Workafrolics work harder but live longer

29 October 2008

And following on from the workafrolic piece last week, comes news that hard working, conscientious people, may live a little longer than other people, according to a Marie Claire article. Why? Mainly because they are so busy working they have little time for excesses and taking life threatening risks.

Nearly 9,000 took part in the study to analyse personality and lifespan and lead researcher Dr Howard Friedman concluded: “Highly conscientious people live on average two to four years longer.” “There is evidence for several sorts of reasons. Conscientious folks are less likely to smoke, drink to excess or take too many risks.” He added: “But it is also true that conscientious folks lead life patterns that are more stable and less stressful.”

New Scientist subscribers can view the original source article here.

Update: The Marie Claire article is no longer online.

Originally published Wednesday 29 October 2008.

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Is Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a workafrolic?

22 October 2008

Workafrolic is the latest buzzword of a neologism to pique my curiosity and it will no doubt lead to an obsession in due course. Richard St. John author of Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich defines a workafrolic in a recent interview with The Telegram

Successful people work hard, but they love it. They’re “workafrolics”, St. John says, because they have fun working.

Australian graphic designer Sonya Mefaddi provided a slightly more real life definition in an article in the SMH MyCareer liftout last weekend (18-19 October 2008, page 3):

If I am out at a club with friends, I often think I’d rather be at home working.

Never thought I’d say this, but her words strike a definite chord with me. At this point in time anyway.

Update: The Telegram article is no longer online.

Originally published Wednesday 22 October 2008.

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Presenting Injader: content management for everyone

29 September 2008

Sydney IT manager and software developer Ben Barden is the creator of Injader, an open source content management system (CMS) for websites and blogs, and an Australian made alternative for the likes of WordPress or Movable Type.

Update: Injader is no longer available.

Originally published Monday 29 September 2008.

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A review of the Sony Ericsson C902 Cyber-shot phone

27 September 2008

The crew at Sony Ericsson recently gave me one of their newest mobile phones, the C902 Cyber-shot to call my own for a couple of months.

Given my love of taking photos, I’ve been waiting for a chance to try out the phone’s five mega-pixel camera up at the nearby UNSW campus (where I have a stack of shots from my digital camera to base comparisons on), but to date Sydney’s topsy-turvy weather has thwarted me.

August is statistically Sydney’s driest month, but a clear sunny day, ideal for the outdoor shots I want, continues to elude me whenever I plan to be on the uni campus. Never mind, maybe next week.

Back to the C902. Mobile phones have continued to evolve far beyond being a simple telephone, and the C902 is the latest in this line of development. I have more than the means to simply phone or text home to say I’m running late, sitting comfortably and unobtrusively, in my shirt pocket.

I can send and receive email. Surf the net (reminding me that I need to create a dedicated mobile device stylesheet for disassociated), participate in conference calls, organise my calendar and tasks (I’ve long since dispensed with a paper diary), film and view video clips, listen to the radio or MP3s, and of course take photos.

It’s certainly a stylish piece of equipment, and the black finish complete with the silver-grey trim, makes for a uber-appealing tool that permits me to take off into the wide blue yonder for days at a time without having to worry about being out of the loop.

Anyway a few observations to date:

Battery life

So far I have no qualms with the C902 battery. Mobile phone battery life is truly a case of “your mileage may vary” with any phone though. Some weeks my usage has been higher than others, and I’ve needed to recharge the battery after three days.

Another week passed before a recharge was required, with only a few short calls, but the phone was on stand-by the whole time.

Reception

I’ve found reception to be very clear, and even if I’m walking alongside a busy road, or in an area where reception is not so strong, I can still hear a caller’s voice quite clearly.

Mind you I haven’t used the phone away from inner Sydney yet, so can’t comment on reception in rural, or more remote, areas.

Keypad

The keypad is rather compact, and sometimes I press the wrong key. My current phone is a Motorola MOTOKRZR K1 and I find its keypad easier to use. I do have oversize hands though so this may not be a problem for everyone.

I also appreciate that that “clam shell” type phones do have a little more handset real estate, or room, to allow for slightly wider keypad buttons, as opposed to “candy bar” type phones such as the C902.

