20101010

33 Best Posts I Have Read This August, 2010

After my previous Best Posts I Have Read This June and July, I decided to keep collecting my best reads every two months. And now, October arrived waiting for my post on August and September... But as I reviewed my feed reader and Read It Later list, I was overwhelmed, and felt like you would be, too. So here comes the best posts I have read this August. They are not only posts published in August, but also posts I have discovered (or maybe re-read) this month according to my Read It Later. I hope you enjoy them. I have split them in 3 categories: Self-improvement and the likes (19 posts), programming, technology and related (10 posts) and blogging tips (4 posts). Almost all links in authors name point to their twitter profiles.


Self-improvement and the likes

Dragos Roua's blog (his twitter: Dragos Roua) has been gathering a lot of attention this August, by its wonderful series of posts titled How to Build Reputation With a Blog, in particular I enjoyed a lot the post Write Constantly in this series. It is a subject I can't agree more, as I already wrote a post about continuous improvement, which implies working every day in a particular big project. Also of note was his 3 Ebooks to Read This Summer, where he reviews 3 ebooks as the title promises. I must confess I have not read any of these, but the reviews look good (Dragos is a good reviewer), and as I also follow the blogs of 2 of these 3 writers, I can also say they should be good. This month I also took the time to delve into its archives, finding the very worthwhile Put Your Blog Into a Mind Map. It is good advice, but I am not sure I can make it: my blog has now more than 250 (English) entries... But I think it is worthy of consideration, as I have the feeling I am not the only one forgetting what they have blogged about.

I'm a huge fan of Oscar del Ben's blog FreestyleMind, and August saw one post that I really digged. How to Write Early in the Morning was particularly to the point because at that time I was in the middle of an early raiser trial. I didn't succeed completely, but I was blog writing when I got up, thus it was just the thing.

Oddly enough, I am a reader of Get Rich Slowly. Living outside of the US with a completely different financial system means that I am not interested in most of its posts, but some are good anyway, and this month saw one of these. Action Not Words: The Difference Between Talkers and Doers was an enlightening read. I have been suffering talk-itis for a long time, and from reading the article I came up with what could me my new mantra, "Be a doer, not a talker".

This month Write To Done featured a very interesting article, Why You Should Shoot Adverbs on Sight. This is a very important advice, coming also from the fantastic book On Writing Well, a book about writing I just love.

Goal Setting Secret – How to Achieve Any Goal is an interesting read from Think Simple Now, long enough to even keep me from summarising it. A set of tips, most pretty good (one is do it daily) to help you effectively achieve any goal.

Do you follow The Friendly Anarchist by Fabian Kruse? You should. Fabian writes pretty long posts (for our current world standards, they are 50% longer than mine, I think) really well, usually with very compelling content. This August he posted Time Independence: A Personal Decision. The first line of this post goes like 'Much of the anxiety in our modern societies comes from the feeling that there is not enough time.' and it only gets better. Change your frame on time management, on time anxiety, on decision making. You have the choice.

Dumb Little Man (also known as DLM) has two interesting posts for this month. In How to Find Enough Time to Do Everything You Want, guest writer Ali Hale (from Aliventures) gives a list of steps to free your schedule and start doing what matters. Five Surefire Ways to Strengthen Your Willpower (guest post by Marelisa Fábrega, from Abundance Blog) is a good addition to the previous post: once you are free to do what you want, start really doing it. Because the most important the task, the more we procrastinate on it (read my review of War of Art by Steven Pressfield...).

I kept on reading Ali Hale's posts in DLM, and then decided to subscribe to his blog, Aliventures. And August saw the posting of When Overwhelm Hits Hard, a post trying to reduce your stress levels. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, read it.

This titled caught me: How to complete your PhD (or any large project): Hard and soft deadlines, and the Martini Method. It came from Academic Productivity, something like a time management and productivity/self-improvement blog for academics. Very interesting (as it is similar to what I write here!).

I don't remember where I catched Discipline: Be the Machine, from a blog named Yield Thought. I guess it was either Reddit or Hacker News. But it was an interesting read on kicking your discipline, and it even has a picture of Paul Graham on it.

