Saturday, February 12, 2011

Any mental activity is easy...

Get a whiff of this: the special scent of Valentine's Day is in the air.  Show your special someone how much you care with this Plotting for Your Heart t-shirt.  Don't be checkin' out your lady when she's computing - it's like kryptonite to her math skills.  Whether you call it swapping spit, tonsil hockey or tongue wrestling here's a taxonomy of the French kiss.  What gift would be more appreciated than a custom paint job on your pistol.  (Not a euphemism.  I'm especially partial to the bacon paint scheme.)

From the Lost and Found Department: Believe it or not, no one has a recording of Super Bowl I.  Until now.  After decades of searching, a nearly complete copy has been found in an attic in Pennsylvania.  The two reels of 2-inch quadraplex tape have been restored and now negotiations with the No Fun League are underway about who actually owns the rights.  (I don't own many DVDs but I'd buy one of this film.  What other DVDs do I own?  The box set of the three Godfather films, the box set of the 4 Alien films, the complete Monty Python's Flying Circus TV series, and Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.)

I'd buy a DVD of Super Bowl I.  Image by Roberto Westbrook for the Wall Street Journal.

A new study from the Aberdeen Group, Working with Multi-CAD?  Overcoming the Engineering Bottleneck, is like a bikini: what it reveals is interesting but what it conceals is vital.  Here are some revelations:
  • 82% of those surveyed report using 3 or more CAD formats in their design process.  That's like owning a CD player but buying music on mp3, LP and cassette.  It takes a lot of effort to convert all sources to CD and the result will probably not sound as good as the original.
  • The biggest problem (32% of respondents) with using imported CAD data is that the geometry is dumb - it's lost all history and other information that would make editing easier.  So often the only recourse is to recreate the geometry.
  • As an analyst, this is eye-opening: the list of top 7 downstream uses of CAD data doesn't include analysis.  The top downstream use is assembly instructions.
  • Relative to 2006 when 52% reported using neutral formats such as IGES and STEP, they are no longer cited as preferred formats for CAD data exchange. 
You, your car, and social media.   Audi owners are almost twice as likely to be social media users than Buick owners.  Given that my father drives a Buick, the 38.2% likelihood is way off the mark.  You haven't got mail.  Only folks 55 and older used more email in the past year versus the prior.  Teens' email usage over the same period is down 59%.  Damn you kids, you're spoiling everything!

Just one word describes this apophysis fractal animation: trippy.

 Generating Mondrian-like images using a Truchet pattern at the Algorithmic Worlds blog.

And here I was thinking that ditch digging was just my fallback career.  Who knew it was a sport?  FedEx maps the world by how we import TVs, refrigerators, and washing machines.  GrabCAD advocates 2 monitors per engineer for a 20-30% increase in productivity.  Parallel programming is like being a composer (e.g. Brahms), each processor is like a musician.

From the When Tree Huggers Have Gone Too Far department, six year old excluded from school contest because of one Ziploc baggie.

If your password is 123456 or qwerty read about the trouble with passwords. A nine character password with mixed case, numbers, and symbols is 2.3 billion times harder to crack than a 6 digit lower case letter password.   If you're wondering how you could possibly remember a29-B78!z34 versus abc123 I will repeat my recommendation of KeePass.

Pragmatic Marketing's annual Product Management Survey is chock full of insight into what PM's actually do and how they do it.  For example, the top three of 37 PM activities are product roadmap (80+%), requirements, and market problems while lead generation (18%) is at the bottom of the list.  One interesting question is "if you could say anything to your CEO without fear of reprisal it would be..." and the top answers included this nugget: "Allow more control from employees below upper management in doing their own jobs."

Phew.  Good thing it's a crime to be skinny.  According to this I'm 8 times as handsome.

This video on briefly discusses the algorithms used by robotic vacuum cleaners.  That reminds me - it's time to start Bob, my Roomba.  And yes, Mark, you can program your own Roomba with Hacking Roomba.  Lest you think robots are a recent phenomenon, check out this tale of the CIA's robot dragonfly from the 1970s.

A master entrepreneur thinks differently than your run-of-the-mill corporate executive.  The entrepreneur develops goals on the fly while reacting to contingencies while executives diligently work toward an established goal.  I looked at this list of 50 blogs about sales and marketing and it just makes me tired.  How can you possibly read all these, let alone implement any good ideas?

How do you develop commitment with customers, employees, and partners?
  1. Simplify.  One of the most attractive features of organizations that enjoy high levels of commitment is a lack of features.
  2. Hear.  Go beyond just listening so feedback can be applied to your strategic vision.
  3. Surprise.  Few things enamor like exceeding someone's expectations.  Call this the "wow factor."
  4. Resonate.  Have a single-minded purpose that delivers meaning to customers.
  5. Play.  Be fun to do business with and fun to work at.
  6. Inspire. Offer a way for employees and customers to be their best.
  7. Easy.  Develop a mentality of yes.
In What do we build now? a software developer describes their approach to finding out what users want.  They implement buttons with nothing behind them except a message that says something like "thanks for letting us know you want this" and then having the app report these hits back to the company.  Two problems. First, there's something not quite right about teasing the user with a button that does nothing.  Second, some users don't like having an app that phones home.

From the Headlines That Write Themselves department, Armed Bird at Cockfight Kills Man in Calif.

Hodgkin's A Storm (top) and Rothko's No. 27 White Band (bottom)

When I saw (online) Howard Hodgkin's A Storm 1977 (in the Tate's collection) I was immediately reminded of Mark Rothko's No. 27 White Band 1954 (once on display at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum).  Yes, I'm a simple sonofabitch so the colors and composition are pretty easy similarities to find.  Hodgkin's painting was supposedly inspired by a visit to Oklahoma and between that fact and the title it's easy to see the tornado motif.  However, Rothko denied ever painting a landscape (every horizontal line is not a horizon and every vertical line is not a figure).   This all made me get out my copy of David Anfam's Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas.  So imagine a long pause between this sentence and the next.

Along with his bible, this guy says David Allen's Getting Things Done is one of the three most influential books in his life.  So he's sharing a 7-part series on GTD.   Other free GTD resources can be found at GDT Times.
Van Eaton Galleries is planning an auction of animation art on 14 May 2011.  Read all about this year's Annie Awards for animation.  The Navy's E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has begun carrier testing.

A Facebook co-founder (i.e. someone with more money than God - for example, each engineer gets $10,000 to pimp their own workspace.) has revealed his new startup, Asana.   Its mission: "To fix how people work together and make the global work place a better, more efficient, less frustrating place."  Going further: "It’s about helping people work together more efficiently– cutting out reliance on email, cutting down on the need for those endless meetings, easily assigning and tracking tasks in one instance that is always up to date, because unlike those lame corporate wikis, people are living in the app."
    Would you drink a beer from a 1800s shipwreck?  I bet Joel would.  This article from Fox News about the five worst ideas for alcohol is notable for only two reasons.  First, Bacon Vodka is included.  Second, Four Loko is excluded.

    ...if it need not take reality into account.  ~Marcel Proust

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