Saturday, August 15, 2009

Body Language - OK or Not OK?

I saw this little heading and photo on Huffington Post, and I couldn't resist. I don't want to make any comment on the rights and wrongs of the situation - the couple Jon and Kate have enough to worry about. The question that springs to mind looking at the body language in the photo - is this what a reunited couple looks like, or just a couple willing to sit in the same room?

The Best Crutchwork you'll see

I came across this doing work - yes truly! I was checking out the web sites built with the wonderful new component for Joomla - K2 developed by Joomlaworks (K2 is free by the way, so I get no commission for saying this). K2 is now supported in new Joomla themes developed by RocketTheme (and several other theme producers). K2 adds the best of Wordpress and Drupal to Joomla. Anyway, I went to one of the example sites, Weber State University Cultural Affairs and there this clip was, playing automatically. The WSU site is a great example of elegant design, and the clip is a brilliant piece of performing art. Two wins in one! So... here's the clip for you - enjoy!

More info has come in: Bill Shannon is a self-taught conceptual dancer who uses his crutches to perform his incredible choreography around the world. He was born with a double Hip degenerative disease. Bill Shannon is for real, he isn't gliding along on wheelie shoes and he isn't a stunt man.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Performance Art with Sand - Wonderful

It's wonderfully reaffirming to see people that develop new and creative ways to express themselves. Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent." She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII. Without the web, this ephemeral art would disappear or be limited to a local audience. Instead it is preserved and shared. A thankyou to Huffington Post for finding the video link.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Twitter Usage Strategy and Guidelines Shared

Social media is an important tool. It also carries risks, with little forgiveness of mistakes. On the IGBAPR blog I have posted an entry to share a Twitter Guidelines Template from a UK Government entity. Every corporate entity or Government agency should have a policy that they communicate to staff. Thi example provides an excellent basis to start.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Kevin rose on Twitter Usage

Techcrunch scored a famous guest blogger - Kevin Rose on how to use Twitter. Some of these ideas are reasonable common sense. The underlying assumption though is that there is a strategic reason for your Twitter usage and online persona.

Kevin Rose: 10 Ways To Increase Your Twitter Followers
Kevin Rose: 10 Ways To Increase Your Twitter Followers
by Guest Author on January 25, 2009

This guest post is written by Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg and the cofounder of Revision3 and Pownce. Kevin, who has over 88,000 followers on Twitter (making him the second most followed after President Obama), also “bloggs” at He is an investor in Twitter.

Sometimes Less is More

One of the best, simple articles on website designs. Focus on the core principles. Pin these to the wall (electronic or physical).

4 Principles of Good Design for Websites
4 Principles of Good Design for Websites
written by: Andrew Houle / stashed in: Articles / 03.21.09


One of my absolute favorite design books is, Robin Williams Design Workshop. It looks into practical design theories and showcases awesome examples. One of the areas of focus that I’ve taken into all my designs are the four major design principles. They include: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.

This post will discuss those four principles as they relate to web design. By keeping these design theories fresh in your mind, you will be sure to design cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing sites.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Challenges for the ICT Industry

Here's the closing address I gave the Digital Technology Summit 2009 on the challenges and opportunities for the ICT Industry. If you are a Gov2.0 person you will find this very 'Cathedral' versus 'Bazaar', but you must bear in mind the audience I was addressing. It also started a little more abruptly than I intended because the conference was way over time, and people were worried about catching planes. There was no audio or video recording available apart from my little camera, so the sound needs volume up to catch.

DTS2009 Close, Quicktime Streaming format, (75Mb)

Friday, May 01, 2009

8 of the Best SOCMED Flash Mob moments

The tools of connectivity - the mobile phone, email and twitter enable a new phenomenon - the flash mob event. Like all forces, it can be used for good or evil. Here I've collected some of the best examples. This is part of our Keeping up with the Internet Memes series - web behaviours and the best startups - web nostalgia in the inspirational Understanding the Dance.

Sound of Music - Antwerp Central Station

More than 200 dancers perform "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. Dance and music routines take rehearsal - just 2 rehearsals created this spectacular! These 4 fantastic minutes start on the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role in the musical of "The Sound of Music".

High Five Escalator

My favourite of the improv everywhere projects - it creates smiles on a bleak morning. I like the way it shows how easy it is to make someone's day happier. The full story with background pictures and interviews is on the iproveverywhere site.

