Posts Tagged ‘general’
“The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century” [ISBN-10 0224079948] looks like an interesting book – you just never know when the information it contains would come in useful. Now I could import it from The Book Depository in the UK, with free air-mail shipping, for the equivalent of Aus$30.09, or I could buy it from my local Dymocks bookshop next time I’m in town for Aus$59.95 (where they’d have to order it in).
Hmmmm. Which one do you think I’d go for?
I’m usually always a person who will shop locally to support local businesses, but there is a limit to my support of businesses where the cost is double.
[Price comparison correct using the exchange rate as at Dec 20, 2008]
I’ve been mulling over a couple of issues that I’ve had with “charities” that have left a bad taste in my mouth. A post from Matt Cutts, ‘Charity donation recommendations?’, galvanised me to put fingers to keyboard. Matt’s asking for suggestions for charities to whom to make donations, I have some charities that I’ll now never donate to.
It’s that time of year when, more than others, we are asked to think of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. To be charitable. To think of, and give to, those who may otherwise have a less than cheery time this festive season. But charities must be having a tougher time than usual themselves.
Those people who may once have given willingly to charities may themselves now be less able to repeat that gesture this year given global economic hardships (albeit, though, most of us are still way better off than the vast majority of the populations of third world countries).
How can charities compensate for this reduction in their income?
It’s a tough one. I don’t have any suggestions. I can suggest to them, though, what not to do (based on my reaction to a couple of their tactics).
One. Don’t cold call me on the telephone. I’ve become conditioned to not give out my credit card information over the phone to somebody I don’t know and haven’t called. After I decline to hand over those credit card details, don’t abuse me and patronise me. If I ask for information to be sent to me in the mail, do it – otherwise I might be believe that the phone call was a scam in the first place.
Two. Don’t bail me up in the street. Don’t attempt to flatter me. Don’t ask me to fill out my credit card details on a piece of paper there and then. Don’t abuse me for declining to handover my card details to somebody I’ve never met before even if they have an “ID card” dangling from their neck (I can laminate a piece of laser-printed cardboard as well as the next person). Don’t then swear at me. Don’t call me stupid for declining to comply the now more excited demand for cash and tell me the “hundreds of other people do it”. Don’t call me a miser for not acquiescing to the collector’s continuing harassment. And then, after the collector tells me that he gets a portion of the “donation”, don’t expect me to ever donate cash to you ever again.
Three. Don’t expect me to hand over cash when the collector doesn’t share the values that the charity itself is supposed to hold. Do charities actually put their collectors though a selection process? Or do the charities take just anybody and hope that luck is on their side.
… and I’m talking about major, globally recognised, household-name charities here.
What works for me? Well definitely not being approached by a charity! It’s pretty much the case that I will only donate to those that I seek out.
In fact, in much the same way that Matt Cutts is, and has been, doing.
I’m a recent iPhone owner and, needing to install software to give me an internet gateway for my laptop when travelling, I jailbroke it. This meant that I could also install other non-Apple-approved software like Cycorder to make movies using the inbuilt camera.
So, having travelled to Sydney, I took advantage of a wait for a train to give Cycorder a workout in a less well lit location; the place being Museum Station on Sydney’s underground rail network. From memory, I think the iPhone/Cycorder combination can record 12 to 15 frames per second.
The result is a 90 second clip hosted at Vimeo.
Arghhh! I’ve just heard a news-reader on the ABC Evening News (the Australian ABC, that is) tell us that somebody was making their “first debut” in a cricket team. This, I suppose, is a precursor to their second debut?
What a strange story from the ABC Online news service:
“A man is in critical condition after colliding with a train on a platform of Carnegie Station in Melbourne on Friday afternoon.
Police say the 62-year-old approached the empty express train before he was hit.”
A man collided … (objects collide with objects; in common usage, people don’t collide with trains)
… on a platform … (the train must have risen up from the track)
… the 62-year-old approached the empty express train … (“approached”? – like he was going to ask it for the time?)
