Magazine publishing part 2 – Page settings

You learned about fonts in online magazine publishing in part 1. Today I’ll tell you about page settings.

Orientation

There are 2 page orientations to choose from: portrait and landscape.
Portrait versus Landscape

The traditional physical magazines are in portrait orientations. My guess is that it’s easier to flip. When opened, the visible surface area (squarish) is easy to read (and probably scan), and the centre of gravity of the opened magazine is positioned to easily balance on one hand. And on newstands, the magazines “stand out” (get it, “stand out”? “Tall”? Portrait? *sigh*)

On a computer screen, a landscape orientation might be a better choice. How many computer screens have you seen that are in portrait orientation? Exactly.

When you read an online magazine in full screen mode, the magazine in landscape orientation fills the entire screen or much of it. There’s no balancing act, no physical flipping of pages. Going to the next page is often a click away.

A portrait orientation often squeezes the text on a page if not viewed at the normal size (100%). You have to scroll up and down to see the whole page. In landscape mode, the whole page can be seen on the screen without much distortion (if at all).

Page size

When I started Singularity, I used Microsoft Word. The default page size was 11.69 by 8.27 inches. This is the A4 size for physical paper. This also gave me a lot of trouble because I work with images.

Images have this setting called Dots Per Inch (DPI) or Pixels Per Inch (PPI). When you add an image, Microsoft Word sizes the image according to its DPI. So if you have an image with dimensions 480 by 360 pixels at 72 DPI (fairly common), you get an image that’s 6.67 by 5 inches in physical size.

Why is this important? Because getting images to bleed properly (I’ll tell you about bleeding in another article) or to position nicely on the page is a chore. The image would be off by 0.01 inch, and on the screen, there’s a 1-pixel-width of blankness. No amount of manipulation gave a satisfactory solution.

So my suggestion to you when creating an online magazine: choose dimensions that are in “round” figures. My current page size is 12 by 8.5 inches. Use increments of 0.5 inches (assuming your images have dimensions that are even numbered). By that measurement, a full page image in a 12 by 8.5 inches magazine is 1152 by 816 pixels (96 DPI). Much better than having fractions in calculating your pixel dimensions…

It’s an online magazine. You don’t have to follow physical world dimensions (or even standard dimensions).

Page margins

I keep a 0.5 inch margin from the edge for text (unless for decorative or style reasons). No special reason other than it keeps the text looking neat. Since your online magazine is not meant to be printed, you don’t really need a margin. But having a margin makes it easier to read. That’s more important to your readers.

Margins only apply to text. Bleed images (I know I know, I’ll get to image bleeding…), that is, fit an image to the edge of the page. Fill the edges with coloured pixels. Make it look beautiful.

In Microsoft Word, I could only bleed the cover image on the first page. I don’t know why Word can’t bleed images on other pages too. It did it for the cover image, right? Then I discovered I also have Microsoft Publisher, so I gave that a try. I could bleed images! Yay!

Next in the series…

Alright, alright, I’ll talk about bloody bleeding images… Do you have a question on page settings in your online magazine? Ask in a comment.

Reclaim your other 8 hours

The Other 8 Hours by Robert Pagliarini

Some time ago, I was introduced to this book called “The Other 8 Hours” by Robert Pagliarini. The crux is that you should create something significant, something of value during those periods of time where you’re not sleeping and not working. Wait, did I just summarise the entire book in one sentence? No no no no no, go read it. I’ll wait.

What, you’re back? You read fast. A deeper explanation: it’s not really your other 8 hours. So, you generally sleep 8 hours a day. Maybe more, maybe less. You work 8 hours a day. Maybe more, maybe less. Those “other 8 hours” of yours refer to the periods of time where you’re not sleeping, not working, not eating, not bathing, not playing with your kids, not having sex, not meditating, not brushing your teeth, not cleaning the house, not… oh you get the idea.

Robert starts with teaching you about the importance of those other 8 hours. He tells you about the impact to your personal relationships (family, friends), health, sex life, stress, and financial status. Then he tells you how you can reclaim those 8 hours (and your energy) back, such as learning to say no and identifying your LifeLeeches (I call them Dementors).

