Tag: on the web

Buddha with thousand hands

My mum forwards me interesting emails from around the interwebs. This clip is thoroughly impressive. This is the kind of amazing stuff China come up with for the Olympics opening ceremony.

And after I had watched it and was amazed, I found out that all those performers ARE DEAF! Bloody hell! That’s insane. Gee….

A breach of Facebook etiquette

A milestone! For the first time, I removed a friend from Facebook.

I have 373 friends on Facebook. I’m reasonably discerning about who I accept as friends. At minimum, I need to have had a face-to-face conversation with a person for at least five minutes. I need to have enjoyed the conversation. I don’t generally request friends, I only accept them.

I have the general irritations from Facebook friends: people who fill in quizzes and want me to compare how much more of princess I am than they are; requests to join some online game; requests to join an irrelevant group.

However, one person has been a serial offender. Every week, he would send me (and probably everyone in his friend list) invitations to events that I can’t physically get to and in which I have never expressed interest. He sends political statements and links.

He’s one of those people that I’ve spoken five minutes with and who requested my friendship. I have now withdrawn my friendship because of his spamming behaviour.

I’m sure he won’t even notice my absence. He has 500+ ‘friends’.

Extremely cute

This is so cute! Tweenbots:

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

… Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, “You can’t go that way, it’s toward the road.”

Thanks Dan Hill at City of Sound for the link to the Gizmodo post.

A tweenbot on its journey
A tweenbot on its journey

Getting it wrong easier than getting it right

I read a frightening article in the Observer’s Food Monthly magazine. It was frightening to me, even though I probably have a relatively good diet. But I can see how people could very easily fall into the trap of eating badly even with the best intentions.

Read this on The Observer’s website here — Running on Empty Carbs.

I’m a fruit fiend. Every day, I typically eat a banana, two oranges and an apple. I’ve known for a while that each orange has the same calories as a small chocolate bar. The article confirms this:

‘Even fresh fruit… is a highly calorific food that should be treated with caution. “One consequence of the government’s Five-a-Day campaign is that children are eating fruit rather than vegetables to meet their target… If you are consuming an extra five pieces of fruit a day and changing nothing else, it will give you more calories because fruit is very sugary.” ‘

There are other depressing revelations (or reminders) about mashed potato, chorizo sausages, apple juice, Rice Krispies (like Rice Bubbles in Australia), muesli bars, dried apricots, bread and crumpets.

Why is it so hard? Why is it much easier to get it wrong than to get it right?

I’m trying to find ways of increasing the protein in my diet but I don’t have the skills or knowledge. It’s also expensive. What can I snack on, if not fruit, rice cakes, muesli bars or salted almonds? Am I meant to keep cans of tuna and boiled eggs on my desk?

10am, 1pm, 4pm, no excuses

Being constantly ‘on call’ at work by email, phone, at my desk and the newly installed enterprise-wide ‘chat’ program (aargh!) means that my ‘to do’ list grows faster than I can tick things off. The only way to clean the slate is to catch up out of hours, during which no one can add anything to the list. That is, unless they’re in our Melbourne, Sydney, San Francisco or New York offices. However, many of these colleagues have recently been fired so this is less a problem these days (more about this in a future post).

Not only am I chasing an ever-growing ‘snake’ of tasks and meetings, because most tasks or meetings are small, much of my day is spent recovering from the last interruption and steeling myself for the next ‘to do’. So while the quantity of time for my projects is reducing, the quality of time is also plunging.

I am pretty good at multi-tasking (or rapid switching, which is probably a more accurate term). But recently, I reached my limit. I had two days in a row where I struggled to work out what to put on my time sheet. I was busy all day but was I productive? Could I justify charging this time to a client? Could the budgets on my projects handle days like this?

A very timely article appeared on Lifehacker: Simple Guidelines for Workday Quality over Quantity. These are the rules.

QUALITY vs quantity, UX process.
Check email ONLY:

  • 10AM
  • 1PM
  • 4PM

Send any time
Set email to check every 3 hours.
NO email on evenings.
NO email on weekends.
EMERGENCY? = Use phone.

