Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Friday, January 29, 2010

What type are you?

What type are you? is an interactive presentation that asks you four questions and tells you what's your type (i.e., your font).

My type is Marina Script: “It is a typeface with delicately emotional swoops and serifs, delivered with an aristocratic precision and restraint. If you believe in courtship, and believe that courtship is best done by letters, and believe that those letters should speak of love but never be so common as to say it, then Marina Script is your type.” (Spoken by the man with the German accent in the interactive presentation.)
Marina Script
Type specimen of Marina Script from What type are you?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brief comparison of editions of the Norton Anthology of Poetry

On the How To Read A Book DVD, Charles Van Doren chose as one of his Desert Island Books “the best and the biggest” anthology of lyric poetry he could find. He was probably referring to the Norton Anthology of Poetry. If you look at the reviews for this book, you’ll see that some readers indicate a preference for the 3rd edition over the current 5th edition, which has 800 more pages.

Here is a handy comparison of the editions available.

1st ed cover1970 (1st ed)
1231 pages
10.3 x 6.3 x 2.4 inches
3.6 pounds
Editors: Eastman, Allison, Barrows, Blake, Carr, English
2st ed cover1975 (2nd ed)
1344 pages
9.5 x 5.6 x 1.9 inches
2.8 pounds
Editors: Allison, Barrows, Blake, Carr, Eastman, English
34d ed cover1983 (3rd ed)
1452 pages
8.8 x 5.5 x 2.1 inches
2.8 pounds
Editors: Allison, Barrows, Blake, Carr, Eastman, English
4th ed cover1996 (4th ed)
1998 pages
9.3 x 5.7 x 2.4 inches
3.8 pounds
Editors: Ferguson, Salter, Stallworthy
5th ed cover2004 (5th ed)
2256 pages
9.1 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
3.2 pounds
Editors: Ferguson, Salter, Stallworthy

In the Line of Fire: How to Handle Tough Questions...When It Counts (book)

Book cover I’m having a hard time putting this book down. It’s about how to answer the toughest questions, and has glowing reviews from Guy Kawasaki and Mike Wallace. What makes it a page turner are the examples (and TV stills) drawn from tough Q&A sessions with Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, and others. Read the first few pages and see if it doesn’t draw you in.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Frameless PHP, or How to Write Ruby-on-Rails-like PHP Without a Framework

If you’re disciplined, you can write MVC code in PHP without using an MVC framework. The key is to have the right directory structure. For the Dowling's Wheel project I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I simply used the directory structure from Ruby on Rails. And no framework.


Check out the source code to see how it’s done.

How to add book ribbons to a special book

Every hardcover reference book that you turn to frequently deserves to have its own placeholder ribbons. Here's how to add them to your book.

1. Head to your local arts and crafts store and buy some ribbon. I’m talking real cloth ribbon here, people. Not the flimsy stuff for gifts.
Cloth ribbon

2. Find some stiff card and punch a hole in it. Thread the ribbon through the hole as shown.
Attaching the ribbons to the card

3. Drop the card into the spine of the book. Push it down, out of sight.
Inserting the card into the book spine

4. And voila, your book now has two placeholder ribbons. Ask your book how it feels. It will reply: Ecce vide, pulchra sumus. (“See, we are beautiful.”)
Book with ribbons

My Desert Island Books

Suppose you were to spend ten years on a desert island, with no access to TV or the internet. All of your physical needs are taken care of: you have food, clothing, and shelter. But you are allowed to take only 10 books with you. These 10 books would have to sustain you for ten years.

What 10 books would you take?

Here are ones I would take:

1. Shakespeare
2. The Bible
3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
4. The Imitation of Christ
5. Jane Austen
6. An anthology of poetry, e.g., The New Penguin Book of English Verse

As for the remainder, I’m not sure. Here are some possibilities:
  • Plato? I need to read some more of his books before I decide.
  • Aristotle? I’ve read Categories and De Interpretatione and they were dry as dust.
  • Homer? I enjoyed The Odyssey and am making my way through The Iliad. But I’m not sure if I would read them multiple times.
  • St. Teresa of Avila? Haven’t read very much from her yet, so the jury’s out.
  • Aquinas? Haven’t started reading him yet. May turn out to be too dry for me.
  • Augustine? I’m a third of the way through his De Civitate Dei. It hasn’t been too enjoyable. We’ll see.
  • Dante? I read the Inferno. It was alright.
I received the "How To Read A Book" DVD for Christmas, and it was interesting to hear Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren list their top 10 desert island books:

Mortimer Adler’s Desert Island Books

1. Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War
2. Aristotle: Ethics, Politics
3. Plato
4. Plutarch: Lives
5. Augustine: Confessions
6. Aquinas: Summa Theologica
7. Montaigne: Essays
8. Shakespeare
9. Locke: Of Civil Government, Essay Concerning Human Understanding
10. Tolstoy: War and Peace

Charles Van Doren’s Desert Island Books

1. Montaigne: Essays
2. Shakespeare
3. Plutarch: Lives
4. Homer: Iliad, Odyssey
5. Dante: Complete Works
6. Cervantes: Don Quixote
7. Freud
8. The Bible
9. An anthology of poetry
10. Collected Poems of Mark Van Doren

What would your 10 desert island books be?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Idea capture on an old-school voice recorder

Olympus S-711 voice recorder

I picked up this Olympus microcassette recorder from Staples for 35 bucks. Why? It’s a quick way for me to record an idea or something I need to remember to do. My cell phone has a voice recorder but it allows only 10 notes. There’s also a voice recorder on my PDA, but I need to enter a password then navigate some menus to get at it. I also have pen and paper in my wallet, but it’s faster to speak than to write.

So whether I’m sitting in the car, or taking a shower, or walking along the street, I can quickly take this out and press Record when I need to note an idea for later. Of course, it’s sometimes not appropriate to pull out a tape recorder, such as when you’re having a conversation with someone, in which case you use pen and paper. But it’s pretty handy for most situations (not to mention cheap).

I transfer these voice notes to my main system (Outlook) every few days, or during my GTD Weekly Review on Saturdays.

It’s a hardy little unit. As General Chuck Yeager said in praise of an engine, “Simple, few parts, easy to maintain, very strong.”