Monthly Archives: May 2011

Building A Better Big Mac

The goal this week is to build a better Big Mac by taking that great concept and fixing up everything that’s wrong with it. There’s certainly no shortage of Big Mac clones on the internet, but, in my humble opinion, every single one I’ve seen misses the boat, opting for larger patties or other such “improvements” that only really serve to throw off the proportions of a perfectly conceived sandwich.

Bitcoin P2P Currency: The Most Dangerous Project We’ve Ever Seen

A month ago I heard folks talking online about a virtual currency called bitcoin that is untraceable and un-hackable. Folks were using it to buy and sell drugs online, support content they liked and worst of all — gasp! — play poker.

Bitcoin is a P2P currency that could topple governments, destabilize economies and create uncontrollable global bazaars for contraband. [...]

We are 100% certain that governments will start banning bitcoins in the next 12 to 18 months. Additionally, we’re certain bitcoins will soar in value and a crush of folks will flood the system and start using them.

Rebooting Public Notices

At the local level it’s even more strange — local laws require public notices to be placed in the local papers. It equates to large subsidies going from government to the press. It’s an awkward loop where money flows from government coffers to the papers who endorse candidates. It isn’t chump change either. According to one study from the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, the State of Pennsylvania may spend upwards of $25 Million a year on public notice advertising.

See also: How to Change Your Name in San Mateo County.

Near record-low turnout expected for primary

“What we’re seeing is a real lack of interest,” [Secretary of State Elaine Walker] said. [...]

“My sense is that Republicans aren’t thrilled about any of the three candidates, which means, if they do vote, they’ll be picking from the lesser of three unappealing choices,” she said.

That lack of interest was obvious Monday night when the Republicans appeared jointly in a televised debate at a Lexington public broadcasting station. That setting has been known to draw crowds so large that additional security had to be called in to keep peace among chanting, placard-waving activists. There was none of that Monday. Only the candidates and a handful of campaign staffers were on the premises.

Imagine if you really got to all the recordings and books and movies you’re ‘supposed to see.’ Imagine you got through everybody’s list, until everything you hadn’t read didn’t really need reading. That would imply that all the cultural value the world has managed to produce since a glob of primordial ooze first picked up a violin is so tiny and insignificant that a single human being can gobble all of it in one lifetime. That would make us failures, I think.

Linda Holmes, NPR

Why don’t more people live in liveable cities?

Those lists of most liveable cities…why don’t any of the vibrant big cities of the world ever make the list? Because the lists don’t take into account many important reasons why people choose to live in a certain place.

“These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don’t know everyone and you don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd.”

(via Jason Kottke)

Why Successful People Leave Work Early

Try this for a day: don’t answer every phone call. Stop checking your email every two minutes. And leave work early. You’ll be astounded at how much more you’ll get done.

According to a study published in the Psychological Review conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericcson, the key to great success is working harder in short bursts of time. Then give yourself a break before getting back to work.

Ever wonder why people who claim to be working all the time seem to be the ones that never get anything accomplished?

‘If you’ve read this far, mention ‘bananas’ in your comment.’

Excerpt from a post on Ben Goldacre’s Posterous site (now offline):

This article about research on gun control gathered a lot of comments (articles on topics like gun control always do).

Nestled away towards the bottom of the article is a sentence that reads “If you have read this far, please mention Bananas in your comment below. We’re pretty sure 90% of the respondants to this story won’t even read it first.”

The first comment is “Having grown up in a rural area, I think there needs to be a differentiation between urban/suburban/rural gun ownership.”

How long do you think it was until someone mentioned bananas?

Cincinnati’s worst-ranked bridge

On May 4, the Enquirer published:

[The Sixth Street Viaduct] was not, however, Cincinnati’s worst-ranked bridge. That dubious distinction went to the Marshall Avenue bridge over Interstate 75, which the report described as one of Ohio’s two busiest deficient bridges.

Then today, they published:

[The Sixth Street Viaduct] is the city’s worst bridge, officials said, and is in dire need of repair.

Do they even bother to fact-check anything? Or do they just hand out the title of “city’s worst bridge” to a different bridge on any given day?

The Great Ephemeralization

For example, a couple of years ago, Google waved a magic wand that transformed millions of Android phones into sophisticated navigation devices with turn-by-turn directions. This was functionality that people had previously paid hundreds of dollars for in stand-alone devices. Now it’s just another feature that comes with every Android phone, and the cost of Android phones hasn’t gone up.

Paul Graham and Reihan Salam have been popularizing the term “ephemeralization” […] to describe this process whereby special-purpose products are replaced by software running on general-purpose computing devices.

Ephemeralization offers an alternative explanation for the puzzling growth slowdown of the last decade. Every time the software industry displaces a special purpose device, our standard of living improves but measured GDP falls. […] The real lesson here may not be that the American economy is stagnating, but rather that the government is bad at measuring improvements in our standard of living that come from the software industry.