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?
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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.
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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.