Creative Selection

Creative Selection is a book about the product development process and demo culture at Apple. The author shares personal stories about problems he worked on at Apple, such as building Safari browser, supporting HTML editing in email, and developing the iPhone keyboard. It’s an interesting read if you’re curious about Apple’s history or product development process, especially around prototyping and demos. The author summarizes Apple’s product development culture as:

“A small group of passionate, talented, imaginative, ingenious, ever-curious people built a work culture based on applying inspiration and collaboration with diligence, craft, deciseveness, taste and empathy, and through a lengthy progression of demo-feedback sessions, repeatedly tuned and optimize heuristics and algorithms, persisted through doubts and setbacks, selected the most promising bits of progress at every step, all with the goal of creating the best product possible.”

April 25, 2021


When is a book on perfect timing. It has interesting stories filled with practical advice after each chapter. Here are some tips involving caffeine:

  • Don’t drink coffee immediately after you wake up: The moment we awaken, our bodies begin producing cortisol. Caffeine interferes with the production of cortisol. Drink your first cup of coffee an hour or ninety minutes after waking up, once our cortisol production has peaked.
  • Nappucino: The most efficient nap is the nappucino. Caffeine won’t engage in your bloodstream for about twenty-five minutes, so drink up right before you lie down for you nap. When you wake up, caffeine will begin to kick in.

This book has a good mix of interesting research and actionable advice, highly recommended if you’re interested in self-improvement.

March 6, 2021

Designing Your Work Life

I was introduced to Bill Burnett at work, where he gave a great talk on creativity. His book is on approaching work life as a design problem and follows on the footsteps of his first book “Designing Your Life”. The chapter that resonated with me the most was on defining the problem and the art of reframing. He talks about two types of problems where people get stuck:

    • Anchor Problems: These are when we pose one of the possible solutions as the problem itself. Example: “I want to go sailing every weekend, but I can’t afford a boat.” So the problem I need to solve is: “How do I buy a boat when I have no money?” Here, we’ve anchored to one of the possible solutions for sailing, which is to buy a boat, and we’ve flipped it into the problem we need to solve. However, a broader framing of the problem, “How can I go sailing regularly on a limited budget?” has many possible solutions: join a sailing club, share a boat with friends, volunteer to crew someone else’s boat etc.
    • Gravity Problems: These are inactionable problems that don’t have a solution. “I want to be a poet, but poets don’t make enough money to live on in our culture. How can I make a good living as a poet?” Bill argues that it’s a situation, a circumstance, a fact of life, and if it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem that can be solved. A reframing could be “How might I write poetry while making a living doing other things?” or “How can I learn to live on what I’d make working only ten hours a week so I can be an almost full-time poet?”

The chapter on money or meaning was also a good reminder on finding a good balance of different attributes for yourself. Overall, most of the book was low signal for me, but the handful of chapters that I mentioned were amazing and invaluable.

February 7, 2021

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sarp centel

Sarp is a software developer. He writes about technology, books and software.
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