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What I Learned Today

This is just a lazy man's blog. Things I found out about today that I though others might enjoy hearing about.


Once again an idea from Elliott Masie. There is lots about him below. Today he sent this link about The End of Email from the WSJ. As you can imagine, the article talks about how email is suited to "occasionally connected". You sit down and "handle" your email when you want to take the time. Since people are now "always connected" email will be replaced by the constant exchange and update of twitter/facebook etc.

I can really feel myself stuck in the email world. I want to take the time to think about what I am going to say to someone. I want to read what they said carefully before replying. I want to be able to delay. I want control. I don't want people to know that I have gotten their email until I decided to let them know.

It also strikes me that I will need to practice this new communication before I am thrown into it. When I first went to work at Intuit in 2000, everyone in the office was using IM. I learned how to work with it, but it was never my favorite means of communication. What I need now is a play group or a group of old farts who like me want to be sure we up to date on the new tools. I have accounts on facebook and linkedin but I don't use them. I just accept friends when they ask. Partly I avoided facebook because I was teaching and I wanted to be sure and not contribute to inappropriate communication.

Anyway, I guess it is time for me to be more involved. I am a fan of bicycle racing and I have enjoyed following a couple of riders through blogs and twitter. I'm afraid this also means I have to invest in an iphone.

When I worked for Lotus/IBM in the world of notes, we always found it helpful to talk about push and pull. Some data you want pushed to you. You want your sister to tell you she is having a new baby. Some data you want to pull. I'll look at my stocks when I want to. I don't want them making me sad on their time table. Also, we were constantly trying to educate people about sending links, not the actual picture/data. If I want a personal copy, I'll make one. Normally, all I need is a link to what you want to show me.

I'll be anxious to hear your thoughts, in email at least for now!


The following is from Elliott Masie. As you probably know, he is a big name in business training. I worked at Lotus Education for a number of years and was very impressed with his approach and materials. He sends out an occasional blog type email that I highly recommend. It is a little self serving and heavy on advertising his conferences and personal aggrandizement, but also very insiteful and interesting.

- To Subscribe: http://www.masieweb.com/trends/subscribe-to-trends

Anyway, in his Learning TRENDS by Elliott Masie - Feb 8, 2008. #561 he has the following entry:

1. Myers Briggs of Your Website? Mine is ENTP: If you don't take it too seriously, here is a very cool website. Type in a url of a website or blog and it will give you a reading of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that the text seems to indicate. I did www.masie.com and was shocked to see if return ENTP, which is the result I have gotten on dozens of instruments over dozens of year. Try it for a few of your favorite sites:


Look at the difference between two airlines such as JetBlue or United. Once again, don't take it too seriously, but it is fascinating. I wonder if we will start to analyze applicant's social network sites, like LinkedIn or Facebook?

End of entry

Hopefully I knew about Myers Briggs sometime in the past but found this website very helpful in reviewing the caustic letters.


Hopefully the above is self-explanatory. You go to the typealyzer web site, type in a url and it returns a personality type like ENTP and you can then go to a site like the personalitypathways above and read the details. Tompears.com received the following:

ESTP - The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

It also had a picture of a young flighty female basketball player as the symbol for ESTP. I'm not sure how I felt. Certainly did not like the comment about lack of follow-through though it is very true that I am a procrastinator. I often take a project to 90% since I know I can finish it as soon as I need to. And it is definitely true that I am having more and more trouble sitting still. I'm much happier doing something. Though I do spend a lot of time just thinking. Anyway, a cute exercise and another winner from Elliott.


Wall Street Journal Prime Rate

Or, the Prime Rate as published daily in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). This is only of interest to people who are borrowing money (my wife and I) or refinancing. Everyone tells you: Our interest rate is 1 over prime or .75 below prime. And, what they mean when they say Prime is the WSJ Prime. Of course you can find this easily on the internet, just by typing Wall Street Journal Prime Rate. But, as a regular reader, I figured I better find out exactly where it appears in the paper.

