Learning How To Learn : Course Experience

The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.

What is learning? Well basically, forming and consolidation neural patterns.

Recently I took the course “Learning How to Learn” on Coursera. I really wanted to figure out the best way to enhance my learning. And this course has been really helpful. It provides you with the right tools and tips to construct your own learning schedule. Methods shown in the course are scientifically proven and helps you understand your brain better.

Here is a quick summary of what I learned in the course :

WEEK 1 :

There are two modes of thinking :

  1. Focused Mode
  2. Diffused Mode

Focused Mode is where our mind is concentrating on following neural patterns that it is already familiar with and Diffused Mode where our mind is sort of relaxed and is ready to find new neural patterns.

Why we procrastinate?

Studies have shown that we procrastinate because when we are about to start a task that we are uncomfortable with our brain activates the parts that correspond to pain and thus wants to stay away with it.

Solution? Well, just get started. With practice this feeling will go away.

Don’t think too much and just “eat that frog”.

WEEK 2 :

Chunking : A chunk is a small interconnectable piece of information that you can learn at a time.

Basic idea behind chunking is to get a bigger idea of the topic that you are going to study and divide it into meaningful chunk. These chunks then get interconnected to to help brain learn effectively.

Mastery is just the art of increasing the number of chunks that you can interconnect.

Personally, I feel chunking is a great way to tackle procrastination too.

Illusion of competence :

When you are done with learning a topic. Force yourself to recall it.

What motivates you? Having a feeling of motivation and excitement towards learning helps the brain learn more effectively as feeling motivated releases dopamine which causes happiness.

Overlearning and Einstellung :

One should be beware of overlearning i.e repeating several times topics you already know. This causes the brain to go into Einstellung, which means that brain refuses to explore new neural patterns and becomes rigid to ones we already know very well.

Week 3 :

Habits are energy saver mode of our brains. When a habit has been formed our brain doesn’t overload itself with information and zombie mode kicks in.

Habit can be described with following parts :

  1. The Cue : Triggers that launches the zombie mode.
  2. The Routine : Habitual response in reaction to the cue.
  3. The Reward : Habits exist because we get reward.
  4. The Belief : To change habits we need to believe that we can change them.

Understanding how habits are formed and work can help us develop new good habits and get rid of the bad ones. 10 years from now everyone is going to know about your bad habits, your success is going to represent you. Now is the time to get rid of them.

Avoid Procrastination? Focus on process not the product.

Also, make your to-do list for the next day the night before. This will allow your diffuse mode to work on it while you will be sleeping.

WEEK 4 :

There is a difference in smartness of people. Smartness equals having a larger working memory.

But people with smaller working memory are scientifically proven to be more creative.

Deliberate Practice, practicing hard stuff again and again, can lift the normal brain to the realm of naturally gifted. Practicing certain neural patterns deepens the mind.

How to become a better learner?

Exercise : Exercising created new neurons in brain.

Life experiences : Gaining varying life experiences also enhances the brain.

Analogies and Metaphors : Can be used to learn and memorize effectively.

And finally ,

Virtue of less brilliant is perseverance and grit.

This course has been great for understanding how our brain works in nutshell. At least know you know how it works, you can make it work for you.

I am trying to become good at things that are way complex than what I have worked on till now. This was the reason why I took the course.

My takeaways were to practice, persevere and have patience.

I have started next course “Introduction to Algorithms by MIT”. This is a course that I always wanted to finish completely. Hopefully this time I can do that.

See you next time!

5 notes on MVP architecture pattern for Android

                                                           Image credits Macoscope

MVP (Model View and Presenter) is an architectural pattern inspired by the popular MVC pattern.

MVP addresses two main points :

  1. Make views as dumb as possible. The dumber the better.
  2. Make each layer loosely coupled and easily testable in isolation.

I am using MVP in one of my production project and have used in some dem0 apps. Here are my 5 notes on using MVP for android.

  1. Package Structure :

Android project contains lots of code and files even for application of medium complexity. Even when not following MVP I have found that arranging the project files in such a way that files that are accessed together are put in same package is more efficient and intuitive than any other approach.

