2015/04/19

Minimalism

I once put down an quotation I found in a book. Albert Einstein was supposed to have said that, unfortunately I could not find a reference to it right now. The quotation reads:

"The explanation of the world and its causes must be simple and elegant in the end. The 'world formula' that is not simple and elegant cannot be true."

There is one more quotation by Albert Einstein that is definitely his and you can verify that online:

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

I really like these as the real minimalism is very close to my hearth. I can demonstrate that on a tool set that I use for my daily work. As an IT engineering manager, I spend a lot of time working on a computer. The biggest bottleneck at my work is the way I make the computer do what I want it to do. There is a desktop environment controlled by a keyboard and a mouse. This did not change for decades now. I am a little bit skeptical about revealing a surprisingly more efficient way anytime soon. So I try to be as efficient on these devices as I can.

For the desktop environment I use Fluxbox. It does its job and it does it fine. Simple lines around the windows, no fancy 3D effects, no shades, no amusement park stuff. I do not have any icons on the desktop itself, just a B&W picture with my friends. I run the most used applications via shortcuts, usually Win key plus some letter. For those not associated with any shortcut I press Alt+F2 and type the name of the application. I use several desktops, each having a dedicated meaning. The second one is for a Web browser for example. This means that I can immediately get (Win+F2) to the application I am looking for. When I see my friends looking for the windows through various desktops on Ubuntu, it looks really cool and is filled with a lot of eye candies. But it takes time. IMHO this is not a well spent time.

You might say that I am just trying to be a weird nerd. I would like to assure you about my only goal which is being efficient.

Btw. I love shortucts! A single key press (well, technically multiple keys at the same time) and bang, the desired action just happens. No need to move from the keyboard to the mouse and back. Mouse is for web browsing, keyboard is for the real work ;-)

Most code developers probably know that from their favorite IDE. It can go beyond that. You can approach that as a great exercise for your brain. Always try to learn a new shortcut. There are also some other good options (hint: lookup the linked series name on youtube).

For the keyboard, there are various options, everybody is likely to find their own way. The key principle is, in my opinion, to make it a thing you do not take care of. You should not think about using it, you should not think about what key to press. Truly keyboard with blank keys helped me to address this problem. The first two weeks were a real nightmare but definitely wort it!

I did not find anything special for the mouse so far. Just and ordinary one, large model that fits my unusually long fingers. I tried trackball, or the mouse allowing you to hold it under a different wrist angle. But these did not work for me. Simply, it is the mouse, intended for the leisure time on the Internet, so not a big deal to me. Reading what I see takes more time than cursor navigation.

As I already mentioned, I incorporated these optimizations to be effective. To spend the appropriate time in the Quadrant no. 2 (see image below) as suggested in the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Why I am talking about all of this stuff? This is a simple question. My impression is that we are constantly exposed to technology that tries to pull us into Quadrant no. 1. The amount of such distractions is increasing in the form of more interactions on social networks that gets closer and closer to you. What do you do when a phone beeps while you are reading a book? Do you look at the phone? However, I would like to talk about this in more detail the other time.

Now I wonder, is it just me who is obsessive by being efficient? What optimizations did you incorporated in your environment?

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