Drought tolerance

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Here in California, we are experiencing one of the most significant droughts in more than 100 years. Where we live is pretty arid to begin with, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to have lawns and landscaping that are more appropriate for the midwest and places with a surplus of water.

My town has imposed some heavy water restrictions. We have to reduce our usage by 25%. On the surface, that sounds like a good idea. However it’s an across-the-board reduction based on prior use. So if didn’t waste a lot of water to begin with, you’ll feel the pinch more than the people who have, and continue to use water for pointless purposes, like watering grass.

One of the most egregious water-wasters is the town itself. All around you can see them running sprinklers to maintain grass in places that don’t even need it, usually right near sidewalks.

The thing with water is, they aren’t making any more of it, and you can’t really spend your way out of the mess.

RIP PSH

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I have to admit, I never really cared for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, unless of course, you’re talking about his role in “The Big Lebowski.” He died Saturday night, and it came as no surprise to me. I said he joined the “Mile Away Club”. That’s for celebrities whose drug-related death comes as no surprise. I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but he practically bragged about his impending end.

My kids knew who he was from the “Hunger Games”. My son said “uh-oh”, because he evidently was a crucial character.

How Much Should College Athletes Get Paid? – Businessweek

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It’s all but inevitable that athletes will start getting paid—the only questions are how and how much. In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of ideas floated, from the introduction of small stipends to the creation of a tightly regulated intercollegiate system with strict salary caps. But there’s another possibility: The best plan might very well be no plan at all. Or, if you prefer, it’s a plan called the free market.

It’s really hard to watch the cost of college skyrocket past everyone else’s reach to even entertain the idea of paying athletes in addition to scholarships. But I think there is some sense to it if done correctly.

I love college sports, but schools should just get out of the sports business. Don’t dump it, just outsource it…

  • Schools could sell the rights to their names to the highest bidders
  • Use the money from royalties for academics
  • Free market solution, let fans, sponsors, etc. pay the salaries through tickets and endorsements
  • Hire the best athletes, and if they want to go to your school charge them tuition

I’d rather see kids who want to go to college for and education and open up resources that are being wasted by athletes who are there only to play sports.

via How Much Should College Athletes Get Paid? – Businessweek.

Tell me you didn’t spend $6 on this card

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Good news, Hallmark has a holiday version of their mawkish “Tell Me” commercials. I used to think these commercials just pandered to a character flaw. After all, the people are needy and smug. I’m uncomfortable watching them dictate what you should say and feel.

Now I see the genius behind the ads. Hallmark is really telling me, you better get a card for that unhinged friend, spouse, parent, child, co-worker, dog groomer etc., or you’ll never hear the end of it.

If you want to know who those people are? Watch the commercials with them and see how they react. If they don’t vomit just a little in their mouth, then you probably need to get them a card.

No, Mr. President, Not Everyone Needs to Learn How to Code – The Wire

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The market is already over-saturated with self-taught developers who don’t know what they’re doing. This article gets closer to the heart of the actual problem. Our economy would benefit from more people developing a better understanding of technology. That doesn’t equal learning how to write software.

Just as every American doesn’t need to get certified as a mechanic, but should know how to change a tire, every American should know how computer systems work in the abstract but doesn’t need to code.

via No, Mr. President, Not Everyone Needs to Learn How to Code – The Wire.

iPhone Earbuds

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I know, I know. I’m not the first person to complain about this, note the cartoon (courtesy of “The New Yorker” magazine). Ever since the original iPod, Apple has continued to use the same rubbery material for their headphones.

It’s like they have a life of their own. I left headphones in drawers, and baskets, alone for weeks only to come back and find them coiled up and twisted into little clumps.

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Summer has blown by

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This has got to be one of the shortest, or fastest summers I can recall in a long time. Some of it has to do with it’s late start. Spring here wasn’t worth mentioning. What I think makes time fly more is having kids. Because school starts technically before during the Summer, it seems to end sooner for us.

Summer is also the reason I haven’t been making too many posts. I tend to be busier this time of year, and any extra time I have is spent being outside and not inside writing.

