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Professional Business Writing by the Economist.

Very happy to share that I’ve passed the Professional Communication: Business Writing and Storytelling course by The Economist, obtaining a final grade of 87%.

What are the 7 key takeaways that fit in a short post?

  1. Think about the briefing: what’s the main message, who’s the audience, what’s the medium
  2. Then think about the key points you want to make to get your message across
  3. Order your key points on a map to form a journey. Is the path from one point to the next logical? Are there logical gaps?
  4. Write the intro — a catchy sentence or two that invites the reader to take the journey — and the executive summary — ideally covering most key points
  5. Then put some evidence or arguments beside each point
  6. At this moment, you should have a solid enough structure and text that you can produce a first draft
  7. Once the draft is ready, polish, polish, polish.
  8. [Bonus] Grammarly is an excellent tool for non-native English speakers. For example, I use commas the Italian way — it just sounds right to me — and apparently, some actual rules dictate how to use them in English.

You can enroll on their site.

Discipline is perceived as safety by children

Why super-strict classrooms are in vogue in Britain

Superb article by the Economist on the success of super-strict classrooms in Britain.

The fascinating points:

  • Pupils work hard, and they’re not only OK with it, but it motivates them to aim high
  • A strict classroom helps pupils from poorer families as children perceive discipline as safety and a promise of success (safety that they might lack at home or in other schools)
  • Speaking of success, the school weaponizes praise, and children strive for merit points. Competition is not only biologically embedded but also raises everyone’s grades as the school is among the best in Britain.
  • Poetry is embedded in the school, with lunchtime poetry recitals:

A young teacher stands at the front and shouts the first word of each line; the pupils respond with the rest.

Fish 3.6.0

Amazing new release of fish adding Control - R to open the command history in the pager.

It’s fully searchable and syntax-highlighted!

Get it here.

Nietzsche and the Nazis

If you have 2 hours to spare, read Nietzsche and the Nazis by Stephen Hicks.

Fantastic, to-the-point, book about the philosophical ideals of the National Socialists.

To quote just a single passage:

History has taught us that the philosophy and ideals the Nazis stood for were and are false and terribly destructive, but we do not do ourselves any favors by writing the Nazis off as madmen or as an historical oddity that will never happen again. The Nazis stood for philosophical and political principles that appealed to millions—that attracted some of the best minds of their generation—and that still command the minds and hearts of people in all parts of the world.

And that means we must face the National Socialists’ philosophical and political ideals for what they actually are—we must understand them, know where they came from, and what intellectual and emotional power they have. Then and only then are we in a position to defeat them. We will be able to defeat them because we will understand their power and we will have more powerful arguments with which to fight back.

Power structures are not a human-only prerogative

Beautiful quote from Frans de Waal’s Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? book:

“When I began observing the world’s largest chimpanzee colony, at Burgers’ Zoo in 1975, I had no idea that I’d be working with this species for the rest of my life. Just so, as I sat on a wooden stool watching primates on a forested island for an estimated ten thousand hours, I had no idea that I’d never again enjoy that luxury. Nor did I realize that I would develop an interest in power relations. In those days, university students were firmly antiestablishment, and I had the shoulder-long hair to prove it. We considered ambition ridiculous and power evil. My observations of the chimps, however, made me question the idea that hierarchies were merely cultural institutions, a product of socialization, something we could wipe out at any moment. They seemed more ingrained. I had no trouble detecting the same tendencies in even the most hippielike organizations. They were generally run by young men who mocked authority and preached egalitarianism yet had no qualms about ordering everyone else around and stealing their comrades’ girlfriends. It wasn’t the chimps who were odd, but the humans who seemed dishonest. Political leaders have a habit of concealing their power motives behind[…]”

Easy to use macOS disk cleanup tools

Pretty Clean

A small utility to — unobtrusively — scan your macOS disk to remove caches and other files and folder that can be clean up.

Free, and built on Tauri.

There’s an Hacker News discussion as well in case you want to know more.

