Sunday, April 25, 2010

We Lose our Self-Discipline when tired or Hungry - but why?

Why do we go off our diets, or exercise programs, at the very time we need them - when we are tired or stressed? If we want to retain control of our lives, then we need to understand about the Biochemistry underneath these changes - and some of it is quite basic. Self-discipline needs glucose to the brain. Exercising self-discipline takes energy. Therefore we need to keep ourselves properly fueled, fit, and refreshed by proper sleep. It's so easy to enter the self-harm spiral, where we miss out on any one of these because of the pressure of life. I'm finding it hard to take time to exercise because work is urgent right now. It's the old conflict between what's important and what's urgent. Today, however, I'm just back from a break. Energized, not fit but fitter, and ready to write. Take a minute to read more about the science behind it so we can all manage our lives better.
Scientists have long argued that delaying gratification requires a sense of "self." Having a sense of personal identity allows us to compare what we are today, at this very moment, with what we want to be--an idealized self. Aspiring to this idealized self is what fosters uniquely human self-control powers.
Well maybe--or maybe not. New research is now suggesting a much more primitive explanation for our powers of self-discipline--one that brings us down a notch or two in the animal kingdom. Indeed, it appears that, even with our lofty aspirations, we may rely on the same rudimentary biological engine for self-discipline as our four-legged best friends. Here's the science.

Psychological scientist Holly Miller and her colleagues at the University of Kentucky knew from previous research that human self-control relies on the brain's "executive" powers, which coordinate thought and action. It's further known that this kind of cognitive processing is fueled by glucose, and that depletion of the brain's fuel supply compromises self-discipline. But is this a uniquely human fuel system? Or do less evolved animals rely on sugar-powered executive functioning as well?

Wray Herbert: Dog Tired: What Our Hounds Can Teach Us About Self-Control

Friday, April 23, 2010

Linux for Serious computing

For those of us that are still wondering if open source has a role for mission critical application, the business site Focus has put together an impressive collection of examples.

It was not long ago when Microsoft Windows had a tight stranglehold on the operating system market. Walk into a Circuit City or Staples, it seemed, and virtually any computer you took home would be running the most current flavor of Windows. Ditto for computers ordered direct from a manufacturer. In the last decade, though, the operating system market has begun to change. Slightly more than 5% of all computers now run Mac, according to Linux is hovering just beneath 1% of the overall market share in operating systems. And although that might sound like a small number, Linux is far more than just a fringe OS. In fact, it's running in quite a few more places than you probably suspect. Below are fifty places Linux is running today in place of Windows or Mac. For easy reading, they are divided amongst government, home, business, and educational usage.

For full article go to 50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reading on the iPad - how to get your books across

Laura Miller from Salon has been waxing lyrical about the ebook reading experience on the iPad. Well, more than just ebooks, drafts, blog posts as well. It looks like her printer savings could save a minor deciduous forest. I've included this snippet because Laura notes two utilities she uses to load content.
My chief complaint with the iPad is that while it's the perfect way to read a collection of assorted documents in a variety of formats -- an assemble-it-yourself magazine, in effect -- it's not easy to figure out how to get this material into the device in the first place. Someone who's reasonably comfortable fiddling with computers can manage it, but if the iPad is supposed to be an especially friendly tool for the digital non-native, it needs improvement in this department. Here is what I can recommend:

Instapaper Pro: You know those interesting longer articles you keep stumbling across on the Web but don't have time to read right away? This app allows you to collect them in one place -- in your account on their Web page, but also on your iPhone and now on your iPad. It downloads the text so that you don't have to be connected to the Internet to read. The home page even features editors' recommendations, with stories from Vanity Fair, the New Statesman, the New Yorker and other publications. There's a free version, but give them the five bucks, you cheapskate, because God knows they've earned it.

GoodReader: If you want to read text or PDF files on your iPad, you'll need an app to load them into. This is a good one, and reasonably priced at 99 cents, but like all the rest, it has terrible support documentation, and figuring out how to use it is needlessly arduous. There are a couple of ways to load documents, including a pretty arcane method for doing it wirelessly. I prefer this much simpler option:

For article and instructions go to The iPad is for readers - Laura Miller -

Monday, April 12, 2010

Leadership Failures under iPad pressure

The NYTimes has reviewed the way the market is responding to the iPad launch. From what I can see, the market was stirred from the first speculation. Therefore we expect significant announcements over the next few months. For those of us that make technology choices, I noticed two quotes.

“We’re living in extremely exciting times right now,” said Olli-Pekka
Kallasvuo, the chief executive of Nokia. “It’s quite challenging to
define what industry we are in because everything is changing.”

The clear picture of a competitor that's lost direction and lost its strategic vision. Wondering what industry we are in? and admitting it? I won't be betting big on Nokia until they sort that out. The other perspective comes from the company that Microsoft's Ballmer relied on to help defuse the iPad launch - the HP Slate. The challenge for big Enterprise is to recognise turning points in their technology area and respond vigorously. HP has the people and the capability to compete ferociously. Unfortunately the following quote sounds just like the complacency that nearly took IBM under.

"H.P.’s version of the iPad is expected to be released by midyear. Notably, it will have a camera, as well as ports for add-on devices, like a mouse. Also, it will, the company says in a promotional video, “run the complete Internet,” including videos and other entertainment.

Phil McKinney, the chief technology officer in H.P.’s personal systems group, said in a recent interview that the company had been working on its tablet for five years. It delayed releasing the product, he said, until the price could be lower.

The company’s marketing department has been trickling out online videos of the device. This kind of early marketing is a change for H.P., which rarely talks about yet-to-be released products. Mr. McKinney, however, said H.P. had felt little pressure from Apple’s early move and would release its slate when it was ready.

“I have one sitting on my desk,” Mr. McKinney said. “We don’t react or respond to competitive timing and those types of issues.”

So .. is that two competitors down already? - perhaps. The article also implies that Microsoft is slow out of the starting blocks.

full story After
iPad, Rivals Offer Hybrid Variations -