February 10, 2008

Bulk view

Writing and "Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance"

I don’t remember where I got the book recommendation to read this book, but it’s a fascinating read, and I aspire to this kind of life. (Although not in medicine – I couldn’t bear the responsibility!).

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance
by Atul Gawande

Read more about this book…


Here’s a quote for all you writers, bloggers, and other aspiring communicators, from the afterword on how to become a positive deviant [p.249]

My fourth suggestion was: write something. I don’t mean this to be an intimidating suggestion. It makes no difference whether you write five paragraphs or a blog, a paper for a professional journal, or a poem for reading group. Just write. What you write need not achieve perfection. It need only add some small observation about your world.

You should also not underestimate the power of the act of writing itself. I did not write until I became a doctor. But once I became a doctor, I found I needed to write. For all its complexity, medicine is more physically than intellectually taxing. Because medicine is a retail enterprise, because doctors provide their services to one person after another, it can be a grind. You can lose your larger sense of purpose. But writing lets you step back and think through a problem. Even the angriest rant forces the writer to achieve a degree of thoughtfulness.

… Most of all, by offering your reflections to an audience, even a small one, you make yourself part of a larger world. Put a few thoughts on a topic in just a newsletter, and you find yourself wondering nervously: Will people notice it? What will they think? Did I say something dumb? An audience is a community. The published word is a declaration of membership in that community and also the willingness to contribute something meaningful to it.

So choose your audience. Write something.

Atul Gawande, Better

My blog anchors my participation in the larger world, resulting in not only online interaction but real-world as was well. It makes me part of the conversation.

When I talk to people who don’t blog. I feel a strange disconnect as if the conversation we have stops there: stops at the e-mail exchange with each other, stops at the meeting, is confined within the boundaries of our encounters. When I talk to people who blog, the conversation is wide open and embraces the world.

It’s hard to explain that to the people who are afraid that they might have nothing to say. The truth is that you won’t discover what you have to say until you say it. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that not everyone has discovered the use of writing in reflecting and connecting with others. People have other priorities. They have no time. And perhaps at the core of it, they are shy as I was shy, as I still am shy. But I can overcome my shyness because I want to be part of that larger conversation with them. With you.

Write, and join the conversation.

Rough guide to getting an existing Windows XP partition to boot as a VMWare guest under Linux

Because I might have to do this again someday…

  1. Install VMWare Server. Use the advanced config to create an image that uses your existing hard disk.
  2. Boot Windows (physically). Back up the current hardware profile.
  3. Boot Linux. Download the SCSI drivers from http://www.vmware.com/download/ws/index.html#drivers ..
  4. Change your GRUB config so that it doesn’t time out. You do _not_ want to accidentally boot your Linux partition while inside Linux.
  5. Start VMWare with your Windows image. Use the recovery console. Mount the SCSI drivers FLP as a floppy and copy the files to c:\windows\system32\drivers .
  6. Boot Windows physically. Use the Control Panel – Add New Hardware dialog to add the VMWare SCSI driver. It might also be a good idea to disable ACPI for the computer
  7. Boot to Linux. Use VMWare to load the Windows image.

The SATA drive complicated things a bit, but I eventually got stuff sorted out. Yay! Next step: Wonder if seamless is worth the trouble…

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Linux and Windows playing nicely together

I spent the better part of this weekend trying to get Linux and Windows to play nicely together. I’m much more comfortable in Linux than I am at Windows, but I need both: Linux for development, and Windows to deal with all the other office productivity stuff. After I started running into frustrating Windows-specific issues, I realized that Linux-like workarounds on Windows just weren’t enough for me. So I repartitioned my hard disk, installed IBM’s Open Client for Linux, and switched over. 

It wasn’t easy to get VMware up and running. I saw more Blue Screens of Death than I had in the past year. It was frustrating switching back and forth, trying to figure out the right combination of drivers so that I could use VMware to run an existing Windows XP installation. After I installed the VMware SCSI drivers, my SATA drive finely worked.

Audio wasn’t enabled by default, but after I set that up, even Dragon NaturallySpeaking worked without a hitch. So now, I’m dictating into Windows, which is running in Linux. This makes me happy. =)