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One advantage of a home grown blogging platform - up and running with AMP in a couple of hours!

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News: Brexit: British clubs could suffer in transfer window, warns sports expert

Brexit: British clubs could suffer in transfer window, warns sports expert

If only this had been made clear before the vote. FFS.

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Meeting Defragmenter

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Meeting Defragmenter

Screw Holacracy, I have an idea that will revolutionize business and drive the next wave of global productivity gains. It’s a simple question of fixing meetings.

My dream week is one where I have two miserable days with back to back meetings and forget lunch, there isn’t even enough time to grab a coffee. Sound miserable? The upside is three uninterrupted days where I can cruise through a ridiculous amount of work.

My real week - meetings dotted throughout each day with half hour breaks in between. And many of these meetings will involve eighteen people shoehorned into a closet because someone booked the big room for a 1:1.

We need a meeting defragmenter.

Let go of picking a time and a room. Just say who you need to meet with and for how long. The meeting defragmenter will pick the best room and group all meetings as close together as possible with a five minute break in between.

Your company can decide if you prefer to load mornings or afternoons, or maybe Mondays and Thursdays. You can set core hours for each team.

Information workers take around twenty minutes to enter a state of flow which is where you need to be to write great code, conduct awe-inspiring analysis or generally do anything of value to your company. A half hour gap in between meetings is just enough time to get back to your desk, dismiss unwelcome interruptions, start to get into a state of mind to tackle some real work and then realize it’s time for another meeting.

Giving more people more blocks of useful time would be an incalculable benefit to their mental health, their businesses and the global economy. This one simple tool could change the world.

As usual if any of my billionaire investor readers are interested, call me.

(Previously)

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Goodreads Feature Request

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Goodreads Feature Request

Goodreads needs a shelf called "currently-reading-but-if-i'm-honest-will-never-finish". On this shelf I will put Infinite Jest.

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The real reason Americans don't have passports

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The real reason Americans don't have passports

Less than half of Americans have passports compared to around 75% in the UK. Brits often use this statistic to mock Americans for being uncurious provincial stay-at-homes.

I've always felt this was unfair though. As an American you might have visited all 50 states, all of the National Parks and maybe thrown in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico without having ever bothered with a fully fledged passport.

A Brit on the other hand might have spent a few days eating fish and chips at a British pub in Benidorm and is suddenly a sophisticated world traveler. I don't think so. There is simply more to see and experience in the US without needing to cross a border.

After I moved to America I realized that maybe there was another reason. Americans for some reason don't bother taking vacations. You get massively less vacation time over here and even then a huge number of people don't even manage to take off their paltry few days. There is no effective way to have a holiday overseas if you never take a holiday.

Now I realize that neither of these factors is as important as the United States Postal Service if you have a kid.

In the UK to get a passport you mail in an application and get back a passport. It's pretty easy. Even for children.

In the US you need to go to a Passport Acceptance Facility and that probably means a post office. There is a handy website that lists the 10 closest facilities together with their phone numbers so you can call to make an appointment. These phone numbers are not answered. It's less like a basic government service and more like trying to bag a ticket to Glastonbury.

I gave up and delegated to Fancy Hands (a personal assistant service). They have spent two days on the phone trying and failing to get an appointment.

I was going to do my best to vote my principles this year but at this point any presidential candidate who would force USPS to put in a web scheduling system might just get my vote.

Updated 2016-04-18 23:23:

After I posted this a friend pointed me at the United States Digital Service (via this Ted Video) and basically said why bitch and moan when you could help fix it. Which I don't have a great answer to. Except this.

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Google Cloud Vision Sightings

Google Cloud Vision Sightings

I've been feeding webcam images into the Google Cloud Vision API for a few weeks now so I thought I'd take a look at what it thinks it can see. The image above shows every label returned from the API with my confidence going from the bottom to the top and Google's confidence going from left to right (so the top right hand corner contains labels that we both agree on).

Google is super-confident that it has seen a location. Can't really argue with it there.

It's more confident that it has seen an ice hotel than a sunrise (and it has seen a lot of sunrises at this point). Maybe I need to explore the Outer Sunset more.

Google is 60.96% confident that it has seen a ballistic missile submarine. I suppose that's plausible, I do have an ocean view but it's rather far away and unless there was an emergency blow that didn't make the news I'm going to have to call bullshit on that one. It's 72.66% confident that an Aston Martin DB9 went past which is pretty specific. Possibly a helicopter slung delivery?

Maybe I'm sending basically the same image in too many times and the poor system is going quietly mad and throwing out increasingly desperate guesses. Probably I've just learned that I should use 80%+ as my confidence threshold before triggering an email...

(Previously)

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News: California may end tyrannical daylight savings

California may end tyrannical daylight savings

Yes, I'd vote for this. Please do it.

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Mandelbrot Spin Zoom

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mandelbrot Spin Zoom

Zooming into the Mandelbrot Set is always fun but I feel it's often a bit static and would be enlivened by a good spin so you can corkscrew your way down. Enjoy:

This was cloud rendered over two weeks using a Google Compute Engine high CPU instance (on a free trial, thanks Google).

I used the coordinates from a video posted by metafis on YouTube and a palette approach posted by Alex Russell on Stack Overflow.

The music is Flaming Memories generated by JukeDeck.

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News: Wisdom teeth removal is rarely necessary

Wisdom teeth removal is rarely necessary

Glad to hear it because my dentist is always wanting to rip out my wisdom teeth and I've always refused...

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News: Case made for 'ninth planet'