Archive of posts with tag 'video'

How Shellac is Made

April 18, 2024 • #

I’m in the process of building some cabinets, and yesterday I was working on the drawers. I decided to use shellac as the finish for the drawer interiors. Never used it before, but heard that it applies easy, cures fast, and is generally more pleasant to work with than harsh chemical urethanes. It has the consistency and properties of other synthetic resins, but is totally organic — actually secreted naturally by the lac bug.

Shellac sharts

How it’s made is a marvel of human discovery, tinkering, and problem-solving, and also nature’s incredibly weird...

Madvillainy's Secret Ingredient

October 27, 2023 • #

Brandon from Digging the Greats breaks down Madlib and MF DOOM’s epic collaboration:

I remember in this extended interview with MF DOOM him talking about the lackadaisical approach to making the record. Madlib would make a beat upstairs, give it to DOOM, and he’d spend time separately writing and recording vocals. Slowly and gradually building up a catalog of ridiculously inventive music.

Nick Pedulla's Roubo Workbench

October 23, 2023 • #

The novelty, design, craftsmanship, execution, cinematography, all unmatched. Absolutely incredible work.

He took a centuries-old, classic bench design and added function to support his specific workflow needs.

I have incredible respect for populating your workspace with beautiful, functional things. If it makes you enjoy the work, you’re more likely to do it, and more likely to push yourself to higher standards.

Interview with Richard Rhodes, on the Making of the Atomic Bomb

May 23, 2023 • #

This is a phenomenal interview with Richard Rhodes, author of the legendary The Making of the Atomic Bomb, an expansive history of the Manhattan Project and the development of nuclear weapons technology.

Dwarkesh Shah’s show The Lunar Society is generally excellent and highly recommended. Just listen to how long he lets Rhodes answer and expound on questions without interruption. These are my favorite types of long-form interviews.

Patrick Collison and Sam Altman at Sohn 2023

May 10, 2023 • #

An interesting discussion between Patrick Collison and OpenAI founder Sam Altman on a predictably fascinating assortment of subjects. AI developments, stagnation, long-term bets, and what’s preventing us from having more founders.

The Invisible Barrier Keeping Two Worlds Apart

May 8, 2023 • #

This is a fascinating video on the Wallace Line, which separates to biogeographic regions:

The wildlife on each side differ tremendously from one another, even the line cuts through straits that aren’t wide at all.

Naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (a contemporary of Darwin), noticed the distinction and defined the line. But what we now know is that he discovered the effects of plate tectonics decades before the theory was formalized.

So it’s not that different species mysteriously won’t cross the line — it’s that the separated landmasses with...

Starship Flight Test

April 20, 2023 • #

It’s amazing we get to watch these on livestreams. SpaceX willing to expose its R&D process and high-risk work to the world in real-time. The world definitely needs more companies taking big risks and pushing forward.

Starship Mission to Mars

April 14, 2023 • #

Beautiful and inspiring stuff from SpaceX:

A convincing case for Elon to put his focus all-in on SpaceX, and not 6 other ventures at once.

37signals Live Design Review

March 22, 2023 • #

This is an interesting look into how an effective team works through the weeds of a product design review. I love how it shows the warts and complexities of even seemingly-simple flow of sending a batch email in an email client. So many little forking paths and specific details need direct thinking to shape a product that works well.

Devon Zuegel on Inflation, Argentina, and Crypto

October 19, 2022 • #

Argentina has become infamous for its decades-long struggles with inflation and economic instability. For an otherwise fairly well-off nation, it’s surprising to outsiders how deep the problem on this has been.

In this episode of EconTalk, Devon Zuegel talks about an article she wrote on this topic, after spending time there and investigating the problems for herself. What’s most surprising about all this is how pervasive a problem it is. Inflation touches everyone; everyone is hyper-aware of money issues and constantly thinking about...

The Spread of Writing

October 12, 2022 • #

The spread of written language around the world, from Egyptian hieroglyphics to today.

Chris Spiek and Ryan Singer on Shape Up

September 28, 2022 • #

Reading Ryan Singer’s Shape Up a few years ago was formative (or re-formative, or something) in my thinking on how product development can and should work. After that it was a rabbit hole on jobs-to-be-done, Bob Moesta’s Demand-Side Sales, demand thinking, and more.

Since he wrote the book in 2019, he talks about 2 new concepts that extend Shape Up a little further: the role of the “technical shaper”...

Steve Jobs on Ideas vs. Products

September 19, 2022 • #

A lot of Steve Jobs content is hagiography at this point, but this clip is fantastic:

There’s an enormous delta between idea and execution. Someone can take a great idea and squander it. Or conversely, someone could take a middling and obvious idea and execute so well they build a billion dollar business. From the first part of the clip:

One of the things that really hurt Apple was after I left John Sculley got a very serious disease. And that disease, I’ve seen other people get it, too,...

Tools and Craft with Andy Matuschak

May 13, 2022 • #

The latest episode of Notion’s Tools & Craft podcast features the excellent Andy Matuschak, talking about his research, productivity practices, and more.

Also check out Andy’s work on smoothly-ratcheting goal tracking and mastery learning.

My Analog Journal’s Jazz from Japan

May 9, 2022 • #

This is a new genre for me, but one I’ve gone deep on in the past week: Japanese jazz and soul. Like always with YouTube, the rabbit hole is deep (and rewarding!).

This guy is a YouTube DJ that picks a genre and a geography, and digs crates., or does so virtually. He has a video on his process.

Making Cast Iron

July 27, 2021 • #

I’m a sucker for a How It’s Made episode, and this tour of the Lodge factory combines that with my Food YouTube-watching obsession.

What’s amazing here is to see the reuse at work, and how few inputs are required to go from raw materials to kitchen cookware. Scrap metal, pig iron, sand, and heat come together to make products that can last generations if cared for properly. Some of the most useful tools out there are some of the simplest. In an age when we have infinite gadgets to do...

Constitution of Knowledge

June 22, 2021 • #

Jonathan Rauch’s latest book The Constitution of Knowledge just dropped, which sounds sort of like a sequel, or at least a redux of his classic Kindly Inquisitors.

Brookings held a panel on his book’s release with historian Anne Applebaum and novelist Neal Stephenson (yes, that Neal Stephenson). In Constitution he follows up his ideas on liberal science and free speech with further work on institutional decay, social coercion, and disinformation.


DeFi Explainers

May 4, 2021 • #

I’ve gone over off the deep end the last couple weeks trying to wrap my head around DeFi. To date I’ve only dabbled in crypto, being lucky enough to ride some small waves, though nothing life-changing.

DeFi (decentralized finance) is fascinating for its disruption potential (and Ethereum platform on which it’s all built). A basic understanding of the conceptual possibilities shows this stuff is here to stay, even if not in the same form or as loud as meme-ish as it’s been over the past year.

Through Twitter I discovered a channel called Finematics that has a ton of great...

Hammock-Driven Creativity

March 2, 2021 • #

Here’s Rich Hickey (creator of Clojure) on the benefits of stepping away from the computer, in his talk on “hammock-driven development”:

He differentiates what the “waking” mind and “background” mind are good at, which I’d interchangeably refer to as the “at the desk” mind and the “away from the computer” mind:

  • Waking mind:
    • Good at critical thinking; analysis, tactics
    • Prone to finding local maxima
    • Can feed work to the background mind
  • Background mind:
    • Good at making...

Intro to Areography

February 7, 2021 • #

The resemblance between Martian and Terran topography is amazing. Mars has volcanism, plains, valleys, and hard evidence of water formerly everywhere.

Great shots here with renderings of Martian topography.

The Forest Cube

November 2, 2020 • #

There’s a YouTube channel I linked a couple months back called “Modern Self Reliance” where a group of guys built an off-grid cabin. In a new series, they’re adding a neighboring cabin in the form of an 8’x8’x8’ cube, for others to hang out on the property. It’s an excellent series so far. I love how they harvest materials from the property itself (like the cabin’s cedar posts) or salvage things from past projects to do the builds. Looks like a ton of fun.

Part 1:

Part 2:

The 1980s Dream of a Free and Borderless Virtual World

October 15, 2020 • #

Reason Magazine has put together a 4-part documentary series on the cypherpunk movement, the early-90s collective of hobbyist computer enthusiasts that believed in an open and free internet. Their philosophies influenced cryptography, bitcoin, and BitTorrent.

This is part 1, a well-produced piece on an important phase of internet history.

Clyde Stubblefield

October 7, 2020 • #

A Slack chat this morning led to a discussion of Funky Drummer and how often its been sampled. I ran across this good clip of the player himself, drummer Clyde Stubblefield, who played with James Brown’s band during the late-60s. He improvised the famous break that’s been used in dozens of popular tracks in hip-hop history.

Project Natick

September 21, 2020 • #

Microsoft’s Project Natick is exploring the feasibility of underwater datacenters. They sunk a container with 864 servers off the coast of the Orkney Islands.

So far they’ve seen reliability numbers that best the same configuration of servers on land in a standard datacenter, which is amazing for an airtight chamber untouched physically for months.

Pogačar's Climb

September 20, 2020 • #

You don’t have to be an avid cycling fan to be impressed with Tadej Pogačar’s incredible time trial on stage 20 of this year’s Tour de France. He bested the 2nd and 3rd place riders by a full minute, 1:21 better than 150 other riders. Absolutely unbelievable.

His countryman Primož Roglič (a heavy favorite for the overall weeks before the Tour) had nearly a minute on him in the yellow jersey, going into a long TT ending with a climbing finish on La Planche de Belles Filles.

I just wonder...

Off Grid Cabin

September 18, 2020 • #

I fell into a rabbit hole of videos from these guys and their off-grid cabin in the woods. This one gives you a time-lapse of the project from start to finish, with no narration.

