This is your iBrain

A colleague at CNET.co.uk who has been living with the iPhone much longer than I have has had very similar experiences, and has found himself whipping out his iPhone to resolve important trivia questions with unnerving frequency. If you have a browser locked and loaded and ready to go in your hand you use it as a kind of small portable iBrain, supporting your arguments, checking your facts, establishing the name of the fifth Beatle, confirming the start time of the film you’re going to see. It’s just part of your personal performance, like looking at your watch or using your Oyster card: personal, ubiquitous, unremarkable. It just works.

Living with the Trojan iBrain – Times Online


Yubz USB Skype Phones

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These aren’t new but they are interesting in that they focus on what feels and works well. I doubt replicating the quality of the original analogue phones that these phones have as a source of inspiration was their original intent but they are designed to be ergonomic and user friendly. I think products like these are a statement that not all new forms are an improvement.
The Yubz talk online series works without the need for a software install, comes in 4 vivid colors (Jet black, Alpine White, Russian Red, Lemon Yellow) and works with either a PC or a MAC. The focus of the product would be software like Skype but I assume it would work with most voip software.
Link.

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Urbn Hotel, Shanghai

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I’m curious as to what they include in their ‘Unique URBN Intimacy kits’. Hotel branded condoms or something more fun?

China’s first carbon-neutral hotel, the hip 26-room URBN Hotel Shanghai, will officially open this spring. Conceived by owners Scott Barrack and Jules Kwan, URBN promises to be the start of a new boutique hotel empire.
… the two plan to open another 20 URBN hotels in China in the next three years, starting with Beijing, Hangzhou, Dalian and Suzhou. The hoteliers will go as green as possible by rehabilitating existing structures, using recycled materials, maximizing gr

een space and introducing eco-friendly solutions.
Via thecoolhunter.net


Is Our Happiness Preordained?

Though most of us spend a lifetime pursuing happiness, new research is showing that that goal may be largely out of our control. Two new studies this month add to a growing body of evidence that factors like genes and age may impact our general well-being more than our best day-to-day attempts at joy.

TIME link.


Thomson VOIP phone

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Thomson Symbio DECT VoIP phone combines the functions of a wireless VoIP phone and an Internet radio in one somewhat attractive device. It certainly would match last years iMac aesthetic (inspiration always follows late). I like devices like this for short conversations as I always feel somewhat odd wearing my headset all the time. There’s a small LCD screen in the body in order to view contact, VoIP network info, Internet radio information, and your RSS feeds. The ability to play HiFi ringtones would no doubt fill an already jingle filled office environment with yet more annoying sounds. Good device for those days you might be strapped to the desk. More pictures after the jump.
Link.

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Robot Cellphones

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Softbank’s coming out with a new line of handsets in April that will double as robot friends. These handsets have arms and legs that fold out, and screens that will make faces according to their moods.
The robot phone doesn’t actually talk or move, but it’ll tell you what it’s thinking via text message. (He’ll call you out if you’re phone stalking somebody, for example).

Via TOKYOMANGO


MailTags for Apple Mail

Another in a long list of productivity enhancements I have tried, MailTags actually worked by allowing me to connect Apple Mail to iCal, something that Apple should have done in the first place. I haven’t tried this latest release as I am still using Tiger but I haven’t found Apple mail to be fast enough for robust email management anyway. Gmail is far faster. Your mileage may vary.

Indev’s MailTags 2.2 is a plug-in for Apple Mail that enables metadata tagging of email. This release adds compatibility with Leopard’s Mail 3.0 (including tagging of notes and RSS items) and also introduces a modular architecture for future enhancements.

MailTags. Via MacIntouch.


10 tips for being calm

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I think my 4 year old daughter was trying to tell me something when she brought me a Chinese translation of The Little Book of Calm by Paul Wilson. I don’t usually make it a habit of reading books like this, unless you count all the productivity manuals I’ve digested, but my daughter was pretty persuasive. Generally its too ‘new age’ for me but like many texts like this there are enough bits of commonsense to make the effort of leafing through the pages worthwhile. Here is a selection of 10 tips contained within the book which I found to be the most relevant.

