Online reading digest week ending 30th December 2012

Somewhat relieved that this week hasn't been a heavy online reading week. Perhaps I'm just trying to persuade myself that I do actually have a family.

Only three articles that I found noteworthy enough to file in Evernote for blogging:

Attack of the apps: Popular smartphone games go offline, ready for a Christmas tree near you
This felt mildly depressing.

Inspired by the thought that I should research better ways of prepping vegetables for Christmas dinner.

Let's talk Xbox 720: Xbox World shares everything it knows about the next console
Shiny new toy for next year? Apart from the fact that I hardly ever get time to play games now.


Online reading digest week ending 23rd December 2012

Various items from my random surfing ...

Microsoft claims a meaningless 88% win rate in its new ‘Meet Your Match’ Windows Phone challenge
Lies, damn lies and statistics.

The Most Popular Futurist On The Planet Will Help Google Develop The Next Big Thing
How do you get to be the most popular futurist on the planet?

Google Launches Another Killer App On iPhone
Still not really that excited about video sharing.

8 Ways Evernote Can Help You Get More from Your Research in 2013, and a New Ambassador!
I'm getting more and more into Evernote as a way of capturing lots of useful information. Also finding that I'm starting to build something of a productive workflow with it. Especially good for creating reading lists of stuff I want to read at some point, and this almost allows me to do so from anywhere (if my iPhone is sync'ed).

Google's cloud-based music-matching service has arrived... and it's free
iTunes match has lots of irritating features. I think I'm going to move to this.

Some War Z Images Were Ripped From The Walking Dead
Ah, annoyed gaming fans. Always good for amusement value.

The simple domain
Gave me a reason to think differently about some organisational issues. I'm not sure it necessarily pushed me in a particularly valuable direction. Different viewpoints are often helpful generally though.

Thank you, and we’re listening
That was quite a media (publicity?) storm you managed to create there Instagram.

Your Guide on How to Immunize Yourself Against Misinformation in 2013
In summary: don't read popular media.

And all the rest of the things I found interesting (not that I'm running out of energy here ...):
How do we enable young makers, without hiding the details of how things really work?
The End of the Beginning
The Biggest Disappointments Of 2012
BBC's Robert Peston appeals for return of late wife's engagement ring after burglary
Less Is More: Why a 50% Solution Hit the Sweet Spot
Google reportedly working with Motorola to design its own 'X Phone'
If You're Serious About Ideas, Get Serious About Blogging
Mobile’s Next Major Integrated Layer: OS-Level Home Automation
Infographic: What is your preferred method of wasting time at work?
Should startups bother having original ideas if big companies can just come along and clone them?
We’re all couch potatoes now
Dropbox: A nebulous future


Online reading digest week ending 16th December 2012

Things I've been reading about this week:

Microsoft balks at Apple’s 30% fee, leaving SkyDrive and apps that integrate with it in the lurch on iOS
Interesting. Apple takes a 30% cut of service subscription revenues when purchased through iOS apps. With some particularly intriguing long-term implications.

The Inconvenient Truth About SEO
I kind of don't find the opinions in here that surprising. Although intuitively I agree with the sentiment that people can easily lose sight of the purpose of creating valuable content, rather than trying to get the best position in search engine rankings. As Einstein said "Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."

13 killer Chrome apps to replace your desktop software
Well maybe. But, arguably, why would you bother?

Turn your notes into writing using the Cornell method
I really want to get back into proper reading, researching and note taking. I think something like this approach might be useful in both personally and professionally.

I Love The Smell Of Sepia Tone In The Morning
Don't base the value proposition of your business on me-too features. Run a different race.

How an Internet-connected Samsung TV can spill your deepest secrets
What I can't decide is how real the threat is to a normal person.

Londoners, time to put your Oyster card in a different wallet

When Wall Street Investors Favor Performance Over Ethics
I can't decide if this is a good example of things being wrong in the way that capital markets work or a bit of a red herring.

It Took This Investor 40 Years To Plan His Retirement And Two Years To Lose It

You Have To Know How Millennials Think To Get The Best Out Of Them
Good management involves knowing your people, regardless of what generational label you apply. Build great relationships with your staff. Be clear about performance, both expected and achieved. Practise situational leadership. The end.

Why Google Just Made iPhone King

Facebook Changes Privacy Controls, Forces Users to be Searchable

Dear Yammer and the entire cloud wave: If you expect companies to use your software, it has to work
Maybe. But a lot of people are still riding the hype (and low costs).

Time to Revisit The Risk Discussion
I keep making the point about the difference between uncertainty arising from chance and uncertain outcomes from predictable events. I think the failure to fully appreciate the difference causes some of the biggest failings in many project risk management strategies. For example, in many IT projects the single biggest risk is simply uncertainty in estimates. The work has never been done before, therefore it isn't possible to accurately assess the likely time / effort required. In most cases this risk isn't listed on a risk log (not that surprising, since responses to it are actually limited). And yet it can easily dwarf the aggregated impact of all the other risks on the log. Which means that a lot of risk management activities on a project like that have a very poor cost-benefit case and are, essentially, just a waste of time.