Ok, now what do you do with your “extra” time? Start creating stuff. Shift from being a consumer to being a creator. Write a blog. Compose a song. Draw a picture. Volunteer at a charity. Code a software program or game. Start a business. Design T-shirts and sell them. Promote your favourite band. Read. Speak at local events. Learn a new language. Pick up a new skill. Start exercising. Make hair ornaments. Interview someone you admire. Deepen your relationship with your husband. Help your son with that woodwork project. Say “Hi” and smile at that cute girl at the coffee shop.

Anyway, I wrote a more detailed review of Robert’s book in the January issue of Singularity. In it, you will find out a little known action that makes most people sick. You will also learn about my exercise routine. The routine might not be the most effective, but it takes about 20 minutes. If you can’t find 20 minutes out of your day (or week) to exercise, I’m not sure what I can do for you. Maybe Robert can.

If you’re looking for extra income, then your creations have to bring in money. Somehow. I can’t remember where I heard or read this:

You need to make money to make art

It sounds blasphemous, but it’s true. You still have to satisfy your basic needs: food, shelter, clothing. That money has to come from somewhere. Why can’t it come from your creations? You make art after your basic needs are satisfied. You can read this free ebook by Mark McGuinness for more information.

P.S. It took me ages to find a suitable font that renders that partially hidden 8 for the background image of the magazine article. I was trying to find an 8 with the closest look to that on the book cover. It took me just as long to find suitable images that I can use in the article. I use Compfight to search Flickr images.

Magazine publishing part 1 – Fonts

With a few issues of my magazine published already, I feel confident enough to write about the process. In my free ebook (which you can get by subscribing to Singularity. Sign up at the blog), I told you to use only 2 different fonts in your magazine, 3 at most. The truth is, you can use as many fonts as you like. It’s your magazine. However, I told you to select only 2 or 3 fonts because I don’t want you to be paralysed by choice. I’m going to teach you more about font selection here.

4 broad categories of fonts

Fonts can generally be categorised into the following:

  • Serif fonts
  • Sans serif fonts
  • Fixed width fonts
  • Fancy fonts

Serif fonts have decorative features on the characters. “Times New Roman”, “Georgia” and “Cambria” are serif fonts.

Sans serif fonts don’t have those decorative features (“sans” means “without”). “Arial”, “Helvetica” and “Calibri” are sans serif fonts.

Fixed width fonts have, well, fixed widths for each character. This is especially useful to programmers because it makes code easier to read. “Courier New”, “Lucida Console” and “Consolas” are fixed width fonts.

Fancy fonts are designed for decorative purposes. “Chiller”, “Jokerman” and “Vivaldi” are fancy fonts.

Fancy font examples

Design for contrast

When designing for a web page, the conventional advice is to use a serif font for headings and a sans serif font for text. This is because sans serif fonts are easier to read on the screen, because they lack the decorative features which can crowd the pixels and make it hard to read. A serif font is used for the headings to provide contrast.

In physical print, it’s the opposite. That’s because a newspaper or a book has infinite resolution, so serif fonts work well. Those decorative features make it easier for a reader to quickly identify characters and thus it’s easier to read.

As for fonts in an online magazine, it’s meant to be read on the screen, so in general, design for that. However, a magazine is not a web page. Be creative. Use whatever font you feel suits the content. Use a font for emphasis, for decoration, for subtlety, for telling your story.

Size matters

I look at a computer screen a lot. So I appreciate larger font sizes so I don’t have to squint. For this reason, I decided on larger font sizes wherever it made sense. This might make even more sense because mobile devices can also read my magazine. Designing a magazine for mobile devices is a separate article altogether, since we might have to design for dynamic text and image flow while still retaining the look of the original article in the magazine (or even the magazine itself).

But feel free to experiment on font sizes for other types of texts. Blow up heading text for emphasis. Enlarge pull quotes. Dwarf answers to quizzes. Write fine print. Design for the screen, but deviate for design.

The fonts I currently use

I use “Perpetua” for the Singularity title on the cover page. Can’t remember which book I saw this on, but the font used was on the copyright page of the book (yes, I read that page too. I’m curious, ok?). Sometimes, publishers print the font in which the text is set on. I tried “Perpetua” with the text “Singularity”, and it looked great. Stately with decorum, yet not too formal. So that stuck.

