Topic: Links

Rands In Repose: Gaming the System

2009-12-14 17:14 - Links

As with all mental excursions with geeks, there's a well-defined process by which we consume a game, and it goes like this:
  • Discovery
  • Optimization, Repetition, and Win
  • Achievement

The snippet I quoted is awesome in its simplicity and sageness. The rest of the article goes into amazing detail, most of which I agree with wholeheartedly. A very good read. via

Music Video: The TV Show

2009-12-07 14:12 - Links

I'm not sure if it's Chinese or Japanese, but I'm sure of one thing: it's awesome! The TV Show is an amazingly intense animated music video. The music is great, with no words (just as I like it). But the video manages to tell an amazing story along the entire way. I actually like it enough, I'm gonna go and embed it, which I normally hate:

Generation specs: Stopping the short-sight epidemic - health - 06 November 2009 - New Scientist

2009-11-08 17:36 - Links

Playing indoor sports turned out to have no benefits for the eyes, whereas even physically inactive time spent outside was beneficial (Ophthalmology, vol 115, p 1279). "Our findings suggest that being outdoors, rather than sport per se, may be the crucial factor," says Rose. The theory has since been backed up by a study of 1249 teenagers in Singapore, led by Seang-Mei Saw at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore

Staying inside, apparently, gives you bad eyesight. But the theory doesn't play out very well. As the sort of person who can't read his alarm clock at about a foot away from his face in the morning, I find this stuff very interesting.

Liquids At the Airport

2009-10-28 15:55 - Links

When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it. We’re developing the proper technology to allow us to expedite the screening of all liquids, but in the meantime, to screen everybody’s various types of liquids over 3.4 oz. would cause gridlock at the checkpoints.

Shenanigans. If I am carrying a soda/water bottle/any other drink, there is a fast, easy, safe, and cheap test to see whether it is actually a potable drink, or a dangerous explosive chemical. I can drink it (or at least some of it).

Early Risers Crash Faster Than People Who Stay Up Late: Scientific American

2009-09-12 12:08 - Links

An hour and a half after waking, early birds and night owls were equally alert and showed no difference in attention-related brain activity. But after being awake for 10 and a half hours, night owls had grown more alert, performing better on a reaction-time task requiring sustained attention and showing increased activity in brain areas linked to attention.

Nifty. Scientific evidence that sleeping in is good for you! I've noticed this a bit myself very recently; as I started working a 9-5, rather than 10-6, schedule, I had to shift waking up an hour earlier. After that, it got way easier to fall asleep at night. I just got tired sooner, earlier.

Caring for Your Introvert

2009-04-16 12:09 - Links

Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.

A well written article, which I identify with rather readily. Especially that bit I quoted just above. I've often felt that introverts are downtrodden. The reason is simply that all the extroverts see each other all the time, while they're gallivanting around in their extroverted way. They don't see the introverts, therefore assume that their way is "normal" and good, and introversion is "unusual" and bad.

Also a very choice quote: "The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself."

Legit Free Music From thesixtyone

2009-04-15 13:54 - Links

I just found a site called thesixtyone (via). They appear to be a real business, but I don't see the model. What I do see is a very slick interface to a bunch of streaming (indie) music. Though my tastes are far from mainstream, it only took a few moments to find something I never heard before, but enjoyed. It's been long enough since I last managed to accomplish that, to make it quite refreshing. (Even so, quite a lot of the stuff in their "dance" category doesn't qualify, by my book.)

Don't Pay Me For It

2009-01-14 17:48 - Links

The interesting thing, according to psychologists, is that extrinsic motivation has a way of displacing intrinsic motivation. The very act of rewarding workers for a job well done tends to make them think they are doing it solely for the reward; if the reward stops, the good work stops. And if the reward is too low, workers might think, Gosh, this is not worth it. They will forget their innate, intrinsic desire to do good work.

I've heard this expressed before, and I definitely feel it. Many people that work on open source products do it for the (taking the good, appropriate, words that I now have for it) intrinsic motivation. Many will refuse donations. If you try to pay me $50 to implement your favorite pet feature in some project I maintain, I'll have to stop and think about it. Suddenly, it's a business proposition. What do I normally earn, per hour? How many hours would it take me to do this? Does that mean I'm actually accepting a job for $2.50 an hour?

Sure, I've put in a lot of work for free — because the intrinsic motivation was there. As soon as the extrinsic motivation is there, it's hard to ignore how extremely underwhelming it is. Sure, it's illogical, but it feels horrible to sell yourself far below your "going rate".

(Via Hacker News.)

Censorship By Glut

2008-12-02 12:57 - Links

In a country where you're free to say almost anything in the political arena, I think the only real censorship of good ideas is what you could call "censorship by glut". If you had a brilliant, absolutely airtight argument ... how much of a chance do you think [it] would have against the glut of Web rants and other pieces of writing out there?

A why-didn't-I-think-of-it idea, if there ever was one. In a super connected, internet driven world, where everyone can communicate effectively, and everyone from Netflix to Amazon to iTunes is dying to let us all know what everyone else things, groupthink is inevitable. It's too much work to sift through all the possibilities, no matter how good some of the overlooked ones may be. We gravitate naturally towards what other people have liked, or decided for. Is there any practical way to solve this?