Shortly after publishing last week’s newsletter, I finished reading Thinking, Fast and Slow. I realized a number of experiments in behavioural psychology and economics that people commonly cite are discussed in this book, which sort of makes me feel like everyone has already read this book. What I found most amusing was that near the end, Kahneman starts referring to people with a background in economics as Econs (with a capital E), saying things like “humans, unlike Econs, need help to make good decisions”, as if economists are some species that have transcended everyone else.
I thought I would have trouble deciding what to read next, but a glance at my Kindle library helped me realize that I started Homo Deus (the second book in Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens pseudo-trilogy) but never got around to finishing it. The book provides some context behind how Homo sapiens became the dominant species on Earth through the lens of the human experience. It concludes with the idea of “techno-religions” such as Dataism (worshipping data and algorithms as opposed to some other deity) being a driving force this century. Working in this technology industry, it’s certainly an interesting thing to think about.
As I tweeted out earlier in the week, it seems like VALORANT has reached the wonderful point where toxic players have made their way in from other games. Because of this, I took a break for a couple of days and went back to League. This was actually really refreshing; it seems whenever League starts to feel boring or stale, taking a month off and coming back to it erases all the negativity inherent in playing the game. I’m becoming more and more convinced League is going to be the game that outlasts all other competitive games.
In addition, the new set of cards for Legends of Runeterra was released last week. This is a game that I hadn’t talked about too much, but it was one of the games in development while I was at Riot that I actually got to test! I was super happy about it because at that time, I had gotten sick of Hearthstone and how pay-to-win the game had become, and the gameplay and planned monetization strategy behind LoR was promising.
Stepping back, this is a crazy time in gaming. For nearly a decade, League was the only title that Riot Games had published, and certainly the only one that anyone outside of the company knew about. Yet now in 2020, I’m simultaneously playing three games (four if Teamfight Tactics could be considered its own game) published by Riot, and they’re all top calibre (if not the best) games in their respective genres. Quite the achievement, I’d say.
Stepping away from gaming and into “productivity corner”, my attempt to use my iPad more has led me down the road of finally experimenting with Shortcuts, Apple’s graphical-based automation builder for iOS. Since iPadOS now has a feature where widgets can be made always-visible on the home screen, Shortcuts are a lot more appealing since they offer a one-tap way to perform various actions.
The first shortcut I made just consists of two actions: switching the “playback destination” to my HomePod, and then playing the top-most episode in Overcast. Switching audio output devices is something that can be done via Control Centre, but still takes a non-trivial amount of time. Since creating this shortcut, I’ve been listening to demonstrably more podcasts during the work-from-home-day, which is awesome since the removal of a work commute has left me with fewer podcast-listening hours in the day.
I also created one that allows me to record the amount of water I drink everyday in an attempt to get in the habit of drinking more water, and found one that lets you dictate notes to Siri and have it automatically transcribed to the Notes app. A lot of shortcuts I’ve found online either seem totally unnecessary or not relevant to me, but now that I understand what Shortcuts is capable of, I’m now on the lookout for opportunities where I can automate even more things.