Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Getting better and better at not caring

As a follow-up to my previous post, this almost-five-minute video of Bob Sutton is pretty interesting. To pique your interest, he talks about littering, both literally and within organizations, and about constructive uses of indifference.

Another update: this week's free Designing Interactions chapter (and videos) is about multisensory and multimedia human-computer interaction.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The ethical mind (and bonus link)

This conversation with Howard Gardner in the March 2007 Harvard Business Review is sort of the other side of the coin of my previous post. A quote:

... there is no substitute for detailed, textured, confidential oral recommendations from individuals who know the candidates well and will be honest. I don’t particularly trust written letters or the results of psychological tests. A single interview is not much help, either. A colleague of mine says “It takes ten lunches,” and I think there is truth in that.

I might also ask a young person about mentors. Our studies found that, across the board, many young professionals lack deep mentoring from individuals in authoritative positions. This was in contrast to veteran professionals, who spoke about important mentors and role models. So I might ask, “Who influenced you in cultivating a particular moral climate, and why?” The influence of antimentors—potential role models who had been unkind to their employees or who had shown behavior that others would not want to emulate—and a lack of mentors is something that we underestimated in our studies. Negative role models may be more powerful than is usually acknowledged.

You might remember Howard Gardner from the mid 1980's days of cognitive science.

Changing subjects, here is your bonus link of the day: Jakob Nielsen's list of the computer skills kids should be learning in school, and why. He says:

Understanding usability heuristics like "recognition vs. recall" or "consistency" will be as important to the educated person as having dissected a frog.

As someone who didn't want to dissect a frog in high school, I feel vindicated! :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Giant Orb from Niihau

An article from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune was reprinted in today's Fresno Bee, and it reminded me of finding a fishing float (about a foot in diameter, plastic, not glass) on the beach on Niihau. Long story which I might post sometime so that I never feel the urge to tell it again, but the reason I call it an orb is that I checked it as baggage, and it was "sort of lost", and when it arrived at the Fresno airport the next morning I got a voicemail saying that my "orb was available to be picked up at the American Airlines counter."

Here's the article: "The sand, the sun, the sea, the squalor:
The Great Eastern Garbage Patch, twice the size of Texas, spreads litter to far shores".

It definitely gets you thinking about trash in general, and besides, when was the last time you read an article that used the word "gyre"? And when was the last time you read a blog posting using both "gyre" and "orb"?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

More trouble than they're worth

Judging from all the references I'm seeing to Bob Sutton's new book The no *ssh*le rule (I've edited some of the vowels), I'm late to this party. So far I've seen it mentioned in the March Fast Company, in CIO Insight (from back in 2004), and in Guy Kawasaki's blog.

I can't find a web copy of the original column in the February 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review (which I am embarrassed to say I thumb through occasionally).

Some of the comments to Guy's posting are funny, like this one, and this one.

I got Sutton's book yesterday -- it's short and easy to read.

Speaking of books, the new one by Bill Moggridge is Designing Interactions, and it is incredible -- almost a coffee table book. It's not very expensive, but if you don't want to spend the money you can download one chapter a week free from the website. It's really great that all the videos of interviews are on the website (although in smaller format than the book-accompanying DVD). I highly recommend that you watch the video of Bill Verplank.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Computer Science bachelor's and graduate degrees

The January 2007 Computing Research News has a lists of the most prolific producers of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Guess who is #1? Here's a hint.

See how many of the "top" colleges you recognize.

The article says you can go to the NSF site and create your own queries. I tried to replicate the author's table and got this. Sometimes it is sorted by decreasing value, sometimes alphabetically by name of college. I'm not sure why.

Anyway, the top California bachelor's producer is UC Irvine (#10) and the most prolific CSU is San Jose State (#27). Cal State Ebay (nee Hayward) is #19 for master's degrees, and UC Santa Barbara is #23 for CSci doctoral production, whoo hoo!

Don't care about CSci degrees? You can do whatever query you want at

Friday, February 02, 2007

Now that you are fascinated with landing an airplane

I liked this site, and its description of a Cat IIIC landing:

Pray that your electronics and autopilot are reliable.

You can go on the pilot's trip around Florida and his eight ILS approaches. Kissimmee to Melbourne: not to be missed! (I'm kidding)

I think you can fly his route if you have Microsoft Flight Simulator.

What are they thinking up front?

This is the best, most detailed, and easy to read description of commercial pilots being diverted from their original destination and doing a Cat III landing at BWI.

I think they were doing a Cat IIIB landing (50 foot decision height). A Cat IIIC landing can be done in zero visibility.

If you are planning on doing a Cat III landing at LAX you should probably look at this diagram, or practice first at FAT.