Toughened by Time

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

Gregory Peck

SDF Solstice

Happy Solstice! My ornament this year is virtual.

Copy this link into your browser if the embed below looks weird. On mobile, use the native browser (Safari on iOS, Chrome on Android) to view in AR.

Three years ago, Signed Distance Functions (SDFs) were implicitly a part of my solstice celebration:

This year, I’m making the implicit explicit.

Here’s the code for the ornament, below. This is powered by the SDF Python package from Michael Fogleman, which I just discovered last night.

from sdf import *

# Create a sphere for the main body envelope of the ornament
s = sphere(25)

# this is the canonical SDF example box
f = sphere(10) & box(15)
c = cylinder(5)
f -= c.orient(X) | c.orient(Y) | c.orient(Z)

#round the edges
f = f.k(0.5)

# Create a 3D lattice by repeating the box in all three dimensions
lattice = f.repeat((15, 15, 15))

# Take the intersection of 's' and the lattice array
s = s & lattice

# Save the ornament as an STL file'ornament.stl', samples=2**28) #reduce to 2**27 or 2**26 for faster processing

import pyvista as pv

# Load the mesh from the STL file
mesh ='ornament.stl')

# Decimate the mesh
decimated_mesh = mesh.decimate(0.975)

# Save the decimated mesh'decimated_ornament.stl')

Today I needed to do something in Adobe Illustrator, which I have no idea how to use.

In 1 minute I trained Cursor on the official documentation, and 15 seconds later I had 4 different approaches to how to do it!

In 2 minutes and 35 seconds I can teach you how to do it too!

AI-Accelerated Reading

This post and video are dedicated to Prof. Garret Miyake.

He asked me to show him how I’m using AI to accelerate my reading. There are quite a few ways I’m currently doing this, but thanks to the new Knowledge Base feature in Poe there is a very easy way to do this.

In under 5 minutes, you can train a custom Poe bot to dramatically accelerate your reading! Books, articles, whatever. You just need a PDF. Here’s how to do it:

I hope this helps you with your “just-in-time” learning!

Find me on Poe:

Squeezed Into Essentialism

Well, after six days of a ketogenic diet and four with COVID symptoms, I can definitely say that my energy is depleted. As a card-carrying workaholic, it is an interesting opportunity to really ask myself:

What is the truly essential work that I need to do?

This is a question that I try to bring my attention to regularly, but there’s nothing like extremely low blood sugar and a COVID infection to get your priorities straight. Today, I’m just trying to do the work that is truly essential, and a bit of work that is easy/energizing: syncing up with my team on the plan for the week, sharing some new technical ideas that I have with our collaborators, making sure our insurance gets renewed on time.

I am walking and dictating this, walking very slowly because I’m feeling weak. It will only take a few minutes to turn the transcription into a blog post and social media posts.

Here are some resources that I’ve found helpful in asking this question of what is truly essential.

In particular, these questions from the 4-Hour Workweek came to mind while I was walking:

1. If you had a heart attack and had to work two hours per day, what would you do?

2. If you had a second heart attack and had to work two hours per week, what would you do?

3. If you had a gun to your head and had to stop doing ⅘ of different time-consuming activities, what would you remove?

Tim Ferriss

Nothing like a having highly contagious viral infection to really amplify this thought experiment.

Social Media Repeaters

I want to treat my social media accounts as “repeaters”. They spread the word to different corners of the internet.

I previously shared a bit about my automation workflow.

In my current workflow, I’m using webhooks with to send posts to Buffer. This is great for LinkedIn, X/Twitter, and Facebook Pages. Unfortunately, Meta makes it pretty rough for folks to post to personal Facebook profiles, Instagram, or Threads via API. As far as I can tell, these all require some sort of manual intervention.

Why webhooks? So I can post the content programatically. (Right now from a Jupyter notebook inside the same repo as this website, which I run in Cursor because I suck at programming and I am eagerly awaiting my AI overlords.)

Why IFTTT sucks. Zapier is expensive.

Why Buffer?

