Saturday, January 21, 2012

Choosing a mobile phone

One of the best metrics I can think of for what smartphone to buy is customer satisfaction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wikipedia blackout

Does anyone else worry about the wikipedia blackout? Somehow the world has come together to amass the most comprehensive respository of information anywhere, and yet it is still controlled by the hands of a select few people. If they want to shut it down, down it goes.

Something feels wrong about that. The mantra of wikipedia was that information should be free, and that wikipedia was to be the sum of the best minds in the world -- that willingly and freely improving the quality of information there was contributing to the advancement of humanity itself. But now the entire repository is being held hostage by a handful of people to protest some bill in Congress that most of us know nothing about.

What if a rogue admin at wikipedia were to plant some code that at a given day would wipe the entire database and corrupt all the backups. Is that not impossible? And how many man-millenia would be lost if it happened?

Either the US government or Google should be actively mirroring the entire website so if Jimmy Wales* or one of his people goes crazy and wipes the whole thing, all that information would not be lost.

* Incidentally, Jimmy is from Huntsville.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

How to become exceptional

From SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner:
"A lot of people believe there are some inherent limits they were born with," he says. "But there is surprisingly little hard evidence that anyone could attain any kind of exceptional performance without spending a lot of time perfecting it." Or, put another way, expert performers -- whether in soccer or piano playing, surgery or computer programming -- are nearly always made, not born.

And yes, just as your grandmother always told you, practice does make perfect. But not just willy-nilly practice. Mastery arrives through what Ericsson calls "deliberate practice." This entails more than simply playing a C-minor scale a hundred times or hitting tennis serves until your shoulder pops out of its socket. Deliberate practice has three key components: setting specific goals; obtaining immediate feedback; and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.

The people who become excellent at a given thing aren't necessarily the same ones who seemed to be "gifted" at a young age. This suggests that when it comes to choosing a life path, people should do what they love -- yes, your nana told you this too -- because if you don't love what you're doing, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good at it.
I'm not sure how this applies to little kids, they have no idea what they love. A wise person recently told me, "Kids tend to like things they're good at."

Those last two paragraphs sound contradictory, but I have a feeling they're just true at different times in people's lives.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What to buy

Mom, Dad, check out -- I agree with pretty much everything I've seen on there. Nice summary of the best of what to buy when it comes to electronics.

Via DF, of course.

Does anyone read this thing?

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