Did you know that Windows still has a vestigial finger command with just about nothing left to talk to? One of my New Year's resolutions is to bring finger back and unlike the stalled webfinger project I need to make some progress. Here's some C# to run your own personal finger daemon... you just need to create a .plan file in your home directory (haven't done that for a while):
Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings
Epic book about the origins, frequency and long term outlook of life in the universe.
Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2) by Ben H. Winters
A search for a missing person is the backdrop for watching society start to collapse and the plot begin to thicken in the sequel to The Last Policeman. Here's hoping that the third book will be worth the wait.
Skype for Android is finally getting there. Push support means that it is now useful for more than conditioning your battery. Conversation read status is mostly synced between different client instances which is a big time saver. I'm actually starting to use it.
There is one horrible usability crime. When you open the app you get a list of unread conversations. Your set your finger in flight to the first one and then notice an ad sliding down from the top of the screen. With horror you realize it's too late to change course and you hit the ad instead of the conversation.
I'm not complaining about Skype being ad supported here, but if you were going to try and design a UI to trick people into clicking ads you really couldn't do better than this. I expect better from Microsoft.
Other than this the only real complaint is that new posts to group messages sometimes make it through to the notification bar and sometimes don't. You have to run the app periodically to see if there is something new.
"Crowdsourcing Prior Art — To help ensure that U.S. patents are of the highest quality, the USPTO is announcing a new initiative focused on expanding ways for companies, experts, and the general public to help patent examiners, holders, and applicants find relevant “prior art”—that is, the technical information patent examiners need to make a determination of whether an invention is truly novel."
I've considered this for a few years as a for-profit business, paying a bounty to anyone who contributes prior art that helps take out a troll. But I have a way better idea: stop examining patents altogether.
Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox
Has some new (to me) angles to help you try and understand relativity and quantum mechanics so I enjoyed it. I can feel that clarity starting to slip away again two days later though...
The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey
Not as religious as your typical business self help book, still wildly repetitive though. Important goal -> focus on leading rather than lagging metrics -> simple scoreboard -> peer accountability on a weekly basis -> win. It's pretty much scrum for the non-development crowd (assuming that having a captive customer can be counted as a leading metric which I think it does).
A Good and Useful Hurt by Aric Davis
Well paced and strange book about catching a serial killer via unexpectedly powerful tattoos.
Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga
It's like an episode of the A Team with two important differences - the book is set in India and the A Team don't show up. This means that it doesn't end well.