cross section cut away

While looking for the the Google container image to use in a previous posting I found that a Google image search for cross section cut away yields lots on interesting images.

Physical infrastructure behind the pixels on the screen

It is good to see what physical infrastructure there is behind the pixels on the screen. This short video shows one of Google's container-based data centers. I wonder if there is video of one of Amazon.com's fulfillment centers?

Re: Flash is now on a leash.

A quick follow-up on my posting Flash blocker for FireFox. The Flashblock extension has returned sanity to my web browsing and using experience. Highly recommend.

Re: Narrow-minded Data Visualization

My comment to Nathan Yau's Narrow-minded Data Visualization over at FlowingData: The more that can be done to raise level of the journeyman's use of formal visualizations in public settings and their comprehension by the public at large the better off we all will be. The level of functional illiteracy and innumeracy in the USA is too high to offer anything more than the most prescriptive of rules and examples -- ie, "use visualization X when you need to convey data Y".

Library hours need an easy rule for hours of operation

The hours of operation of the three South Kingstown libraries will be changing soon and not because Winter is ending and Summer beginning. We are seeing this kind change all over the state in response to the budget troubles towns are having. Some libraries are reducing the number of operating days per week while others are simply reducing the number of operating hours per week. I have a question about the change in hours. Why not keep the libraries open each and every day and for the same operating hours?

I believe there are 135 winter operating hours across the three South Kingstown libraries. Kingston Library comprises 36% of the operating hours, Pace Dale Library 44%, and Hale Library 21%. You could spread the 135 hours over the three libraries so that Kingston gets 7 operating hours/day each day, Peace Dale get 8, and Hale gets 4. Or, if you wanted to cut hours by 20% then you still could open all libraries each day with Kingston getting 6 operating hours/day each day, Peace Dale gets 6, and Hale gets 4. This speadsheet has the math.

It is much easier to plan to use the library when you have an easy rules to follow for the hours of operation. You don't even need to have continuous hours; you could use the European custom of having a break in the middle of the day and offering hours 9 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 7 PM.

Cambridge is a good place for a research park

The Providence Journal's A decision at URI: Build a research park or save the ‘Century Forest’ story suggests to me that URI too narrowly confined the possible sites of its research park. A research facility needs at least as much access to money, services, and skilled staff as it does to faculty and their laboratories. The proximity to the URI campus is more for the benefit of URI's image as a "Think Big" institution than for anyone else. If you really want to support the researchers then place the facility in Providence or, for a higher expectation of near term success, in Cambridge!

Less technology is sufficient

O'Reilly Radar has the great posting Tweenbots: Cute Beats Smart
where cute robots achieve their goals by relying on the kindness of strangers. The basic idea is to have the robot transport itself from one end of Washington Park to the other. The problem is that the robots can only move in a straight line. To achieve their goal they need people to set them in the right direction time and again. And it happens.

Technologists -- me included -- spend a lot of time over thinking a problem as one requiring a comprehensive technical solution. More often than not, less technology is sufficient. Let the person or persons who have the problem develop their own means of using a new and limited tool -- albeit specialized -- in conjunction with their existing processes and tools to enable a solution. A problem solved this way is more likely to be used and be resilient in the problem's environment -- an ever changing one, most likely.

Re: Looking for a better iPhone camera application

Regards my Looking for a better iPhone camera application posting is an answer in A Spate of Excellent Photo Apps for the iPhone.
Has there ever been (in modern times) a woman dictator?

The occasional user and the community web site

I find both Facebook's groups and the Ning sites are less than usable for my needs. Both are far too complex for effective occasional use.

This is a general criticism of community web sites. (And not a criticism of the importance of the community or it having a site.) It is also another data point in the discussion about primary and secondary awareness and information tools. For the community organizer the community's site is a tool for doing stuff. For the community member the community's site is for awareness about stuff. While community site's tools and presentation need to support the organizer and members it should foremost support the members.

Primary tools can be complex because their use is a significant part of our getting things done. A good example of primary tools are email clients and spreadsheets. Secondary tools need to provide only what is necessary to raise our awareness or get a specific task done quickly and without or with minimal training. Anything more and the secondary tool is competing with the primary tool. And when it competes it looses.

For any community web site, all an occasional user needs is a single page -- preferably the front page -- with the following four sections

1) the next few weeks of events (and an iCalendar feed),
2) announcements (and an RSS feed),
3) news highlights (and an RSS feed), and
4) a welcome section for newcomers.

Any more structure, information, or functions than that and I am lost, overloaded, and/or distracted. And if this is my response, then I suspect it is the response of the other occasional users.

If there is a way for getting this kind of presentation in Facebook groups and Ning site please tell me. Otherwise, I just need to keep myself organized -- which is not a bad thing!

Flash is now on a leash.

I couldn't take it anymore and so I installed an Adobe Flash blocker extension for FireFox. I spent some 15 mins just now waiting for Flash to stop hogging the CPU so much so that Process Explorer was not able to be used, having to reboot the machine via the Big Red Switch [*], and then, AND THEN, having to do the whole thing over again because I stupidly told FireFox to restore my previous session which reloaded the page containing the Flash script that hogged the CPU. Sigh.

[*] I wish my current computer had the viscerally satisfying resistance and thunking sound that came with using the original IBM PC power switch.