Some notable links

The Power of Checklists

The crux of this problem is while the world around us is becoming more and more complex, we’re still stuck with a brain that hasn’t changed much in 100,000 years. Sure, we’ve figured out ways to off-load memory storage to books and computers so we can know more; we just haven’t figured out a good way to overcome our evolved biases, cognitive flaws, and intrinsic forgetfulness. And so, despite owning a brain brimming with ever more knowledge, we continue to make stupid mistakes.

But what if there was a tool that could help us avoid misapplying knowledge and overcome cognitive flaws the same way data storage has helped us be more informed?

Well, there is one, and you’ve probably used it today.

The humble checklist.

Sneaking subtle Star Wars references into photos

Why You Shouldn't Trust Your Cat

GFY video clip of Headis — ping pong using a soccer ball and only your head. Cool stuff.

Lowe's online ordering system doesn't measure up...

lowesI had to get some specialty items from Lowes -- replacements for the rollers at the bottom of our closet doors, which only they seem to carry. The nearest Lowes location that had them in stock was too far away, so I ordered them for delivery through their web site.

It was all good until check out. As expected, I had to fill out a form with the shipping info, but instead of just accepting my input, the site popped up a confirmation box asking if I wanted to use the address I had entered, or the address that the USPS had reported as the 'official' one. The only difference was a period after 'Ave'.

Next was billing info, which is also expected, so no big deal. I put in my credit card info (from KeePass), then clicked the 'Use my shipping info' box, and it filled in the fields -- or so I thought. I went to the bottom to click 'Continue', and got a validation warning -- the pre-fill had inserted my address info, but not my name. So I filled in my name, and clicked "Continue" again, but still no-go -- this time it needed my email address. (I checked at this point, and no, there was no UI indication that the email field was 'required'.)

After filling in the email address, I clicked 'Continue' one more time, only to get rejected again -- apparently the Name and CC Number from the top part of the page had gotten wiped by their validation code. I refilled all that in, then took the time to scan every part of the form to make sure I had everything, and then clicked 'Continue' one more time. At this point, the validation changed from the browser to the server, so it cranked for 10-15 seconds before it rejected the submission one more time. With no apparent indication on the form, it seems the phone number field must also be completed. (You'd think the client-side validation could handle that, but apparently not.)

So, I filled out the phone number field, re-entered the credit card info (which had been wiped as before), and verified everything one more time. When I clicked 'Continue', the page cranked for 20-25 seconds before it came back with a confirmation page. The whole check-out process took far too long.

It's the same problem with other non-Amazon sites -- JCP, Target, Home Depot, Sears. Their process is so clunky, their UI's so flakey, and their delays so long that the shopping experience is a chore.

Here's how to make Carole's world-famous Chocolate Peanut Butter protein shakes. This recipe is for one shake, but adjustments for two shakes are (noted).

  • Put one (two) Nutrisystem Creamy Chocolate shake mix packets into the blender.
  • Add a few slices of zucchini
  • Using a long-handled teaspoon, add a heaping spoonful with 3 to 4 teaspoons of Fage Greek Plain Non-fat Yogurt. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)
  • Using the same spoon (but cleaned and dried), add a heaping spoonful with 2 teaspoons of smooth peanut butter. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)
  • Add about 1 teaspoon of Hershey chocolate syrup. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)
  • Add 3.5 ounces of nonfat milk. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)
  • Add 1.25 cups of cubed ice. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)

Start the mixer, and let it run at the slowest speed for a few seconds. Dial up the speed slowly, moving more quickly to a higher speed if the blender lags. After 20-30 seconds, you should reach the highest setting of the variable speeds. Next, move to the high speed setting on the blender, and blend until the zucchini is completely blended and the shake is mostly smooth. Overblending will thin out the shake, and should be avoided.

Pour the shake into an appropriately sized cup. Top with whip cream and Hershey chocolate drizzle, if desired.

Here's how to make Carole's world-famous Chocolate Pomegranate protein shakes. This recipe is for one shake, but adjustments for two shakes are (noted).

  • Put one Nutrisystem Creamy Chocolate shake mix packet into the blender. (For two shakes, either use a second Chocolate shake mix packet, or use one Chocolate and one Vanilla.)
  • Using a long-handled teaspoon, add a heaping spoonful with 2 to 3 teaspoons of Fage Greek Plain Non-fat Yogurt. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)
  • Add about 1 teaspoon of Hershey chocolate syrup. (For two shakes, add a second helping. If you use one Chocolate and one Vanilla shake mix, add a little extra chocolate syrup.)
  • Add 3.25 ounces of pomegranate juice. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)
  • Add 1.5 cups of cubed ice. (For two shakes, add a second helping.)

Start the mixer, and let it run at the slowest speed for a few seconds. Dial up the speed slowly, moving more quickly to a higher speed if the blender lags. After 20-30 seconds, you should reach the highest setting of the variable speeds. Next, move to the high speed setting on the blender, and blend until the zucchini is completely blended and the shake is mostly smooth. Overblending will thin out the shake, and should be avoided.

Pour the shake into an appropriately sized cup. Top with whip cream and Hershey chocolate drizzle, if desired.