Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Many Distractions of Today

Never in our history have we had so much entertainment. This created a generation of individuals that knows more about the likes of “Star Wars” and very little about anything else. Important subjects, such as Politics, Economy, Law... are pushed aside in favour of imaginary worlds. This creates individuals that are ill-equipped to traverse the obstacles of the societies that allowed them these pleasures.

It is said that during the fall of the Roman Empire, as the Barbarian were at the gates of the city, the general populace wanted the Emperor to initiate "games" in the colosseum. All they wanted, as their society collapsed, was to be entertained. 

Some may say that "Ignorance is bliss" but that isn't true. Ignorance opens the door to be taken advantage of. Freedom comes with responsibility and that responsibility is to be educated enough to recognize when Freedoms are being taken away. Similar to the Romans, if all we care about is our distractions, while the barbarians are at our doors, then we may end up loosing our freedoms.

Allow yourself to be entertainment but also remember that you, as a citizen, have a responsibility to uphold the freedom that was given to you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Everyone is a “Work in Progress”

I recently met someone who put a great deal of effort into her self-improvement. She felt like she was the only person in the world that was as “flawed” as she was hence why she “required to be fixed”.

The reality is that everyone is a “Work in Progress” and few people realize it with even fewer people putting in the effort to improve themselves. It’s extremely rare to find someone with the desire to become the best version of themselves.

If self-improvement doesn’t feel like a positive experience it’s because it’s approached from the perspective of “everything about myself is wrong and I need to fix it”.
For self-improvement to be a positive experience, the author must first understand that the raw material is already great and whatever effort is put in will make it shine brighter. 

The first step is to find peace with who you are currently. You’re not perfect but you have redeeming qualities that makes you great. The flaws you have aren’t as big as you make them out to be.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Mindful Associations

Understanding the power of influence is an important step of the self-improvement journey. One of my mentors used to tell me that if you enter a room with 2 idiots - 3 idiots will come out. This was an example of the power of influences.

If all of your friends are smokers, than chances are high that you will also smoke. Of course, if you understand the power of influence, then you can use this to your advantage by looking to associate yourself with people of the qualities that you're looking to attain.

“Get a millionaire mentor. Most of us were brought up middle class or poor and then hold ourselves to the limits and ideas of that group. I have been studying millionaires to duplicate what they did. Get your own personal millionaire mentor and study them. Most rich people are extremely generous with their knowledge and their resources.” 
-Yvon Chouinard

My mentor also told me that he was able to determined my income based on the average income of my 5 closest friends. We can't deny that we're likely more easily influenced than we like to believe that we are. Be careful who you hangout with as you may end up like them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Puzzle of Life

We're pieces in the puzzle of life; We come in different shapes/sizes. Some compare themselves with other pieces for the purpose of finding reasons not to connect while others are doing the same in order to seek connections.

"Don't walk in front of me... I may not follow. Don't walk behind me... I may not lead. Walk beside me... just be my friend."
-Albert Camus

What we ought to do is the later as we're at our best when we connect with each other. Friendship is the canvas with which we find peace. We need to stop looking at what differentiate us more than what we have in common. We must find ways to move beyond our conflict.

"Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?"
-Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Thinking Distance

“From the neck down you're worth minimum wage, from the neck up your opportunity is unlimited.” 
-Zig Ziglar

One of the downside of reading non-fiction is that you may come to the point where you're no longer as comfortable being involved in deep conversations with those that don't read for the simple reason that you feel there's a distance between how they think compared to you.

Bodybuilders are sometime faced with the "leave humanity behind" prerogative which essentially mean that they reach a point in their bodybuilding careers where they make the decision to do whatever it takes to be as big as they can be. 
Intellectuals also go through a similar change as they can reach a point where they decide that they will no longer think like the masses.

The distance felt can go both ways as intellectual can meet people that are further along their journey just as much as those that aren't as far. The important part is to be respectful of everyone and keep our minds open to new ideas. Be patient to those that aren't as far along as you just as you would expect someone further along to be patient with you.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

No Work No Problem?

A friend of mine was injured back in 2014 and has been on disability ever since. She admitted to me that not working was boring for her and she didn't wish it on anybody. My retired dad has been telling me the same.

Try me...

While I can certainly understand that we can run out of "shows" to watch or "video games to play" I still believe that getting bored wouldn't happen to me because I have plenty of things to occupy myself outside of the mindless entertainment.

