personal effectiveness


by Limbic on August 3, 2008



The Q-Drum, a low cost rollable water container for developing countries.

The burden of fetching water, invariably over long distances by cumbersome and far too often, unhygienic means, is all too evident in rural Africa.

The idea of the Q-Drum originated in response to the needs of rural people for clean and potable water, as well as easing the burden of conveying it.

The solution had to be simple, water in adequate quantities is by far too heavy to carry, by rolling the water in a cylindrical container and not carrying it seemed to be the only solution. The container had to be durable, and breakable handles & other attachments would simply not do – in many parts of Africa even a hammer & a nail are scarce commodities.

The Q-Drum addresses these needs by providing a simplistic, cost effective and durable solution: The uniqueness of the Q-Drum lies in the idea and design of the longitudinal shaft or doughnut hole, and is acknowledged by the fact that Worldwide patents have been granted for the concept, thus confirming the novelty & inventiveness of the design. [From Q-Drum – About]


Superb post from Positivity Blog on the Wisdom Of Bruce Lee. Sake sure you see the full post for links to resources and discussion. Here is a summary:

1. What are you really thinking about today? – “As you think, so shall you become.”

2. Simplify. – “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” and “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

3. Learn about yourself in interactions. – “To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”

4. Do not divide. – “Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

5. Avoid a dependency on validation from others. – “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” and “Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”

6. Be proactive. – “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

7. Be you. – “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals for Getting Your Life in Shape

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Gin, Television, and "Cognitive Surplus"

by Limbic on May 5, 2008

This is an absolutely brilliant presentation given by Clay Shirky (author of the new smash hit on organizing Without organizations called  “Here Comes Everybody“) on the topic of “Where do they find the time”. You hear this phrase, usually in response to some report of silly activity or massively time consuming hobby. We Clay knows and soon you will too. It turns out that even a fraction of the time we devote to passive entertainment (e.g. Television) can, when applied to productive activity, equate to massive collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia).

I will let Clay explain. Do not miss this.

The transcript is here.

Incidentally, he mentions a Brazilian professor who has set up WikiCrimes, a wiki google maps mash-up that allows users to plot crimes on a Google map with descriptions and other information.  I wanted to do exactly the same thing back in 1998, when I lived in Clapham in London. I even went so far as to register a domain and researched how one requested crime data from police. In those days it was simply too hard to do it alone. I would have needed serious developers. There were no web mash-ups and the Semantic Web was mostly theory.

Other ideas I had at the time, like a civil volunteers to take care of neighbourhood old people were also impractical because of technology limitations and  legal threats. I think I may just have to crack open that old Someday maybe list and see what might be more doable now in the Web 2.0 era.

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus – Here Comes Everybody


Reality Mining

by Limbic on April 3, 2008

Ever since I read Timothy D. Wilson’s magnificent “Strangers to Ourselves“, I have been fascinated with the fact that we often know less about ourselves than our closest friends and family (thanks probably to our many cognitive biases) .

Enter MIT’s Reality Mining Project:

[O]ur ultimate goal is to create a predictive classifier that can learn aspects of a user’s life better than a human observer (including the actual user)…

Kevin Kelly explains:

Can our devices know us better than we know ourselves? It seems obvious that this must be true. Human self knowledge is plagued by all kinds of limits: bias, sampling error, memory failure, and lack of sufficient processing power to recognize complex patterns. Machines do not suffer from the first three of limits, and the last is under steady assault from Moore’s law. But for computers to help us know ourselves better, they need two things: better data, and new analytical tools for transforming this data into predictions. These are problems that the Reality Mining researchers (among others) are trying to tackle.

…Proving that people can be effectively tracked using low-power Bluetooth transmissions has a certain technical interest, but of course the true power of this work lies in beginning to understand what kinds of things can be learned from such tracking. Eagle and his colleagues, for instance, found it easy to predict when two people were likely to encounter each other, as long as the users had fairly regular habits.