What I prefer doing is create separate package for separate verticals of the app and put all related files like activities, fragments, views, presenters, adapters etc in that package.

ex. packages like add task, view task, list task for a To-Do app.

2. Libraries that are useful for MVP :

In MVP you want your model and presenter to be independent of the life cycle of view. For this, you can use dependency injector library like Dagger2.

Other than that, using RxJava and reactive programming principles for creating presenter is also becoming increasingly popular.

Libraries you can use for this purpose are : RxAndroid and EventBus.

3. Managing Remote and local data sources in the Model :

Android apps have to fetch data from the server. At the same time fetched data must be cached to make the app usable offline and increase the speed.

What I prefer doing is to create three model classes :

1. Remote Data Source

2. Local Data Source

3. Data Repository

All presenters talk to Data Repository class. Data repository model contains references to Local and Remote data repository and calls data from either according to situation.

As the name suggests Local Data Source deals with cached data and disk storage whereas Remote Data Source deals with API calls and responses.

4. User Experience is the top priority :

One thing that we all have to keep in mind that the real test of application is, if it is able to provide user a nice experience.

At the end of the day, user only notices the user experience of the application and not the architecture used. So if you have to make some design sacrifices to make the UX better, do it.

The real test of the machine is the satisfaction it provides to the mind. There is no other bigger test.

5. Testing Advantages :

Main motive behind MVP pattern was to make the testing of layers easy.

Basic idea is to keep the presenter and model android free, so that they can be tested without Android instrumentation by the JVM itself.

Views can then be tested by Android Instrumentation tests.

Mockito and Espresso can come handy for testing purposes.

Conclusion :

MVP, in my opinion is so far the best way to architect your android application project. It simplifies many issues like testing and making views lighter. Combine it it RxJava and dependency injection and you’ve got a nice recipe for android projects.

I am learning more about RxJava and testing frameworks will share my views on that soon.

Thanks.

How to Win Friends and Influence People : Reading Experience and Summary

How to win friends and influence people is an all time classic book. I got to know about this book from the Goodreads recommendations and instantly decided to read this one. It starts stating that leadership is 15% technical skills and 85% skill to manage human relations. This sentence alone suffices the need of this book.

What you can get out of the book?

  • Gives you new ways to carry on meaningful conversations.
  • Make lasting connections with people by influencing them.
  • Win new clients, customers and team members.
  • Increase your confidence while approaching people.
  • Make you a better salesman, entrepreneur and leader.

This book is filled with historical examples that the author uses that just exemplifies the principles stated in the book. This is not a light read and taking notes is necessary to get the most out of this book.

Here is the summary  :

PART 1 : Fundamental techniques in handling people

Chapter 1: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  • Don’t  criticize people or blame them for anything. It makes them go defensive.
  • Criticism hurts their pride and sense of importance.
  • “I’ll speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know” – Benjamin Franklin
  • Even Abraham Lincoln made it a point not to criticise anyone not even his commander who made a big blunder during war.
  • Principle 1 : Don’t criticize, complain or condemn. 

Chapter 2 :  The big secret of dealing with people

  • “The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want”
  • Biggest craving in humans is to be appreciated, to be complemented.
  • Fill people with encouragement and give them an incentive to work.
  • Sincere appreciation is one of the secrets of success of handling men.
  • Know the difference between flattery and sincere appreciation.
  • Flattery is selfish and counterfeit. Appreciation is from the heart.
  • Principle 2 : Give honest and sincere appreciation

Chapter 3: He who can do this holds the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way

  • Only way to influence people is to talk about what they want.
  • Try to see things from other person’s point of view.
  • Convince person how something that you want them to o can benefit them.
  • Arouse in other person an eager want.
  • Self expression is dominant necessity in human nature.
  • Always let the other person think that it is their idea.
  • Principle 3  : Arouse in other person an eager want

Part 2  : Ways To Make People Like You

Chapter 1 : Do this and you’ll be welcome anywhere

  • Try to be interested in people, not to make them interested in you.
  • Always be grateful and interested in customers in business.
  • Principle 1 : Become genuinely interested in other people.