Unexpected Performance - Stansted Airport, London

Stansted Airport, London. 7 hidden cameras. 14 undercover actors. 1 unexpected performance. Some people love it, some just let it all wash over them unmoved. The passengers are as fun to watch as the performance.

No Pants

The Improvanywhere no pants day got a spectacular boost in 2006 when a Cop arrested participants. A month later a judge dismissed all of the charges. It is not illegal to wear your underwear in public in New York City. The publicity (reported by news agencies around the world while David Letterman made two monologue jokes about it and staged a No Pants Cab Ride as a parody) led to continued spectacular growth. Now this is no longer the "secret" event with a few participants in the know - it's become almost a parade. Fun to watch though!

No Shirts (111 Shirtless Men in Abercombie and Fitch)

In the interests of equity - if we present no pants, then we'd better present no shirts. It's fascinating to see how corporates that promote topless models cope with a situation like this. The best bit is that 2 guys were thrown out while they were actually buying $45 shirts! Isn't this performance art at it's best?


The Freeze Mob

NYC - Frozen Grand Central Station

The inspirational classic freeze mob. Replicated across the World it's a great concept. The video was put together professionally too - top production values. Arguably one of Improveverywhere's greatest projects.

Paris, France - The largest Freeze Mob

This video is the compilation of 20 videopodcasters, who covered the event. Around 3,000 people froze on the Champs Elysee.

Trafalgar Square Freeze

At 3:30pm on a secret cue, almost everyone in the square froze. For 5 minutes the participants held their positions, and then magically everyone unfroze. The participants in Britain take the performance art aspect of the frozen positions in innovative directions.

Free Commercial Bonus Video!

Liverpool St Station, London, UK - The T-Mobile Dance
This doesn't really count as performance art because it was organised as an Ad. But it's still fun! Watch the moment Liverpool Street Station danced to create this special T-Mobile Advert.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pirates, Blurred Responsibility and Filters

While we are trying to use the Internet effectively, there are many groups that see it as a problem to be managed or eliminated. I've come across a group of people trying to get Facebook classified for Pornography, nudity and sexuality. What happened to personal responsibility here? Choose your friends on Facebook, and you won't get any surprises. The 'censor everything' movement didn't start with Facebook, but now the censorship model has so much steam up it can take almost anything out.

At first I was pleased when France and New Zealand had highly restrictive laws. UK - three strikes law? Fantastic - they've always had good software skills so we need to stop their development in its tracks. Less competition for us - that's good. Then Australia and now Belgium got into the act. Australia censors some religious, health and anti-abortion sites. Belgium now censors anti-paedophile sites.

This is now getting totally out of control - every Person and business dependent on the Internet needs to step up and save the Internet from serious closure. I'd like to show you what finally sent me 'over the edge'. OpenDNS is a great tool - I use it on my SOHO network as an additional layer of protection, plus it allows me to stop categories like "Instant Messaging" if homework isn't done (Yes, that affects me and my business but not for long because it is a great motivator). I went to check how the community rated Facebook. It has two tags voted up, and I think they are reasonable - Instant messaging, Social networking. However, just look at the other classification tags that someone has thought should be applied to Facebook.

Let's talk about "Religious" and "Politics" for example. Any regime (Australia, China, Belgium, UK, NZ or France) that now wants to turn off "Religious" content - and that is always a popular one for any Country with global censorship - would also deny access to Facebook - just because someone, somewhere creates content of this type. It is not created by Facebook, and it is not pervasive either. There needs to be a more clear understanding of the separation between platform and content.

Fig 1 - The Classifications that have been requested and voted on for Facebook as at 25 April 2009. Note that each of these needed a Sponsor!

This issue becomes important for Bittorrent. One of my companies uses Bittorrent to get (licensed, paid for - and I shouldn't even have to say that folks) software that we can't easily download any other way. The PirateBay sideshow does not help. The PirateBay case wasn't about technology. I have heard the technical arguments about how and where content versus metadata is stored. Technical arguments are valid for a site like Mininova that sticks to DMCA rules. PirateBay lost based on a Business argument "Intent" - seriously paraphrasing - if you didn't intend to support Piracy, why are you called "PirateBay" and why didn't you take anything down? It is that fundamental intent issue that means Google can perform a technically analagous task with much less business risk.

Diversion: I personally believe that the cheeky email responses on the site are what did them in. A word to the wise - don't taunt people. I had given a talk about a year before the case where I said this would upset some seriously 'alpha' people who would be perfectly happy to spend as much of other people's money as it took to get even.