Productive Flourishing, Charlie Gilkey's blog has a great log of productivity advice. Coming out in August were Effectiveness Is All About Managing Your Time, Energy, and Attention and Are you at the helm or running around the ship?. The first collects some thoughts on effective time management, very important if you are not really tight focused on streamlining your schedule, and the second is a call to action to take reign of your life.

Jonathan Mead's Illuminated Mind also appeared in my RSS reader blog roll starting August and has one entry for this month (and more to come). In Are You All In?, Jonathan questions our use of language, from being partially to totally committed. Aim for the Moon, and hit it.

Matt Might has a wonderful blog with tips for PhD students and academics alike. This August he had 3 inspiring posts: 3 Qualities of Successful PhD Students (Psss: They are perseverance, tenacity and cogency), 6 Blog Tips for Busy Academics and The Illustrated Guide to a PhD. They are 3 really worthy reads if you are into research.

Programming, technology and related

As usual, Re: Factor has done some interesting stuff this month, if you enjoy stack based programming languages you should follow it. Among all his very interesting subjects, three posts caught my eye (and urge me to give up Forth and start Factor...). In Fat Arrows, some syntactic sugar (as the author defines it) is added to Factor to implement fat arrows, which indeed, are syntactic sugar. How they work? They are just a way to create 2-vectors without using the usual vector notation, thus a => b generates the 2-tuple {a b}. As usual with Forth related languages, adding syntactic sugar is painless and wonderful, more so in Factor, as this post shows. Calculator with GUI is completely descriptive: creating a simple calculator with a graphical user interface, in Factor. It is so easy I almost think it should be taught in schools! To end the month, Hello, Web! introduces the Factor web server, which incidentally powers all the Factor language homepage and related pages.

Another programming blog I follow, PhobosLab wrote a post about his entry in the JS1K contest (a contest for programs in JavaScript with less than 1K code), with a JavaScript syntax highlighter and quine (a program that outputs its own source code). Neat!

Citizen428.blog() is another programming blog with interesting and bizarre ideas (sometimes). This August I read there Re-wiring My Brain: APL and J and 30 Free Programming Ebooks. The first, a review of the APL programming language (J is a modern dialect of it), and the second is self descriptive. The selection is really good, covering a lot of different language paradigms.

Study Hacks is a blog... well, about Study Hacks. Getting the most out of your learning. And has a lot of interesting (and long!) content, this August specifically: Beyond the 10000 Hour Rule: Richard Hamming and The Messy Art of Becoming Great. In it the author discusses Richard Hamming's famous talk You and Your Research. He doesn't love it, I do.

I read a very interesting post (linked through Hacker News) in Dan's Data titled Next Stop: Clay Tablets about using QR-codes as data transmission systems. I think I'll print out the TeX sources of my thesis like this when I finish. It will look weird.

I am not sure how I found out Optimizing Your Wallet at Coding Horror (as it is a post from April), but it was a bizarre read. More so as my wallet looks suspiciously similar to Jeff's previous wallet.

Fire and Motion, from Joel On Software was enlightening. In it, Joel explains his workflow: there are times when he just can't do anything. And then one day, you start working, enter the flow and get a full load of s**t done. I've felt this way so many times...

Blogging tips

ProBlogger from Darren Rowse also has a share of the pie, as a blog publishing daily has more chances. The post, Guess What? Bloggers – You and Me – Are Publishers, and We Should Act Like It. (So Let’s Not Be Jerks when Someone Sends Us a Guest Post!) has still some touch to me, as in August 4th I submitted a guest post to a big blog (let's not say its full name... its acronym goes like DLM) and I am still waiting for some kind of answer. The post How to Make Your Blog Addictive Like World of Warcraft was very fun to read, and it gave pretty interesting insides in catching new readers. Finally, a good rant read has been Why Link Exchanges Are Like Mosquitoes. Go and read it, it is just a mix of rant and personal thoughts, but it is definitely interesting.

ViperChill is Glen Allsopp's blogging blog, and although I am not very fond of blogging blogs,The Most Effective Way to Increase RSS Subscribers was very good, I have to say.

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Written by Ruben Berenguel