Monday, April 29, 2013

More quick links

Again, it has been too long, but here you go, what has caught my attention lately:
  • "Employees who ate at cafeteria tables designed for 12 were more productive than those at tables for four, thanks to more chance conversations and larger social networks. That, along with things like companywide lunch hours and the cafes Google is so fond of, can boost individual productivity by as much as 25 percent." ([1])

  • "Managers avoid dealing with low performers (because they believe the conversation will be difficult), and instead assign work to the employees they enjoy — i.e. high performers ... They end up 'burning out' those same high performers." ([1])

  • "Is it really true that using someone else's invention is the actually the same thing as stealing their sheep? If I steal your sheep, you don't have them any more. If I use your idea, you still have the idea, but are less able to profit from using it. The two concepts may be cousins, but they not identical." ([1])

  • Clever and simple idea: Attach a little flash memory and a small battery to memory chips ([1] [2])

  • Another clever and simple idea: On touchscreens (like your phone), make a knuckle or nail tap like a right mouse click so it does something different ([1] [2] [3])

  • Most data visualizations would be more clear done as a simple bar chart ([1])

  • When someone comes back to a search result page after hitting the back button, you should add more search results to the bottom of the page ([1])

  • For the first time, more smartphone ship than dumbphones, which has big implications, especially for the developing world ([1] [2])

  • You can identify people based on just four locations sampled from a mobility trace (cell towers and Wifi nearby) from their cell phone ([1])

  • "The problem is that Apple has not been able to sustain its high margin levels" ([1] [2])

  • Humor (from The Onion): Weeping Tim Cook spotted screaming for help at Steve Jobs' tombstone ([1])

  • Amazingly arrogant executive hired from Apple didn't understand customer base or think he had to, destroyed a major retailer ([1] [2])

  • Amazon moves against Google ([1] [2]) and Google moves against Amazon ([1] [2] [3] [4])

  • Very soon, only big players -- like Amazon, Facebook, and Google -- will be able to do personalized advertising. A change to third-party cookies will kill off all startups working on personalized advertising, but major websites get an exemption. ([1] [2])

  • A new compression library from Google designed for web content, can be decompressed by existing software so no changes required on the client side to use it, just need to recompress the static content on the server to save about 5% in bandwidth ([1])

  • eBay successfully moves away from auctions. "Auctions ... are less than 10% of what we do." ([1])

  • "At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market ... Radical changes to elements like the user interface and higher costs had made PCs less attractive compared with tablets and other devices." ([1] [2])

  • A MacBook Pro runs Windows faster than any PC laptop (but only because PCs have so much crapware installed) ([1] [2])

  • "Aereo's founders realized that [a court] ruling offered a blueprint for building [an IPTV] service that wouldn't require the permission of broadcasters. In Aereo's server rooms are row after row of tiny antennas mounted on circuit boards. When a user wants to view or record a television program, Aereo assigns him an antenna exclusively for his own use." ([1])

  • The vast majority of people have simple taxes, so simple that the IRS could just mail you a tax return, you'd look it over to make sure everything is correct and sign it, and you'd be done. Why don't we have that? Apparently, "it's been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software—Intuit, maker of TurboTax." ([1])

  • Why Redfin has been unable to undermine the absurdly high 6% commission when you sell your home ([1] [2])

  • "Personal finance courses ... have no effect on financial outcomes ... [but] additional training in mathematics [does]" ([1])

  • "Graduate school in the humanities: Just don't go" ([1] [2])

  • At least so far, MOOCs (like Coursera and Udacity) seem to only work for people who are already highly motivated, which isn't the group in the most need ([1])

  • Seems to be increasing evidence that some autoimmune diseases (including allergies) are rooted in a bored immune system incorrectly prioritizing threats. Almost a parallel with anxiety disorders, your immune system is seeing threats where none exist, incorrectly prioritizing dangers. ([1] [2])

  • "Deep waters have absorbed a surprising amount of heat -- and they are doing so at an increasing rate over the last decade" ([1])

  • "Resilience -- building systems able to survive unexpected and devastating attacks -- is the best answer we have right now." ([1])

  • The web-based version of blackmailing people who have done something embarrassing ([1])

  • Little known fact, the second most used web server is something called Allegro RomPager ([1] [2])

  • For most people in the US, the vast majority of entertainment time is still spent watching normal, live TV ([1])

  • Odd similarities between distributed denial of service attacks and pollution. As Ed Felten writes, misconfigured DNS servers allow massive DDoS attacks, but it's hard to get people to fix it, because "the resulting harm falls mostly on people outside the organization." ([1] [2])


Michele Filannino said...

I like this posts! :)

Thomas said...

Over here in Sweden, we not only get our forms pre-filled by our IRS, it's also possible to file your taxes by texting them the forms are okay.