diary general announcement


Happy New Year and Good Health

As much as 2022 started with good vibes (covid seemed behind us, starting the blog, new projects…), the giddy feelings all came to an abrupt end in February. An unfortunate accident with my bicycle on the way to work resulted in a badly broken elbow and, a couple of weeks later, the world woke up to the abject invasion of Ukraine. The good year wishes didn’t last very long, did it?

Life Goes On and Has So Much to Offer

Nevertheless, obstacles remain just that; obstacles. We stumble on them but we get back up, learn from them, and push forward. After a mentally costly surgery, my arm is on the path of full recovery and mental health keeps its steady ascension from the gloom of 2020.

I am now back on the daily blog and have so many projects to start, share, and thrive on. 2022 may have stumbled a bit in this first quarter but there is so much more to live for; I’m very excited about what’s coming 😀

Closing Words

So, how has the beginning of 2022 been treating you? Any topics you would like to see covered here?

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.


One More Week of Daily Writing and Ideas

‘Challenge Must Go On’

After the first three weeks of publishing a new blogpost every day, this is what I’ve learned.

First of all, the daily grind of writing daily gets easier, but unlikely to become second nature. This is so far falling within expectations. The grind comes from fearing the writing process and the inherent writing block. As stated in the very first blogpost, the motive for starting this challenge was to learn to overcome this writer block. At this stage, I confirm that writing these blogposts is getting easier in comparison to the very first few ones. Ideas are flowing faster and in greater number. Sentences are forming in my head with less friction.

Furthermore and similarly to any skills, this is unlikely to become pain-free and the dread to write will not disappear, however smaller it becomes. This is both anticipated and in a sense welcomed. Part of what makes experiences enjoyable lies in the efforts that one pays to ripe the rewards. Like in a rollercoaster or climbing a mountain, the joy at the end is fueled by the fear or the sweat (or both ;p) in performing any of these activities.

Another side-effect consists in a lowering of my fear to share out more openly my thoughts and its positive impact on my stress level. A facet of my burn out stems from the harsh job environment of academia where written work (e.g. papers, proposals, reports, lecture notes, tutorials) are heavily criticized through their related review process. This had a massive negative impact on my mental state, already weakened by numerous bad personal and professional events. Some took place over a defined periods of time in the past and scared me till now to the point of more easily triggering burns out now. This is a point the work my therapist and I have been focusing on for the last year and we’ve made good progress on. I appreciate that very few of you are reading these blogposts as of now but releasing them combined with sharing them openly on this blog has tremendously eased the weight on my mind about my ability to write and share ideas. So thank you, the internet.

I thus shall continue to this writing challenge for all this above virtues and more.

‘Blog Will Rock You’

When scared about losing ideas to others, then one good advice surprisingly consists in sharing these ideas, as many more will start flowing; this writing challenge is no exception.

The more blogposts I write, the more ideas are coming to my head; at first during the writing sessions, then little by little throughout the day (please let me sleep at night). The first type of ideas consists of themes to write about in future posts. The second consists of future projects for this blog and general website. The third type is about the methods of sharing these ideas. The first two are self-explanatory and you will most likely see these ideas concretised in near-future blogposts or webpages.

The third type is however more subtle to describe. As much as I stated above that sharing these blogposts in the open on the internet has almost a therapeutic positive impact on my mental health, I also acknowledge that this blog is pretty hard to find and most likely (as confirmed by the website’s statistics) these posts are hardly read. This is the point I’m slowly warming up to improve by gathering the courage to share or advertise these posts more widely, especially on social media (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn). The objective is to gather more views and learn more and faster through exchanging comments with other readers. This can read at first as a contradiction to the point stated at the beginning of this post about how reviews badly impacted me. Rather than that, my view is rather that my mental health has been slowly regenerating through this writing challenge and is now ready to rise to the bigger challenge again.

There are also many other projects about creating a podcast about power electronics knowledge, a YouTube channel about modelling and control, a GitHub repository about open-source projects… You will hear more when these ideas will have more matured.

So, watch that space for more (grand and wider) announcements!

Closing Words

How has your reading experience on this daily blog been so far? Do you have any features or topics you would like me to cover?

For some reasons, the songs of the late Freddie Mercury resonated in my head while writing this blogpost. Did you catch their influence on the section names? ;p

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.


Setting and Achieving Goals

Huberman Podcast

A new podcast has been skyrocketing on the internet over the last few months: The Huberman Lab podcast. Set up by Prof Andrew Huberman, professor of neurobiology at Stanford university, this (almost weekly) podcast aims to present insightful biological explanations and life tips supported by peer-reviewed research.

