Main points from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

It could have been much shorter

Having finished, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise book by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool I want to provide my thoughts about it and summarize main points of the book.

Overall, I liked the book and found it very interesting if repetitive at times. The book can be distilled down to a couple of main points and, frankly speaking, it could have been presented as a short article with a number of pages. A large part of the book is dedicated to examples that Anders Ericsson drew from his or others’ research papers.

Main points

  • The brain is more flexible than it was previously thought, which means that even adults can acquire expertise in new fields.
  • Any regular person can potentially become and expert, conditioned on following advice below
  • The research into what makes people experts shows that the innate characteristics play almost no role in becoming an expert, except for sports where height and body size plays certain role.
  • People who become experts in the end, used to practice deliberately, having a clear plan consisting of clearly outlined goals, where each step is a little bit more challenging than a previous one, causing a person to get out of the comfort zone.
  • This deliberate practice when exercised develops “mental representations” in a person, helping him or her to see patterns in a field of that person’s expertise.

Let’s it. As I mentioned, most of the book is dedicated to providing supporting examples from research papers.

Well, don’t wait and deliberately practice to become one

It turns out, that becoming an expert could be achieved by anyone determined to deliberately practicing and willing to put thousands of hours of focused effort while constantly expanding one’s comfort zone.

Critical Thinking and Scientific Approach

Critical Thinking is more important than ever before

Due to the January 6th, 2021 events in the USA where the was an attempt to overthrow the democratic process I decided that there is an urgent need to take a hard stand and defend democratic values. To this end this blog from now on will be focused on promoting Critical and Skeptical Thinking and Scientific Approach for people to use in their lives. People who do not want to use Critical Thinking are easily manipulated and can be used by others to achieve their goals.

To start on the right foot I advise people who read this post to check The Deamon-Haunted World a book by Carl Sagan from 1995 about Critical Thinking and Scientific approach.

There are other books on Critical Thinking and Scientific Approach in general that I will recommend and start reviewing and discussing in future posts.


Equipped with critical thinking the probability of someone taking advantage of you by manipulating you becomes very low.

Unknown Quantity is a math book to work through

This post is similar to my other posts on books I read or am in the process of reading. This time it is second book by John Derbyshire I read on mathematics. The previous book Prime Obsession was an inspiring, interesting and a pleasure to read, since it was all about the Riemann hypothesis. It took me though a little effort to not only read it, but also work through author’s explanations.

So this second book is called Unknown Quantity and it is as captivating as the Prime Obsession was. What is different about the Unknown Quantity that it has more of a historical context on how algebra developed from ancient Mesopotamia to our days.

What I like the most about how John explains mathematical topics in his books is the way he is capable of explaining mathematics the way I never experienced in a school or later in a college. Most of the time math was taught as a given, without trying to convey the essence of the subject, why this formula such and such, how it was conceived and developed. In my opinion, these are very important questions, if not the most important in mathematics. Questioning and curiosity are crucial in mathematical research.

For example, in the Unknown Quantity John shows with enough details how general solutions to second, third and forth degree equations were developed. Why determinant is useful in solving systems of linear equations and why it is important in matrices. These are only some examples, since I haven’t yet finished reading the book.

In short, if you are curious about algebra, and want to know how it evolved historically, and also get some new insight about math you were taught, but never really understood, then the Unknown Quantity is the book for you.

An exceptional book. A quick update

This post is a super quick and short. From time to time I stumble upon an exceptional subject to study or an insightful book. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool is just like that. This book is exceptional in its usefulness and practical advise that can help you become an expert or at least progress in that direction.

The book has a solid foundation in psychology of expertise and is based on the research results achieved in that field. A more detailed information about psychology of expertise can be found in The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance.

I’ll write a more detailed post as I’ll near the end of the book.

Good books on aviation to read

There are lots of books on aviation that are written by historians or journalists. The most valuable in my opinion are books written by engineers, who designed and developed aircraft, and described how things happened first hand. Below follow a number of books written by engineers with exception of one written by a non engineer.