The message that gets into the public though is "Downloading is wrong". Some might be, some is very right. The distinction between the content and where the service that transports or indexes it is crucial to the effectiveness of the Internet. I will also concede that there are 'naughty pictures' on the web - I've seen some. Is this adequate justification to bring it all to a halt? Back to Facebook for a minute - I've found friends - many of us have- through Facebook. What are we losing if it can get a silly set of censorship tags? Let's not forget the Amazon disaster where they tried to keep the extremists happy at the expense of their users.

We all have to step up now, individuals and businesses, or we will lose it all, and much faster than I thought.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Steps to Gov2.0 - BBQ discussion

The inaugural Gov2.0 Barbecue was held in Canberra on 17 April 2009. I'll add more Gov2.0 voices over time, but I'll start with two. Nathanael Boehm - a practitioner in the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Reform has been using blogs, twitter and discussion areas to connect with a geographically and jurisdictionally diverse group of stakeholders for over 6 months.

Kerry Webb is working at a preparation stage - helping define guidelines and policy for Gov2.0. This work is essential for widespread deployment of Gov2.0 and for use of web2.0 techniques in large organisations. Senior management needs the assurance that 'it's OK' to use the tools and that there are mechanisms to minimise harm or recover from problem situations. His talk covers some of the issues that affect, enhance or impede the adoption of Gov2.0.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Twitter struck Again

The "let's bash Twitter" meme is alive, well, and fortunately still keeping it fun:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Keep Your Online Profile

Keeping up a consistent image across the web and keeping your content fresh is vital to good business and strong relationships. We've talked about some Web 2.0 aspects already, but your online profile is a key part of your personal and business web 2.0 brand. Profiles must be kept fresh. With a little upfront effort, the task of maintaining multiple profiles can be less tedious, freeing up time to better connect with other people. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa and YouTube are just the start of it - for people active on social websites, you could have several dozen social media profiles.

Keep an Inventory

The first step is to exactly know where you have a social media profile and where you do not. Start by checking with Check User Names, which will search dozens of popular social media websites to see if your username is active. Check any you normally use. If any don’t ring any bells, see if it’s yours or if somebody already owns it.

Preserve (Reserve) Your Identity

Mashable Tip: Always keep note of other people using your most common username. Making sure people don’t confuse you for somebody else is important for friends, potential employers and particularly if your business is on the web.

Therefore it's important to sign up for the most popular social networks regardless of whether you are going to use them all. This prevents someone else taking your online presence, being mistaken for you and it protects an account that you may want to use later.

This doesn’t mean you should be active on all of these services. Take a long, hard look at all of the services available and your time constraints and choose the ones that pique your interest the most. Keep some focus when choosing platforms. For the rest, place a note on your profile with contact information and links to your favorite social profiles.

Organise, Centralise and Synchronise

Keep track of your email accounts and other feeds. The best tool for me has been netvibes.

One tab has all my email accounts on one page, plus twitter feed and facebook feed. Another tab has various modules plus direct links to all my sites, my client sites and any admin areas. Netvibes starts every time firefox does.

Do not become a Robot, but keep similar tasks together. For example a common action on social media is sending an update that you have updated your blog. Normally, you would have to copy and paste this type of message into Twitter, Facebook, and so on. With services such as and Twitterfeed, this can be done without any work on your end. Find tools that can help you spread you reach without eating up your time.

Atomkeep is a cool tool for updating all of your social media profiles at once - it connects to your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other accounts and allows you to change bios and profile pictures with one action.

I also use PeopleBrowsr to create a more dynamic dashboard for special events and handling the group concept. It combines multiple sources of information in one place. PeopleBrowsr is an online visual dashboard that combines your Web profiles and connections. For an event like SXSW it has created a centralized dashboard for SXSW and all conversations, parties, and events related to the big festival.

If you’re unfamiliar with PeopleBrowsr, the site functions similar to TweetDeck providing users with a column view of status updates and custom created groups, but it also combines your friends and updates across a myriad of other social sites like Flickr, Facebook, FriendFeed and LinkedIn for an all-in-one Web-based view of your social world.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Flowering Gum (Non IT)

The hum sounded like a swarm. I'd noticed the dead and exhausted bees on the driveway, the ants tidying up their surprise feast. I just couldn't see the swarm. I step back to survey the tree. A tree that survived the 2003 Bush fires that destroyed a fire truck on the road 50 yards from here, and burnt out the 2 houses behind it.

And then I realise. The tree is flowering. The hum is the noise of thousands of insects, not just bees, finding food and drink at the end of a parched Summer.