…Their claim is that their system can predict social behavior among people who are easily predictable. Such a result might seem the very definition of trivial, but it’s not as pointless as it sounds. Such a result functions as a kind of system tuning, a check on whether the basic parameters of Bluetooth tracking and social predictions are plausible. Once you know that it works on the easy cases, you can start trying to generate the more interesting analytical tools necessary to get more surprising results.

If Sociology in the 21st Century, User Behaviour Modelling , Relationship Inference, Social Serendipity, Organizational Dynamics, Epidemiology,  Information
Dissemination  and Eigenbehaviors are your thing, then get over there and find out what your overlords have install for you next.

Via The Quantified Self

See Also:

The obvious and not-so-obvious in psychology

26 Reasons What You Think is Right is Wrong

Masters of Denial (Time Magazine)

Daniel Kahneman’s Cognitive Biases ‘masterclass’ online

Unreason’s Seductive Charms (

Why We do Dumb or Irrational Things: 10 Brilliant Social Psychology Studies

Cognitive Biases

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Physiognomy and success

by Limbic on January 29, 2008

Thin Slicing at work in the corporate world as the Economist declares “What the boss looks like determines how he performs”.

This may sound like voodoo. Psychologists spent much of the 20th century denigrating the work of 19th-century physiognomists and phrenologists who thought the shapes of faces and skulls carry information about personality. However, recent work has shown that such traits can, indeed, be assessed from photographs of faces with a reasonable accuracy.

…These findings suggest that instant judgments by the ignorant (nobody even recognised Warren Buffett) are more accurate than assessments made by well-informed professionals. It looks as if knowing a chief executive disrupts the ability to judge his performance.

Sadly, the characteristics of likeability and trustworthiness appear to have no link to company profits, suggesting that when it comes to business success, being warm and fuzzy does not matter much (though these traits are not harmful). But this result also suggests yet another thing that stockmarket analysts might care to take into account when preparing their reports: the physog of the chief executive.

Physiognomy and success | Face value |


Calculate the Golden Mean with Phiculator

by Limbic on April 20, 2006

Phiculator, the Golden Ratio calculator

Phi, the Fibonacci sequence, the golden ratio, the golden section, the golden mean, the divine proportion. It‚Äôs known as many things, but the ratio they all refer to is the same, 1 : 1.61803399…

Found in art, architecture, design, and most intriguingly, in nature, this ratio has been used throughout history and today for its aesthetic beauty.

Phiculator (pronounced “fyeÔøΩcuÔøΩlaÔøΩtor”) is a simple tool which, given any number, will calculate the corresponding number according to the golden ratio. Useful to anyone wishing to create anything with divine proportions!

Windows, OSX and Flash.


Some cool new Web 2.0 toys

by Limbic on December 22, 2005

Here are a few new cool online tools….

NetworthIQ – Track, share, and compare Net Worth. How do you measure up?
Take an inventory of your assets and debts to determine your net worth, then track it month-to-month using your free account.
Create an optional public profile so that others can see how you’re doing and link to it from your website or blog!
See how your net worth compares to others in your age range, income level, occupation, education level, state or special group.”


“Web-based job tracking, invoicing, reporting & project management software for the part-time independent contractor.”


“Rollyo is the fast, easy way to create personal search engines using only the sources you trust.

Are you tired of wading though thousands of irrelevant search results to get to the information you want? Ever wish you could narrow your search to sites you already know and trust? With Rollyo, you can easily create your own custom search engines, and explore and save those created by others.”


“TravBuddy is an easy, fun and free way to share your travel experiences with friends and family.

What is a travelogue? Think of it as your own personal online journal that you can use to record and share your travel experiences.

Write journal entries and let your friends and family know what you are up to and where you are.

Share an unlimited number of photos

No more mass emails! You will have your own personal travel page to share with friends and family and they can automatically be notified of updates.”


TagCloud is an automated Folksonomy tool. Essentially, TagCloud searches any number of RSS feeds you specify, extracts keywords from the content and lists them according to prevalence within the RSS feeds. Clicking on the tag’s link will display a list of all the article abstracts associated with that keyword.


