Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Interesting crock pot recipes

How to get a real person when calling a big company

gethuman - advocacy for high quality customer service for consumers

The gethuman project is a consumer movement to improve the quality of phone support in the US. This free website is run by volunteers and is powered by over one million consumers who demand high quality phone support from the companies that they use. More info.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What schools should be teaching kids about computers

Life-Long Computer Skills (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Teaching life-long computer skills in our schools offers further benefit in that it gives students insights that they're unlikely to pick up on their own. In contrast, as software gets steadily easier to use, anyone will be able to figure out how to draw a pie chart. People will learn how to use features on their own, when they need them -- and thus have the motivation to hunt for them. It's the conceptual things that get endlessly deferred without the impetus of formal education.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

An excellent article on how tech folks sometimes treat users...

It Ought To Be Simple: I'm an Idiot...

I’m stupid, clueless, dumb – hell, I’m a complete moron. I’m so inept, in fact, that a new word has been created to capture my incompetence: “luser.” I feel terrible about it, I really do; it was never my intention to upset my IT department – heck, the whole IT industry – by not being bright enough to use the wonderful tools they give me. But I just can’t seem to get it right.

Moving your itunes DB

UltraNewb: How to move your iTunes library to an external drive - Lifehacker

iTunes has a (deservedly) bad reputation for taking total control of your music and videos, including where they live on your computer. It wasn't always easy to move your library in past versions of the software, but happily iTunes 7 makes relocating an existing media library pretty painless - that is, with a little know-how. Here's how to get it done.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A way to use labels in Gmail

Ask the Readers: How do you organize your Gmail? - Lifehacker

I keep three types of labels in Gmail: permanent/manual labels, permanent/filter-based labels and temporary labels. Each has certain naming conventions.

Permanent labels (underscore, all caps): Being an "eat your own dog food" type 'o girl, I keep my Gmail inbox empty using my previously-published Trusted Trio system of 3 buckets: Action, Archive and Hold. Since Gmail archive's built right in, the trusted Trio in Gmail is actually the Dependable Duo: _ACTION and _HOLD (since archived messages go out of sight anyway.) The underscore keeps these labels - the most important ones - at the top of the list, and the all caps is just for emphasis.

Filter-based labels (parens): I've also got a few longer-term labels for automatically shuttling messages out of my inbox: like tips email, mailing list messages, and unwanted messages that might very well be spam. I use parentheses to sort them below the "Dependable Duo."

Short-term labels (asterisk): Last, I keep a couple of short-term labels for current projects (like the Lifehacker book) sorted at the bottom of the list using an asterisk (like "*book.") These labels will be deleted at some point when I don't need them anymore.

Friday, February 16, 2007

In support of Robert Heinlein

Rah, Rah, RAH! by Spider Robinson

A swarm of petulant blind men are gathered around an elephant, searching him inch by inch for something at which to sneer. What they resent is not so much that he towers over them, and can see farther than they can imagine. Nor is it that he has been trying for nearly half a century to warn them of the tigers approaching through the distant grasses downwind. They do resent these things, but what they really, bitterly resent is his damnable contention that they are not blind, his insistent claim that they can open up their eyes any time they acquire the courage to do so.


Dynamic capitalism: Innovated and Just

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

I must mention a "derived" benefit from dynamism that flows from its effects on productivity and self-realization. A more innovative economy tends to devote more resources to investing of all kinds--in new employees and customers as well as new office and factory space. And although this may come about through a shift of resources from the consumer-goods sector, it also comes through the recruitment of new participants to the labor force. Also, the resulting increase of employee-engagement serves to lower quit rates and, hence, to make possible a reduction of the "natural" unemployment rate. Thus, high dynamism tends to bring a pervasive prosperity to the economy on top of the productivity advances and all the self-realization going on. True, that may not be pronounced every month or year. Just as the creative artist does not create all the time, but rather in episodes and breaks, so the dynamic economy has heightened high-frequency volatility and may go through wide swings. Perhaps this volatility is not only normal but also productive from the point of view of creativity and, ultimately, achievement.

Monday, February 12, 2007

rebuttal to the hydrogen article

I'm not real comfortable with the "villains" (check the url) and the gratuitous "Rightwinger" label but they do have some decent facts in here.

Debunking Rightwinger Propagandist Robert Zubrin's so-called Hydrogen Hoax

A Lego Trebushet!

Shoots mini marshmellows and the like. Perhaps small dogs but I don't recommend it.

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories - Build a Lego Trebuchet

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Hydrogen: an energy source or carrier?

This is interesting. I'm hoping to find a refutation of this (I"m sure someone has tried).

The New Atlantis - The Hydrogen Hoax - Robert Zubrin

Hydrogen is only a source of energy if it can be taken in its pure form and reacted with another chemical, such as oxygen. But all the hydrogen on Earth, except that in hydrocarbons, has already been oxidized, so none of it is available as fuel. [...] The trouble is that making hydrogen requires more energy than the hydrogen so produced can provide. Hydrogen, therefore, is not a source of energy. It simply is a carrier of energy. And it is, as we shall see, an extremely poor one.

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