In COVID times, there’s something very appealing about having an escape like this, and a piece of land to roam around on.

Tiago Learns Roam

September 2, 2020 • #

Tiago Forte and Conor White-Sullivan call a truce in the Twitter knowledge management feud.

Talk Notes: Spolsky on Pluralism

August 19, 2020 • #

One of my favorite evening activities is watching talks, interviews, and presentations on YouTube. I often take notes on these for myself, so this is an experiment in brushing up those notes and sharing them publicly.

In this 2016 talk, Joel Spolsky presented this talk called “The History of Management” as an internal training session at StackOverflow. Corporate structure dynamics are fascinating. Groups of people have developed new and more effective ways of cooperating throughout history. We started out organizing ourselves in kinship-based tribal groups with spiritual myth-making to rationalize decisions, and have...

Digital Organization with Roam Research

July 24, 2020 • #

YouTube creator Ali Abdaal put together a great extended overview video on Roam. Good examples of the core features of the product, and interesting techniques for how to organize notes.

The Best of The Blue Train: 2001 L'Alpe d'Huez

July 19, 2020 • #

With this year’s Tour de France delayed (as of now, til late August), the guys from The Move have been going over some of the best stages from the US Postal years. It’s a cool format, sort of like a commentary track over the exciting parts of the climbs and pursuits.

I especially enjoy the commentary from Johan Bruyneel, who was the team director at the time. The insider commentary on strategy is neat — hard to appreciate as a TV viewer of cycling.

Weekend Reading: Quarantine Talks

July 11, 2020 • #

🛠 Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Progress

Joel Mokyr’s talk on the most recent session of The Torch of Progress series.

🧠 How to Be a Neo-Cartesian Cyborg

A recent talk from Maggie Appleton on the “building a second brain” concept.

👋🏼 Take a Tour of HEY

Great example of how to do a product demo. Informal style, clearly prepared but not “scripted,” and deep care and attention to the product.

Wood Whisperer

July 6, 2020 • #

I’m a sucker for YouTube content of makers and craftsmen at work. I’ve posted before about channels like Black Beard Projects restoring old shop tools, and recently Kenji Lopez-Alt’s first-person cooking show.

I grew up doing watching my grandfather’s carpentry in his wood shop, and did many projects over the years tinkering around with my dad and brothers at home. It’s been something I’ve always had ideas about doing again, whenever I can create the space for small projects.

But during quarantine times, Marc Spagnuolo’s Wood Whisperer channel is a...

Kenji's First Person Cooking

June 19, 2020 • #

The Torch of Progress with Tyler Cowen

June 11, 2020 • #

This is the second episode of the “Torch of Progress” series that the Progress Studies for Young Scholars program is putting on, hosted by Jason Crawford. Tyler Cowen is unbelievably prolific in projects he’s got going on, so it’s great to see him making the time for things like this.

Read more here from last year on the progress studies movement.

War, Revolution, Socialism

June 7, 2020 • #

I linked a couple weeks ago to Stephen Kotkin’s discussion with Lex Fridman. That was so interesting to me I went out looking for other interviews and lectures of his on YouTube and found this great one from Dartmouth in 2017, the centennial of of the Russian Revolution.

Excellent top comment on YouTube:

The Joe Pesci of historians!


May 26, 2020 • #

The new medium in COVID times for musicians is the live session on Zoom. This is a fun one from Seatbelts, playing their theme song from the 90s anime Cowboy Bebop.

Stalin, Putin, and the Nature of Power

May 25, 2020 • #

Stephen Kotkin is a historian that has studied and written mostly about Soviet history and Josef Stalin. This was an excellent interview with him by Lex Fridman — Lex asks simple, broad questions and let’s Kotkin go deep.

Kotkin is incredibly articulate here. I would love to get to a depth of knowledge on a subject to be able to speak uninterrupted about it for an hour and a half.

The Revolt of the Public in 10 Minutes

May 20, 2020 • #

Author Martin Gurri posted this quick 10 minute summary of his book The Revolt of the Public. It was one of my favorite recent reads, and in this video he does an excellent job summarizing his key diagnosis of what’s behind the degradation of authority from institutions and dissolution of public trust in them.

His insights connect information dissemination, institutions, and authority — the public expects unrealistic levels of service and expertise from institutions, while institutions also promise far more than they’re capable of delivering....

Live Writing with Jason Fried

May 8, 2020 • #

A couple of years back, Jason Fried recorded this video of his writing process for drafting an article:

I like seeing the behind-the-scenes of how others work.

Sönke Ahrens on How to Take Smart Notes

May 3, 2020 • #

I’m currently reading his book How to Take Smart Notes, which is based on, and talks a lot about sociologist Niklas Luhmann’s Zettelkasten system.

Roam I and Roam E

April 24, 2020 • #

A neat concept demo from Dhrumil Shah showing possible enhancements for Roam Research. He calls them “Roam-I” and “Roam-E”:

  • Roam-I — for reusing old knowledge
  • Roam-E — collaboration

Most of this is user interface on top of the core technology that underpins how Roam works, but it’s great to see people so passionate about this that they’ll spend this much time prototyping ideas on products they use.

