Friday, January 11, 2008

Do you get a weekend?

One of the things I like about Friday afternoons is getting to ask people what their weekend plans are, and wishing them a good weekend. Today I realised it’s kind of silly to still do this – given that I’m one of the many people who works odd days and hours and usually works on one or both days of the weekend.

With the changes to retail opening hours and the move towards online business being 24/7, the barrier between the work week and weekend has fallen down, if not disappeared altogether. So it made me wonder – how many of us actually get a full weekend these days? Do you take work home with you, or do you work on your own sideline projects? Or maybe you have your ‘weekend’ during the week due to shiftwork. It’s all too easy to lose your leisure time this way. If you have any strategies for protecting your weekend time, please share in comments.


Wii Tennis at the Australian Open Tennis

If tennis – of the real or Wii Sport variety – is your bag then you’ll want to get along to the Nintendo Wii Lounge at the Australian Open tennis from next week. They’ll be running daily Wii Tennis championships where you can win a Wii and have a chance at winning tickets to the Men’s Final and a match against homegrown tennis champion Mark Philippoussis

The Open starts on Monday and runs until 27 January. The two highest ranking daily champions will playoff on the big screen in Garden Square at Melbourne Park, and the winner gets tickets to see the Men’s Final and a playoff against Mark Philippoussis. I’m betting the ‘pou will lose this one – unless he’s also an airchair athlete, I reckon any console-jockey geek who plays him will have the upper hand. :)


Why You Should Run an Open Wireless Access Point

Security expert Bruce Schneier discusses why he runs an open wireless network, stressing that he sees no good reason not to let others leech his wireless access point. For example, in reference to the common argument that you may be sued by the RIAA for copyright infringement by others using your Wi-Fi, Shneier explains: The RIAA has conducted about 26,000 lawsuits, and there are more than 15 million music downloaders. Mark Mulligan of Jupiter Research said it best: “If you’re a file sharer, you know that the likelihood of you being caught is very similar to that of being hit by an asteroid.”


Share Files Over the Internet from Your Computer with HFS

Windows only: Freeware application HFS (HTTP File Server) makes it dead simple to run a server to share files from your computer over the web. All you have to do is run the application on the computer with files you want to share, then selectively pick files or directories you want to allow access to. In addition, you can even upload files to your HFS server from elsewhere. You’ll need to set up port forwarding for port 80 on the computer running HFS and then either remember your public IP address (which may change) or assign a name to your home server (for free) so it’s easy to remember. HFS is freeware, Windows only, and weighs in at a svelte 550KB. HFS Advanced mode even supports user accounts.

HFS [via Download Squad]


Trick Automated Phone Bots into Never Calling You Again

Automated phone bots keep interrupting your dinner with their pre-recorded marketing messages? Play the U.S. Special Information Tone signal for “vacant circuit” when you pick up the phone. Our brother site Consumerist says a reader who kept getting automated debt collection calls added the tone to the beginning of his voicemail greeting: The next time the robot called, it thought it was getting a dead line and dutifully erased the number from its system. Voila, automatons be gone. Some places have autodialers that don’t (or have been tweaked) to respond to SIT tones, but if you’ve got a persistent unwanted robot caller, it’s worth a shot.

Of course, adding this to your answering machine greeting may confuse genuine human callers as well, but that may be worth scaring off the bots. Grab the tone as a WAV file from the Art of Hacking site. U.S. SIT (Special Information Tones) signal: Vacant Circuit (out of service or nonexistent phone number) [Art of Hacking via Consumerist]


Edit PDFs Online with PDFHammer

Online PDF editor PDFHammer reorders, deletes, and combines PDFs from the comfort of any web browser. That means you don’t need to install anything to do a bit of simple PDF editing, and when you’re done you can simply download the finished product to your desktop. Granted, you may not be comfortable uploading sensitive material to their servers (despite their privacy policy), but if all you need is to make a quick edit to a PDF and you don’t want to pull out the big guns, PDFHammer is worth a bookmark. The site is currently in beta with promises of page rotation and watermarking in the future, but the features already implemented are impressive.

PDFHammer [via MakeUseOf]


Snooze

My inner bleeding heart lefty loves this – a Wi-Fi enabled alarm clock called SnuzNLuz which is rigged to donate money from your bank account to your nominated hated charity every time you hit the snooze button. The SnuzNLuz is a product from ThinkGeek, who offer up some amusing suggestions – like PETA if you’re a butcher, or the Wilderness Society if you’re a land developer. [via 43 Folders]


Add a 'thinking hour' to your weekly schedule

While most of us have a system capturing stray ideas as they come up over the course of the day, it can pay off to put aside some dedicated ‘thinking’ time, according to the Lifehack.org blog.Unlike daydreaming or brainstorming, this ‘directed’ thinking means putting aside time for focusing on one thing. You could use this time to mull over new business ideas, for solving personal or professional challenges you’re facing, or even just planning the year ahead.You’ll need to put aside time to be alone, somewhere quiet, with pen or keyboard close to hand to take notes.There were a couple of particularly useful tips  – one being to go for a walk, the other being to drive and park your car somewhere quiet. I can personally vouch for the walking idea – I go for regular walks and often I’ll come up with an idea or an answer to a problem I’m working on, even if I’m not actively thinking about the problem at hand.11 Tips to Carve Out More Time to Think [Lifehack.org]


Trials of car speed-limiting on the way

Victoria, NSW and WA will this year trial speed limiting devices which can automatically slow a car when its detected to be speeding. A Yahoo report says the Australasian Intelligent Speed Adaptation initiative is expected to be trialled in Melbourne first.

The device uses satellite technology to detect if you’re breaking the speed limit – and it can automatically slow down your car. It has different settings ranging from beeping when you’re above the speed limit, to actually slowing the car down.

My GPS can beep to alert me if I’m approaching an intersection with a red light camera, so presumably it wouldn’t be hard for a GPS device to also beep to alert you if you’re speeding (the one under discussion uses a database to identify speed limits in the area you’re driving in). This might be a nice optional service. But I have to admit I’d be a bit worried about a device which can take over driving my car. I’d rather trust my own judgement than leave it in the hands of a GPS device. What do you think?[via Techdirt]


Remember the Milk

The Fin Review this week interviewed Omar Kilani and Emily Boyd – the Sydney-based creators of task management app Remember the Milk. The program started as a research project while the pair were studying at UTS. Now in its third year, Omar last year quit his IT consultancy job to look after RTM fulltime. Despite RTM’s tight integration with Gmail and innovative use of Google Gears, they’ve opted to remain independent for now rather than selling or taking on investors – Omar explains why in the interview.