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  • 2015.09.14Recommended Software
  • Tier 1 Concepts

    Learning: Just-in-time vs Just-in-case

    Can you just learn or reference some information when you need it? No need to memorize a math equation if you'll have time to access a reference sheet when a real problem needs solving.

    Conversely, do you need to learn something now so that you can start reaping its benefits or be prepared in time-sensitive situations? Learning the native language of the country that you live in is essential. Learning first aid could save your or someone else's life if you can react quickly with the right knowledge.

    Learning: Points and Transitions

    This is the easiest topic to start with, and perhaps the most broadly applicable. Simply put, you should be able to spot the difference between information that helps you keep reading and information that teaches you something new.

    Transitions give the reader a break and motivate them to continue: "Alright then. We're done with that chapter. Good work! If you understand what we've covered so far you'll do fine in the next topic, which will be about stir-fry cooking vegetables."

    Points explain discrete concepts and details: “To stir-fry vegetables, heat-up the wok, pour oil with aromatics and swirl, add vegetables and stir until crisp and brown, then turn off the heat and move the wok away from the stove. Sprinkle seasoning throughout the steps, and remember to add denser vegetables first.”

    If you know enough about a topic as you read about it, you should try speed reading through the transitions and skipping certain transitions and points entirely. No reason to take a break you don't need, or to relearn ideas you already know.

    Learning: Navigating Concepts and Details

    Admittedly, this topic is far more theoretical than points and transitions. That said, understanding concepts and details in the ladder of abstraction is instrumental for prioritizing information for long-term retention, differentiating discrete pieces of information, assembling mental models with ease, and much more.

    The simple explanation is that concepts are general, details are specific. Organize ideas into this spectrum to form a large ladder model that helps you generalize, specify, and combine ideas to greater effect. This is easy to understand, but takes effort to apply in practice.

    Let's go through an example. Start somewhere in the middle of the ladder with a word like speed. Climb up to motion then double-fall into meters per second. Go up again and sideways into acceleration then cross-link with "tools" to get to cars. Move down into engine oil and mix with "maintenance" on an upper level to fall into oil change about every 10,000 kilometres of driving.

    Try the following exercise and notice how the paragraph moves the reader around on their ladder: “Wok heat-up is normally done at max heat, and you can tell the wok is ready when a few drops of water evaporate in 3 seconds. Then, for vegetables, lower the stove temperature to medium-high like 245°C (475°F). Try using canola oil with garlic as the aromatic base. Light vegetable stir-fry should take less than 3 minutes. To stir-fry quickly and evenly, avoid overcrowding the wok with food.”

    Learning: Misc.

    A Primer on Learning

    It's common knowledge that people learn in different ways, depending on what they know now and how they're used to thinking about information. Less obvious but just as critical is that people expect a certain flow from educational resources.

    For instance, some readers want the points right away, while others like to see transitions that guide them through tight sections of content. Some might be looking for interesting concepts to assemble a new mental model, or simply searching for explicit instructions that they can follow in detail.

    Whatever your preferences, this guide hopes to provide you a brief, practical foundation with which you should be able to learn faster and deeper henceforth. Let's get to it.

    Short-Term vs Long-Term

    When you see a stop sign while driving, you are prompted to stop and examine your surroundings. You also learn that there is a stop sign at the intersection of A street and B street- but you don't need to remember that part. Some information is best used in the moment then forgotten. Conversely, some information like the meanings of common words and mathematical symbols are fundamental ideas to hold onto.

    Flow vs Reference

    If someone is new to an idea, they might need plenty of transitions to guide and clarify their learning-focused train of thought. On the other hand, if someone already understands the idea and just needs to access some just-in-time equations, values, and instructions, they will want to avoid distracting transitions.

    When producing an information resource, it's wise to consider which side- flow or reference- that readers will prefer, then customize the document to those needs accordingly.

    Creative vs Instructional

    Does the information arm you with a versatile concept? Or is it simply an explicit detail to be filled in somewhere? Often, you'll need to deduce creative ideas from instructional data. On a related note, the ability to climb up and down the creative-instructional spectrum is incredibly strong, as an overlapping parallel with idea-to-action.

    Dependent vs Independent

    The concept of a learning curve. Learn the basics first, then approach progressively harder ideas. Some ideas require a lot of supporting knowledge to understand, depending on how deep one wants to learn. Some ideas are intuitive and fundamental enough that they are easy to learn even at its deep levels.

    Latching onto Existing Knowledge

    If you want to teach someone something new, especially about a field they've never been exposed to, you not only want to start with the basic building blocks but also make as many connections as you can with what they already know.