Leave it to others to be perfect, to be wonderful. Be content with who you are – you will be much more relaxed as a result.
Take a lesson in calmness from children: watch how they live every moment for the pleasure of the moment.
Clear out the clutter. Physical disarray adds to the tension of life. Clearing out the clutter is an orderly way to calm.
To bear ill-feelings towards someone else is more damaging to the bearer than the recipient. Forgive quickly and freely.
There comes a time when you need to shut yourself off from interruption, to concentrate on your own needs and responsibilities. Do it for at least one hour every day.
Keep plants where you work, sleep and live, and you’ll enjoy more oxygen. The more oxygen you get the more calmer you will become.
Anything that interferes with your sleep – coffee, cola, alcohol – interferes with your ability to become calm. Do whatever is necessary to get as much sleep as you feel you need.
Walk everyday – not because you have to , but because if you combine it with the right attitude , it can be the most relaxing way to get from A to B.
Be rigorous in differentiating between what is achievable and what is a waste of time. Then devote your energies to only those tasks you can achieve.
Any task you can do on remote control has the potential as a way of helping you feel good. Treat it as a meditation, concentrating wholly on the moment, and you will be fulfilled.

What works wonders for me isn’t mentioned anywhere in this book. A weekend getting massaged into submission at a resort in Thailand is a surefire way to ‘calm’ for me.
The Little Book of Calm


Abacadabra Bookmark

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Abracadabra Bookmark, this inflatable bookmark aims to make finding where you left off and opening to that page easier. Squeezing onside lifts the other.
link


Speed up your sluggish Mac

My Powerbook is getting slower by the day and I’ve been thinking of how I might squeeze out a couple drops of speed from what is becoming something of a lemon. My preferred method is to throw this one out the window right after I bring home a new MacBook Air but luckily for my family finances the Wired How-to Wiki has a few tips which might delay the inevitable awhile longer.

While there is no definitive cure-all for making your machine as good (and as fast) as day one, there are some basic things you can do that might help reclaim disk space, remove some clutter and generally speed up your Mac.

Killing unneeded processes and recovering HD space might be the best first choices if a hardware upgrade isn’t an option.
Speed Up Your Mac – Wired How-To Wiki


Virtual teams the norm by 2018

A survey of more than 1,000 senior executives found 74% expected “virtual teams of employees”, working at a distance from each other, to become the norm by 2018.
About 64% thought talented people would become “multi-employed,” 59% said job hopping would be commonplace and 56% said most routine tasks would be automated.
… there would also be a proliferation of “virtual” companies, often small community-based enterprises without conventional business premises.

Off-grid


Action Book & Pad

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The Action Book was designed by the Behance team and is based on the Action Method. The four distinct zones on each page provide a flexible template to get the most out of meetings and everyday brainstorm sessions

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I can’t believe that I waited until now to mention this elegant productivity note book. I’m pretty partial to the pantone orange they are using but would likely pick one of the other more subtle colors available.
I’ve experimented with and tried many productivity tools. Most if not all never work better than committing ideas to paper. I’ve lost so much time trying to make up time that I’ve lost faith in anything that doesn’t look immediately usable. The action book and pad looks like one of those products that will immediately fit and improve the way I work. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they look great. Definitely worth a try for anyone looking for a way to tackle next steps.
Action Book


LaCie Little Disk

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This portable HD designed by Sam Hecht for LaCie looks really great and it’s super small. They say it’s the size of lighter but being a non-smoker I’ll have to take their word for it. Available in 30 & 40GB sizes. It’s a platter and not solid state.
Ever notice how horrid all these ‘designed’ external hard drives look together when you purchase them over time? I’ve got a whole history of case aesthetics pilling up beside me here at the home office.
LaCie Little Disk


Backpack fridge

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I guess this beats carrying a fridge on your back. A modern equivalent to the picnic basket or beer cooler, the “Boxcooler” is a backpack fridge with picnic dishes which aims to increase comfort during ‘long journeys’. What it lacks in romance it makes up for in inventiveness.

Thermoelectric Peltier elements replace the traditional “freezer batteries” which defrost after a while. Therefore, the food inside stays fresh and cool for a longer time. They are supplied by a storage cell which can be reloaded inside the car or at home. Inside the pockets are compact tablets with all the equipment needed for a picnic. A foldable cup, a knife, spoon and fork are moulded into the tablet surface. All these parts are developed to use a minimal amount of space with a maximum of function.

Seen at Yanko design.