"lifehacks" entries

Four short links: 29 January 2010

Four short links: 29 January 2010

Chat Roulette, Flickr Photo Found, Life Quantification, Infographic Skills

  1. Chat Roulette — not sure it’s new, as I think I recall Eric Ries talking about implementing it in the early days of IMVU, but it’s still interesting: chat to a random person who also wants to chat. I wonder whether it’s being used for drive-by phone sex, or whether there’s a genuine curiosity about other human beings that extends beyond their genitals. (via Roger Dennis)
  2. Only Surviving Photo of Phineas Gage Found on Flickr (NPR) — are we still surprised at this? It’s a little like “last copy of book found in library”. Great photo, though. (via wiselark on Twitter)
  3. The 2009 Feltron Report — life quantified beautifully. (via Flowing Data)
  4. Chart Wars: The Political Power of Visualization (Ignite) — how to be a smart consumer of datagraphics and visualizations. (via KathySierra on Twitter)
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How has the Internet Changed the Way You Think?

How has the Internet changed my thinking? The more I've loved and known it, the clearer the contrast, the more intense the tension between a physical life and a virtual life. The Internet stole my body, now a lifeless form hunched in front of a glowing screen. My senses dulled as my greedy mind became one with the global brain we call the Internet.

Comments: 10
Four short links: 30 December 2009

Four short links: 30 December 2009

Time Management, CS Education, Installing EtherPad, Infoengravings

  1. How to Run a Meeting Like Google (BusinessWeek) — the temptation is to mock things like “even five minute meetings must have an agenda”, but my sympathy with Marissa Mayer is high. The more I try to cram into a work day, the more I have to be able to justify every part of it. If you can’t tell me why you want to see me for five minutes, then I probably have better things to be doing. There may be false culls (missing something important because the “process’ is too high) but I bet these are far outweighed by the missed opportunities if time isn’t so structured.
  2. Computer Science Education WeekDecember 5-11, 2010, recognizes that computing: Touches everyone’s daily lives and plays a critical role in society; Drives innovation and economic growth; Provides rewarding job opportunities; Prepares students with the knowledge and skills they need for the 21st century.” Worthy, but there’s no mention of the fact that it’s FUN. The brilliant people in this field love what they do. They’re not brilliant 9-5, then heading home to scan the Jobs Wanted to see whether they could earn more as dumptruck drivers in Uranium mines in Australia. CS isn’t for everyone, but it won’t be for anyone unless we help them find the bits they find fun.
  3. Installing EtherPad — step-by-step instructions for installing EtherPad, the open-source real-time text editor recently acquired by Google.
  4. Victorian Infographics — animals, time, and space from the Victorians. It’s beautiful, it’s meaningful, it must be infoengravings.
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Four short links: 9 December 2009 Four short links: 9 December 2009

Four short links: 9 December 2009

Bioinformatics Myths, Internet Policy, Archivist Tools, Life Visualisations

  1. The Mythology of Bioinformatics — worth reading this (reprinted from 2002!) separate of hype from history.
  2. Policy and Internet — new journal, with articles such as The Case Against Mass E-mails: Perverse Incentives and Low Quality Public Participation in U.S. Federal Rulemaking: This paper situates a close examination of the 1000 longest modified MoveOn.org-generated e-mails sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about its 2004 mercury rulemaking, in the broader context of online grassroots lobbying. The findings indicate that only a tiny portion of these public comments constitute potentially relevant new information for the EPA to consider. The vast majority of MoveOn comments are either exact duplicates of a two-sentence form letter, or they are variants of a small number of broad claims about the inadequacy of the proposed rule. This paper argues that norms, rules, and tools will emerge to deal with the burden imposed by these communications. More broadly, it raises doubts about the notion that online public participation is a harbinger of a more deliberative and democratic era. (via Jordan at InternetNZ)
  3. Xena — GPL-licensed Java software from National Archives of Australia, to detect the file formats of “digital objects” and then converting them into open formats for preservation.
  4. Nebul.us — startup that aggregates and visualises your online activity. In private beta, but there’s a screenshot and brief discussion on Flowing Data.
Comment: 1
The Emerging Twitter List Arms Race

The Emerging Twitter List Arms Race

I use Twitter a lot, but I was not among the very first to see the new Lists feature. I can now, though. And what I find much more interesting than actually using the feature myself is the fact that I woke up this morning to find that I was on dozens of other people's lists. (In fact, while I was writing this, I turned up on four more!)