An s an online gift manager. Gain control over all the gifts and holidays in your life.

With GiftBox you can:

Check Keep track of the gifts you’ve received
Check Keep track of the gifts you’ve given to others
Check Keep track of gift ideas you have for future holidays
Check Keep track of where/when gifts need to be returned
Check Compile a wishlist of gifts and email it to your friends and family
Check Send thank you eCards
Check Receive reminders of upcoming holidays


“FeedBlitz is a service that monitors blogs, RSS feeds and Web URLs to provide greater reach for feed publishers. FeedBlitz takes all the headache out of converting feed and blog updates into email digests, delivered daily to subscribers’ inboxes. FeedBlitz manages subscriptions, circulation tracking, testing, and is compatible with all major blogging platforms and services such as Blogger, Typepad and FeedBurner. Unlike other blogmail services, FeedBlitz is reliable, scalable and fully supported. No betas, wish lists or road map items here. You’re in production, and so is FeedBlitz”


How to Give to Charity in the UK

by Limbic on October 31, 2005

Welcome to All About Giving – everything you need to know about charitable giving

The single biggest source of information on tax-effective giving on the Internet, bringing together charities, companies and individuals to form a community of giving online.

Within you can:

find out about the CAF Charity Account and other ways to give
manage your CAF Charity Account online
buy Charity Gift Vouchers
find how Gift Aid could make your gift worth an extra 28%
make donations simply and securely
get the latest charity news
support those in crisis


Best Productivity Tip so far

by Limbic on October 27, 2005

From 43 Folders comes a superb Procrastination hack: (10+2)*5

Its called “(10+2)*5” and here’s why:

* 10 – Work for ten minutes with single-minded focus on moving toward completion on a single task. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, work. No cheating, because (DING!) you actually get a break when you’re done.
* 2 – After ten minutes of sweaty, dedicated work you get a 2-minute break to do whatever you want – drink coffee, read 5ives, call your bookie, whatever. When the two minutes are up, it’s back to work on the next task on your list. This is important.
* *5 – You’re going to iterate this four more times for a total of one hour’s working/breaking

It really works brilliantly.

I use spb Time on my iPaq sitting in its cradle as my timer. It has 5 times so you can set you 10 minute, 2 minute and 1 hour timers to run together and still have two spares.

I found that using timers and chunking generally are the best productivity hacks for the easily distracted.

You might also try Temptation Blocker software which is ingenious.


Spotted this on a list I subscribe to and thought to pass it on.

Want to get some new IT qualifications? Why not attend an IT Certification Bootcamp in Goa, India?

Koenig is now the # 1 choice for Boot Camp training in the world. We offer the world’s longest duration Boot Camps (our MCSE Boot Camp runs for 50 days). We offer one-on-one training which will allow you to have individual attention of an expert trainer for the entire Boot Camp. We also offer exotic locations for training – Goa Beach and Himalaya Mountains.

The cost of our training boot camps is less than 50% of what these certifications cost in the USA, Europe, Australia, and other countries (including cost of travel).

We provide boot camp training programs for MCSE, MCSA, MCDST, MCAD (C#,and, MCSD (C# and, MCDBA, RHCE, CCNA, CCNP, Pix Firewall, Citrix CCA, CCEA, CISSPÆ Sun Java SCJP, SCWCD, J2EE, SCBCD, SCDJWS, Java Struts, Oracle OCA, OCP, CompTIA A+, Network+, Project+, Security+, Novell CLP and Check Point CCSA & CCSE NG Certifications & EC-Council CEH. New certifications are being added every month.

…Our boot camp packages include course fee, exam fees, Hotel stay, all meals, airport transfers, and other amenities during the class.

Worth a look if your seeking a bootcamp experience.

[Update: Spotted this recently: Geek Cruises. Apparently you can go on a cruise whilst enjoying classes on Photoshop and OSX etc etc].