Friday, March 7, 2008

Money programme on email

Today's Money Programme (on BBC2 at 19.00 for UK viewers), is on the subject "Email is ruining my life". The BBC website carries an outline of the programme which includes these top tips from Loughborough University's Dr Tom Jackson.

He has spent the last nine years researching and developing better e-mail practice and has five tips he believes can help you take control of your inbox:

* Invest in a spam filter. You shouldn't open a spam e-mail, because as soon as you open the e-mail up, it notifies the organisation that has sent that, saying this is a valid e-mail address. They know how long you've looked at it, when you looked at it and did you go back to it.
* Target your e-mail. One of most annoying things about e-mail is the sheer number of messages we receive that aren't addressed primarily to us. Does everyone in the cc box really need to be copied in on your words of wisdom? Basically, a cc is there for information purposes only, and you should only use it for that purpose.
* Write more carefully. The reason to write carefully is crystal clear. It just vastly increases the chance that whatever it is you want to get done will get done. If you don't write carefully, there's room for misunderstanding.
* Reduce interruptions. I think it does start to stress people out. Simply by changing the way they have their e-mail application set up, they can start to reduce some of that stress.
* Get training. E-mail seems like common sense. Anyone can write an e-mail. But the issues we're having are that many people are struggling with e-mail communication - and training can really help with that.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New material gets floppy when wet

So? I hear you say. I can think of a few which get floppy when wet... cardboard, paper etc. This is a new material based on a sea cucumber, which the New Scientist reports has a unique ability to go floppy in water and rigid when dry. Developed by Stuart Rowan and Chris Weder of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, US, the material is a polymer made from two different compounds and shot through with microscopic cellulose fibres. "It's directly inspired by the sea cucumber," Rowan says. It is the precursor of materials which may be able to form soft clothing which will then morph into armour with the addition of a current or some other trigger.

As the developer of the new material says categorically that it was based on the abilities of the sea cucumber to go rigid in defence, which is known as biomimicry, it reminded me of the talk given at TED in which Janine Benyus talked about biomimicry: the ways in which we can learn from nature.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Brian Protheroe

I bought Brian Protheroe's album Pinball in the Notting Hill Record and Tape Exchange in the 1970s... and loved it. He's recently had a revival of interest and so tracks with accompanying video have been appearing on youtube.

There's the title track from that album Pinball, and others like Fly Now from the Pinball album too.
Although I didn't come across before youtube featured it, CitySong.

I know it's the kiss of death for an artist if I say I like them... but I like Brian Protheroe. His songs are great to sing along with, and to listen in the early hours of the morning.

Lasseg and Soup

I have written in other places about how I came across the Lasseg music edit "Amateur" on youtube, which lead me to other films by lasseg, such as the cello music by Giovanni Sollima and his other fantastic films.

I am grateful that I found Soup's reply to the Lasseg film Amateur, because it was through that I found his music, which I love.