Magazine text was originally set in “Calibri”, the default font in Microsoft Word (I’ll tell you about the tools I use another time). Now I use “Corbel” because it renders the text better for easier reading (to me at least).

On the front cover, I use “Candara” for supporting text. No special reason other than I wanted to try a different sans serif font than the magazine text font. It also looked great, so that stuck as well.

Here are some interesting fonts during my experiments:
Font suggestions

  • Castellar – Automatically in small caps. Great for decorative text
  • Copperplate Gothic – Also in small caps. Reminds me of Gotham City…
  • Edwardian Script – Alternative to the Vivaldi script
  • Elephant – If you want emphasis, get one of the largest land animals as a mascot
  • Harrington – Reminds me of book stores…
  • Palatino Linotype – Good-looking serif font. Consider using it for headings
  • Papyrus – For when you need writing that looks like it was written on old paper
  • Rockwell – For a feeling of solidarity

Ok, that’s it. If there’s anything you want to know, please comment.

Colour of numbers

I was mucking around in my image editor (Paint.NET) because I was doing some CSS colour editing. While I was playing around with the HSV of the colour, I saw this in the RGB box: 314159. You know what that reminds me of? PI. No, not that pie, PI! Great, now I’m hungry…

So I wondered what numbers would look like if they had colours.

First, we have PI as 3.14159 (ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter)
Colour of PI

Then we have the constant e, 2.71828
Colour of e

Fibonacci and his sequence also make an appearance: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 (13, 21, 34, …)
Colour of Fibonacci sequence

We also have the golden ratio, 1.61803. It’s also the limit as the (n+1)th term divide by the nth term in the Fibonacci sequence.
Colour of golden ratio

For some reason, I remember the Avogadro constant, even though I don’t do chemistry or physics anymore… It’s 6.02214179 x 10^23. Yes, it’s a big number… The colour also reminds me of bromine gas, which is reddish-brown in colour. Wait, how come I still remember these things?
Colour of Avogadro constant

Here’s an interesting one. Absolute zero is the theoretical temperature where everything barely has energy. It’s defined as 0 Kelvin, and is equal to -273.15 degree Celsius. And you thought ice at 0 degree Celsius was cold…
Colour of Absolute Zero

Fiverr versus Elance

As a bootstrapping entrepreneur, I’m looking for low cost, high yield situations. Of course, that applies to any business owner, small or big. So, today, I’m introducing this site called Fiverr to you. It’s called that because you can get a specific service done for 5 dollars.

I dipped my toes in Fiverr as a service provider (I offered to edit pieces of writing), but stopped. I’m going to tell you straight. As a freelancer, I do not recommend you offer your services here. Go to Elance instead (beware they don’t take polymaths though). 5 dollars is not much if you’re doing it as a sole source of income.

That said, it works great as a side income. I’ve seen people offer to do maths assignments, VB.NET programming tasks and writing articles for $5. Here are some of the interesting ones:

I bought a custom signature (it will appear in the next issue of my magazine!). I also bought an ebook cover design for my book. Let me tell you, I’ve spent $30 and $50 (and those were the cheaper services) before on a 125 by 125 pixel square ad design, so $5 for an ebook cover is cheap. I’m a programmer. I don’t do so well with coming up with an ebook cover design, ok?

One thing to note. Do not expect professionalism from Fiverr service providers. I don’t mean they’re not professional. Some of them are professionals doing great work. What I mean is, some of them are putting up a gig for fun. Do not compare them with the service providers from sites such as Elance. Besides, it’s 5 freaking dollars. If you don’t like that person, find another who offers a similar service. Also, consider the hundreds of dollars, possibly thousands of dollars, that you’re saving from not hiring a “real” professional.

Quality is also suspect. Read the feedback for that gig. If there are samples of work, preview it. If nothing else, go with your gut feeling. I will say this again. It’s 5, freaking, dollars. Don’t spend half an hour agonising over your decision. Don’t spend half an hour ranting about your disappointment with the deliverable or result. It’s $5. Let it go. Your time’s worth more than that. Learn, move on, find another service provider.

