Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LOLrio Kart

The LOLrioKart is a shopping cart pimped out with a motor and wheels that's rigged to go up to 45MPH. I'm quite sure there's life-changing brilliance coming from the great minds at MIT. This, on the other hand, is just showing off. I'd like to see someone try and stop this thing with a banana peel.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Defining Your Direction

Many people are committed to professions and personal endeavors they never consciously planned to pursue. They attribute the shape of their lives to circumstance, taking on roles they feel are tolerable. Each of us, however, has been blessed with a purpose. Your life’s work is the assemblage of activities that allows you to express your intelligence and creativity, live in accordance with your values, and experience the profound joy of simply being yourself. Unlike traditional work, which may demand more of you than you are willing to give, life’s work demands nothing but your intent and passion for that work. Yet no one is born with an understanding of the scope of their purpose. If you have drifted through life, you may feel directionless. Striving to discover your life’s work can help you realize your true potential and live a more authentic, driven life.

To make this discovery, you must consider your interests in the present and the passions that moved you in the past. You may have felt attracted to a certain discipline or profession throughout your young life only to have steered away from your aspirations upon reaching adulthood. Or you may be harboring an interest as of yet unexplored. Consider what calls to you and then narrow it down. If you want to work with your hands, ask yourself what work will allow you to do so. You may be able to refine your life’s work within the context of your current occupations. If you want to change the world, consider whether your skills and talents lend themselves to philanthropic work. Taking stock of your strengths, passions, beliefs, and values can help you refine your search for purpose if you don’t know where to begin. Additionally, in your daily meditation, ask the universe to clarify your life’s work by providing signs and be sure to pay attention.

Since life’s journey is one of evolution, you may need to redefine your direction on multiple occasions throughout your lifetime. For instance, being an amazing parent can be your life’s work strongly for 18 years, then perhaps you have different work to do. Your life’s work may not be something you are recognized or financially compensated for, such as parenting, a beloved hobby, or a variety of other activities typically deemed inconsequential. Your love for a pursuit, however, gives it meaning. You’ll know you have discovered your life’s work when you wake eager to face each day and you feel good about not only what you do but also who you are.

Bottom up 101: how to empty your inbox fast by learning from Google

Why does it take less time to find something on the web than on your hard drive?

It’s because the internet has no order, but we’d like to think we do. Guess again: using an orderly approach to storing and retrieving is similar to paying full price for airline tickets: it made sense twenty year ago but is a costly decision today.

Here’s how to file and find things in the next decade.

Bottom Up vs Top Down

Storage and retrieval ultimately fits into two methods: top down and bottom up. A top down approach is to come up with categories, and perhaps sub-categories, and sub-sub-categories…and then to place each item in exactly one place. For instance, my residency might be classified as United States:Maryland:Prince George’s County:College Park. From a legal perspective that’s the only place you’d find me today. This is how file cabinets and hard drives have been setup forever.

However, in a bottom up system, one places all items into just one bucket—that means all residents aren’t classified into countries, they just get adjectives (or tags). They have their name and their adjectives, some of which might conflict. For instance, I could be a resident of both DC and Maryland in a bottom up system, of both the United States and Spain.

In the physical world it would be impossible to find anything if it were all lined up next to one another, but with fast servers and intelligent algorithms, you can search for “Jared Goralnick” without having to narrow your search to any geographic criteria. This is helpful, because I identify first with DC, second with Baltimore, and not really at all with College Park. So if you met me you might have trouble looking me up in and old-fashioned (top-down) phonebook—you might never look in the College Park edition.

There are numerous reasons why bottom up storage and retrieval are better than top down approaches when it comes to digital information:

  • When filing something, there’s only one place to put it. Tags are optional. No choice means a heck of a lot less time filing
  • When retrieving something, it’s better to use a (very fast) search tool…rather than guessing the right folder to look in first
  • If an items relates to two projects, or is from an old friend but relates to business, etc…there are times when it’s tough to know where to file…or to retrieve it. In a bottom up system, you just archive it in one place and search for it later. End of story
  • With tagging, one can tie one item to many categories. So something can be tied to two projects without one having to copy it into both folders

Applying Bottom Up Approaches to Email

Not everything in the world of technology is ready for a flat, bottom-up architecture. But email is, at least if you use Gmail, Outlook 2007, or Postbox. I presume Mail is the same (feel free to verify in the comments). The fewer folders you have, the faster your filing and retrieval will be.

That is because these modern email clients/web email sites have full text search, the same technology that allows sites like Google to searching the web so quickly. With Outlook you can even search within the body of the attachments that are attached to your emails. And it’s all instant.

That being said, you may still want to have folders for broad categories, but if you do, I’d suggest that you ensure that you can see all the folders on the screen at the same time. That means that if you have more than a dozen you’d probably better rethink things. Try to have fewer than five.

You may be thinking that having fewer folders feels less organized. But in reality there’s less to deal with: fewer places to go, fewer places to look, and less time spent filing or retrieving.

Applying Bottom Up Approaches to the Rest of Your Technology

Data is becoming more bottom-up friendly every year. The search features in Windows have been pretty good since Vista, and get some helpful improvements in Windows 7. Same goes for Mac’s Finder—it gets faster in Snow Leopard.

For a long time you’ve probably paid attention to metadata (which is a fancy word for the tagging taking place inside a file) for your music collection—your artist, title, track, album, and other data have been associated with your music files. That trend is going to be carried through to everything over the next ten years.

So I’d suggest that you think seriously about it the next time you do some reorganization on your computer. We have more files than ever before (even if they’re online). So labeling and tagging will be more relevant. With photos, this is especially true. But all documents deserve better labels, not better folders.

As we’re surrounded by more and more data, bottom up filing and sophisticated searching will be the only approach for us. We need to start shifting our mindset and getting ready for it.

You can start now, with email.

Source: Technotheory