The Pseudonymous Economy

April 19, 2020 • #

In this talk, Balaji Srinivasan lays out a number of places where pseudonymity is decentralizing identity on the internet. Pseudonymity is distinguished from anonymity through maintenance of a sense of accountability and reputation associated with the entity.

David Deutsch on Brexit and Error Correction

April 3, 2020 • #

I ran across this interview with physicist David Deutsch, with his thoughts on Brexit. A lot of great stuff here on resilience, error correction, individualism vs. collectivism, Karl Popper, and Britain’s first-past-the-post system.

Bill Gates on Coronavirus

March 29, 2020 • #

A solid interview with Bill Gates with his thoughts on the COVID response. There aren’t many folks outside of the medical field more versed in this topic based on empirical experience than Gates. Interesting to hear his take.

Funky 4 + 1, 1980

March 23, 2020 • #

Rare footage of the Funky 4 + 1 from a 1980 show. Great quality for something of that era, particularly a live show.

The UNIX System

March 5, 2020 • #

Today on the nerdy computer history feed, we’ve got a 1982 video from Bell Labs: The UNIX System: Making Computers More Productive.

Most of the video has Brian Kernighan explaining the structure of UNIX and why it’s different from its contemporary operating systems. I should do more work with the keyboard in my lap and my feet on the desk.

Navigating a Linux shell looks almost identical to this today, 50 years later.

I liked this quote John Mashey, a computer scientist who...

The 5 Revolutions in Cancer Treatment

March 2, 2020 • #

This talk from Jonathan Lim gives a good overview of how the newest treatments for cancer work — radiation/chemo, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and ecDNA.

I wrote about my experience with immunotherapy and how it’s different in The Infinity Machine a couple months ago, but this video gives a good animated visual example of how it works.

Weekend Reading: Figma's Typography, Xerox Alto, and a Timeline of CoVID

February 29, 2020 • #

⌨️ I Pressed ⌘B, You Wouldn’t Believe What Happened Next

An entertaining talk about the complexity of typography, from Marcin Wichary at Figma’s recent Config conference.

🖥 Restoring Y Combinator’s Xerox Alto

An technical piece on restoring Alan Kay’s Xerox Alto he donated to Y Combinator. Amazing piece of technology history, and inspired so many future developments in computing — graphical user interfaces, WYSIWIG text editing, bitmapped graphics, the mouse, and Ethernet for connectivity.

Xerox built about 2000 Altos...

Inventing on Principle

February 19, 2020 • #

I refreshed myself this evening on Bret Victor’s amazing talk from 2012, “Inventing on Principle.”

He’s been working on and promoting his ideas on interactive, responsive tools for creativity are still ahead of their time. We’re gradually getting major improvements with products like Observable, but there still aren’t that many out there. Check out his current work at Dynamicland, a research group working on new interactive tools.

Innovator's Dilemma in Video

February 13, 2020 • #

I was looking around for a summary of Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma and ran across this neat YouTube channel that does book summaries in visual form, with drawings representing the concepts in the book.

It’s a cool way of getting a different presentation of subject matter, especially of nonfiction and business books.

The Tech History Playlist

February 5, 2020 • #

As I’ve been reading more into the history of technology1, specifically computers and the Internet, I’ll go on side trails through Wikipedia or the wider ‘net back to many of the source papers that were the seeds of certain innovations.

I’ve read about the IBM 700 series of mainframes, Vannevar Bush’s seminal piece on a “memex” device (precursor idea to hypertext), and Claude Shannon’s original work on information theory.

The latest gold mine I’ve found is on YouTube. I created...


January 31, 2020 • #

Last night we watched Sam Mendes’s 1917, his latest, a war film set during that year during the First World War. The entire thing is shot to look like a single take following two soldiers attempting to deliver a message to another battalion across no man’s land. It’s the most gripping film I’ve seen since Dunkirk (one of my all-time favorites).

This mini-documentary shows some behind the scenes of how they shot the long takes that they stitched together for the final result.

Dissolving Realities

January 30, 2020 • #

What a cool idea for a new type of “photography”, if you could call it that.

This combines 3D photos, photogrammetry, point clouds, and Unity rendering to fly through the streets of Hanoi.

Daniel Kahneman on AI Podcast

January 21, 2020 • #

I don’t know what Lex Fridman is doing to recruit the guests he gets on his show (The Artificial Intelligence Podcast), but it’s one of the best technical podcasts out there.

This one is a good introduction to the work of legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman (of Thinking, Fast and Slow fame).

Some Reflections on Early History by J.C.R. Licklider

January 17, 2020 • #

I’m currently reading the fantastic book The Dream Machine, a history of the creation of personal computers, and a biography of this man, JCR Licklider. This is a talk from an ACM conference in 1986 where he discusses his work on interactive computing. A wonderful little bit of history here.

