Monday, July 20, 2015

Do the Right Thing

"Do the Right Thing" by Laure Wayaffe
Da Mayor: Doctor...
Mookie: C'mon, what. What?
Da Mayor: Always do the right thing.
Mookie: That's it?
Da Mayor: That's it.
Mookie: I got it, I'm gone.

Tony Crabbe asserts that time management is just making our busy lives worse - that the emphasis on breaking down tasks into smaller and smaller slices does mean that you cram in more stuff into a given time period but that you're not getting to the big, important things that can't be timesliced.

 Tagged! by jdhancock
Maybe. Or maybe the techniques which used to work no longer do, since those techniques are actually changing us?
By coincidence, I've been playing with some ways that are a little different than the make-a-list and tick things off style of time management. Though I'm treating all of them as supplements, to try and help me get to the important-but-not-urgent things.
13/52 : Charte canadienne des droits et libert├ęs by Eric Constantineau

Habitrpg - "HabitRPG is a free habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. With in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you and a strong social network to inspire you, HabitRPG can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy."

So, in fact, this is pretty close to the traditional make-a-list time management technique, but with added gamification. However, what I use it for is things like chores or habits that I want to cultivate but don't want to clutter up my to-do list. I can pick which days of the week I want dailies to appear and I associate different levels of difficulty. It has nice feedback to tell me how often I'm getting to something (e.g. by changing colours), has a holiday feature (where you check into an Inn) so you don't get penalized for changes in your routine but also let's you declare task bankruptcy by killing your character off altogether and then getting a fresh, re-incarnated one. Fun.
harpseal by gale
BJ Fogg's "Tiny Habits program can create new behaviors in your life." In some ways, this is the ultimate timeslice technique, in that you break down things into the tiniest possible steps - e.g. rather than "I want to floss my teeth twice a day" - you resolve "I will floss a single tooth". Then you tie that action to a trigger action - something you do routinely - e.g. "after I step out of the shower". The idea is to grow a set of positive new habits to habits you already have. Of course, if you're already flossing one tooth, you may as well floss a second. So, eventually, you find yourself flossing all of them. Although these are microtasks, they are not on your to-do list. Instead - the hope is - they just become automatic habits, that you don't need to think about.
I've been able to develop some good habits (e.g. tidying up my car) but - like everything else - sticking with it is the tricky thing. And not *every* desirable habit is easy to pair with a trigger action.
The Chili Pipeline by Viewminder
Blog Course - John Somnez (of SimpleProgrammer) offers a "FREE Email Course "How To Build A Blog That Will Boost Your Career" Will Show You How To Do It The RIGHT WAY... FAST!". It is essentially a three week course that takes you step-by-step to setting up a blog, from setting up Wordpress through a marketing strategy. Posting to my blog is something I know I should do - and have been kinda doing for the last few years. Actually having someone email me about it every week, with concrete steps to follow and even personally replying to my emails, makes a big difference with really doing it, though. Basically, John's course isn't a time management technique, but more of a coach - helping me do what it is I know I *ought* to do, but haven't been able to do entirely on my own.
Vulture Peak by Wonderlane
Lark - A fitness / nutrition app, Lark lets you "Chat 1-on-1 with your nutritionist in your pocket". On my iPhone 6, it makes use of Apple's iOS 8 HealthKit, to track my daily movements. It can also be configured to help me with nutrition, by letting me log what I eat. What's different about this one is that it simulates someone texting with you. It is like a relentlessly upbeat friend, who is obsessively monitoring how much you walk or run each day, plus always asking about what you've had for breakfast. That might sound annoying, but it is actually pretty encouraging. It has certainly got me eating more fruit and vegetables and nudged me into exercising a little more.
do the right thing by paolobarzman
The last two I list above - John's Blog Course and the Lark chatbot - are an interesting development, beyond time management lists. They are essentially coaches who encourage you to do the things you know *should* be doing, but aren't: do the right thing. That's it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting Topical at the IPTC Spring Meeting

Last summer, I became Chairman of the IPTC. My goal as Chair is to make IPTC better by improving the face-to-face meetings and improving how we communicate. So, how are we doing?

