The origins of life on Earth, when procrastination becomes a real problem, the gospel of doubt, a complete list of "OK Google" commands and gaming on the Mac, all in this week's edition of the Lifehacker Thinking Cap. Welcome to Lifehacker's Thinking Cap, a new series where we round up interesting, informative and thought-provoking podcasts. These interviews, articles and other media will teach you something new, inspire you and hopefully cap off your week nicely. Let's get started.
When Procrastination Is a Real Problem
This piece at Unclutterer about procrastination struck a chord with me. It's a useful reminder to never, ever procrastinate when it comes to proper health and medical care. Predictable jokes about procrastination aside, your health is one area that deserves your best attention. From the piece:
This was brought home to me when a dear friend (who tends to put off seeing her doctors) had some problems that put her in the hospital. If she had waited one more day to seek care, she might well have died. Fortunately, she's fine now.
And I made my own mistake in this regard, too. When I had some leg pain last year, my doctor said it might be tight muscles (treated with physical therapy) or it might be a hip problem (diagnosed with an X-ray). But I delayed getting the X-ray -- and sure enough, it was a hip problem. I'm now scheduled for hip replacement surgery, but I could have avoided months of pain by getting the X-ray sooner, especially when physical therapy didn't seem to help.
That's a simple example, but a good reminder, and one to keep in mind when remembering that many times people procrastinate on health-related issues only to wind up in an unavoidable situation that's much worse than it needed to be. Get your checkups, go to the doctor.
While I'm talking about Unclutterer, you may know Erin Doland as the mastermind behind the blog. I've been enjoying her new book, Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter, and I think you guys will too if you want a headstart on what I'm reading. [via Unclutterer]
The Gospel Of Doubt
In this TED talk, Casey Gerald outlines how over the course of his life, the various things he felt were certain about -- even completely convinced would happen -- one by one proved to either fail him completely or be more complicated than he assumed. And that's not a bad thing by any stretch.
Over the course of the talk (18 minutes, so set aside a little time, but it's worth it -- if you don't have time, read the transcript here) he explains how those failures taught him the value of doubt, the importance of asking questions and how important challenging your beliefs are to the process of critical thinking and change. Starting with his faith and ending with a trip to Washington as a bright-eyed political staffer, he explains how he came to learn to challenge everything, including and especially his own beliefs, and how we can all learn to do the same. [via Ted]
The Complete List of "OK Google" Commands
Android users, myself included, are probably already used to saying "OK Google" to do all sorts of things with our phones. Simple web searches? Sure. Check the weather? You bet. Add reminders and alarms? All the time. But of course, that's nowhere near the full power available, and CNet has a beautifully complete list of commands you can speak aloud to your Android phone right now.
From asking silly questions like "What does the fox say?" (which pulls up the video of the same meme) to opening specific apps on your phone or even navigating to specific web sites, there are actually a ton of features in the list that you may not know or remember, and will help you get things done without fiddling with your thumbs on the keyboard. A few more interesting examples from the list:
- Show me the trailer for [movie title].
- Play me a video of [random idea]. Ex.: "Show me a video of someone opening a can without a can opener."
- Find out what song is playing. What is this song? or Who is this?
- Where is [business name or location]?
- How do I get to [destination] by [walking, bike, bus, train, etc.]?
- Define [word].
- Synonyms for [word].
- Etymology of [word].
Those are just a few, and the list is long and complete. [via CNet]
Cellmates, or The Origins of Complex Life on Earth
This week's Radiolab podcast was a thrill ride for anyone interested in science -- specifically in evolutionary biology and the history of life on Earth.
The show starts by explaining that while there are a lot of theories about how life "began" on Earth, and how that's a topic of other debate, there's kind of a "black hole" in biology where life on Earth resembled extremely simple single-celled "bags of chemicals" for billions of years -- nothing at all like the complex cells we know of today. We all know the other end of the story -- bacteria, viruses, complex multi-celled organisms -- but how do we go from billions of years of simple, bag-o-chemical single-celled life to even complex bacteria with intricate cellular structure?
Well, the story begins with what's called the "energy canyon", and a one-in-a-million chance encounter between two single-celled organisms floating around during those early eons of life on Earth, and eventually ends with us. [via Radiolab]
Career Advice You'd Give to Your Younger Self
What career advice would you go back and give yourself earlier in the game? Maybe you're well along your career path or maybe you're just getting out of university, but either way you probably have wisdom you learned along the way. This Quora thread is full of good tidbits worth remembering at any point in your career, whether you're just starting out or you're well on your path.
I'm particularly fond of the suggestion to learn not just your skill area but to pay attention to social and global news like economics, politics and other social issues. One answer, from Maria Gorlatova, says:
Learn economics and get a firm grasp on geopolitics. Studying engineering teaches you how the physical world works (and yay for that!), economics and geopolitics teach you how non-physical forces shape the world.
I couldn't agree more. Check out the whole thread for more, including Gorlatova's advice to never hesitate to reach out to people who have progressed in your field for their thoughts and advice, and of course, another responder's advice to never listen to someone when they tell you what you can and can't do. [via Quora]
Why You Sneeze When You Walk Into Bright Sunlight
It's happened to all of us at some time or another -- we walk from the office (or another similarly indoor, shaded space) out into the bright sunlight, and even if it's warm in both places, or cool inside and warm outside, boom -- we sneeze. Why does that happen? This video from Mental Floss explains what's happening in our bodies when we experience what's called the Photic Sneeze Reflex, or rather, the prevailing scientific theories. [via Mental Floss]
Great Mac Games, Sorted by System Requirement or Genre
Long gone are the days when you said "Mac gaming" and someone would reply "like what, Photoshop?" While Mac owners have specific challenges gaming on their platforms -- some of which are best overcome simply by installing Windows and Boot Camp-ing into it when they want to play -- a ton of the best recent titles have been released for OS X as well as Windows, and the numbers are steadily increasing.
Our friends at Kotaku have their own list of the best games for Mac, but this list from Mac Gamer HQ has about a hundred games to choose from, all filterable by title, genre and, perhaps best of all, by system requirements (high/medium/low). That way you can see which games you can play on that five-year-old MacBook Pro, or which games will sing on your new, modern iMac. [via Mac Gamer HQ]
Behind the Scenes of ThinkGeek's April Fool's Gags
April Fool's Day has come and gone, but one of the few highlights of the day are ThinkGeek's "fake products", and this year was no exception. As per usual, the products themselves are fake... until demand for them is so high than the company just has to make them real. It will be a while before we see which ones make that cut, but in the interim, this behind-the-scenes video compilation of the making of those fake products and their videos will get your weekend off to a smiling, laughing start. Oh, and full disclosure: I know a lot of the people in this video personally, and they're all amazing folks. Happy Monday, everyone. [via ThinkGeek]
That's all for this week. If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts or eye-opening videos, share them in the comments below!