Wernher von Braun and the Moon Landing

January 13, 2020 • #

This is a neat clip from Walt Disney’s Disneyland TV series. Wernher von Braun explains the future technology that’ll take us to the Moon, in 1955, several years before the Mercury program even began.

The Magic of Hong Kong

January 10, 2020 • #

This footage really makes Hong Kong feel like it’s from the future:

Microgravity Will Change How We Make Everything

December 4, 2019 • #

Bloomberg has been publishing this video series on future technologies called “Giant Leap.” It’s well-done and a nice use of YouTube as a medium.

This one explores a number of new companies doing R&D in microgravity manufacturing — from biological organ “printing” to creation of high-quality fiber optic materials. There are still some challenges ahead to unlock growth of space as a manufacturing environment, but it feels like we’re on the cusp of a new platform for industrial growth in the near future.


The Mother of All Demos

November 24, 2019 • #

One of the great things about YouTube is being able to find gems of history like Doug Engelbart’s “Mother of All Demos” presentation from 1968. How amazing it must’ve been to see something like this live, 50 years ago:

The live demonstration featured the introduction of a complete computer hardware and software system called the oN-Line System or, more commonly, NLS. The 90-minute presentation essentially demonstrated almost all the fundamental elements of modern personal computing: windows, hypertext, graphics, efficient navigation and command input, video conferencing, the computer mouse, word processing, dynamic file linking, revision...

A Network of Science

November 22, 2019 • #

A beautiful visualization project from Nature converts 150 years of scientific papers into a 3-dimensional network diagram, making concrete the network of citations and references linking together the history of discoveries.

Checking In On Tool Restoration YouTube

November 13, 2019 • #

I’ve been home the past couple days to attend to some projects — getting an aluminum patio cover installed and having shutters put in on most of the windows. My time’s been occupied by holiday season preparation, general housecleaning, and shuttling the kids to their activities. In the downtime I’ve dropped back into a few of my favorite tool restoration YouTube channels to see what’s new.

I watched this great new one from Black Beard Projects where he restores a 1950s-era bench grinder. Degreaser, paint stripper, electrolysis, and a load of elbow grease convert this thing back into a fully...

Mount Rainier Timelapse

November 10, 2019 • #

Mesmerizing shots of Mount Rainier. The timelapses with the night-time starfield are gorgeous.

The History of Steel

October 10, 2019 • #

Since I’ve been following the progress studies movement and Jason Crawford’s Roots of Progress blog, it was cool to see video of his talk on the history of steel from a San Francisco meetup a few weeks ago.

4 Amazing Things About Language

September 25, 2019 • #

Dialect expert Erik Singer is back with a short video on some fascinating features of language:

I find anything about language or linguistics immensely fascinating. It’s amazing the way humans so naturally develop the ability to convert random noise into patterns for communication by age 3.

In this video he talks about the Great Vowel Shift, a slow wandering of the pronunciation of English over the past few hundred years. Now stretch this back a thousand more years and think about how many different languages...

Russ Roberts on Key Economic Concepts for Founders

September 12, 2019 • #

This is a good interview with a great interviewer, Russ Roberts of EconTalk. His is probably my favorite podcast — if I only listen to 1 episode a week, it’s the latest EconTalk.

On Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, the topics he covers on EconTalk, and economic concepts that are valuable to tech founders.

Adobe Wall Hut

September 8, 2019 • #

Another fun one from the Primitive Technology channel. I previously linked to his videos a few months back. This time he builds a stacked brick wall around a new thatched hut out of clay bricks. The patience and craftsmanship required to build the things he does is truly admirable.

I think we’d all be mentally healthier if we spent more time disconnecting and creating things. If only I had the Queensland jungle in my backyard!

Kind of Blue 60th Anniversary

September 4, 2019 • #

This year is the 60th anniversary of Miles Davis’s legendary Kind of Blue.

This video is a great explainer of the origins of Kind of Blue’s modal jazz style and the history behind how the group came together to make it happen.

I have no idea how many hundreds of times I’ve listened to this album over the years, but it’s still in the frequent rotation to put on whenever I can’t think of anything else. A default soundtrack for working or...

Steve Jobs in 1981

August 23, 2019 • #

I saw this Nightline interview clip with Steve Jobs from a recent Steven Sinofsky post.

In this clip is his famous “bicycle for the mind” quote about the personal computer.

This is a 21st century bicycle that amplifies a certain intellectual ability that man has. And I think that after this process has come to maturity, the effects that it’s going to have on society are going to far outstrip even those of the petrochemical revolution has had.

Hard to believe...

Growth, Sales, and a New Era of B2B

August 12, 2019 • #

This talk from a16z’s Martin Casado covers how the market for B2B SaaS go-to-market is changing from sales-driven to a marketing-driven. We’ve been thinking a lot about this lately in the context of Fulcrum — how the “consumerization of IT” plays into how business users today are finding, evaluating, purchasing, and expanding their usage of software.

As he describes in the talk, consumer business tend toward a marketing-led GTM, and enterprise ones toward a sales-led GTM....