Text messaging

Despite my fat fingers text messaging with the C902 is simple and straightforward. I especially like what I call the “multi-choice predictive text function”. The C902 will offer several suggestions as to which word, or part of, you wish to use, as you are typing. This took some getting used to, but now I am finding it quite useful.

Screen Icons

I was a little confused by some of the icons appearing on the phone’s screen display, particularly a U-shaped like red arrow. Was it some sort of warning?

A browse of the phone’s manual failed to turn up a legend, or explanation, of screen icons. I have since deduced however that the icon is a “withheld”, or missed call, indicator.

Another initial puzzle was an “H” icon 1 which was present on some occasions but not others. I noticed it would vanish from the screen if I stepped into a lift, or was in an underground car park, so I assume it is a “strong signal” indicator.

Security

One little gripe I have is with phone security, or lack of.

While the C902 does feature a keypad lock, this really only guards against accidentally dialling a number while the phone is in your pocket or bag. In comparison the MOTOKRZR K1 has a PIN activated phone lock, meaning I can’t do anything with the phone until I tap in a PIN code.

It’s an extra layer of security I appreciate. If the C902 does have such a phone lock, its activation eludes me.

Computer synchronisation

I was quickly and easily able to synchronise the phone to my laptop by way of the C902’s “PC Suite” software, which is included on the DVD that comes with the phone.

I can transfer photos and videos from the phone to my local drive, manage my contacts/phone book, appointments, and task lists, and best of all, send SMS text messages via the computer keyboard, something I appreciate no matter how big a phone’s keypad is.

Summary to date

Aside from the points I make about understanding screen icons and security, I am enjoying using this phone.

A “quick reference” page in the operating manual addressing points such as screen icons and phone security would be useful, as I consider these primary to the phone’s use, as opposed to, say, the camera, which strikes me as being a secondary function, and something I would expect to have to read more about before using.

Further reading and reviews

A few other Australian bloggers are also trying out the phone, Jen, Ben Barren, and Neerav Bhatt, so between us you’ll end up pretty clued-up on the C902.

Originally published Saturday 27 September 2008.

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The page 69 rule for determining a book’s quality

19 September 2008

That’s right. If you’re trying to read a lot of books, how can you decide what’s worth the time investment, and what’s not? The idea is as follows: flip open a novel at page 69. If you like what you read, chances are the rest of the book should be ok.

A lot of things happen at the point of 69. (Some of them aren’t suitable for inclusion in this blog). Man walked on the moon. Bryan Adams had a summer. Evel Knievel died at the age of 69. And so, ironically enough, did Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian academic to whom we owe a (strictly innocent) relationship to the number 69. His theory of how to choose a book goes like this: first of all, read page 69. If you like it, then chances are you’ll like the rest of it too.

And therein lies a tip to authors. Make page 69 awesome, and you’ll be home free.

Originally published Friday 19 September 2008.

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Twit Face route your Facebook status updates to Twitter

18 August 2008

Dylan Davis published a method of routing the Facebook update statuses of both you and your friends to Twitter a few days ago as a Facebook note. I thought this was something people might be interested in trying out, and Dylan was happy to let me republish his update status routing recipe. Enjoy!

Here’s a recipe for routing all your and your friend’s Status updates from Facebook to Twitter. See also my post about doing the same with Ecademy and other services.

Things you’ll need:-

  • An Open ID
  • An RSS feed for just your Facebook status updates. Go to your profile, click on minifeed, see All. Click on Status Stories. There’s a Subscription link bottom right.
  • An RSS feed for your friends’ Facebook status updates. Friends – Status updates from the drop down at the top of the page. There’s a Subscription link bottom right.
  • A dummy Twitter account. Create a new Twitter account and follow it from your main account.

Route your Facebook updates so when you post it also posts to Twitter.

  • Login with your OpenID into Twitterfeed.
  • Create a new entry. Put in your main Twitter account ID and Password and the RSS for your status updates.
  • Update 30 minutes, Include title only, Include Item link, Prefix each Tweet with FB.

Now each time you post a status update on Facebook, within 30 minutes it will create a Tweet from you on Twitter with a link back to your profile on Facebook.

Route your Friends’ Facebook updates so when they set their status on Facebook, you can read it in Twitter.

