Finished "Outliers"

I finished reading "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell at work yesterday, while waiting to start the day with a lecture.

Overall, I liked the book. It gave me a lot of insight on how to raise my kids to be "successful." It somewhat seemed like it was too late to practice some of these for myself, but there's still many good lessons learned.

1. In order to get good at something, we need to continually persist, no matter how often we fail or succeed. That's pretty obvious, but there's no short-cut. We need to just continue to work at it and perfect it. I forget the examples, but for some reason, Chinese people and rice farming comes to mind. Another thing is 10,000 hours to become brilliant at something. He gave the example of Bill Gates and the Beatles and how they cranked out 10,000 hours at programming and playing music, respectively, prior to their popularity, which is about 8 hours a day, every day for 3.5 years. Or, if it's 8 hours per weekday, that'd be ~4.7 years.
2. Kids that fully utilize summer vacation to do nothing fall behind those that continue education throughout the summer (usually strictly encouraged by parents, generally parents that have time and/or money to pay attention to their kids).
3. Little advantages in education gradually adds up. So start now, work little by little and keep at it. Persistence will bring you far.

(I'll have to flip through it again to see if there were other things)

Funny thing is that I was reading an article somewhere (I think it was a blog on MIT TR), but it mentioned how Gladwell was known for being very ambitious in defining causations.


Government shutdown??

Lately, I've been keeping up with the federal government budget news and how the 2011 budget has not yet been approved. I've only been keeping up with this because the DoD is affected by this (as are many other agencies) and I'm still waiting for an official job offer from the Army, which is under DoD. There has been talk of a "government shutdown," where the government cannot be funded. However, a budget was passed today to temporarily prevent a shutdown for another 2 weeks (Source: The Huffington Post).

The DoD is actually trying to push for a larger budget, according to Federal News Radio. Near the end of the broadcast, the lady says to forget about the patent reform and put more money into the DoD.

Finally, another broadcast last week has the CFOs of the DoD and PTO talking about the budget and the potential shutdown. Funny thing is that I currently work for the PTO and am also waiting for an official job offer from DoD (I have already been unofficially approved for the job). However, because of the lack of defined budgets, the Army has been forced to delay this.


Are you signal or noise?

I just read an interesting blog post at TR talking about signal and noise. I was attracted to the article after seeing the title because I have some background (course work) in signal processing.

The author talks about the usefulness of a certain website. However, it's usefulness may have been compromised due to fruitless discussions and straying from the main topic.

Basically, what I can apply to my life..
When I talk, am I signal or noise? Is the signal significantly stronger than the noise? Signal is something meaningful, useful and exactly what the data processor (listener) is looking for. Noise is the burdensome extraneous information that prevents the data processor from extracting the meaningful signal.

Also, this is a reason why I do not share too often. I feel like a lot of noise comes out when I try to convey a signal. Sometimes, I don't have the proper experiences or insight to contribute. Other times, the information is so jumbled in my head that I have trouble getting out a filtered signal. Hopefully, one day, I will learn to filter the data that comes out of my mouth to prevent the noise from disrupting the signal too much.

Maximize the signal-to-noise ratio.