F/A-18 Hornet

For a long period of time I had a conviction that F/A-18 Hornet wasn’t that good a plane and aesthetically it didn’t look good to me. But a book on F/A-18 development has changed my mind. It was written by a non-engineer, nevertheless this book is worth reading since it’s full of valuable information on F/A-18 design and development and subsequent service.

The Hornet: The Inside Story of the F/A-18 by Orr Kelly is a very interesting since it provides ample information starting from Hornet inception to it usage by US Marine and US Navy.

The Power To Fly

Is a book by Brian H. Rowe who started as an engineer at General Electric Aviation Engines and grew up to be a CEO of GE Aviation and was responsible among other things for the development of GE90 high-bypass turbofan engine that powers Boeing 777 plane. What I liked about this book was that Brian described a number of engineering and managerial challenges that he faced throughout his career in GE and how he and his team overcame them. This book could keep you up at night reading.

Adventures of an engineer

Next book is called Herman the German: Just Lucky I Guess by Gerhard Neumann.

In The Power To Fly book Brian Rowe has mentioned his manager Gerhard Neumann, who Brian later succeeded. It turns out that Gerhard Nouman was an incredible person who had a life packed with such many adventures that all Indiana Jones franchise pale in comparison to it. Started as an apprentice of a German car mechanic before World War II, Gerhard ended up being a CEO of GE Aviation Engines. Most of the book is dedicated to Gerhards adventures as an aircraft mechanic in China during the WWII and his 10,000 miles trip in 1947 from Hong Kong to Jerusalem in a Willys Jeep with his wife and a dog. The adventures he described at times felt like unbelievable, yet they happened. Read the book to find out more.

Boeing 747

747: Creating the World’s First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation by Joe Sutter is not only an interesting book about the development of Boeing 747, but it also describes the history of Boeing aircrafts from early 20’s of twentieth century as witnessed by a boy growing up in Seattle until the latest version of Boeing 747-8 family of jets. What I liked the most about this book was a detailed description Joe provided on how the Boeing 747 was designed and developed, despite being a secondary project that was thought as unimportant by Boeing upper management at the time. Joe Sutter mentioned not once how safety of airplanes at Boeing was the utmost priority what seems like no longer the case in today’s Boeing.

Prime Obsession with Math

Meet the math book you’re were craving for so long

If you are interested in math and like to have your hands dirty in nitty gritty calculations then the Prime Obsession book by John Derbyshire is just for you. Unlike other popular books on mathematics it provides a gentle and powerful introduction to all math you need to know to understand the Riemann Hypothesis (RH). Reading, I should say, working through the book you’ll learn about interesting properties of Prime Numbers, meet the Prime Number Theorem (PNT) and really understand what the Riemann Hypothesis is all about. In this book you’ll meet Gauss, Euler, Riemann, Hilbert and other renowned mathematicians that influenced the development of mathematics.

What I find most useful about this book

There are books that require a discipline to read through, there are books that are plain boring, and there are books that excite you and your imagination, books that you can’t help, but continue reading more and more. The Prime Obsession is of the latter kind.

What I most like about the book is the historical context John Derbyshire provides throughout the book in addition to his sense of humor and his ability to explain required math in a way that each mathematically inclined person can get fast. I should mention, that having an engineering degree could speed up you understanding significantly, but strictly speaking, it is not required.

In addition, the references to other books on mathematics that John provides are very useful and may provide you with additional materials to digest, like the Hardy’s A Course of Pure Mathematics.

Where to get the book?

Surely, the easiest way to get the book is to buy a copy of it in a Kindle format or a print one. I bought a used one quite cheaply, for less than a Kindle book, which generally cheaper than a hard copy. An old fashion way would be to go to a nearest library and fish for the book their.

Все как обычно

Как обычно

День начинался как обычно: дверь в комнату была крепко заперта, окна плотно закрыты, шторы пропускают лишь малый лучь света. Боб как всегда, сидит за столом и первым делом проверяет последние новости на компьютере. Да, все как всегда, и это придает увереность в завтрашнем, ну, и сегодняшнем, дне.

– Итак, – подумал Боб. – Что же там новенького происходит на просторах нашего мира?