So if you’re strapped for cash, but you need something done (for your business or personal reasons), check out Fiverr. You can also offer your own services (“I will write an accounting program for you for $5”). If nothing else, you can look at what people are willing to do for $5. Some of them are hilarious.

Tim Coulter and ExtremeML OpenXML library

If you’re creating Excel spreadsheets using C# and Open XML SDK, consider Tim’s excellent library ExtremeML. It can dramatically cut the number of lines of code you write. Then you can pretend you’re still feverishly working on that code while playing WoW. Tim also said this about my Open XML programming guide:

I know from personal experience how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the complexity of OpenXML, but your guide takes away the pain by presenting simple, modular solutions to many of the common challenges that developers face when creating Excel spreadsheets from code. I highly recommend this to any C# or VB.NET developer who’s getting started with OpenXML, and especially to those who have already hit the frustration barrier.

That’s nice.

Disclosure: I gave Tim a complimentary copy of my guide. He commented on my articles about Open XML, and I found him asking questions on StackOverflow. That’s where I learned the Double Underscore hack (more info in my guide).

Want to get comped copies of my products? Comment on my articles. Subscribe to my blog. Read my magazine.

Do you need to create Excel spreadsheets with C# or VB.NET?

Ahhh Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, an important and usually unavoidable tool in the day-to-day operations of an office worker. I too was inextricably bound to Excel during my professional programming career.

“Wait, weren’t you working as a programmer? Why were you using Excel like a ‘normal’ office worker?”

Ahhh, that’s because I work with said ‘normal’ office workers. One of my users then, a product manager, needed access to the database records. Due to circumstantial requirements, there’s no user interface that’s flexible enough to fix the problem. So the solution was to dump the records into an Excel file and send it to him. I would also send him a short analysis, and he would reply with the changes in the Excel file. I was to check the data integrity and then when it’s done, I would upload it into the database. As a result, I became well acquainted with basic Excel data manipulation.

Moving along, I worked with more users. Customer service officers, sales representatives, marketing staff, administrative staff, switch operators (I was in the telecommunications industry), technical staff, managers and directors. One common requirement from all of them was reports. There were 3 types: in text, PDF and Excel. By far the most popular type of report was the Excel reports. That’s because it’s easily editable and be manipulated by the users. The second reason was that the data required tended to be tabular, and Excel excelled (no pun intended) in that.

So to cut the story short (but the full story is in my programming guide. Yes, I’m going to tell you about it in a little while), I started looking into Open XML formats for Excel spreadsheets. My experiments yielded accepted results for my users. And I wrote about my experiments here. And some programmers found the articles useful. Then one fine day, it hit me; I should create a programming guide on it.

Spreadsheet Open XML From Scratch

Spreadsheet Open XML From Scratch

Before I tell you more, answer this question. “Do you need to create Excel spreadsheets with C# or VB.NET?” If so, you’re in luck because I created a guide just for you. It’s called Spreadsheet Open XML From Scratch. This guide will teach you how to create Excel spreadsheets using C# or VB.NET and the Open XML SDK (version 2.0). You can read the full details here.

The price is set at US$ 47. I decided on that price after thinking how much you will learn from it, and how much time and effort I’ve put into it. Half of the guide contains a compilation of the existing articles I’ve written, with the written material edited (some with new material added) and the source code cleaned up. The source code then was written with the Open XML SDK 2.0 CTP version. With the cleaned up source code, it’s written with the Open XML SDK 2.0 release version. There’s at least one class that will stop working if you use my old code. I’ve also written VB.NET versions of the C# code, so you can use that if you’re more comfortable with VB.NET.

The other half of the guide contains all new material and source code. As a bonus, there’s even a section teaching you how to use an Excel template to shortcut your spreadsheet generation process.

As an additional bonus, if you are one of the first 10 buyers, I will throw in a free 30 day consultation. You can ask me anything on the concepts involved, the source code, the Open XML SDK or Excel in general. This is in addition to the 1 year satisfaction and effectiveness guarantee, and 1 year unlimited free updates to the guide. This information is given to you because you’re reading my blog (it’s not on the product page). I’d offer it to more people, but there’s a physical limitation on my time.

