Cyberpsyche


Community Audiobooks

For all those who get travel-sick but love reading Librivox hosts audio-books read by volunteers. Anyone can volunteer to read by posting to their forum: so if you have a sensitive ear for language you could be disappointed and, because of copyright, only books in the public-domain are available.

It's a useful resource for the traveller, and the podcast streams make it easy to tune in for each installment for larger books.

Page scanning and web design

Jakob Nielsen recently published research which has implications for web design may be a rediscovery of a rule in typography: the Gutenberg Rule. Nielsen produced a small study of how the eyes of roughly 250 people scanned a website. With a page of text the pattern followed is roughly F shaped was the conclusion.

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Technorati: Developing for the blogsphere

Technorati have an interesting wiki for developers. It contains information on some of the APIs useful for blogging and information about Technorati's own API--- with a number of implementations.

Ideas and metaphor

The The Word-Nerds have an interesting pod-cast explaining a well used metaphor in politics: The Ship of State. This dates back to Plato's republic. I've heard this metaphor reused in different ways by different authors recently. They point out that governor has its roots in the Roman word for Helmsman.

It shows how a good metaphor can be very powerful. It provides ways of talking about areas of the problem that everyone understands. It allows you to quickly express complex ideas and emotions. For example if you're sailing close to the wind then it implies more work, rougher sea and a narrower margin of error. Rocking the boat can be easily understood as something like sabotage; although in calm seas could be a joke. There are many.

A Feedback Form for Presentations

I've been clearing out some notes from last year and came across a feedback form I used. It might be useful to someone who needs to put a presentation together quickly.

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SA4J Structural Analysis for Java

I've been playing with SA4J a Structural Analysis Package for Java by IBM. This package helps with the analysis and maintenance of legacy systems, as well as helping to improve existing designs.

One real benefit of the package it helps unroll complex inter-dependancies between objects. Sometimes these "tangles" are not always easily noticable looking at the code. Just over time the system does not scale.

It identifies structural patterns in the system that hinder maintenance over time:

Tangled
A tangle is a large group of objects whose relationships are so interconnected that a change in any one of them could affect all of the others. Long tangles are a major cause of instability in large systems.

Mind Performance Hacks

Another book in O'Reilly's hacks series was published last month: Mind Performance Hacks gives some hacks for the scatter-brain. There is also a wiki to support the book that is worth at least a quick read.

I was beginning to think the word hacking was lost to the world of subverting computer systems. O'Reilly's hacker series does a lot to put the idea of hacking back where it was--- the combination of art and science to make something new. Mind Performance Hacks is true to its title. It reminds me of John Bentley's programming pearls articles. Some hacks fit right into an engineer’s day; Estimating Orders of Magnitude is one. Perl programmers will find this book interesting too: where there is code it is Perl. Which is fitting, some of the memory aid devices in the book were used by Larry in the early days of Perl in explaining the language to Shell or C programmers.

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