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The power of visualization: Hans Rosling

This is actually quite an old video (2003) but remains highly relevant. Provide ready access to large quantities of information and the ideas will follow.

But I think it's very important to have all this information.  We need really to see it...  In this software, we access about 500 variables from all the countries quite easily. It takes some time to change for this, but on the axises, you can quite easily get any variable you would like to have. And the thing would be to get up the databases free, to get them searchable, and with a second click, to get them into the graphic formats, where you can instantly understand them. Now, statisticians doesn't like it, because they say that this will not show the reality; we have to have statistical, analytical methods. But this is hypothesis-generating.
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China railway map

With our departure looming I'm starting to collect all sorts of useful links and information for China. Today, from TravelChinaGuide.com, an easy to read railway map. The idea of getting on a train at 9pm at night and arriving at 7am the next morning seems a whole lot more appealing than airline travel right now but we'll see.

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Most productive work week of the year

A few years ago I accidentally stumbled on a very productive vacation strategy which through design or accident I've been using ever since. The week before and after Christmas (and to a lesser extent around Thanksgiving) are so quiet that they present a really great opportunity to collect thoughts, write-up ideas that have never quite made it above the noise floor, consolidate wish-lists and really think about the year ahead.

While not sustainable forever, mainly since it's rare that anything actually gets built or shipped, this last week has been exceptionally productive.

I'm not the only one. Scott Berkun explores the idea in more detail:

The week between Christmas and New Years, is the worst time to use vacation. It’s when everyone else is on holiday, turning even the most stressful workplaces into calm zones of highly indepenent and low interruption work time. Spending your vacation dollars to avoid a paid vacation in the office, is the worst bet in the vacation world: sometimes it’s a forced bet, as family plans force your hand, but it’s still a lousy value.
via When should you take vacation? A strategy « Scott Berkun.
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Sunset at Dash Point State Park

On the way to Cabela's we made a brief stop at Dash Point State Park today, it's just a few minutes off I-5 going south towards Olympia.

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Christmas Day at the arboretum

After a fine Christmas dinner of defrosted hot dogs (we're trying to empty out the freezer), it was a lovely cool yet clear afternoon. We headed to the Washington Park arboretum to walk around a bit of the lake and to get some fresh air and exercise. It was nice to see others had similar thoughts but it was far from busy.

[flickr album=72157623069910938 num=30 size=Medium]

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Thinkpad W700 arrived

Just in time for Christmas (well, not really) my ThinkPad W700 arrived this morning. First impression: this thing is a monster. While it's big, it's not as heavy as I was expecting, but was really snappy right out of the box and has a fabulous, vivid screen. The built-in tablet, calibrator and webcam all seem nice too. I'm now loading up Photoshop, Lightroom, Office and VS ready for our trip which is just a few weeks away now.

Aside: this little box has come a long way to get here.