Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Discernment

Read in a New Yorker article on typefaces ("Man of Letters":
"Any misjudgement multiplies its effect as he continues... Somehow you have to develop judgement... Before you have a body of work, you have to learn from others. You have to force yourself to form an opinion. If you haven't got discernment, you simply repeat what you're used to."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Kayak

New travel search site funded by Sequoia Capital - kayak.com.
The site only searches, but then you can book directly with the provider.

Check it out. The interface looks nice and simple -- which is pretty refreshing compared to the clutter on most travel sites.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Adversities

"The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities."
-- Sophocles

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Benefits of Technology

Hmm, it's interesting to think about benefits of technology. People have no money because the people who own the machines and benefit from them are few and far between. They need others to "buy" the products the machines produce, but few people can, since they have nothing to trade.

But, shouldn't the people doing nothing be doing something else? It seems like having machines would free people up to pursue other things, coudn't they sell or trade these things? Shouldn't the free time give people more opportunity to be creative and entrepreneurial? Or is there too much fear? Perhaps our schooling system focuses too much on people who are good at following rules. When there are no clear rules, people don't know what to do.

See the quotation below:
Technology making things worse?
"Benefits Of Technology Thwarted By Our Attitude To Employment

My job for fifteen years (1975 - 1990) had been to write computer programs to make people redundant. I was not alone; throughout the western world an army of programmers have been working night and day to get rid of as many jobs as possible. Each job discarded meant improved productivity, and reduced costs. Because of our work, businesses throughout the world have become much more efficient, able to supply better goods and services, at a cheaper price. However it would seem we have wasted our time. Industry and commerce can't utilise our improvements because there is no demand. There is no demand because people have no money. Nobody has any money, because so many people are out of work."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Shortage of Engineers?

The WSJ article (subscription required) describes the false shortage of engineers felt by companies:
"Amid rapidly changing technology, the engineers employers want aren't necessarily the engineers who are available. And companies often create the very shortages they decry by insisting on applicants who meet every item on a detailed list of qualifications... Despite the numbers [of available engineers], employers say they struggle to find the right person for openings... Companies often draw up extremely narrow job descriptions, recruiters and staffing managers say, causing searches to get drawn out. "

Shouldn't there be a greater focus by companies on training people to develop the skills that you are looking for? Why do companies expect the talent to just be ready-to-go on the field?

People are pretty adaptable, trainable and smart. Why not give them a chance? I suppose companies are afraid of investing in people that might not pan out later...

As a worker, how are you supposed to anticipate what will be in high demand later?

"The basic difference between Wildfire and 2000i is not that significant," says Mr. Sylvester. "I say smart people can learn sister applications, but there is reluctance among hiring managers to see that. If they use a SAP database system, they won't even look at someone with experience with a PeopleSoft system. There is a major fear of having to bring someone up a learning curve. They want them to hit the ground running."

""Getting engineers who have the type of talent you need, quickly -- a great background, very well-educated, mobile -- has become more important over the last few years," says Jane Leipold, vice president for human resources at Tyco Electronics, Harrisburg, Pa., a unit of Tyco International Ltd. "The demands are different. The advances in technology mean you need very specific talents."

I think this is probably most important for engineers and frankly, any person:
"One employer demand that flummoxes many engineers is the need for "soft" skills -- working in groups, communicating and writing."

Technology changes quickly, but people skills are indispensable. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like companies are going to become more flexible.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Job You Love

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your
life."
– Confucius

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fat Fingers

Find cheap stuff on ebay - take advantage of misspellings:
Fat Fingers

How to Fold a Shirt Beautifully Video and commentary.. umm, looks confusing. I wish I could do it though! Will experiment at home later.

Old version of programs -- because bloatware sucks!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Low light plants for cats?

Okay, anyone have any ideas for low-light plants that aren't toxic for cats?

My apartment is sort of dim, since I'm in the back of the building and all the plants I buy *always* die! It's sort of depressing. Even the "fool-proof" aloe plant died! :( My friend was shocked to hear that.

And, on top of that, I have a cat that loves to eat plants. Right now I've switched back to bamboo plants, since they are basically indestructible.. Well, indestructible at least from owner neglect. I'm not so sure my bamboo plants are tough enough to withstand my kitty's proclivity for chewing on leaves. Maybe that's why my cat keeps throwing up? What is she eating?!

