Monthly Archives: December 2007

Get smarter! Go use some creative tools from has these great creative tools that can

help you and your organization become even more creative.

I highly recommend them.

Good design is for everything, including radiators

There’s alot of objects in home that no one seems to want to design well, and these often have to do with heating and cooling. But there is no reason these can’t be well designed. Over at the CONTEMPORIST blog is striking proof of this with examples of radiators from Carisa that are exceptional.

There is wealth of other great design examples at that blog, too. Well worth a visit.


A good introduction to algorithms

If someone has to learn about computer algorithms, a very nice introduction can be found at the well designed site called
DataStructures. This site is

dedicated to students and other who want to learn about programming, data structures, algorithms and how to write efficient code. You will find free e-books as well.

A visual aid to help you diet…the 300 calorie food picture gallery

You know tomatoes have alot less calories than bacon, but how does it compare? See these images:

Over at the 300 Calorie Food Picture Gallery you can see the difference between these foods and many more.

Project Euler: for those who love math and computers

If you know someone who loves mathematics and computers, send them over to the web site, Project Euler.

Simply, it’s…

a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems. The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.

Find Santa with the Norad Tracker

Kids everywhere want to know where Santa is, and the always watchful people from NORAD can help with the NORAD Santa Tracker at

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! 🙂

“Chuck Norris sues, says his tears no cancer cure” or how to have fun with a news story

Chuck Norris has a serious suit against a Penguin book that mocks him. I think he has a good case, regardless of what you think of Chuck Norris. However, the Yahoo! News title seems to continue the mockery with the headline:

Chuck Norris sues, says his tears no cancer cure – Yahoo! News

Perhaps he did say that, but most of the quotes in the following news article are pretty much what you expect coming from a lawyer.
But click on the story and you decide.

Bacon: chocolate for men

Over at Boing Boing is the excellent posting: Web Zen: bacon zen
As the comment from V suggests, bacon IS chocolate for men. 🙂

The entire flow chart above — which is very funny — can be found here.

P.S. Thanks to my good friend Leta for news on all things bacon!

2007’s 101 Dumbest Moment in Business from Fortune: Sad, true, and often VERY funny

Alot of year end reviews are boring or lame. Not the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business from FORTUNE. It’s sad but true and also VERY funny. One of my favourites is #70: Circuit City (70). Here’s the details:

In a cost-cutting move, Circuit City lays off all sales associates paid 51 cents or more per hour above an “established pay range” – essentially firing 3,400 of its top performers in one fell swoop. Over the next eight months Circuit City’s share price drops by almost 70%.

Pure genius.

My favourite new blog: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

This is a great site for all you geeks / evil mad scientists.

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories – Making the World a Better Place, One Evil Mad Scientist at a Time

Tip from one of my other favourite blogs, Geekdad.

The design retailer Moss shows you how not to treat your customers

There is a fine line for “attitude” retailers like Moss: you can’t be too open and friendly, or you may lose your cachet, your edge. But it can easily slip over into arrogance and hostility. I think to walk that line you have to have an air of friendliness but still maintain that distance, that aloofness.

I think Moss slips over the line, based on this reading. Or perhaps Franklin Getchell is frustrated. And I can appreciate his frustration. But it’s too bad for Moss: exercising frustration about your clients is the best way to lose business. See

“Whatever,” whenever in L.A. « – T Magazine – New York Times Blog

P.S. I love The Moment: it’s a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere. Add it to your feed reader and freshen it up!

Xing, academics and body language

Look at the pictures at the following URL: XING Corporate Information – Management

There is a relationship between a person’s title and their body language? Can you see what it is?

What to eat in Toronto in 2008! Or a great new year resolution

I think I have the perfect new year resolution for people in Toronto: eat all of this food before 2009! Forget that dieting stuff, this is the year to Eat, Drink and be Daring (as the good folks as Toronto Life recommend).