Even though the irony is that Twitter introduced lists about a year after I stopped wanting such a feature, I do think there is some value in having other people put me on their lists. Braggadocio. Forget about counting your number of followers, or how many retweets you get, those metrics have been blown out for a long time now. The new high fidelity for my vanity is the Twitter list.

Comments: 11
Four short links: 14 October 2009

Four short links: 14 October 2009

Multitouch Demo, Secrets Site Secrets, Hadoop Futures, Becoming Lucky

  1. 10Gui Video — demo of a new take on multitouch, a tablet and new GUI conventions. (via titine on Twitter)
  2. Behind the Scenes at WhatDoTheyKnow — numbers and stories from the MySociety project, which provides a public place for Official Information Act requests and responses. The fact information is subject to copyright and restrictions on re-use does not exempt it from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (though there is a closely related exemption relating to “commercial interest”). Occasionally public bodies will offer to reply to a request, but in order to deter wider dissemination of the material they will refuse to reply via WhatDoTheyKnow.com. Southampton University have released information in protected PDF documents and the House of Commons has refused to release information via WhatDoTheyKnow.com which it has said it would be prepared to send to an individual directly.
  3. The View from HadoopWorld (RedMonk) — fascinating glimpse into the Hadoop user and developer world. Hadoop can be used with a variety of languages, from Perl to Python to Ruby, but as Doug Cutting admitted today, they’re all second class citizens relative to Java. The plan, however, is for that to change. Which can’t happen soon enough, in my view. It’s not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with Java, or its audience. The point, rather, is that there are lots and lots of dynamic language developers out there that would be far more productive working in their native tongue versus translating into Java.
  4. Be Lucky, It’s an Easy Skill to Learn (Telegraph) — this one resonated with me, as it ties into some life hacking I’ve been doing lately. And so it is with luck – unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for. (via Hacker News)
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Four short links: 18 June 2009

Four short links: 18 June 2009

Weaker Copyright Good, YQL.gov, GeoSPARQL, Happiness

  1. Harvard Study Finds Weaker Copyright Protection Has Benefited Society (Michael Geist) — Given the increase in artistic production along with the greater public access conclude that “weaker copyright protection, it seems, has benefited society.” This is consistent with the authors’ view that weaker copyright is “uambiguously desirable if it does not lessen the incentives of artists and entertainment companies to produce new works.” (read the original paper)
  2. Using Public Data for Good With the Power of YQLThe first part is a new batch of YQL tables providing data on the U.S. government, earthquake data, and the non-profit micro-lender Kiva. The second part is an incredibly easy way to render YQL queries on websites. After all, what good is data that no one can see?
  3. GeoSPARQL — RDF meets geo goodness. SELECT ?s ?p ?o WHERE { ?s gn:name "Dallas" . ?s ?p ?o } (via the geowanking mailing list)
  4. How To Be Happy in Business — this Venn diagram makes me happy. (via Ned Batchedler)

happyinbiz.jpg

Comments: 3

When Distraction is Good

Distraction is getting a bad name. This past month, I've been heads down on a few projects and noticing something I'd not been very conscious of before now. When I get "stuck" or when I reach a natural break point on a piece of work, the menu of potential distractions includes everything from email and telephone calls to getting…

Comments: 8

It’s at the Scene of the Crime, but it’s not the Criminal

People are saying technology is making us stupid. Technology is shattering our attention. Technology is ruining our children. Technology is making us busier than ever. Taking that train of thought a step further: technology can fix the problem. I believe we can make smarter email and smarter phones – and we should. It just won’t fix the problem. We can…

Comments: 7

RIP: Returned Every Email

I fell in love with email in 1983. I was a computer-savvy educator and children’s librarian teaching teachers about the new technologies 
available to them. Email came into my life, offering immediate gratification: no stamp, no trip to the post office, no phone tag, no long messages. Questions were answered quickly. Personal exchanges often felt as intimate as a written…

Comments: 10