Deep Work: Chapter 2

A few quick thoughts on this chapter.

First, I generally appreciate his message. I think he’s generally correct that we are essentially being harmed and conditioned by the trappings of technology (what he calls a technopoly). This causes us to be less able to concentrate, more fractured, and what’s more we often feel as if this is somehow good or laudable. And that there is potentially great good that can be done by eliminating or greatly limiting our distractions.

But, that said, I had a few quibbles in this chapter.

First, I’m pretty sure he misuses the word “fungible.” I’m assuming he meant, “ambiguous” given the context, but that doesn’t sound as cool as fungible. I understood what he was meant after reading it a few times, but in context, it made no sense and was confusing.

Second, his example of Marissa Mayer getting cheesed off about the lack of use of her company’s VPN by remote employees was not remotely (haha) convincing. I don’t buy for a minute that most of the employees were primarily using the VPN for email usage. That’s stupid. Unless there’s more explanation given than was, it seems like it could have been a relatively accurate assessment by her. It really depends on how Yahoo implemented their WFH policies. What was actually allowed? Did you need a VPN to actually work? At my employer, you basically do need to use the VPN to do anything work-related from home, at least within the rules. I can totally imagine circumstance where this would not be the case, but I’d be surprised if this isn’t fairly normal.

Finally, I think one of my biggest complaints is that he basically ignores that a major reason employers try to figure out things like “productivity” is that man is basically evil. I’m a Calvinist, so “Total Depravity” is part of my lexicon, even if I think it’s kind of misunderstood based on that term (see here for more). Regardless, the point stands: man is not basically good. In his unregenerate state, man is basically evil. The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV). Or Genesis 6:5 (NKJV): Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. I don’t think this has changed since the flood. So, one of the jobs of supervisors and managers, unfortunately, is to recognize this and account for it.

Thus, I don’t buy that the reason people want open offices, daily standups, and some sort of tangible results is invalid. I don’t think Melissa Mayer was wrong to be skeptical of remote workers. I think it’s generally reasonable. But I do grant that sometimes because of this we end up allowing the cart to get before the horse, in part because we don’t want to recognize that depravity is part of man’s nature. And we also forget that man is amazingly good at learning to game the system.

Anyway, despite the above, I really did enjoy this chapter and the book (so far). It seems like one of those books that is likely to end up sticking with me.

After Debian Testing Screws up Grub

I’ve had this happen a few times and it’s seriously annoying.

Basically, I decide to go back to my Debian testing install, realize it’s been a while, so I should run update, and that somehow borks my Grub stuff.

I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but this worked:

Boot up, but select to boot to Ubuntu instead of Debian.

That should show all of the Linux installs. Log into the correct Debian.

In there, I did the following:

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg


sudo grub-install

That seemed to fix it. I don’t know why it’s doing what it’s doing, but it’s annoying. I suspect that Debian testing is overwriting the above location,

Getting on Wifi from command line Debian

Steps on this page worked great for me in the MSP airport:

In summary:

nmcli dev status
nmcli radio wifi
nmcli dev wifi list
sudo nmcli dev wifi connect MSP Airport WiFi [didn\’t work since it interprets the space as a command break]
sudo nmcli dev wifi connect \’MSP Airport WiFi\’

Looks like I previously had installed another networking package (via ethernet), so it might be reliant on that:

sudo apt install glib-networking-common

After I got online with wifi like that, I could use apt to install the Gnome network-manager app:

sudo apt install network-manager-gnome

Getting Citrix Receiver to work on Debian Linux

I\’ve gotten this to work twice now, but forgot what I did the first time, so I figured I\’d write it down in case I need to do it again.

First, install ClamAV (since I\’m required to have antivirus installed):

sudo apt install clamav

Download the Citrix receiver.

(I used version, as evinced below.)

Install with dpkg:

sudo dpkg -i icaclient_23.3.0.32_amd64.deb

(Note that the command above only works from the location where the file was downloaded.)

Copy/link the ssl certificates to the correct directory:

sudo ln -s /etc/ssl/certs/* /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts/

I think that\’s what finally worked, but I had also done the Mozilla copy, too:

sudo ln -s /usr/share/ca-certificates/mozilla/* /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts

Daily Plan

I was just thinking in the kitchen at work how I want to attack my days and realized I should probably write it down.

  • Get up at 5, wake up, get to chair by 5:15.
  • 5:15-6: Do math
  • 6-6:40: Do math or be available to talk to wife.
  • 6:40-7: see boys, get ready to go
  • 7:10-7:20: Leave for work, listen to Bible and pray on the way
  • 7:45-noon: work
  • noon-1:
  • 1-5: work
  • 5:30-8:30: Dinner, family worship, putting boys to bed, family worship, reading to kids.
  • 8:30-10: Math or; available to talk to Rita.
  • 10:30: Bedtime.