Go to the article…but not on an empty stomach!

Why you should not buy cheap wine from the LCBO (or any place)

I’ve blogged about good / cheap wine under $10 at the LCBO. You can find that article here.

There are lots of reasons to go with wine at this price, but it doesn ‘t mean you should only buy wine at low prices. For example here are some good reasons why you should not buy cheap wine:

You won’t get the same flavours you will get from a better bottle of wine. On average, more expensive wines will have more flavour, either now or in the future. Not always of course, but most of the time. If you want a good glass of everyday wine, something under $10 will do nicely. But to experience what wine can be, you will want to spend more.

You only occasionally drink wine, if at all. If you only have a glass / bottle of wine on rare occasions, why not drink something better? If I only drank wine from time to time, I would drink champagne or Californian chardonnays or Australian shiraz or New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. Pick a price point you feel comfortable with and ask the good folks at LCBO for help.

You are going to a special event. In that case, make the wine indicate you appreciate you are going to a special event. A bottle of wine under $7 doesn’t really say that.

You don’t like wine (taste, alcohol, cost) or prefer other beverages (beer, tea, soda, water) instead. If you like other beverages better, why not stick to them? You don’t have to drink wine! 🙂

(Image from Henry of Pelham, who make fine wines, include a truly delicious Baco Noir that I find is great year after year. Nice people who work there, too.)

How Academics are using Facebook for their studies at universities

Over at the – New York Times is a good article on how Facebook is being used as a serious tool for academics. For example:

In other words, Facebook — where users rate one another as “hot or not,” play games like “Pirates vs. Ninjas” and throw virtual sheep at one another — is helping scholars explore fundamental social science questions.“We’re on the cusp of a new way of doing social science,” said Nicholas Christakis, a Harvard sociology professor who is also part of the research. “Our predecessors could only dream of the kind of data we now have.”

There’s lots of great examples in the article: On Facebook, Scholars Link Up With Data

How to defeat Captcha

How can you defeat CAPTCHA? With sophisticated software? Not necessarily. RMG, a company in a legal dispute with Ticketmaster (a big user of CAPTCHA) does this:

“We pay guys in India $2 an hour to type the answers.”

If you want to know how tickets to an event can sell out so fast, read this: Hannah Montana Tickets on Sale! Oops, They’re Gone – New York Times

How to drive traffic to your blog

Not sure how useful this is, but based on examining my blog stats on, here are some observations I came up with that seem related to driving traffic to my site (not that I am Robert Scoble or anything..and what is alot for me is really not much). But they are practical tips.

Here they are:

  • Make it easy for search engines to find you: use searchable words in your blog title. I used to use interesting titles. Now I think about how to put as many searchable words in the title (and hence the URL) as possible so search engines will fine it.
  • Make the first sentence and the first paragraph catchy: search engine results (like Google) will have the first line or first paragraph highlighted in the search result. Make that something people want to read and therefore clickable.
  • Comment on general interest topics: I wrote an entry on the social effects of Facebook. People search for that alot it seems.
  • Comment on seasonal topics: like Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. People will be searching for things like that.
  • Comment on things in the news: new media, people in the news, new technology. People will be searching for new things. I am a big fan of Blade Runner, so I blogged about the latest version of it coming out, and I get lots of hits on that.
  • Offer helpful advice: Ok, I don’t know how helpful this is, but I used to have alot of people asking me for wine advice, so I blogged about how to find good cheap wine at the LCBO (i.e. the liquor stores of Ontario). I get alot of hits due to that, and if you google “cheap wine lcbo” I come out ahead of some established wine writers in Ontario. Go figure. I should give up this IT gig and write on wine for a living. 🙂
  • Use Images: I try to use images on my blog entries to make them more appealing (and give credit where it is due). But I also get alot of hits as a result of
  • Write on offbeat topics: easier said than done, I know. I once wrote a blog entry on using a blackberry as a flashlight. I get at least 1 person a day searching on that.
  • Comment on sites with automatic trackback: some blogs like those at the and other places have automatic trackback. If you comment on those sites and put a link on your page, you may show up on their site.
  • Include a pointer to your blog whenever you can. 🙂

A new art form: the customer review at Amazon!

