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DJ Z-Trip Mixtape for Obama

DJ Z-Trip (with designer Shepard Fairey) has thrown some fundraisers for the Obama campaign called the “The Party for Change.” A few days ago he made the 54 minute set available as a free mp3 download.

You can read more about it and grab it on his site, or save him a bit of bandwidth and grab it from me (.zip, 85mb). (It’s public domain and he encourages its wide distribution!)

Here’s a great DJ with a great ear and premier turntable skills that pulls music from across genres. This mix is no exception.

I agree with his signoff:

I honestly feel if we make our voices heard, this time WILL be different.

Finances: Avoid Rash Moves

The New York Times has a story up today called Switching to Cash May Feel Safe, but Risks Remain. I highly recommend that you read it.

I’m not a particularly savvy financial person, but “think long term” always struck me as wise. There’s no doubt that it’s pretty hairy out there right now, but I think changing course or being overly emotion is the worst reaction. It’s tempting to be emotional and run for cover, but this article cites research that should give you strength and resolve.

As the title says, switching to cash may fell safe. But:

But if you sell now, you’ll be locking in your losses. And once you’re in cash, there isn’t much upside. In fact, with interest rates low, you’re likely to lose money in cash, because inflation will probably eat up the after-tax returns you earn from a savings or money-market account.

Beyond the low upside of cash, selling low is, obviously, the worst time to sell. It’s bad because you lock in your losses, but the read damage is that you’ll miss the eventual upswing, to devastating effect.

The research they cite is pretty amazing (emphasis mine):

From 1963 to 2004, the index of American stocks he tested gained 10.84 percent annually in a geometric average, which avoided overstating the true performance. For people who missed the 90 biggest-gaining days in that period, however, the annual return fell to just 3.2 percent. Less than 1 percent of the trading days accounted for 96 percent of the market gains.

A portfolio belonging to an investor who missed the 10 best days over several decades across all of those markets would end up, on average, with about half the balance of someone who sat tight throughout.

They note that if you need the money in the next five years — if you’re about to retire — then perhaps the loss of the move to cash might make sense. But for me, and for many of you, “today’s price is not your price. Your price is 10 or 20 years from now.”

So, hang on to what you’ve got and don’t make any rash moves.

Accessibility Movers – Henny Swan to Opera from RNIB

I just noticed that Henry Henny “iheni” Swan — Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at Royal National Institute of the Blind for the past six years — is taking a job at Opera Software as a Web Evangelist. In addition to wishing him her well, his her post, Hello Opera provides a few quick tidbits about the Opera roster these days.

Congrats, iheni! I hope to see at a conference soon.

Update: I wrote this post in the middle of the night after working entirely too long and late. In my delirium, I misread Henny as Henry and used incorrect pronouns. Further, in the headline I mistakenly typed Swar instead of Swan (though I got it right in the body and in the permalink).

Sincere apologies for my clumsiness. Thanks to Henny for setting me straight!

Wireframing with Balsamiq Mockups

Thanks to Pras for the pointer to Balsamiq’s Mockups application. I was sketching wireframes quickly within minutes of finding the product.

I believe in low-fidelity sketching at the wireframe stage. Balsamiq makes it easy with its large library of UI control stencils, its auto-complete driven keybroad stencil selection, on-screen snap-to alignment guides, a powerful inspector for precise control when rarely needed, and, more of all, a simplicity that makes it easy to start sketching or tweaking your mockup immediately.

The output is Balsamiq files, PGN or flattened image files, and XML. Because it exports XML it’s possible to use Balsamiq as a programmatic ingredient for downstream engineering systems and tools (such as partially automating the creation of detailed functional specifications, or using it as source for the automated building on the actual interface.

There is a rumor that they’ll be announcing clickable output files shortly, which might allow for the fast creation of clickable wireframes for usability testing (and other) needs.

I haven’t noticed, but it should be possible to customize what’s in the included UI Widget Library to a) take on a different visual skin; b) reflect new or fewer interface widget options.

All and all, I’m pretty intrigued. It seems there’s a market for consumer-friendly ways to design interfaces. Once more people catch on how to much fun we’re having, they’ll want a shot at designing and realizing all the apps they’re dreaming up, too!

I’d love to hear what you think of this approach. Have you tried it? Does it work for your teams”

Balsamiq Mockups For Desktop - * New Mockup

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Rap

Here’s a pointer to a scientifically accurate rap about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Story on permalink.

From the story:

Now a larky but accurate rap song explaining the point of the 17 mile circumference machine [under Switzerland and France], which formally starts up on September 10, has made a star of Kate McAlpine, 23, aka “alpinekat”, who stars with her friends in a YouTube video that has been downloaded more than [was 400,000 times when the article was published, and nearly 1.4mm now.]

I liked watching the video. I’ve heard about the LHC before, but this 4 minutes taught me new facts about both the collide *and* its science. And there’s funny dancing.

Songbird Public Beta (0.7)

Congrats to my buddies (yo Koshi!) over at Songbird for reaching another big milestone: public beta.

Songbird is a media player like iTunes. Except that it’s build on top of the awesome Mozilla Firefox foundation. And like Firefox, it has an extensive array of extensions, themes, and assorted addons. Earlier versions haven’t supplanted iTunes for me, but it’s looking like this version may well do that.

I had some trouble imagining what type of addons would make sense, but in this release we’re beginning to see. An early favorite for me is the ticketing integration:


You can read all about the release on their blog, download it here, and see a screenshot below:


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