Friday, February 24, 2006

google released an os x widget for blogging

This is me trying it out from my dashboard now.  Its pretty cool, it only gives italics and bold as it stands, I don't think it automatically links... but heck let me try.  Lets point to Google's new page...

Guess that didn't work, here is me using HTML now:

Google Widgets

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Train those synapses

I recently started exercising again recently, after months of dust collection on my weight bench, and I just had an interesting bit of brain map reaction. This is going to sound bad, I'm sure. When I work out, we have this cheesy little stair stepper (that is at least better than me just running in place on the concrete floor in the basement) that I spend the first 10 minutes on, a simple way to warm up (tho yoga and stretching are nice alternatives), then I proceed to work do the weight lifting... usually I will go back to the stairs between sets to keep my heart rate up. Anyway, while i'm working out I have the laptop open in front of the stair stepper playing mp3s, but also having this new affection open. I am a Sudoku junkie.

Its amazing how quickly time passes on a stair stepper (one of the most boring activities you could do for exercise), so I am fine with this addiction. Anyway, I play sudoku while exercising. Well on the bus to work, i went to fire it up again to pass the bus ride and was immediately awash in the desire to work out. Isn't that crazy? I want to work out so I can play sudoku! Yah the brain is funny, I like that. (Now, why don't I want to ride on the bus when I open the game up at home?)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Nicholas Negroponte built the Uber PDA

So, am I the only one thinking this MIT $100 computer is going to be great for kids everywhere, but also the uber PDA we've all been waiting for as well? If it has the features they are going for then it will definitely push the Clie, the Visors, and the Palms into a ditch and bury them. I don't want to see the world's children miss out because they are a commercial success, but I do hope they are manufactured easily enough to be available for the rest of us. Those look so cool, I could wet myself.

Images: MIT's $100 laptop | CNET

Stick a bigger Flash drive in there so you can save MP3 and it that is it... just give me a handy way to carry it (the strap/power cord might be enough) and maybe let me plug a wired headset for a phone into it and you've got me hooked for all iterations. mmmm tiny touchscreen/ebook/computer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Trust (at work)

Its amazing what this 5 letter word holds within. So much of our lives revolves around trust, for good or for bad. With trust, you're strong and feel that you can accomplish whatever you want or need to do. Without it, you feel weak and crippled. It is an overlooked value that can affect just about any aspect of your life. I would like to see some power returned to it, especially in the corporate world.

The trend of the last couple of decades has been the over HRification of companies. The need to fence in a company to protect it from pending lawsuits from a litigation happy society (worth an entire post on its own.) Employers could offer trust to their employees to get things done and you end up with happy, empowered workers. But employers tend to keep folders and write warnings and watch their people with distrustful eyes. This results in their workers having no loyalty to a company (loyalty is another great post.) The problem with not trusting your employees is that the lack of trust is returned and then everyone is just dealing with an uneasy partnership.

Imagine the trusting environment, a very familiar atmosphere of a startup company. Everyone comes to work around the same time because they need to be near each other to accomplish their tasks, there is no time clock, just knowledge that people are counting on you. You come to work and start your project, you are left to be productive and everyone just trusts you to honor that. You feel that you own what you're working on and you gain value in that. Each person does their task, you get together to see how your different jobs are working and see if it is as efficient as it could be. It is a positive, productive environment where you respect your peers and vice versa. The "CEO" is in the trenches and you can talk with him directly because, again, you're as much peers as boss/worker.

Now, look at the untrusting workplace, seen in most big corporations. You better be to work on time so your manager doesn't write you up. There is an IMMEDIATE sense of the difference in you and them. You're in direct opposition of them, knowing that if you slip up they will find a way to penalize you. Office Space comes to mind, when you have no value in the company, you'll work just hard enough to not get written up. The employee doesn't trust their boss to support them if they make a mistake or even try to innovate. It is a fearful companionship where the employee doesn't want to anger their keeper. I don't feel that I need to belabor the point here, lack of trust is very normal but hurts everyone.

