25 March 2005

100 Questions

Grab a notebook and write down 100 questions. That'll take a while, I know ('cause I've done it and it took me weeks). But after 50 or 60, I started to come up with some really interesting questions... and for my money, interesting questions are some of the best things in life. ;)

Let us know if you've got any questions you'd like to share...

Question Of The Day

Why do you work?
No doubt, there are many reasons you come to the office every day. Hopefully your work is more than just a means to put food on the table. Hopefully words like service and fun fit into your answer somewhere.
My answer? I'll post it in the Comments section below. I hope you'll post yours there too...

23 March 2005

Credit Cards...

Dave Barry's blog has a link to this rather hilarious prank/experiment - it's the story of one man's attempt to get someone to check his signature when he uses a credit card. Interesting story, interesting perspective on human nature... Check it out when you've got a little time...

Outstanding - Standing Out

Quick - what do you do that nobody else does? What cool, innovative, one-of-a-kind, world class attribute do you bring to the table? How does your contribution to this world stand out from the crowd?

You're unique, of course. You've got your own set of fingerprints, DNA, etc. Does that uniqueness show in the work you do?

Painting As A Pastime

I just received a fascinating little book by Winston Churchill, titled Painting as a Pastime. To be accurate, it's really an essay in book form (a mere 32 pages of text, followed by 15 pages of reproductions of Sir Winston's artwork). Churchill was an amazing writer - quite possibly the best writer I've ever read (no kidding), and this little volume does not disappoint.

His basic thesis is that activities like painting (and reading) engage and exercise different parts of the brain than we typically use when we work, allowing the work-related part of the brain to rest (which helps prevent burnout, etc). Key quote: "To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they all must be real." So I think I'm going to take up pencil sketching again.

The book is long out of print (I got mine used via Amazon), but there are copies to be had (for like $4 - amazing!). I can't say enough good things about it (and it's probably the shortest book you'll ever love!).

22 March 2005


The Office of Naval Research has their own little skunkworks shop - appropriately (and cleverly) named Swampworks. Check it out for a quick tour & a few examples of what they've pulled off. FYI, their objective is to produce results in 1-3 years, rather than the 15-20 year timeframe of typical S&T...

They've also got a link on their website that says "Challenge the Naval Research Enterprise to give you a solution." Nice. Strike that - it's not just nice. It's brilliant.

21 March 2005

Sitcom Wisdom

"It's like I've always told you boys. Crazy beats big every time."
- Hal, the dad on Malcolm In The Middle

Body Broadband

Couldn't resist passing this report along. It's from an article in London's The Guardian about establishing a very personal broadband network, using your body to link your MP3 player, cell-phone, etc

it claims [it] can send data over the surface of the skin at speeds of up
to 2Mbps -- equivalent to a fast broadband data connection

By sending data over the surface of the skin, it may soon be possible to
trade music files by dancing cheek to cheek, or to swap phone numbers by

Future Forces

Two interesting headlines on Air Force Link this morning. Immediately below an article about an F-16 crash (the pilot ejected safely, btw) was a headline about the AF's plans to expand the Predator fleet to as many as 15 squadrons (the AF currently has 3 operational active duty Predator squadrons).

It seems to me the days of manned fighter aircraft are numbered (and have been for some time now). These two coincident articles offer a brief highlight of some of the reasons - and facts - driving that future change. Many fighter pilots naturally hate this development (and many engineers naturally love it), but the truth is we are going to need fewer and fewer people in cockpits, particularly of the F-16 variety... (F-22 and F-35 notwithstanding...)

18 March 2005

Originality & Discipline

I haven't recommended Hugh MacLeod's blog (www.gapingvoid.com) in the past 'cause he has a tendency to use language that I frankly disapprove of (sorry - guess I'm a bit of a prude in that department). Having said that, I must admit I check his blog just about everyday... 'cause in addition to being frequently profane he's also often profound.

His main topic is marketing, but he has a lot to say about creativity, innovation and communication. And his cartoons crack me up (and make me think). Here's an excerpt worth checking out:

the biggest problem in the Western world is oversupply.
For every company needing to hire an ad agency or design firm, there's dozens out there, willing and able. For every person wanting to buy a new car, there's tons of car makers and dealers out there. I could on and on.

I could also go on about how many good people I know are caught in oversupplied markets, and how every day they wake up, feeling chilled to the bone with dread and unease. Advertising and media folk are classic examples.

So maybe the thing is to is get into "The Tao of Undersupply".
If only 100 people want to buy your widgets, then just make 90 widgets. If only 1000, make 900. If only 10 million, make 9 million. It isn't rocket science, but it takes discipline. It also requires you to stop making the same stuff as other people. Doing that requires originality and invention.

Like it said in "How To Be Creative", don't try to stand out from the crowd, avoid crowds altogether.

How are we doing here in the lab? Are we doing stuff that nobody else is doing? Or are we just part of the crowd? Do we have the discipline to be different?

If we're one more shiny piece of technology in a vast sea of similar gadgets, no wonder technology transition is rare. Maybe we're just offering too much of the same, and not enough that is genuinely unique (and if your offering is unique, you've probably got people knocking on you door all the time...)