Month: April 2021

Twitter Troubles

I recently wrote about why I use Signal as a note capturing app, but shortly afterwards, I realized quite a few of my short-form notes were worth sharing or publishing somewhere. It might not be worth writing an entire blog post about them, but publishing them as tweets would make perfect sense. So I decided to sign up for a Twitter account, and that’s when everything went wrong.

I thought signing up for a Twitter account (@aiad1914) would be simple, but it turns out to be pretty complicated and I ended up getting myself temporarily restricted because of “unusual activities,” whatever that means.

My Twitter account is temporarily restricted due to “unusual activities,” whatever that means.

I’m not sure what happened, but this is the first time I’m locked out of an account just moments after signing up. The only thing I can do is to email Twitter Support, and my email goes like this:

Hi Twitter Support,

I need help. I’ve tried to sign up for an account using this email address but it kept throwing an error saying something went wrong after I entered a password. After 3 attempts, I could no longer use my email so I tried signing up with my phone number instead, and it worked.

Then, I started browsing around, looking for people to follow when suddenly, I was asked to prove that I’m not a bot. That’s fine, I completed the CAPTCHA and went back to browsing. Then, it asked me to do another CAPTCHA and also asked me for my phone number, which I entered. The problem is, after entering the confirmation code, it says “This phone number is already in use.” I’m very confused because that’s the phone number I used to sign up.

Please help, it’s sad that I got locked out of my account just moments after signing up. 🙁

My email to Twitter Support

Hopefully, everything will have been resolved by the time you read this, but we’ll see how it goes.

Update: Issue resolved!

Leaning Into Fear

The fastest way to grow and improve yourself is to lean into your fears and do the things you fear most. If you’re afraid of being on stage, or committing to a big project, it’s really worth asking yourself why you’re so afraid of it.

If it’s the fear of failure holding you back, find out what’s the worst that can happen, and how likely it is to happen. Most of the time, our fears are overblown and it’s actually not as bad as we think.

For one thing, our society isn’t survival of the fittest anymore, it’s much closer to survival of the well-est. And another thing, all good things usually come at a price. For every project or endeavor you take, there will always be a small probability of failure, it’s the inherent risk in every pursuit, and it’s just the price you pay for doing something.

Survival of the Well-est

From Skip the Line by James Altucher

“What if it’s not survival of the fittest but survival of the “well-est”? If someone was content with their life and figured out how to consistently feel that contentment, what could bring them down? If someone could check the boxes on all the things that made them feel satisfied with their lives, then would they ever fall into despair?”

Skip the Line

While it’s great to be fit and strong, we don’t need it to survive in the modern world. These days, we put much more value on intangible things like status, generosity, or prestige. If we want to survive and live well, it’s much more effective to focus directly on our well-being and be content with what we have.

The Value of Experimentation

There’s always a need to learn new things and adapt, especially in a world that keeps on changing. So what better way to learn than by experimenting and trying new things?

Read something you’ve never heard of before, i.e. speed diving or DAO, (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). Try something you’ve never done before, i.e. investing in stocks or becoming an emcee at an event. Or even conduct a few experiments and see how they turn out, i.e. paint a picture with only one color or write a short story without using any pronouns.

It doesn’t matter what the results are, just try something different. You either fail and learn something new about the thing you tried, or succeeded and gain something significant in return.

It’s How You React That Counts

One of the key ideas in stoicism is to focus only on the things within your control. You can’t control how something will happen, and things can go wrong all the time, but you can control how you react to it.

Reacting badly has a lot of consequences, particularly when you let your emotions consume you and take actions you would otherwise not take. You might be frustrated by a series of unexpected events, or angered when something unfortunate happens. You might be tempted to destroy or break stuff or say mean words to others. But think about what would happen a week later, you would have to pay for all the things you broke and suffer the consequences of strained relationships.

Is it really worth it? Was the thing that angered or frustrated you so important that you’re willing to pay extra by taking it out on others? Put it another way, when something bad happens to you, do you take pleasure in worsening it by poisoning yourself or engaging in further self-harm? I hope not! Learn to control your reactions, for the ability to control how you react is one of the best ways to lessen the burden of bad news.

Playing the Long Game

Play the long game, use time horizon as a competitive advantage. How does it work? Target young people and serve them well so that when they grow up, they will still use your products and services.

Two similar examples in tech, Apple offers student discounts for most of their products. Why do they do this? So that when these students become working professionals, they will still favor and use Apple products. When one of them becomes a key decision maker or CEO of a company, guess what products they will use?

Similarly, Google is playing the same game by offering Chromebooks for education. They are also playing the long game, serving young users with the hope that they will grow up and keep using Chromebooks due to their familiarity. And if you look at their market share in 2020, they are already outselling macs.

That’s how you win and beat the dominant player, by uprooting them from below with a new generation of users.

Taking Care of Yourself

Self-care is the first step to doing anything. Just like in the famous airline safety video, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can others trust you to take care of them?

Better vs “The Only”

An interesting article by James Altucher on being better vs being “the only.”

