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A dystopian novel about Singapore

Actually, it is a novel about China, but somehow, to a certain degree it seems like the author was speaking about Singapore.

Given the choice between a good hell and a counterfeit paradise, what will people choose? Whatever you say, many people will believe that a counterfeit paradise has got to be better than a good hell. Though at first they recognise that the paradise is bogus, they either don’t dare or wish to expose it as such. As time passes, they forget that it’s not real and actually begin to defend it, insisting that it’s the only paradise in existence.

Democratic one-Party dictatorship, rule of law with social stability as its top priority, an authoritarian government for the people, a state-controlled market economy, fair competition dominated by the central government-owned enterprises, scientific development with Chinese characteristics, self-centered harmonious diplomacy, a multi-racial republic with sovereignty of one people, post-Occidental and ‘post-universal’ thought of the subject, and national rejuvenation of the incomparable Chinese civilization.

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In Singapore, We Don’t Ask For A Meeting …

In Singapore, quite often, when we want to arrange a meeting, we don’t ask someone if they are free for a meeting, we ask them if they are free for coffee.

Which makes Patlaw’s contact email for her new agency the most kickass contact email address for any company. anywhere.

In case you still haven’t found it … [coffee][you know what goes here][goodstuph.org]

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A New Blog To Follow – Trapper’s Swamp

A must read if you are interested in understanding the spin behind mainstream (i.e. Straits Times) articles.

Trapper’s Swamp – Thoughts of a misanthropic, liberal, egomaniacal atheist

Brilliant commentary all around. Take this post on this Straits Times article:

Responding to a student who asked if Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values stance, he said: ‘We need to be more self-confident.’

He related how when he became education minister in 1997, he was surprised to find that teachers lacked confidence in themselves, even though they were doing a great job.

‘Everybody was telling them that they were doing the wrong things,’ he said. ‘I said: How can this be? People are coming to learn from us, see how we teach, why we are successful. Yet our teachers don’t have self-confidence.’

It led to Mr Teo resolving to set up a unit at the National Institute of Education for teachers to study why Singapore’s education system works and how it can be improved further.

Callan Tham:

In one sure stroke, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean deflected a question, equated the country with his party, and patted himself on the back for formulated a policy that doesn’t address the issue and rife with conflicts of interest.

How? Read it over here.

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The Merits Of Gaming

While having coffee with Daniel of Young Upstarts, he shared the secret of his English essay writing abilities – GAMING.

danielgoh:

One of the best things I ever did in my youth was to play role-playing games. Taught me problem-solving skills and about consequences.

Seeing the tweet, I’m reminded of two articles I read about the link between gaming and skill acquisitions.

Why Dumb Toys Make Kids Smarter

The second half of first grade, our son started reading the fine-print paragraphs on the cards. He got more reading time in through his love of Pokémon than he ever did at night, when we handed him books. He did read the books out loud to us, but it was a necessary chore. Pokémon was never a chore. And I noticed the paragraphs on the cards were syntactically far more complicated than anything he read in books. Soon, the same brain transformation that drove his math speed was reproduced with his reading speed.

Our son taught me an extremely valuable lesson. When it comes to kids, we often bring moralistic bias to their interests. There’s a pervasive tendency in our society to label things as either good for children or bad for children. Cultivating children’s natural intrinsic motivation requires abandoning all judgment of good and bad content. Society has a long list of subjects that we’ve determined they should learn. But learning itself is kick-started when enmeshed and inseparable from what a child inherently loves.

As always, the right game matters.

Awesome By Proxy: Addicted to Fake Achievement

To progress in an action game, the player has to improve, which is by no means guaranteed – but to progress in an RPG, the characters have to improve, which is inevitable.

RPGs are many things, but they are almost never hard. As I realized in childhood, the vast majority of RPG challenges can be defeated simply by putting in time. RPGs reward patience, not skill. Almost never is the player required to work hard – only the characters need improve. Failing to defeat Zeromus might mean your strategy is flawed, but it also might mean your level is too low. Guess which problem is easier to remedy?

