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links for 2009-07-30

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links for 2009-07-29

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links for 2009-07-28

  • Scott Adams, creator of the popular comic strip Dilbert, has a simple but useful strategy of personal success: you can either choose to hyper-specialize and become the best in the world (top 1%) at doing one very specific thing, or you can try to become very good (top 25%) in as many different areas as possible, which you then can use in combination. The latter strategy is far easier, and is often more effective: by improving your skills in a few different but related areas, you increase your versatility and rarity, making your particular combination of skills more uniquely valuable.

    If you’re interested in improving the quality of your life and work, there are the 12 primary areas of “Core Human Skill” you should focus on developing

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links for 2009-07-27

  • Great auteurs answer these questions about specific industries but they're broadly applicable to everything, including my favorite topic, creating Internet startups. There's a certain auteur aspect to it that translates precisely. It's a business, no doubt about it. But you have to appeal to people, even change people's lives — the way they think and act. You have to understand and communicate visually, spatially and emotionally with your audience.
  • (tags: dog husky photos)
  • Summer's in full-swing and everyone's abuzz with their fabulous vacation plans. Have you failed on that organizational front? Are you murderously jealous of everyone's fabulous vacation plans? Don't be. There are tons of quick grab-your-stuff-and-go day escapes within an hour of the city. Here are four we love.

    Half Moon Bay

    It's just a half an hour outside of the city, but the dialed-down tempo of this surf town makes it seem leagues away. You've heard of a little spot called Mavericks, obviously, but if you're not up for channeling your inner Kelly Slater, head to Princeton Jetty, a wind-protected beginners beach (check out the surf report first though). If catching waves isn't your bag, take a stroll along the five-mile paved beach trail that winds its way to Pillar Point (where you can catch a view of Mavericks). Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales; this is a hotspot for marine activity. Need a bite? Grab a fish taco at the Flying Fish Grill.

  • Marc Andreessen posted over the weekend about how it was now possible to use Ning’s platform to build Facebook Apps. According to the pitch, using Ning for Facebook Apps provides the publisher with two primary advantages; 1) You don’t have to be a developer to inject content into Facebook; and 2) You can rely on Ning’s servers to handle any scaling issues that arise should your content go viral.
  • Accessibility is commonly touted via some text and a small hyperlink that leads to Section 508 at the bottom of a web page, a practice which upholds the spirit of the law. It usually reads something like this: “We are committed to making our site accessible and continue to test and modify the site for accessibility. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any problems accessing any of our content.” Some quick accessibility checks reveal that many site owners and developers consider the second part of that statement a convenient “get out of jail free” card.

    Developers sometimes think that using standards-based development principles, separating presentation and behavior via external CSS and DOM-based scripting techniques, and applying alt attributes to images creates Section 508 compliance. They don’t want to spend more effort on accessibility until they get feedback from users who have problems with the site.

  • When the social networking phenomenon began, many companies dealt with it by not dealing with it — they simply banned/blocked social networking sites on the company network. Like the U.S. government’s attempts at Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s, that didn’t work so well. Today’s young workers have grown up with Internet access and come to the job with the expectation that they’ll have those resources at their disposal. If you deny them the ability to check their Facebook pages during lunchtime or tweet when they’re taking a coffee (or more likely, energy drink) break, they’ll find a way around it or leave to work for a company that has fewer restrictions.

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links for 2009-07-26

  • Ken Miller writes about change: " All transformation, whether personal or organizational, goes through the same three phases: First you "get it," then you "do it," and then you finally "live it." In complaining about not complaining, I sounded like many of the people in my workshops who just can't get accustomed to a new idea or a big change. They don't get it. And if they don't get it they certainly won't do it, much less live it.
    Get it

    Management guru Tom Peters says that all significant change begins with mindset. And Albert Einstein said that the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them. Both men point to the need to elevate our consciousness. That is, before any transformation is possible, we must engage the mind in a new perspective."

  • H.R.3101 Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (Introduced in House)
  • On June 26, 2009, Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey (D) introduced "The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009" (H.R. 3101) The proposed bill is also co-sponsored by California Reps. Linda Sanchez (D) and Barbara Lee (D). If (when?) enacted, this comprehensive disabilities communications legislation will amend the United States Communications Act to ensure that new Internet-enabled telephone and television products and services are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. It will also close existing disability gaps in telecommunications law. The bill in part proposes:
    Requiring caption decoder circuitry or display capability in all video programming devices, including PDAs, computers, iPods, cell phones, DVD players, TiVo devices and battery-operated TVs
  • Darknets are encrypted peer-to-peer networks normally used to communicate files between closed groups of people. Most darknets require a certain level of technological literacy to set up and maintain, including taking care of the necessary servers. However, HP researchers Billy Hoffman and Matt Wood plan next week to demonstrate a browser-based darknet called "Veiled," which they claim requires little proficiency to set up and run.

    "This will really lower the barriers to participation," Wood told ZDNet UK. "If you want to create a darknet, you can send an encrypted e-mail saying, 'Here's the URL.' When (the recipient visits) the Web site, the browser can just get (the darknet application) going."

