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links for 2010-11-27

  • Former US President Harry S. Truman captured the value of good communication as essential to the reduction of fear and war between nations. He said, “We shall never be able to remove suspicion and fear as potential causes of war until communication is permitted to flow, free and open, across international boundaries.”

    What are the elements of communication? Speaking and listening for the purpose of exchanging ideas or information. It’s an art to speak precisely what we have in mind. And sometimes it’s a greater art to listen carefully to grasp the motive and message of the speaker. The speaker needs to know what he or she is trying to say. The speaker also needs to know his or her listener. And the listener needs to put aside prejudice and fixed opinions in order to hear what the speaker is trying to convey.

  • An Infographic is the editorial representation of data or a concept. Infographics use objects or symbols to represent data or concepts. They are often illustrated by hand, although the drawing mechanism used has no impact on categorization.

    A Data Visualization is the display of data in which rules define how variations and relationships within a data set translate to visual characteristics and objects. Data visualizations allow data to represent itself. They are often generated by computers, although the drawing mechanism used has no impact on categorization.

  • # Design of Search User Interfaces: introduces the ideas and practices surrounding search interface design, places modern design in a historical context, and summarizes design guidelines for search interfaces.
    # 2: Evaluation of Search User Interfaces: includes informal studies, formal studies, longitudinal studies and log-based analysis including bucket testing. Presents extensive device about how to avoid evaluation mistakes.
    # 3: Models of the Information Seeking Process: summarizes the theoretical models about information seeking, and discusses information needs and query intent.

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links for 2010-11-26

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Announces Steps to Bring 9-1-1 into 21st Century

    FCC has announced that it plans to upgrade the capabilities of the 9-1-1 emergency system by allowing texting, video streaming and data sharing as part of the National Broadband Plan's Next Generation 9-1-1. Many people, particularly those with disabilities, depend on texting as their primary means of communication. In some emergency situations — especially in circumstances where a call could further jeopardize someone’s life and safety — texting is the only way to reach out for help.

  • The very first Web Font Awards were held at the Future of Web Design (Web Design) conference last week. The Web Font Awards ceremony was the first of its type (get it?) to celebrate the emerging world of web typography, and its aim was to highlight and celebrate the best use of type on the web from around the world.

    Users could submit and vote on entries via the Web Font Awards website and at FOWD; a panel of experts debated the merits of the top finalists and declared the winners.

  • Whether you are taking public transport to work, getting coffee in a local café, or shopping for groceries — there are dozens of apps for your mobile phone to help you stay connected to your government and get the latest information. From the Department of Energy's alternative fuel locator to live video streams from the White House, these apps are worth checking out at apps.usa.gov.
  • I’m going to use WordPress.com as the example for this because making a site private and hidden on WordPress.com is just a couple clicks. I’ll talk about how to do this with a self-installed WP setup at the end of the post.

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links for 2010-11-25

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links for 2010-11-24

  • QR Code (for Quick Response) also called a 2-D barcode. An easy analogy is the UPC bar code that has existed for decades. But a UPC is essentially a machine-readable number which needs to be looked up in a database to figure out what it is. QR Codes on the other hand have actual data – words – embedded in them that can be used to represent anything – a description of the product, a URL for the website.

    What it means for consumers

    Over the years, we’ve moved from simpler expressions of online identity – “www.pets.com” – to more complex “www.mypetstore.biz/fish/special-offer” that are harder to digest and re-type into a browser. For online experiences, this has spawned an industry of URL shorteners such as Bit.ly that tamp it down into a smaller URL such as “bit.ly/dhgdh4j” but this doesn’t help when you’re trying to retype what you saw in a store window into a browser.

    (tags: code QR)

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links for 2010-11-23

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links for 2010-11-22

  • The US federal government will soon adopt a "cloud-first" policy, meaning federal agencies will be required to used cloud services "whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists." The announcement came last week from Jeffrey Zients, the government's first chief performance officer. According to the Washington Post, the new policy is part of a broader government initiative to "fix IT."

    The Post quoted Zients saying: "Fixing IT is central to everything we're trying to do across government. IT is our top priority."

