Link: 20 scientific reasons to start meditating today

http://www.emmaseppala.com/20-scientific-reasons-to-start-meditating-today/#.UsL0U38gGSM

"When I started meditating, I did not realize it would also make me healthier, happier, and more successful. Having witnessed the benefits, I devoted my PhD research at Stanford to studying the impact of meditation. I saw people from diverse backgrounds from college students to combat veterans benefit. In the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been released. Here are 20 scientifically-validated reasons you might want to get on the bandwagon today:"

Making perfect pictures on your iPhone

http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/23/5210112/the-verge-at-work-making-perfect-pictures-on-your-iphone

"I’m in love with the photo-making process: from the click of the shutter to the final product, it’s magic to me. And although the mechanical click has been replaced by a silent tap, my love for the art and science of photography has only intensified. I’m a firm believer in the idea that "the best camera is the one you have with you," and it’s never been more true than on today’s smartphone-saturated streets."

My must-have iPhone apps, 2013 edition

http://www.macstories.net/roundups/my-must-have-iphone-apps-2013-edition/

“It’s crazy to think that most of this stuff wasn’t possible just six years ago. Today, we have a device in our pockets that can stream any music we want, take high-res pictures, track our daily steps, watch movies, organize notes, check on weather forecasts, and even edit videos with a 64-bit CPU or run Python scripts.”

I really need to ween myself off these must-have-app list articles. Listicles! They’re feeling more and more irrelevant. Perhaps not so much irrelevant as- just unimportant. To me, anyway.

Watching the watchers

How Britain exported next-generation surveillance
Britain is one of the most surveilled countries in the world. Studies put the number of operational CCTV cameras at between two and four million, for a population of 60 million people. The country’s national DNA database holds records on six million people. Telecoms companies are mandated to store logs of all mobile-phone calls and text messages for 12 months, and to make the data available to government at all levels. […]

In 2009, a House of Lords report described the explosion of surveillance technologies as one of the most significant changes to Britain since the Second World War. It noted:

“Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy. As privacy is an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom, its erosion weakens the constitutional foundations on which democracy and good governance have traditionally been based in this country.”

This has been described as an acceptable price to pay for greater security, but studies of surveillance technology fail to support that argument. […]

Consent, the bedrock on which the agreement to be policed is based, is meaningless without comprehension, and comprehension is impossible without visibility. It is only when people are brought face-to-face with the reality of surveillance — as the Catts were, and as the people of Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook were — that they see how their privacy, and their right to be presumed innocent, have been affected.

I knew that we have more than our fair share of cameras, but I hadn’t really thought about just how widespread before. A vital read.

The amazing T-Rex illusion

http://enpundit.com/amazing-t-rex-illusion/

"Based on the famous dragon illusion by optical illusionist Jerry Andrus, the ‘Amazing T-Rex Illusion’ from Brusspup is just as the name says… Amazing! You probably won’t even believe what you are seeing until you get to the end (but that’s okay, it means your brain is working correctly)."
via IFTTT

Going deep

How to write six important papers a year without breaking a sweat: The deep immersion approach to deep work
When you check in weekly on a long term project, it’s easy to fall into a minimal progress trap and watch whole semesters pass with little results. What if, instead, weekly meetings were replaced with occasionally taking a couple days to do nothing but try to make real progress on the problem?

The trick seems to be not so much blocking out an hour or so each day, but every now and then blocking out an entire two day period when you can completely immerse yourself into a task such as the one bothering me at the moment… Would like that, I think. Distraction-less. And this is one thing I’d like to try really soon, if poss.

How email can be used for customer support

How we used email as a customer support system at mySociety
f) Be really disciplined about this. Anything in the support folder represents a customer who isn’t satisified.

g) Make sure at least one person on the team goes and looks at slightly older, harder messages, and bullies appropriate people into resolving them one way or the other.

This particularly works well early on in a product, when there is relatively little support. It’s particularly important then that everyone working on the product lives and breathes the customers. Even just seeing the emails go past with other people answering them can help with that.

This is something I should be bearing in mind, as we’re going through a little thing at work about help desk systems and how we can make better use of them.

Big duck in a little pond?

 Florentijn Hofman
Nope. A big duck in, like, the actual sea and that. “We’re one family and all the waters in the world is our global bathtub”, explains artist Florentijn Hofman.

Feeling sleepy? Check your Chronotype, you might be suffering from Social Jetlag

chronotypes
From Maria Popova at Brainpickings.org, a wonderful (as ever) review of Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired by Till Roenneberg

This myth that early risers are good people and that late risers are lazy has its reasons and merits in rural societies but becomes questionable in a modern 24/7 society. The old moral is so prevalent, however, that it still dominates our beliefs, even in modern times.

Lots to delve in to, including this concept of social jetlag.

Franz Kafka, professional procrastinator

lunchbreak

In 1908, Kafka landed a position at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute in Prague, where he was fortunate to be on the coveted “single shift” system, which meant office hours from 8 or 9 in the morning until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. This was a distinct improvement over his previous job, which required long hours and frequent overtime. So how did Kafka use these newfound hours of freedom? First, lunch; then a four-hour-long nap; then 10 minutes of exercise; then a walk; then dinner with his family; and then, finally, at 10:30 or 11:30 at night, a few hours of writing—although much of this time was spent writing letters or diary entries.

An excerpt from one of Mason Currey’s articles about the daily rituals of famous writers and artists. (Via)