  • Login with your OpenID into Twitterfeed.
  • Create a new entry. Put in your dummy Twitter account ID and Password and the RSS for your friends’ status updates.
  • Update 30 minutes, Include title only, Include Item link, Prefix each Tweet with FB.

Now each time any of your friend’s post a status update on Facebook, within 30 minutes it will appear in your Twitter Friend’s timeline with a link back to their profile on Facebook.

You can use the same basic technique for any service that has one or both RSS feeds. It works better with services that include the name of the poster in the title. So Facebook, Plazes, Jaiku but not Pownce. AFAIK, Twitter is the only service with an API for updating a status externally and a 3rd party RSS to post service. Which means Twitter ends up as the best aggregator for all your services.

So the next question is which service you should use as your main update. I’m finding myself doing most of my updates on Twitter with occasional updates on Facebook and Ecademy to keep my profile on those services fresh.

Thanks again, Dylan.

Originally published Monday 18 August 2008.

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Where are all the girls in IT?

8 August 2008

IT consultancy Thoughtworks Australia has launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging more girls and young women to pursue careers in technology, Girls in IT (website no longer online).

The big questions are, why are girls not interested in studying technology subjects at school, and, what can be done to motivate them to do so?

Women account for less than 15% of the people working in technology in Australia, and 52% of the total population. Girls are just not choosing to study technology-related subjects. Findings from a study conducted by the NSW Department of Women reveal that 35% of Year 8 girls choose ICT subjects compared to only 17% of girls in Year 10, a 50% decline in take up.

Girls in IT also aims to “influence the influencers” through getting parents, teachers, and careers advisers, excited about IT careers.

Originally published Friday 8 August 2008. Updated Sunday 8 May 2022.

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Sophisticated Australian coffee culture sinks Starbucks

30 July 2008

While it’s of little help to the seven-hundred Australian Starbucks employees who are looking for new jobs today, you’d think any established coffee franchise would undertake some reasonably comprehensive market research before opening no less than eighty-four cafes.

This where some stores are in fairly close proximity to each other, and further, were opened in quick succession, particularly in a country which already has an entrenched coffee culture.

Associate Professor Nick Wailes, a strategic management expert at the University of Sydney, said Starbucks had failed to understand the Australian market. “Starbucks’ original success had a lot to do with the fact that it introduced European coffee culture to a market that didn’t have this tradition. Australia has a fantastic and rich coffee culture and companies like Starbucks really struggle to compete with that.” The president of Starbucks Asia Pacific, John Culver, admitted: “I think what we’ve seen is that Australia has a very sophisticated coffee culture.”

Originally published Wednesday 30 July 2008.

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Uneven heat emission sending Pioneers 10 and 11 off course

7 July 2008

The mystery surrounding the unexplained course deviations of deep space probes Pioneers 10 and 11, which are currently somewhere in the vicinity of the Solar System’s Kuiper Belt, may have been solved. At least partly, that is.

Slava Turyshev, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has spent the last two years studying data from the probes, which were launched in the 1970s, and concluded that uneven heat build-up across their structures is causing the trajectory anomalies:

Pioneer 11 gives off heat in certain directions more than others. The uneven heat emission is enough to nudge the spacecraft off course, accounting for 28% to 36% of the anomaly detected when Pioneer 11 was 3750 million kilometres, or 25 times the Earth-sun distance, away from us.

Originally published Monday 7 July 2008.

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Arthur C Clarke’s Newspad RSS news aggregator

30 May 2008

Author and futurist Arthur C Clarke is credited with predicting the emergence of a number of technologies, including a tablet-like device called a “Newspad”, which could serve the latest news stories from electronic versions of newspapers.

So far more has been said about comparing the Newspad to PDAs or Tablet PCs, but the Newpad also worked in a very similar way to today’s news aggregators, or RSS feed readers.

In the novelised version of 2001: A Space Odyssey, (chapter title “Moon Shuttle”, pg 66-67) Dr Heywood Floyd, chairman of the US National Council of Astronautics, spends time reading on his Newspad, while traveling to the Moon.

Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man’s quest for perfect communications. Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word “newspaper,” of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites.

Not only did Arthur C. Clarke predict PDAs and Tablet PCs, he also foresaw the emergence of news aggregators, and RSS technology.

Originally published Friday 30 May 2008.

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