Gaming
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Umbrellas to work, or why engineers should get married

Geek uses Monte Carlo simulation method to ensure he never gets caught without an umbrella when it rains:

Umbrellas to work, or why engineers should get married:

Now I don’t take any umbrellas along with me, so with the recent change in weather (it has been raining cats and dogs and all sorts of mammals in between) I have been caught a few times in some unpleasant wetness. It is during one of these wet commutes from home to office I was thinking of ways of making sure that will not happen again.

Therein lies the problem. Let’s say I keep 1 umbrella at the office and another at home. If it rains when I’m leaving the office, I will carry that one home, leaving 2 at home and none at the office. If it rains the next day when I leave home it’s ok, I will just take an umbrella to the office, making it 1 – 1 again. If it doesn’t rain and therefore I don’t take any umbrellas to the office, I will be left with 2 – 0. If it happens to rain when I’m leaving the office I’m stuck with getting wet again.

He discovers that:

In February where the probability of rain is the lowest (39%), I will only need 23 umbrellas at each location to almost guarantee that I will not get wet (the whole deal assumes at the end of each month, I replenish each location with the necessary number of umbrellas, of course).

And learns that his wife is smarter:

That evening when I proudly told my wife my findings at home, she stared at me for while (frostily if I might add) …

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In Bed With The Right Investor

An event to meet top international investors:

“In Bed With The Right Investor” gets individuals up close and personal with the illustrious international investor panel of iMATCH who will be seated on the famous beds of supperclub Singapore. If you are an entrepreneur present at the event, pick the investors you want to speak to, throw your business card into their respective lucky draw bowls, and get lucky when they pick out yours. Then get to cozy up to the investor on the comfortable beds of supperclub, ask a question, stay, or move on to another investor.

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This Is How You Create A Religion

Loyalty Lessons From Lady Gaga

1. Give fans a name. Gaga doesn’t like the word “fan” so she calls them her “Little Monsters,” named after her album “The Fame Monster.” She even tattooed “Little Monsters” on her arm and tweeted the pic to fans professing love for them. Now fans are getting their own Little Monster tattoos.

2. Make it about something bigger than you.
3. Develop shared symbols.
4. Make your customers feel like rock stars.

On number 3, the night of drinking that saw the 4 Brothers of S11 became close during that crazy period of Tiger Beer infused nights was the night that second bro taught me the secret handshake.

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3in1kopitiam

Learned of this 3in1kopitiam forum today.

Truly a revelation. Go and read the posts there.

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Living Stories

Principles of Living Stories:

1. Unified Coverage
2. Story Summary
3. Story Developments
4. Various levels of detail
5. Prioritization of story developments
6. Remembering what the user has read

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There’s no speed limit

There’s no speed limit:

Kimo’s high expectations set a new pace for me. He taught me “the standard pace is for chumps” – that the system is designed so anyone can keep up. If you’re more driven than “just anyone” – you can do so much more than anyone expects. And this applies to ALL of life – not just school.

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What Physics Is All About

Reviewing Photopia:

and physics—when taught correctly—is about understanding, and about learning to think well. One of the first things you learn to do with a physics problem is step back from the numbers at hand, and look at the limiting cases of the situation you’re examining. If you’re dealing with a car turning a corner at seventy miles per hour, you look to see what happens as the car’s speed approaches infinity; as the curve’s radius goes to infinity… and to nothing; as friction goes to infinity… and to zero. To a student new to the discipline, this procedure often seems odd, irrelevant; but it turns out that limiting cases give key insight into the inner workings of any physical system, and it is no different with computer games: by approaching the non-interactive, Photopia helps us to see just what is so special about that which is interactive.

But what I am coming to realize is that there is no real “forgetting” literature or film when it comes to game development, just as there is no forgetting painting and literature when it comes to film creation. In a very real way film is part painting, and part literature: it borrows and steals from, and dances around, and exists in a sometimes awkward and sometimes elegant relation to the arts that came before it. And it is the same with games: they are part film, they are part television, they are part painting and photography and literature and sculpture and poetry. And as much as we learn and discover by pushing the boundaries of the interactive, we also learn by subtly adding in touches of interactivity to things that remain otherwise linear, “film-like,” or “short story-like.” We discover beautiful hybrids that didn’t exist before, and are not the same as the things they are derogatorily compared to. Physics again: limiting cases involve going to zero, as well as pushing towards infinity.

