I recently co-wrote the first blog post / newsletter for my client Enable Advisory. They are a boutique consulting firm made up of senior executives from the coal mining and resource sector who provide mine planning and mine project management services (among other things).
Here’s the opening of the blog post, which tries to distill some lessons from the Challenger explosion and apply them to mine planning.
When the Challenger space shuttle exploded off the coast of Florida on January 28, 1986, Wayne Hale was head of the Propulsion Systems Section, Systems Division, Mission Operations, NASA. If you think you’ve experienced systems failure in your job, imagine if the entire event was being televised live around the world to hundreds of millions of people. Hale went on to become NASA Flight Director and Space Shuttle Program Manager and has recorded ten enduring lessons from his experience on how to avoid another Challenger-type incident. One of those lessons is that “a preoccupation with failure results in high reliability organizations.” He believes that dissension during the decision making process has tremendous value and that no dissension means the issue hasn’t been examined enough. Appoint devil’s advocates, he advises, and don’t let people remain silent – draw them out.
You can read the whole thing here.
I’ve been listening to a recent episode of Mac Power Users dedicated to Hazel. I fucking LOVE Hazel and it’s one of those tools that I love to tinker with (but try and limit how much time I sink into it). I’m always looking for new ways to use it and I guess it’s time I give back by sharing some more of my favourite rules.
This rule I created early in 2015 to archive files off of my Macbook Pro drive is still working great, albeit with a few minor tweaks. Macbook drives are pretty low on storage these days, and I deal in a lot of large audio files, so I need Hazel to keep a close eye on them and offload them onto USB drives about a month after I create them.
Photos and videos take up a lot of room too, so I use Hazel to take all of them that are a month old and archive them to Dropbox. That way I can pull them up on my phone or Mac whenever I need them, but they are out of the way.
BOOKS INTO EVERNOTE
For all of my history podcasts, I like to have text versions of my source books in Evernote so I can cut and paste as needed. So when I download a new Kindle book from Amazon, Hazel notices the new file (in the Kindle folder), and opens it in Calibre, when then converts the epub into a text file. Hazel then grabs the new text file (from the Calibre directory) and opens it in Evernote.
I use Stickies a lot to store bits of data I often need quickly – eg URLs for podcast feeds that people ask me for, Textexpander shortcuts, Macbook keyboard shortcuts, etc. But from time to time I want to do a clean install of OSX on my Mac and the Stickies database usually isn’t something I remember to backup, because it’s buried in the app directory. So I have Hazel take a daily backup of it for me and throw it into Dropbox.
Email me or leave a comment if you have cool Hazel rules to share.
A study by the Sunlight Foundation found that, between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. What they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion (with a T) in federal business and support.
Since I bought my latest 13″ Macbook Pro with the minuscule on-board flash storage, I’ve had to build systems to offload large and/or old files onto external storage. But to make sure I always have access to those files even when I don’t have my Macbook or USB drives close at hand, I’ve got the current docs stored in Google Drive. Anything that’s six months old or older, is archived in Dropbox. So I need to search for them from time to time and I wanted Alfred to do that for me. For some reason Dropbox search isn’t built into Alfred’s web search features, so I built a custom search and now I’m sharing it with you.
Over at Motherlode (Brisbane’s hardest working marketing agency) we recently produced a couple of videos for our client Mobicon Systems to demonstrate why their “mini straddle carriers” are a more cost effective solution for handling shipping containers than the usual solutions like a reach stacker or a sidelift.
A great video can be a powerful marketing tool and I’m still surprised how few businesses seem to use them well.
A few weeks ago I took part in “International Podcast Day” and spent an hour talking live about my approach to making money with podcasting. You can listen to the archived recording here.
I was just scrolling through some old posts of mine and found this one from 2008 where I talk about the fastest supercomputer in the world at that time which was capable of 1.026 QIPS (quadrillion instructions per second aka 1 petaflop).
I predicted at the time that by 2012 we should have supercomputers running 16 QIPS / petaflops.
