Regrets of the dying#

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five.

The case against the Consumer Electronics Show#

Instead of news about real products, CES delivers bogus trends. Reporters inundated with press releases about mediocre products are forced to fit all the tidbits into a coherent storyline--this year has been crowned the Year of the Tablet, while last year was the Year of the 3-D TV, and the year before was the Year of Internet TV. These labels are so transparently fake that they're not even worth criticizing…

I couldn't agree more, and a few days ago I said as much on Twitter: "I feel bad that @engadget has to cover all this iterative, evolutionary crap no one will remember tomorrow…"


Tweaky lets you use the Super Secret preferences in Twitter for Mac which are otherwise only available to people who purchased the earlier version (when it was called Tweetie for Mac) through the MacHeist nanoBundle.

Be careful when playing around with this--it will restart the app and you'll lose any draft tweets you have floating around (i.e., it skips the "unsaved tweets" dialog). (Via Shawn Blanc.)


Although overconfidence may often continue to help us just as evolution intended--in relevant contexts and settings--it has a powerful and pervasive evolutionary legacy that continues to dominate our judgment and decision-making, even in complex political, social, or technological settings when such overconfidence is far less likely or able to bring any advantages and simply increases the chance of disaster. […]

But overconfidence is an increasingly dangerous strategy today. The modern world is very different from the one in which we evolved, and to which our decision making and behaviors adapted via natural selection. The big decisions of today are dependent on multiple and complex interacting bureaucracies and stakeholders, in which accurate assessments and painstaking planning may be boring but are critical to success--an evolutionary novelty we are not "designed" for.

This site allows Nook owners to connect with each other and share books using the LendMe feature. To get started, enter a book author or title in the search box that you'd like to lend or borrow.

Quick, someone make this for the Kindle (which just added book lending). (Relatedly, no one actually owns a Nook, right?)

An RSS feed for the latest Chrome extensions (using Yahoo! Pipes)

January 02, 2011

I'm not sure why, but as far as I can tell, Google doesn't offer an RSS feed for the latest Chrome extensions, and so I took it upon myself to see if I could whip something up using Yahoo! Pipes.

It took me a long time to come up with a solution that I was willing to share publicly. I feel like my time was split almost equally between determining how to slice up the page, generating the regular expressions that would be required to get the information I needed to build a feed and packaging the whole thing into something remotely elegant.

I'll do my best to keep the feed up to date and working (if only because I'm using it myself), but realize that the slightest change on Google's end can break the pipe. (Hopefully Google will soon provide a proper RSS feed, or at the very least not make frequent changes to the structure of the site's HTML.)

RSS feed for the latest Chrome extensions.

For those interested in the pipe itself, please see the below screenshot.

Yahoo! Pipe for RSS feed of latest Chrome extensions

Essentially, the pipe grabs the page, splits it according to the delimiter I gave it, copies each of the resulting data chunks into various elements of an RSS feed and then uses a regular expression to pull out the data relevant to the particular element.

While not terribly clear in the above image, I cut the content from "g-section cx-search-result"> to "g-section cx-paginator">, and used "g-section cx-search-result"> as the delimiter to get at the individual extensions. I then replicated the data chunks captured by the "Fetch Page" module across description, title and link.

Finally, I built regular expressions for each of the elements I wanted in the feed, namely .*<p>(.*)</p>.* (for "description"), .*<h2>.*href="(.*)".* (for "link") and .*<h2>.*\n\W*(.*)\n.* (for "title") (each with the "s" option turned on, so that newlines are included in the dot character's matching calculus).

A brief history of the hard drive#

A 1TB hard drive that sells for as little as $60 today would have been worth $1 trillion in the 1950s, when computer storage cost $1 per byte…

Contact with dads drops when women ovulate#

[Researchers] say the behavior may be motivated by an unconscious motive to avoid male control at a time when the women are most fertile. But a more primal impulse may be at work: an evolutionary adaptation to avoid inbreeding.

Every 20 minutes on Facebook#

1 million links are shared, 1.32 million photos are tagged, 1.48 million event invitations are sent out, 1.59 million wall posts are published, 1.85 million status updates are posted, 2.72 million photos are uploaded, 4.63 million messages are sent, and 10.21 million comments hit the site.

Amazon launches Kindle book lending#

Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.

Not bad for a first effort. Hopefully over time the restrictions (which, despite being mostly in Amazon's economic interests, likely originated almost exclusively with the publishers) will be relaxed a bit. I did the math on my Kindle collection, and just 8% of my books currently can be loaned out. I wonder though if more books are "eligible" (i.e., the publishers are OK with their being lent), but just haven't yet been pushed through the proper channels.

With the current model, it isn't hard to imagine that the three-week limit ("You have seven days from when you first received your e-mail about the book load to accept the loan. Once you accept, you have 14 days before the loan expires") will require a fair amount of coordination between parties so that the loan isn't wasted. For example:

Lender: "You have to check out this book I'm reading!" Borrower: "Yeah?" Lender: "Yeah, I should be done with it later this month." Borrower: "Hey, are you done yet?" Lender: "I just finished it. I'll loan it to you in a few minutes." Borrower: "No, not yet, I won't be able to finish it within three weeks if you send it now. Send it on February 18th."

Absent that conversation, you likely are putting a lot of pressure on the borrower to find time to start and finish a book within 21 days.

(Relatedly, consider this idea from Kiran Max Weber.)

The improvisational brain#

Watching a musician in the throes of an improvisational solo can be like witnessing an act of divine intervention. But embedded memories and conspiring brain regions, scientists now believe, are the true source of ad-hoc creativity.

Why humans triumphed#

Trade is to culture as sex is to biology. Exchange makes cultural change collective and cumulative. It becomes possible to draw upon inventions made throughout society, not just in your neighborhood. The rate of cultural and economic progress depends on the rate at which ideas are having sex.

Amazon likely to sell 8 million Kindles this year#

That may be about four times the number sold last year, but if you follow this sort of thing at all you won't be surprised. I've owned every model of the device over the years, and this third iteration of the smaller model is damn near perfect.

Upon seeing mine, my girlfriend wanted one immediately (and so I got her one). Now, months later, her sister and both parents each have a Kindle 3. When it comes to long-form reading, there is no better electronic solution.

Creativity, our most fascinating ability#

The reason that most of us don't appreciate the fact that we are creative is because we are not in a career that facilitates it. When we are not in a career that we are intrinsically motivated in or passionate about, creativity seems like a distant thing. Yet take that same person and place them in a career that they are passionate about and watch their creative skills blossom.

(Some of this piece reminded me of Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.)

Inside the world of sushi#

In search of the ultimate sushi experience, the author plunges into the frenzy of the world's biggest seafood market--Tokyo's Tsukiji, where a bluefin tuna can fetch more than $170,000 at auction--and discovers the artistry between ocean and plate, as well as some fishy surprises.

A great (and very long) read that includes some discussion of the ascendancy of sushi's popularity here in America. (Relatedly, I'd eat sushi at least once a day if it wasn't so expensive.)