It is a little sad that after 4 years of studying engineering in NUS, it takes a blog reviewing a game to give a quote that makes physics beautiful.

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Why Aren’t There Hot Girls Dancing At Singapore Tech Events?

This shouldn’t be the image of Hack Day:

Our industry is still young. If we want an all-encompassing technology scene, we need to actively work to cultivate an inclusive environment. This means a zero tolerance approach to this kind of entertainment. Booth babes, tequila girls, and scantily clad gyrating women simply set the wrong tone, here or abroad. Heck, this isn’t just about offending women—many guy geeks I know would be mortified by this kind of thing.

I call bullshit.

Many geeks would love to see booth babes, tequila girls and scantily clad gyrating women, BUT maybe not at a technology event because it would be politically incorrect NOT because they don’t get attracted by such stuff.

And for people who are slamming Yahoo, there are a host of tech companies (mostly dealing in hardware stuff) and gaming companies who are more deserving targets of your wrath.

The only question I really have is why Singapore’s tech events don’t have such hot babes dancing.

Further discussion here.

Some further more serious thoughts:

The fact that these girls were present at the event does not make the technology environment more exclusive to women. It is because the environment is already exclusive to women that such dance items are even considered.

Generally, such events are already seen as quasi-male-bonding sessions.

Getting more women into the industry is the solution to such misplaced occurrences at tech events. Removal of such occurrences is not the solution to getting more women into the industry.

What then is the solution? That’s a much longer post for a later time.

Another thing -

Nerd/Geek culture is becoming mainstream not because of the laudable principles and drivers behind being a nerd/geek – the thirst for knowledge, the love of experimentation, the never-ending quest to pursue truth, the joy that comes from being passionate about a subject – but because we see now how being a nerd/geek can bring money, status and, yes, sex.

These are the 3 Gs that matter to humanity – Gold, Glory & Girls.

Some other photos of the event:

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Sense Of Entitlement 101 – Oil Producing States

Sense of Entitlement 101 –

OPEC States Want to Be Paid if Pollution Curbs Cut Oil Sales:

For all its prosperity, he said, Saudi Arabia will still need help in developing new industries and job sources for its growing population.

Mr. Sabban said a large coalition of developing countries was ready to reject the treaty language if industrialized nations rejected the idea of compensating countries whose economies were harmed.

Saudis Seek Payments for Any Drop in Oil Revenues:

“It is like the tobacco industry asking for compensation for lost revenues as a part of a settlement to address the health risks of smoking,” said Jake Schmidt, the international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The worst of this racket is that they have held up progress on supporting adaptation funding for the most vulnerable for years because of this demand.”

Translation:

If you don’t want what we have, for the good of the world we ALL live in, I want to be compensated so that I’ll still be fucking rich without having to work for another source of wealth.

If it is all about using the money for diversification, then pray tell why when they were already bringing in so much money from oil over the years, they didn’t use that wealth to plan and diversify then.

In the context of Singapore:

Hey World, because you guys stopped shipping stuff, Singapore’s economy is hurt because our port is underused. You guys need to compensate us for loss of income because of your decision to stop shipping things.

I also have a product which because you do not want, I must be compensated for.

All joking aside though, a business model where you get paid when people don’t buy what you’re selling is pretty awesome business if you can get it..

Metafilter discussion here.

Some further thoughts:

The problem is really about politicians trying to get countries to do a group hug, but every single one of them wants to actually walk outside the circle and fuck the other politicians in the ass.

The truth is, countries should just be responsible global citizens within their own boundaries.

Industrialized countries once committed the current sins of developing countries, sins which allow them to be where they are now, which is industrialized. Developing countries aspire for that status, and it is naive at best to assume they will give those aspirations up by not taking the way previously taken (damn the consequences) and hubris at worse for politicians from industrialized countries to think they have the right to bully developing countries into towing the line.