    Hoffman and Wood are scheduled to demonstrate the technology next week at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

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links for 2009-07-25

  • Twiddling your thumbs in a recession-struck office? Yearning to break away from the monotony of routine? If “yes” is the answer to these questions, you might consider joining the growing ranks of “sabbat-packers”. This new breed, recently identified by Lonely Planet, is using the economic downturn to its advantage by taking unpaid leave and going off to do something more thrilling instead. It’s a good move for employers, too—by stepping aboard what’s being touted as the flexible working revolution and allowing employees to opt out temporarily for little or no pay, companies slash their costs when business is slow. Since June, more than 4,000 of the 40,000 staff at British Airways have applied for unpaid holiday (which could be as short as one week or up to one year, with the option to spread their reduced salary over the entire period). BA’s sabbat-packers are variously volunteering in wildlife sanctuaries, climbing Kilimanjaro, going on archeological digs and writing dissertations.
    (tags: gapyear)
  • Anyone who doubts the central role that the Web has taken in government life should consider all the attention paid to Recovery.gov. The General Services Administration created the site earlier this year to show the public how federal economic stimulus money was being disbursed. But the first iteration of the site proved to be too inscrutable for the public. So the agency contracted with a company to redesign the site — to the tune of $18 million over the next five years.
    The days of a Web presence being an optional component for agencies are long gone. For most citizens, the primary way of interacting with their government is through Web sites. By and large, agencies have responded to that demand by creating richer, more interactive sites. A lot has changed since Government Computer News created its first list of 10 great government Web sites last year.

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links for 2009-07-24

  • One of the themes cropping up again and again at this year’s Brainstorm technology conference is the pervasive use of social services like Facebook, and the frustration that while they dominate the consumer world, they aren’t quite right for large enterprises.

    Intel CIO Diane Bryant ticked off the advantages of sites like Facebook: the engagement, the opportunity for collaboration, how easy it is to discover what your friends find interesting and important. All those “social media” type things Bryant, says, would be useful within a company like Intel. Substitute friends for colleagues (and many people already do), and you get the idea.

    But Bryant is not about to unleash an unvarnished version of Facebook within her company, or hack together some version of the service to make it work. “Why isn’t there a social media application for the enterprise?” Bryant says. “There is a huge need, and there is nothing there.”

  • UK Government has just done to get tons of traffic is what Google did to make itself popular, what the BBC itself does to get tons of traffic and what almost every high-traffic website does.

    What the Government did was constantly promote its website using traditional media. The Chief Medical Officer has hardly been off the TV in the past few days, promising this web site. Every bulletin issued by the Department of Health has mentioned the web site, resulting in page after page of media coverage of this website. And where did the Government announce the opening of the website? On the web? No – the website was "launched" on TV.

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links for 2009-07-23

  • # Changing regulations and guidelines that might have made sense in the past, but now need revision. Specifically, government workers need to be able to use the same Net-based tools that consumers use.
    # A methodology where experiments in service are performed with the acceptance of failure; in new areas, there will be attempts to provide superior service, and the first attempts will fail.
    # Training government workers to provide customer service via direct engagement with citizens.
  • In nearly every conference room across the business landscape it's inevitable that at some point the phrase "social media" enters the discussion. Marketers, PR and salespeople are among the first to engage in the discussions, trying to figure how networks can be leveraged to sell more stuff. But I'd like to propose another way to approach the topic. What if we looked at "social media" as a design problem? If you take a trip over to Wikipedia and enter the word "design" you'll see this at the very beginning of the entry:

    "Design is the planning that lays the basis for the making of every object or system. It can be used both as a noun and as a verb and, in a broader way, it means applied arts and engineering. As a verb, "to design" refers to the process of originating and developing a plan for a product, structure, system, or component with intention."

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links for 2009-07-22

  • The thing about postmodernism is it's impossible to pin down exactly what might make a book postmodern. In looking at the attributes of the essential postmodern reads, we found some were downright contradictory. Postmodern books have a reputation for being massive tomes, like David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" — but then there's "The Mezzanine" by Nicholson Baker, which has just 144 pages. And while postmodern books would, you'd think, have to be published after the modern period — in the 20th or 21st centuries — could postmodernism exist without "Tristram Shandy"? We think not. Below is our list of the 61 essential reads of postmodern literature. It's annotated with the attributes below — the author is a character, fiction and reality are blurred, the text includes fictional artifacts, such as letters, lyrics, even whole other books, and so on. And while this list owes much to George Ducker and David L. Ulin, you can address all complaints to me.

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links for 2009-07-21

  • Whereas Web 2.0 is about connecting people through social-networking applications such as Facebook, wikis and Twitter, the next generation will be about connecting information in new ways that people will find more useful, relevant and enjoyable.

    The question is: Will open government and open-access technology be meeting soon? No one can say for sure, partly because it’s nearly impossible to predict what a Web experience will be like after these technologies take hold. Just as no one foresaw the meteoric rise and wide reach of Facebook and Twitter — even after those tools hit the market — it’s hard to know what will happen when the next new thing comes along.

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