Well last year, 2014, China’s Tianhe-2 supercomputer was performing at 33.86 petaflops – double the 2012 prediction, which is right on track.
My 2008 post posited that the human brain was only capable of 10 petaflops – and it that’s true, it means that Tianhe-2 is running at 3x the speed of a human brain. It’s ability to use that processing power (eg its software) may not yet be as sophisticated as ours – but how long before they catch up?
I’m often only interested in the search results that are fairly recent – for example, if I’m looking for “great apps for iphone”, I don’t want results from 2007. But if you perform a search in Google, there’s no simple way to restrict it’s time query except for mucking about with the “search tools” options, which adds clicks and time and cognitive load to a search.
Fortunately I’ve just found a clever way to do it in Chrome (Mac), thanks to PigeonLab.
If you open up Chrome’s preferences, you’ll find a section that allows you to add new search engines.
Once you open that up, if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll find this box:
Then, follow PigeonLab’s instructions:
- Add a name for your new engine, a keyword to use to trigger the use of this engine, and the following URL
This URL is set to only return results from the last year. You can also use the following to set your preferred time frame. Just replace the “tbs=qdr:y” between the ampersands in the URL with one of the time frame codes from the list below.
&tbs=rltm:1 [real time results]
&tbs=qdr:s [past second]
&tbs=qdr:n [past minute]
&tbs=qdr:h [past hour]
&tbs=qdr:d [past 24 hours (day)]
&tbs=qdr:w [past week]
&tbs=qdr:m [past month]
- Then click somewhere else in the pop-up window to unset the focus from your new engine.
- Once your new engine is no longer highlighted it will be moved intoÂ alphabeticalÂ order in the list
- Find your new engine and hover over it, a blue “Make Default” button should appear near the right hand side of the engine URL. Â Click the button to make this engine the default and don’t forget to click the save button at the bottom of the pop-up window.
- BOOM! all your searches in the omnibox should now return only results from the last 12 months.
I’d never heard of Édouard-Henri Avril until tonight. His name came up during my prep for the next Life Of Caesar podcast.
According to Wikipedia, Avril (21 May 1849 – 28 July 1928) was a French painter and commercial artist. Under the pseudonym Paul Avril, he was an illustrator of erotic literature. His major work was designs for De Figuris Veneris: A Manual of Classical Erotica, an anthology of ancient Greek and ancient Roman writings on erotic topics, discussed objectively and classified and grouped by subject matter, by the German scholar Friedrich Karl Forberg.
Here is a collection of 46 of his paintings. They are quite saucy.
I do most of my best thinking behind the steering wheel after meetings and I’m always looking for ways to capture those ideas before I forget them.
I wrote a post a couple of years ago about using Siri to transcribe voice-to-text into an email that it would send to Evernote. That’s worked well for me but it has some limitations – mostly that if you’re trying to write a long note and you pause to think, Siri will assume you are finished and cut you off mid-sentence.
So I have a new system that I find works even better.
Dropvox is an iPhone app that will a) record your voice and b) automatically save the recording to Dropbox. There are other apps that will do a similar thing, but I like Dropvox for two reasons.
1) It has a HUGE RED BUTTON making it easy to press while driving.
2) It has a setting that will start recording as soon as the app opens, which means you don’t even have to press the button!
Of course you can record notes into Evernote directly but it takes a few clicks and the in-app record button is the size of ant’s balls. This is more like an elephant.
So while driving I can activate Siri and simply say “Open Dropvox” (making sure I over-emphasise the “VOX” so it doesn’t open DropBOX by mistake) and, when it opens, I start recording my note. When I hit the huge red elephant-sized STOP button, Dropvox will automatically upload the file to Dropbox.
Now – here’s the magic.
On my Macbook I have a Hazel rule setup to grab new notes in the Dropvox folder under my main Dropbox folder, and open them in Evernote! So when I get back to the office after my meeting and open my Macbook, I’ll magically get my audio note open in Evernote a minute later (once Dropbox has synched).