Enjoying Working For A Living

July 31, 2009


Picture credit: as indicated


Sparklines in Excel 2010!

July 30, 2009


Interestingly, sparklines (discussed in an earlier post) will be a new feature in Excel 2010. This will presumably significantly increase their popularity and use – good stuff!


Interesting New Search Engines (And Options)

July 29, 2009


Google Wonder Wheel (see below)

Whilst Google is obviously the dominant search engine, it’s sometimes useful to complement it’s results with other engines as additional leads and ideas can be revealed that way. Personally I often do this when I’m doing some overview research on a new idea or approach.  In practice I’ve found that interesting new suggestions crop up more quickly this way.

Interesting ones you might like to investigate include:

Bing (from Microsoft) – especially nice for images (it has ‘infinite scroll’).

‘While other search engines offer only one type of search at a time, Nibbo will show a preview of multiple search types in an unobstrusive way, and provide information like the number of results that are to be expected for the different engines. The type and order of those previews is completely configurable, as well as the default search settings’

‘The next generation of web search technology won’t be about keyword search. Google already does this well, and any improvement will likely be incremental. Rather, the future lies in providing you what you aren’t finding through keywords–sites you currently find through friends, colleagues, blogs, or simply by chance. We call this “discovery” rather than “search” because the goal is to introduce you to new and interesting information rather than to give you just what you searched for’

‘Real-time search engine. We aggregate and organize content being shared on the internet as it happens, like eye-witness reports of breaking news, photos and videos from big events, and links to the hottest memes of the day’

In a rather different category is Wolfram Alpha. This is a so-called computational knowledge search engine. This works best for queries that involve a date, place or calculation eg the query ‘London to Paris’ generates the distance, flight time, current local times, both populations and a map.

Further options for getting a different feel for results from Google can be found under ‘Show options’ at the top of the search results list. These include:

  • Restrict results to discussion forums or reviews
  • View just the most recent results
  • View a chart of results in time order
  • Wonder wheel – visualisation of results much like a mind map (see picture above); clicking on a node generates detailed sub-results

Another alternative that has been around for a while now is Grokker, which offers outline and map views (picture below).


There’s also an interesting article on how the presentation of the results can be an important factor, with Google coming out on top (again), mainly through familiarity and relevance rather than layout and design (study sample size was small though).

16 Innovation Principles

July 28, 2009


The web is full of principles for this and that, but here are some good ones on innovation (original posts and explanatory details here, see rhs):

  1. Experience the world instead of talking about experiencing the world
  2. See and hear with the mind of a child
  3. Always ask: “How do we want people to feel after they experience this?”
  4. Prototype as if you are right. Listen as if you are wrong
  5. Anything can be prototyped. You can prototype with anything
  6. Live life at the intersection
  7. Develop a taste for the many flavors of innovation
  8. Most new ideas aren’t
  9. Killing good ideas is a good idea
  10. Baby steps often lead to big leaps
  11. Everyone needs time to innovate
  12. Instead of managing, try cultivating
  13. Do everything right, and you’ll still fail
  14. Failure sucks, but instructs
  15. Celebrate errors of commission. Stamp out errors of omission
  16. Grok the gestalt of teams

Photo credit here.

Modern History Of Complexity

July 27, 2009


I’m familiar with the use of chaos and complexity theory in the physical sciences but less familiar with their use as a fresh way of thinking about the social sciences (eg see here).

In this context, I came across the poster above on wikipedia which gives a helpful overview of developments. It originates from Bruce Castellani of Kent State University and his blog and web site give further details of this interesting approach.

All the key ideas are there (systems theory, emergence, genetic algorithms, e- and web-science etc) as well as their inter-connections.

More Places for S&T At UK Universities?

July 25, 2009

From the BBC:

The impact of the teaching funding cuts will be compounded by this week’s announcement that universities in England can recruit another 10,000 students this year – but will not be given any funding for teaching them.

These are for full-time undergraduate student places for 2009-10, in courses which the government says will equip young people with the skills they need for the jobs of the future.

It says this means sectors such as digital industries, the low carbon economy and advanced manufacturing and business services.

Priority course areas are:

* Biological and related health sciences (excluding psychology, sports science and those that are primarily practice-based)
* Physical sciences (excluding geography)
* Mathematical and computer science
* Engineering
* Technology
* Economics
* Business studies

The Bothersome Man

July 25, 2009

bothersome_man sm

Interesting and quirky Norwegian film on BBC2 late this Saturday night – I’ve seen it before but it warrants another look (if you like that sort of thing!).

Norwegian director Jens Lien’s debut, The Bothersome Man, is a surreal, idiosyncratic black comedy. Forty-year-old Andreas (Trond Fausa Aurvag) steps off a bus into a strange city, with no memory of how he arrived. Soon, he’s got a job, a flat, and a girlfriend. But, strangely, the new world that he inhabits is devoid of emotion, or laughter. Even the food tastes of nothing. This is a stylish, subtle, and funny satire on the dehumanising effects of our consumer society.

In Norwegian with English subtitles. The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen) was released in UK cinemas in May 2007.

Full review here.