FOCUS 1-3 Activities max/day
LOG 1-3 Succinct status bullets every day on team wiki

MAXIMIZE single-tasking

OUT by 5:30PM
~No excuses~

I bookmarked this on Delicious on February 28 and tried to implement it when I went to work on Monday.

I wasn’t successful straight away. First, I got rid of the pop-up that told me I had new email. Even this small step was helpful, despite me still checking my mail twice an hour. Then there was an unfortunate (but necessary?) evening where I worked until 8:30 PM. But as the week went on, I checked my email less and less often.

By Friday, I no longer had Microsoft Outlook open at all. I followed the 10 AM, 1 PM and 4 PM rule (interestingly, every time I checked my mail, I spent at least half an hour responding to the accumulated messages — but I was thankful for the uninterrupted three hours of productive work that had just passed). I finished one task on Friday. And at 5:30 PM, I dropped it all and went to the pub.

It was a rather extraordinary day. I was so thrilled by it that I’ve been telling everyone about the rules. My colleagues are envious. They immediately recognise the wisdom of the rules but are doubtful they can apply them.

Maybe if I can show them these rules are achievable (at least on some days) at our workplace, more people will adopt them.

First tier friends

I have five ‘first tier friends’. I’ve known this for a few years now. Sometimes, I am unwise enough to say aloud who they are but those people who aren’t first tier friends generally know this. I think it’s very rare that someone would consider you a first tier friend, while you think of them as a second tier friend.

Here is an interesting article from BBC Magazine — What’s the ideal number of friends? The article posits that the maximum number of ‘core’ or ‘Premier League’ friends a person has is between six and twelve.

This is funny:

‘A newspaper columnist once told of her shock when, having struck up a rapport with a man over dinner, she was told at the end of the meal he had no vacancies for friends. He was operating a “one-in, one-out” policy. Six months later she received a card stating he was now available for friendship.’

I will add one more feature to this theory of friendship. Like the United Nations Security Council, there are five permanent members of my first tier and one or two rotating members. At any one time, I feel close to a person that I am usually spending a lot of time with. These days, it’s often a work mate.

It may not be obvious at the time that this person is not a permament first tier friend but rather a rotating one.

Right now, though, this post is vacant. Apply within.

Eureka! Simple Wikipedia

Good lord! Tipped off by xkcd I have discovered Simple Wikipedia!

With such gems as:

The brain is a part of the body that allows us to make sense of the world around us and to change our behavior to respond to it. In most animals, the brain is inside the head. The brain is kept safe by the skull and by layers of tissue under it called the meninges.

The brain does the thinking, learning, and feeling for the body. It is the source of consciousness, but it also controls basic body functions, like breathing, that happens without a person realizing it. All the information about the world gathered by our five senses is sent through nerves into the brain, allowing us to see, hear, smell, taste and feel things. The brain processes this information so that we can experience it as pictures, sounds, and so on. The brain also uses nerves to tell the body what to do, for example by telling muscles to move or our heart to beat faster.

This is from Simple Brain. Compare with the equivalent paragraphs of Normal Brain.

The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate, and most invertebrate, animals. Some primitive animals such as jellyfish and starfish have a decentralized nervous system without a brain, while sponges lack any nervous system at all. In vertebrates, the brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing, balance, taste, and smell.

From a biological perspective, the function of a brain is to generate behaviors that promote the genetic fitness of an animal. To do this, it extracts enough relevant information from sense organs to refine actions. Sensory signals may stimulate an immediate response as when the olfactory system of a deer detects the odor of a wolf; they may modulate an ongoing pattern of activity as in the effect of light-dark cycles on an organism’s sleep-wake behavior; or their information may be stored in case of future relevance. The brain manages its complex task by orchestrating functional subsystems, which can be categorized in a number of ways: anatomically, chemically, and functionally.

Fascinating! Who would have thunk?