The Puzzle of Motivation

The secret to high performance isn’t rewards and punishments, but that unseen intrinsic drive– the drive to do things for their own sake. The drive to do things cause they matter.

Remove that sense of purpose, and you remove all motivation.

So which is more quickly read, English or Chinese?

Chinese Writing Texture - Keely O'Shannessy

Which reads faster, Chinese or English? – The only person who I know who can read both languages fluently can read infinitely faster than I can, in either language.

Like Tim de Chant, I’d assumed that the information density of Chinese meant that Chinese read faster. In this article he looks at the relative reading speeds of native speakers in both languages with unexpected conclusions.

Photo: Keely O’Shannessy, Some Rights Reserved

Search Results

Netflix Search

I’ve heard many people praise Netflix for their recommendations engine. However, when searching for a film it seems somewhat overly confident to imply the recommendations are more important than the search result itself.

If the film I’m looking for isn’t available, far better to state this upfront.

Why I built an iPhone App

A couple of weeks back I released my first iPhone App. The App itself isn’t particularly innovative and certainly isn’t novel. So why did I do it?

3 4 5

The App itself is a simple Pomodoro timer. Use it to help keep track of your work (and interruptions) by dividing your day up into 25 minute blocks. And to confirm how basic this App is, a simple kitchen timer would have done the job. If screenshots aren’t enough, the App itself is available for free on iTunes (YAPT – Yet Another Pomodoro Timer).

Before I answer the question, ‘Why?’, I’d like to first look at what I learned by doing this:

  • The App development and release cycle
  • A new language Objective C
  • The basics of UIKit
  • That the human ear is amazingly susceptible to jitter in rhythm
  • How to handle the App lifecycle
  • That there is always one more bug

One of the main reasons I decided to put this together was curiosity, but there were a number of other factors that helped me see it through to completion.

  1. I wanted to make something tangible (this is a digital world) that I could put my name to and not have my name lost on the cover of a design document, a test report or a project plan.
  2. Being a manager is what keeps the bills paid (no pun intended), but staying close to technology is what keeps me interested. I like to keep my hands dirty and needed a project outside of the office to keep me keen.
  3. I wanted to ship something, myself. At work I very rarely get to see anything through to completion before I’m pulled off to look at the next challenge. I wanted to reassure myself I could still finish something.
  4. And last but my no means least, I wanted a challenge.

I believe that in this first version of the App I have achieved all those and more. I have a couple of features in the pipeline that should allow me to cover a couple more key areas in mobile development (networking and analytics) and give me a better understanding of the challenges our development teams face.

Because there are many ways to build an App I thought I’d share my approach (and credits for all the help and pointers I used) over on GitHub. Criticisms and suggestions on the structure of the code or the usability of the App are of course welcome.

Around the Island

The Eye in The Sky: Can I fly? Can I film?

Like any boy with a new toy, I wasn’t going to read, I was going to learn to fly through action. I made straight for the nearest park to make my first flight. I set off early to avoid meeting other people as I wanted the space to make mistakes, primarily without the embarrassment of being see, but also to avoid hitting anyone.

With a couple of flights under my belt, and a few crashes to boot, I thought I’d read up on the regulations here in the UK before I set off on further aerial adventures.

This is the first part in a series I’m writing on learning to fly (and film) with a quadcopter. In future posts, I’ll tackle the ethics, the edits, the successes and of course the failures. But first, the legal.

The legal

First and foremost, I encourage you to spend some time looking at the Civil Aviation Authority website for the most accurate and up to date information. What I present below are my findings from doing just that

If you have a small aircraft, the rules differ depending on whether or not you are receiving ‘_valuable consideration_’ as a result of flying. Most people choose to interpret this as whether or not you are flying for commercial reasons, but the regulations don’t necessarily define ‘valuable consideration’ as being paid.

Also, if you have a camera or other data gathering kit mounted to the aircraft, you are subject to some additional regulations as technically you enter the world of surveillance.

Can I fly?

It’s Complicated

You’ve got yourself a fairly large aircraft there, you need to read up on the regulations as this is pushing the limits of what the CAA deem to be a model.

Small Unmanned Aircraft

The following aren’t allowed without further permission from the CAA:

  • A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.
  • The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.
  • The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.
  • The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of aerial work.

Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft

The following aren’t allowed without further permission from the CAA:

  • flying over or within 150 metres of any congested area;
  • flying over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
  • flying within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft;
  • flying within 50 metres of any person (unless the person is in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft); or
  • taking off or landing within 30 metres of any person (unless the person is in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft)

This all sounds reasonable, but when you see the definition of ‘congested area’ you might conclude that your flying options are limited.

‘Congested area’ in relation to a city, town or settlement, means any area which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes;

If anything, I’d expect regulations to be tightened as popularity of unmanned aircraft increases.