What is this?

This, dear reader, is the Preprocessor Blog.

I mean, okay, but what is that?

Excellent question, let me tell you a bit about it.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of life. Then, after realizing that it’s gonna be a bit of a large bite for a start, I’ve simplified the question significantly: What would I be doing if I didn’t have to do anything? Not that it’s a pressing concern (yet), but I’d bet good money that the thing that could make my life better right now is also the thing I would be doing if I didn’t have to. And that something for me, believe it or not, is learning.

The human race has amassed such an absolute plethora of knowledge and experience over the last few thousand years that I’m lucky to even scratch the surface during the (hopefully) 50–60 years I have left. And if reading a whole bunch doesn’t exactly sound enticing then our collective education system has failed, hard.

Not that it’s any surprise looking at the quality (and age appropriateness) of mandatory reading material in the curriculum, how they emphasize easily testable but often pointless factoids, and how they almost completely extinguish their students’ love for learning. As Einstein famously said: “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education”.

Also, probably the only thing wrong with reading is its marketing. Let’s try to look at it this way: whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some [text] somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you. Case in point, I didn’t say this. So why wouldn’t we benefit from this opportunity and learn directly – especially if it’s on someone else’s dime. My plan is to start reading like I’m already late, because in a sense, I already am.

And what are you going to read exactly?

I’ll be concentrating mainly on non-fiction literature, through which we could cover:

  • Our minds (e.g., mental models, spiritual growth, philosophy, psychology, meditation)

  • Our bodies (e.g., nutrition, activity, recovery, biochemistry background)

  • The world around us (e.g., frugality, economy, minimalism, investing, ecology)

  • And our connections with others (e.g., communication, strategy, self-assertion, relationships, family)

Of course, this project is gonna be a great excuse to catch up on some impactful fiction I somehow missed so far, as the lessons we can derive from a book don’t get less valid if the story containing them isn’t based on real events. Point is, we’re not gonna run out of content anytime soon.

Okay, and why do you need a blog for this?

“Ooh, ooh, I know this one!”, I say as my hand shoots up with Hermione-levels of intensity: because teaching is part of the learning process. It’s not only at the end of the learning phase where one can/should/must teach, as that phase preferably never ends.

By requiring a deeper understanding, processing, summarizing, and commentary, it’s the teaching itself that really teaches me the subject, too. But the fact that I might help others with it is also a non-insignificant point in favor. So I’ll try to summarize everything I read here, so that you can also get the benefits, only even denser, and at my “expense”.

And why is it called “preprocessor”?

Short answer: because I’m a nerd.

Longer answer: preprocessing is the part of the compilation procedure where all the unnecessary filler gets removed and the source code is prepared for the actual compiler, which eventually turns it into an executable program. And call me crazy, but this seemed like a very apt analogy for what I intend to do here. After all, I’m planning to preprocess the most important books of various topics so that the understanding part can happen that much easier in your heads down the line. I also considered “readingmachine”, “bookcompressor”, and even some translation of the Hungarian saying “ready ass, warm meal” as branding options, but then thought fuck it and went with my inner nerd instincts.

I’m sorry, but fuck it?!

Yupp, good thing it came up: the language here is gonna be colloquial at the best of times. This is because A) I already speak like this, and not requiring me to be formal will hopefully make it easier to mask my distinct lack of a dedicated humanities education. And B) because with a more informal tone, plus a few outrageous metaphors and some dark humor, maybe I can better impart certain types of information that would be too dry in a more traditional classroom setting.

I promise I won’t curse as much as the stereotypical sailor… But a few (big breath, eyes closed) fucks and shits (phew) will definitely appear here and there. Also, obligatory disclaimer that English is not my first language but I’m trying to hide it as much as I can.

Well, okay. And who are you, again?

Oh right, almost forgot about that part. My name is Dénes Bán, and by trade, I’m a software engineer and researcher from Hungary.

Yes, at first glance, I really don’t have much to do with self-improvement; maybe not even at a second glance. To my credit, my official title is “doctor of philosophy”, even though it’s about software quality stuff and I’d have to google what philosophy actually is.

The main goal of the preprocessor project is to radically expand and generalize my computer science background. I mean, I’m sure my previous research was also useful for the exactly three people that read it, but here I would like to tackle topics that have a bit larger impact on both my and others’ everyday lives.

All in all, I might not yet know a whole lot that would be useful to you, dear reader. I do know a thing or two about learning and knowing things, though. So if everything goes according to plan, soon we all might know a lot more than now.

This… actually doesn’t sound half bad.

Right?! I’m glad we agree. In that case, feel free to check back regularly for fresh knowledge nuggets.

Also, please don’t let the fact that there’s no commenting feature on this blog deter you – it’s only because I have neither the affinity, nor the resources for active spam filtering and moderation. But I really would love to hear from you! So if you have anything to say, feel free to reach out through email or through Discord.

Thanks a lot for your interest, I’ll try to be interesting.