Chapter 2 : A simple way to make a good impression

  • Show people by expression that you are happy to meet them.
  • Preserve the attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer.
  • Principle 2  : Smile

Chapter 3 : If you don’t do this, you are headed for trouble

  • People are more interested in their names than all the names put together.
  • Always make effort to call people by their name.
  • If you are executive then you have remember name.
  • Even Charles Schwab said that he tried to call his employees by their names.
  • Principle 3  : Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Chapter 4 : An easy way to become good conversationalist

  • Be a good listener and encourage people to talk
  • Stop everything and listen whole heatedly to people
  • Listening gives people a feeling of importance
  • Principle 4 : Be  a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. 

Chapter 5  : How to interest people

  • Talk about thing they treasure the most
  • Author gives as example how appreciating a clients office got him the deal.
  • Principle 5  : Talk in terms of other people’s interests. 

Chapter 6  : How to make people like you instantly

  • Talk to people about themselves.
  • Talk about things they admire the most. This will make them feel important.
  • Principle 6 : Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

Part 3  : How to win people to your way of thinking

Chapter 1 : You can’t win an argument

  • Avoid arguments like you avoid rattlesnakes.
  • Arguments are futile to change someone’s mind.
  • To avoid arguments : welcome disagreement, distrust first instinct to go defensive, control your temper, listen first, look for areas of agreement,  apologize for your mistakes, promise to think over your point, thank opponent for their interest, postpone action to think.
  • Principle 1 : Only way to get most of an argument is to avoid it.

Chapter 2  : A sure way of making enemies and how to avoid it

  • If you are going to prove anything, don’t let the other person know it.
  • “Be wiser that the other people if you can, but don’t let them know it”
  • Never tell a person straight away that they are wrong.
  • Principle 2  : Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You are wrong”

Chapter 3  : If you are wrong, admit it.

  • Criticize yourself before some else does that.
  • This will make temper of the other person cool down
  • Principle 3 : If you are wrong admit if quickly and emphatically 

Chapter 4 : A drop of honey

  • “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall”
  • Always begin in friendly way and appreciate the other person.
  • A renter wanted his rent reduced so he first praised the apartment in which he was living.
  • Principle 4  : Begin in a friendly way.

Chapter 5 :  Secret of Socrates

  • In talking to people don’t begin by discussing things that you differ on.
  • Ask questions that makes your opponent say yes yes!
  • Principle 5  : Get the other person saying yes yes immediately.

Chapter 6 : The safety valve in handling complaints

  • Let the other people talk themselves out.
  • Even if you disagree don’t interrupt.
  • Principle 6 : Let the other person do a great deal of talking

Chapter 7 : How to get cooperation

  • People want to be consulted about their wants.
  • People want to buy/accept something on their own accord, not to be sold.
  • Make people believe that the idea is theirs.
  • Principle 7 : Let the other person feel that the idea is his/hers.

Chapter 8 : A formula that will work wonders for you

  • Always try to understand why a person would say something like this.
  • Try to think with the person’s point of view.
  • Principle 8 : Try honestly to see things from other person’s point of view.

Chapter 9 : What everybody wants

  • People are thirsting for sympathy – give it to them.
  • When a person is debating with you remember to react differently than the others.
  • Principle 9 : Be sympathetic with other person’s ideas and desires.

Chapter 10 : An appeal that everyone likes

  • Show the person the motives that sound good.
  • Principle 10 : Appeal to the nobler motives.

Chapter 11 : The Movies Do it. TV Does it. Why Don’t You Do it?

  • Stating truth is not enough. You have to dramatize them.
  • Make it vivid, impressive and interesting.
  • Principle 11 : Dramatize your ideas.

Chapter 12 :  When nothing else works try this

  • Make the work exciting and challenging.
  • Schwab invoked a challenge among morning and night shift workers to increase the efficiency of the factory.
  • Principle 12 : Throw down a challenge.