New Airpods

Two years ago I replaced my Airpods with the Airpods Pro.

The upgrade was significant and necessary, as after 2-3 years, the battery of the old ones was worn out.

Apple Airpods Pro

Some months ago (as the Airpods where nearing their 2 year anniversary), the first major issues started to come up. The right microphone wouldn’t work well, when touching the right Airpod I would hear a cracking noise, and the battery was slowly decaying.

Turns out that there’s a service program from Apple and Airpods exhibiting crackling or static sounds are eligible.

So I went into the Apple Store in Amsterdam and got a new pair!

Some notes:

  • You need a genius appointment if you want help quickly
  • They told me the test process would take two hours, so I got back to the office. Once I got back (15' later) they called me. They were ready
  • Even though only one Airpod would malfunction, in their test, both were faulty. I don’t know if this is true, or if they simply didn’t want to give a customer one with a new battery and one with a 2 years old battery
  • The actual price for 2 new Airpods is EUR 180.16. Phew!
  • Now my case has an old battery. I’d love to buy the new Airpods Pro 2 case, but there is inconclusive evidence on a reddit thread about the compatibility.

OpenAI Whisper

OpenAI has just open sourced Whisper, an automatic speech recognition.

I just tried it out and I’m blown away.

Installation was a piece of cake (even though there was a missing step, but I’ve opened a pull request to help out), and once you’re there, it literally takes seconds to start transcribing:

whisper my_file.m4a --model base

The output is ready to be used in subtitles programs as well, as it looks like this

[01:23.000 --> 01:31.000] Camilla, first question, what keeps you awake at night?
[01:31.000 --> 01:36.000] Around data analytics, let's keep it to that box
[01:36.000 --> 01:45.000] Yeah, so I think we have three different, very specific business units
[01:45.000 --> 01:52.000] And we have teams that are divided between being masters in data in analytics
[01:52.000 --> 01:57.000] And they know much more than I do to having people who are just hearing about data
[01:57.000 --> 02:00.000] And it's a very, very scary topic
[02:00.000 --> 02:08.000] And what I'm supposed to be doing is raising the level so that we at least come to the same level of understanding
[02:08.000 --> 02:13.000] What does it mean for me? What does it mean for the company? What is data?
[02:13.000 --> 02:17.000] I mean we really go into those type of basic conversations
[02:17.000 --> 02:23.000] So that really is a challenge and an opportunity, huge opportunity
[02:23.000 --> 02:26.000] So that keeps me awake at night, how do I do that?

(The audio was taken from an interview I had with Camilla Björkqvist last year).

The future is here :)

Configure Caddy v2 to reverse proxy the Unifi Controller

Caddy is an open source web server that can be used to, among others, proxy other sorts of server adding https with valid certificates.

At home, I have a Unifi controller that uses https but has no valid certificate, so I decided to expose it through caddy.

Since I run caddy as an unpriviliged user, it listens to port 2016 for http and 2017 for https. My router then listens to port 80 / 443 and reroutes to port 2016 / 2017 on the host running caddy.

The working configuration I came up with my Caddyfile is pretty simple

  http_port 2016
  https_port 2017 {
    reverse_proxy {  # the unifi controller runs on the same machine as caddy
      transport http {
        tls_insecure_skip_verify  # we don't verify the controller https cert
      header_up - Authorization  # sets header to be passed to the controller

That’s it!

Get URL of selected Mailmate messages

One of the features of my favourite email client, Mailmate, is the ability to copy a unique link per message.

Upon clicking the link from anywhere, Mailmate will be opened showing the associated email.

I use this feature a lot to link to-do in Things. Mailmate even offers a bundle to automatically add an email link to Things.

However sometimes I already have an existing to-do, and I need to paste the Mailmate link.

To make it easy, I created an AppleScript in Typinator that pastes the link of the selected Mailmate message.

Reported here for posterity :)

tell application "MailMate"
	set selectedMessages to messages
	set theMessage to item 1 of selectedMessages
	return message url of theMessage
end tell