Cairo to Cape Town on a Bike

July 30, 2019 • #

Endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont is best known for his “around the world in 80 days” ride starting in Paris and crossing 3 continents in 78 days, putting him in the Guinness Book for the accomplishment.

A few years back he did this ride from Cairo to Cape Town across Africa — 41 days, 6,762 miles, 190K feet of climbing, 160 miles per day. To me it’s as stunning in itself as the around the world ride. Some of the shots in this video of him traversing the Sahara through Sudan...

The Bacteria Light of the Future

July 25, 2019 • #

A French startup company called Glowee is working on being able to produce light using bioluminescence:

Glowee reinvents light production with technology nature has already created to make lighting more sustainable and healthier for both humans and the environment. Having identified the genetic coding that creates bioluminescence, Glowee inserts this code into common, non-toxic, and non-pathogenic bacteria to produce clean, safe, synthetic bioluminescence. Once engineered and grown, the bacteria are encapsulated into a transparent shell, alongside a medium composed of the nutrients they need to live and make light. This lighting solution can indefinitely and...


July 17, 2019 • #

Yesterday was Neuralink’s unveiling of what they’ve been working on. Their team of engineers, neurosurgeons, and computer science experts are working on a “neural lace” brain-computer interface.

Elon Musk announced the launch of a company to work on this problem back in 2016. Seeing this amount of progress, it’s clear now that the science fiction story of a cybernetic implant looks like a possible near future reality. The idea itself conjures images of Neuromancer’s console cowboys and Effinger’s “moddies”, neural augmentations that...

Watch Karl Friston Explain Free Energy

June 28, 2019 • #

Neuroscientist Karl Friston is the world’s leading authority on brain imaging science and on the forefront of our understanding of how brains actually work. He’s the creator of the free energy principle, an idea that attempts to unify an organizing framework for what drives all life: minimizing free energy.

See also this excellent profile of Friston in Wired from late last year.

Interview with Naval Ravikant

June 11, 2019 • #

Naval’s thoughtful, measured perspective on most issues I find insightful and novel in a sea of people with hot takes and commentary around political issues in the zeitgeist. He’s got an interesting “long view” on a range of things from automation to economics to thinking and more.

There is a cult of personality around him, especially on Twitter, that seems to think he’s a “philosopher king” of the internet. While that position is wildly overblown, he does have unique and unconventional point of view that’s refreshing. Worth...

Primitive Technology

June 6, 2019 • #

I just ran across this YouTube channel called Primitive Technology, created by an Australian from the North Queensland bush country who attempts to recreate building things with Stone Age technology. He makes his own charcoal, fires clay hardware, makes tools, and supplies himself with mud, clay, wood, and everything else right out of the local environment.

Each one is silent with the work speaking for itself. Turn on captions to see embedded explainers talking about what he’s doing. An easy YouTube rabbit hole.

Liverpool's Comeback

May 8, 2019 • #

I didn’t get to watch the match live yesterday, but Liverpool’s 4-0 trouncing of Barcelona at Anfield in the second leg of the Champions League semi might be the biggest (most improbable) win I’ve seen. Goals from Origi at 7’ and 79’, Wijnaldum at 54’ and 56’, and a nerve-rattling final 10 minutes put the Reds over the top:

Coincidentally I ran across this piece from Ryan O’Hanlon earlier in the day that broke down Liverpool’s odds of a win thusly:

Liverpool, almost definitely, will...

The Deadly Logistics of Everest

May 3, 2019 • #

Earlier this week I finished reading Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, his account of climbing Mount Everest and surviving the 1996 Everest disaster. The book reads like a thriller, giving the account of how an expedition team prepares for the climb, including the experience in country beforehand and acclimatization process for weeks leading up to the climb.

While reading it, I found myself wishing I had the visual aid of maps of the route, photos of the camps,...

Clippy: The Unauthorized Biography

April 28, 2019 • #

One of my favorite tech figures, a16z’s Steven Sinofsky, gives a history of “Clippy”, the helpful anthropomorphic office supply from Microsoft Office. As the product leader of the Office group in the 90s, he gives some interesting background to how Clippy came to be. I found most fascinating the time machine look back at what personal computing was like back then — how different it was to develop a software product in a world of boxed software.

Everyone makes fun...

2,650' Rappel off El Capitan

April 12, 2019 • #

If you need your daily dose of palm sweating, check out this clip of a climber rappeling down nearly the entire height of El Capital in one motion. Free dangling by 1500’ of rope 50 feet from the wall is just terrifying. But man is that view of Yosemite Valley from that vantage point a thing of beauty.

Product is Hard

April 5, 2019 • #

I linked a couple weeks ago to a piece from Marty Cagan. That led me to this talk that covers a lot of his thoughts on approaching product issues. Wide ranging and thought provoking stuff for product managers.