    Zients also wants to:

    * Give programs more flexibility in how they budget for IT projects
    * Turn oversight panels into investment review boards
    * Establish career paths for program managers
    * Bring IT acquisition processes inline with the speed at which technology changes

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links for 2010-11-21

  • oday, it’s rolling out an experiment that hopes to tackle the “original authorship” problem: two new metatags, syndication-source and original-source, intended to attribute authorship, via URLs, into the back end of news on the web. Though the tags will work in slightly different ways, Googlers Eric Weigle and Abe Epton note in a blog post, “for both the aim is to allow publishers to take credit for their work and give credit to other journalists.”

    Metatags are just one of the many tools Google uses to determine which articles most deserve news consumers’ attention. They work, essentially, by including data about articles within webpages, data that help inform Google’s search algorithms. Google itself already relies on such tagging to help its main search engine read and contextualize the web. (Remember Rupert Murdoch’s so-far-unrealized threats to opt out of Google searches? He would have done it with a noindex tag.)

  • The function of alternate text is to make content that contains images understandable when images cannot be seen, either by users with limited vision, by search engines, or when users turn off image rendering in their browser. Instead of being a description of an image, alternate text is a textual substitute for an image, that must coherently fit into content surrounding the image.
  • No other factor causes greater customer frustration and dissatisfaction than confusing menus and links

    The cause of most confusing menus and links stems from organizational language and thinking. Take, for example, the FAQ. Over the years, I’ve found that most customers don’t know what a FAQ is. That certainly surprised me because I thought everyone knew that FAQ meant Frequently Asked Questions, just like everyone knows that the logo links to the homepage.

    However, the FAQ has a deeper problem. From a customers’ perspective it is essentially a useless link. It is a classic example of organization-centric language.

    I tried to renew my TV license recently and was offered two choices: General FAQs and Online Service FAQs. Which should I choose? On another website I was given two different choices: Frequently Asked Questions and Most Frequently Asked Questions.

  • The company has applied for a trademark on "Cisco Cultural Advisor" as the name of an application for "creating, analyzing and comparing profiles of users' communication and work styles, and for improving effectiveness of business interactions." In the application, filed Oct. 19, Cisco referred to Cultural Advisor as "application software for mobile phones." The application has not yet been assigned an examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    Cultural Advisor is a product under development and is "focused on inclusion and diversity," Cisco said in a statement on Friday. The company did not provide any additional details.

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links for 2010-11-20

  • The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

    We are complementing Salman's ever-growing library with user-paced exercises–developed as an open source project–allowing the Khan Academy to become the free classroom for the World.

  • “Kryptos,” the sculpture nestled in a courtyard of the agency’s Virginia headquarters since 1990, is a work of art with a secret code embedded in the letters that are punched into its four panels of curving copper.
    clue in NY Times article
    “Our work is about discovery — discovering secrets,” said Toni Hiley, director of the C.I.A. Museum. “And this sculpture is full of them, and it still hasn’t given up the last of its secrets.”
  • Kryptos is a sculpture located on the grounds of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Installed in 1990, its thousands of characters contain encrypted messages, of which three have been solved (so far). There is still a fourth section at the bottom consisting of 97 or 98 characters which remains uncracked. This webpage contains some information about the sculpture, including some photos collected from around the web, some rubbings of the sculpture taken by your intrepid webmistress, links to other articles and Kryptos discussion groups here and there, and information about other encrypted sculptures which have been created by the sculptor, Jim Sanborn.
    News: November 20, 2010: For the 20th anniversary, Sanborn announces a clue to the unsolved part 4 of Kryptos!
  • The movement may have engaged advocates, developers, academics, companies, but it's not met its grandiose vision of empowering the public. USAspending.gov, after three redesigns, is "pretty impressive looking, but its data is almost completely useless," Ellen Miller, Sunlight Foundation's co-founder said at Gov 2.0 Summit. If open government continues to take place within a blackbox, Wikileaks will have to increasingly take on the mantle of disclosure and transparency.
  • The Bureau of State Audits has released a report that says the state doesn't fully comply with the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act. The 1973 law mandates that government agencies serving a "substantial" number of non-English-speaking people must employ enough bilingual workers to "ensure provision of information and services to the public in the language of the non-English-speaking person."

