Category Archives: innovation


Need some graphics to explain things to the judge, after your next brush with the law? No worries, Patrick Crowley has you covered.

(Mac People: out solving real-world problems, and looking stylish while they do it.)


The da Vinci Delay

“How to Procrastinate Like Leonardo da Vinci”:

If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the life of Leonardo, it is that procrastination reveals the things at which we are most gifted — the things we truly want to do. Procrastination is a calling away from something that we do against our desires toward something that we do for pleasure, in that joyful state of self-forgetful inspiration that we call genius.

From the February 20 Chronicle of Higher Education

Somewhat related: Elizabeth Gilbert’s excellent TED talk, “A different way to think about creative genius

Jedi Bathroom Tricks

I’ve passed through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport a few times in my travels. Unbeknownst to me, I have been experimented on each time…

The flies in the men’s-room urinals of the Amsterdam airport have been enshrined in the academic literature on economics and psychology. The flies — images of flies, actually — were etched in the porcelain near the urinal drains in an experiment in human behavior.
After the flies were added, “spillage” on the men’s-room floor fell by 80 percent. “Men evidently like to aim at targets,” said Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago, an irreverent pioneer in the increasingly influential field of behavioral economics.

That’s pretty cool. I never knew this. This is the sort of thinking we need more of in tackling user-facing security problems. The biggest challenges aren’t math- people are the weak point in any system. If we can nudge people into doing the right thing, in any discipline, and amuse them along the way, we’ll have done the world a service.

Headline of the Day

Drug Made In Milk of Altered Goats Is Approved
(Bonus weird humor points, if you’ve seen Altered States)

Rabbits would breed faster and cows would produce more milk, but Newberry said goats offered the largest supply at the quickest pace.

(We milk Rabbits?)

Stephen Fry recently noted how language merely as a communication tool would make life dull and one-dimensional. We’d miss interesting ideas.

We would never notice if the fat and protein rich food with which cows, ewes and nanny goats suckled their young could not be converted to another, firmer foodstuff that went well with crackers and grapes.

(His idea has several features, now including being rather less spooky than milking drugs from goats)

Merlin Mann on Patterns

Merlin Mann’s talk at the recent MacWorld conference, “Toward Patterns for Creativity“, hits on several ideas and questions that I’ve been struggling with for a while, in various contexts.

How do we do things? Where do we get stuck? Is creativity something magical, or can we tease out some method/pattern/framework that can help guide and facilitate this sort of work?

There is his usual dry, geek-centric humor, with some useful and relevant self-reflection from this famed (now reformed?) purveyor of Productivity Porn.

Hard-core iPhone tricks

The crave blog over at CNET news has a great post on a Hanoi entrepreneur’s cell phone service/repair shops, and the brisk business they are doing unlocking 3G iPhones. If this sounds boring, you are probably not familiar with the process necessary to unlock this particular phone:

The technician then extracted the baseband chip, the component that controls the connection between the phone and the mobile network, from the motherboard. (This is a painstaking task as the chip is strongly glued to the phone’s motherboard. A mistake during this process could brick the phone completely.)

Once the chip was extracted, it was Tuan Anh’s turn. He used a chip reader to read information into a file. He then used a Hex editor to remove the locking data from the file, and after that, the chip got reprogrammed with the newly altered file. Now it was no longer programmed to work with only a specific provider.

Pretty hard-core. Once the soldering irons come out, you have left the Mall kiosks behind…

Hat tip to Perry Metzger and the cryptography list for the link, and the reminder that, given proper motivation, people will do unexpected and unauthorized things with technology. Assuming otherwise usually fails.

“Millennials Will Route Around IT Departments”

ReadWriteWeb on a recent Accenture report, which concludes that “Millennials” will route around IT departments that can’t (or won’t) keep up.

Oh, it’s not just Millennials, trust me.