The Web We Lost

Google+ Didn’t Stop With 18 New Features, Updates iOS App With Photo Album Swipes, Conversation Cards And More

Anyone Who Believes In 'Mobile First' Needs To Look At This Photo
Common sense. A good reminder.

Google Does Winter Cleaning, Shuts Down “Less Popular” Calendar Features, Punchd Loyalty App, Multiple Sync Services

You are not a scrounger: a letter to a disabled reader
Frightening and moving.

Every Apple-Made App On Your iPhone Can Be Replaced By A Better App
Fantastical might be worthy of experimentation.

Is meaningful action on guns possible?
Some opinions are just too hard for me to even begin to attempt to empathise with. I just can't get my head around the way of thinking that opposes gun control given all the evidence of the problems arising from guns. As a side note, I frequently find myself wishing that news reports would remember to contextualise gun crime in the United States by making meaningful comparisons with similar sized populations and demographics.

Meet the World’s Cheapest Venture Capitalist

The right to resell: a ticking time bomb over digital goods


Online Reading Digest week ending 9th December 2012

Things I've noticed on the web this week:

19 handy Google tricks that you weren’t aware of
I'm still not sure why I read news articles that have a title of "XX things you didn't know about something". There might be a few interesting things in here if you've only recently encountered Google. But probably best to let you eyes get used to the sunlight, because you've presumably been living under a rock for the last decade if that's the case.

KPMG survey finds a ‘stronger than expected’ demand for cloud services
Disappointingly empty of meaningful statistics (why, exactly, am I surprised by this?). And driven by interviewing cloud service providers. That these businesses expect a strong demand for their product is surprising for what reason?

Amazon’s Appstore Suggests the Fire Is Blowing Up
This week's reading digest appears to mostly involve pouring some level of scorn on the stuff I've read. Maybe I'm just grumpy right now. There's no evidence presented in the article itself that justifies the claim that the Fire is particularly blowing up. A 500% increase in a year is interesting, but how does that compare to the growth in the overall market? It's a meaningless number without that comparison. And, of course, Amazon was starting from a comparatively low base compared to other app stores. Given the general state of mobile devices and app purchases, isn't it reasonable to assume that there will be a high level of growth?

Seven Productivity Myths, Debunked by Science (and Common Sense)
Even though I'm not particularly convinced I've ever held any of these myths, this was still a worthwhile read. I especially liked that attempts to link to some current research. Although there are always limitations in doing so, because you can't provide the full citation trail nor easily ensure you adequately represent the overall state of the literature in a given field.

Autumn Statement: Young lives are being ruined because of Britain's timid Treasury
I don't know if I agree with the politics in here, but I do worry about the economic future for Seb. It still feels that we're increasingly borrowing from our children's future to fund our own lives now. And that feels morally wrong. So this was slightly depressing reading.


Subscription TV

Do I really need Sky Sports?
It's funny the sort of things you think about when you're lying wide awake at 4:30 in the morning. I'm not quite sure how I managed to go from stressing about half a dozen work related issues to thinking about TV. But I did, and I found myself trying to work out whether I could really justify spending something in the region of £700 per year on Sky TV. There are many advantages to Sky:

  • Sky+ is a brilliant product, especially with the ability to set recordings remotely via text or a native iPhone app
  • Pausing live TV, recording one channel and watching another are really handy
  • HD sport is noticeably clearer and better than SD broadcasts
  • If I didn't have Sky Sports I wouldn't have been able to watch the Miracle of Medinah
  • I really enjoy watching NFL
  • H really enjoys some of the additional channels for American "trash"
  • Premier League football
  • I have ESPN and ESPN America too. And I really like US sports
  • The Sky Go iPhone app is quality
But, many of these advantages are available with other TV watching solutions. And we're not such avid fans of any particular TV series that we couldn't buy a DVD or Blu Ray boxset instead. So, it basically boils down to whether I can cope without access to Sky Sports. 
I'm thinking that I can. You can stream NFL and NBA online. And you can do both for half the price of Sky, if you really can't cope. And there's always MoTD or that funny old thing call a "pub" to watch the footy in. I think I'm persuading myself.


One small step for a man ...

Look mummy; I can walk!

13 weeks after I ruptured my Achilles Tendon, I walked for the first time on Wednesday. Hyperbole is over-used these days, but I think it is fair to say that this was a genuinely thrilling experience.

I had my first appointment with my Physio on Wednesday morning. On Monday, I'd had a fairly underwhelming trip to the Consultant at RUH Bath. He didn't even look at my foot, literally just asked me how I felt. After I'd said "Fine. I feel like I've got a decent range of motion." he just told me to start getting physiotherapy and that he'd book me in again in three months. Not to see him though, because he's off, fed up with Bath. Brilliant!

The Physio is a different proposition. She seems really interested in helping me get better. It feels brilliant to sense that someone cares and is enjoying their job. When Jo asked me to have a go at walking without my crutches I was actually fairly nervous and excited. Obviously, that's what I really want to be able to do. Once I'd done it it just felt brilliant. At the moment, I am mostly walking with a single crutch to support me. That, in itself, is essentially life changing. I can carry a glass of squash or a cup of coffee from the kitchen. Small victories! I also should do a little bit of unaided walking to start getting the strength back.

