The White Sox, psychology studies, pop Vader, and other things I liked today

April 7, 2009

Here is a list of things I liked today:

1. White Sox won opening day, beating KC 4-2. Their first crooked number was earned in true Sox fashion, by needing four hits to score a single run in the 3rd. But pitching looked solid, Getz and Fields had great starts, and Thome bat 3 for 4 with the game winning homer in the 8th (not a solo shot thanks to Getz and Fields). My only extremely sizeable worry is Dewayne Wise as leadoff.

2. Shakespeare Had Roses All Wrong. Article about how the gender of words in different languages may change the way the object itself is perceived.  There’s a bunch of research out there about how language shapes culture and vice versa, and it never ceases to fascinate me. (Source: NPR)

3. In your face.  The parts of our brain responsible for face recognition aren’t messing around – they are seriously wired to see faces. Don’t take my word for it – watch the Charlie Chaplin video 3/4 of the way down the page, and you tell me. It seems that even when you know what you’re supposed to be seeing, you still can’t force your brain to see it (unless, apparently, you’re schizophrenic or really drunk – the theory being that the sensory and conceptual areas of your brain aren’t connecting properly).  (Source: Wired)

4. “Pop art meets evil dad.”  The Vader Project at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

5. Free books and research tools. Read, mark, take notes, etc on entire books (research oriented)  for free at  Questia Online Research: (You do have to sign up for a free trial, so it’s not quite as good as it sounds.)

6. Games Lilly Allen plays (maybe). Is it true that she hides tickets to her shows in different cities, and gives people clues about where to find them via  her Twitter feed? I also read she watches from near the hiding places to make sure they are found. I know Shaq likes to give away tickets to people who spot him around town, too. Awesome way to connect with your fans (and get new ones).

7. Learning new words. I love that people in the Obama administration use words that force me to break out a dictionary every now and again. New words are good for the soul.

8.  The word antipodean. –  1 : the parts of the earth diametrically opposite —usually used in plural —often used of Australia and New Zealand as contrasted to the western hemisphere 2 : the exact opposite or contrary


iConcertCal – Free iTunes plug-in

March 18, 2007

Awesome – if you weren’t already aware of this, there’s a free iTunes plug-in called iConcertCal that shows you concert dates for all the artists in your iTunes library – just download the application (make sure iTunes is closed), open iTunes, turn it on (View – Turn On Visualizer), enter your city and state, and voila! – a calendar pops up with concert dates near you and links to more information.


The Best Folding Chair Ever

February 6, 2007

I want one.

My Mother the Technophobe

January 4, 2007

Update June 07, 2007:  Jesse James Garrett has a great piece about the Jitterbug phone in Business Week.

Original post:

When my mom retired from teaching a couple of years ago, her biggest relief was that she got out before everything was completely computerized. Things that made life easier for most of her colleagues (entering grades electronically, sharing lesson plans online, etc.) put her in a tailspin. When she did retire, she finally invested in a computer of her own. It’s (a bit) of an exaggeration, but I tell people that for the first six months after she installed it in the spare room, her only interaction with it was to eye it suspiciously every time she walked by, in case it made any sudden moves.

The Jitterbug Cell Phone

That in a nutshell, is my mother’s attitude towards new technology – she’s extremely apprehensive about it, but she doesn’t want to miss out on it completely. So when we saw an ad in the paper one Sunday for the Jitterbug cell phone, we were both excited. Designed with acoustics to support the hard of hearing, a large screen and large fonts for the hard of seeing, no bells and whistles, and direct access at any time to a customer support line, it promised to be a simple cell phone for those who simply wanted to make phone calls.

Read the rest of this entry »

Swipr – A Potentially Great Visio Plug-In For IAs

December 29, 2006

I was excited when I read about swipr – a little Visio plug-in that allows you to quickly export your screen flows and wireframes into a clickable HTML prototype. “So what?” you might say, “haven’t you ever heard of File – Save As Web Page?” Well, yeah. The real advantage with swipr is that you can integrate multiple files – so if you have multiple sets of wireframes for one project, or if your screenflow is separate from your wireframe screens, you can put them together.

Looking over the site, it looks like it’s been around since around April 2006, and there isn’t much documentation yet, but hey! it’s free (you do have to register with your e-mail address), there are support forums, and it looks like the creator is constantly monitoring the site and updating it with more information.

In addition to the promise of quick-click prototypes, there are a couple of neat little utilities in there, too, that tweak little things about Visio that bug most of us. For example, one utility lets you quickly make a copy of a page, and another lets you specify the zoom size for all pages in your document at once.

So I downloaded it. The instructions for installation were simple. I was able to quickly make a screen flow with links to different pages. I got a ‘Run time error’ the first time I tried to export, but it seemed to work anyway, and it looked like a promising start.

But then I started running into problems. I can’t figure out how to get my hotspots to work, which is…well…kind of the point of the whole exercise. The suggestions in the forum and on the support blog didn’t work, and I quickly became frustrated with having to re-enter the same project and export information over and over again. (Supposedly, you can save your last settings, but even though I followed the instructions from the support site on how to do that, I wasn’t able to.) I spent the good part of the afternoon trying different things to fix my troubles to no avail.

I haven’t given up yet – it looks like a great little tool if I can get it to work (and I admit I haven’t tried very hard yet). I have a feeling that things will improve over the next few months, but right now, it’s wait and see.


(Caveat – you must have Visio 2003, and it looks like it might have compatibility issues with IE 7.)