The IPTC is the global standards body of the news media. We provide the technical foundation for the news ecosystem. We recently held our Spring face-to-face meeting in New York, NY. Feedback from attendees was that the meeting was a success.

One of the things we did differently in this meeting was to put less emphasis on formal reports from the different standards initiatives within IPTC and more focus on active discussions, even when not connected to a particular standard.We held five topical sessions:
  • Taxonomies in news and the semantic exchange
  • Sports working session on Sports-in-JSON and new semantic tools in SportsML 3
  • HTML in NewsML-G2
  • Video metadata
  • APIs

Generally, the feedback on these was very positive. The main complaint was that sessions were held in parallel, whereas some people wanted to attend more than one topic session at the same time.

Also, taking advantage of our location in NYC, we were able to include a wider net of organizations and individuals in our meeting than might other wise attend - including Bloomberg, NPR, Business Wire, PR Newswire.
Overall, the meeting was much less formal than in recent years - we only had one vote (for a NewsML-G2 update). Hopefully, the meeting was a little friendlier and less intimidating for new attendees.

We are planning on building on this experience for our next face-to-face meeting 1st-3rd June in Warsaw. You can see some of the ideas that have been suggested already and please get in touch if you would like to suggest a topical session for either Warsaw or our October AGM in London.

Friday, April 17, 2015

More Concise ODRL and RightsML Expressions in XML using DRY Asset Patterns


Don't repeat yourself (DRY) is a much-loved principle of software engineering.

Essentially, the DRY principle states that you should strive to express any particular piece of information only once. This simplification typically improves maintainability and understandability. Systems which require you to repeat information are known by DRY-adherents as "WET" systems (for "We Enjoy Typing" or "Write Everything Twice").


In ODRL (and hence RightsML) every permission or prohibition refers to a particular asset.

When you have more than one permission or prohibition to express for a particular asset, this means you need to repeatedly refer to the same asset. How do you avoid repeating more than absolutely necessary to identify which asset the permission or prohibition constrains?

XML Linking

One solution for minimizing the amount of XML Markup is to use XML Linking. Here's an example where you identify an asset o:asset/@id=as1 and then use an @idref to refer to it in other permission or prohibition blocks.

<o:Policy xmlns:o="" type="" uid="">
    <o:asset id="as1" uid="" relation=""/>
    <o:action id="ac1" name=""/>
    <o:constraint id="c1" name="" operator="" rightOperand=""/>
    <o:party id="p1" uid="" function=""/>
    <o:party id= "p2" uid="" function=""/>

    <o:asset idref="as1"/>
    <o:action idref="ac1"/>
    <o:constraint name="" operator="" rightOperand=""/>
    <o:party idref="p1"/>
    <o:party idref="p2"/>

Embed the ODRL inside the Asset Markup

The other thing you can do is to have markup for the asset itself (rnews:Article in the below example) embed the ODRL policy. This means that the ODRL is even more concise, as it only needs to refer to the ID of the asset.

<rnews:Article xml:id="item8HEX">
  <rnews:title>Allies are Split<rnews:title>
  <rnews:description>Rebel fighters take control...<rnews:description>


  <o:Policy xmlns:o="" type="" uid="">
    <o:asset uid="#item8HEX"/>
    <o:action name=""/>
    <o:constraint name="" operator="" rightOperand="2011-11-11"/>



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

JSON Design Principles (Part Four of Three)

As a followup to my own series on designing JSON, I thought I would add a fourth entry in the trilogy:
I came across HTTP API design guide extracted from work on the Heroku Platform API.

This is interesting in part because some of the design principles it espouses (use objects a lot to group things together e.g. somewhat contradict some of the design principles I came up with (keep things as flat as possible e.g. owner_id). Just as I do, this Heroku guide emphasizes that this is a set of principles, not the only way to do things.

This guide also discusses how to construct an API (e.g. Require Versioning in the Accept Header). I've designed a handful of REST APIs, learning more each time, of course. The advice in the Heroku guide rings true to me and covers quite a few ideas I'd like to try out myself, next time.