Best of 2013

Started reflecting on 2013 and felt happy about how it went, especially in terms of all the new things I came across. Here’s a small list of the best of those things.

Best new experience: Backpacking across United States
Going on a backpacking trip to the US with nothing planned beforehand, was definitely one of the best new things I tried. It was tough initially, starting with no place to live in Miami. But it turned into an interesting experience, travelling from Miami to Key West to Orlando to San Francisco to Yosemite National Park and finally from there to New York City. Couple good things travelling like this teaches you:

Best book (technical): Sandi Metz’s Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby
There are many enlightening thoughts in this book, for example, about shifting to message-based perspective instead of being ‘bound by the shackles of existing domain objects’. Sandi argues that objects should be discovered through messages that need to be sent to them, and not the other way around. She makes you think about how to write good object-oriented code. Highly recommend reading this.

Best book (non-technical): Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist
This is a short, one hour read, but a very good book that lays down some very simple thoughts on how to do creative work more effectively. It contains 10 short chapters, each one concentrating on one well-informed advice.

Best talk: Bret Victor’s ‘Inventing on Principle’
This talk really makes you think about how, having strong principles about things that you really care about can have a major impact on your ability to invent. Bret talks about how some well known people in history did this. Best part is where he shows some amazing examples of what his principles led him to create.

Best food item: Croissant bread sandwich
I still cannot get over the sandwich I had at this tiny place called La Sandwicherie in South Beach, Miami. It was so simple and yet tasted so good. Fresh croissant bread, couple slices of swiss cheese, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions and couple other vegetables. I went there 3 times in 3 days and I could go to Miami some time again just to eat it once more.

Best piece of advice: Steve Jobs’ thoughts on what it is to be intelligent
Steve Jobs was only 27 when he gave this speech. He ended up giving some really solid advice for anyone wanting to do great work. Here’s what he said:

Have you ever thought about what it is to be intelligent?

I’ve thought about this a little bit myself, and, it seems to me that a lot of it is memory. But, a lot of it is the ability to sort of zoom out, like, you’re in a city and you could look at the whole thing from about the 88th Floor. And while other people are trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B reading these stupid little maps, you can see it all out in front of you. You can see the whole thing and you can make connections that just seem obvious because well, you can see the whole thing.

But the key thing is, that if you’re gonna make connections which are innovative, to connect two experiences together you have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does. Or else you’re gonna make the same connections and you won’t be innovative and nobody will give you an award. So what you gotta do is get different experiences than the normal course of events.

You can hear stories about all these innovative people and the key thing that comes through is that they had a variety of experiences, which they could draw upon in order to try to solve a problem or attack a particular dilemma in a unique way.

Best place visited: Disney World, Orlando
Magic Kingdom theme park inside Walt Disney World is hands down, the best man-made creations I’ve seen so far. It’ll make you re-think about the world around you. I felt like staying there forever.

Best material possession: Fujifilm X100S
Much has already been talked about this camera. I bought one this year and it’s one of the best investments I’ve made. You can check out some photos taken using this camera by different people on 500px here.

Best piece of software: SleepCycle iPhone app
I was blown away with how much interesting data an app can gather about my sleep every day, by simply placing the phone besides before sleeping. The app uses this data in more interesting ways, to give us insights into our sleep.

Best new idol: Stephen Covey
Dr. Stephen R. Covey was a man who died happy. He had an amazing relationship with his wife, his kids and grandkids. He left a brilliant legacy through his work on educating people about leadership and living fulfilling lives. He wrote some great books, was a very successful businessman and an accomplished public speaker. He had all his loved ones around him on his deathbed and there were thousands of letters, phone calls and emails from all sorts of strangers after he died. Not many people are capable of balancing their lives so effectively. I idolize him.

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