and we're back...

January 04, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Happy 2009. In August of last year, I started the process of moving this site. Between work and travel and general exhaustion from those two things, it took me a long time to get everything actually move. It's still not done, but at least I have the blogging software back online. Even if it is in the default design. So, away we go….


Secure Gmail

August 24, 2008

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

When I first started using gmail, there wasn't a setting to secure it, but you could do it manually by changing the first "http://" part of an address to "https://". Now, Google has a setting that you can do this with and enforce it. Under "Settings" look for "Browser connection:" and make sure it's set to "Always use https". If you use Gmail, you should check this now. Like, right now. It's always been possible for people to easily get into your account if you don't use the encryption, but now someone is about to release a tool to the public that does it automatically. Computer security can be complicated, but this is a VERY easy fix now that google has provided the setting. Make sure you take advantage of it.


George Orwell's Blog

August 15, 2008

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George Orwell's diary is being transposed to a blog with each entry being posted seventy years after the original. That's just cool.

Here's the internal entry about what's going on and here's the blog itself to follow. A few days ago, it seems the men caught a snake.


Limiting Communication and Availability

August 15, 2008

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Several people I know use e-mail like it is instant messenger. They keep it open all day and read every e-mail as it comes in. For me, this is horrible for productivity. Constantly changing gears from working on something to dealing with other things means I'm unlikely to make any real progress on a project. So, I only check e-mail a few times a day. People I work with know this so I've set the expectation. With a follow-up point that if there is something that needs to be dealt with urgently, they shouldn't e-mail me. Shoot me an instant message or call me.

One of the key reasons I treat e-mail like this is that in order to make progress on anything other than the smallest of projects, I need blocks of uninterrupted time. There is a nice three part entry over at 43 Folders that is right in line with my thinking on this type of stuff. From the introduction:

“Making Time to Make” is a 3-part series about attention management for people who do creative work. It’s designed to help you firewall the time and attention you need to get out of the lite communication business and into your studio.

For me, one long block of time is much better than two or more smaller blocks even if they add up to the same (or possibly greater) amount of time. The first part of the series has a quote from Neal Stephenson who shares the idea:

Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless.

My favorite quote comes from the second part. "Put plainer, my sense is that western culture would be a damn sight poorer today if John Lennon had been forced to carry a goddamn BlackBerry." If you create things, it's well worth the read.

Making Time to Make - Part 1
Making Time to Make - Part 2
Making Time to Make - Part 3


Virtual Photo Tourism Software

August 14, 2008

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This is an amazing use of software and public images to create something new in the world. I saw a video with the original version of this some time ago and was very impressed then, but the secondary controls they have added now are even better.

Very Cool


Some more web tools

August 12, 2008

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Two web tools that can help things out:

Fiddler - a web debugging proxy for Windows. It's one of the Microsoft "PowerToys". You can read more about it here.

I.E. Developer Toolbar

  • adds developer functions to I.E.

I haven't had a chance to check these out yet, but both look very useful if you do web development and need to see how things go on a windows box.


Remote Assassination

August 09, 2008

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As more and more of us become electronic cyborgs (via pacemakers, internal drug delivery systems, etc…) the potential for detrimental hacking of those devices increases as well. See, for example, this story found via boingboing about researchers who have figured out how to hack into a pacemaker and shut it down via remote control.

I can see this being part of a plot to a movie. Some political leader dies and they think his pacemaker just gave out, but it was really an assassination. Of course, there is frightening real world potential for this.


Ender's Opening

August 08, 2008

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

An excellent friend, who happens to be in Japan right now, was the first one to tell me that you can generally tell how good a book is going to be simply by reading the first sentence. I just picked up "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card, which starts:

"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get."

Solid first by itself. Taken along with the tension created by the second (and I think it's fair to take the two together) I judge it a strong open.

(Incidentally, I haven't actually read the Wikipedia page on the book. Since I'm starting the book, that would seem to be self defeating. I'll the Wiki entry out after I'm finished with the original text.)


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