How flaky are your pages?

According to Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte, the gurus of all things web related via their net@nite show, the next big thing in social networking is sharing your home page.

Google already allows you to create a personalised home page using iGoogle which allows you to “Add stuff to your homepage”. These little windows of information are often referred to as widgets, and I have been using them for a while.


However Pageflakes goes one stage further and allows you to share and rate sets of ‘home pages’. I have already imported a brilliant page called Gadgets & Gizmos created by jennyzuko.


Add colour to your life with NLP

I went to an interesting CiG event last night on Super charging your motivation using NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). The presenter Katie Hogg managed to both introduce the topic and give us some useful examples of its benefits in two hours.

I approached the topic as somewhat of a cynic, but came out with one or two techniques which I will try out on some personally challenging motivational scenarios (completing my tax return and clearing a table full of filing). All you have to do is visualise your problem, move it to the top right of your view and then add colour, brightness, movement and sound. All of a sudden it seems much less daunting.

It was interesting to observe our presenter using some NLP techniques on us during the evening. For instance whenever she wanted us to respond to a question she would put her hand up in the air. I could feel my arm starting to rise almost of its’ own volition until became aware of it and my brain took over the decision making process.

To see how scarily effective NLP can be have a look at these two Derren Brown videos on YouTube



Pure Text does it for me

For me, one of the greatest benefits of computers is their ability to copy and paste content from a wide range of sources (particularly web pages) into one document.

However advantage this is almost entirely negated by the amount of faffing around required to get the text all in the same format.

Luckily, I discovered the wonders of Steve Miller’s PureText. This simple and free application must have saved me tens of thousands of key-strokes over the years, as well as significantly reducing the frustration of trying to achieve something which should have been straightforward in the first place.


A revolutionary answer to email stress

According to the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday One in three workers suffers from ’email stress’.

Having just returned to 150 ‘proper’ emails (i.e. not spam or quickly deleted cc’d messages) after a few days out of the office I can empathise.

The researchers conclusions are backed up by my anecdotal evidence of  most of my fellow commuters and numerous overheard conversations on trains and buses.

The general consensus is that this is an inevitable downside of using email to communicate at work.

However not all would agree and Timothy Ferriss, for one, outlines a revolutionary solution to this modern day curse.  In typical American bravado his manifesto on the ChangeThis website is titled, The Low-Information Diet: How to Eliminate E-Mail Overload & Triple Productivity in 24 Hours.

However for anyone brave enough to follow it through (and I have to confess I am not yet) I think it could be an effective answer.

The Dilbert test for companies

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) was the closing keynote speaker at the recent SLA Annual Conference in Denver. As well as being a very entertaining speaker he came up with an intriguing test for us as discerning employees.

When you have your tour of the premises of your potential new work home, take a note of the number of Dilbert cartoons you see posted up in the office. If there are none to be seen, then steer well clear, as it is the kind of regime which brutally crushes all attempts at office humour.

If there are lots on show then you still need to be concerned that the staff need to communicate to their bosses in this (un)subtle way.

The best place to work is where you find a light smattering of Dilberts, indicating a sense of both fun and a reasonably high esprit de corps.

How does yours fare?

Computers to run the music industry

I am catching up (on my iPod) on the current series of In Business the wonderful BBC Radio 4 half hour show presented Peter Day.

The show was called Computers are taking on show business, and was about how Platinum Blue are using combination of databases of previous hits and an analysis of their musical components to predict future hits for record companies.

What annoys me is that these approaches seem to assume we all have narrowly defined musical tastes and forget there is such a thing as music for a particular mood.

My iPod collection ranges from obvious tracks from the likes of the Beatles on to Leonard Cohen and Regina Spektor, but also includes Queens of the Stone Age and System of a Down. So how is a computer going to successfully predict what I am going to like next.

Treat appraisals as auditions for panto

Monday 23 October

I just came across this article from the Guardian on surviving life in the workplace. The tips vary in quality, but my favourite by far is no.5. I can remember coming out of more than one appraisal spouting my bosses views.

5 Treat appraisals as auditions for panto
An appraisal is where you have an exchange of opinion with your boss. It’s called an exchange of opinion because you go in with your opinion and leave with their opinion. When you have had a bad year, the best approach is a balance between cringing apology and groveling sycophancy, something like: “My respect for you is so intense that it sometimes distracted me, thereby causing the continual string of major cock-ups that have been the main feature of my performance this year.” Interestingly, giving appraisals is actually as hard as getting them. The secret is to mix criticism with recognition. For example: “You’ve made a number of mistakes Martin, but we recognise you made them because you are a total idiot.”

Guy Browning offers 20 top tips for surviving life in the workplace
The Guardian Wednesday October 18, 2006,,1924681,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=11