My blog reading tool of choice for a long time used to be NetNewsWire. It’s a great piece of software and a great tool – I had purchased it after trialing it for a short time. But, being on a 2-way satellite link with a finite download quota, I began to resent the amount of bandwidth being consumed by NetNewsWire as it went about its business of checking for new blog articles every 2 hours. To be factually correct, much of the problem was due to bloggers not being aware of, or not being able to utilise, their ability to turn on data compression when their RSS feed was being checked.
My solution to this issue was to turn to Google Reader (again). I had tried Google Reader some time previously but, at the time, I didn’t like its user interface. And some time before that I had used Bloglines as an online reader before likewise becoming frustrated by its user interface.
In the intervening time Google had released a new version of their Reader. And I liked it. Google looked after the periodic checking for new blog articles – my own bandwidth use was reduced. Google Reader used Ajax to feed me only a couple of handfuls of blog articles at a time, thus trickling the data to me rather than spiking my bandwidth use.
And them came feed overload. Each time I came across an interesting blog article from a person whose blog I wasn’t subscribed to, I would immediately subscribe in the hope of continuing to find similarly interesting articles.
After I had reached some 535 feed subscriptions I came to the realisation that the signal to noise ration wasn’t especially good. I was having to wade through far too many articles that I wasn’t interested in before coming across something that was of interest.
So began the Great Cull.
Over a period of weeks I unsubscribed from over 200 blog feeds – I’m currently subscribed to about 320. That’s manageable. It now takes me less time to reading a larger number of interesting articles. I win.
I flew back from Sydney (which is at sea level) to Armidale (which is 1000m / 3300ft above sea level) last night. I know perfectly well that this means that there is a non-trivial pressure difference between the two altitudes.
Once again, though, without thinking anything of it, I uncapped the tube of toothpaste and, squiiiiiirt, the toothpaste tube gushes more toothpaste than any toothbrush can usefully use until the pressure is equalised.
[These thoughts are made from the viewpoint of a bystander, rather than as a participant - coComment is still ramping up and membership is currently by invitation only. I'm not a member.]
Comments pertaining to articles or items within a specific blog are normally kept as a collection of comments attached, directly or indirectly, to that article. Comments can maintain flow of conversation between blogger and reader and are an integral part of the blogosphere.
If an individual is a frequent commenter, across tens or even hundreds of blogs, then there’s no way of accessing their entire contribution as a whole. A conversation generally usually only takes place within a specific blog (usually, but not always).
That’s where coComment comes in.
CoComment will collect all related comments from coComment members into the one conversation, and publish that conversation. But I wonder how much this will split the blogosphere into the â€œcoCommentersâ€? and the â€œnon-coCommentersâ€?. The haves, and the have-nots. A conversation could become two conversations. Each hidden from the other.
Another feature of coComment is to permit a member to list their comments centrally on their own blog, say. So as well as having a blogroll, a blogger can also have their own â€œcomment-rollâ€? or â€œconversation-rollâ€?.
Thanks to the wonders of RSS feeds, the latter â€œcomment-rollâ€? can also be accessed via a news aggregator. I suspect that in the case of some individuals their conversation-roll could be as, or more, interesting than their blog.
The current blogosphere has multiple, duplicate, â€œpingâ€? servers. These servers collect â€œpingsâ€? from bloggers when a new blog article has been published. These pings are collected and used for various purposes including search engines collecting and indexing the newly published content.
Will we see multiple coComment-like services at some point in the near future? Will they interoperate, or will the comment-sphere be further fragmented? A conversation on server-X, a different conversation on server-Y.
… and how will coComment differentiate themselves from looking something like an up-market chat-room or bulletin board?
It will be very interesting to see if they can convert the high’ish level of blogosphere chatter into something sustainable.
[Update: within hours of me writing the above, coComment opened for business. Anybody can now sign up].