Weeks of drought, the occasional bush fire, and sometimes, just sometimes, days of nectar. Days to enjoy and savour. May you have days of nectar this year.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Coffee and Code - Watercoolers and Social

How do we keep connected with our Peer groups. It's a challenge (consultants never have problems - only challenges) for sole practitioners to people in multinationals. The thing is, we need to communicate across all the boundaries, corporate stovepipes, etc. We also need to keep productive.

The effect of putting aside time to communicate and socialise is counter intuitive. Many years ago, when programmers punched cards, Managers noticed that the programmers would gather around the water cooler at the back of the punch room and chat. There is a quick solution to that sort of wasteful behaviour - the water coolers were removed. The outcome, however, was that productivity dropped. The coolers were put back and productivity went up. So what was happening? The exchange of problem solving, competition, energising and other aspects of social exchange were helping workers achieve breakthroughs, or take diffeent approaches to existing problems. Today, for the solo practitioner or an expert isolated from like-minded individuals, meeting with peers in real life is a challenge.

One approach is Coworking. Coworking is cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents. Basically, start with a shared office and add cafe culture. This ensures there is desk space, backup and so on. (Thanks to @NathanaelB). The Concern I have now is that there are usually fixed costs - like a monthly access fee - that none of us want to take on during a serious downturn. That brings us to the next best thing. Some places have a "Freelancers Friday". The coffee and code is more like an open invitation to drop in. Of course, we'll have to watch just how much coffee we consume.

The Coffee and Code post by Joey deVilla was sent by @timoreilly.

Coffee and Code #1

Yesterday, I held the first Coffee and Code day at Toronto’s Urbana Coffee, at the corner of Bay and St. Joseph Streets. The Coffee and Code plan is a simple one: about one day a week, instead of working at the home office or Microsoft’s Toronto or Mississauga offices, I set myself up in a wifi-equipped cafe somewhere in Toronto. As a result, instead of being tucked away, I’m easy to reach, where you can walk up, join me for a coffee and talk about Microsoft, programming, the industry or just about anything else.

Urbana’s Bay/St. Joseph branch used to be a hair salon, which means that its south half, where the stylists used to work, has plenty of power outlets. Although their wifi requires a password, it’s clearly written on the chalkboard behind the counter. As long as you buy something, they don’t seem to mind people hanging out all day – I was there at 11 a.m. and stayed for a full seven hours.

I love it and I'm now looking for suitable cafes with free wifi.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Elitists, Rennaissance Man and the Nuclear Option

The Good News is that we can break through some of the Clutter. The bad news is that we way we do it can destroy our personal brand overnight.When the rules change they can change utterly. Stephen Fowler, an environmental entrepreneur who develops biofuels, considers himself an educated man, and boasts of an IQ of 158. Educated in the old definition of "book learnin'" he may be. He describes San Francisco as one of the few places in America he could live with its Opera and Music. He describes with affection (some might suggest affectation) a mythical Europe of civilised thought and behaviour. One can ignore crude Australians such as myself that question how an Englishman could be called 'European' (the technical Australian term is "Pommie" as in 'that Pommie Bastard').

His world has come crashing down however. He has apologized in a statement posted on his wife's blog for behaving "like a complete jerk" and has resigned from the boards of two nonprofit corporations for reflecting badly on the organizations. How? Why? In a way - because he wasn't educated enough. Several News organisations and the fun Huffington Post have described the massive fallout from appearing in Wife Swap and insulting the incoming Wife who hailed from Missouri. The reaction has affected his business and his wife's business. It has also affected the perception of potential business partners and friendships. Perhaps he thought noone he knew would be watching. That was probably true on the night, but Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and, of course, email started a flash fire amongst those that knew the couple, then anyone that knew someone that lived in Missouri, and finally spread across the Planet. When I say 'finally' we are talking a matter of a few days.

There are two parts to this - one is understanding the flash fire and what we have unleashed with the technology. @Stilgherrian pointed me to this article by Mark Pesce The Nuclear Option. I won't summarise the article because it is worth a read in whole. It addresses how something like Twitter combined with normal human behaviour transforms communication and creates unintended consequences.

What does that mean for us. One is that noone reading this will ever make the mistake that Fowler did of fouling his own nest. Was it hubris? (who cares what the viewers think of me?). Perhaps in part, but it was also a lack of education, a lack of literacy - technological literacy. The challenge for us all, is that the definition of 'educated' has moved on. Can one be educated today without a knowledge of Science? without an understanding of the technological world we have bequeathed to our children? Those of us who are parents need to be able to engage our children online as well as offline. Those of us that are in business, need to be aware that one mistake can blow up, and need to nurture our brand. Even those of us that take a relaxed view of life, need to keep a little watching brief on what is running in the back channel or we can be in real strife.