Obviously there are cases where either of these environments aren't realistic. People can be petty, everyone doesn't like everyone else. You will have the person in a managerial position that just doesn't like someone that they manage. You also have people that will exploit that trust and either not do their part, or simply walk away with resources that aren't theirs. You can't really control that beyond just hiring the right people from the get-go. People aren't perfect, and its rare to find someone truly omniscient and able to spot the bad apples, so the corporate system starts being implemented.

I don't have a solution, there doesn't appear to be an easy answer. I think companies that have peer interviews are a great start. Let an interviewee interact with those they will be working with to make sure everyone sees a good fit. Then this starts to hurt those that are less socially graceful than others. A great smile will beat body odor every day. Sometimes you need the brilliant smelly guy though, so how do you make it all fit together? How do you encourage a cohesive, trusting environment? And how do you scale it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Entropy and the degradation of matter

A subject that I feel needs attention is the process of all things to break down to their elements. Everything ages. While the timeline may vary from a fast decay in things like fruits, or slow like the erosion of a mountain, there is no denying the effects of aging on all things. This is something that has always fascinated me, though I have more interest in how USE causes these things.

My computer keyboard has a shiny space bar because my thumb taps it a lot. (I would think the delete key would be equally shiny, but its not.) The carpet on my stairs are worn in the middle, but nearly untouched on the sides. Everything gets a wear pattern from use over time, except software. Software doesn't appear to show that the save option gets used a lot, you can look at someone's copy of photoshop and see if they use the pencil or the paint bucket often. Surely there is some wear somewhere right? The DLL feeding these tools gets read more often, so it is inclined to be read more often and thus likely to get corrupt or damaged from graceless shutdowns? I mean, you can tell that Windows is not a fresh install pretty early. Old installs of Windows tend to be kinda crufty with registry entries and unnecessary duplication or overwriting of DLLs and source files. Can you track or recognize such behaviour in other applications?

I would love to see a background application that has a near transparent footprint but can watch everything you do. I don't want big brother doing this, I want to see it myself. I can then check the client periodically and see where the patterns fall. It would need to be smart enough to say "used Paint bucket, spent 3 seconds in this tool" and do that for all software on the computer. I want to be able to see those reports for each application and for every tool or function, including the application itself. If not for the whole system, please someone make this tool and turnkey it to all of the big application makers. If users can volunteer that information back to the manufacturer then it would be a tremendous tool to the designers who are making the next version. (Microsoft recently announced a dramatic UI change to Office based on this type of information.)

It isn't ground breaking, though it is generally feared because people thing the software developer will take things they don't want them to see. Nobody wants Microsoft to know that you're using OpenOffice for everything but Spreadsheets, well... maybe they don't care, but people don't want their porn discovered or their cracked software spotted. People have been conditioned to fear the big software companies. This needs to be a trusting relationship where both sides feel that they have somehow benefited and helped the other. It shouldn't be that hard.

If we can watch our software age, or see the wearing down of different tools in our applications. I hereby coin the new term... "ShareWEAR"

Saturday, October 29, 2005

When the stomach grumbles

I was talking to a friend yesterday about fasting, something I used to be quite regular at years ago, but I somehow fell into that ol' eating habit and stopped doing it. Anyway, I got to thinking about it and skimming old books I had read and I was remembering just how much a good fast will do ya. I plan to start fasting once a week again, as the rewards run the gamut from one less day of food to pay for, to having the discipline to control your appetites and not the reverse. There are of course the physiological benefits as well, when I used to fast the friend that I did this craziness with would see the benefits almost immediately in his joints. The friend I was talking with this time is hoping to see a remedy to bowel issues. I personally just like the idea of the weekly detox, since there is so much crap we consume against our will, it can't hurt to try and purge.

One day a week is not really this major, Ghandi-esque sacrifice, but it does have the benefit of showing you that it might not be so bad. I remember the last time I did a 3 day fast, I was so low on energy that I was just laying on the kitchen floor, idly day dreaming. You get a little crazy after 3 days, and when you're a little crazy to start...

