Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rubber Ducking method of Problem Solving

The C2 wiki has an interesting thread on rubber ducking. Basically you put a rubber duck on your desk. When you have a problem, you explain it to the duck, and 9 times out of 10, the answer will come to you in the middle of your explanation.

People on the thread also suggested a Winnie the Pooh doll, a teddy bear, a troll, a tubby toy, and a granite cobblestone.

If you don't want to go out and buy a duck, I have created a video below of me listening and nodding. Try bouncing an idea or a problem off me in the video.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Restrained Ringtones

I came across this interesting forum post on a "restrained ringtone" that a guy made, i.e., a minimal, almost unnoticeable ringtone (mp3). Mainly to not be annoying.

I also learned that cheap phones have a way to type in ringtones. My Motorola W233 has a "New iMelody" option that lets me type one in. Here's my take on a "restrained ringtone": 3GqRwRwRwRwRwRwRwRwRwRwRw (restrained_ringtone.ogg)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Swiss Army Knife RescueTool

I liked this 3-minute video about the Swiss Army RescueTool Knife, which evidently won some Knife Of The Year award in 2007.


Idea Capture Tool: Digital Voice Recorder

I mentioned before that I was using an old-school tape recorder to capture ideas—while walking, while in the shower, while sitting at my desk, wherever. Having happily used it for nine months, but experiencing some glitches, I decided that I deserved an upgrade to a digital one (also recommended by Doug in the comments).

I got the $80 Sony one, which has great reviews on Amazon. There's a $60 Sony one as well, but it doesn't have a USB connection, which actually came in handy for me once so far. The digital has a lot of advantages over the analog, including: a battery indicator, no cassette door that could be partly open, ability to replay/delete individual notes, 5 folders, consistent playback quality.

For me, a dedicated voice recorder is the fastest way for me to jot down an idea—faster than writing it down in my wallet pad; more space than on my cell phone recorder; no need to enter a password as I would with my PDA.

Sony voice recorder

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New favorite newspaper-style feedreader: Feedly

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how much I liked Acrylic Times as a feedreader for Mac. But a few days before the trial expired, I looked around and found something better: Feedly.

Feedly is another newspaper-style feedreader (so it shows excerpts from articles and image thumbnails), but it's web-based (so it works on both Mac and Windows), it's less buggy, and it's free.

On the Mac, I set it up with Fluid so that it opens in its own window.

Feedly cover page

Cars page

Monday, November 15, 2010

Whether someone subject to the law can act outside the letter of the law

A dose of sanity from the great Medieval thinker, Thomas Aquinas.

“All law is ordered to the common well-being of men and gains the force of law from precisely that fact. To the degree that it fails in accomplishing this end, it loses its binding force. Thus the Jurist says, "No reason of law or advantage of equity allows us to interpret harshly and render burdensome those healthy measures which were originally enacted for man s welfare."

It often happens that a law aimed at the general welfare is useful in most cases and yet on occasion is very harmful. Because a legislator cannot foresee all possible individual cases, he promulgates a law which fits the majority of cases, having the common good in mind. If a case emerges in which the law is harmful to the common good, it should not be observed. For example, if a law says that the gates of a certain besieged city should remain closed, such a law is beneficial to the city in most cases; yet if the enemy is pursuing some of the very citizens by whom the city is defended, refusal to open the gates and let them in would be harmful to the city. In such cases, the gates should be opened despite the letter of the law, in order to attain the common good intended by the legislator.

“Note, though, that if obedience to the letter of the law involves no immediate danger calling for instant remedy, not everyone is competent to decide what is good or bad for the city, but only the leaders, who have authority to dispense with the law in such cases. If it is indeed a matter of immediate danger allowing no time to consult a superior, such necessity carries its own dispensation, for necessity knows no law.”

Translated by D. Burr.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Newspaper-like RSS reader: Acrylic Times

I'm trying out a newspaper-like RSS reader for Mac called Acrylic Times. It's a bit hard to find the trial download of the Mac version because the company is currently promoting their iPad version. Also it's a little buggy. And it's a bit expensive ($30).

But it looks really cool:

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