As Fowler discovered, ignorance is no protection. In fact, ignorance let it blow out of control. The only response that seems to work effectively is full, clear and immediate communication. Get on YouTube. Explain or apologise. Excuses leaked through 'friends' or spokespeople don't cut it. The world has changed - like it or not.

We will truly have our 15 seconds of fame - but remember as the big celebrities do - the Paparazzi are everywhere... little brother is watching. The future is here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Keeping up with the Internet Memes

Understanding the hidden rules of the Internet, the origins of web behaviours and the best startups in the web arena just takes a small trip through web nostalgia in the inspirational Understanding the Dance.

Now we bring you a new list of Internet memes. Advertising copywriter Greg Rutter has compiled everything great about the Internet and put it on one web page. is a list of 99 videos and websites that any Internet analyst needs to see — and probably already has. As with any list like this it contains plenty of trivia from our society - and also some inspiration. The 'best Wedding Toast' was one I hadn't seen before - and it is impressive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Coffee - The developers essential tool

I'll go back to serious topics soon, but I saw this little thing on the need for coffee. It's a little weird but any programmer will understand it exactly. Over in Alistair's Utilities I've put a section on Coffee makers in the 'essential tools' ads, so you know where I am coming from in the debate! Excuse me, i just have to top up...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Keyboard is Yours!

There I was, happily typing away, when I realised I had someone present that wanted to play. The reason I stopped typing and left this little fellow to it, is that I've been bitten by one of his colleagues (now deceased - very thoroughly deceased at the time - I don't like being bitten). Some people will tell you these spiders are not aggressive. True as far as it goes... leave them alone and they will leave you alone. Accidentally brush one, however, and they go berserk. He's gone now as you can tell because I'm typing again. Perhaps to a better place. I used to spare them .. but not after I got bitten.

From Wrapt in Web

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Walking with Friends

I've talked about 'Stayin' Alive' in 2009. We've looked at our first gadget - the PC on a low speed treadmill, constructed one and started using it. What about our friends? especially our animal friends?
Read the Full Article ...

Parties and Meetings

Probably the classic party with treadmills - I never get tired of watching this one - OK Go and the "here it goes again" Treadmill Dance:

Of course, all your friends have to bring their treadmills too. If you can get a setup like the Salo office here, then meetings can be held while walking:


Some Cats just seem to love the exercise. It's important to let them decide when they've had enough.

Cats can enjoy walking with you on the treadmill too, so long as it is at an easy pace for them. They seem to feel like they're on patrol, going on a hunt with you.

It's not for all cats of course. This one is not planning to walk anywhere:

And this is an example of exactly how to introduce your cate to the treadmill. It's a first time experience, although the video is obviously slightly longer than normal to catch the process.

And finishing cats with a cute white Persian:

Constructing the Treadmill

In the Introduction we've talked about why keeping up activity is so important for life and success - especially for Geeks. I have to explain right up front that I just put this together as a prototype. I'm going to 'do it properly' real soon now. The problem is it has worked so well for so long, it's only when I go to show the photos of what I did that I realise how 'quick and dirty' my method is. The good news? It's easy.
Read the Full Article ...

Setting up a Treadmill

Slow speed operating requires a treadmill that has at least a 2 HP motor (continuous output ) or 2.5 HP peak. The treadmill should have a cushioned platform. I bought one from Rebel Sports with “D” shaped rounded arms. Flat projecting arms are also suitable for a flat desktop. Make sure the cooling fan airflow can still reach your body.

The PC can be mounted on a tilting platform taken from a mobile computer desk (Freedom Furniture used to have an ideal model). This can then be clamped to the treadmill structure. I bought the newest one from Officeworks and the box lid shows the original table. The tilting structure means that part of the platform remains level for the mouse pad, and more importantly, coffee. So how did this master craftsman attach the table? I just took out the table top and clamped it to the side bar. The red objects in the picture are really just the red clamps.
Shameful but true.

Note the dictation headset. Dictation is the perfect application for the walking worker. Skype calls, phone calls can all be done. Just don't start puffing or the other party might hang up on you.

If you are not used to being on your feet, there's another thing you should think about. good walking shoes and foot protection. Heavier walkers might need gel cushioning and arch support.

