you engaged in for longer periods of time. It’s how Mortimer Adler recommends you take books apart to fully digest their material.

I find that when I hit a dead end, asking myself these questions brings back a second wind. I’m able to bring back a sense of newness, freshness, and adventure into daily routines. It’s what the rejuvenates my mind and transforms the mundane back into a mini adventures through a child’s eyes.

Failing to do so often leads to painful and/or hilarious situations.

Mind Map Rules

Although the two look similar, mind mapping is not brainstorming.

Brainstorming is technique used to creatively generate ideas to solve a problem.

Mind maps leverage this approach but do so with more deliberately to aid studying, problem solving, decision making, project planning,  writing, and presentation preparation.

Mind Map Rules: 

  1. Start with a central idea.
  2. Branch line segments away from the central idea with one word/image per line
  3. USE CAPS
  4. Use colors to facilitate grouping of ideas.
  5. Find your own style
  6. Apply it

Bending the Rules

I’ve found that depending on your overall goal, all of the rules regarding mind maps are bendable.

  • Central Idea: Sometimes it’s hard to see the central idea at first, and I’ve had times where I derived a central idea in the middle of creating the map. Although usually my response is “whoops, I could have done this a lot better”, there have been times where I ended up learning that I was creating a mind map about how to two central functions were interacting and overlapping with each other.
  • Branching outwards: Branching: I’ve found that occasionally it’s easier and ‘funner’ to make one long sequence of segments to tell a story to my mind.
  • USE CAPS: This is one rule I don’t bend anymore. I think caps work best, knowing that all letters will appear only one way takes a lot of strain off the mind creating and remembering the maps and opens you up to more dimensions of thinking. (And I find caps easier/quicker to read than lowercase)
  • Using Colors!!!: I find black and white just as good and colors, so long as I actively use my imagination and grouping skills to separate concepts and ideas.
  • Find your own style: This is the rule that yells to me, “There are no rules! (Do what you want!).
  • Apply it! Next time you’re having a family intervention,  planning out your next hot date, or just trying to figure out the meaning of life, go ahead an apply mind maps. I would encourage you to go ahead and use it throughout the day at every opportunity to really train your mind to rapidly come up with solutions or break down a large problem non-linearly.

 

Mind Maps for Super Human Learning

I recently came across a book called “Use Both Sides of Your Brain” by Tony Buzan and decided to give it a read. Like the title says, I was really able to take advantage of the strengths of both sides of my brain.

Both Sides Brain Book and Mind Map Book

Use Both Sides Brain Book and Mind Map Book

Both books are about making ‘mind maps’, in summary a visual web of ideas. The rules are pretty simple: one central idea in the center. They recommend a visual picture / drawing of a central idea and drawing protruding branches. It’s supposed to be one word per branch, but I prefer using one idea/thought per branch.

The idea is that linearly approaches are the least creative ones and that the mind works non-linearly. For example, you may be working on one topic when suddenly you have a flood of brilliant ideas that are unrelated to the current topic.

People are much better at remembering things they’ve seen before and places they’ve been in before and describing them fairly accurately in comparison to abstract ideas or a linear list (such as a grocery list or a list of words in alphabetical order). This tool leverages our spacial and visual memory and allows us to connect words visually in a way that makes most sense to the individual making the map.

I’ve been using these maps to learn large amounts of vocabulary and being able to review and retain them quickly and easily.

Learning Chinese
Learning Chinese

These maps assist not only with learning new concepts and vocabulary but also getting a clearer idea when making complicated life decisions that have many pros and cons to consider.

Git Overview
Learning Git Summary

Although it requires a few extra minutes of jotting down ideas into a visual map, it’s a really great tool if you want to unleash the power of your mind.

Needless to say, I’ve been relentless on applying the technique at every opportunity. I decided to take on learning multiple languages, plotting out what I want to do with my life, planning a curriculum for an online class, and rapidly understanding new technologies such as GIT Version Control.

Python Code – Guessing Game

The asset of creating.
I want to pass it on.
I want to pass it forward.
To create something from nothing.

Lately I’ve been trying to get my cousins to learn how to program. They’re in their late teens and deciding where they want to take their lives. Regardless of where they go and what field they end up studying, having the ability to create tools as you need them is an indispensable asset.

Games are really fun, and I think it’s a great place to start challenging oneself.

I’ve started with a number guessing game where the computer picks a number between 1 and 10 and the player has to guess what it is.

They haven’t learned functions yet, but they’re beginning to learn how to apply if-then logic and flow data in and out of loops.

You can find the code below.
Next on the agenda is “Rock, Paper, Scissors!”

Toodles,

#!/usr/bin/python
import random

guess = 0
count = 0
secret = random.randint(1,10)

while( guess != secret):
print ‘Select a number between 1 and 10: ‘
guess = raw_input()
count += 1

if (int(guess) == secret):
print ‘correct’
break;
else:

print ‘the correct answer is: ‘ + str(secret) + ‘\n you selected: ‘ + str(guess)
#        print ‘You (incorrectly) guessed ‘ + str(guess) + ‘ please try again’

print ‘only took you ‘ + str(count) + ‘ guesses’

 

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B and Ostriches

I recently came across a micro computer with a nifty name and decided to invest in it. I thought I was the coolest guy in town and started gloating about it. I even tried joking around with my dad.

“Hey, dad guess what I bought… a ‘Raspberry Pi’!!!”.
I snickered away, thinking he’d assume it’s a delicious pie.

He responded with “Oh that’s neat, I think I saw someone fly one and run face recognition software on it at a big data conference a few years ago.”

I felt like a total ostrich having my head in the ground for months. How could have I not come across something so amazing.

It’s called the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B and apparently has been out in the market for years. Everyone I turned to had seemed to not only have heard of it but also heard of awesome projects made with them.

I ended up buying it because I wanted to do some mad scientist projects using the voice recognition open source project called Jasper.

Currently, I’m using my Pi Right now I’m using it to sharped my networking skills and teach my cousins how to program. So far we’ve made a number guessing game on the python. I want them to learn how to make a rock paper scissors game and some more fun and simple games.

It’s really exciting making something from nothing. It’s quite powerful for something that runs near 50 bucks. Definitely a something to invest in if you want to try out some projects or gain a new skill.

Here’s some hardware specs on it:

  • 900MHz Quad Core CPU
  • 1GB Ram
  • 4 USB Ports
  • 40 GPIO Pins
  • HDMI Port
  • Ethernet Port
  • audio jack
  • Camera Interface
  • Display Interface
  • Micro SD card slot