Anyway, any ideas for easy, pretty plants that can survive with little light and withstand some light chewing (okay, maybe not-so-light)?

I looked into the peace lily, but apparently it's toxic for cats. And I would love to get a parlor palm, but I can't find one. Any other ideas?!

I wish that Home Depot and other plant stores would label their plants better. Usually there's just a whole bunch of tiny plants in pots without names or anything, except for something vague like "fern." What if I'm a plant novice and don't know how to care for the plant? Or need to know the light conditions? Or want to check if the plant is toxic?

I've taken to carrying plant lists when I go plant-shopping, but even doing that, it's nearly impossible to locate the proper plant. Maybe I should carry a plant *book* with photos or something.

Can someone save us urban, amateur "gardeners"?!

Fun with Amazon.com Gift Organizer

Amazon.com launched a gift organizer feature yesterday, and it's so much fun!

I've already gone through connected all the things I've ever bought at Amazon with the gift recipient. I love how I can see what I've purchased since 2001, although I realize I've bought maybe too many things for myself! Hehe.

In any case, this organizer is *perfect*, since just yesterday I was starting to put together my holiday gift list. This year, I plan to be organized and buy everything ahead of time online. Usually, I procrastinate until the last minute and usually spend Christmas Eve at Border's buying books for everyone I know. It's quite stressful.

This gift organizer thing is *so* much better. You can scan through gift idea lists and add your gift ideas to a special "gift idea list" for each person. It's great! The only problem is that I can't quite figure out how to add an item directly to someone's gift list. I can't find the button!

So to get around it, I've been adding things to my wish list first, then moving them to the gift recipient's list. It's sort of annoying!!! But, oh well, at least I can track ideas more beautifully and graphically on amazon.com. Try it, it's so much fun!

It's also fun to see the "most wished for" items and the "most gifted". I am such a sucker for most popular lists!!!

Healthcare and Human Nature

But isn't it just human nature to want to pay for things when you have to? And not want to pay for "preventive" type things that will *prevent* huge, but uncertain expenditures down the road?

U.S. Lacks Vaccines, Antibiotics [WSJ]
"Michael Kremer, an economist at Harvard University, says under the current incentive system, drugs that treat disease are more lucrative than vaccines to prevent it partly because people are more inclined to pay for a medicine that treats a condition they already have. In one economic model, Dr. Kremer and a colleague concluded that revenue from drugs to treat AIDS would be twice as high as from vaccines to prevent it. Also, Dr. Kremer notes, a successful vaccine may devour its own market by eradicating the disease it protects against."

Thursday, November 3, 2005

If

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;


If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Don't let consumption consume you

Rule of the day: Don't let consumption consume you.

I like shopping. I mean, I don't like going to retail stores, but I like doing research when I'm about to make a purchase, I like to consider all my options and preferences. I like to ponder what I'm going to buy. But, I realize that my apartment is filled with all sorts of cool things that I never use. Like that Braun hand blender. Or that Foodsaver vacuum saver. I mean, those are awesome tools, and I used them a ton when I first bought them a year and a half ago, but now they are sad appliances lying lonely in the kitchen. They haven't felt my caress in over a year.

Poor things. Should I toss them? I like to throw things out, but I think I tend to swing from one extreme to the next. I either hoard everything (e.g. my 4 pints of Haagen Dazs Almond Hazelnut ice cream) or throw things away/donate that I need (my favorite grey pants).

Is there a way to enjoy the act of shopping without actually buying more stuff? I have so many pairs of shoes, but I still want to buy those Camper boots I saw last weekend and a big white puffy jacket for the winter. Oh and rain boots and a trenchcoat for when it's pouring outside. I feel like my "to buy" list is never-ending.

Can I get my mind out of the shopping gutter?

Last night, I saw a 300 GB hard drive for $40. Even though I don't need a hard drive and I have plenty of space, I still thought seriously about buying it. I mean, $40!? Then I started to wonder about SATA versus IDE, and decided I didn't feel like going through the brain damage of figuring it out.

And do I really need both a Spud Trooper *and* a Darth Tater? Even if they are really cute pieces of plastic?