Random links #18

Written on 4 November 2019, 04:51pm

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The only thing that truly matters in public speaking is not confidence, stage presence, or smooth talking. It’s having something worth saying.

The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking via

Every winner begins as a loser but not every failure leads to success.  It turns out that trying again and again only works if you learn from your previous failures. The idea is to work smart, not hard.

Failure Found to be an “Essential Prerequisite” For Success

Would you notice? Some students were presented with an onscreen calculator that was programmed to give the wrong answers. Researchers found most participants raised few or no suspicions when presented with wrong answers, until the answers were quite wrong. 

Would you notice if your calculator was lying to you?

Fingerprinting happens when sites force your browser to hand over innocent-looking but largely unchanging technical information about your computer, such as the resolution of your screen, your operating system or the fonts you have installed. Combined, those details create a picture of your device as unique as the skin on your thumb.

What is fingerprinting? The online tracking you can’t avoid

Imagine a world where the global space race never ended. This “what if” take on history from Ronald D. Moore spotlights the lives of NASA astronauts—the heroes and rock stars of their time—and their families.

For all mankind
What if?…

Digital revolutions happening under our eyes

Written on 1 October 2019, 04:48pm

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In the beginning, there was the internet.

Then Steve gave us the smartphone and put the internet in our pockets, along with the thousands of apps to entertain us and crush the candies.

Soon after, Facebook and Twitter started to connect us. We liked it, and later on, Instagram and WhatsApp took off and filled the social media gap.

Then it was time to Netflix and chill. The streaming services filled our TVs with movies and our headphones with music and podcasts. Out of the pirate bay.

Without even realizing, during this time Amazon removed the friction in the online shopping. Same day delivery became the norm and the Black Fridays + Prime Days changed the expectations about shopping deals.

Changing the way we move and travel took a bit more time. But once we got Uber and Airbnb, there was no going back. UberEats, the electric bikes and scooters were really inevitable.

Workplaces had to keep up, and so remote work, co-working spaces and hot-desking became more and more familiar.

Now we leave in a world where we can have a nomad life. We no longer own a place, but we explore the world and jump from one AirBnb to another using Uber. If we want to drive, we DriveNow. We can work from anywhere and get paid directly in our Revolut account. We ride a Lime to the nearest grocery store where we pay with our phone. When we go out running, we use our wearables to see how we did and share the results with the world. We go out after swiping left and right, and there’s a 2/3 chance to meet our significant other online rather than in real life. When we are tired, we use UberEats to order pizza and take the couch to binge the most popular Netflix show.

Welcome to 2019! 🤩

Do I really need mobile internet?

Written on 2 October 2015, 02:07pm

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In the beginning of this week I started a little experiment. I did not reload my prepaid phone card – meaning I no longer had the usual 2Gb of mobile internet which were typically lasting for 3-4 weeks. I didn’t really know what to expect: without being a social media guy (probably one of the last on this planet not being on Facebook), I thought that FOMO will kick in. Well, it didn’t, maybe also because I was not 100% disconnected, still being able to access the internet from work.
Here are my top 10 findings, collected in a random order. Next to each item I put a score representing how much I missed the connected mode:
1 – not missed it at all
2 – not missed it, but it was nice to have
3 – missed it, but I could easily find a workaround
4 – missed it; the alternative is inconvenient or time consuming
5 – definitely missed it; impossible to do offline and no real alternatives/workarounds

My offline experiment

1. Music: I missed the fact that I could not listen to a particular song that crossed my mind and I had to rely on the offline playlists. Also, on one occasion I could not Shazam a song playing on the radio. Score: 3/5
2. Email: Not receiving emails on the fly is not a problem; I rarely receive emails I must respond urgently. In any case I could check the email several times per day from work. What was really annoying was the fact that I could not snooze emails to have a clean inbox. Score: 3/5
3. Photos: Here the only problem was not being able to post the photos on flickr or share them with family on Google Photos. Not very annoying, so score: 2/5
4. Files: Accessing files from Dropbox could eventually be replaced using the website; but extracting a file stored on my iPhone (like a photo or scanned invoice) required connecting the device to my work computer, which is not always possible and definitely inconvenient. Score: 4/5
5. News: Being informed is important to me, and I like being notified about the latest news. I use Newsify as feed reader – and during the test I had to make sure that I download the news in the morning. I was eventually catching up with the updates in the evening, along with the football and local news. Score: 3/5
6. Connected devices: Here I found that the mobile internet is essential. I was no longer receiving updates from my connected security camera or smoke detector, unable to see/set the home temperature or to find my Tile. Internet of things, so score: 5/5
7. Messages: switching from iMessages to old-school SMSs was not an issue in communicating with the persons that already knew about my experiment. But it was an issue for the ones who didn’t, so I was not receiving iMessages until the evening. Also, I was unable to send/receive other media than simple text. On the other hand, synchronous communication is not ideal, so score: 2/5.
8. Weather: In Belgium the weather can change quickly. So I got used to checking the forecast regularly and have the temperature displayed on my watch. Also, I was relying on push notifications to have weather updates twice per day. With the offline mode being active, I had to make sure that every morning I check the weather from home. Score: 2/5
9. Maps: During the experiment I did not need the maps. However, I know that it’s a feature that I use from time to time, and I would rate it as essential. The alternative would be to download maps for offline use, but it’s not always practical. Score: 4/5
10. Others: I realized that I am using the mobile bank app more often than I thought. But this was not an issue and it can always wait for the wi-fi.
Tracking car fuel consumption was still possible by taking a few pictures and filling the data at home.
Checking the mobile operator stats (credit, usage, etc) was impossible even on wi-fi (cellular data must be enabled), but I could always send a mobile request (#120# or similar).
Calendar, TV schedule or Skype could always wait for the wi-fi.
Overall, I would put score: 2/5.


Being disconnected is not a first world problem. We got used to do certain things from mobile internet. Meanwhile, it’s true that the current technology makes it incredibly easy to introduce yourself ‘mobile’ needs: communication, information, home automation, secure mobile banking, etc.
During the offline experiment, I also noticed some benefits. Being offline meant:
– more time to read e-books or 100-pages long PDF posts
– more time to play Peak
– more time to take/edit pictures
But being disconnected did not meant I stopped using my iPhone. Nor that it pushed me to buy newspapers/books. It just meant that it made me plan better for the day, re-organize things and make the most of the wi-fi usage.

To answer the question in the title – yes, I need mobile internet. After all, my scoring system above indicated that 3 items out of 10 scored 4 or 5, and the average was 3/5. What’s more important, mobile phone slowly becomes synonym with mobile internet device. And that’s the point to remember.