My basic plan at present is to continue to work on math at least 45 minutes a day and make progress toward a CS degree at WGU.

Getting back to Debian after Windows 10 install

I decided to put Windows 10 back on my laptop so I could work on something that requires an actual Windows install. The guides online all looked scary, so after looking around I found out it\’s really easy on a modern laptop.

  1. Reboot and go to bios.
  2. Change the boot order to have Debian first.
  3. Save and boot into Debian.
  4. In Debian, go to the command line and run the command \”sudo update-grub.\”
  5. Reboot and note that Windows is listed on the grub menu now, but Debian is first.

That\’s literally it. It was that simple. This was on a T470s that previously had Debian 11 installed on two partitions (separate installs). I deleted the one I never use with Gparted, then installed Windows on that partition. Then I did the above to get back to being able to go into Debian.

Loudness Equalization on Linux

This feels like one of those big dominoes that I\’ve been occasionally looking for but *finally* has fallen. [Not sure that works linguistically, but work with me here.]

On Windows, for as long as I can remember, one feature I really, really liked for non-music is the so-called \”Loudness Equalization.\” It\’s an option in Windows (sometimes!!) that can really help normalize how loud your speakers are. So instead of blasting the loud parts of a movie to kingdom come and barely being able to make out the dialogue, it allows you to hear both at more appropriate levels.

But I had not made this work on Linux. Until today.

Doing what\’s suggested here worked perfectly.

The only \”hard\” parts were downloading the file (upper right), unzipping it, then copying it to the appropriate folder as directed. Then I rebooted (because I didn\’t want to figure out restarting Pulseaudio) and it seems to work great. I\’m at 68% volume and can actually hear dialogue on my laptop. It\’s amazing.

Career Thoughts

I guess one good thing about my career thoughts these days are that they\’re less broad. I no longer think about becoming an accountant almost ever. I am pretty dedicated to the technical/engineering fields. But therein lies the rub: which? I\’m kind of caught between them and feel a bit like I\’m going to be someone left without a chair when the music stops.

Why do I think this? I think part of it has to do with a few interviews I\’ve had while employed at my current employer. In each I get the strong impression that my \”jack of all trades\” background is not helpful. Granted, I\’m a test engineer and the two jobs I applied for were a systems administrator position and a software engineering position. But that\’s the issue: I don\’t want to be a test engineer forever. Testers are a unique breed in that they are highly important but lowly. They don\’t lead. They necessarily follow. At the same time, can you lead within a following discipline? Sure. I\’m trying to do so. But I\’m also legitimately recognizing that my \”subordinates\” are passing me by. A fresh-out-of-college guy I hired not long ago was so far-and-away my superior at programming that it was almost depressing. A tech who was recently promoted to engineer is better now than I am. The kind of stagnant guy with a CS degree has suddenly become more adept and is noticeably better.

A lot of this tells me: You need to get better at programming. Well, yes. And maybe that\’s just what I should do. But at the same time, my job encompasses a lot of other areas of engineering: power systems, in particular.

I could get an EE degree. I\’d love to. But I can\’t. I mean, I could. My employer would pay for it. I really considered signing up for a class this week. But even if I could take 5 classes per year (a class per available term), it\’d take something like 9 years. And so far, I haven\’t been able to make it work when I\’ve tried. I\’ve literally paid for Calculus 2 something like 3 times. But I inevitably get about 3 weeks in and realize that I could hack it, but it\’s going to be ugly. Or it\’s going to literally take all of my free time (including too much time from my family).

I could just \”do calculus slowly.\” Which means doing Saxon Calculus. And I\’m inclined to do so. Just take 30 minutes a day and work through the book. I should really do that. Why not? Then Saxon Physics. But if I\’m going to focus on some other area of tech is that a waste of time?

But no, I don\’t think so.

This has been helpful. Here\’s what I\’m going to do:

I have a Codecademy subscription for a long time still (until June). Finish the CS degree plan. I\’m 9% into it.

At the same time, plod through Calculus. 30 minutes per day.

If I finish those, come back and celebrate.

Various Thoughts

A bummer in life is that web URL\’s are hard to get. Even URL\’s I\’ve had, too. It\’s just a bummer. And the ones I control are never as good. Grass, greener, etc.

But anyway.

Another bummer is that it seems that nothing tops a book, pencil, and notebook for math. I\’ve tried an old Samsung tablet with an S-Pen, then a new Samsung tablet with S-pen (Galaxy S7 , then recently I actually literally rented an Apple Ipad Pro (11 inch) with a Pencil (second edition) and it\’s still not as good as a simple notebook and math book. Oh well.

The holy grail is to be able to use a single device to be the math book and the notebook. It\’s simplicity. It\’s beautiful. But it never really works.