David Foster Wallace Interview with Charlie Rose

March 17, 2019 • #

I’m currently reading David Foster Wallace’s collection of essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, so I went back to look at some interview clips with him on his nonfiction writing. This one with Charlie Rose was excellent — I could listen to his thoughts on any subject, for hours:

Clearly a tormented guy, but his brain was on another level separate from the rest of us.

Intuition, Expertise, and Learning

March 13, 2019 • #

The legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking, Fast and Slow in his wheelhouse, talking about human biases, decision making, and signal vs. noise.

Adam Silver at the MIT Sloan Conference

March 10, 2019 • #

A fantastic one-on-one conversation between NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Bill Simmons from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference:

Adam Silver is one of the most thoughtful, enthusiastic, and interesting guys in sports leadership. He clearly cares immensely about promoting the health of the league and players. This conversation ranges through mental health, NBA trade deadlines, G League, tampering, and more.

At least 3 or 4 times he references European soccer features as having potential in the NBA — relegation (a long shot), player academies,...

How Google Sets Goals

March 8, 2019 • #

I’ve been thinking and reading more about OKRs and how I might be able to implement them effectively — both professionally and personally. The idea of having clearly defined goals over bounded timelines is something we could all use to better manage time, especially in abstract “knowledge work” where it’s hard to see the actual work product of a day or a week’s activity.

This is an old workshop put on by GV’s Rick Klau. He does a good job giving a bird’s eye view of how to set OKRs and...

How Investors Think About Ideas

March 4, 2019 • #

A good overview from YC’s Kevin Hale on how to break down startup ideas:

The “solution looking for a problem” trap is all too easy to fall into, and to justify your way out of even if you fall prey to it. I love the approach here of starting with the end goal ($100M ARR) and backing into what the market size and price point would need to be to hit that target. So simple, but most of us don’t approach...

Keith Rabois on This Week in Startups

February 20, 2019 • #

When I first heard about his company Opendoor (a real estate startup with the goal of creating faster liquidity for home sellers), I started following Keith Rabois. His Twitter account is a good follow.

This discussion covered topics as diverse as his political views, his original ideas for his companies, and investing principles.

A Live Experiment in Disassembling a Map

February 7, 2019 • #

This was a cool idea from cartographer Daniel Huffman. He live-streamed a walkthrough taking apart one of his map projects in Illustrator to see how he puts it all together.

I love this idea and am excited to see him do more like this down the road.

Peter Attia and Zubin Damania Conversation

January 23, 2019 • #

I’ve listened to a few of Peter Attia’s The Drive podcast episodes. This one was a stand-out conversation between him and Dr. Zubin Damania. It’s a wide-ranging discussion about the health care system, diet, creativity, and meditation (among other things).

I’ve spent a lot of time right in the thick of the health care system the last couple of years (thankfully with a good experience). Insightful thoughts on what’s wrong inside that ecosystem that ring true from first-hand exposure.

Aerial Video for Geography Nerds

January 21, 2019 • #

I’ve discovered a phenomenon on YouTube of these types of videos — long many-hour clips of calm scenery or environments for the purposes of relaxation or background ambience.

Like I said in a post about cycling a few posts ago, these aerial views are incredibly pleasing to watch and nerd out over the topography and landscapes they’re flying over. The clip above contains footage over Croatia, but isn’t specific about where. I did some searching around on the web and Google Earth...

The Earth in 8K

January 17, 2019 • #

Mesmerizing, hypnotic video shot in 8K pointed straight down from an airplane. It looks like these were originally shot for Apple to use as their “Aerial” screensaver seen on Apple TV.

I could leave this on a loop in my office all day.

The History of the World on One Map

January 14, 2019 • #

Every year since the pre-Stone Age area, visualized as a time lapse on a map.

This is amazing and puts into context what was developing where over time. I know when I read the history of one culture, like Ancient Greece, it’s hard to keep in the mind what was happening elsewhere in the world during the same time period. This video could be a good reference point to pull up to get a sense of what happened during, before, and after any...

Restoring Antique Tools

January 6, 2019 • #

This guy has an interesting channel with metalwork, restoration, and blacksmithing. In a day I watched all of his tool restoration videos. This one is a massive 500lb vise he found, dating from the 18th century in an Italian foundry. The restorations use acids, elbow grease, electrolysis, custom iron or brass casting, and even 3D printing to fashion replacement parts. Mesmerizing stuff.

Here are a few other good restoration videos:

Envisioning the Next Fifty Years

January 3, 2019 • #

One of my favorite science fiction authors, now a self-described “futurist”, Bruce Sterling, on how to think about the future.

The Incredible Inventions of Intuitive AI

January 2, 2019 • #

This talk on “generative AI” was interesting. One bit stuck out to me as really thought-provoking:

Dutch designers have created a system to 3D print functional things in-place, like this bridge concept. Imagine that you can place a machine, give it a feed of raw material input and cut it loose to generate something in physical space. As the presenter mentions at the end of the talk, moving from things that are “constructed” to ones that are “grown”.

This is Water

December 26, 2018 • #

This is a 2005 commencement address delivered by the late David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College. Worth going back and listening to from time to time.

