A Presentation is an Opportunity to Tell an Awesome Story

    11 April 2014

    I found this old ad the other day, and it reminded me of the way data is traditionally presented in academia.

    eyepatch_ad Eyepatch ads have come a long way

    There’s no story here. How did that guy lose his eye? What is that man inserting into that woman’s face? Why would I need a surgically-implanted magnifying glass?

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    Writing Every Day Will Change Your Life

    10 March 2014

    I’ve spent the last 30 days writing at least one hour every day. Want to do the same? Here’s how.

    First, make a public commitment. Decide when you’re going to start writing and how many days you’re going to do it (30 days is a good starting point). Ask your friends to hold you accountable, make a bet with your cousin that you will write every day, post a daily update on your Facebook wall. Do anything to avoid having to answer the most dangerous question of all: “Should I write today?” Pondering this for any amount of time will lead to a thousand perfectly reasonable excuses on why you should skip today. Only the fear of public humiliation will keep you honest.

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    Master Your Z Shell with These Outrageously Useful Tips

    11 January 2014

    If you had previously installed Zsh but never got around to exploring all of its magic features, this post is for you.

    If you never thought of using a different shell than the one that came by default when you got your computer, I recommend you go out and check the Z shell. Here are some Linux guides that explain how to install it and set it as your default shell. You probably have Zsh installed you are on a Mac, but there’s nothing like the warm fuzzy feeling of running the latest version (here’s a way to upgrade using Homebrew).

    While you’re at it, you should also get oh-my-zsh, a framework that makes Zsh easier to configure. It’s pretty easy to install, just run this:

    curl -L https://raw.github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh | sh
    echo $0
    # if you don't see /bin/zsh you might need
    # to open up a new window, or manually run: zsh

    The Zsh manual is a daunting beast. Just the chapter on expansions has 32 subsections. Forget about memorizing this madness in one sitting. Instead, we’ll focus on understanding a few useful concepts, and referencing the manual for additional help.

    The three main sections of this post are file picking, variable transformations, and magic tabbing. If you’re pressed for time, read the beginning of each one, and come back later to soak up the details (make sure you stick around for the bonus tips at the end).

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    What it Takes to Give a Great Presentation

    07 December 2013

    A talk is an opportunity to share an idea with your audience. If the audience gets lost, bored, or overwhelmed, the idea doesn’t get shared. To give a great presentation you must condense the fog that surrounds your idea, craft a compelling narrative around it, illustrate it visually, and care enough to guide the audience every step of the way.

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    A Hacker's Approach to Understanding French Spelling

    14 November 2013


    Non-native French speakers like myself have a hard time grappling with the French spelling system. It may seem arbitrary to write seconde and pronounce it segond, or frustrating that there is no rule to define why déçu has an accent on the e, but reçu doesn’t.

    C'est la vie, mon ami.— say the French

    Now that I live in French Guiana, I am trying to come up with strategies to make these words easier to learn.

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