Divide by Nought

Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

A more rigorous way to use the SCAMPER brainstorming method

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If you’re not familiar with it, SCAMPER is a brainstorming method for augmenting or “creating” new ideas, methods, etc.  The basic process is briefly described here:

How to use SCAMPER on eHow.com

This method is fine on its own and can be used without modification.  However, it can be useful to go further by redeploying the same process against its results.  In other words:

  1. Go through the basic analysis.  As you’re doing so create your list of ideas.
  2. Once you’ve complete the first pass go through the list and re-apply each of the 9 principles to each item in your list.
    1. In addition to factors outside of your list, for substitution, combination, adaptation and elimination consider whether other items on your list could be applied to the current item.
  3. Make note of any new ideas that come to mind.
  4. Repeat this process as many times as desired using the newly emerging ideas.

The point is to encourage more in-depth understanding of the ideas and generate more varied output.


Written by me

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Ah, unapportioned-tax how I love thee.

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The following excerpt is from “The joy of tax” in the April 10-16th 2010 issue of The Economist:

“The federal tax code, which was 400 pages long in 1913, has swollen to about 70,000. Americans now spend 7.6 billion hours a year grappling with an incomprehensible tangle of deductions, loopholes and arcane reporting requirements. That is the equivalent to 3.8 [million] skilled workers toiling full-time, year-round, just to handle the paperwork. By this measure, the tax-compliance industry is six times larger than car making.”

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Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 11:10 am

Posted in Learning, Musings, Uncategorized

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Primary, secondary…

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…tertiary, quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary, denary (10), duodenary (12), and vigenary (20).

I’ve done a fair amount of looking and at the time of this post the web does not seem to know what the holes are between 10 to 12 and 12 to 20; or beyond.  In fact, there are some sites that all but state that the words to fill those holes do not exist.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 11:00 am


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These are both very interesting videos and, although they’re long, I encourage everyone to watch both.  You may not agree with everything in them and that’s fine.  Either way, hopefully they will make you feel the need to question both the institutions discussed as well as the ideas presented.

They’re listed in reverse order that they were released.  I did this because the beginning of the “addendum” video (section 1 actually starts about 7 minutes into the video) is very timely considering current events in the United States (and really the World).  I hope and imagine that watching that first section will inspire you to watch the remainder and then, perhaps, keep going…


Zeitgeist: Addendum

Zeitgeist: The Movie


A note for after you’ve seen these…

I was surprised at many of the ideas presented in these videos.  Some seem like they couldn’t possibly be true.  And, while I can’t say I’ve checked every point in them (but am continuing to do so)  those that I have, have turned out to be true.  One example I find particularly interesting is the REAL ID.  I figured this would be something everyone would know about and be talking about, but very few seem to be.  None-the-less, there are websites that do talk about it and that includes government sites (www.dhs.gov and www.spp.gov are a couple).  The implications I found aren’t as overt or readily apparent as the video makes it sound.  However, the groundwork for what is said, or implied, is clearly there.  It is then, if nothing else, very interesting food for thought and certainly something that is good to be aware of.


More information is available here:




Written by me

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 7:39 am

Pandora vs. Genius

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I’ve heard and seen some herald Apple’s new Genius playlist creator as the end of Pandora.  Pandora does have some challenges ahead regardless of Genius.  But as far as Genius is concerned and in its current form, I don’t see a direct conflict.

Pandora’s current tag line is “Stations that only play music you like”.  I’m pretty sure at some point it was “Find music you’ll love”, or something along those lines.  I could be wrong.  At any rate, my fake Pandora tag line and Genius’s nicely sum up the difference between the two.  Genius’s tag line is “(Re-)Discover your music”.

In other words, Pandora is for exploring music that may not be in your collection but you might like.  Genius is for digging into your own collection to find things that you might be neglecting.  Both are valuable, but exploration and rediscovery are fundamentally different.

Yes, Genius can find new music too.  The problem is it’s an active process of listening to snippets and if you like them you’re forced to purchase.  I don’t like that at all.  Pandora just lets me actively or passively listen to stuff and if I really like it then I can look into getting it.  That and with Pandora I’m not suck with purchases on iTunes, which still struggles with DRM.

Overall, this is positive for both.  They each have their own part of a niche and together they have the ability to create a richer listening experience.  Which is all I really care about.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Musings

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Things vs. OmniFocus

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OmniFocus and Things are both great GTD/PIM/Productivity applications.  I’m using them both just too see which one I end up using more and then I’ll stick with the winner.  I would simply choose one, but they both have their limitations.  Omnifocus is a little too structured while Things is a little too loose and, even worse, manual. Nothing is ever perfect, but a couple small changes to either and my life would be so much easier.

OmniFocus being too structured appears to be the result of strict adherence to the GTD scheme.  As a seeming result it doesn’t offer things like deep projects (projects with sub projects that have their own sub projects…ad nauseam…).  It does have folders (aka groups), but that’s a completely different concept and requires manual organization.  That’s a big deal, manual operations take half of the value out of a task management applications.  It does, however, allow for hierarchal contexts.  This is a good thing overall, but even there it would be nice to have a little more depth.  A cross between relational organization and hierarchal organization would be super powerful.  Then again, nothing that I’m aware of offers that right now, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Things has projects, areas, hierarchal tags, and people.  All good things and allowing finer control over tasks than OmniFocus.  But it doesn’t allow for anything but tags to be entered (associated) during task entry.  Odd.  What this means is that project and area associations must be manually created after the task is created via a wizard like menu system.  This is the definition of kludgy and is Things biggest limitation.  Why?  Because entering new tasks needs to be very fast and shouldn’t required that I do anything else to organize them beyond that initial entry.  Unless of course I want to change something because I didn’t do something.

Finally, they’re both only available for the Mac.  I think Macs are great (more specifically OS X).  But I do have Windows machines both at work and home.  Why, oh why, must I use a Mac to have good task management software?  At a minimum a nice Ajax enabled web client is in order.

…at least they both have iPhone apps.

Despite my criticisms I do like both of these programs and think they’re better than anything available for Windows (Outlook doesn’t even come close).

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Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 3:56 pm

…and we’re range bound again, for the moment.

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January hurt a bit. I was bearish, but not that bearish, so, ouch. But you have to pick yourself up and take advantage of what that kind of move can do for you. In this case: high volatility and some nice juicy premiums. I’m a seller (even when I’m bullish) so I love high premiums.
One trade that was put on at around 33% volatility was this broken wing iron: IRON CONDOR SPY FEB 08 138/140/120/119 CALL/PUT. The box in the image below depicts when I got in, where expiration was, and the range that I wanted to stay within. A little iffy in the beginning of Feb, but it hung in the channel. Notice that there was more protection on the downside, so I certainly wasn’t thrilled on Feb 1st.

It’s not a killing, just good consistent income. The trade started with a 60% probability of success and the potential to yield a 30% profit, which it did. Not too bad.

I’m not a broker, and I don’t make recommendations…and this trade closed yesterday, so I suppose it’s a moot point anyway.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Musings, Trading

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