It only took me about 1/2 hour! I knew to start in the 4th section, Money and Investing, where most of the daily data tables appear. I found sections labeled "BONDS, RATES & YIELDS", "Benchmark Yields and Rates", "Key Interest Rates", but no luck. So I next tried reverse engineering, a famous software trick. I looked up the WSJ prime rate online, found it was 5.25 and with that information I finally found one that said "BORROWING BENCHMARKS" with a sub head Money Rates with a sub-head Prime rates with an entry US entry for Latest which was, da da 5.25. On 3/25/08 this table was on page C11, but you get the general idea.

I am a fan of the wild one on CNBC, Jim Cramer's Mad Money. He calls stuff like this "Busting Genuine Wall Street Gibberish". Claims they use it so they can justify the big commissions.

I'll put in a little explanation about Cramer here. Or rather, why I watch Cramer. I grew up watching Wall Street Week with Lewis Rukeyser (WWLR). It was the only show our whole family watched from the time I was 15 until they all died. When the show was finally forced out by Public Television and then dropped, I was sure someone, hopefully one of the popular guests from WWLR would take over. But none did. I would love to hear that story. I hope someone writes it up sometime or let me know if I just missed it. Oh, they kept the name, they just got rid of the wonderful format. The format was wonderful because the guests and panelists did not agree with each other. You constantly got two opinions. You got to decide for yourself. No one could pump and dump, the others on the show would tear them apart.

Anyway, that is a long way from Cramer. I first heard him on the all financial news radio station in Boston. Then on CNBC Kudlow and Cramer and finally for the last 3 years on his own. I wish he followed the old WWLR model. I think he could grow his audience 500% but the format does not fit his personality. He has to be the star. And, there is no other show that does real stocks daily!! So, I'm happy eating the food available!


Mushroom Walk!

The outing was organized by Boston Mycological Club and started at 1:30 in Bourne MA. Ron Krouk, a co-worker from 3! software companies, interested me in the activity and was nice enough to send along the outing announcements. There are lots of walks closer to Boston but this was the first one that fit my schedule!

The directions, as long as you mapquested, which many did not, were spot on. The location was almost as interesting as the activity. Bay End Farm is organic and run with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). They have 95 members, several of them restaurants. As you will find out if you follow the links, membership is $500 for the season and they drop off a bag meant to feed 4 for a week in Somerville/Cambridge. The operation seems to be run by 2 couples. Along with the CSA funds, they also have a farm stand in season and several long term and short term rentals on the beautifully ponded 200 acre property.

There was a good crowd, certainly 30. I think there were more people and heavy hitters because of a mushroom workshop that had taken place on the cape the day before. There were a couple 20 year olds and a few 40 but mainly 65+. I did not try to learn names but while one aged hippy played the part of lead identifier, several other participants were very knowledgeable. One worked non-stop taking pictures of shrooms. Another used a palm with foldout keyboard to record notes about what was found.

It was a beautiful sunny day. I normally avoid the sun but spent the 20 minutes of the "getting organized" standing with the sun warming my back. I waked with just a long sleeved shirt. Everyone just walked the land, in all directions, in small and large groups for an hour plus. I joined and separated from groups to get a cross section of education about what I was finding and experience looking on my own. People were more than generous in offering to tutor a newbie like myself. After my 20 years searching for birds in trees, I though I would be pretty good at spotting but I was not. Upon return, all the mushrooms found were placed on a table and there was a 1/2 hour plus of discussion and teaching about what was there. The chief identifier, as I have said, an aged hippy, had a slight bent toward psychedelic properties and even explained how one mushroom was used by people in Siberia. They would get the good effects without the side sickness by drinking the urine of people who had eaten the mushroom. The kidneys clean out the upset but pass on the psychedelic. There were lots of "mushroom stories", kind of the lore of the tribe, most of course less colorful than the urine one.

