February 20, 2007

Feynman on lack of knowledge…

Posted in Lifehacks, Work at 2:35 am by a11en

Another quick post.  Those of you who know me, may know that I love Feynman’s crazy antics.  I should have suspected he was as deep a thinker as Bohr.  I have blogged in the past about lack of knowledge, and also shared some thoughts with a new graduate student in our group.  Fiore (The Now Habit) also has some thoughts about the lack of knowledge and procrastination.  I’m seeing some synergy here, so I wanted to share it.  Fiore’s basic idea is that at the beginning of a work (and I’ll leave “work” very loose here), we lack knowledge.  One can be scared away from the work because of the lack of knowledge… self-doubt about one’s ability to do the work will arise.  It is important to know that at the beginning of anything, we will lack appropriate knowledge… as we tackle the tasks at hand, we will learn, and accomplish more, and accomplish more, faster.  In fact, lacking “the knowledge”, as you so aptly state to yourself, is an indication that you are in no position to determine if you can finish the project or not- without jumping in, learning, working, and doing that project.  🙂  As you learn and do, so will your knowledge gain, and so will you finish the project at hand.

Feynman discusses the importance of lack of knowledge… “I can live with doubt and uncertainty…”  “I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.”  And finally: “He once defined science as belief in ignorance of experts.”  That last one caused me to laugh.  (As will it likely to any PhD student.)  In fact, he mentioned, it’s much more important to know you are ignorant… that way you can correct the problem.  🙂  These quotes are taken from Perfectly Reasonable Deviations, Michelle, Feynman.

I’d like to explain that this is true on many levels… For science as whole, work in the darker areas of our understanding is the only place to accomplish a new understanding and bring to light discovery.  For a personal understanding- those dark areas that you are afraid of, are the only areas you can work to push your knowledge base, to increase your chances of discovery for yourself!  Those areas you’re afraid of, aren’t so scary when you look hard for answers, dig further, contact people who understand those areas.  This is the trick for a student, for a learning person in any walk of life.  If you know where you don’t know something, that’s where you know you must work.  Only then, can you increase your knowledge.

So, lack of knowledge is important.  It defines our areas of discovery.  Not only that, if we come to these areas of darkness with an open mind (skeptical of experts as Feynman would want us to be), we are the Po’ the unformed block… capable of understanding new things perhaps even better than the experts do, because we see them in a new light for the first time.

So, being scared of the unknown is exactly what you *don’t* want to be if you want to achieve new discoveries and achieve personal growth in your own knowledge.  Scared of math?  I bet if you dig hard there, you’ll discover new things… with an anxious mind for exciting discovery, you may just enjoy yourself!  🙂

February 19, 2007

OpenDX – watch those line-breaks!

Posted in Work at 10:12 pm by a11en

A quick tip for anyone trying to import data on the Mac in OpenDX’s import dialogs.  Try opening up your data with a program like Pico on the unix side and save it with unix line-breaks before opening it up in DX’s import dialogs.  Before doing this, I got the standard 200-column limit error… after doing this, my data was able to be imported!  Finally solved one problem I’ve had with DX since I started using it!  🙂

Now, if only I could get it to make a surface out of atom positions in space…

February 15, 2007

Beware kGTD!

Posted in GTD, Mac Software, Rants, Work at 10:14 pm by a11en

Well, normally I rant and rave about how wonderful kGTD is. But, I’m here to tell you to backup your files and never erase the backups. That’s about the only way you can be sure that you are not losing information. Today I lost a major portion of my Project and Action lists. I’m still sitting here stunned. The info is *not* in the backup files, and the damage has been wraught. I may now have to completely drop my kGTD useage. I had a lot of major information in that file/program, and now it’s lost. I am now going to be going through my old printouts hoping that I can get back 90% of the data. I don’t have much hope for it.

So, I hate to say this, but “buyers” beware. kGTD looses data, and I doubt that I will be able to use it as a “trusted” system in the future.