The Magical Number Seven

Very interesting paper that i just learned about

The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information

The Magical Number Seven.


Open access to government data

I found this on Abhishek’s blog (titled Default Openness)

Here are his thoughts on it. I really like the concept so long as the government takes care of privacy concerns.

During recent Wired’s Disruptive By Design coenfrence chief information officer CIO of US government Vivek Kundra suggested that default data setting of United States government should be open, not secret. With this vision in mind will democratize the data that is generated and kept by the US government which has several implications. First of all it will increase public access to high value data, making governance system more transparent, efficient, effective and accountable. Further, it will not only encourage the creative reuse of data outside the government offices, but also makes a way for new ideas, applications and opportunities. Efforts like Sunlight Labs which is trying to build open source technology and tools to facilitate a transparent and accountable governance, are proof of concept for this initiative. Sunlight Labs’s Apps for America 2 challenge is attracting a big pool of creative developers to come up with compelling design and solution that can provide easy access and deep insight for data. Data openness is pushing hard towards a big cultural change, a compelling evidence is healthy competition between different departments of US government to make more and more data freely available online. For more information about what is all about and what are the immediate benefits, check out this video. May be some one should pop out this kind of default openness in Science as well.

from –

Here is the video from

Functioning Form – Apple Devices with Built-in Micro Projectors

I have obviously been away but to miss something such as this is a crime.

Apple Devices with Built-in Micro Projectors

07.06.2009 by LukeW

Expanding even further on my recent articles about understanding capabilities, Mac Rumors reports that Apple is expected to launch devices with built-in projectors later this year. The projectors would allow the iPhone and possibly the iPod touch to directly project video output onto an external surface.To better understand the impact of this capability on consumer devices, take a look at this video of Pattie Maes’ talk at the TED conference this year. In it she demos a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for rich interaction with our environment.

Simple ideas lead to useful solutions

Sometimes the simplest of solutions can be most useful. For example, if you are out looking for a house and want to calculate how much mortgage you can afford, one simple solution would be look up a mortgage calculator online. I’ve used this tool from Bankrate in the past and found it useful.

Anyway – my point is – sometimes simple tools that focus on a niche area can be very helpful. We are always looking for the next killer app, the next ‘cool’ idea that will solve problems for a lot of people. While we’re trying to build that one solution fits all, we can often get lost in complexity.

Twitter, in my opinion, is a really simple app. I remember years ago, i built a silly little VB client app to post updates on tasks I was working on for this dot com startup. My team mates could also get on the same app running on their machines and post their updates. None of the updates were lost since we stored them in a central dB. Didn’t think too much of it and it got lost in time as we all moved on with our careers. Goodness me… if only I knew.

Here’s another example of a simple app that will have its uses. Kevin Marks is a former Google employee (Read news about his departure). Brilliant guy who worked on all kinds of stuff – Orkut, OpenSocial, Microformats, what have you. You can check out his blog (Epeus’ epigone) for more gory details.

A couple of days ago he put together this application in 12 hours. Amatwit. Using Amazon’s API and the Twitter’s API users can search Amazon for items (currently defaulting to books) and from the search results you can tweet links to those books. Nice.. simple.. useful.

Do you have any simple and useful solutions? Maybe you already have something and just don’t realize it.

Citation Mapping – Tool for scientific researchers

Just when you think you have the next great idea somebody’s already beaten you to it. The Citation Mapping Tool from Thompson’s Web of Science is another one of those kick ass tools. Its apparently been out since July 2008. Shame on me for not doing better research into existing tools.


The citation mapping tool tracks an article’s cited and citing references through two generations, allowing researchers to visually discover an article’s wider relationships:

* Go forward and backward in time to track citing and cited references

* Color code, re-configure and organize your citation maps to discover trends in citation activity

* Completely interactive!

* Access via any Web of Science full record

via Citation Mapping.

They also have a nice little tutorial.

I also found this review from Brian D. Simboli, Science Librarian, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The review appears to be extensive. I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly read it but he does provide a good overview of

  1. how it works,
  2. how it can be used (teaching, visualization, documenting impact of submitted articles, etc) and,
  3. possible improvements (too many to list here but its worth jumping to the Comments and Suggestion and Future Directions section to read)

It will be interesting to know how this tool is really used and if it is successful.

Shake things up – find new stuff

Sometimes you spend time and resources building features into your product only to find that customers don’t notice it. It can be frustrating.

For the past 7 years i had been shopping at the local Walmart. I knew where everything was and in which aisle. I didn’t have to think too much about it. Quick zip in and zip out process… a guys dream.

So last week, they closed the local Walmart and opened a Super Walmart nearby. Oh the frustration trying to find things. I must have spent at least an extra 15 minutes trying to find what i wanted (time i could have spent lying around on my couch). I did notice one thing though… I found and bought products that i didn’t know existed or were even sold at Walmart. They’ve probably always been there but i never went to those sections or aisles. How about that?

So let me draw a parallel and deduce that every once a while, you need to shake things up with your product. Move things around so people spend just a tad bit more time on your website/product and they may notice features that were always there but hitherto did not notice.

Graphing HMTL tables (idea?)

Can somebody invent this –

Should be able to highlight a table containing data on any webpage, (maybe) right click and choose to plot graph. Data should be imported to a table that user can update to see changes to graph. User should be able to save data including the one they modified, to profile and access later. When saving, source of (link to) original data should also be saved.