Productivity, Megachips, Poetry, Book Crime, Analysts

A weekly selection of fine writing from Conked


Hard Times: Martin Hagglund’s “This Life” and the Pomodoro Technique

Alexa Hazel | Los Angeles Review of Books | 21 NOV 2020

The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity method where the user sets a timer and works in bursts of 25 minutes on a single task, then has a small break and starts again. Are life and time so finite that we need to control and optimise what we do have? Philosopher Martin Hägglund’s recent book, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom believes “Our lifetime is ours and finite, and valuable because it is finite.” He believes we should be re-evaluating value to be doing things we value rather than working for wages and building capital. After all, we have only limited time on this earth. I wholeheartedly agree. (4,956 words)

The Trillion-Transistor Chip That Just Left a Supercomputer in the Dust

Jason Dorrier | Singularity Hub | 22 NOV 2020

While for years computer chips have been “a thrilling tale of extreme miniaturization”, the maker of the largest chip in the world sees the benefits for use in artificial intelligence or physical world simulations. With performance that can’t be matched, low power consumption and relatively achievable price, the maker, Cerebras, reports it is all in the special design of their chip. Their megachip along with their compiling software enables it to far exceed traditional supercomputers. There are other exciting developments being tested by other companies, including quantum computers, and Memristor-based neuromorphic chips. Only further development will see what and who will be the market leader. (1,246 words)

Why UCSD’s Kazim Ali Wants To Put Some Poetry In Your Life

Karla Peterson | San Diego Union Tribune | 21 NOV 2020

Professor and poet Kazim Ali has a new book called The Voice of Sheila Chandra, with the title poem based on the true story of the admired Indian singer who suffered from an incurable disorder that prevented her from speaking or singing without pain. What if a creative person found the one act that gave them joy and expression was taken away? Ali surrounded himself with poetry for as long as he can remember. It brings him comfort and a way to express the world around him. We are living through unpredictable and uncertain times and poetry creates a way to connect with the dilemmas of being human. (849 words)

How German Librarians Finally Caught an Elusive Book Thief

Jeffrey Arlo Brown | Atlas Obscura | 23 NOV 2020

This article outlines the fascinating story and dastardly deeds of Norbert Schild, dubbed the ‘book marten’ after the carnivorous mammal that often steals bird eggs. Schild allegedly spent over 30 years carefully cutting out maps from antique books in German libraries. Even when librarians consulted and discovered at least 20 institutions who believed he had absconded with pages from their books, justice did not come quickly to this thief. Evidence was mostly circumstantial, and prosecutors caught up on larger cases and Schild still visited libraries. Finally his case resulted in a sentence for the dapper thief, although he is appealing and trying to slip away once again. (1,249 words)

Shining a Light: How to Write Like a Technology Analyst

Rand Leeb-du Toit | Rand Research | 25 NOV 2020

Channelling my inner former Gartner analyst life I explain to writers three key areas of business technology writing that can provide invaluable information to readers. Understanding what your reader is expecting, planning your research and how to structure your writing are key points, and I delve into each topic. Ensure your writing is clear, relevant, actionable, fact-based and timely. As I say, “Great advice delivered too late is useless.” Consider what your writing agenda will be and who you are writing for, researching and building profiles of your audience. Crucially, make sure your content has five key structural elements to guide your readers to the valuable insights they require and deserve. (1,391 words)


No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.

― Aristotle

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Rand Leeb-du Toit, Conkerer

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