Первым делом он открыл сайт Си-Эн-Эн, так как это был один из самых известных новостных каналов, новостям которму он доверял больше всего. Крупный заголовок вверху страницы красным цветом сообщал: “В США зарегистрирован первый случай особенно странной аномали, жена коснулась руки своего мужа!” Не веря своим глазам, Боб нервно перечитал сообщение еще раз.

“Данные пока скудны, но по всей вероятности, идет речь о самом черезвычайном проишествии в истории США, а может даже и всей планеты. Пока, еще рано впадать в панику, но по всей видимости, речь идет о пока что невстречавшемся вирусе, который скорее всего и паразил женщину, совершившую этот немыслимый поступок.”

Боба охватила дрожь, и он почувствовал, как струйки пота потекли у него по спине.

– Этого не может быть! – с ужасом подумал Боб. – Ведь еще вчера, такого никто не мог себе представить. Все шло своим чередом. Как всегда, все члены семьи передвигались по дому только по одиночке, строго по заранее устоновленному расписанию, тем самым предотвращая малейшую возможность физического контакта. Все внутренние камеры наблюденя встроенные в двери и стены дома, только помогали соблюсти этот распорядок. Малейшее движение регистрировалось, и было показано в виде трехмерной голлограмы, заменившей экраны, еще десятилетия назад.

Боб украдкой посмотрел в щель между штор. На как всегда пустынных улицах только дроны доставки создавали до боли знакомый фоновый шум, который воспринимали микрофоны по периметру дома и передавали на динамики в комнате Боба. Дроны точно свора пчел жужжали и летали в разных направлениях. – Ну, хоть это еще как обычно.

– Интересно, что пишут про это зарубежные сайты, – подумал Боб. Он открыл новую страницу и набрал имя сайта КНР.сом, того самого, который довольно подробно и точно овсещал пару лет назад экономический кризис в США, что отбросил страну в своем развитии на десятки лет назад. – Да, теперь Китай занимает то место в мире, что США так долго удерживали несколько столетий подряд.

-Черный заголовк на английском гласил: “Камеры наблюдения в доме, где был зафиксирован этот невообразимй случай физического контакта между людьми, также записали отклонения в обычном поведении женщины. На протяжении последних дней, она пыталась внести изменения в программу планирования перемещений по дому, с неясной целью. Объяснить эту аномалию пытаются лучшие ученые по всему миру. Всемирная Организация Здравоохранения в замешательстве. Некоторые ученые, робко, высказывают мнение, что, возможно, только новый тип компьютерного, быстромутирующего вируса мог вызвать такие изменения в психике женщины. Но как такой вирус мог возникнуть в рядовом американском доме остается загадкой.”

-Этого не может быть, – подумал Боб – Компьютерные вирусы, способные заражать людей, хотя и существовали, но были строго запрещены, как особо опасное биологическое оружие, которое охранялось за семью замками.

-Как вообще такой вирус мог попасть в сеть, и как он попал в самый обыкновенный дом? И вообще, что Боб знал о компьютерных вирусах, способных используя, вездесущие трехмерные репликаторы, в народе, известные как 3D-принтеры, создавать свои биологические копии, способные паражать живие организмы.

-Все научные разработки по этой теме были засекречены, ведь так? И только несколько человек во всем мире, имели доступ к этой технологии, но это только основываясь на общедоступных данных, – вспомнил Боб.

Что делать?

Размышления Боба прервал пронзительный вой донесшийся из динамиков. Это был из ряда вон выходящий случай, уже второй за сегодня, – в испуге подумал Боб.

