161: Stolen Focus, with Jean MacDonald


This meow system has been a part of my workflow for four years now.


Nice. I didn’t have to zoom in to recognize the publisher of the books on your desk. I started buying from O’Reilly in the early 90’s. Their books and software helped me set up our first lan and intranet.


What’s that keyboard?!?

Standard Apple Magic keyboard that came with my iMac Pro.

(I use a Drop CTRL on the iMac Pro)

Yes, my comment was a bit tongue in cheek. I know about your "Museum of Well-Intentioned Keyboards ". :slight_smile: I came across it when I was looking into getting a mechanical keyboard.

I did, a Keychron K8 Pro. The Drop CTRL was a bit out of my price range.

I did purchase a different Drop board, this one:

That’s all the keys I could afford.


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:joy: I miss things sometimes.

Sounds like a good sign for my keyboard storage tub!

Re: Audiobooks vs eBooks vs physical

I prefer Audible for fiction but also for general information and history, etc. A Kindle is my choice for non-fiction that requires study and/or reflection.

I rarely buy physical books unless that is my only choice because I like having the majority of my books available wherever I happen to be. And because I have moved a few times in my life (40+). Before ebooks there were only a handful that I kept over the years. Today I have around 600 - 700 (80% digital).

IMO the Kindle’s killer feature is adjustable font size. Something I never thought about until I had been reading for 40 years or so. :wink:

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About Johann Hari’s Stolen Focus, I bought it after listening to the show. I started reading it and I thought it was pretty good, until I checked out the author’s wikipedia page…

The guy is an engaging writer, but not a reliable source of information. If you read it, fact-check everything…


I really enjoyed the cadence of this conversation between the three of you. Hope you can have Jean back again.

Yeah, Hari is a giant yikes for credibility, which often bums me out when I hear something interesting or insightful from him. It’s like a broken clock: it’s not necessarily wrong, but I can’t trust it to be right just because I like what it says—I need to check a working clock for that.


Thanks for pointing this out, I was pretty excited about the book after the show.

Will tread carefully with this one.

I just listened to a recent episode of Huberman Lab on how to improve your focus and concentration. If you’re interested in a more science-based approach, check it out. The guy knows is stuff and seems trustworthy. I sometimes wish he went in more detail about some studies, but most of his shows are over two hours long already…


Very good podcast. Pretty sure he’s a Stanford professor so about as qualified as they come :+1:

Wow, that’s really disconcerting. Now I wish I hadn’t bought his book. Unless it’s a very well-known author, I bet a number of people have now added the “check the author in Wikipedia” step before they buy their book or recommend it to others. Too bad.

I don’t really want to fact-check everything in a book. And how can you fact check the personal conversations that make up much of his book?

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Even that isn’t a guarantee a book/article is credible. In 2003 a reporter for the New York Times resigned because “. . . it became clear he had plagiarized, or outright fabricated, dozens of stories he’d allegedly written for the paper.”

an interesting quote from Hari’s own book:

We don’t have any long-term studies tracking changes in people’s ability to focus over time.

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