To summarize the review: if you had few appliances or wanted fewer appliances, then an Instant Pot may be the way to go. If you already had a slow cooker or pressure cooker or if you prefer to cook in a traditional way, then you may want to spend your kitchen budget on other things.
But read the article and decide yourself. They do a great job analyzing the device and assessing its strengths and weaknesses.
(Image via Instantpot.com)
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Posted onNovember 28, 2017|Comments Off on How to be a better conversationalist, starting with 100 questions
When you meet someone at an event or at a party, the inevitable questions come up: What do you do for a living? Where do you live? Whom do you know? These are safe questions, and they lead to tepid conversation most of the time. If such conversations had a colour, it would be beige.
Some of them would still be pretty safe at a work function, such as: What’s your most urgent priority for the rest of the year? Others could lead to some pretty funny stories, such as: What’s something you’ve tried, that you’ll never, ever try again? or What’s the strangest date you’ve ever been on? (These may result in the same story!) Some are fairly personal, such as: What’s one mistake you keep repeating (and repeating)? (You may want to have your own example in case you stump someone). Finally, the last question is one most people should have an answer for, and is likely one that will tell you lots about the person: What are you most grateful for, right now, in this moment?
A great list. Throw some of them in a list on your phone and use them at the next get togther you attend. Better conversations await.
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Posted onNovember 27, 2017|Comments Off on In an alternative universe this is the next hot smartphone
I am unexcited about the direction in Smartphone design. The key design idea that less is more in a phone is becoming Less is a Bore. Perhaps that’s why this design of a Blackberry got me thinking about it. While it still has a gorgeous screen, the phone itself is worthy of looking at and touching. It strikes the right balance. The phone as a design object is worthwhile.
It would have been good if Apple had struck out in a new design direction with the iPhone X. Instead they went with Less is More. Instead we have a phone with the Notch and a camera on the back that sticks out. It’s as if Apple would have preferred not to have these cameras and sensors, so rather than design the phone to incorporate them into the design, they stick out, figuratively and literally. In a few years from now when Apple has gone in a different direction, Apple fans will look back and exclaim how poor that aspect of the phone design is.
As for now, we live in an age where the screen dominates design, from TVs to smartphones. In the future that may change and the technology that we interact with will be contained in objects that have noteworthy design in them.
For more on this beautifully designed phone, see If BlackBerry Ditched the Keyboard | Yanko Design.
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Then cook some grains, roast some vegetables, saute some greens and prepare some proteins. When you get to work, toss on the acid and the dressing and you just saved yourself some money and a trip to the food court.
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using a programming language called Processing. Through Processing, Elliott edits coding and generates random formations of geometric and traditional quilt block shapes. Afterward, she plays and edits the configuration until it becomes a quilt design she likes.
Here’s one more:
Go see the Design Milk article to see more and get more information.
Of all the social media that has come along in the last 10 years, blogging is in some ways the best of them all. It allows for a wide range of expression. It is not ephemeral. It has a freshness to it, but you can look back in a few years and still read it.
There are still problems in preventing hunger and famine, but decreasing farmland should not be adding to that. Good! Now to decrease conflicts and ensure everyone has access to good, cheap, nutritious food.
(image via pexels.com)
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Posted onNovember 21, 2017|Comments Off on Before the Kindle, there was Napoleon’s travelling library
And what a library! Napoleon had asked for it to be as follows:
The Emperor wishes you to form a traveling library of one thousand volumes in small 12mo and printed in handsome type. It is his Majesty’s intention to have these works printed for his special use, and in order to economize space there is to be no margin to them. They should contain from five hundred to six hundred pages, and be bound in covers as flexible as possible and with spring backs. There should be forty works on religion, forty dramatic works, forty volumes of epic and sixty of other poetry, one hundred novels and sixty volumes of history, the remainder being historical memoirs of every period.
Even with slimmed down books, that is a lot of paper to be carrying around as your conquer Europe and other parts of the world. I’m sure he would have loved the Kindle.
We all get in ruts where we use the same tools every day for our office work. When that happens, what we need is someone to come along with a new list of tools and what makes them great.
Here is such a list. I didn’t create it, but I have used 3 of the 11 tools here and I can say they are key to making me more productive every day. I plan to use the rest of them too, based on the description of them.
The success of Pärt’s work – the repertory of choral works he has composed over the last four decades, the instrumental works, even the new symphony he composed in 2008 – is, I think, much more than simple popular acclaim for a composer who uses some familiar chords. Pärt told me that what he wants his music to express is “love for every note”, and in turn, communicate the spiritual power that he sees as music’s essential purpose. Pärt is too modest to say that he has achieved that, but for the listeners who love his music, it’s an irrefutable truth.
There are lots of places to find his music, including YouTube. Here’s one of my favorite pieces, Spiegel im Spiegel
Enjoy that piece, and hopefully enjoy many hours listening to the music of Part.
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If you are using Google’s DNS services (i.e., you are using 22.214.171.124 for DNS services), then there is a new provider on the block you should consider: Quad9. The following links detail why you might want it, as well as how to set it up.
The more opinions you have, the more time and energy you end up wasting to defend those opinions, and the more small amounts of stress you accrue. But the less you have, the more time and energy you have to focus on the deep opinions you have.
I think this is a great idea. There are lots of reasons not to have an opinion on things: you don’t have knowledge on a topic, you don’t have interest on a topic, you prefer to focus your thoughts on other topics. Much of popular culture can be dismissed this way, as can many political scandals.
So let others spend their time fretting and fussing over such things and spend your time focusing on the things you think matter.
