Archive for November 2006

personal progress

November 16, 2006

I often wonder whether my day-to-day activities are setting up “future-me” to be happy and successful or if I’ll regret spending too much or too little time in any given task.

As my professional career relies mostly on my skills as a scientist, I’m grateful that “past-me” spent a decent amount of time doing mathematical excercises thoroughly – the same cannot be said for my efforts in say european history class.  One might use the “good to be well-rounded” argument here, but my knowledge (random pieces of trivia) in european history is only put to use in crossword puzzles and feigning inteligence.

What worries me is that some scenarios seemed fool-proof.  Study accounting, become an accountant, and earn a salary – the end.  But what happens, if some software company creates a program that emulates an accountant.  Instead of giving my tax forms to an accountant, have him crunch the numbers, and telling the government to give me what’s mine, I just punch the numbers into a program and let it do the same thing faster and with less error.  Incidentally, I made the switch already, using a program to do my taxes last year.

I guess there’s no reliable way of predicting the landscape of the future job  market nor a way of guessing at which skills I might need.  I suppose a child who dreams of being an accoutant can always end up working for a company that makes the programs that act as virtual accountants.


randy moss

November 15, 2006

Randy Moss – commenting on why he has been under-performing lately –
“Maybe because I’m unhappy, and I’m not too much excited about what’s going on, so my concentration and focus level tends to go down when I’m in a bad mood,” Moss said. “So all I can say is if you put me in a good situation and make me happy, man, you get good results.”

The general response that I’ve read from sport writers is that Randy is lazy and a disgrace for the game. Considering that he is known to maintain minimal contact with the media, I figure I am in as good a position as any to comment on his comments.

To put it simply, I can see where he’s coming from.

There is a certain expectation for all professional athletes to “give 110%” in all circumstances. This is patently bogus. Take a quarterback diving before he gets hit or a receiver stepping out of bounds instead of fighting for an extra half yard. These are all accepted and logical moves. The benefit of avoiding injury, or a hard hit, outweighs the potential gains. So in the cost/benefit analysis for Randy Moss, it makes sense to – as he says – “take certain plays off.”

But choosing between physical pain/injury vs. a gain in yards is obviously a no-brainer, and Moss seems to be choosing between effort and non-effort, which seems sacrilegious. However, athletes routinely distribute their effort differently during the course of a game and a season. It is the hallmark of great athletes to “step it up” during the clutch, implying less focus/energy in preceding portions of the game. Physiologically, maybe giving 110% is akin to a rush of adrenaline, which heightens focus, strength and general athletic performance. Since I doubt a rush of adrenaline could last the entire length of a football game, it would be best suited for a player conserve energy until it was needed.

This phenomena isn’t even a conscious decision. People get used to everything. Something amazing, no matter how special, if it occurs everyday, becomes normal, even being a professional athlete. Sex, thanksgiving turkey, high-speed internet – all ridiculously mind bending at first, become common place if they are continuously available. Even Micheal Jordan got bored of winning championships, prompting 3? retirements.

Moss’s comments speaks of the underlying need of all humans to have a purpose. While the purpose in any sports game is clear (to score more points than the opposition) this usually is not enough. Take Pat Riley, who is a hall of fame (I think) coach. His highest praise seems to be his motivational skills – telling his players that they are fighting for respect or historical recognition, more than his play calling or ability to substitute players correctly. Are his players lazy or disrespectful for needing his motivational tactics? No, this is the job of coaches in the professional ranks – to inspire.

It is therefore no surprise that Art Shell, coach of Randy Moss, replied to the comments by saying that this is Moss’s problem that he needs to address. Shell must speak to Moss, learn of his needs and tailor them to the overall success of the team. It may be that Moss’s needs are for personal success, be it over the teams. In that case Moss may have to be be traded. But I believe, (with total optimistic naivety) that Moss’s wants can be met along with the success of his team’s. He wants to score touchdowns, so does the team. At any rate, it is Shell’s responsibility to initiate the communication and not to expect all of his players to simply give 110.

remove mounted drives from desktop – ubuntu

November 13, 2006

In order to remove the icons for mounted drives from an ubuntu desktop, without actually unmounting the volume:

open gconf-editor

go to apps, nautilus, desktop

and unclick — volumes_visible button

hide desktop – ubuntu

November 13, 2006

Keyboard shortcut for hiding all windows (or maybe it’s displaying the desktop). In any case, press:


mouse-less computer existence

November 2, 2006

One of the tell-tale signs of an inexperienced computer user is the overuse of the mouse. For me, it feels downright prehistoric to perform certain tasks, such as cutting/pasting, opening programs or closing windows via the mouse rather than a known keyboard shortcut. It is to the point, where using the mouse at all, while necessary at times, is avoided at all costs.

So today’s lesson was going to be on using keyboard shortcuts in general. However, I ran across one problem, which I don’t know the solution to, and remembered a second that I just wanted to throw out into the blogosphere. Hopefully, someone will read this and offer good solutions, and teach me a lesson or two.

1) How does one go about resetting keyboard shortcuts to the default for ubuntu? I’ve searched the forums, “googled”, and found this question without a hint of an answer. Well, there was some talk on how to create user-specific shortcuts, but I just want to go back to the default!

2) Is there an inteligent way to look through the search results in google without a mouse? For example, do a search in google, and see how many times you must press “tab” in order to get to the first search result. Depending if you’re logged on, number of search terms, and the # of ads, it comes to something around 15. There must be a better way. Is there a shortcut key that takes me to the first search result? Or better yet, have the results numbered, and let me jump to the third by pressing <ctrl>+3 or something. Am I missing something here, how does everyone else deal with this?

Well, no lessons taught today, but I’d be grateful if someone had some answers for me.

opening remarks

November 1, 2006

Ever feel like you’re constantly fighting the same battles over and over again? This happens often for me in my personal life, as well as my work life. It may occur because the problem you were addressing in the past wasn’t completely resolved, thus you are facing it again.

But other times, you have completely solved the problem, only now, you just don’t remember how you did it. Or maybe you finished 90% of it, but were too tired to complete it. Here, I will be logging problems that I come across in life, work, and everything in between with complete (and/or) partial solutions so that if life repeats itself, I can get to the answer without going through the war again.