  1. So I don’t have to deal with the API’s of each platform.
  2. So I can schedule posts without setting up cron jobs or intricate automation workflows.
  3. So I can preview/schedule/share posts without actually logging into any of the platforms. (I might never come back if I do that.)

I used to be a big fan of Buffer, but they seem to have completely stopped listening to their users. To their credit, I think the social media apps make their lives pretty miserable.

When I find the time I’ll come up with a better solution. Let me know if you have any ideas.

My COVID Protocol

I have COVID, for the second time. It’s not fun, but I’m doing 10x better than last time.

Big inflection point: Paxlovid. I got it within 24 hrs of testing positive, and it is clearly keeping everything in check. Horrible metallic taste in my mouth, but I’ll take it. I was initially very skeptical after hearing all of the stories of rebounds, but I gave it a shot after a few friends shared how quickly it helped them recover. Fingers crossed for no rebound or weird complications.

Activity: Slow walking, at least 10,000 steps a day. Sleep as much as possible at night and just let myself nap whenever I’m tired.

Dietary: I’m basically doing a keto diet. Bulletproof coffee, tons of liquids, eggs, avocado, veggies, and meat. I’m not a mouse, but this paper is interesting: “Impaired ketogenesis ties metabolism to T cell dysfunction in COVID-19.” Nature.


  1. Natrol - Melatonin Sleep
  2. Host Defense - MyCommunity
  3. Host Defense - Stamets 7 Extract
  4. Zicam
  5. Bulletproof - Greens
  6. Dr. Mercola - Liposomal Vitamin C
  7. Jarrow Formulas - Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS
  8. Franguly - Liposomal Vitamin B
  9. Doctor’s Best - Vitamin D3 5000 IU
  10. NOW - Quercetin with Bromelain

P.S. - I got GPT4V to make the list of these supplements from a single photo. Unfortunately, both Bing and ChatGPT refuse to find product links on Amazon. For that I had to switch to Bard, and then fix about half of them manually…oh well.

LLM Prompting Goldmine

Remember the story about the McDonald’s at the top of the volcano?

Well it erupted. (…and I sincerely hope that you didn’t quit your job to make custom GPTs for a living.)

A few people figured out how to trick the custom GPTs that are starting to roll out to the app store into revealing their prompt instructions.

The result is hands-down the most comprehensive and high quality repository of prompts that I have ever found:

For additional context, many of these are “professionally-created”, bringing in thousands of dollars a month in revenue sharing to their creators. I’ve shared elsewhere that I think it’s a terrible idea to try to be selling AI products right now, this is case-in-point. It has a nice parallel with the “AI as electricity” riff - once you know how to do the magic trick, it’s pretty hard to keep other people from copying you! (and very quickly everyone will expect it to be essentially free.)

P.S. - If you want to learn prompting more formally, this is the best course I’ve found:

P.P.S - Hat tip to Mayo as usual. Sign up for his newsletter and you won’t need me.

I struggle to create clear instructions for AI.

I struggle to create clear instructions for humans.

I struggle to create clear instructions for AI to create clear instructions for humans.

But we move forwards, step by step.

Try out Human Instruct Turbo today!

In this video, we go behind the scenes of the creation of the revolutionary new GPT, Human Instruct Turbo. This is unedited, unplanned, completely raw footage of creating a custom OpenAI GPT from start to finish. Watch me fumble so you don’t have to.

In this video, I delve into the world of AI transcription, specifically focusing on MacWhisper, a leading tool for AI-driven voice-to-text transcription on Mac. We explore how to enhance MacWhisper with a custom glossary for accurate transcription of unique words and proper nouns, and share tips from the OpenAI Cookbook to refine your MacWhisper settings.

I also demonstrate real-life application by adding custom product names to our vocabulary, troubleshoot common transcription mistakes using find-and-replace, and explore the benefits of using larger AI models for improved accuracy.

Whether for professional or personal use, MacWhisper adapts to your specific language needs, offering privacy-focused and highly accurate transcriptions.