My wife and I discovered back in October after his episode on Dopamine made a splash on social media. We have since been trying to keep up with his release; mostly failling since the episodes are often released weekly and are information dense & long (1-2hrs). These episodes never miss to trigger a discussion between us and how we could potentially change of our habits in line with the reported research; my wife now likes to promptly open the curtains to see the sun in the morning!

I’ve got a feeling that his (future) episodes will make a recurrent appearance on this blog…

The One About Goal Setting

The latest episode on ‘Setting and Achieving Goals‘ is again very interesting and thought provocative. Prof Huberman has once again packed this episode (2-hour long!) with biological explanations on what motivate us to achieve the goals we set to ourselves (surprise, surprise! It includes dopamine).

As you may have already experienced yourself, the literature and social media on this topic is very prolific and provide enough claims about overriding the motivation problem that it could solve the World and more.

Prof Huberman focused on the scientific literature and came up with 9 life-hacking tools to approach goal setting and achieving:

  1. The 85% rule
  2. Initial focal visualisation
  3. Aged self-image
  4. Goal visualisation at the start
  5. Failure visualisation to carry on
  6. Challenge/reward balance
  7. Avoid goal distraction
  8. Specificity of goals
  9. Space-time bridging

Some Reflections

As Prof Huberman said in this episode, most of these points have been covered with different names in popular motivation books and some of them even seem obvious once you have experienced them at some points in your life.

I’m not going to comment on every of these points as the best would be for you to listen directly to the podcast. What I’ll share however are some (fairly hot) takes.

The 85% Rule

This one refers to managing the challenge level of the intermediate goal we are currently tackling. The idea consists in setting the difficulty level such that we succeed 85% of the time and fail 15%. The former reassures us that we are not overwhelmed by the task, while the latter keeps up on our toes and curious enough to put efforts into it. This applies typically when learning something.

I straight away thought about my own learning journey and present role as a teacher. Keeping the motivation high requires to make the goal look achievable but not too easy and I concur with this; not too sure about the stated ratio but apparently some research backs it.

This is definitely a point I need to remember when setting up a course and writing a specific lecture. The students should be able to grasp the vast majority of the points with minimal reflection (the 85%) but should nevertheless feel challenged by the new material presented to them.

Visualisation and Planning

All the points about visualisation and specifity of goals can be grouped under the classic project management umbrella. The final objective (e.g. mastering control theory) should feel grandiose enough to motivate us to start this journey in the first place.

However, this long-term vision can quickly become toxic as the goal may feel unattainable when we realise that hardly any (relative) distance has been covered after the first few steps. To counteract this stage, breaking down the journey into smaller steps and visualizing the eventually of failure will help to keep motivate and pushing forward.


The point about avoid goal distraction rang particularly home.

Having too many concurrent goals (also read projects) turns out to be counterproductive. Since our efforts become divided, our progress on each goal also slows down; potentially leading to a loss of motivation and an endless cycle of underperformance. In extreme (but unfortunately common) cases, burnout can appear and take hold (as I battle with myself cyclically for years).

In the world of university, academic time is often considered by many (including academic themselves) as of free and limitless. This combined with an environment prone to generate ideas (we are all educated in doing research after all) leads to a propension to often accept new projects, big and small.

However, the physicality of life and the absence of cloning (a recurring joke amongst academics) means that we become overcommitted and cannot deliver on all these projects.

This is further compounded by the fact that each of these projects often involves different stakeholders (e.g. students, industrial partners, various part of the administration, other colleagues in and outside our home university) and their lack of global vision on our workload (as well as our inability to communicate it) gives the impression that we are almost purposely making no progress on the project they are involved in.

As part of this year’s resolution, I will develop my assertiveness and let go of some projects/ideas as well as saying ‘no’.

Closing Words

And what do you think? How do you motivate yourself to set and achieve goals? Do you have some good references to share on this topic?

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.


Traditional Vs Social Blogging

Posting on Self-Hosted Blog

Having my own WordPress blog does feel liberating and fulfills part of the desire to have a clearer online presence.

As stated in the very first post, this is not my first attempt and the motives are quite different here. First I’ve left plenty of time to mature the concept. Surely never enough to be foolproof enough but this is mainly my lack of self-confidence and massive impostor syndrome taking. One could even argue that I’ve waited way too much time before taking the plunge again and start sharing my thoughts as one of the best and well-proven way to find one’s voice is to express it in the first place (‘the proof of the pudding’).

I like this platform and the most important remains to be satisfied with each one of the steps and early journey done so far, which I am.

Social Posting

As part of writing this blog, I’m following some online writing influencers – or at least more than usual – and one of the recurring advice is to move away from traditional blogging (e.g. WordPress like here) or rather dive even deeper into big social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Medium).

I can see their point about how efficient this method could be both at reaching a maximum number of readers (the analogy would be to invite people at your party house out of town while everyone is going to bars downtown) and the sheer amount of data / feedbacks you can get from these platforms as opposed to your own isolated platforms (e.g. view count, trend compared to other posts, finding which topics hit the most).