Inner soles for shoes start with low cost and lightweight pads:

These have little cushioning, but can be washed to keep shoes fresh.

Next are gel shock absorbing pads. They are very effective (provided the dog doesn’t chew through
the gel encapsulation - and yes that is experience talking).

Be aware that they come in major shoe size groups and the outer edge is trimmed by scissors to shoe size. They have the advantage of thinness and can be worn with most business shoes.

Then there is sculpted support like the Scholl Gel foot support with removable arch support. The coloured arch insert can be swapped over three degrees of hardness.
These work with most business shoes but many sports shoes have an inbuilt arch support that interferes with the correct positioning of the Scholl support. If you are having problems then get proper advice on your walking style and correct footwear early. I know the Saturday morning clip showed a woman in heels, but I have to admit to reservations, particularly if walking over most of a day. If you are not used to this - start slowly, maybe in multiple sessions before joining them into longer units of walking.

Next we look at walking with friends.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stayin' Alive in 2009 - Gadget 1 - PC workstation on Treadmill

I can see Bart Simpson ordered to write 10,000 times '2009 is going to be a difficult year'. Certainly there are 10,000 plus blog pages that start that way - I've written a couple myself. So how do we stay alive and healthy when we have to work in front of a monitor for years. It doesn't matter whether the stress comes from the next article, or keeping the zombies at bay - Our bodies are designed to be mobile, need to be mobile and clog up like the intertubes on Inauguration Day if we don't keep mobile. So.. how do we do it? Here's the first gadget I built:

A PC workstation on a Treadmill.
Read the Full Article ...

It's really easy to do, and it is fine for emails, twitters and the occasional thought for driving GTD software. The secret is to buy a treadmill that is powerful enough to go really slow - 1 mph (about 1.5 kph). This is a 'natural human strolling pace. People have lost incredible amounts of weight from it (Believe it or not I've lost 22 lbs or about 10 Kilos - I show noone the 'before' picture). If you will read on, I have the Mayo Clinic research references (for those of you unable to accept my clear authority on the matter without confirmation), how I put it together, plus some helpful hints for walking. I also have found some interesting videos on using it for pets to exercise. The secret for cats seems to be to keep it slow.


Improved alertness and productivity at work, the ability to concentrate throughout the entire day, enhanced fitness and weight control without spending hours in the Gym away from work or family – these are all good reasons. Or, as my wife calls it, “bizarre”. It started because of the findings of Dr James Levine
– an obesity and nutrition researcher at the Mayo Clinic.

Activity levels have declined, and he and many other obesity researchers say that decline, more than increases in eating, is to blame for rises in obesity. What has changed is the artificial environment: there is far more opportunity today than in the past to be sedentary. And some people may be genetically predisposed to seize that opportunity. (New Weight-Loss Focus: The Lean and the Restless; By DENISE GRADY, New York Times Online, Published: May 24, 2005).

As you read the following quote, bear in mind that SCRUM Project Management meetings are supposed to be held standing up - serendipity!

"Given an environment that lets people sit for hours and hours a day, they will," he said.
A solution, then, may be to change the environment, to make moving around easier and sitting still less convenient. At meetings, Dr Levine stands instead of sitting. Talking on the telephone, he paces around. In his office he has a treadmill in place of a desk. He got it last year when he saw the data from the study comparing lean people and obese ones. "My computer is stationed over the treadmill," he said. "I work at 0.7 miles an hour."

"You have a natural tendency to want to move your legs. Zero point seven is the key. You don't get sweaty, you can't jiggle too much. It's about one step a second. It's very comfortable. Most people seem to like it around 0.7."
For him, the treadmill has eliminated the afternoon slump, when a lot of people feel sleepy and crave candy bars or caffeine. "I've become convinced we really can generate an office environment where people are on the move and are happier," he said.

Dr. Rudolph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University, called the Science paper "great," and added, "I believe the data; it's done correctly and an interesting set of findings."

The NY Times noted that Nonexercise activity (NEAT) can account for a significant portion of the calories burned in a day, anywhere from 15 percent in a sedentary person to 50 percent in someone who is very
active. Standing takes more energy than sitting, and strolling along at just one mile an hour burns twice the calories of sitting.

So this gadget is all about living through 2009 and perhaps even thriving. I encourage the kids to watch their programs while walking on it, and try to do so myself. I keep a stopwatch by it to measure how much time I use it every day.

Next: Constructing the Treadmill, Walking with Friends