Этот сигнал значил то, что всемирная система слежения за состоянием сети регистрирует изменения в поведении сразу множества людей. Искуственный интеллект, который контроллировал  всех роботов отвечающих за производство товаров потребления и дронов, которые их доставляли адресатам, также вел тотальную, но незаметную, слежку за тем, как вели себя люди день ото дня. Люди не догадывались о том насколько она была тотальной, но даже зная это, они бы только были спокойнее, что не только они стоят на страже соблюдения абсолютной физической изоляции. Даже дети наизусть знали и тысячи раз репетировали, что требовал протокол самоизоляции в таких случаях: требовалось срочно одеть защитный скафандр, до того как система безопасности дома включит насосы для откачки, и так фильтруемого, воздуха. На все приготовления отвдилось несколько минут, чтобы быстро вытащить, уже заранее готовый скафандр, совмещенный с гермошлемом. Боб молнией метнулся к шкафу в стене, пулей вскочил в скафандр и быстро закрыл его. Послышалось мерное шипение кислорода, который стал закачиваться внутрь. Потный, и тяжело дыша, Боб включил беспроводную трансляцию последних новостей прямо на стекло гермошлема. Благо, что перчатки были ненужны, так как управлять изображением можно было лишь с помощью мыслей, благодаря датчикам, встроенным в шлем, который плотно прилегал к голове Боба.

Главная новость в Си-Эн-Эн вогнала Боба в штопор.

-По последним данным что мы имеем, доселе неизвестный вирус поразил многие тысячи людей и с каджой минутой идет экспоненциальный рост зараженных. Система слежения за поведением людей регистрирует множество физических контактов между людьми, таких как касания, робкие прикосновения и, даже, обятия! Да вы не ослышались, самое страшное о чем мы и не могли помыслить еще вчера произошло. Люди обнимаются, и как дальше будут развиваться события никто толком предсказть не может, – сказал диктор.

-Искуственный интеллект, уже остановил передвижение всех дронов. Идет проверка возможности включения системы автоматического усыпления, существующей в каждом доме, чтобы предотвратить эту эпидемию, гразящую изменить наш мир.

-Да, ситуация из ряда вон выходящая. Президент и правительство делают все возможное, чтобы оценит опастность ситуации и принимают меры для предотвращения далнейшего распостранения вируса.

– Главное, без паники!

– Ну, а пока, послушайте хит сезона – “Все как обычно”.

Drums Lead The Way


Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash

Unexpected turn of events

If you didn’t know it turns out that I play drums a little bit. So after watching quite a few videos on the YouTube, I decided that there may be a merit to share the best of them with other musicians or people who just like to listen to good music. So, I created a public Facebook group called Drums Lead The Way

What this group is all about?

The main purpose of this group is to share useful information mostly about the world of drums, such as helpful drum tutorials from YouTube, Drumeo etc. but also share good music and other stuff related to drums. It seems if you are interested in drums, it’s worth to give it a try and maybe even contribute by providing your own tips and tricks.

So take care and keep drumming!

Now it is the best time to get to the basement and keep on drumming, while the virus is doing its nasty thing outside. 

How To Do It is the best type of a blog post

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Connected world

In this post I want to thank all the people who took part in creating the Internet. And this is because thanks to the Internet I am where I am, doing the work I do and writing these words right now, which later will be read by people just like you thanks to the Internet.

What is nice about the Internet is that it allows you to make unexpected connections throughout the world with almost anyone you can imagine. You can meet your favorite sci-fi author, or maybe an inventor, the scientist you always admired or maybe reconnect with your friends and family. In addition, Internet allows you to find a job, apply for a job and do your work, surely, it depends on the type of the work, but it’s hard to imagine any type of work that doesn’t require some rudimentary access to the Internet.

How to do it yourself

This kind of long introduction brings me to the title of this post. In my opinion, the most useful, helpful and effective way of communicating on the Internet is by producing How To Do It, Fix It, Create It etc. posts. Think for example, about millions of video tutorials on YouTube, be it music, drawing, cooking, fixing machinery and what not. The same goes about written tutorials through out the web, that could potentially teach you almost everything about anything.

Personally, based on the statistics of the posts I wrote on this blog the most viewed ones were posts related to programming, Machine and Deep Learning. It’s not surprising I think, since these posts were about How To install such an such software library, such and such book on Machine Learning, such and such tutorials on how to get things done.

I remember back in Ukraine when I had no Internet we went to a number of libraries trying to win a crossword contest held by a local newspaper. It was kind of tedious process. Nowadays, it is possible to solve any crossword fast and easy using the Internet. 