The truth is, the cost to the environment is difficult to be measured and rarely factored into the cost of development. The best way going forward is not for industrialized countries to say do this instead of doing that (which was what we did, but please forget about it) but for those who already have the ability (i.e. industrialized nations) to create financially cheaper ways that are also just as effective as the old way for developing countries to get industrialized (although frankly, that might not be the best goal around) and progress without harming the environment.

Additional Notes:

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

Leaders from around the world will gather in Copenhagen in December 2009 for the latest talks held on implementing a 1992 treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The goal is a climate treaty that would go beyond the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a climate change agreement that set emissions targets for industrialized nations. Many of those goals have not been met, and the United States never ratified the accord.

Although the United Nations has held a big climate meeting each year since 1995, the 12-day gathering in Copenhagen is extraordinary for many reasons. The emissions reduction commitments that countries made under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012. And while the Bush administration was seen by many countries as an obstacle to achieving a global accord, President Obama has declared that he wants to be a leader in environmental issues.

A 200-page document, which serves as a starting point for treaty negotiations, outlines proposals for cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases by rich countries and limiting the growth of gases in the developing world. It also discusses ways of preventing deforestation, which is linked to global warming, and of providing financing for poorer nations to help them adapt to warmer temperatures.

But many environmental advocates and politicians suggest that not enough has been done to winnow down those options. Representatives of poor countries complain that developed nations have not made an adequate commitment to reduce their emissions.

The United States and China jointly produce 40 percent of the world’s heat-trapping emissions.

The United States never joined the 1997 Kyoto accord, the first major attempt to limit emissions in a global treaty, partly because quickly developing and increasingly competitive countries like China and India were not required to set emissions reduction goals of their own.

China and India, meanwhile, have said that the industrialized world, which has been responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions to date, must commit to far deeper cuts before negotiations at Copenhagen can succeed.

A show of resolve by the United States about doing its part to combat global warming is considered critical to the outcome of the Copenhagen talks. Yet the prospect of action by the United States Senate on climate change appeared dim before the Copenhagen talks, with Congress mired in the fight over health care and Democrats divided on climate change measures.

Regardless of Congressional action, the Obama administration announced in early October 2009 that it was planning new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of power plants and large industrial factories.

Good or bad, any climate agreement that comes out of the December meeting will bear Copenhagen’s name. And the tenor of the meetings is likely to reflect Denmark’s sober brand of environmentalism. The government has proposed new fines to keep activists in check during the meetings – $2,000 for breaking through a police cordon or wearing a mask during demonstrations.

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Paying For SEO Is For Fools

Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists:

And so, like the goat sacrificers and snake oil salesmen before them, a new breed of con man was born, the Search Engine Optimizer. These scammers claim that they can dance the magic dance that will please the Google Gods and make eyeballs rain down upon you.

Do. Not. Trust. Them.

The problem with SEO is that the good advice is obvious, the rest doesn’t work, and it’s poisoning the web. I’m going to tell you about the problems, and then tell you the one true way to generate traffic on the web, based on my own 14 years of hits and misses.

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The Size Of The Average Australian Woman

Body Beautiful:

“I’ve been that girl, flipping through magazines trying to find just one person who looked a little bit like me,” she said of the reaction to her photo. “And when I didn’t find it I would start to think there’s something wrong with the way that I looked. I used to be so self-conscious in a bikini because my stomach wasn’t perfectly defined. But everyone has different body shapes. And it’s not all about the physical. If you walk on the beach in your bikini with confidence and you feel sexy, people will see you that way too.”

On another note, our definition of beauty in Singapore might need to change based on a cursory glance at the women magazines found in my doctor’s waiting room – where are the Asian women?

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You don’t know Dollah Kassim.

You don’t know Dollah Kassim:

There should never be more Singaporean Liverpool fans in Kallang Stadium
than Singaporean Singapore fans.
It is simply not acceptable.
This is Kallang Stadium, not Anfield.

A country without heroes, is a country with no need for patriotism, no need for unity,
of self sacrificing for you neighbour, and that is a very scary thought.
Dollah Kassim like all the footballers of their generation did these things
Sacrifice family time, their jobs, putting everything on the line,
to teach us what it means to be us.

via: SingaporeDaily

Post captures what has been lost in Singapore football and how our nation has been worse off due to that loss. I missed the days of the Kallang roar, when my Uncle brought me to watch the matches. When we stamped our feet on the ground…. When we shouted ‘referee kayu’. When we did the wave… When we knew we would beat Brunei and make the goal difference nicer.

