links for 2010-11-03

  • A NASA official may have made a 35-million-mile slip of the tongue. The director of NASA's Ames Research Center in California casually let slip mention of the 100-Year Starship recently, a new program funded by the super-secret government agency, DARPA. In a talk at San Francisco's Long Conversation conference, Simon “Pete” Worden said DARPA has $1M to spend, plus another $100,000 from NASA itself, for the program, which will initially develop a new kind of propulsion engine that will take us to Mars or beyond. There's only one problem: The astronauts won't come back.  The 100-year ship would leave Earth with the intention of colonizing a planet, but it would likely be a one-way trip because of the time it takes to travel 35 million miles. That’s a daunting prospect, partly because of the ethical dilemma, and partly because it may be the only recourse. "What psychological challenges should we anticipate in those who volunteer in good faith and with great courage
  • If you have multiple computers, you probably want an easy way to share your keyboard and mouse. There are different ways to accomplish this goal. You can try using a hardware KVM switch (Keyboard, Video, Mouse). I’ve tried a couple KVM switches, and they never worked reliably. How would you like free software to share the keyboard and mouse?! How would you like to handle both PC’s and Macintosh computers?! Synergy is a PC program. It’s rather complicated. I had to get help setting it up for multiple PC’s.
  • I’ve written posts like If I started today and Start From Nothing, where I talked about how I’d go about building my social presence. In this post, I want to talk about if I were managing a small team or department for an organization using social media tools. There are similarities, but there are some things I’d set up differently. In building any social media platform, if you don’t start with goals, you’re starting with a hope for failure. There are many possible goals: relationship-building, lead generation, sales, marketing, awareness, customer service. In my example, I’m going to set mine up with the goal of improving leads and sales, while helping out my customer service department. You can alter the recipe to taste. For internal communication, I’d use a mix of Yammer and Google Docs. I’d use Yammer for the “fluid” information for our organization and I’d use Google Docs for static information, such as spreadsheets and records and documents.
  • As the next part of our Web Design Layouts series, today we’re going to examine the “F Pattern Layout”; Rather than trying to force the viewer’s visual flow, the F-Layout gives in to the natural behaviors of most web surfers and it uses scientific studies to back it up. This tutorial will walk you through the principles of the F-Layout, why it works, and how you can create your own.
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