As you can see from the video, I still have a long way to go. The range of motion isn't quite there yet and the strength isn't there to push off properly. But I can walk. It's a great day!


Homeopaths on homeopathy

I'm normally a bit dismissive of articles attacking the scientific evidence (specifically the lack of) homeopathy. I mean, it's a bit like picking on Jeremy Clarkson for not having any dress sense. But I found this article on guardian.co.uk reasonably amusing. And then it got me thinking. Maybe we're all missing a trick ...

On the basis that homeopathic remedies are essentially water, I assume that they should be a lot cheaper to manufacture than conventional medicines. If there are enough people out there that believe in the power of homeopathy sufficiently to get a placebo effect from them then maybe there's some efficiencies to be gained. From my recollection of the arguments in Ben Goldacre's rather excellent Bad Science, the placebo effect is generally not a non-zero effect and can often lead to good medical outcomes. Medical treatment is surely mostly about outcomes. If you can get good outcomes for a lower cost wouldn't that be good?

Note, I'm not saying placebo effect outcomes are necessarily as good as "real" treatments. And, yes, I'm being flippant. But there's a lot of aggression directed to homeopathy. Perhaps we should embrace the seemingly unstoppable dumbing down of society and save some money?



Das Boot
It's definitely progress. Although it doesn't feel as good as it probably should.

I had my cast removed after 65 days. I am now in the boot that you can see in the picture. It's designed to limit the range of motion so that I don't actually stretch the tendon too far and set myself back to square one. Right now, it's set to allow me to go no more than 18 degrees from neutral (90 degrees). When I get to neutral I'm heading towards losing the brace and thinking about weight bearing. That's probably around four weeks away.

The boot is much heavier than the cast. I've immediately found that things are a little bit more awkward than they were before. But I won't complain about that too much as it will give my upper leg a bit more exercise.

A real benefit of the boot is that I am allowed to remove it. Actually, I have to remove it to get dressed, so it's not just optional. But it is great to be able to give my leg some air and to have a full shower without having to use a Limbo (absolutely superb, life-enhancing, product and brilliant customer service. I can't recommend it highly enough if you are unfortunate enough to get in the same situation as me).

It does feel brilliant to be able to start to flex my ankle and feel that there is a tendon there and that I can start stretching it. The only reason that the progress doesn't feel as good as it could is that going back to the hospital really does re-emphasize how long the recovery process is going to be. It's probably going to be eight weeks before I can drive again. Getting to back to light exercise could be four months from now. The muscle wastage in my leg is horrible. My right leg is about half the size of my left. Even my foot is smaller.

At least now I can actually do something towards my recovery by stretching out my tendon on a regular basis. It's progress, but it's a long road ahead.


Achilles Tendon - Day 53

I'm nearly at the next step. My next appointment at the hospital is on April 16th. I feel like there has been progress. It feels like I can push my foot against the bottom of my cast as if I'm pointing my toes. You definitely can't do that without an Achilles tendon.

I made the mistake of reading about the injury on the internet again last night. That did not help my morale. The blogs that people post always seem to talk about having had an operation (I didn't), about seeing the doctors to get casts changed (I haven't) and about early active recovery exercises (nope). What if I haven't had the right advice? What if I'm months behind where I should be? What if I never recover fully? What if I can't do sport the same way for the rest of my life? What if it's weak and I re-rupture it as soon as I try to do sport again?

Even those blogs with their active recovery regimes still don't sound like they are back to normal activities before six months. It feels like a long time to go. But I guess I have to keep telling myself that that is back to "normal". In between, there is clearly exercise, just not at the same level. That will keep me going. A bit.
And to motivate me, I think I need to plan some proper adventures on the assumption that I get fit. How about this for 2014?


Things I won't be dealing with for a while

I'm not big on health and safety, but I still don't fancy climbing on a kitchen chair to fiddle around with our ceiling lights.

Spectacularly useless internet shopping

Ordered last Thursday night. Arrived on Saturday morning. Collected on Monday.

Monday, of course, being the day that I attended Fracture Clinic to confirm my treatment plan for my ruptured Achilles tendon.



Yeh. That's not good. That'll be a ruptured Achilles tendon underneath that plaster. 

Initially, I wasn't too worried about it. The novelty of going to hospital and knowing that I've got to use crutches got me through the first day. But now I start to think about it, I'm not quite as excited about being injured. Properly injured. This is eight weeks in plaster, at least another four weeks before I can even think about driving. After that, rehabilitation is looking like at least another couple of months before I can even think of normal sport. So I'm looking at around 5-6 months if everything goes perfectly. If things are less than perfect it could be quite a lot longer. Remember David Beckham injuring himself before the last World Cup? He had surgery, which speeds up recovery by around a month, and obviously had access to the best possible physiotherapy and equipment. And he's properly super fit. And he was only back playing after 6 months.

This is going to be a very long process. I am a little bit nervous. I'm especially worried about the idea of not being able to do my normal sporting exercise for quite a long time. Scary.