Here’s why I wanted [my daughter] to take race car lessons before she applied [to college]:

How many kids from the NY-PA-CT-NJ states apply to college? How many of those kids have sufficient grades, sufficient SATs, after-school activities, some sports, and decent essay writing schools?

All of them. 

Nobody can tell the difference. All of their applications look the same. They are photocopies of each other. They are clones begging to be selected by the casino of college admissions.

“But,” one might say, “what if one has an A average and the other has a B+? What if one has 1400 on her SATs and the other has 1300?”

BIG DEAL. Nobody can tell the difference. Even if it’s right there in the numbers. Because when you throw in random after-school activities (this one played basketball, this one worked at a charity, this one wrote a decent essay about her trip to Iraq), NOBODY CARES.


Every time I tell people, “Oh, I’m taking my kid tomorrow to race car driving lessons,” they always respond, “Really? That’s the coolest thing! I wish I had done that as a kid.”

So she was “the only.” There were no other people in her class her age.

When admissions officers got her application, I know for a fact it went into a different pile. It went into “the only” pile instead of the pile that a committee would have to decide who is better than who.


Was the iPhone a better phone? Some say yes, some say no. But it was the only phone that had every song ever written on it.

Was McDonald’s the best restaurant? Almost definitely not. But it was the only restaurant chain in the 1950s where, no matter which one you went to and no matter where it was, the food tasted the same and the restaurant was clean. It was the only chain that had those features at that time.

Was Betamax better than VHS as a videotape? Yes it was. But VHS destroyed Betamax and became the dominant brand. Betamax was better, but nobody cared and that’s all it had going for it.

Is my daughter the best student? I have no clue. But she’s definitely in the category of “only.” Particularly if she keeps pursuing race car driving.

Don’t compete in a crowded space trying to be better than the person next to you. Find a space somewhere where you’re the only one who can do what you do. It’s easier said than done, but that’s only if you stay with the crowd and follow common sense. Would you have thought of becoming a race car driver to differentiate yourself when applying to college or university? What other stuff can you try if you really want to differentiate yourself?

Big Risks Are Easy to Underestimate Because They Come From Small Risks That Multiply

From Collaborative Fund, one of the three big lessons from 2020:

If asked, “What are the odds that a group of scraggly young men can inflict massive damage on the strongest and most militarized nation in the world?” you might reasonably reply “extremely low.” Maybe even zero.

But if asked, “What are the odds a group of scraggly young man can be radicalized by a charismatic maniac (extremely high), sneak box-cutter knives through airport security (not hard), use those knives to kill pilots (easy), commandeer a plane (reasonably easy) and crash it into a building (inevitable at this point), your answer might be, “How could we not have seen this coming?”

Big risks are easy to overlook because they’re just a chain reaction of small events, each of which is easy to shrug off. A bunch of mundane things happen at the right time, in the right order, and multiply into an event that might look impossible if you only view the final outcome in isolation. Math is hard, but exponential math is deceiving.

Covid is the same.

A virus shutting down the global economy and killing millions of people seemed remote enough for most people to never contemplate. Before a year ago it sounded like the one-in-billions freak accident only seen in movies.

But break the last year into smaller pieces.

A virus transferred from animal to human (has happened forever) and those humans interacted with other people (of course). It was a mystery for a while (understandable) and bad news was likely suppressed (political incentives, don’t yell fire in a theater). Other countries thought it would be contained (exceptionalism, standard denial) and didn’t act fast enough (bureaucracy, lack of leadership). We weren’t prepared (common over-optimism) and the reaction to masks and lockdowns became heated (of course) so as to become sporadic (diversity, same as ever). Feelings turned tribal (standard during an election year) and a rush to move on led to premature reopenings (standard denial, the inevitability of different people experiencing different realities).

Each of those events on their own seems obvious, even common. But when you multiply them together you get something surprising, even unprecedented.

Big risks are always like that, which makes them too easy to underestimate. How starkly we have been reminded over the last year.

Too often, we underestimate the risk of a big disaster happening because we can’t imagine how it would actually unfold. But most of the time, these big disasters are the result of multiple small problems or failures happening one after the other. That’s why it’s so easy to overlook big disasters, the probability of them happening isn’t as slim as you think once you break them into parts.

How to Get Better at Saying No

From James Clear’s Newsletter, author Grace Bonney on how to get better at saying no:

“The biggest fear most of us have with learning to say no is that we will miss an opportunity. An opportunity that would have catapulted us to success, or that will never come again. And most of the time, that simply isn’t true.

I’ve found that the first part of learning to say no is learning to accept that offers and opportunities are merely an indication that you’re on the right path—not that you’ve arrived at a final destination you can never find again.

If someone is choosing you, it means you’re doing something right. And that is the biggest opportunity you can receive—the chance to recognize that your hard work is paying off. And if you continue to do good work, those opportunities will continue—and improve—over time.”

This is definitely an interesting perspective. Don’t think of saying no as missing an opportunity. See opportunities as an indication that you’re doing something right and that someone out there is choosing you over someone else.