links for 24 Febuary 2006

Friday linkey goodness :)

the art of travel, alain de botton

the art of travel

My bus reading in the last week or so has been The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Alain is a philosopher who has written a number of interestingly titled books including The Architecture of Happiness, Status Anxiety, How Proust can change your Life, Essays in Love and a few more.

When I bought this book I’d forgotten that I’d actually read How Proust can change your Life a few years ago… I have hardly any recollection of the book actually (which probably says more about me than de Botton), but having read this book, I’ll be digging it out of the bookshelf again and having another read.

I imagine that a number of people would be scared off by the fact that this purports to be a ‘philosophy book’… certainly, my undergraduate university experience of philosophy text books wouldn’t lead me to choose this as a bus read. Bus reads need to be books that are engaging, reasonably easy to digest, and easy to dip in to – given that a characteristic of bus reading is short (20mins or so) grabs of reading once or twice a weekday.

Actually, it turns out that this book is pretty easy going. De Botton uses storytelling, both of his own experiences and that of other historical figures such as including Wordsworth, Baudelaire and Van Gogh and travels to destinations as diverse as Barbados, the Sinai Desert, and the Lakes District of England, to illustrate a range of thought provoking themes around travel.

I found this particularly interesting as travel is currently infused both through my work and personal life at the moment, so it was fascinating to reflect on various aspects of the travelling from this relatively obscure perspective. De Botton is interested in why we are attracted to travel, why it sometimes disappoints us, how we can take more from our travelling experiences and how our experience of travelling contributes to our overall well being.

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links for 23 February 2006

Just the one today. Must have been busy!

blogbeat – what a difference a little usability (and design) could make.

after the great review that BlogBeat received on TechCrunch and given my current addiction to stats (yes, I’m sure it will wear off sooner or later… although Stowe Boyd’s ongoing obsession with his Technorati ranking gives me some concern that things may go from bad to certifiable)… I decided to sign up for a free 30 day trial and see how cool it is. Afterall, there’s a few things that a specialised blog stats package could tell me that I’m not really getting from Analytics, without having to engage the left side of my brain (which I like to do as infrequently as possible).

So, to signing up. Looks simple, then you get started.

BlogBeat signup

a few things:

  1. can someone tell me *why* I have to have six or more characters in my username? its very annoying for people like me who like to have usernames with 5 or 4 characters. Is this an arbitrary number? Do techie people like it for techie reasons? Is it a security thing? Someone enlighten me. At the moment, its just an annoying thing.
  2. RSS or ATOM Url: what? I’m supposed to know that? Off by heart? Admittedly, it didn’t take long to find/work out… perhaps you could put a bit of help in there for those of us who have only been blogging for a month? (or less). We like statistics too, you know. In fact… we might even be your target audience.
  3. Time Zone – I was loving this because I don’t think that Google knows that I’m in Sydney, Australia and not in Mountain View (maybe it does… I can’t tell). So I enthusiastically scanned the dropdown to find the right one for me. Now… call me a doofus but I don’t know how many hours ahead or behind of GMT I am. I did a Google Search. Turns out, I’m GMT + 11hrs at the moment (daylight savings). Return to dropdown. Not an option. They have GMT +12hrs, but that would put me in New Zealand… which is nice for a holiday, but not forever (heh. settle down Kiwis!). Um. Why? I want a Sydney timezone option. And I’m a little miffed that it’s not there right now. What kind of a decision was that?

I haven’t even gotten to putting the code in my blog yet, so I don’t have much of a review for you, except for one screen…

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