Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Switching to tumblr...

I have been thinking about this back and forth: Now I switch to tumblr

Monday, September 13, 2010

You know you use a foreign language too often, if...

Some people say that you are able to use a foreign language if you start dreaming in it. I say that this is not important. It is important to see if you can still see the difference to your mother tongue.

I read a lot of english books, watch movies and tv series in english only and this is what happened to me: When trying to enter the bank to get to the ATM on sunday I came across the switch telling me "NOT FALL".

I did not understand this. It does not make any sense at all.

It is still summer and not fall

If you know that I am a native Austrian and "NOT FALL" can be written "NOTFALL" and means emergency you will get to the point I have been. I did not recognize the meaning in the first place. My first thought was "Of course it is not fall, because it's still summer!".

So the semiosis got into a dilemma and wasn't unambiguously. My girlfriend is still believing I played a prank on her. Saussure, please help....

Friday, September 10, 2010

5 words that influence your live without letting you know it

I know. Mark Twain said:"Don't use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do." I tend to use some of these words, because I love them. And they influence everybodys life. How?

Serendipity when you find something you were not looking for. It is nearly Zen, but don't we all find most of the things when we don't look for them? Interestingly the act of finding is called searching as long as it is not successful.

Coandă effect defined as the tendency of a fluid to be attracted to a nearby surface. Just think of your tea or coffee running down the teapot or of milk you try to pour...  Now the thing has a name and now you can blame it. But you should also know, that there are some real world applications. So when you blame the effect, always be thankful when you see an aeroplane. Especially when you see it from the inside.

I cannot remember what this word was all about. There was this rhyme which helped me remembering what that word means. I better look it up in the Wikipedia.

Onomatopoeia a word that sounds or describes the thing it stands for. It is simple. When we are small, people point at pigs and say oink. I love the german expression "Lautmalerei", which literally means painting with sounds. So simple.

Simplicity when you know the words above and you can use them if you have to. Often the 5 Dollar word makes a good shortcut or hints that you will need to know how to solve differential equations, but if you really have to say something, take out your purse open it and use these rusty 50 cents...

Could you please explain the latest xkcd?

Have you ever heard this sentence? I love xkcd. And I sometimes wonder what it is all about. I recently found the "making of" in the form of explain xkcd. Now you will have the possibility why xkcd is called xkcd...
via xkcd

For those of you not familiar with xkcd (hover of the comics on the xkcd site and read the tooltips.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

These are the apps on my Android - any suggestions for additions?

On the new Google Instant and serendipity or why serendipity will save the bat

Serendipity is the discovery of something when looking for something completely different - it's the prototype of a fortunate discovery. Think 1492, Post-It, the little blue pills and similar. When the new Google instant was first announced I thought that it might add another tool in the toolbox of serendipity.

Cars in the pedestrian zone
Cars in the pedestrian zone

But it will be different. Google tries to guess what you are looking for. So the probability for discovering something you were not looking for is declining. Only leaves you with the possibility of hours of browsing the wikipedia.

The strange thing is that while we are trying to eliminate serendipity in our daily life, there are people out there who live of serendipity: People whose work involves creativity. And I am not only talking about artists alone.

I talk about all of us.

Serendipity has a function in society. It makes people have a pool of ideas you can stumble upon, it helps to maintain the diversity of thoughts. It fights the monoculture of mind. It makes you learn something and develop new things. Curiosity might have killed the cat, but serendipity will save the bat.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Maybe the last post on distraction free writing you will ever read

And it is short. I am infected with the writemonkey virus. Found it on alternative to and I am amazed. It has the settings I want and is nearly too good to be true. And there is spell check for different languages!


Why QR-codes should be everywhere...

Before I got my smartphone I knew what a QR code was (another type of barcode - well I learned since then). But it was not until recently as I realized the implications to my life. I am a big fan of putting the QR code on your business card, so people with a scanner can have your contact details within seconds on their phone.
A collection of codes for mobile tagging
But the QR codes could be used far more often. I am not talking about magazines and advertisments. I am talking about the internet of things or Semapedia. The Semapedia links the real world to the Wikipedia. You might say: But I have GPS on my phone and it finds everything in my augmented reality browser (like Layar).

GPS doesn't work indoors, you are experiencing problems when the houses nearby are high and so on. GPS is a battery sucker, so I would suggest that there is still use for QR codes: in museums, in busstops with multiple bus lines and so on...

And most important: Call me a geek, but I think the QR codes do look nice.

More writing free of distraction

I wrote a post about distractionfree writing. And I went through some older papers of mine and rediscovered darkroom. There is no screenshot of it because it would be only black with some occasional green letters. This is awesome retro editing. For those of you who haven't been there: There once was thhis strange illness called monochrome.

Now comes the fun part: There is a plugin for Word (2003/2007) called Writespace. It removes all the Word clutter and leaves the same perspective as darkroom. With the full advantage of spellchecking.

Which form of retro hardcore is the optimum for you?

UPdate Maybe the last post on distraction free writing you will ever read | stst.31415

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Learning to program Android (part 0 of Googolplex)

Now I own a book and I already read it until the part where the fun kicks in. I managed to install all the SDK, ADsomethings and downloaded a copy of Eclipse (nice). I had a look at some examples and I think that I will really start learning tomorrow.

I will try to solve a problem for Aditya at . No Android supported so far. Iphone only. But radbox offers the possibility to have your favourite videos in one place. Have a look.

Who do you spend your time with?

Most of us go to the same job every day. We share the same office with the same people every day. The funny thing is that most of the people never realize that they spend more time with their co-workers than with their family.