Part 4 : Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Chapter 1 : If you must find fault this is the way to begin

  • Say something pleasant before criticizing.
  • A barber always lathers a man before he shaves him.
  • Principle 1 : Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

Chapter 2  : How to criticize and not to be hated for it

  • Never use the word “but” after appreciation. It makes appreciation looks fake.
  • Use other words like “and”.
  • Principle 2 : Call attention to people’s mistake indirectly

Chapter 3 : Talk about your own mistakes first

  • Admit and talk about your own mistakes first before criticizing the other person.
  • Principle 3 : Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.

Chapter 4 : No one likes to take orders

  • Give suggestions instead if orders and you’ll hit the person’s pride less.
  • Involve people in the decision making by asking them questions.
  • Principle 4 : Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Chapter 5 : Let the other person save face

  • “I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. “
  • Don’t belittle a person.
  • Principle 5 : Let the other person save face.

Chapter 6 : How to spur people to success

  • Praise every little improvement in the person.
  • Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.
  • Charles Dickens was once praised by a editor when he was poor little boy and it changed his life.
  • Principle 6  :  Praise the slightest improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.

Chapter 7 : Give a dog a good name

  • To change the person’s behavior give him a good reputation to live up to.
  • Example : “You are one if the best worker. Lately you’ve been slow. We know there is a reason. Let’s discuss it”
  • Principle  7 : Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Chapter 8 : Make the fault seem easy to correct

  • Praise the person’s good point and make them feel that their faults are very minor.
  • Other wise you’ll destroy their will to improve.
  • Principle 8 : Use encouragement. Make fault  seem easy.

Chapter 9 : Making people glad to do what you want

  • Make people happy and excited about their job.
  • Show the person the benefits of the job.
  • Ask yourself what the other person really wants.
  • Principle 9 : Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

 

10 Things I want to do before I graduate.

I am almost half an engineer by this time. Two and a half year and I will be a graduate. Sounds like fun. So I guess this is the best time to reveal 10 things I want to do before I die . Oh! sorry, before I graduate.

 

1. Google Summer Of Code

GSOC
Okay. First one should not be a surprise for computer students. Gsoc is like a dream for almost every computer engineering student. There is nothing better then this you get as a student. I am working with python and will try to get through with it into the Gsocers list.

2. Go to Goa

Goa
Now this should be obvious to every college student. The beach parties and the girls ;). Seems like fun.
I just want to get there and then declare it “The World Party!”.

3. Try to crack Codevita

Codevita
If you are unfamiliar with this one. It is not your fault. It is a coding contest organized by TCS. I am not that much of a hardcore competitive coder but still this thing deserves a shot.

4. Go River rafting

River Rafting
Okay! I am really excited for this one. About half a year ago we planned this but few back logs ruined the plans :'(. . Let us see when the glory comes to me.

5. Complete the Dragon Ball series

DBZ
It nothing compared to watching your favorite anime Dragon Ball and try to follow the super saiyan way of living. I have grown up watching this and want to live this awesome way my whole life. (Those good old times . I want to relive them 🙂 ).

6. Go to Sunburn

Sunburn
There is nothing more exciting and thrilling and electrifying and startling …( 😀 )then jumping with your hands flying in the air to the EDM of your favorite DJ.

7. Complete Data Science Specialization on Coursera

DS
Back to study stuff. Data science and Big Data are kind off booms in the IT industry now days. There are by now 11 courses provided by coursera on the topic and I wish to complete them all.

8. Plant a Start-Up

start up
As you guessed by the previous point, I am a techie person ( at least I consider myself as one ). It sounds thrilling and fun to start your own start-up. So just shut up and start-up.

9. Go to Bangalore for an Internship

Internship
Tech internship and Bangalore. The perfect duo. Meet new and talented people and grow yourself as well. As far as I have heard it is a very fun experience.

10. Get a Girlfriend

This one is in because I was having no other thoughts in my mind and I didn’t wanted the title to look like 9 things to do…
So if you are a girl, ping me! 😉