Thursday, June 30, 2005

Vertical Leap Conference on Search

My friend Barney has been blogging some detailed (albeit raw) notes from panel sessions at Vertical Leap. Here are his most recent notes, and you should check a few days behind this as well: Investing in Vertical Search.

Here is more blogging of the events: Technorati Tag for Vertical Leap. You'll find stuff on venture funding, classifieds and job search, travel search, shopping, blog searching.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Smell Research

Like most people, I think aromatherapy is kind of hooey, except that I do really like perfume and different aromatic oils. It turns out interesting research has been done on the physiological impact of different scents, leading to some neat conclusions. Most of this comes from the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, ltd., and published reports of the research of one Alan Hirsch.
  • Smelling of Grapefruit Helps Women Appear Younger But Doesn't Affect Other Women. Very odd. "Another possibility is that the grapefruit aroma could have sexually aroused the men, clouding their judgment, or even could have acted as a stress buster, he says." Grapefruit makes me more stressed, not less, but then men are strange about foods.
  • As this shows, too: Various Aromas Enhance Male Sexual Response, most marked being the smell of lavender and pumpkin pie, closely followed by a mix of donut and black licorice. Strange, desserts and candy are sexy.
  • But meanwhile, the Sense of Smell Can Make You Eat Less, which has even been productized in Australia. Banana, green apple, and pepermint are high weight loss scents.
  • And Floral Scents Make Women Look Thinner. That rose based perfume I bought in Paris must make me look anorexic.
  • Male Underarm Odor Makes Women More Fertile plus other weird smell facts, like "Green apple and cucumber scents create the impression of a larger space, while the scent of roasted meat creates the impression of closer quarters; Some people can't smell skunks, while others can't smell freesias; A 1-week-old baby can discriminate between the smell of his own breastfeeding mother and another mother; Women are born better smellers than men and remain better smellers over life." And lavender really does measurably induce better and deeper sleep.
  • While back on Hirsch's corporate page, people scratching their noses might be lying. Or, like me, it could be allergies.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Roswell -- Another Explanation

This just broke last week, and is getting a lot of discussion among UFO trackers and bloggers. Nick Redfern has a book out theorizing that the Roswell coverup was aimed at keeping post-war human subject and military experimentation a secret, using UFOs as the cover story. Here's one link to a capsule summary: COAST TO COAST AM WITH GEORGE NOORY: Roswell Secrets.

If you want the rambling long interview with Redfern, go here: Phenomena, Area 51: The Full Nick Redfern Interview, in 6 parts.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

GotPsi? Try the Boundary Institute

The Boundary Institute has online psi tests, with automatic scoring. You can do various card prediction games, remote viewing, guessing lottery numbers, etc. It's a bit of a time sink, once you start playing. It has "meme" written all over it, too. And the research articles on the results are fascinating, although old now. (Most interesting factoid was that 2 scorers did outrageously well, until they discovered that the trials were not "random" enough; and after making the tests more random, their scores normalized again. The theory is that some individuals are supernaturally good at subconsciously learning patterns in data. Which is a pretty good psi skill if you ask me...)

GotPsi-- The tests.

No, I didn't score that well on anything, although I had better than chance on a few.

Source of Stonehenge Stone

Fascinating find: in the Welsh news, icWales - Archaeologists figure out mystery of Stonehenge bluestones.
The enclosure is just over one acre in size but, according to team leader Professor Tim Darvill, it provides a veritable "Aladdin's Cave" of made-to-measure pillars for aspiring circle builders. Within and outside the enclosure are numerous prone pillar stones with clear signs of working. Some are fairly recent and a handful of drill holes attest to the technology used. ... They were then moved 240 miles to the famous site at Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. The discovery comes a year after scientists proved that the remains of a "band of brothers" found near Stonehenge were Welshmen who transported the stones.

Recent Graffiti from France (photos)

Pictures of French graffiti on the Photo blog. (I am having some kind of trouble updating the RSS feed, though.)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Educating UI Designers

In 2004, I gave a talk at UW about user interface design which consisted of a long wish-list for the education of future generations of UI designer colleagues. Some of it was based on conversations with junior colleagues at Adobe, including things they wished they'd been told or taught before getting into the field. Other items were based on my own cross-over from research to practice, and the sad gulf I see between the two. A few were based on my growing belief that design skill is the important frontier for education, hard though that may be to conquer.

