Upgrading Myself in 2023

Leveraging High-Tech for a High-Performance Lifestyle in 2023

· 11 minutes read

Upgrading Myself: Leveraging High-Tech for a High-Performance Lifestyle in 2023

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the products mentioned in this post. They are mentioned purely for illustrative purposes.

We live in an era marked by rapid technological advancements, opening doors to self-improvement opportunities that were unimaginable a few years back. In 2023, the high-tech tools at our disposal have enabled me to upgrade various facets of my life, significantly amplifying my productivity and overall well-being.

Half of this post is dedicated to illustrating how to use GPT in different aspects of daily work. While many people are familiar with the basic workings of GPT, I want to highlight specific use cases that can help you leverage this incredible tool to its full potential. From enhancing programming efficiency to automating business processes, GPT can be a game-changer in your professional life. Let's dive in and explore these applications.

Enhancing Programming Efficiency

In the world of coding, efficiency is key. Regular interaction with code, whether it's for building new features or maintaining existing ones, can be mentally taxing. By focusing on programming efficiency, we can significantly reduce this mental load and stress. This not only leads to healthier coding practices but also frees up cognitive resources for creative problem-solving and innovation. It's an aspect that every coder should consciously think about and strive to improve.

Cursor: Your Virtual Pair Programmer

Transitioning from VSCode to Cursor has been a game-changer. Now, I have ChatGPT handling mundane tasks, assisting in debugging, and explaining existing code. This way, I can focus on the creative aspect of coding, making the entire process more enjoyable and efficient.

These tools have helped me overcome several general programming inefficiencies:

  • Reduced cognitive load: By handling mundane tasks and assisting in debugging, ChatGPT allows me to focus on the creative aspect of coding. This reduces the mental strain typically associated with these tasks. This is how automatic error debugging looks like, and while not always correct, often it pinpoints the source quite well:

cursor auto debugging an elixir typespec error

  • Improved code understanding: ChatGPT's ability to explain existing code has made it easier for me to understand and work with legacy code or complex code written by others. Sometimes I also just have spontaneous questions I am kinda too lazy to google, but a quick select+prompt inline does the job pretty well, like my following thought:

cursor answering my ad-hoc thoughts

  • Enhanced productivity: With less time spent on mundane tasks and debugging, I can dedicate more time to feature development and innovation. Like, I feel happy to make something work somehow in the happy path and afterward everything is mostly boring/non-stimulating for my brain, so I can let GPT iterate over my hacky snippets and make it more readable, find edge-cases do refactorings, like this simple example:

cursor iterating on code for me

The combination of Cursor and ChatGPT has not only made coding more enjoyable but also significantly more efficient. Which leaves me with much more time for the enjoyable parts of the job, and/or squeeze out some more out of my few productive hours as a manager. It's so much better than copy-pasting into/from another browser window, which makes me use it even more casually.

TabNine: Autocomplete on Steroids

TabNine has drastically reduced the time I spend typing new code. Especially in boilerplate-y languages like Java, Go or Typescript, or known repetitive structures. Somehow I prefer it to Github Copilot, but I have no factual reason why it's better or not here... it was initially free for Rust users so I picked it up before Copilot was available and now I am used to it.

While Cursor excels at existing code, when I actually do have to type new stuff, then only a few keystrokes please. If the autocomplete got details wrong, I just select it for cursor to auto-fix with GPT.

ChatGPT for Browser: Your Personal Tech Consultant

Whether it's architecting a solution or learning new topics like writing JQL for Jira automations, having ChatGPT in the browser has been invaluable. It's also excellent at reframing technical concepts for non-tech individuals, bridging communication gaps effortlessly. Let's face it, sometimes it's not that easy to formulate issues in a way everyone can easily understand, and engineers (myself included) are not typically the best communicators in the company to bring points across.

Also most people I know to google the shit out of every task they never did before until they find some blog/video/tweet/... that contains exactly the puzzle piece they need, copy-paste it, and move on with their lives. For most things, no one bothers to "learn fundamentals properly", and it's okay. I don't want marketers to do a full CS curriculum so they can automate email campaigns the right way, they should focus on their core domain of expertise. GPT just turbocharged this process for knowledge workers, not only programmers. Btw, did you know that you can make GPT create PowerPoint slides by tasking it to output VBA code that generates the real slides for you? Some coworker just showed me this. Wild times!

AI-Driven Code and Business Automation

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, AI-driven code and business automation have become indispensable tools for personal and professional growth. By leveraging these technologies, we can automate mundane tasks, streamline complex processes, and focus on what truly matters - innovation and creativity. Whether you're a seasoned developer, a business professional, or someone just starting their tech journey, understanding and utilizing these tools can significantly enhance your productivity and efficiency. Let's delve into how you can harness the power of AI to transform your coding practices and business operations.

OpenAI API with Function Calling: Coding Simplified

The OpenAI API for GPT has replaced manual, brittle code, especially when dealing with unstructured input data. Extracting features or classifying plaintext has never been easier.

