Open Thinkering


Things I learned this week – #3

CC BY-NC-SA Jeezny

I know I said that these posts would be called ‘Sunday Scientia’ but that, erm, isn’t very snappy. Or descriptive. :-p

Top 3

  • From the wow-as-a-History-teacher-this-rocks-my-world department, it turns out that the Egyptian pyramids weren’t built by slaves after all! 😮
  • Matt Mullenweg (he of the WordPress-coding fame) turned 26 this week. He made some resolutions for the coming year (much as I did) and on the list was ‘learn more about Captology’. It turns out that Captology is ‘the study of computers as persuasive technologies’. Interesting!
  • Nathan Yau from FlowingData has created a great infographic from UNdata called Graphical World Progress Report. It’s fascinating and obtainable as a print. All proceeds go towards the UNICEF relief effort in Haiti.


  • Need to send and receive anonymous questions? Try (via @burntsugar)
  • I’m sure that Graffiti markup is going to be extremely useful, but for me it just looks extremely cool
  • I was reminded of Jott for voice to text transcription on-the-go via a post on dy/dan
  • Google offer some very competitive pricing for extra GMail/Picasa storage. I thought this could be used for off-site backup using gDisk (Mac OSX only), but it didn’t seem to be compatible with Snow Leopard…
  • The wireless networks at my house have fairly boring names. I like these ones better (via @swissmiss)

  • David Pogue reckons that the iPhone is for sheep, whereas Android is for geeks. Baa baa. (via
  • Reed’s law on social networking sounds very grand and scientific, but is saying that they scale because they can have sub-groups very profound? (via @ewanmcintosh)
  • There’s lots and lots of free ebooks out there – especially useful if you’ve got an Amazon Kindle – ebooksearchr caught my eye in particular (via @coolcatteacher)
  • Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, reckons that privacy is ‘no longer a social norm’. I’d contend that he’s correct about a certain kind of privacy but it would take me a full blog post to explain…
  • Aza Raskin wonders whether we need a Creative Commons for Privacy? (via @chrismessina)
  • It turns out selling ebooks DRM-free doesn’t hurt sales. In fact, despite rampant piracy, it was found that sales actually went up!
  • Tuper Tario Tros is a mashup of Tetris and Super Mario. Play Tetris (kind of) as usual, then play Super Mario on the landscape you’ve created!
  • From the oh-my-goodness-this-is-unbelievable department, RCA Airnergy apparently charges gadgets using wifi signals. Which kind of makes me worry about what they’re doing to my body… (via @timlauer)
  • You can now upload any type of file to Google Docs (with resumable uploads). Handy!
  • Ever need to edit a PDF? Me too. Try this! (via @maggiev)
  • I won’t be buying an e-reader, and especially not after reading 2010: the only year of the e-reader. They’re stop-gap devices.
  • Need some Creative Commons-licensed media? Try looking here. (via @russeltarr)
  • If you need some guidance on how to use Creative Commons-licensed media in presentations, you could do worse than checking this out. (via @downes)
  • Alan Levine wondered what happens when a CC-licensed photo vanishes? (hint: it’s still CC-licensed)
  • Are you still, as I was, wondering “why use Google Wave?” Try this FAQ. I especially like the definition of it as a multimedia wikichat.
  • Need to schedule some tweets? Twuffer is a Twitter ‘buffer’. (via @cwebbtech)
  • You can crop & remove ads/offensive content from YouTube videos using (via @kiwicarol)
  • Although I’m not sure why you’d want to do this, if you’ve been crying out for a way to use up to 24 cursors on one screen you can now with this Microsoft tool. (via @tobywilson)
  • There’s a bewildering number of iPhone apps, which is why I was pleased to come across, a site dedicated to ‘the best produced and designed iPhone apps’ (via BoingBoing)

Productivity & Inspiration

  • I was delighted to come across this ‘How I work’ series again from a few years back, including how Marissa Meyer at Google deals with the amount of information she has to process. (via dy/dan)
  • If you’re not great at making decisions, Hunch might help. Or not. :-p
  • Happiness, it would seem, spreads like a virus. Are you infectious?
  • Almost everyone I know uses an online calendar, usually Google Calendar. But what about if you need something slightly different? This online calendar roundup mentioned which looks especially useful for families.
  • Zen Habits looks like it’s turning into a list blog, but when Leo delivers posts like 20-plus amazing fitness blogs to inspire you, I don’t mind too much.
  • Kathy Sierra (@KathySierra) recommended a book about the link between exercise and brain performance. That’s recommendation enough for me – I just bought it! If you don’t follow Kathy on Twitter already, do so now.
  • Google have reorganized their Become a GMail Ninja help section to be more useful:  (via @mortenoddvik)

Education & Academic

Data, Design & Infographics

  • You’ve probably noticed from this site that I like minimalism. Swissmiss links to some great ones.
  • Macbooks cost different amounts around the world, which makes for an interesting infographic.
  • I found this infographic showing what covers the surface of the earth. Have a look below – I was surprised that there’s as much land covered by snow as good farming land):



It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly. (via @igorkheifets)

The world is before you, and you need not take it or leave it as it was before you came in. – James Baldwin (via @heatherdenton)

Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great – Machiavelli (via @dahara)

A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough. – John Christian Bovee (via @dahara)

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say. – Ralph Waldo Emerson (via @IsabelLambert)

It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them – Benjamin Franklin (via @lynnegordon)

Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. – Theodore Levitt (via @TheArtMan)

7 thoughts on “Things I learned this week – #3

  1. Ref: Having said that, I have heard it said that students have the attention span of their age plus 2 minutes… (

    This is just so not true, anyone who has worked in a classroom with children or has children will know that it is not the child it is the activity. For example my seven year old (nine minute attention span) can sit through 30 minutes of Micheal Portillo pontificating about trains, whilst me (42 min attention span) watches about three minutes and then I am bored and need to do something else.

    When I was teaching I saw some students get so immersed in a 60 minute lecture they didn’t realise a hour had passed, and get bored with a 15 minute activity after five minutes. A lot depends on the individual and a lot depends on the activity.

    Thanks for posting the link.


    1. Perhaps I was too brief. The full advice I received on my teacher
      training was that you should, as a rule, ‘speak to children for no
      longer than their numerical age plus two minutes’.

      I interpreted this as shutting up as much as possible and letting them
      get on with their learning. It’s stood me in good stead! ;-)

  2. Simply fantastic blogpost every week! This is a great idea Doug. It is THE blogpost I keep my eyes (both of them) open for. People who don’t read this should subscribe. Fits well into a busy teaching life. Thank you for taking the time to aggregate all the info you find with short comments and a bit of Northern wit. Bravo!

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