Open Thinkering


Things I learned this week – #5

Image CC BY-NC mikeabney

Top 3

  1. I thought that I kept myself fairly anonymous online to all but the people I want to interact with. Turns out I was wrong. Check out Panopticlick to start being worried about ‘browser fingerprinting’.
  2. Vooks look either cool or completely pointless, depending on your point-of-view and mood. (via @betchaboy)
  3. Dunbar’s Number is the theoretical maximum number of stable relationships an individual can sustain. It turns out that it’s about 150, which makes some people’s Twitter and Facebook profiles look ridiculous!



  • Apparently the iPad is ‘iBad’ for freedom according to the Free Software Foundation. They’ve got a point. But I’ll still be getting one. 😉
  • Stephen Fry weighed in, along with seemingly the rest of the world, with his views on what the iPad means for mankind.
  • Thankfully, the iPad supports the ePub format for ebooks. You can find lots of these at (via @chrispenny)
  • The Polarize iPhone app allows you to create photos that look that they’ve been taken with a Polaroid camera. Cool! (example here)
  • Screensplitr for the (jailbroken) iPhone allows you to output any app to another screen (via @wesfryer)
  • I found this 360-degree video of Haiti unbelievable. It uses the same YellowBird camera that Google uses for ‘Street View’ (via OLDaily) I was going to embed it here, but it auto-plays, which is annoying…
  • You can now upload email into a Google Apps email account using an (official) OSX app. This might be a good time for me to switch to an email address… 🙂
  • That button in Tweetie that I’ve never pressed (see below – looks like a business card)? Turns out it adds contact details from someone’s contact details from Twitter to your iPhone address book. Sweet!

Productivity & Inspiration

Education & Academic

  • I was shocked to discover that some UK Local Authorities are going to pay £10,000 on a filter to remove comments from being displayed when students visit YouTube. Kerry Turner (@4goggas) who gave the heads-up also pointed out which I hadn’t used before. Handy!
  • JISC published their final report into ebooks as (appropriately) a rather nice issuu document. Worth looking at the Executive Summary if nothing else!
  • Not having actually used one doesn’t stop some people ruminating on how the iPad will change education. Inevitable.:  (via @baldy7)
  • Futurelab has a really well put-together video about the future of education using the research from Beyond Current Horizons (from Beyond Current Horizons research) Apparently, half the population of Europe will be 50 by 2030 and will expect to live another 40 years (I’ll be 50 in December 2030 – scary!)

Data, Design & Infographics

  • Dan Meyer threatened us all with driving round to our houses to force us to watch this excellent video called Vanishing Point. No need – it’s great!
  • I bought Autograph for $6 this week (OSX only). It allows you to draw, in a simple way, using your Macbook trackpad – ace!
  • Turns out the type of font you use determines how hard you perceive something to be. There’s a reason I use Georgia in everything I do – I read years ago (when I was at uni) that it has a positive effect, psychologically-speaking… 😀
  • This chart shows the number of mobile subscribers, per 100 people, worldwide.
  • I saw this first time around but didn’t blog it. Some designers showed how much ink different fonts use by colouring in words with biros. If you’re concerned about the amount of ink you use, try Ecofont!
  • I’m rather pleased with the sparkline (mini-graph) I added to the footer of this blog. There’s a kind-of howto here, but I’ll be screencasting how to do this next week. In the course of doing this I was reminded about the Google Charts API. Lots of services provide a front-end for Google Charts, but this tool in particular makes it very quick and easy to make stunning charts!
  • There’s a guy who records everything he does. He creates wonderful and interesting visualizations in his annual report. Check it out! (try Daytum or if you’re crazy enough to do likewise!)



Misfortune shows those who are not really friends. (Aristotle)

If change doesn’t cost you anything then it isn’t real change. (John C. Maxwell)

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill)

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. (Natalie Goldberg)

The quality of our thoughts is bordered on all sides by our facility with language. (J. Michael Straczynski)

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6 thoughts on “Things I learned this week – #5

  1. There’s a fantastic section in Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point” on Dunbar’s number. A great read.

  2. Thanks for linking to my SSD RAID post!! It’s not a *complete* optical drive sacrifice, mine just chills in an external USB enclosure in my closet until I need to pull it out. :)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Paul. It’s the type of thing I’d *love* to do – and
      still might! After all, I’m just about to install a Broadcom Crystal HD card
      in my AppleTV for 1080p goodness… ;-)

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