Feeling useful is what my dad misses the most about working but that's because he hasn't really found  ways, outside of work, to get that feeling. I not only have, through such things as writing, I've also found ways to do it outside of my full time work.
In the workplace, some people can't do anything unless they're told what to do. I suspect that those are people that would miss work the most as they can't seem to function without someone else telling them what to do. 
That's never been my problem because I've approach every project with the "how can I add value to this" mindset. I need very little guidance before I find ways to contribute and this attribute has spilled out in my personal life as well.

For now, however, I can only speculate how I'll be during my own retirement.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

A Dictatorship in America? Really?

I never thought I would see the day when voting for a President was choosing between a Democracy and Dictatorship. I always thought that dictatorship was something that was forced unto a conquered country... not something voted in or that people wished for.

Americans, under the Trump cult, seems to be wanting democracy to be overthrown in favor of a dictatorship. If we look at China, Russia, North Korea... can we really say that dictatorship is better than a democracy? 
The only people benefiting from dictatorships are the elites. Only Trump, and his closets of allies, would reap the rewards of America becoming a dictatorship.

A democracy, which gives the power to the people, isn't a perfect form of government but its definitely an evolution over dictatorship. America would loose, on all fronts, by this downgrade and perhaps serves as a reminder that good things don't last and if it can happen to America then it can happen to any country.

Be better, America, not only for your sake but for the world.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

How To Develop Critical Thinking

"Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."

In short, critical thinking is the ability to question the information presented to you.

Reinforce your critical thinking abilities with reading...

If you read non-fiction books of similar subjects you will encounter situations where there's contradictions either amongst the authors or with your own experience. You, the reader, will need to think about who's right/wrong and that exercise is what ultimately develops your critical thinking abilities. 

Critical thinking is a lost art because not enough people are reading or being exposed to situations that requires them to think critically. Society suffers when there's not enough critical thinkers.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Torch of Knowledge

We must learn from our ancestors, sprinkle in some of our own knowledge, and pass it on to the next generation hoping that they’ll do the same. Shame is having to relearn a lesson from the history of our civilization. We must keep pushing our understanding, perfect it, make it easier to learn, for the benefit of students that will follow in our footsteps.

Life is short - we are but carriers of the torch of knowledge. We’re but messengers in the canvas of our civilization.

Read, learn every day, become all that you’re supposed to be, share your lessons with the hopes that someone will learn from your mistakes. Make tomorrow better from your contribution.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Growing Up Is A Choice

As a kid, I would look at adults with awe because I believed that they had everything figured out. Now that I'm an adult I realize that not only do most people don't have everything figured out they're basically thinking the same way as they did when they were kids.

“Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.” 
-Walt Disney (or Charles Theodore Davis)

While you'll never have everything figured out, you must live your life in such a way that if you were to look back 5 years ago you can see how much progress you've made since. Gray hair, by itself, isn't a good enough indicator of how "grown up" someone is.

How do I "grow up"?

You need to plan for it as it won't happen naturally. You need constantly challenge your philosophies for life, read and associate with people that are better than you so that some of their experiences can rub off on you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A Snippet of The Book of Politics by Aristotle

I’ve learned 3 things from reading this book:

  • Books translated from Greek are difficult to read. 
  • Aristotle expects the reader to be versed in everything else going on in his day which makes his work difficult to read. 
  • The methods with which a tyrant takes over a government were the same 2500 years ago as it is today.

Some notable thoughts taken from the book:

“They who love in excess also hate in excess.”
-Aristotle, Politics

“All constitutions are overthrown either from within or from without; the latter, when there is some government close at hand having an opposite interest, or at a distance, but powerful.”
-P. 207 from “Politics” book by Aristotle (Translated by Benjamin Jowett)

“History shows that almost all tyrants have been demagogues who gained the favour of the people by their accusations of the notables.”
-P.216 from “Politics” book by Aristotle (translated by Benjamin Jowett)

"...The tyrant is also fond of making war in order that his subjects may have something to do and be always in want of a leader. And whereas the power of a king is preserved by his friends, the characteristic of the tyrant is to distrust his friends, because he knows that all men want to overthrow him, and they above all have the power."
-P.226 from “Politics” book by Aristotle (translated by Benjamin Jowett)

“Every man should be responsible to others, nor should anyone be allowed to do just as he pleases; for where absolute freedom is allowed there is nothing to restrain the evil which is inherent in every man.”
-P.244 from “Politics” book by Aristotle (translated by Benjamin Jowett)

“No one will doubt that the legislator should direct his attention above all to the education of youth, or that the neglect of education does harm to states. The citizen should be moulded to suit the form of government under which he lives. For each government has a peculiar character which originally formed and which continues to preserve it. The character of democracy creates democracy, and the character of oligarchy creates oligarchy; and always the better character, the better government”
-P.300 from “Politics” book by Aristotle (translated by Benjamin Jowett)

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A.I. Marketing Fail

ChatGPT is widely recognized has being the first A.I. made available to the public. Since then, other companies have also been introducing their variation and their marketing of it is mediocre at best.