This is a crucial point. You cannot choose your co-workers. Or?

It is said that in order to change the system you have to implement inner changes. Sounds as the hardest thing there is. I think I prefer nice co-workers.

The connection between Darwin and parking lots...

You might say there is no connection between parking lots and Darwin. Let me show you what I talk about.
Let us assume that there is a typical small Viennese street. It's length is 25 meters (I made this up to proove a point). Let us also assume that there are only VW Golf parking in this street.
The Golf I from 1974 was 3704mm long, the Golf VI from 2008 is 4199mm long. So in 25 meters can be 6,75 Golf I or 5,95 Golf VI. Obviously you cannot park without spaces between the cars. However you look at it: At the end of the day the growing car model killed one parking lot.

I can hear you: Come on, everybody has a parking garage nowadays. And I say: Not everywhere and not everyone. Where I live, the apartment houses are old, only new houses need to have a garage. More and more people have a car and the industry has invented the SUV. I do not have to tell you how long these cars are.

So where is Darwin? This is the question. One might assume that natural selection would lead to a survival of the fittest - the smallest car. But the theory does not work out. There have been mutations (power steering, parking aids) who change the game. Also bigger cars are thought of to be more secure and often are more secure. Is this Darwin or is it a self optimizing algorithm who will start to work soon or has already started working?

Have I told you that the widthof the Golf I....

Monday, September 6, 2010

I think I am addicted to periodic tables as a visual metapher...

First of all: I am not a chemistry geek - well maybe a very small one, but I am stumbling across the periodic tables everywhere. I am not talking about chemistry tables like the  periodic table of videos from Nottingham university. It is the application of the visual metapher of periodic tables on other areas.

What made me realize this was a tweet on the periodic table of HTML 5 elements.

Periodic table of HTML elements

Then I woke up today and realized: I ran across several of them in the last years. Here are some of them

Periodic table of irrational Nonsense

Periodic table of typefaces

Periodic table of visualization methods (cool mouse overs)

Periodic table of controllers

Periodic table of condiments ;-)

And this last one is a real periodic table. It uses pictures. @IPhoneOwners: I envy you, there is an app. But not for long - Android is in development. For me it is the book on my amazon wishlist.

Photographic periodic table

BTW: I also came across periodic tables for sweets, cursing, beer and similar. If you really want to see them you will have to use google...

If science was a metro map it would look like this

Crispian Jago does a lot of awesome things. This times he used the visual metapher of a metro map and merged with the history of science.

Now you can throw away the mindmaps you have generated and use this. Next stop: Louis Pasteur

How do people write their blog posts?

I was sitting in front of the screen, thinking what kind of tools people use to write their blog posts. But I never thought that the question is not that simple.
Obviously the following things are not part of the job:
  • Collecting ideas for posts. The ideas come and they go again if you do not catch them and write them down or make a voice memo, picture or something similar. Try to catch even the smallest idea. Where there is only a grain of sand there might be more some time in the future.
  • Collecting all kinds of illustrative material for your posts. Most of the time you will have to create this from scratch...
  • Drinking tea and staring at the wall. This might be part of the thinking process, but it is not action oriented.
  • Planning. A plan is good, but planning is not writing.
I stop here. I think I made my point. I still have no clue, how other people do it. Most of the time I simply write straight ahead and save my writings as a draft directly in the webinterface, sometimes I use a distractionfree editor to write down the main passages and do the finishing in the editor and on some rare occasions I use a mobile software (mostly in connection with a picture). I also discovered a tendency to use the voice memo function on my phone as well as pen and paper to take notes. Is it part of the process to start the writing in your brain and get it out somehow? This might be worth a blog post later but for now let's stick to the writing process.

Tell me: How do you write your texts? What tools do you use? Thank you for any comment.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why I decided to keep the name of this blog - how to remember Pi

Thank you  for your mails and the comment ;-)
I admit that I thought of changing to tumblr. There are no more rememberable subdomains left at blogspot. But  then I decided to keep the name as it is. Why?
My thought was the following:
  1. When I have a genius idea I can switch. Then it will be a full domain.
  2. People come to my blog because they search in google, click a link or simply because they follow my tweets.
  3. People come again because they follow my tweets, have a bookmark or simply remember Pi.
You want know how to remember the first few digits of Pi?

The Greek letter pi (source: Wikipedia)

3,1415 is sufficient for most calculations Pi, starts with three (rhyme) and continues with some addititions:
3 + 1 = 4 ...+ 1 = 5 and now you can remember my blog
Do you want one digit more? Just add up the digits. The last sum which is below ten is the next digit 
3+1+4+1 = 9 the next one would be to "start again": 3

Try this at home.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weather widgets try to make me crazy

Did you realize how many weather forecast widgets exist? On Android it is loads of these things. Some are better some make me shiver. Why? No, not because it is cold.

  1. The metric system should always be supported. I could make a survey, but I think none of my coworkers could tell me if water starts boiling at x Fahrenheit. The answer always would be How many Fahrenheit are 100° Celsius?
  2. The use of a weather widget would be to show the forecast, telling the temperature of today in order to give you a starting point. Is it getting colder or warmer.
  3. Sometimes the font is not readable and the color of the font cannot be switched. So some widgets are useless on dark backgrounds (or on light ones).
I did not like the weather widget preinstalled to my HTC. So I searched the market. Two apps got into the finals: Snowstorm and weather forecast widget. I installed both and fell in love with weather forecast widget. Now I have the weather forecast for the next three days on my home screen.

If only the data in the weather forecast were always right. But this is another story.

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