I'll definitely join The Boston Mycological Club who organized the trip. I did not plan ahead and had to stop at a local Barnes and Noble who only had a Peterson Guide to mushrooms. The book looks poor but I felt I really needed to show up with something that implied prior preparation. Next time I will also bring a sharp tool for digging out complete shrooms and a video to record the iding. I'm now afraid the identification task is so overwhelming that I despair of finding any book that would come close to replacing experts and local knowledge. A book that is restricted to one local and a few types seems appropriate for a beginner.

I think my best bet for nurturing my personal interest is to gather mushrooms from a local I visit regularly, our summer home in Maine, and learn more about them through books and experts. Finding eatables would be a bonus, but I think I can sustane involvement with just identification. I'll also watch for local talks and walks.



My daughter Emily put me on to this one. As you will see, TED is:

"TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes)."

So the site posts the short videos of the talks and has the talks grouped by what they call Themes. The site also has lots of questions, comments and blogs relating to the talks.

I'm looking forward to watching quite a few, kind of like I can do with TIVO. I try to keep enough backlog on TIVO so that whenever I don't find something interesting on live TV, I just watch something I have not looked at before. I'll try another TED when the mood strikes me.

In fact, I don't use TIVO anymore. My old 2000? TIVO finally died. Luckily I already was also using the DVR Comcast rents me. The down side is that the UI and the ability to search the GUIDE is terrible on the Comcast box. People say there is a large chance coming where the user will have the option to mix and match with services like Comcast and TIVO but I have not started down that path yet.

The TED that Emily linked me to was called Will Wright: Toys that make worlds. Will Wright is the originator of SIMS. This is a talk about his new game where you build a universe up from one cell. Emily correctly guessed that I would love to know about this.

I next watched Dan Dennett: Can we know our own minds?. Dan is a philosopher talking about consciouness, another favorite topic of mine.

So now I am hooked! You can CLICK HERE to see my notes on these TEDs and what I thought of other TED talks.



I'm sure lots of you have heard of this before but I had not. It is a great anti-spam idea. It is the kind of thing that turns a paradime on its head. Its the kind of thing I would never think of on my own. At mailinator.com you can read email that has been sent to ANY address at that name space. I can read the mail sent to tom@mailinator.com. No password, no nothing. You just type in tom and it shows you all the email that has come to tom@mailinator.com.

Soooo, when you are asked to register at any place like freediamonds.com and they ask for your email and they only let you in AFTER you clink on a link they have sent to that email, you give them fd@mialinator.com and then go to mailinator.com, type in fd and click on the link in the email they have sent. Who knows how many sites like facebook have figured this out and disallow mailinator.com email addresses but I'll let you know.


I can't figure this site out. They do not seem to have an about or anything. Lots of ads. Maybe lots of porn. But what got me here were the interesting 3d pictures. Its the whole idea of 3D pictures on a flat screen. Take a look. Note that it is very-bored with the hyphen, NOT verybored which seems to be a very boring site.

CLICK HERE to read a very interesting follow-up on these pictures. The author talks about how seeing 3d with two eyes can learn a lot from the depth preception problems faced by people with one eye.

Nike basketball add from 2001?

I love and often learn a great deal from Ira Glass's This American Life (TAL) on National Public Radio. I find myself crying in the car listening to the poignant material. This American Life introduced my family and I to our favorite comedian, David Sadarius.

Anyway, the clip I wanted to show you here is from an past TAL that was rebroadcast 9/14/07. Along with others, it shows a young man, Luis "TRIKZ" da Silva who developed these ticks on his own and blew the professionals away. The theme of the actual TAL episode is Meet The Pros.

My interest, besides from the great moves and the cloths, is how a kid from the hood made good just by working out in his own backyard. Turns out that he never was a great basketball player. Not even a starter on his High School team at the time the original video was made.

I am ashamed to say that I have not massered the trick of copying podcasts, like this one. I don't use I-tunes. I understand that I could buy a copy of the show from audible.com but I hope I will be able to master the art of just ripping a copy as I listen to the free version they offer online. What I really want to get working is a TIVO for free podcasts on the internet. In the same general veign of audio to digital storage, I am in the market for a record player with a USB connection so I can move audio records to the hard disk.