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Posted onNovember 13, 2017|Comments Off on Today is World Kindness Day. Here’s 30 ways you can be kind
No doubt you are kind, but the world can always use more kindness. This post is a list of 30 things you can do to be more kind, to expand your sphere of kindness. Try doing one a day or even one a week. Thank you.
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Why this list of movies? According to Five Thirty Eight, they are the most rewatchable movies of all time. Scanning the list, I see a few of the ones I tend to watch over and over again. Chances are you do too.
Meanwhile, here’s one of the many great scenes from Casablanca.
The piece in Apartment Therapy is worth looking at to get ideas. If you’ve been tired of looking at the same old space and you don’t want to get new furnishings, a splash of paint can do the trick of improving the space.
I create a lot of Ubuntu test servers, and I find that as soon as I create a Ubuntu server on a cloud environment, it gets immediately attacked by automated software. This is obviously a concern. A bigger concern is that when I went searching for recommendations on how to harden such a server, I found a wide variety of recommendations! It can be hard to know what to do. Still, I needed something. As a result, I created this package of scripts. The scripts do a number of things:
prevent direct root login to your server via ssh. This was one of the things I saw consistently happen and once someone cracks the root access on your machine, it’s game over.
stop some basic security holes, like IP spoofing
download some useful software, like logwatch, ufw and others
upgrade all software on the server
This is just a very very limited number of things to prevent attacks. But it is better than nothing.
If you install Apache, PHP, MySQL or other software on your machine, there are even more attacks that will be launched against it. I recommend you get a firewall up and running and at least run logwatch on a regular basis to look for potential attacks being launched against you.
Finally, if it is important for you to secure your server, don’t stop with my scripts. Go out and consult with IT security specialists right away.
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Posted onNovember 7, 2017|Comments Off on Thinking about Woodrow Wilson (and other American leaders)
Before this piece, I had limited knowledge of Woodrow Wilson. Most of that was centered on the work he did at the beginning of the 20th century, and much of that came from Margaret McMillan’s book, “The Peacemakers” (in the UK) / Paris, 1919 (in North America)”. My impression of him was a giant, transforming the old world with his ideas and his actions, and it was a transformation that was much needed. The world transformed after the first World War, leaving behind much that was bad, and a lot of that was Wilson’s doing.
However, Wilson racism was a terrible thing, and there is no overlooking it. There is no way to say Wilson was simply a great man: his racism and the discriminatory actions he took stain him permanently. He is a complex man, though, and there is no one scale to measure him on.
This complexity is true for all American presidents. There is a part of Americans that want to revere their leaders. They build them monuments, they sanctify them, they constantly assess and reassess them, be they Wilson, or Grant, or even Reagan. No doubt this will happen to Obama, too. This desire to sanctify leads to trouble, just as it is leading to trouble in Wilson’s case.
Ideally Americans would spend less time idealizing their past leaders and building them monuments and centers like the one for Wilson. Anything like that should include all the history of the person and the time they lived in. Show the complexity of the person, their strengths and their weaknesses, and highlight both what they achieved and what they failed to achieve. Give a full accounting of the person.
(Image is a link to a photo by Mark Makela for the New York Times)
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Something to consider for the work week is to try and not use any of the phrases found in this piece. I can’t say I agree with their substitutions. Best to leave the cliches behind and strive for clear English.
Once we get rid of all the bad business cliches, we can strive to clean the world of bad office stock photos like the one above 🙂
P.S. If you don’t use those cliches, that’s great. Another thing to consider is starting a bingo card and score it every time you see or hear one of those cliches at work. Chances are you will fill your card by Friday.
Perfect for early suppers, especially as the weather gets chillier. Great way to use up any vegetables in your fridge, too. With this recipe — really a guide more than anything else — you can make all kinds of different sandwiches.
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The first time I saw Blade Runner 2049, I found myself continually comparing it to the first Blade Runner. I loved it but I could not think of it without thinking about the first film.
The second time I saw it, I watched it for the details. It is an incredibly detailed film, and I found myself watching it for the all fine workmanship in the film (like the Japanese characters on the buttons of the jukebox that you barely see).
The third time I saw it, I saw the film in itself. That was the odd thing. It took me three tries to see the film as a narrative about these mostly new characters. I saw the film the way I would normally see any film that’s new. The other odd thing was that the film seemed to move faster the third time around than the first time. I thought it was slow the first time around and it was compared to the original film. But without that context and having absorbed all the details, I found the storytelling tight and essential.
I plan to see it many times. I think it is a masterpiece and every viewing yields something I missed in previous viewings. You may not want to watch it several times but I recommend you watch it more than once. You will be rewarded the second (or third) time you see it.
It’s worth checking out the article: some of the things architects build for their cats is really incredible. (Also there is a good chance the cat will just ignore it and go and squeeze into a nearby box).
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Posted onNovember 1, 2017|Comments Off on What is wrong with minimalism (and how to fix that)
What is wrong with minimalism? If you were to read this piece by Mark Manson on the Disease of More, you would be right in thinking that less is what we need. The less you have, the better off you should be. In which case, approaching minimalism should be the idea.
What both minimalist and anti-minimalists miss in their arguments is what is required to have a good life. What should be pursued is not to have more because more is better, or having less because less is better, but to have just what is essential for you to have a good life.
Of course what is essential depends on who you are. For some, this is a perfect environment:
For others, it’s this:
There is nothing wrong with a minimal environment if that is essential for you to be happy and content. Likewise, having a room jam packed with stimulating items may be essential to you. You have to decide for yourself, rather than sticking with a simple formula of Less is More or More is More.
What you should have is what is essential for you to live a good life. The fix for minimalism is essentialism. Preferably a lean essentialism. But again, that is up to you.
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