I hope to see a revisiting of the longer fasting after I get back into the 1 day routine, I don't know how long I'll move up to, butt 3 days had some nice perks in the past. We'll see. As I get thinking about fasting again, I also get thinking about vegetarianism, or at least kickin the red meat habit again. That stuff just sits in your bowels, not fully digested (I'll not go into the details that I recall from fasting history.) Anyway, yah... fasting. It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Trying out Flock (a clever new browser)

So, I have been mildly intrigued by Flock, a browser that was being simultaneously developed for several platforms. I'm on the Mac right now, so haven't seen hot it looks in others, but I like the feel of the UI (its a browser, don't get your hopes up). The buttons feel nice n Mac'y to me. Anyway, it is designed to be a social browser (flock, you know like a group of birds). That means, it uses stuff like for favorites, or at least lets you integrate with it. It also has a direct link for blogging... which is why I am here now. I'm tesing out that blog part. I'm still just getting started with playing around with it, so I don't have a lot to say, but I will follow up with more info later.

I had signed up for them to send me beta info when the time came, but didn't hear anything. One of my RSS feeds today then said its available and had a link to download it. I was reading about it through OS X Code who redirected me to TechZap, here is the particular post with links to download it if you want to try yourself.

footnote: It looks like Flock is built on top of Mozilla, so I may finally be getting my prettier version of Firefox with the power to add scripts and the like still available. (Their skins generally leave me wanting.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yawn... sleep needs more work

So, I'm workin on this 'baby steps' kind of thing right now. Last week I kicked the coffee... at least as far as detoxing it out of my system (yay headaches.) Its all part of little master plan, details to unfold as they happen.
Its a very loose plan.
This weekend I was reading a post on talking about "sleep cyclies" which pointed to this guy, Glen Rhodes. He is a game developer (Flash) and musician, but those are moot points. The link I just placed is him talking about his experience with Polyphasic sleep (easy to deciper, poly = many, phasic = uh.. phases). He was talking about strategic napping more or less. The thoughts go like this, we as human have "sleep cycles" that are about 90 minutes long. He suggests observing your natural sleep patterns (without an alarm). You'll notice that you tend to sleep in these 90 minute intervals (1.5 hrs, 3 hrs, 4.5 hrs, etc for you playing at home.) When your sleep coincides with a cycle, you wake up fresh, if you don't obey the cycles then you wake up groggy (no I don't mean your spouse, I mean you're still tired.)
Of course this flies in the face of the whole "8 hours a night" talk we have been fed since birth, but it lends nicely to describe those students and parents trying to get the most out of their day.
All that is kind of funny because, about 2 weeks ago I started trying to regulate myself to 6 hours of sleep, its a nice bite size chunk. But now Mr. Rhodes has me thinking about 4.5 hrs (1.5 hr nap, 3 hour sleep). This of course, leaves me and my idle mind a need to focus better. Not sure if it means more blogging, an actual exercise routine, or something more academic... this is still playing out. Amy is VERY put off at the thought of me only sleeping 3 hours... she gets all cranky if she's sleepin and I'm not.
Anyway, lengthy post over. I'm gonna post some follow-up about the sleepin stuff as soon as I've had a chance to read up on it more.
*EDIT* There is a followup article at with even more information and linkies. I guess this is a hot topic!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

ruby scripting

So... I work for a software company (@Last Software - SketchUp software) that added Ruby as a scripting language in the previous version. I remember at the time thinking, "What the heck is Ruby, why not Python?", since I work in technical support I have seen that question come up many times. In the past few months I'm slowly trying to find or make time to learn more about Ruby so I can create tools for this software. Recently I've also started blogging and checking out more technology stuff and have noticed that Ruby is growing daily, everyone is starting to use it. Its very cool stuff! Anyway, I'm just kinda chiming in, giving relevance to an already relevant language. This Ruby scripting language is a big thing and I'm excited by whats coming out of it (via Ruby on Rails) for web apps. I already mentioned Yubnub but there are others. Is anyone out there doing stuff with Ruby? Is anyone out there using SketchUp?

Here is a great repository for Ruby scripts for our software if you are:

Ruby Scripts Library

Friday, September 23, 2005

For Metaphoric Monday5

In the spirit of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, we have a Pirate friendly phrase:

"Shiver me timbers"

Remember that most English words have several meanings, so get creative, grab the thesaurus and Show me a Metaphor!