links for 2010-09-20

  • So, people are black boxes. You can ask them a question, and they’ll tell you whatever they think you want to hear. So, you’ve got to throw an impulse function at them. I try to keep them off balance. I try to give them a question that feels like a two-by-four between the eyes. Q. Like? A. I’ll start off with, “How smart are you?” People get really uncomfortable. They don’t know what to do, and they don’t know how to answer it. They know it’s kind of a trick, and it flusters them. Or I’ll take a look at something that they did, and I’ll tell them it’s a big mistake and then just see how they react. Do they start crying? Do they get in a terrible rage and argue with you, or do they come back and systematically tell you why you’re wrong, or perhaps agree with you on certain areas? So, I’m looking for that.
  • A progress-centric person who has an interesting idea for a book jumps right into writing it, while an idea-centric person runs the idea through a wringer — talking to agents and writers, looking for similar works that have sold recently, etc. — before deciding to invest the years required to write and market it. A progress-centric person quits his job to start his on blog-based online business, assuming he’ll figure out the details as he goes along, while an idea-centric person invests the months — maybe years — of hard work necessary to find a business idea with a real chance of supporting him, understanding that the right answer might be for him to build a valuable skill before going freelance.
  • The Data Liberation Front is an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products.  We do this because we believe that you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product.  We help and consult other engineering teams within Google on how to "liberate" their products.  This is our mission statement: Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google's products.  Our team's goal is to make it easier to move data in and out.
  • The researchers ran a simulation of their approach in the city center of Dresden. The area has 13 traffic light–controlled intersections, 68 pedestrian crossings, a train station that serves more than 13,000 passengers on an average day and seven bus and tram lines that cross the network every 10 minutes in opposite directions. The flexible self-control approach reduced time stuck waiting in traffic by 56 percent for trams and buses, 9 percent for cars and trucks, and 36 percent for pedestrians crossing intersections. Dresden is now close to implementing the new system, says Helbing, and Zurich is also considering the approach.
  • Whoops!
  • Others have been less enthusiastic. Several of the college's computer geeks have rerouted internet access through Canada or Norway or used proxy websites to break through the firewall. Some students have nipped to the nearby Hilton hotel to use its wireless access. Giovanni Acosta, 21, knows how to overcome the blackout but decided against it, as he wanted to see the outcome of the experiment. At first he said he was twitchy. "I had to log on to Facebook even though I knew it was blocked, and I did that every 10 minutes or so, again and again," he said. "But now the itch has gone. I've learnt how much I was being distracted."

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