Audiobook: The hard thing about hard things


This is the story of Ben Horowitz. Starting as a lowly programmer, then proceeding through several steps on the corporate ladder ending up – as he defines it – a wartime CEO and then finally cashing it all in for the big bag of $$$ and becoming a venture capitalist.  There are scenes in this story that are often rude and harsh but he stays at all times very professional and caring for what he does and for with whom he works.

The part that got me a lot is that it seems that during all his career he cared a lot for his work. No fiddling around, no laying low, but pure power and professionalism.

Enduring, navigating and fighting through hard things.

How to stop screwing yourself over by Mel Robbins at TEDx San Francisco

Very energetic, a bit rude and very true.

I’d go straight to the video, but for those who need a bit more motivation to sit through, check my bullet-point summary below.


The main points Mel Robbins goes through are:

  • Decide what you want. Be selfish about this decision, this is about you, no need to make it look appealing to others.
  • Use your activation energy. The same energy that pushes you to do great things is the one you exercise creating when you get out of bed in the morning without the “snooze button”.
  • Don’t be just fine. If you tell people that you are fine, you are essentially telling yourself that that’s the best you can do.
  • The 5 second emergency break rule. Helps engaging in different/unusual/unexpected activities. If you don’t engage in an activity in the first 5 seconds, chances are, you never will.
  • Get out of your bed. Get out of your comfort zone. Get out of your own head.

2 key slides from the video:



Richard Dawkins

A certainly controversial figure coming from evolutionary biology. He is known for his anti-religious public appearances and publications.

Richard Dawkins

What he is less known for inventing the word meme. It comes from his book “The selfish gene” and stands for a unit of human cultural evolution analogous to the gene. From an evolutionary point of view a meme has the same attributes: reproduction, selfishness and natural selection.

In this book he methodically goes through a handful of ideas and puts them in parallel with evolution. I found it a nice mental exercise.

Let me quote his take on explaining ball games for the roboticists around here.

“When a man throws a ball high in the air and catches it again. he behaves as if he had solved a set of differential equations in predicting the trajectory of the ball… at some subconscious level, something functionally equivalent to the mathematical calculations is going on.”

And for the sake of completeness, I’m also presenting some of his anti-religious quotes. Be advised, they may make sense!

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”

“Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.”

“Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.”

ROS Indigo with Elementary OS Freya

I’ve recently got my a new laptop for work, which is great, but this means I had to abandon all the comfort of OSX.

Of course for work I need an Ubuntu system but I set my eyes on a distribution called Elementary OS before, that is Ubuntu-based but tries to mimic the style of OSX.


To begin the ROS installation a minor tweak is needed on the first step. Instead of

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb $(lsb_release -sc) main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list'


sudo sh -c 'echo "deb trusty main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list'

Since ROS doesn’t have packages dedicated to Elementary, this second line tells it to use the Ubuntu Trusty packages instead (on which Elementary OS Freya is based).

However, when I tried to start up the simulation of TIAGo, I got buckets of errors from rosdep about the operating system not being detected. After a quick sneak peak at the code of it, I discovered that there is an environmental variable that can be used to override whatever is happening, as rosdep is supposed to support Elementary OS, it’s the latter that does something fishy here.

I added

export ROS_OS_OVERRIDE=elementary

to my .bashrc, and the problem was solved.

Here is a video of the working system, with the TIAGo robot from PAL Robotics.

So those are my notes on the Elementary OS + ROS topic. For those who’d like to get started with Elementary OS check the links below.


Elementary OS goodies to install,

20 things to do after installing Elementary OS

Do you like Evernote‘s desktop client? NixNote2 provides a fully cross-platform opensource alternative to the official client.

To see if and where your boot process can be optimized, try bootcharting

To see what you can do with your Thinkpad fans and in Linux go here.

Adafruit wearables electronics videos and adafruit daily mails

The other day I bumped into this video on youtube and thought it’s worth spreading it. In these videos Beck Stern walks through some recent news on wearable electronics, in this episode her co-host is Collin, who’s always funny 🙂

Other than this, Adafruit has started the daily mail programme, where you can subscribe for a “one-liner note along with an image per topic”-sort of mails. It goes well with the morning cup of tea (or coffee). If this got you interested, go check it out:

Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute seminar talks on youtube

I’m always glad to find interesting and inspiring material to watch that is freely available.

In this case, it is about the seminar talks of the Robotics Institute from Carnegie Mellon University. Thanks guys!


At the moment the playlist counts 77 video of internal talks all shared on youtube available for everyone.

I’m embedding the latest on here that I’ve watched today. Take a sneak-peek:

For the rest, please refer to the playlist of CMU RI: