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Archive for the ‘Op-Ed’ Category

Making Your Work More Pleasant

Crocodile sign
A sign that is sure to get people’s attention

YESTERDAY I had a cursory look at ten tips for making your workspace more pleasant. As a gensture of reciprocity, here is the gist with warm attributions to the author, Steve Pavlina.

  1. Make your workspace look attractive to you.
  2. Clear out the clutter.
  3. Add plants.
  4. Make it smell good.
  5. Play relaxing music.
  6. Get a decent chair.
  7. Add a portable fan.
  8. Add a fountain.
  9. Personalize your space.
  10. Establish uninterruptible periods.

Points (3), (7-8) are the only ones I am in lack of. All of them involve the inclusion of objects, which I believe add to clutter (point 2).

The Initiative for Better E-mail

Junk mail

LAST year I got a bit frustrated with the nature of most E-mails that had been reaching my box. I then decided to write a short FAQ (while I was lying by a swimming pool, if I recall correctly). Over time, I found a way of reducing and managing the volume, which often led to unnecessary distractions. I even separated my E-mail into several ‘tiers’, which unlike filters, I find very handy. Some other communication was routed to Wikis.

Over two years ago I came to discover that Knuth had given up on E-mail altogether. I have just come across another nice homepage which expresses the frustration when it comes to badly-formatted E-mails, so I thought I’d share it by quoting:

E-mail is my main form of communication and the best way to reach me is to email howcome@@@opera.@com. I have used email since 1985 and, unlike Donald Knuth, I plan to continue using it in the future. I recommend these rules for writing electronic mail:

  1. Write e-mail messages in plain text (not HTML) with around 70 characters per line.
  2. When quoting other messages, insert your own text underneath the quoted text so that the logical order of the text is preserved
  3. Avoid e-mail attachments: send URLs pointing to your attachments instead.
  4. In particular, never send documents in proprietary formats as e-mail attachments. PDF is acceptable if the formatting of the documentis essential to understanding the document.

If you look at the source of the page (either the original or even this short post), you’ll find a nice trick of obfuscating E-mail addresses, which can prevent mass-harvesting by ratbot, for subsequent spamming.

Spreading Civilisation, or Shrinking it

Teleport

The almighty Stephen Hawking has made a bold and inspiring statement:

“The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there’s an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday.”

In my humble opinion, many of the problems envisioned (sudden global warming, nuclear war, or a genetically engineered virus) can be addressed by controlling the size of the population, using birth control. The planet’s overcongestion leads to larger industries that are too morbid for a healthy, long-term existence.

Will society ultimately implode? Or will things escalate into a worst case scenario, as in this apocalyptic prediction? We shall live and find out.

When Corporations Liaise with Governments

Vinyl record

AS part of the recent crackdown on piracy on the Web,American corporations are using politics to subvert international laws and ethics. Firstly, they ‘invade’ Sweden owing to government approval . Then, they also pose conditions to the Russians, due on Web sites that they harbour, or turn a blind eye to. Bear with me as I justify my view on this.

“How is this related to Linux or the general theme of this blog?”, you might ask. As many people have said, it’s a demonstration of the growing trend where governments assist businesses, or get manipulated by them. As one commenter in Digg said (typos corrected):

There are many who say that “they deserved it because they are violating copyrights”. We could debate for ages on copyrights… but the reason for the demonstration is not all about the copyrights. When a cooperation has the ability to manipulate a foreign governments law enforcement and government into raiding a legal business (it may not be legal in the US but US law does not apply outside the US), then theres reason to be worried. Cooperations are getting greedier and worse as time progresses. In the last decade they’ve been trying to make as much money as possbile with spending as little money as possible. In the next decade we will likely see more corporations attempting to persade governments into taking serious actions (legal or not) for their benefit, and we’re already seeing the very beginnings of this trend.

I hope this post is not perceived as redundant. Linux/Open Source is often boycotted by corporations, even with government’s assistance (through direct action or legistlation). The GPL does not serve the interests of money-making, long-standing software vendors.

Google’s Big Daddy Update and Cache Flush

Google on a computer screen

MANY Webmasters may have already noticed (or been informed) that Google’s greatest and latest, the 64-bit “Big Daddy” datacentre, had experienced a major error. The Web developers community is humming over the consequnces whilst very few clues are selectively being delivered by Google spokesmen (and spokeswomen).

More information on the issue of page dropping, “Big Daddy” anomalies and general impact on inbound links:

The public is kindly requested not to panic. Google results pages may have degraded (including invalid, irrelevant and broken links), but all in all, this degradation is not radical. Google remains best bar none in terms of quality search results.

Futuristic Gadgets

Shrimp USB drive
Yes, that’s a USB drive

SOME of these videos and images could definitely make you choke on your Cola (or whatever you drink, if anything). These are good illustrations of products that are either ahead of their time or are simply plain ridiculous.

Related items (other ‘shrimpies’)

Open Source and Paracites

Season of the playful penguins
Season of the playful penguins from Oyonale

WHILE absent, I did not have the opportunity to comment on Oracle’s desire to buy a Linux distribution. This started a whole chain reaction, which had people think about the exploitation of Linux by giants. This also resulted in the exchange of some insults.

More latterly, Red Hat, who were rumoured to be in Oracle’s acquisition agenda, have been responding. Below are some among the softer words, which have come out from the months of their executives.

Success May Threaten Open Source Ethic

“His conclusion is contrary to virtually everything I’ve seen in my 17 year history of commercial free/open source solutions,” Michael Tiemann, vice president of Red Hat said about Goulde’s report. “I believe that the effect of open source on the proprietary vendors is a force 1,000 times more powerful than the force of proprietary principles on the open source community.”

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