The condensed form of the "please teach them" list includes this motley assortment:

Teach them… The Language of Business & Marketing instead of HCI & UCD; Teach Them… Product Design instead of Interface Design, If You Can; Teach Them… Usability Methods; Teach them… How to Determine Appropriate Study Methods; Teach Them… To Characterize their Customers; Teach them… To Identify and Characterize Problems; Teach them… To Review and Critique Designs; Teach Them… Different Kinds of “Design”; Teach them… Design for Multiple Devices; Teach Them… To do Fast Low-Fi Design; Teach Them… To Prepare Multiple Deliverables; Teach them… To Recognize the Value of Multiple Levels of Abstraction; Teach them… To Present Their Design Work; Teach them… To Find and Interpret Previous Research; Teach them… To Relate In-House Research to Design; Teach them… Justify without Defensiveness; Teach them… Software Development Lifecycle Models; Teach Them… How to Interview; Teach them… To Drive Projects; Teach them… Most Design Happens in Committees; Teach Them… Public Speaking; Teach them… To Study Their Own Organization; Teach them… To be Solid Experts but not Shrill Evangelists; Teach them… Organizational Planning; Teach them… To Know and Evaluate Books on Design; Teach them… The Difference Between Peers and Resources.
In case it's of interest, I've put my powerpoint slides up at Teaching UI Design and HCI. ("HCI" is a common label for the academic cross-disciplinary field of human-computer interaction, which usually includes usability and user interface design, as well as research and innovative interface engineering.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The PaxFan

From MetaEfficient: The PaxFan: An Innovative Spiral Form.

A spiral fan was created by Pax Scientific, based on observations of natural fluid dynamics. I have a friend who needs one of these.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Children in Paris (most of them featuring these cool boats) on the Photo Blog (June 19).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Birds in Luxembourg Gardens. More nice Birds in France on the 2005 photo blog. (I think this is a really nice set.)

Dolphins with Sponges on Their Noses

This is a really cute story, which also happens to have some very unintentionally funny sections... It seems female dolphins in one bay are using sponges as tools to help them catch fish better. The boys are too busy chasing the women to learn tool use, but the mothers are passing the method on to their daughters.

Dolphin with sponge on her nose.

They found that most spongers shared similar mitochondrial DNA, which is genetic information passed down from the mother. This indicates that the spongers are probably all descended from a single "Sponging Eve". The spongers also shared similar DNA from the nucleus, suggesting that Eve lived just a few generations ago.

But not all the female dolphins with similar mitochondrial DNA use sponges. And when the researchers considered ten different means of genetic inheritance, considering that the sponging trait might be dominant, recessive, linked to the X-chromosome or not, they found no evidence that the trait was carried in DNA. "It's highly unlikely that there is one or several genes that causes the animals to use tools," says Kr├╝tzen.

The story is here: news @ nature.com: Australian dolphins learn to hunt with sponges stuck to their noses.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Europe's Oldest Civilization

This news story in the Independent describes another major archaeological find: evidence of the remains of massive constructions created by a major civilization in central Europe, dating to well before Stonhenge and the pyramids.
More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC. Their discovery, revealed today by The Independent, will revolutionise the study of prehistoric Europe... Constructed of earth and wood, they had ramparts and palisades that stretched for up to half a mile. They were built by a religious people who lived in communal longhouses up to 50 metres long, grouped around substantial villages.

Results of the MATLAB Contest

Matt Simoneau has produced some cool stats and graphs about the MATLAB contest winners and how the algorithms changed over time.

Visit The MATLAB Programming Contest - MATLAB Contest > ants > Contest Evolution. It's also very interesting to read the comments from the winners, found in the right hand nav panel.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bar du Marche, St Germain, Paris 2005. More photos of People Selling Things in Paris on the 2005 Photoblog (June 11).

Thursday, June 09, 2005

MissTic and Troy in Paris

A couple of days before leaving for France, I posted about a street artist named MissTic. I not only found a few more MissTic pieces in Montmartre, but we also found a gallery right next to them showcasing her work. It was Galerie W on rue LePic.

Coincidentally, it turns out to be a gallery owned by an artist friend of friends of mine in Paris, one Troy Henriksen. He is an American, former fisherman of Boston, who moved Kerouac-style to Paris and became a sensation. His work is childlike, bright, text-filled; it makes me smile. His price is well beyond me now, but my friends have his early work all over their apartment.

To add even more charm to our artistic visit, while my California friends and I were wandering through the MissTic works, Troy and his girlfriend Delphine came downstairs from the atelier and chatted with us. Their baby Victor is now 4 and very adorable.

troy's bird on

You can find French biographies of the Galerie W artists on the gallery site.

Vedic Architecture

I'm fascinated: This odd building called Tower II is being constructed in my home town, Rockville, MD. (As in, "don't go back to.") Here's a quote from their online brochure about it: "All measurements of Tower II, interior and exterior, are proportionally designed to mirror the geometry, or architecture, of the universe. In addition, Tower II has a Brahmasthan (highlighted in gold)—a silent core or nucleus—at the center of the building."

Uhuh. On the other hand, the "green" principles and light principles all sound very reasonable to me. The company that's building it seems to have constructed another award winning building in the same area, and a boutiqeuy mall that I used to hang out at when I was supposed to be at church.

National Conference on Vedic Architecture: The Tower II.

chemical trust and love with oxytocin

From Steve on tingilinde: "chemical trust and love with oxytocin." Wouldn't it be interesting if, along with depression, anxiety, and high cholesterol, antisocial behavior and international conflicts could be fixed with prescription drugs?