Last year, I decided to ditch Reddit and algorithmic feeds for RSS and my own curation of blogs, newsletters, and other sources of thought-provoking reading material. Since I made the switch, I feel like I learn a lot every week.
Starting this week, I want to experiment with posting a weekly digest of the most interesting articles I found that week with a small explanation about how they inspired me.
This week’s articles: COVID-19 data vs. Benford’s Law, a tip for overcoming mental fatigue, and business advice for academic startups.
Kevin Basset: I used Benford’s Law to analyize COVID-19 in 113 countries
(7 minute read)
Benford’s Law is a statistical principle that states that many real-world datasets of numbers approximate the same distribution for their first digits. This law is used to detect anomalies in datasets, e.g. due to external tampering.
In this article, Kevin Basset applies Benford’s law to detect which countries have likely reported false COVID figures due to bad counting practices or intentional false reporting. The results are rather interesting.
If you’re intrigued by Benford’s Law, Matt Parker made a great video applying the law to the US 2020 presidential elections as a way to detect (absence of) vote fraud.
Acute aerobic exercise to recover from mental exhaustion (Oberste et al. 2021)
Ever felt like your head will explode if you write one more line of code? This recently published medical study suggests a short burst of physical activity can be all it takes to make you feel refreshed and ready to tackle your next task.
For the effect to work, the physical activity must be moderately intense, so find something you can do that really gets your heart pumping. This can be a short sprint around the yard, a brief routine of pushups and squats, or a lightning visit to the gym.
Note that this study is specifically about short-term mental fatigue. A consistent sleep schedule and a healthy work ethic are still the best way to stave off long-term fatigue.
Bert Hubert: Some business advice for academic startups/spinouts
(16 minute read)
Lately, I have been daydreaming about entrepreneurship and starting my software startup during the next five years. While it is fun to think of interesting technical challenges to solve and theorize about product-market fit, I still don’t know anything about running a business.
This recent post by Bert Hubert gives an excellent primer on what business know-how it takes to run a startup. Whether you are caught by the entrepreneurial jitterbug yourself or simply want to learn how a multi-department business runs, give this one a read.
As an aside, if you want to dive deeper into bootstrap startup culture and (solo) entrepreneurship, check out the Indie Hackers forum. My passion for startups was amplified greatly reading the inspiring stories and knowledge shared in that place!
Here are some other articles I really enjoyed this week: