My daily readings 02/01/2010

  • tags: iPhone, news, bookmark

    • The app is pretty straightforward. First, you enter some topics that you’re interested in. Every time you launch the app, you’ll be presented with a list of these topics. Clicking on one will bring you to a list of recent blog posts, tweets, and other content that contains those topic keywords. You can also filter through this content by source, allowing you to see only content from Twitter, news sites, and so on. If you’ve already set up an account on the YourVersion website, you can sync that with the app (any items you bookmark or share from the app will be reflected on the site as well).
    • In the current version, the app will track all of its users’ attention data, which includes the stories they’ve click on, shared, given thumbs up/down to, and a handful of other metrics. YourVersion then uses this data to generate a weekly Email digest, which includes the week’s top stories from each of your YourVersion topics (it will omit any stories that you’ve already read).
    • This is only the first step, though. In the next month or so, the site plans to roll out a feature to both its website and the iPhone application that will use this attention data to enhance the “Discover page” (the section of the app that presents you with recent stories), so that you don’t have to wait til the end of the week to get smarter recommendations.

      YourVersion still has a lot of work to do — in its current form, there isn’t much to differentiate it from the countless feed readers and news apps already out there.  The app needs to implement more robust algorithms that can provide story recommendations that are both more timely and accurate than its competitors’.

  • tags: iPad

    • For what most of these people need a computer for, the iPad is perfect. It doesn’t do as many things as a “real” computer does, but the things it does do it does in a way even non-tech-savvy people can figure out, and there are far fewer ways to screw it up. So if you have managed to convince yourself that the iPad is a useless, locked-up DRM-laden failure of a ‘computer’ before even touching one, I have two words for you:
    • The iPad is perfect for her. It does exactly what she needs. It will let her watch movies and listen to music and read books on long flights. It will make using a computer fun instead of an annoying chore.

      But it also won’t allow her to install umpteen news and weather gadgets that start up on boot and slow her computer to a crawl. It won’t suddenly forget how to talk to a network, or get so confused by all of the software installs and uninstalls that you finally have to break down and reinstall the system from scratch. In other words, my mother’s next computer is going to be an iPad, and I dream of the day when I can finally throw off the oppressive chains of being the one guy in the family who knows how to actually keep a computer working.

    • They outnumber us. And they finally have a chance to become productive, self-sufficient computer users instead of constantly asking family members to fix their computers or, even worse, keeping the Geek Squad in business.

      No, the iPad isn’t for everyone. But I’m going to go on record as saying that, for non-computer-geeks everywhere, the iPad is going to redefine computing.

  • tags: Government

    • The simplest way to create more jobs is to allow small business and entrepreneurs is to  spend less time and money on lawyers and accountants and redirect that intellectual and financial capital to the core competencies of their business.
    • Here is a hint. If you want to see more jobs created by Small Businesses and entrepreneurs REDUCE the amount of paperwork required. Dramatically simplify the tax code. In other words, if you REDUCE THE OVERHEAD of small business, you effectively create capital for them through reduced costs. Not only do you improve their financial position, but you reduce that great big time suck known as dealing with your accountants and lawyers. The more time wasted with “professional services”, the less time spent doing your job. This seems to be a concept lost on government.
  • tags: PM

    • This being HN, let’s talk about software.

      I have seen people very wrong-headedly trying to apply rules to all employees because of one misbehaving person, under the misguided notion that this is somehow “fair”. For example, a long time ago there was a person in the admin group that was basically a slacker – came in late, left early and didn’t work very hard. Management got really annoyed by this and made a “Everybody in by 9am OR ELSE, no exceptions” rule. Well you can imagine how that went down will all us geeks who were slaving 14 hours a day till the witching hour to fix problems. They managed to piss off the most productive people in the building, instead of standing up to one person and saying “you will be in by 9am, because that is when your manager needs you, and if you’re not, you will be fired”.

      So, unless you are managing an organisation that is so large, and you trust your middle management so little, that you can not address problems on a case-by-case basis, then stay away from sweeping rules. I’m with the OP on this one.

  • tags: People

  • tags: PM

    • 4. Force business to iterate in design, not in development

      There’s nothing a developer hates more then spending months on something that once the business guys see it they realize they want to do something else.  I won’t hand anything off to the developers until I have thought it through and iterated through it with the business guys as much as humanly possible.  There are many decisions that can be made off of drawings rather than programming it.  And business will quickly realize that getting the designers to change their designs is a thousand times cheaper than paying expensive developers.

    • There’s nothing a developer hates more then spending months on something that once the business guys see it they realize they want to do something else.  I won’t hand anything off to the developers until I have thought it through and iterated through it with the business guys as much as humanly possible.  There are many decisions that can be made off of drawings rather than programming it.  And business will quickly realize that getting the designers to change their designs is a thousand times cheaper than paying expensive developers.
  • tags: failure, imagination

    • I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
    • . Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.
    • I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.
    • There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.
    • You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.
    • Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.
    • So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
    • Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.
    • You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.
    • In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
    • Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.
    • And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.
    • written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

      That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

    • If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
  • tags: no_tag

    • “Don’t be evil” clearly is bullshit to the extent that you can always rationalize an evil action, and three words aren’t going to stop you from doing what you want.

      On the other hand, though, a mantra like that can help entrench a culture that makes it harder for “evil” ideas to find roots.

      On balance, I’m not sure a mantra makes a difference. It’s sort of dangerous when it becomes so entrenched that you start to think your actions are by definition non-evil. From time to time, we do see Google pulling out “it’s not illegal if the President does it”-type rationalizations.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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