Category: stuff

Why solitary workers can be faster workers

collision detection: Why solitary workers can be faster workers

From the article:

“For years, I’ve worked in isolation — either sitting alone in my office, or, recently, sitting in a rented cubicle in New York. I haven’t had a job that required me to work physically alongside coworkers since 1998.

And maybe that’s been a good thing for my productivity — because according to a new study, when you can see other workers performing different tasks out the corner of your eye, it slows you down. Tim Welsh, a kinesiologist at the University of Calgary, organized a nifty experiment in which he asked a subject to perform a task on a computer, alongside a partner performing a different computer task. Then he’d get
the subject to perform the task while his partner went off to another room…”

Done with: MySpace/Friendster

I’ve made the cut. Along with unsubscribing to a shockingly large
number of newsletters in my personal email account, I’ve canceled both
my MySpace and Friendster accounts. I’ve had them for some number of
years and they’ve lied fallow in comparison to my activity on Facebook.

I have some friends that are primarily active on MySpace or Friendster,
but maintaining updates on both of them was just really more than I
wanted to do. So we’ll see how all this works out. I’m still on
last.fm, Facebook (of course), flickr, dopplr, fireeagle, etc etc, but
the sites that were primarily a personal profile have been
consolidated. Ahhh.

Google Docs – Now with Forms!

Neat-o Torpedo! Google docs now lets you put a form in front of a spreadsheet if you just want to use it to collect data…

Official Google Docs Blog: Stop sharing spreadsheets, start collecting information

“We’re really excited to bring you forms!
Create a form in a Google Docs spreadsheet and send it out to anyone
with an email address. They won’t need to sign in, and they can respond
directly from the email message or from an automatically generated web
page. Creating the form is easy: start with a spreadsheet to get the
form, or start by creating the form and you’ll get the spreadsheet
automatically.”

Rugged and Flexible

No, its not the title of a M4M personal ad, but a concept I’ve been grappling with. As I was about to head out the door this weekend for a North Carolina Equality Conference I thought about grabbing my computer and taking it along. (The MacBook of course…)

As I thought more about it I decided not to. When I think back about my decision it was a mix of a few things that I’d order:

  1. Ruggedness
  2. Flexibility
  3. Distraction

Part of the reason that I bought the MacBook (as opposed to the MacBook Pro) was its size. I wanted the most portable (flexible) option I could have among the Mac collection. I’ve found though, that I’m hesitant to bring it along because I’m afraid of how rugged it is, and it’s nowhere near as portable as a paper notebook.

The element of it being a distraction was really not comparable to the other two.

I know that this is in part a function of cost. If I could get a new laptop with minimal cash cost, and minimal hassle cost (transferring files and settings and such) I’d probably bring it more places, but not many places – at least I don’t think… That’s because of how portable it is – it still feels like an encumbrance.

So terrific – I’ve basically said nothing more than “My laptop is heavier than I thought it was, and I’m afraid to break it”. It’s a tangible thing so that is clear.

I’m interested in the trade-off between rugged and flexible in other spaces too, particularly in social software. I think we’re doing a great job on ruggedness – We’ve got plenty services that people rely on heavily to get “real work” done and they are performant and stable to a more than acceptable degree. But how flexible are they? Flexible can be defined a number of ways – my highest barrier to entry seems to be the space between my brain and the software.

I’ll have an idea that I want to blog about in the car, and it seems to get lost by the time I get to wherever I’m going. And when I am in front of a machine, the cost of opening the blogging tool, whether its local or form-based on the server, seem high enough to allow my fleeting attention time enough to move me onto the next pressing thing.

There is also one of the biggest costs of entry for me which is pretty much embodied in this post. The part of my brain that says that “not perfect” is not good enough when it comes to, well, a lot, but blogging in particular. I’ve had a few ideas for posts in the past that have completely disappeared b/c I didn’t feel like I had the time to craft them “properly”. (Assuredly a mix of both obsession and continuous partial attention deficit disorder 🙂

I was hoping to try a strategy for working some of this out at the conference this weekend. I downloaded TwitterBerry (the BlackBerry twitter client – a must since I don’t have an unlimited txt plan) so I could tweet throughout the day. As it turns out there was a problem with data coverage / EDGE access / DNS access / something that kept me disconnected. Oh well.

So I guess this post is my first attempt to work it out. I’m convinced my WordPress install is rugged, the tools a sufficient for me to enter a post, and they don’t have to be “perfect”. Lets see how all that works out 🙂

Google’s OpenSocial API

From TechCrunch:

What TheyÂ’re Launching

OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks:

  • Profile Information (user data)
  • Friends Information (social graph)
  • Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

Hosts agree to accept the API calls and return appropriate data. Google wonÂ’t try to provide universal API coverage for special use cases, instead focusing on the most common uses. Specialized functions/data can be accessed from the hosts directly via their own APIs.

Unlike Facebook, OpenSocial does not have its own markup language (Facebook requires use of FBML for security reasons, but it also makes code unusable outside of Facebook). Instead, developers use normal javascript and html (and can embed Flash elements). The benefit of the Google approach is that developers can use much of their existing front end code and simply tailor it slightly for OpenSocial, so creating applications is even easier than on Facebook.

Languages Die, but not Their Last Words

My friend David Harrison had an article featuring him published in the New York Times today. He does great work to capture samples of languages that are dying off:

David in Australia

In a teleconference with reporters yesterday, K. David Harrison, an associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore, said that more than half the languages had no written form and were “vulnerable to loss and being forgotten.” Their loss leaves no dictionary, no text, no record of the accumulated knowledge and history of a vanished culture.

I can’t help but wonder if social tools and their place on the internet will lead to the preservation, or homogenization of language… Perhaps David will have a look at this post and comment 🙂

When are asparagus in season?

If you shop at Whole Foods (at least the Whole Foods in Chapel Hill) then you know the answer to that question and many more so long as they take the form of "When are xxxx in season…"

I love that infographics like this are becoming more common place…

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