Want to see what I mean? Go see: Customer Reviews: Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz

It’s 97 pages. 9-7.

If you open up your web site to others to work on, they may work on it in ways you might not suspect.


Inexpensive gift ideas at Real Simple

The good folks over at have some great ideas for this Christmas. They have a nice Holiday Gift List Worksheet and a list 50 Gifts Under $50.If you are not close to done or could use some help, go there now.

(Tip from

Great Gift Ideas for Christmas and any other times

Over at is a list of 40 Simple Gift Ideas to Spark a Smile | . If you are stuck for gift ideas, check it out. They have separated out into:

* Unique Gifts
* Gifts that Touch the Soul
* Books that Change Lives
* Alternative Wrapping Ideas

Who wouldn’t like something like this?

I can’t believe I am posting these two talking cats

On one hand, this is WAY too cute. On the other hand, it is amazing. You pick the hand! 🙂

Stuck for a new idea? Here’s the tool you need! :)

Go here!

Right now I am working on a “nutritious neon appliance”…I think my kids will love it.

Think your work environment is creative? Check out THESE work environments at

Now THESE are some incredible work environments! (This is one of the less creative ones. :)) – CREATIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS – Do you work in one?

P.S. Has some incredible material on its site, including the most amazing bookstore I have ever seen.

What’s cool and green and covers great design idea?

What is Inhabitat? Well, it’s full of bright ideas, like this one.

But for a better definition, let me quote their about page:

a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future.

Inhabitat was started by NYC designer and graduate architecture student Jill Fehrenbacher as a forum in which to investigate emerging trends in product, interior and architectural design. Emily Pilloton is the Managing Editor; Sarah Rich and Evelyn Lee and Jorge Chapa are Senior Contributing Editors. Contributing writers include Jill Danyelle, Tylene Leveque, Abigail Doan, Kate Andrews and Ali Kriscenski. The site was designed by Jill Fehrenbacher and is programmed by Joey Brooks and Vestal Design, using WordPress.

How to get people to read your email in December?


Make it very short. Too the point. Like this. 🙂 – build better personal sites with Uber and take advantage of the web 2.0 facilities

is a site for building your own web site around web 2.0 concepts. It is “alpha” if you ask me, but it has alot of potential to be great.

One feature I really like is the ability to make great slideshows. This part is good. Here’s a few I made as a test

or go to Uber for more info.

What is the Rasterbator?

What is the Rasterbator?

The Rasterbator creates huge, rasterized images from any picture. Upload an image, print the resulting multi-page pdf file and assemble the pages into extremely cool looking poster up to 20 meters in size.

It could also be useful for technical documents, too.

Geekdad on the Science of Raising Smart Kids

I think the geekdad blog at Wired is great. (Hey, lots of geeks eventually have children! 🙂 ) There’s lots of good, practical advice there. (Plus cool gadgets).

The latest article,The Science of Raising Smart Kids has some good advice on getting your kids to be smarter. It’s all about how you praise your kids. Go to the article for more details.

Ouch! The New York Times RIPS “Elle” by YSL

T Magazine, a blog over at New York Times has a scathing review of the perfume | Elle by YSL. The whole review is good, but here a whiff, so to speak:

Yves Saint Laurent On the Richter scale of disasters, some are more inexplicable than others. ….Yves Saint Laurent is rolling out Elle.Where to start. Why? Or perhaps better: How? What was the perfume “brief” (the concept the house gives the perfumers) here? “Please create for us the smell of the cheap, cellophane-wrapped sugar candy stacked on the linoleum floor of a 2nd Avenue Gristedes”? (My bold)

I would like to see more such blogs!