Gapingvoid – On Mastery

Hugh McLeod is making an important point in his blog post On Mastery. He argues that truly successful people do not become successful by chance. They achieve success by becoming masters of their trade. Hugh McLeod concludes that mastery is nothing glamorous but rather stems from repetitive practice and continuous improvement until perfection.

We commonly think of success as getting promoted to the next rung of the corporate career ladder or becoming a media star. This “conventional” success depends a lot on luck and the goodwill of other people – external factors outside of our control.

Success based on mastery as described by Hugh McLeod, however, does not depend on luck nor people’s admiration. Less dependent on external influence, striving for mastery is a more reliable way to happiness than succumbing to the popular measures of success.

NYT – Can You Make Yourself Smarter?

The headline “Can You Make Yourself Smarter?” caught my attention in the New York Times. The article describes a game “N back” that can be used to train working memory. Working memory is “the capacity to manipulate the information you’re holding in your head”. Researcher Torkel Klingberg found a relationship between working memory and IQ test results. Consequently, IQ is not fixed but could be improved by training.

I never took an IQ test myself and have only limited knowledge on how these tests work. However, I believe that it is possible to train for pretty much any test. Therefore, I do not find these results very surprising. Nevertheless, I find the connection between working memory and IQ very interesting.

Sidenote: The article contains an info box explaining typical ranges of IQ test results. It says: “132+ 2 percent; borderline genius; average I.Q. of most Ph.D. recipients” and “143+ 1 percent; genius level; about average for Ph.D.’s in physics.” Does this mean that the average physics PhD recipient is a genius? I expect a bit more from a “true” genius. What makes physics PhDs special?

Cory Doctorow – The Upcoming War on General Computation

Here is a video of Cory Doctorow’s speech “The Upcoming War on General Computation:

There is also a transcript of the presentation published by Joshua Wise at GitHub. Below are some excerpts but I encourage everyone to watch or read the entire speech to grasp Cory Doctorow’s message.

[…] we can put an electric motor in a blender, and we can install a motor in a dishwasher, and we don’t worry if it’s still possible to run a dishwashing program in a blender. But that’s not what we do when we turn a computer into an appliance. We’re not making a computer that runs only the “appliance” app; we’re making a computer that can run every program, but which uses some combination of rootkits, spyware, and code-signing to prevent the user from knowing which processes are running, from installing her own software, and from terminating processes that she doesn’t want. In other words, an appliance is not a stripped-down computer — it is a fully functional computer with spyware on it out of the box.


Freedom in the future will require us to have the capacity to monitor our devices and set meaningful policy on them, to examine and terminate the processes that run on them, to maintain them as honest servants to our will, and not as traitors and spies working for criminals, thugs, and control freaks. And we haven’t lost yet, but we have to win the copyright wars to keep the Internet and the PC free and open.


The sky is rising – how big media companies increase profits while using jobs as cheap excuse to restrict our freedom.

The study shows how the gaming, music, film, and book publishing industry shows nice growth numbers at times when most other industries struggle to stay afloat. At the same time, big media is lobbying for stiff copyright enforcement laws, claiming that widespread piracy costs countless media jobs. Something is not adding up here…

BashGuide – Possibly the Best Guide for Learning Bash

Ever tried to learn writing shell scripts for Linux? The bash shell is the most common shell and accordingly there is a lot of information on this topic on the Internet. Nevertheless, I always struggled with the bash script syntax – parameter expansion anyone?

Shell: A (possibly interactive) command interpreter, acting as a layer between the user and the system.
BASH: The Bourne Again Shell, a Bourne compatible shell.

Recently, I looked for a good tutorial on bash. The best one I found is the excellent BashGuide, a Wiki for helping people to learn bash. It certainly helped me to improve my (limited) shell scripting skills.