They have a point and, at the same time, this website also embedded my identity. Experience has also taught me that we can never trust one’s work onto internet giants or private companies in general. For entirely understandable economic reasons, these companies are very keen on absorbing your data or work but make no commitments toward keeping it, let alone the ownership question. This resulted in numerous tools being shut down almost with very little notice and past popularity was not an insurance against this shutdown happening. After all, these companies need to run profitably and they cannot afford to keep services which no longer attract enough customers; even never ending legacy does bring it’s host of problem (looking at you Microsoft). Thus, I prefer to remain owner of my work and data, while being fine with sharing it elsewhere.

Focus on Content First

The other point I need to remind myself lies in keeping excitement for any new shiny feature, which promises to revolutionise my work.

This comes back to the classic wisdom that optimizing one’s efforts is important, it shouldn’t substitute the creation of content first. You can optimise your website, or report, or project, or gym routine, or reading list, or any other effort patterns for maximizing the results, if there is no content, the optimization will yield no gain at all. Even worse, it most likely will be a negative gain as efforts would have been focused on optimizing and not on content creation, with the potential risk of seeing those optimization efforts being ultimately wasted as the inherent lack of content led to suboptimal choices.

So I’ll stick with this blog for now but keep in mind that I also need to reach out to the external, wider audience by reposting on social media.

Closing Words

But what do you think? Am I making such a big mistake by ignoring some of these social blogging trends (e.g.

Thank you for reading and see you tomorrow.


First Week Completed

The Start of a Long Road?

The first post did state that I’ve been thinking about this project for a while, but at some point we have to walk the road. I don’t know when or even where this challenge will stop but I’m here for the process rather than the end goal.

A Small Step for the Blog…

This is only the beginning. As evident as it might be, I’ve only written 7 blogposts so far. A good start but the intent is to make such single digit numbers hardly relevant in the near future. Each blogpost represents a small step, both by their insignificance (they will mostly be eventually forgotten, even by me) and the very limited content they actually carry.

Maybe, this is underestimating the emotional power of these first posts. After all, we may not remember most of the thousands of steps in a hike but we do remember a few significant ones, including the moment we reach the intended destination, the awkward ones when we tripped down on a stone, the ones when we took a break, the ones when we ran away from that wild animal, the one when a fellow traveler shared a funny story… But most relevantly for this post, we tend to remember the first few steps when we got out of the house and set sail on a new adventure for the day.

I could make an eulogy of these first few steps, but the matter remains that they are intentionally small, like all the others which will follow.

… But a Big Step in Self-Improvement

But what have I learned from this challenge so far?

Quite a few things, I’l have to admit. First, this experiment confirms quite a few idioms I already knew but needed confirmation.

On the Power of Consistency

Writing every day turns out to be both easier and more powerful than writing larger essays infrequently. First and foremost, the sheer volume of words generated through this week’s part of the challenge sets a new record on my average word count.

We can wait eternally till the ‘right moment’ comes for writing this big idea that keeps us awake at night for months without materialising into a single written word and eventually becomes either irrelevant or a source of perpetual anguish.

Writing every day, however small the post turns out to be (can’t argue that these first 7 posts were particularly small though), does generate a large collective pièce of writing. Just looking back on this website and seeing 7 posts feels me with satisfaction. This is hardly quality materials but this is more than I could have produce in only one seating; if it could have ever happened in the first place.

It also shows a certain level of activity on this website, which is healthy and motivates to carry on.

On the Question of Motivation

When we are forced into doing a task, there are a number of ways to get motivated. The first most obvious one would be to be inherently motivated by the task; whether it is by its process or its goal. However, past experiences also demonstrated times and times again that this starting-up motivation often weathers away rather quickly.

On this Skill of Writing

There is no denying that writing is a skill. Like mamy others, there is no such thing as innate abilities. Some people may be more inclined to excel at such or such skills due to physical, social, environmental, or whatever other context. But the core idea remains that ‘practice and practice again’ does make true experts. Having access to good teachers, training techniques, insightful knowledge, or general support structures can definitely boost one’s learning journey on a particular skill. However, the same as zero times a large number still makes zero (to the mathematicians out there, I didn’t say times infinite!), putting regular efforts in an activity does produce result and, in this case, improvements will (eventually) be measured.

On the Topic of Support

Practice and generally self-help constitute good starting points but don’t do it alone. Seek support and accept any forms for early support through your self-improvement journey. Standing back up can look like a dark place at first (after all if your face is on the ground you might not see much of the light!) and having others standing by you does make a positive difference.

For me, I want to thank the eternal and selfless support from my wife. Well done on reading this far and still encouraging me!

And what about you? What do you think? What is the next step in your journey?

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.