If your marketing strategy is to say that "it's better, more powerful than ChatGPT" then you're not sharing any relevant information regarding your own A.I. because, frankly, who cares which A.I. is more powerful? Will users even notice that your A.I. produces results a second faster than ChatGPT? If ChatGPT already provide answers that are somewhat accurate, and your A.I. produces similar result, then how can you expect users to make the switch?

If you're not first, you're last... If you're not first, you're going to be making mistakes trying to catch up.

ChatGPT is to A.I. what ski-doo is to snowmobile meaning that the word is associated with the entity. In my mind, the only way other A.I. companies can make themselves relevant is by utilizing A.I. in new, more innovative, ways-not trying convinced people that it's "better" because the average user doesn't have a way to confirm it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

3 Phases of Reading Non-Fiction

"The brain is a muscle, and I'm a kind of body-builder." 
-Karl Lagerfeild

The brain is like a muscle and reading is how you exercise it. When reading non-fiction, we go through 3 phases:
  • Initial Struggle - We don't remember, or understand, what we just read.
  • Gradual Retention - We remember some of what we've read.
  • Application - We study/apply what we've read.
The most difficult part is to begin as we don't see the point of reading if we don't remember what we just read. If we're able to get through it then a wonderful world of self discovery opens to us. I would encourage you to read non-fiction - start small with only 2 pages a day. One of the best habits you can get into is the habit of reading as it has the power to improve every other aspect of your life.

"A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read."
-Mark Twain 

 If you're wondering where to start, the below are some books that I've enjoyed reading with how difficult, I thought, they were to understand:
  • The below are easy to read:
    • "The 5 love languages" by Gary Chapman
    • "Personality PLUS" by Florence Littauer
    • "Alexander the Great" by Jacob Abbott
  • The below are of a normal difficulty to read:
    • "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey
    • "Enlightenment Now" by Steven Pinker
  • The below are challenging to read:
    • "Living Issues in Philosophy" by Harold H. Titus and Marilyn Smith
As I get older, I sometime feel like I'm falling behind and learning new things, from a non-fiction book, has helped alleviate those feelings.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Take Ownership of Your Education

I've rarely accepted to partake in learning engagements at work for the simple reason that most of these "classes" are taught by people that don't know anything beyond the Powerpoint presentation they've created for it. 

Take ownership of your education...

In 2007-08, I was a young, French only, punk about to start my career in the tech industry. In order for me to learn English, I created this blog. The plan was that I would do my research, in English, to write the blogs. Within a year, my English was to the point that I could communicate with my peers. 
A few years later, I was on a project where they were discussing Google Analytics & Adsense. Again, I used this blog to learn about these technologies. On another project, I needed test automation experience... this blog was used for this as well.

My point here is that whenever I needed to learn a new skill I created a little side project to teach myself how to do it. This isn't to say that there's no value in having a teacher but you do need teachers that have the results that you want.

"Listen to those that have the fruit from the tree."

If you can't find good teachers, then the only other option you have is to teach yourself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The Universal vs Intellect Perspective of Free Will

Last week, I agreed with the theory that free will is an illusion but I feel the need to expand on it as it depends on the perspective.

From the perspective of the Universe:
  • Everything happens in accordance to the forces at play regardless if a thing is a rock or alive. What begins will end following the pre-determined path - there's no free will as much as things are bound to destiny.
From the perspective of Intellect:
  • Intelligent life is free to shape its surroundings and impact its future. A person can choose to be a doctor or a mechanic and as far as he's concerned the Universe had no impact on his decisions.
From a universal perspective, free will is an illusion because it was created by, and is bound to, itself. From the perspective of Intelligent life, we believe that we're free to choose not realizing that what ever direction we take is still within the Universal parameters. A fish in an aquarium is free to choose what to do within the boundaries of the aquarium.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Universe and The Illusion of Free Will

If we throw a rock in space, it will continue on its path until a force comes in contact with it. There's a predictability, or destiny, to it - the adventure begins somewhere and will end somewhere else. 

If we could go back in time to the beginning of the Universe and move some particles it would, over billions of years, create a universe that's different from our own. The resulting universe would act in accordance to the changes made.
If we don't change anything then things should progress as it already did. The Earth would form and we would exist in it exactly as we are now... or would we?

Is there such a thing as free will or are we bound to a path similar to the rock that travels in space? Free will suggests that if we had 2 identical Universes that life would evolved differently in each, based on the decisions made, but if everything is the same then how could life possibly evolve any differently? 

How can decisions be any different when the surroundings are the same?

While there's no way to prove whether or not we're bound to destiny, or set path, I like to believe that we are bound to a degree of destiny as life isn't as unpredictable as some believe it to be. Everything that lives wants to survive and it wants to do so the easiest way possible. If another Universe has every particles exactly at the same place as our own then life would of evolved the same way. It would of crawled into the same cracks trying to find the same source of nourishment.

Free will is an illusion because if we were given the choice between eating at a table Infront of us or climbing a mountain to eat at the top we would choose the table Infront of us every time even if we're free choose. Intelligent life IS predictable in the sense that it takes the easiest way for its survival.

Part of the theory of time travel is that if someone goes back and makes a small change it could have dire consequences on the future.
If we didn't change anything in the past wouldn't this mean that life would progress the same as it did previously?

We think we have free will because we have no way of knowing what the future will bring. We can't predict the future therefor we believe that we're free to create it. 

We can't change the natural progression of time - the events will occur in harmony with the Universe regardless of our supposed free will. Because of our awareness to our surrounding, we have some degree of control over our environments, compared to a rock, but it doesn't mean that our actions aren't already known to the Universe.

We're not living our lives as much as we're discovering it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

When Easier is Available...

Nobody will take the most difficult path if an easier is made available to them. This is not only true for humans but also for other species as well. My dad recently placed a bird feeder on his property and a large gathering of bird have ensued. They eat the free food with such vigor that one has to wonder what they were eating before this came along. 

This has been going on long enough that birds are now waiting for the food to come rather than hunt for their own food. The birds will continue to wait for their free food for as long as they have hope that it will come and, in this situation, it will come for as long as there’s snow outside. 

Humans are like that too aren’t they? If you offer them social assistance, you effectively remove their willingness to go hunt for their own food. This will go on for as long as there’s free money available. 

I understand that some can’t get their own food and are required to go on social assistance as a result but let’s not kid ourselves here - there are definitely people that are abusing this system.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Travelling Isn't for Everyone

As a consultant, there's a demand for me to travel which is something that was made very clear to me when I first started working. I never was the traveler which explains why my managers would tell me things like "you should enjoy travelling while you're young as you won't be able to when you're older".

Travelling is a necessity more so than something that I enjoy doing and I've always found the need to meet people "in person" kind of silly in the world of Information Technology. Whenever I take an airplane I ask myself if the carbon monoxide used to get me somewhere is actually worth it? (to me it isn't)

If you're a traveler then by all means travel; it certainly is great period in our history to do so considering all the methods we have available.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Choices You Have To Make with Bellow Average Work from Your Team

If you manage a few people then chances are that they will deliver below average work from time to time. When this happens, you are faced with one of the following options:
  • Accept the work as is...
  • Fix the work yourself...
  • Initiate a training exercise...
Anyone overseeing anyone else has to choose one of the above options every time below average work is delivered. The severity of the problem, or the importance of the task, is what will influence the choice that needs to be made. 
It's also possible that the employee is going through some tough times so be sure to clear the air prior to initiating anything. If he's going through a divorce, for example, it's very likely the cause of his problematic work.

While "Done is better than perfect" it's important to reach a point where the work provided is consistently acceptable for the project. If it isn't, and you find yourself needing to choose one of the above consistently and your attempts to work with your employee was fruitless then it may be time to part ways.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Tradeoff of Privacy

Most of what companies are offering for your privacy today isn't worth it. Whether it be Social Media, which takes your privacy in exchange for followers, or DNA tests, which takes your privacy in exchange for a "family tree" or even electric cars which takes your driving data... the tradeoffs are rarely worth it. 

What I mean by this is your privacy, or the data you give away, is more valuable than what you get in return and the demand for your data will only increase over time. It may come to the point where you won't have a choice but to surrender it.

What will the future of privacy look like?

Eventually, it will be possible for humans to connect their brains directly to the internet. In exchange for your "thought privacy", your brain will have access to unlimited knowledge. If this ever becomes a reality then you may not have a choice to surrender your "thought privacy" as not doing so would mean that you're at a disadvantage over everyone else that chose to do so.

