Archive | December, 2010

Top Trends in Health 2001 – 2010

17 Dec
A coronavirus that may cause SARS. (transwikie...

Germy Image via Wikipedia

What’s big in health in the past decade? There are the obvious big-name near-pandemics like SARS, cholera and swine flu. And if you’re not into the “We’re all going to die!” mentality then we could talk about stem cells, genomics, and the political implications thereof. But those all pale in comparison to the most important health research of the twenty-aughts.

Don’t cover your mouth with your hand when you sneeze

My favorite destroyers of unhealthy wives’ tales The Mythbusters showed us that not only is your hand an ineffective sneeze stopper, it’s also a health liability. A germy sneezed-upon hand is one of the most effective vectors for infectious diseases and therefore a terrible option to muffle a sneeze. While the Mythbusters concluded that it’s best to sneeze into your elbow, I prefer the sneeze into your shirt or jacket method because it captures more of the foul ejecta.

Unfortunately this potentially life saving health knowledge goes against decades of moms and dads telling us to cover our mouths (with our hands) when we sneeze. How can we combat this deadly misinformation? Pop culture to the rescue.

Fist Bumps for Health, Fist Bumps for Life

Oldsters don’t get the fist bump.”It’s violent. I don’t like it.” Well, then you’re going to DIE!

Michael Jordan might’ve first popularized the fist bump in the nineties, and evidence suggests that it was around for a while before that, but the fist bump really started to take off in the past decade.

Germaphobes immediately embraced the fist bump for its considerable health advantages over the handshake. Handshakes are messy. Handshakes spread germs. Even University of Calgary Dean of Medicine Tomas Feasby lobbies that the fist bump is a  “nice replacement of the handshake” in that it can prevent transmission of some diseases.

Best Health Research of the Decade

Mythbusters: Out of using your elbow, using your hand, and using a handkerchief to cover your mouth when you sneeze, which is the best way to limit the spread of germs?

Best Health Trend of the Decade

The rise of the fist bump.

Cat Food New Flavors

14 Dec
The Itchy & Scratchy Game

Itchy & Scratchy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Staring at the Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor DENTAL TREATS cats love! AKA Feline Greenies (TM), I pondered yet another in a long line of unoriginal thoughts: Why do we feed cats food flavored for humans?

The answer is two-fold.

1. We do not. Well, I’m reasonably sure we’re not feeding our cats food that’s flavored to please a human. That is to say, while I haven’t tried one of the crunchy green treats, I’m confident that it tastes nothing like Oven Roasted Chicken.

2. Regardless, the cat has no money. It doesn’t go shopping. They’re trying to sell the treats to crazy cat lady (played by me in this episode,) not her cat.

So everything makes sense again in our consumer happy world. You know, the one in which we US residents alone literally spend billions of dollars annually on our pets. Or does it?

Suggestions for new flavors of cat treats

  • Mouse – Duh. It’s a cat classic. Mouse flavored cat food is a no-brainer. Tom and Jerry. Herman and Katnip. Itchy and Scratchy. Your cat wants to vicariously live the adventures of those famous cat/mouse duos with every bite.
  • Baby Bunny – Rabbits are the potato chip of the wild kingdom. They eat, they make those pellets, they sleep, they breed, they breed, they breed, and then they die – usually at the fangs of some hungry predator. And let’s face it, they’re none too smart, so most of them don’t even make it to adulthood. Or maybe, just maybe, baby bunnies just taste better. Yeah, we’ll go with that. Cat’s love munching on fresh baby bunny.
  • Moth and Butterfly Surprise – If you own both butterfly bush and feline, you know that delish comes from a chrysalis. That’s poetic license for: Cats like to eat butterflies. These tasty cat treats could have an appealing butterfly shape. You know, for kids!
  • Wasabi Soy Sparrow – The sparrow, better known as feline sushi, pairs wonderfully with a little wasabi and soy. Add a dash of pickled ginger to clear the palate between bites. Your little kitty just loves eating birds.
  • Crunchy Vole Surprise – Put a cat in a room with a single mouse and a single vole, and 90% of the time that cat’s going to head for the mouse first. Vole treats can be marketed to cats with a more discerning palate. Your cat is too good for mouse flavored food. Let those commoner alley cats eat the mice. I’m a classy cat. I only eat vole.
Dan Dreifort takes a pill every day to control cat allergies. When he’s not writing about idealized cat treats he consults on usability, SEO, efficiency, and anything  else techy marketing-ish people want to know.

How do I Remove Facebook Recent Activity from my Wall?

14 Dec
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Update: We have less control than ever on Facebook. Use socialfixer.com. It’s the best we have.) Facebook sucks when it comes to privacy. I can’t wait until somebody sues them for it and forces them to change. Maybe someday they’ll realize that good usability and privacy is a great business model.

Until then, here are three different ways to clean up one of the most egregious facebook privacy screwups to date.

Annoyed that facebook has decided to make every detail of your actions everybody’s business? Tired of clicking the little x and then clicking “remove” from the annoying facebook confirmation popup over and over again? Here’s how to quickly delete your facebook recent activity.