Get to the bottom of it

The main point is that writing, filming or whatever simple and short How To tutorial may be beneficial in the long run to some person out-there, who’ll be very thankful to accomplish things that were not possible without you sharing your knowledge and experience. I myself used quite a few tutorials on the Internet that helped me fix my car, fix cell phones, tablets, computers. It helped me install or remove software, find very exciting things in life, find an interesting job and be in touch with incredible people coming from around the globe. So, when next time you postpone sharing things that can make life easier to somebody, think again and get to the bottom of it and create a nice tutorial explaining how to stop procrastinating and get going.

Important ingredients in How To Do posts

Judging by the posts I wrote, that resonated with readers I think what the How To Do post should contain is a number of ingredients.

  • First of all, the topic of the post should resonate with yourself and be interesting to you.
  • Second, you shouldn’t be an expert about the topic of the post, but you should be excited about it enough to be able to learn what it requires to explain it in simple terms and clear steps.
  • Third, if the posts can make even a single person more happier by fixing his or her situation, then it’s worth investing time and effort in preparing it in the first place.

So, if you want to share some piece of knowledge that can help others, do not hesitate and share it. In the end, it may even help you later, when you’ll forget how to do it.

Planning can change your life

Planning may be annoying, but it works

This post about the virtue of planning before taking any action or no action. 

Do you plan your actions beforehand? Do you have any goals in life? Do you have dreams that are still dreams? Then you are not alone. Do you know, that making a habit of planning your actions may drastically improve the chances of you achieving your goals, if you have ones, or helping you to come up with some in the first place.

Planning in the self help movement

There are plenty of books and courses on self-help that promote planning, and I have to say that this thing is actually, useful and helpful in the short and long runs. The planning exercise is quite simple. 

  1. Decide what you want to achieve in near term. Think of a dream you have for a long time or some goal that is somehow at the background currently.
  2. Write down these goals on a piece of paper or using other convenient means. While doing so state the goals to be achieved in the terms of answering  Who, What, Where, When and How  to be more precise, since it helps in visualizing a possible way of action. The goal should be framed in the present tense in a positive way.
  3. Think what you can action right away to start moving towards your goals.
  4. Each day review the list of the goals your composed and revise it if needed with new goals, new details.

Here comes an example

Say the goal is to proceed with acquiring working knowledge of applied mathematics. Then I write:

Goal: advancing in Applied Mathematics

  1. Starting today I work on the book Mathematical Modeling on evenings, at least for an hour-two, while solving as many tasks for each chapter as possible.
  2. When not working through that book,  I read the book on Applied Mathematics  and solve the tasks in it too.
  3. While being outside I carry at all times another popular book on mathematics for not to waste time.
  4. I aggregate and classify useful material on applied mathematics that I come across, for it to be easily retrieved when needed.

Planning in Software and QA Engineering

During my years at the college of engineering I had a short conversation with a PhD in Electronics Engineering who was a scientist and engineer. We talked about the differences of scientific and engineering approaches. Then he said that simply put scientist are interested in the edge cases where theory may not work and fail, while engineers are quite opposite and interested in things that work most of the time without failing. This crucial difference also applicable to the field of Software development and testing.

  • Software engineers being engineers are mostly concerned with the cases when software should work, while tending to put less emphasis on the edge cases or more precisely, boundary conditions and unexpected events.
  • Software testing engineers or tester on the other hand, are just like scientist more interested in checking unusual cases, when the software possibly could fail, break or behave unexpectedly.

How is that related to planning you may ask? Planning in software or hardware worlds allows you make less mistakes before actually carrying out the work. Thoroughly thinking about requirements with stakeholders, be it waterfall or scrum way of accomplishing projects, is invaluable instrument.

Just like in the example for achieving good understanding of  applied mathematics, planning in Software helps by framing the purpose of each functionality to be implemented in the form of Who, What, Where, When and How questions.

The solution is quite simple

  1. Decide what you want to achieve
  2. Clearly describe it on a piece of paper  with as much details as possible
  3. Each day review you goals and take action to move towards them
  4. Then you’ll surprise yourself