Note:

If I ever say soccer instead of football, and I’m with you, and you call me out on it, 1 beer for you.

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The Most Awesome iPhone App For Perverts

humour
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Everyone Should Date An Asian

Jen Kwok sings about dating an Asian

Hey there, my name is Jen Kwok
And I’m here to tell you that dating Asians rocks
They have smooth skin and silky hair
So damn exotic, got that ethnic flair
So sweet and gentle, smell so good
So freaky, nasty, do what you always wanted to
So obedient, they’ll please you like no one can
That’s right, I’m talkin bout an Asian man

Everyone should date an Asian man
Don’t gotta be serious, just f*** an Asian man
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one

If you feel inspired by the song, and a lady …

Notes:

The brilliance of this song is not the lyrics. The lyrics are just proof of Jen Kwok’s amazing execution as a comedian. Who didn’t first think that the song was about the virtues of dating Asian women, especially from the perspective of non-Asian men. The first thought, at least mine and I dare to say for many others, betrays how we see Asian women as the only sex from the Asian ‘world’ to have any sort of social value in the Western parts of this earth.

Full lyrics:

Date an Asian
Song Lyrics by Jen Kwok
Rap Lyrics by Soce, The Elemental Wizard

Verse 1:
Hey there, my name is Jen Kwok
And I’m here to tell you that dating Asians rocks
They have smooth skin and silky hair
So damn exotic, got that ethnic flair
So sweet and gentle, smell so good
So freaky, nasty, do what you always wanted to
So obedient, they’ll please you like no one can
That’s right, I’m talkin bout an Asian man

Chorus:
Everyone should date an Asian man
Don’t gotta be serious, just f*** an Asian man
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one

(Hey, eh)

Verse 2:
Asian men don’t whistle when you walk down the street
They’re honest dudes, honey they won’t cheat
Not sayin if he sees a hot chick, he won’t bone her
Hey, that’s why we got concubines in our culture
Some people say that I am full of bull****
Yeah I’m dating a white guy, but I ain’t no hypocrite
I’ve dated Chinese, Korean and Sri Lankan
Yeah, I’m down with the brown
Don’t even get me started

Bridge:
Where my Punjabis at?
Where my Philippinos at?
Where my bubble tea drinkers at?
Everyone should be raising their hands for that one – it’s delicious!

Chorus:
Everyone should date an Asian man
Don’t gotta be serious, just f*** an Asian man
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one

Rap (Soce):
What’s happening? Are you Japanese? Can I have a piece
Of miso, maybe a frappochino
And speaking of Chinese, meet me at Silk Road Place please
For the open mic, plus some bubble tea
And Thai, I met a cute guy when I ordered Tom Yum
I could go there every day, feelin on his hot bum
Cultural exchange, I could teach you the Torah
Light the Menora, can I have samosa?
Rotating your medicine balls
In the palm of my hand, never lettin em fall
I hope that I look as good as Andy Lau
When I advance in age, still standing proud
And what about my Persian peeps? Certainly!
Help me to absorb the heat. You’re sure to please.
To my Patels, Kims and Wongs, my love’s quite strong
Like a Bollywood movie, we dance all night long

Chorus:
Everyone should date an Asian man
Don’t gotta be serious, just f*** an Asian man
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one
At least f*** one, at least, least f*** one

Breakdown:
Asian men have been such an important force in my life
Like my dad
Don’t date my dad
He’s married to my mom
And, theoretically, I’m old enough to handle it if they got a divorce
But, you know, it would kinda mess with me
It would kinda mess with me, I’m not gonna lie
So just…don’t date my dad

(Don’t f*** the same one, find a different one)
I’d cut you
(That would be a gang bang)
Yeah, that’s not cool – don’t date my dad
(Unless that’s what you’re into,
I’m not here to judge,
Make it consensual)
I’m not even gonna tell you his name
So you’re not gonna be able to find him now
And therefore, you won’t be able to date him

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Randy Pausch Lecture: Time Management

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The Quiet Period Necessary For Continuous Integration

Quiet Period in Continuous Integration:

A Continuous Integration build should be run often, ideally every commit would result in a Continuous Integration build. But that’s often not possible or realistic or even desirable in the real world. For example, lets say that to fix an issue the developer had to modify two source files. He first commits one of the files forgetting for the moment about the other one. A few seconds later he realizes that the other file needs to be committed as well. This will result in two commits. Ideally, there should be a Continuous Integration build that captures both these commits. If there were a build between the two commits then such a build would fail.

