The beauty of the Internet: Khan Academy

June 20th, 2010

I have always been fascinated about the quality of information you can get on the Internet. A great example of that is of course Wikipedia

A few days ago I came across another beautiful example The Khan Academy. It’s basically one guy Salman Kahn who is doing this. He started it because his cousin from New Orleans had problems with math at school. Salman, living in Boston at the time, decided to remote tutor her by posting videos with explanations on YouTube. Soon these videos became very popular all around the globe.  Salman who holds an MIT engineering degree and and MBA from Stanford decided to give up his day job and fully dedicate himself to making videos.  So far he has posted over a 1000 videos on YouTube  explaining concepts from  calculus, chemistry, biology to getting funding from a VC. Watch the video below for more details.

The surprising truth about what motivates us

June 12th, 2010

I have always been skeptical about the usefulness of monetary bonuses. Actually there is research that shows that higher bonuses actually lead to lower performance. In the highly entertaining video below you can learn more about it.

GNOME Amazon Referral Fees May 2010

June 3rd, 2010

gnome-amazon In May 2010 the GNOME Foundation received the following Amazon referral fees

Amazon.com
$135.97
Amazon.ca$0.00
Amazon.de€91.33
Amazon.fr€3.88
Amazon.co.uk£10.71
Amazon.jp¥2925

This totals to approximately $299 (up from $280 in April).

Keep on spreading the plugins to friends and family

Below and in the GNOME Amazon Store you find the links to install the GNOME Amazon Search Plugin of your favorite Amazon store. NOTE the links below might not work if you read this post in an RSS reader, because it needs a javascript command to install the search plugin. Just install the search plugin by going to this post directly.

Firefox

SearchPlugin

Epiphany

For epiphany use the following smart books.

  • Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-ca-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-uk-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-de-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.fr: http://www.amazon.fr/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-fr-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.jp: http://www.amazon.co.jp/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-jp-22&field-keywords=%s

Getting a job via Google Adwords

May 14th, 2010

Very clever way to apply for a job: Put an Google ad on the name of the manager that you want to work for

GNOME Amazon Referral Fees April 2010

May 9th, 2010

gnome-amazon In April 2010 the GNOME Foundation received the following Amazon referral fees

Amazon.com
$58.27
Amazon.ca$1.77
Amazon.de€104.62
Amazon.fr€2.71
Amazon.co.uk£23.44
Amazon.jp¥4534

This totals to approximately $280 (down from $375 in February), but the positive thing is that we finally get some significant sales in Japan

Keep on spreading the plugins to friends and family

Below and in the GNOME Amazon Store you find the links to install the GNOME Amazon Search Plugin of your favorite Amazon store. NOTE the links below might not work if you read this post in an RSS reader, because it needs a javascript command to install the search plugin. Just install the search plugin by going to this post directly.

Firefox

SearchPlugin

Epiphany

For epiphany use the following smart books.

  • Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-ca-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-uk-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-de-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.fr: http://www.amazon.fr/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-fr-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.jp: http://www.amazon.co.jp/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-jp-22&field-keywords=%s

The Black Swan

May 8th, 2010

I’ve just finished reading The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. I found it one of the most interesting books I ever read. If you had some statistics course and are interested in on how the human mind works or a fan of the books of Malcolm Gladwell I can recommend you reading this book.

Nassim Taleb basically tells us that we as humans are very bad in predicting because many things have mainly been determined by highly improbable events.  E.g. all kinds of inventions like the Internet, the car or things like wars, stock market crashes etc. As Nassim Taleb says it: “History doens’t crawl  it jumps”

Furthermore the world is so complex that the human mind simply cannot understand what’s going on.  Still we always try to understand it and come with explanations, and get convinced that we see the patterns and that we can predict because that is what we have been trained for. A funny example of that is the following experiment. Give people the sequence 2, 4, 6 and tell them that this sequence is generated according to a rule and ask people to tell you what the rule is. To get some more information they can ask you if a certain three number sequence is generated also according to that rule. Most people will think that the rule is adding two so they probably will ask you if 4, 6, 8 is generated by your rule. And it is, but the rule is not add two. The rule is very simple that the 3 numbers have to be ascending but people will fall for the pattern of add two. This is because people think in terms of confirmation of rules instead of contradictions. You will see with this game that many people won’t try quickly sequences contradict the rule they have in their mind. While one contradiction says more about a rule than a million confirmations.

