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Links November 2012

Julian Treasure gave an informative TED talk about The 4 Ways Sound Affects US [1]. Among other things he claims that open plan offices reduce productivity by 66%! He suggests that people who work in such offices wear headphones and play bird-songs.

Naked Capitalism has an interesting interview between John Cusack and Jonathan Turley about how the US government policy of killing US citizens without trial demonstrates the failure of their political system [2].

Washington’s blog has an interesting article on the economy in Iceland [3]. Allowing the insolvent banks to go bankrupt was the best thing that they have ever done for their economy.

Clay Shirky wrote an insightful article about the social environment of mailing lists and ways to limit flame-wars [4].

ZRep is an interesting program that mirrors ZFS filesystems via regular snapshots and send/recv operations [5]. It seems that it could offer similar benefits to DRBD but at the file level and with greater reliability.

James Lockyer gave a movingTEDx talk about his work in providing a legal defence for the wrongly convicted [6]. This has included overturning convictions after as much as half a century in which the falsely accused had already served a life sentence.

Nathan Myers wrote an epic polemic about US government policy since 9-11 [7]. It’s good to see that some Americans realise it’s wrong.

There is an insightful TED blog post about TED Fellow Salvatore Iaconesi who has brain cancer [8]. Apparently he had some problems with medical records in proprietary formats which made it difficult to get experts to properly assess his condition. Open document standards can be a matter of life and death and should be mandated by federal law.

Paul Wayper wrote an interesting and amusing post about “Emotional Computing” which compares the strategies of Apple, MS, and the FOSS community among other things [9].

Kevin Allocca of Youtube gave an insightful TED talk about why videos go viral [10].

Jason Fried gave an interesting TED talk “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work” [11]. His main issues are distraction and wasted time in meetings. He gives some good ideas for how to improve productivity. But they can also be used for sabotage. If someone doesn’t like their employer then they could call for meetings, incite managers to call meetings, and book meetings so that they don’t follow each other and thus waste more of the day (EG meetings at 1PM and 3PM instead of having the second meeting when the first finishes).

Shyam Sankar gave an interesting TED talk about human computer cooperation [12]. He describes the success of human-computer partnerships in winning chess tournaments, protein folding, and other computational challenges. It seems that the limit for many types of computation will be the ability to get people and computers to work together efficiently.

Cory Doctorow wrote an interesting and amusing article for Locus Magazine about some of the failings of modern sci-fi movies [13]. He is mainly concerned with pointless movies that get the science and technology aspects wrong and the way that the blockbuster budget process drives the development of such movies. Of course there are many other things wrong with sci-fi movies such as the fact that most of them are totally implausible (EG aliens who look like humans).

The TED blog has an interesting interview with Catarina Mota about hacker spaces and open hardware [14].

Sociological Images has an interesting article about sporting behaviour [15]. They link to a very funny youtube video of a US high school football team who make the other team believe that they aren’t playing – until they win [16]

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