Friday, November 5, 2010

Various and sundry, November 5

Still trying to come up with a good name for this feature. I changed it this week because I realized it's not all about the writing; sometimes it's the information I found fascinating.

Such as learning that those "close door" buttons in elevators are placebo buttons. When you've pushed them a dozen times and the doors don't close and you wonder, "Why aren't they doing anything?", it's because they're designed not to do anything. They only operate if you have the key. Oh, and thermostats in office buildings? Total fakes, most of 'em.

On the job search front, a friend of mine sent me this article that argues all that job interviews show is whether a person is good at interviewing. Maybe I should send this anonymously to any company where I apply.

As I spent some of my week thinking about being a person of strong opinion, I was struck by this article on The Importance of Being Unprincipled. The point was this: "The article is not saying there are no principles worth upholding. It’s just suggesting that we very, very carefully decide which ones they are....Perhaps we all could use a little of being 'unprincipled' and of 'weakly holding some strong opinions.'” I like that idea.

If you've got time on your hands and spend it staring into space, you might be interested in checking out GalaxyZoo. As I learned, "It's a crowdsource project to have regular people -- citizen scientists, as they say -- do image-processing for large-scale projects." Like classifying galaxy images from the Hubble telescope or sorting out the craters of the moon. I thought that was pretty cool!

Certainly Wallace and Gromit would do this. The boys are in trouble, however, for appearing on a Christmas stamp in the UK. How dare they have a secular Christmas stamp?! I would totally use these; I wish they had them here.

Have a great weekend!


Lorin said...

I'm not sure I buy the elevator button thing. I've read multiple specs on elevators and have never seen placebo button as an option. Maybe they just get disabled after install?

The fake thermostat thing is changing, though. With the emergence of LEED and green design, giving users actual thermal control is important. There's also this thing called "opening a window" that's coming back into vogue, especially in Europe.

it's margaret said...

Placebo button!?


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