    Skills and Mastery

    In the end, we love to learn new ideas and information in order to gain, train, and master new skills; skills to apply in real life and propel one's projects, aspirations, and career trajectory. In this pursuit, be sure to distinguish the different sub-types that skills contain in general:

    Logic: manipulate abstract ideas, correlating relationships, and interweaving patterns to make sense of complex situations and design working systems. Gravity pulls objects toward each other based on their mass. The larger the mass of an object, the larger the gravitational force it exerts other objects.

    Mapping: label the abstract and connect things together. Ideas transform into words and words connect to nearby items. 1 minute contains 60 seconds. The "Esc" key on a keyboard will apply an "escape" or "exit" function to the computer.

    Code, Programming Languages

    Code is normal text with special grammar and characters. This text is arranged in a particular way so that a computer can understand.

    The computer can interpret code in different ways as it is read, such as what to do with whitespace and common symbols like the semi-colon. Different interpretation methods are coded into computer languages. The computer always uses some programming language to read code, in order to derive the intended meaning from the code.

    Software: Servers

    Physical servers are like normal computers. They have a motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM), power supply unit (PSU), and a metal frame with fans to contain and cool all the components under a good operating temperature. When an entire physical server is being rented or used by a single owner/buyer, that server is called a dedicated server.

    Virtual servers refer to an operating system that is running within virtualization software. Normally, a single-user computer allocates its physical hardware directly to the operating system. However, a physical server can support multiple operating systems at the same time by running virtualization software that distributes the processing and memory capacity of the hardware. Depending on the virtualization software and settings, these virtual servers may either loosely share the use of physical components (virtual shared servers), or be allocated partial private use of the physical components (virtual private servers).

    Servers are ambiguously referred to as web servers, application servers, database servers, api servers, and the like. For example, a web server can refer to software, such as Apache, that enables a dedicated/virtual server to publicly host a website. A web server could also mean the dedicated/virtual server itself that is running web-handling software. Notice the ambiguity between the server itself and the server software. The meaning of "server" has become ambiguous because you can run multiple server software on the same dedicated/virtual server, and multiple virtual servers on the same physical server.

    Overall, understand physical servers then distinguish dedicated/virtual shared/virtual private servers from server software.

    Software: Command Line

    Anything that the computer does can be described in a long line of code. The command line is a place where a user may enter text commands to order the computer to do certain actions.

    Software: Users, User Groups, File Permissions

    An operating system contains users to handle access control for files and directories. A user always has a name and may have a password. Different users can be assigned different file privileges.

    Users can be added to a user group. A single user may be a member of multiple user groups. User groups make it easier to assign and modify common file permissions to several users at once.

    File/directory access control is determined by different permissions assigned to different permission levels. A file has 3 permission levels: owner (1 assigned user), group (1 assigned user group), and world (all users of the operating system). For a given file, each permission level may allow read (read the text/code/data in the file), write (modify the text/code/data in the file), and/or execute (make the computer run the code in the file).

    Software: Special File Permissions

    Special permission sticky bit: Applied to a directory. In a sticky directory, only the root user or owner of a file may rename or remove an existing file. Helpful for preventing accidental deletion of critical files.

    Special permission set group id: Applied to a file. When a user executes the file, the code is run as the file's group thereby gaining that user group's privileges.

    Special permission set user id: Applied to a file. When a user executes the file, the code is run as the file's owner thereby gaining that user's privileges.

    Guides, Tutorials

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  • 2015.03.27Crash Course to Photography (PDF)
  • 2015.04.23Effective Crowdfunding (Infographic)
  • 2014.11.13UI Design (Article by Erik D. Kennedy)
  • Instructions, Examples, Reference

    High ROI Purchases with High/Lifetime Durability

    Utility Knife: Easy recommendation. Get the Stanley Classic 99. Full-metal construction, retractable blade for safety, in-frame blade storage, 1-screw disassembly.

    Scissors: Also easy. Get the Tweezerman Stainless 2000. Full stainless steel construction, retightenable fulcrum screw, 2-piece frame, precision-sharp blades.

    Screwdriver: Picquic Multi-bit Standard-size. Single frame that doubles as a convenient bit holder, magnetic bit mount, high-torque grip-handle.


    Top Distributors for Hardware Start-ups

    For general industrial parts and commodities, Mcmaster-Carr is known for industry-leading navigation on their website. The convenience is extremely valuble. For shipping supplies, ULINE packs a good interface as well. These distributors are a bit pricier than local and other alternatives but they make up for it in convenience. For bulk purchases, seek other sources for hefty savings.

    Large electrical part distributors around the world include Mouser, Digikey, Avnet, Arrow, Newark, and Future.

    As for virtual private server hosting providers, Amazon Web Services and Digital Ocean are well known.