    The State Personnel Board needs to do more to enforce the law at the state level, auditors said, and the departments/agencies reviewed needed to do a better job of surveying their foreign language needs and follow through, such as providing translations of written materials.

  • Although Windows 3.0 and its successors 3.1 and 3.11 became the dominant PC operating system, it was not particularly robust or reliable, networking was awkwardly bolted-on, and security non-existent. Microsoft knew it had to rebuild Windows from scratch, and had been working on the project since 1988 when Dave Cutler was hired from Digital Equipment Corp. for that purpose.

    Flaws in the DOS/Windows family might be forgiven on the grounds that its evolution was partly accidental. Nobody realised when Microsoft acquired QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) in 1980 that it would end up as the foundation of PC computing. Windows NT on the other hand was Microsoft's opportunity to get it right.

    (tags: windows OS events)

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links for 2010-11-19

  • Comparisons and analogies are a natural part of everyday argument; philosophers have used them as far back as Plato. Educators love them because they help students understand complicated concepts. But propagandists and ideologues also love them, because it is easy to hide a flawed argument inside of an analogy.

    Unlike deduction, there are no clear formal rules for using analogies. So how do we distinguish good analogies from bad? In this article, we look at the different ways in which analogies are used in arguments. By understanding why people use analogies, we can come up with some informal guidelines for using them properly. Given these guidelines, hopefully we can give Hitler some rest.

  • Adobe today released Reader X, the next version of its popular software that includes a "sandbox" designed to protect users from PDF attacks.

    Reader X on Windows features Protected Mode, a technology that isolates system processes, preventing or at least hindering malware from escaping the application to wreak havoc on the computer.

  • In a crowded and competitive field of admirers, one of the altarpiece's most ardent contemporary devotees is Noah Charney, the author of a new history called "Stealing the Mystic Lamb" (PublicAffairs; $27.95) that ascribes another superlative to the piece: the world's most frequently stolen artwork. In the book, with the breathless voice of a lover smitten with the one that got away (again and again), Charney charts the wrangling over a work that "collectors, dukes, generals, kings, and entire armies desired to such an extent that they killed, stole, and altered the strategic course of war to possess."
    (tags: art theft Belgium)
  • I’ve seen many guides to choosing the right social media consultant. Many of them fall short because they don’t give you simple empirical guidelines to follow. I think that’s a mistake and I’ve decided to rectify that oversight.

    One of the main points I feel is most important is that the social media “Expert” must be deeply involved in social media. The experience you gain in personally building a large social network is essential to understanding social media. The criteria here is how do you find an “Expert” so the bar is set high. One of the commonly quoted rules is that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert- that’s 2 months short of 5 years. Which means there are very few true social media experts around.

  • I had to learn on the job: it was very much a case of in-at-the-deep end. I remember doing a lot of reading to understand how users read online, and how best to write. A lot of the standards set by the likes of Jakob Nielsen still apply today.

    Nowadays writing is a part of what I do, but it isn’t my whole job. But I still manage writers on a daily basis and wanted to share some of the rules for web writing that I’ve embraced, adapted or created.

    Before we begin I should point out that Yossarian remains my foremost literary hero and rules are always there to be broken.

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links for 2010-11-18

  • Now government is getting into the act.
    The Obama administration's Open Government Initiative is about far more than transparency. It is about making government a first class player in the emerging Internet data operating system. When government data is made available as a set of web services rather than a set of documents, computer applications can process that data, draw meaning from it, and make it relevant to the daily lives of citizens. You can see data.gov as the "Software Development Kit" for government as a platform.

    The same process is happening at state and local levels.

    And now, the applications are starting to arrive. In this time of budget deficits, there is a unique teachable moment unfolding with the success of the iPhone app store.

  • IBM is launching as a pilot partner for the Company Networks feature, with the IBM Expert Network. The page shows all of the IBM employees or experts on Slideshare page as well as content that is curated from each expert’s profile.

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