Unboxing the Leap Motion device

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My long-awaited Leap Motion device arrived the other day and I couldn’t wait to get my, um, hands on it. The interesting thing about the Leap is that while you operate it with your hands, you don’t touch anything. It’s can accurately track your fingers and hands and map them to inputs on the computer. Instead of turning any display into a touchscreen, it can be touch less. Essentially, you are the interface now.

The early reviews of the device mostly say it’s not ready for prime time. They may be right, but only if you’re thinking of this as an input device. One of the reasons I don’t think of it as very good for input is that it’s too accurate. This thing is very precise and can track your movements down to a pixel.

I wouldn’t go as far to say the device isn’t ready. It works, and it works well. It’s not buggy. It doesn’t crash my machine. The one thing I would change is the cable. The industrial design of this thing is elegant, then you have this cheap unnecessarily long cable dangling off of it. It’s incongruous to the device itself.

What’s not ready is today’s software. Most of what we use is optimized for the device on which it runs. Desktop software using a mouse or trackpad. Mobile devices use fingers. All these input devices provide some form of resistance which enables more accurate movements and nudges.

Nice Package(ing)

Nice Package(ing)

One place the Leap could be compelling is situations where eyes-free tasks are needed. For example, in the car. When I’m driving, I can have one hand free, or at least move my fingers while they’re on the wheel. Whether you think the windshield should be used for a heads-up display is debatable. However, you could control the navigation or radio in your car without having to lean forward and over to touch it.

50 Shades of Telecommuting

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If there’s any lesson to be learned from all the brouhaha over Marissa Mayer, it’s not whether we should allow employees to telecommute. It’s that we’re incapable of having a meaningful conversation about people, technology, and policy. Gosh, it seems like yesterday, we were discussing whether a pregnant woman can be a CEO.

There’s no debate. Telecommuting can and does work. The enabling technologies are robust enough to support it, and there are plenty of successful companies that allow it. Yahoo! evidently isn’t one of them. People were abusing the policy, network logs proved this. Whether it’s from home, or the office, if people are blowing off work, they need to get to the root of the problem.

Personally, I’m ambivalent about telecommuting. I know I can do it, but not 100% of the time. Some of the work I do needs to be done in long stretches of time without distractions. Other times, I need to be around other people to make informed decision. I also enjoy other peoples’ company.

Here’s a short list of questions to ask yourself about telecommuting policies:

  1. Do you trust your employee? If you don’t think they’ll work at home, what makes you think they’ll work at the office?
  2. Is the telecommuter resourceful? Will they troubleshoot or call when they experience technical difficulties, or  just use it as an excuse to not work?
  3. Is the telecommuter trying to produce something such as a document or design? Maybe the office is too distracting.
  4. Are they trying to get work done, or just want to work from home? Maybe they don’t have enough to do.
  5. Does an employee’s productivity improve when they have flexibility? Some people actually do more work when they get to choose when and how it gets done.
  6. Do you prefer results or action? If you insist on people being on site 9-5, Monday through Friday, they will find a way to look busy.
  7. Would you consider yourself a control freak? Remember, these are adults. If you treat them as such they will act like one.

Telecommuting isn’t an appropriate option for everybody or every job. Instead, we should be looking at what positive things does it enable in the employee, not the same old one-size-fits-all policy sledgehammer.

 

 

 

13 Signs You Might be a Lifehacker

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  1. You won’t eat something unless it has a barcode.
  2. You only read articles written as top 10 lists.
  3. You scrapped your Arduino Cat Feeder project because your Raspberry-PI just showed up.
  4. You have an app called scatterplot that literally charts your bowel movements.
  5. You haven’t gotten laid in 653 days 12 hours 17 minutes and 14, 15, 16… seconds.
  6. You spent $1300 at Ikea to improve a $99 desk.
  7. You have never poached an egg because you’re still not sure of the best technique.
  8. You are going to spend this weekend consolidating your to-do lists, and next weekend segmenting it.
  9. You fail to see the irony of getting nothing done in the name of Getting Things Done.
  10. You shaved 2 seconds off the time it takes to fold a t-shirt.
  11. You only wear t-shirts.
  12. You use GitHub for your Tweets.
  13. You seek advice on how to seek advice.