The World's Most Remote Buildings

December 18, 2018 • #

From one of my new favorite YouTube channels, The B1M, comes this list of the most remote buildings.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is straight out of science fiction.

I was curious, so I went and tracked down each one on Google Earth. And because I’m a nerd, here’s a geojson file with all of them so you can quickly find and marvel at their remoteness.

China is Erasing its Border with Hong Kong

December 17, 2018 • #

Part of Vox’s Borders video series. Hong Kong is such a fascinating and unique place, as is today’s China, though for massively different reasons. How China treats HK will be one of the indicators of the wider Chinese plan for free market economics and political openness.

Language and Progress

December 11, 2018 • #

A wide-ranging conversation on linguistics, human scientific advancement, and enlightenment thinking with Steven Pinker and John McWhorter.

Linguistics is endlessly fascinating.

I might be an outlier, but I absolutely love YouTube as a medium for this kind of content. This sort of long form video is an example of a fantastic new thing that couldn’t exist or thrive prior to YouTube.

Dave Attell & Jeff Ross

December 6, 2018 • #

I loved this recent podcast with Dave Attell and Jeff Ross, promoting their new Netflix special Bumping Mics. This is a great freeform conversation (like most of Rogan’s shows) with three veteran comedians with a lot of banter about the industry, reminiscing about other comic legends. We watched their new special last night. Hilarious stuff.

Francis Fukuyama on The Origins of Political Order

November 29, 2018 • #

Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in the last 5 years. It traces the history of human social hierarchy and government from antiquity to the French Revolution. This talk is a great high-level overview of the ground covered in the book. Think of it as a preview and convincing teaser to the full work.

The End of the Beginning

November 25, 2018 • #

An excellent talk from a16z’s Benedict Evans on what’s next for tech and the internet.

Angel Dust

October 18, 2018 • #

Gil Scott-Heron is high on the list of live acts I wish I was around for in his prime.

Gary Neville on Mourinho

October 15, 2018 • #

Gary Neville’s thoughts on the rumors of a Jose Mourinho firing:

The Premier League’s fickleness with management is astonishing. It would be unbelievable to see the same level of volatility and shortsightedness in other professional sports that you have in European football clubs. A United legend calling out the leadership of the club directly is incredible, but unfortunately it probably won’t change anything. I’m not a United fan, but I would love to see the club stick it out with Mourinho and to stop perpetuating the impatient...

Technique Critique

October 12, 2018 • #

This series with dialect coach Erik Singer is great, I could watch dozens of these. He critiques renditions of different accents, some of them specific regional dialects:

Maybe it’s related to my interest in geography, but I’m always curious to learn how to differentiate accents from different countries and localities.

The Electricity Metaphor

October 9, 2018 • #

During this TED talk from 2003, Jeff Bezos compares the Internet revolution to the early years of electrification. Even 15 years ago he was already describing the core philosophy behind his future products, like Amazon Web Services. AWS is like electricity for technology companies: paying the AWS bill is like paying your utility bill.

How the Economic Machine Works

October 6, 2018 • #

Learn the foundations of how an economy works, in only 30 minutes.

This piece from Ray Dalio (hedge fund manager and author of Principles and hedge fund manager) breaks down an entire Econ 101 class in a concise, graphical form. He’s actually an excellent narrator. And knows a thing or two about how markets work.

Clarity & Simplicity

March 12, 2013 • #

I’ve gotten interested recently in how people and businesses communicate ideas, in the contexts of work, project management, product marketing, education, et cetera. Late in 2012 I read a book called Made To Stick, a study on what constitutes sticky, viral ideas. While the book is about the communication of ideas in a marketing context, it struck a nerve and got me thinking about how we communicate in general, whether as individuals or companies.

The book postulates that “sticky” ideas have six core properties: they’re simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and they tell a story. There are dozens of...

Reflections of a Video Game Maker

March 6, 2013 • #

If you enjoy hearing stories from visionaries, listen to this talk that Gabe Newell (founder of Valve) gave at UT Austin:

In it he discusses economies within Steam, where Steam is headed as a central core of APIs for game publishing, and a good bit about how the company operates.

“It seems fairly obvious that the Internet does a better job of organizing a bunch of individuals than General Motors or Sears does. Corporations [with hierarchies] tend to be pre-internet ways of...

Software Pricing and SaaS

July 23, 2012 • #

Jeff Lawson of Twilio gave this talk on SaaS pricing at the Business of Software conference last year:

Everyone in the SaaS product business should watch this. Great approach to thinking through putting prices on your SaaS service.

The key is to understand all the facets of your product and what things cost you as the creator, in addition to slicing and dicing options for your customers to buy what they need. Facets like:

  • Quantities (How many gigabytes? What kind of bandwidth is...

Double Fine: Making Games

February 26, 2012 • #

Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer have a conversation about adventure games.

This was just before Double Fine raised $2.2MM on Kickstarter to fund a new adventure game.