That’s also how the book got it’s title “The Black Swan”. Until Australia was discovered people thought there were only white swans, because every time they saw a swan it was white. Discovery of Australia and boom a black swan. Using the fact that you saw another white swan to confirm you’re theory that there are only white swans is the same as saying “Hey a red Mini Cooper another proof there are only white swans”. This might sound funny but it’s actually mathematically true. (Think about it or read the book)

Another thing that struck is Nassim Taleb’s explanation why we keep on listening to experts doing predictions if we just can’t predict. E.g we take advice on which stocks to buy from so called experts. How do they remain experts while market crashes have proven over and over again that they are wrong quite often? Furthermore when they are wrong it can have disastrous effects because the Black Swans they fail to predict have usually huge effects. They remain experts with their models because they have the excuse that certain things could never be in their models because they simply couldn’t predict it. E.g.  how could they have known about 9/11. If they would have known they of course would have predicted that the stock markets would have tanked after that.

Funny thing is that while Nassim Taleb tries to prove that we should not trust any prediction he actually predicts in 2007 that Fannie Mae will get into financial problems (“they are sitting on a barrel of dynamite”) because of the risks they are taking. However the “scientific” staff of Fannie Mae at that time says that this is unlikely to happen.

Anyway these are just a few of the stories and concepts of the book.

GNOME Amazon Referral Fees March 2010

April 10th, 2010

gnome-amazon For March 2010 the GNOME Foundation received the following Amazon referral fees

Amazon.com
$187.74
Amazon.ca$0
Amazon.de€87.57
Amazon.fr€7.72
Amazon.co.uk£37.54
Amazon.jp¥196

This totals to approximately  $375 (up from $281 in February).

Keep on spreading the plugins to friends and family

Below and in the GNOME Amazon Store you find the links to install the GNOME Amazon Search Plugin of your favorite Amazon store. NOTE the links below might not work if you read this post in an RSS reader, because it needs a javascript command to install the search plugin. Just install the search plugin by going to this post directly.

Firefox

SearchPlugin

Epiphany

For epiphany use the following smart books.

  • Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-ca-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-uk-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-de-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.fr: http://www.amazon.fr/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-fr-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.jp: http://www.amazon.co.jp/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-jp-22&field-keywords=%s

Hit by a really nasty bug in Ubuntu

March 21st, 2010

I was booting my laptop into Ubuntu and noticed it was stuck immediately after starting the kernel. Rebooting into recovery mode gave me a message that it could not mount the root file system.

Didn’t have a clue why it didn’t want to do this. Some googling brought me to this Ubuntu bug. The problem according to the bug is the following:


Minix uses the “magic number” 137f, 138f, 2468,2478, at the location 0x410 to mark a Minix file system.

0x410 is also the location any ext filesystem uses to record the number of free inodes.

In decimals those four numbers are 4991,5007,9320,9336

If the number of free inodes happens to be one of those four numbers plus a multiple of 65536, then the ext filesystem will write one of the four Minix magic numbers to the 0x410 location.

So blkid gets confused and does not know whether the files system is Minix or Ext.
In particular, if this happens on the root partition, Ubuntu will no longer boot.


So in theory this happens once every 16384 times when you boot (4 out of a possible 65536 values for location 0x410  trigger this bug). Solution is simple just boot from a live-CD and remove a few files from your boot partition and reboot.

So far several people have confirmed this bug but I’d expect much more people to be affected by it if the probability is really 1 in 16384.

GNOME Amazon Referral Fees February 2010

March 1st, 2010

gnome-amazon For February 2010 the GNOME Foundation received the following Amazon referral fees

Amazon.com
$183.93
Amazon.ca$1.54
Amazon.de€46.56
Amazon.fr€1.33
Amazon.co.uk£18.71
Amazon.jp¥294

This totals to approximately $281.18  (up from $137.36 in January). A growth of more than 100% 🙂

Keep on spreading the plugins to friends and family

Below and in the GNOME Amazon Store you find the links to install the GNOME Amazon Search Plugin of your favorite Amazon store. NOTE the links below might not work if you read this post in an RSS reader, because it needs a javascript command to install the search plugin. Just install the search plugin by going to this post directly.

Firefox

SearchPlugin

Epiphany

For epiphany use the following smart books.

  • Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-ca-20&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-uk-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-de-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.fr: http://www.amazon.fr/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-fr-21&field-keywords=%s
  • Amazon.co.jp: http://www.amazon.co.jp/s?mode=blended&search-alias=aps&tag=gnomesearchplugin-jp-22&field-keywords=%s

DictionarySearch now Supports Thunderbird

February 28th, 2010

I got several request to add support for Thunderbird to the DictionarySearch extension. So today I decided to finally do this. You can install version 3.6.2 with Thunderbird support from the DictionarySearch Homepage. It should show up on the mozilla addons site also as soon as it gets approved.

I’m always struggling on finding good documentation on how to do something in Firefox/Thunderbird extensions. In the end I usually end up downloading another extension and reading the source code to see how another extension author solved it. Like this time I downloaded the Image Zoom extension to see how you could have Thunderbird support

Does anybody know really good reference documentation on making these extensions?

Two things I’m looking for for ReloadEvery is to either add an icon to a tab or in the URL bar to show that ReloadEvery is enabled.