There are three ways to eliminate all of those annoying updates with a single click. The downer is that you still have to do it periodically. Most of these are cross-browser compatible for at least firefox and chrome.

  • Use better facebook.  There are tons of other reasons to use better facebook too. Not the least of which is that my top blue facebook bar is locked in place while I scroll the content of a page. Very convenient. However, betterfacebook implementation of remove recent activity is less than perfect. It misses some from time to time. But it adds a “remove all activity” link to your activity. The new version of Better Facebook removes all recent activity (or whichever bits you specify in the settings,) each time you visit your facebook profile page. Get better facebook!.
  • http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/67751 You have to install greasemonkey first, but it’s totally worth it. I heart greasemonkey,  This one adds a “Remove Recent Activity” button to the right facebook side panel. Works like a charm, once you find it. Facebook is so damn cluttered. (Edit: turns out you have to reload your profile page for the button to appear.)

Why Does Time Seem to Speed Up as We Age?

1 Dec

Time flies when you’re having fun. Time waits for no man. And sure enough, time appears to move faster as we get older. I’ll preface this by saying that this is (obviously) not an original observation. Furthermore, I don’t think my explanation of WHY time seemed to pass more slowly when we were younger is original either. But it makes the most sense to me when I explain it, so maybe you’ll like it too.

The Short, Obtuse Explanation of Why Time Speeds Up

The relative self-investment of a given time span dictates the speed at which the passing of time is perceived.

S=\frac{1}{e/U}

U = Self duration (Your age at the time, minus the age at which you started to remember things.)

e = Event Span (e.g. a specific summer)

S = Perceived speed of time

The only slightly longer but clearer explanation of the speed of time

Time speed formula

As we get older, time seems to speed up. How weird is that? (larger numbers = faster speeds)

That summer I spent playing basketball with my neighbor Trey, watching Transformers on the boob tube, and um, well, I don’t actually remember too much of what I did when I was eleven years old, but it seemed to last a long time. School was even worse. Those nine months of school seemed like a thousand eternities.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that kids really start storing long term memories, i.e. they begin becoming individuals, somewhere around the age of six. It follows then that the three months of a post-fifth-grader summer amount to a whopping five percent (5%) of your life sensations. It seems like a long period of time because given your only referential (you) it is a long time.

Conversely, 50 year-old you perceives summer’s passage to be much faster because that period is barely a half of a percent (0.005%) of your accumulated experiences. If my quick math is correct, the difference is about 1,000X. Or to put it another way, your sixth grade summer was something like 100,000% of the proportional time span that the summer of your 50th year will be.

That’s it. But if you’re a big time geek and/or Billy Mays fan, but wait, there’s more!

Implications of senility, dementia and amnesia on perceived speed of passage of time

Pure speculation here, but I assume memory loss (think: Alzheimer’s) might cause time to slow down. That is to say, if you begin to lose your experiences and frame of reference thereby attenuating your period of “self duration”, you’ll likely perceive events as taking longer.

In the case of a person with anterograde amnesia, time will largely seem to stand still. (Memento) Whereas a subject with retrograde amnesia would likely immediately perceive time to slow to a crawl and then experience a profound uptick in time’s passage as new memories are forged.

And what are the implications of looking back at past events? Does that 6th grade summer seem longer the older I get? Does it stay the same? Or is it getting shorter, its time speeding up in tandem with my perception of more recent events? Hmmm…  My memory’s not good enough to dwell on that one too much.

Dan Dreifort has been fascinated with time for a long time. He even wrote a song about it. Find it via that link you just read, you know, the one that looks like this, Dan Dreifort. Daniel Dreifort consults on usability, search and efficiency.

Advanced Web Ranking Here I Come

1 Dec
Scott Goodyear at the Indianapolis Motor Speed...

Image via Wikipedia – Not the Scott Goodyear I’m talking about, but it’s a Scott Goodyear nonetheless.

WebPosition’s old standalone version finally stopped querying Google correctly. I’m now in the process of switching to Advanced Web Ranking (AWR). Per my earlier post about finding a WebPosition replacement and some followup in the comments, AWR is the only solution to meet all of the critical SEO software criteria. I’m still apprehensive; it’s always a pain to switch to unfamiliar software, but my confidence is buoyed by the great email responses I’ve received from Robert at AWR support.

A few years ago, when I still had an SEO boner for WebPosition, that happy feeling was largely because of Scott Goodyear’s great support. Scott disappeared when infospace acquired WebPosition. That’s when the WP FAIL began.

I’ll write a more thorough review of Advanced Web Ranking after I run and customize a few AWR reports. Specifically, I’ll document precisely how I overcome what at first blush appears to be a cluttered interface to accomplish specific SEO reporting customization tasks. If you have any questions you’d like me to discuss in the review, let me know and I’ll try to abide. I know AWR does search engine submission, and also offers tools for keyword research, but those are features I wouldn’t usually comment on unless somebody specifically asked for a review.

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