As technology progresses, the tradeoff for your privacy/data will become increasingly appealing to the point that it may no longer be possible for you to refuse it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Think Twice Before Quitting College

It's not uncommon to hear someone say "Bill Gates was a college dropout" prior to quitting their advance degrees. What those people fail to understand is that for every Bill Gates there's a hundred thousand college dropouts that didn't succeed in whatever endeavor they thought would be better at.

Success stories like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are often highlighted, but it’s crucial to remember that they left college to pursue projects that were already showing significant promise. They had a clear vision and a plan in place.

If you don't like the subject you chose then by all means quit but don't quit thinking that you're going to be making it big if you don't have an idea to fall on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Future of Video Games using A.I.

We're well into the era of procedurally generated environments and we're about to enter the era of adaptive experiences. Games will be different based on how they're played and who plays them. Think of the game engine as being an A.I. looking over what the player is doing and creating an experience that best suits their needs. 

The below are a few example of how I envision the future of gaming using A.I.:
  • If you like to play your FPS using stealth, you will be given additional opportunities to use stealth than the person who likes to run and shoot.
  • If you have a tendency to always use the same mechanics in your action games, the A.I. will introduce situations that will force you to switch things up.
  • The stages in platformers will adapt based on your skill level.
  • RPG stories/events will be created on the spot and could be played indefinitely in a ever changing world.
  • The interaction with NPCs will be in real time.
  • Racing games will adapt to the player's skill with opponents that feel more authentic/diverse.
Animation, sound, weather effects will also be improved using A.I. as the game engine will be able to mimic environments using real world data. 

When can we expect this A.I. revolution in games?

We have to keep in mind that "Left 4 Dead", a game that came out more than a decade ago, had a basic algorithm that made each playthrough different based on difficulty and player behavior. A player recently made a mod where NPCs in Skyrim are connected to ChatGTP and can interact, in real time, with the player... this means that some people are already toying with the idea of offering players unique experiences using some form of A.I.

What is being discussed here, however, is on a much larger scale and likely won't be made available offline as the processing power required is more than what players will be able to buy at home. I also believe that Epic Games will be the leaders of A.I. via Fortnite (Unreal Engine) considering that their metaverse strategy is dominating the market currently and A.I. seems to be the logical next step for them to take.

It's not crazy to think that this will start happening within the next 5 years.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Performance Enhancing Drugs in Bodybuilding is Annoying...

I saw an interview where Mike Tyson said that he supported the use of performance enhancing drugs in the world of bodybuilding because it wasn't a contact sport.

In any other sport, Athletes show us what is possible with hard work and dedication. Bodybuilding show us what is possible with hard work, dedication, and a cocktail of performance enhancing drugs. It's not possible to compete in Mr. Olympia without the use of it.

Why is it allowed?
The official reason is that Bodybuilding isn't a sport that is governed by the "World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)" which is responsible to enforce anti-doping regulation in most other sports. As a result, bodybuilding competitions are not subject to the same strick anti-doping rules as other sports.

In my mind, however, it isn't allowed because it brings "wow" factor to the sport.

Bodybuilding, at least in my mind, is supposed to be promoting healthy lifestyle or the achievement of the perfect spartan (symmetric) body but we've turned it into an unhealthy swollen mess with athletes dying before the age of 40.
To some, this is a beautiful sport but to me it's nothing more than a facade hiding something that is ugly.

My advice to you for 2024 is to exercise without the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Where are the Facts?

A few years ago, I attended a leadership seminar where the speaker said "trust but verify" the information that you find but today I find it difficult to "verify" any information.

Where are the facts?

When I was in school, I was assigned research projects where I had to provide at least 3 sources that would support my findings. The only sources that were accepted were from reputable organizations whether it be an encyclopedia or online. 

We have access to an abundance of information online. Many "experts" talk about things that disagree with each other. How are we supposed to discern facts from fiction? In addition to this, we also live in a world where some purposely share erroneous information for the sole purpose of making a profit.
This problem is made even worse with A.I. as it learns from the data that we give it. However, I also believe that the solution to this problem can also be fixed with the help of A.I. as it's also possible to tell it what is widely considered to be the facts on any given subjects.

The only thing that we can do is never assume that we know something - always be open to learning new things. This is what it means to be a Student of Life. 

Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy New Year - 2024!

A new year often brings with it inspiration for change. Typically that change is physical but this year we should evaluate our minds.

The person that talks to you most in your lifetime is the voice inside of your head. To some, that voice isn't the most supportive or at least not where it should be. Start paying attention to what that voice is saying and make the necessary changes.

We can achieve a lot more than our mind often allows us to. Let's unleash that potential and become whom we're supposed to be.

May 2024 be your year!

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