Like, I have been building scrapers for the last 2 decades now, to the point of the "hello world" when learning a new language is scraping some stuff and process/distill it. I wrote multiple scraper libraries and open-sourced some of them. Now I couldn't care less about the approach itself, at least for my uses (not FAANG scale). Things like LangChain make the whole job so much more robust and faster, it's another level, even though the price is significant latency from OpenAI responses and fractions of a cent in usage costs. But no more "the data source layout changed" or they write titles in a weird format with separators, where fixing this would break something else.

Livebook + OpenAI API: Instant Business Process Automation

Interactive tools like Livebook coupled with the OpenAI API have empowered me to automate manual business processes within minutes, a testament to how far we've come.

A few code snippets to talk with the OpenAI API and there are agents, with a quick rudimental frontend deployed to coworkers. See this post for an example how quick autonomous agents can be built. You can provide some functions that enable the LLM to execute tasks (mostly API calls) or look up data it needs to come to a conclusion, and even shove some calculation helpers in so the bot doesn't lie.

You see people doing some repetitive data job in the office or moving some data from A to B with slight modifications along the way? You can solve this now within a few hours and have fun doing it. LangChain helps with reducing the code needed, and LiveBook makes the setup/deployment for internal needs an immediate thing without sacrificing power like in no-code tools.

Also turns out most people don't really want dashboards, they want answers to their questions, backed up by real data!

Boosting Cognitive Performance

In our quest for productivity and efficiency, we often overlook the most fundamental aspect - our cognitive performance. The brain, like any other organ, requires proper care and nourishment to function optimally. By enhancing our cognitive performance, we can significantly improve our problem-solving skills, creativity, and overall productivity. This section will explore various tools and practices that can help us achieve this. Remember, a healthy body is the foundation of a healthy mind. In the long run, taking care of our physical health is just as important as honing our technical skills.

Endel: Your AI Composer

Swapping music playlists for Endel's AI-generated soundscapes has significantly improved my ability to reach and maintain a flow state, or calm down when necessary.

I struggle at times with ADHD symptoms, and need something to keep my brain on track. Music with vocals tends to derail me, playlists in general need some maintenance after a while or it gets boring. White/Brown/Pink/... noise is also too repetitive and not immersive for me after a while. So, Endel it is.

It generates personalized soundscapes and factors in my mood, the weather, circadian cycle and even biofeedback from my Apple watch at times. I select the mood I need to be in, and it takes care of slowly directing my body/brain there over time. The only issue I still have is remembering to switch to a "relax" mode in the evening and find myself engaged way too long into the night.

Bioengineered Nutrition: Fueling the Body Right

Starting the day with bioengineered food from Huel ensures a perfect nutritional profile, freeing me to enjoy diverse culinary experiences in the evenings without guilt.

I drink a "black edition" as breakfast with 500kcal and eat a "Hot&Savory" for lunch with 400kcal. Together I achieve a quite perfect nutritional profile for the day including all vitamins/minerals, high fiber and protein content and it's vegan. For like 5-6€ per day in total, and just enough flavors so it doesn't get boring over time.

This frees me up for the evening when family/friends time comes around... I can just eat that pizza if I want to without bad feelings, since the whole day up to this point was quite perfect. Also basically zero time spent on food prep at all and also no time wasted on trying to decide where to go to find something for the day.

The optimal time to spend quality time for food for me is the evening, when there actually is time to enjoy it, not having to rush somewhere in 30 mins.

Mushroom Stacks: Natural Energy and Relaxation

Migrating from coffee to drinkable mushroom stacks from SpaceGoods has eliminated jittery feelings, providing a steady energy boost in the morning and relaxation before sleep.

Of course, this is more like a lifestyle thingy, without scientific studies really backing it, but at least my N=1 data point says it's working remarkably well. One cup of rainbow dust in the morning for the mental boost and one cup of dream dust in the evening before sleep.

If nothing else, these "rituals" also help with managing your daily cycle alone and they taste surprisingly good.

Hydration with a Twist

Replacing sodas with flavored cold tap water from Waterdrop has kept me hydrated and satisfied, without the extra calories. Also no plastic bottles involved anymore, an environmental win in my book.

It took me a while to find some products that actually taste very good and are not just chemistry kits labeled as edible.

I just noted this as a more general point I want to make: basically 3/4 of my daily intake of stuff is based on tap water and "optimized" nutrition powders/blocks. (Not to mention stuff like protein shakes and creatine for lifting, same story.)

This means much less physical weight has to be moved from A to B (good for the environment), I don't waste fresh produce because I for some reason didn't cook them in time, the general amount of time needed for shopping drastically decreased and ultimately... : when I actually do cook or eat out, I really enjoy it much more.

Conclusion: Embrace the Tech-Enabled Self-Improvement Journey

The transformative potential of today's technology is astounding. By mindfully selecting and integrating these high-tech tools and lifestyle upgrades, I've managed to significantly enhance my daily life. I believe there's a vast array of opportunities waiting for each of us, ready to be seized to make a positive impact on our lives. And remember, the best time to embrace these tools and start your self-improvement journey is now.