To ensure that such a situation will result in a single Continuous Integration build, we can use a Quiet Period. The Quiet Period is a length of time that the source code repository must be without any commits before a Continuous Integration build can proceed. Ideally, this length of time will be long enough for the developer to make all commits that are part of the same change to the source code and short enough to still get quick feedback on commits. Chalrie sets his at one minute. The purpose of the Quiet Period is to make sure that the source code taken for a Continuous Integration build contains a consistent set of changes. AnthillPro fully supports a configurable Quiet Period duration.

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Augmented Reality

The overlaying of information on top of the physical world. The additional information is viewed through another device. The device needs to be able to determine the coordinates of a point in the real world. Markers were initially used to ‘cheat’ the system by explicitly identifying a point. Cameras are one way the device sees the world. GPS and compass functionalities are other ways for a device to ‘see’ the world.

What are the other ways a device can ‘see’ the world? The use of audio – capturing sounds made at a locale.

How to present the data? On a screen? Project it out?

During my last year in NUS, I took a module which allowed us to explore AR technologies. It has been 3 years since and now, with webcams being more obiquitous and mobile phones getting better hardware, augmented reality related software and systems might be gearing up to be the next buzzwords for 2010.

The questions are:

1. How to push data out to the physical world.
2. How to pull data in from the physical world.

I sense a change coming.

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How NOT To Beat Craigslist

Trying to build a craigslist killer:

But practical people will find his (the consultant to the newspapers) excuse almost as damning as the evidence that provokes it, for a truly excellent strategy will tolerate myriad failures in execution, while a weak strategy reveals its weakness in the very fact that it is impossible to execute correctly.

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How Craigslist Beat Ebay

Unbrand, Uncompete, Demonetize:

As long as craigslist can support its 30 employees on “merely” an estimated $100 million in revenue, there simply isn’t enough cash in this space to keep a giant-sized competitor interested over the long term. When I first saw Jim Buckmaster talk, in 2004, he described his strategy in three words: unbrand, uncompete and demonetize. His victory over eBay illustrates the paradoxical power of demonetization.

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The Secret Of Craigslist

The secret of craigslist:

By eliminating marketing, sales, and business development, craigslist’s programmers have cut out all the cushioning layers that separate them from the users they serve, and any right they have to teach lessons in public service comes from the odd situation of running a company that is directly subservient only to the public. Here’s the lesson: The public is a motherfucker.

Craig Newmark says that craigslist works because people are good, and he has stuck to this point of view without wavering. Whether you accept it as true will depend on your standard of goodness.

Yet it seems,

And just as people who run technical companies are reaching an apex of confidence in their ability to invent new forms of community based on sharing everything, craigslist still treats social life as dangerously complex, deserving the most jaded caution. Corporate isolation, user anonymity, refusal of excessive profit, glacial adoption of new features: These all signal Newmark and Buckmaster’s wariness about what humans, including themselves, might do if given the chance. There may be a peace sign on every page, but the implicit political philosophy of craigslist has a deeply conservative, even a tragic cast. Every day the choristers of the social web chirp their advice about openness and trust; craigslist follows none of it, and every day it grows.

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Getting Things Done

Web app Toodledo has a useful summary of GTD here:

Getting Things Done (GTD) is a method for organizing tasks so that you can focus your entire energy and creativity on completing those tasks in a stress free manner. This method was developed by David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done. The main principle of GTD is that recording your tasks in a reliable way – using a system that you trust – will free your mind from trying to remember and prioritize stuff. This recaptured mental energy can be put towards being more productive and efficient.

gtd

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