collaborative advertising, in a great cause

One of the nicest text editors on OS X, and easily the most innovative, is SubEthaEdit from CodingMonkeys. Named after the late Douglas Adams’ prescient vision of the internet (he called it the sub-etha net), this editor supports collaborative editing (several users editing at the same time!).

The nice thing is that right now, BLOGZOT 2.0 on
are lowing the price in exchange for people like me (and you!) blogging about it. The result is that MacZOT and TheCodingMonkeys will award $105,000 in Mac software.

This is a great piece of software, currently for $6 (as of posting time), and falling. So, go and grab a copy (the code monkey’s are nice guys too!).



Refers to blog of denis cheung

Many people are saying they have too many choices, and would like fewer to make.

My two cents? That’s point of view will lose your freedom very quickly: the world is full of people happy to simplify your world by ruling over you autocratically). It is a effectively saying: I didn’t want freedom. Freedom is choice.

Secondly, the tyranny of choice (too many schools, doctors, house-hold cleaners to choose amongst: can’t someone just present me with the best choice?) is greatly over-blown.

The world is becoming more complex, and that is a challenge for many people to cope with. But the too-much choice brigade (very strong here in the UK) want the government to focus on making people happy and think that choice reduces happiness (by showing people better choices than the ones they made, and creating uncertainty).

So their answer is too not give parents choices over schools, or health. There’s a good element to this (you can’t have a lot of things like hospitals and schools in a given area, so it’s good if they are all of adequate quality). But fundamentally, this school of thought wants to invoke a Mandarin culture, where wise people choose for you. The doctors will choose to give you care that involves them getting rich and not having much work to do. The teachers will give you schools where they spend as little time with the kids as possible, and do as little hard work as possible. the banks will give you inflexible accounts with no interest, and exorbitant loans.

So in this world you will get the worst of all possible services, not the best. The best services come when you choose the best amongst a series of alternatives, and that involves work on your part: choosing, and updating your choice over time, and the work of moving when your choice becomes bad.

What’s the better answer? Same as ever: Brands that build reputation for choices which are merely amongst items of the same commodity-category, and personal preference for items which are genuinely different.

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Tony Blair defines justice as “the simple conviction that, given a fair go, human beings can better themselves and the world around them” (SMH, March 27, 2006 .

That’s a novel definition for me. Just as in the law, the oath is carefully crafted – we are not just to tell the truth, but the whole truth and nothing but the truth – definitions must be judged by what they exclude, as well as what they include. Prime Minister Blair’s definition includes his conviction, but contains no admonition to action. One can hold this conviction that people can better themselves and their world if given a fair-go (I do) but could nevertheless do almost anything – say incarcerate the innocent to protect – and say I am “just”.

The consequence of this post-modern conviction-based morality, in which as long as you believe that people could have bettered themselves if given a “fair go”, is that justice as it is done, is left undefined.

And they said Tony was the bright one of the two?

There’s more:

“WE ARE in a struggle of a profound kind. Globalisation is a fact, but the values that govern it are a choice. We know the values we believe in: democracy and the rule of law, but also justice, the simple conviction that, given a fair go, human beings can better themselves and the world around them.”

What is the struggle? Why is it (what ever “it” is) profound? What is the choice of values? Why do our values govern globalisation? Isn’t globalisation itself a set of values (free trade, open borders, communication?).

He seems to support openness:
“Left and right still matter hugely in politics and the divergence can sometimes be sharp. But the defining division in countries and between people is increasingly open or closed: open to the changing world, or fearful, hunkered down, seeing the menace of it not the possibility.”

And yet it is Tony and his cronies who want to be able to imprison without trial, to imprison the mentally ill without crime, who have removed habeus corpus, who want to rate houses using satellite photos to spy on home improvements, who want to censor religious freedom, who sell peerages for cash, who want to destroy jury trial, who won’t free up education to allow selection… get the picture?

There are platitudes a plenty: “This is the age of the interconnected” Huh?? “This struggle is our struggle”. “If the going is tough, we tough it out”. Meaningless.

“To win this struggle [about values and about modernity] we have to win the battle of values as much as arms”. Ummm: when did arms come into the equation? This is not, then, a battle of values, just a battle, of interests.

“We have to show that these are not Western still less American or Anglo-Saxon values but values in the common ownership of humanity, universal values that should be the right of the global citizen.”

Isn’t the point that muslim’s (or at least many muslim’s) dispute exactly this point? Mustn’t we accept them at their word: that they don’t value modernity?

“Ranged against us are the people who hate us; but beyond them are many more who do not hate us but question our motives, our good faith, our even-handedness”

Umm: might they be in countries occupied by British and American troops? Might that not have pissed them off a bit?

Then we get to the grist: fuck you if have non-western values: “If we want to secure our way of life, there is no alternative but to fight… not just in our own countries but the world over.”

Thanks. At least now we are all clear. We are at war with Muslim culture, globally.

Then there is some palpable nonsense, completely incoherent with the preceeding statement: “In Iraq and Afghanistan… we have nations engaged in a titanic struggle to be free of a legacy of oppression, stagnation and servitude.”

Nope: in these two countries we have a struggle (mostly won by now) to impose sharia law, vendetta culture, and a religious leadership, un-challengable and utterly opposed to democracy (which is man’s will over god: treason) and equal rights (abomination).

Tony is kidding himself, we are all losing. The Muslim fanatic world needs to be left to its own devices, and essentially excluded from our world, let to descend back into what they wish for so ardently, and what is so opposed to liberal society.

Leaving them to their devices, not forcing them to convert to ours is the answer.

Truth doesn’t suit? Just go for faith

This story Is quite interesting. We are being told that there’s loads of good news in Iraq, it just doesn’t get reported. To prove it, Republican Congressional Candidate Howard Kaloogian published this picture (below) which he “took himself” which shows how calm and safe Bagdad is. Unfortunately, you can’t walk around Bagdahd in western clothes, nor wear revealing clothes (see the woman in the left)… turns out this picture is in Istanbul. He didn’t take the photo, and in fact it was taken from a travel blog.

It seems people are not built to mind being lied too: Even when we find out, we don’t mind. We just care when lies are against our interest. Oh well. I think integrity might just turn out to be important in the long run. And it’s the long run we have to live in.

Smart and gets things done

Another article by Joel that makes a nice honours topic: smart and gets things done. We have people in academia with IQs of 130+ who basically achieve nothing. The world is, of course, overflowing with people who get nothing done. There are those too who get things done: the wrong things!

So finding people who are smart and get thing done will be of value. Detecting companies run by and staffed by these people will be a good investment guide. How can we do it?

How can we select smart? – easy: there are many IQ tests, and they all measure the same construct: general ability.

But how do we measure getting things done? Is that organization? Maybe. Conscientiousness? (no – too high and you can’t tolerate the noise that abounds during getting things done).

How about “energy”? This is my best bet: just plain energy. The ability to work hard, physically and mentally. To not give in, to not sit idle, not to be busy with busy work.

Human Task Switches Considered Harmful – Joel on Software

This is a good honours-year project: Get people to do Raven’s matrices in a task switching and a non-task switching condition. The switch would just be between different items, or, to be ambitious, that and a third task, like minding baby.

  • What is the cost of switching?
  • Does some processing go on the back task during off-cycle phases?
  • Are there sex differences?

Human Task Switches Considered Harmful – Joel on Software:

This is a related link