You don’t have to buy my guide if you don’t want to for any reason. No problem, you can still read my blog for free. But if you’re interested, go check out my programming guide Spreadsheet Open XML From Scratch. Or you can buy the guide directly here. Thanks for reading.

PISA 2009 results analysis (or how I was almost on national television)

Recently, someone from a current affairs television show emailed me. Basically, it’s the start of the new year, and thus the start of the school year. There was the release of the PISA 2009 results and Shanghai topped the list. I wrote a short article, that Singapore was ranked 5th and stated some of my comments.

That person apparently did some research and found me through that article. She probably searched for “pisa results singapore” and my blog came up on the first page of Google results. Go, do a search on those terms. When you find my blog article (titled “Singapore ranked high in PISA 2009 survey”), click on it. Increase my search rankings. Thanks. *smile*

So apparently, I’m the only (Singapore) blogger (I prefer “web publisher”, but I digress) who gave a whoot’s attention about Singapore ranking 5th, in some test with a name that evokes images of an Italian flat bread with stuffings on top. Thus was I contacted to see if I was willing to appear on their TV show to talk about that. After getting over the excitement and fear of appearing on national TV (it took about half an hour to calm my nerves), I read up on my article to remember what the heck I wrote, and glanced through the PISA results again.

Taking a deep breath, I called her to say yes, I’d like to appear on the show. She asked me some questions.

“Do you know our show?”
“No. I don’t really watch television.” (An alarm bell rang violently somewhere in my brain then. It took a second before I realised that I shouldn’t have said that.)

“Do you think we should emulate Shanghai?”
“No. We should be doing our own thing.”

She sent me the topics to be discussed on the show, so I could prepare my responses. Then I did lots of research. You see, it’s been more than a decade since I had contact with academia, let alone with secondary schools (PISA test results are based on 15 year olds). My dad was worried I’d have nothing to say on the show. I asked my friends about the current Singapore education system. I even asked my cousins (who are in secondary school) to let me look at their maths and science textbooks. I read the PISA 2009 results again, thoroughly this time. I prepared my responses to the proposed discussion topics. I worked late into the night. I felt prepared.

The next day, she called me up. Apparently, the topic was changed due to a piece of news: The Singapore football team was disbanded.

“Uhm, I’m sorry. If we do an educational piece, we’ll call you again.”
“Ok.”

“So. Are you a football fan by any chance?”
“No.”
“Well, I had to ask…”

As my friend put it, “Ahhh, such is TV.”

And that’s how I almost appeared on national television. I was both disappointed and relieved at the same time. Then I thought, since I did all that research, I might as well tell you about it. So here’s my short analysis of the PISA 2009 results. Some information first:

  • PISA 2009 results mean the tests were conducted in 2009. The results were announced on 7 Dec 2010.
  • Students are between 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months old
  • The sample size from each country must be at least 5000, unless the country does not physically have that many eligible students.
  • Shanghai and Singapore are partner countries, and not OECD countries. I don’t know the significance, but Singapore was included in an OECD whitelist in 2009. Apparently, it’s something to do with transparency of financial and tax information.

I’m responding generally to the topics I was supposed to discuss.

Opinions and thoughts about Shanghai’s and Singapore’s performance

I’m happy for Shanghai. I’m also happy for us. I mean, we’re 5th! Besides, your greatest competitor is yourself, not other people.

I remember something that happened when I was about 9 years old (I think). I had tuition classes in English and maths (hard to believe, what with my impeccable linguistic skills. I know, right? *smile*). There was this English test, and I scored 76 marks out of 100. Yes, I still remember that score. Not too great, but I scored the highest in the class.

I went home and told my dad about it, bursting with pride at being the best in class. His response was “How come so low?” in Chinese. Talk about deflating your morale. From that incident, I learnt that the toughest benchmark you can set your target on, is yourself. Keep improving yourself. Being better than other people will take care of itself.

How did Shanghai do it? Can Singapore do it too?

I don’t know. But this might shed some light. Instead, I want to highlight something in the PISA summary report.

According to the report, out of the countries Finland, Japan, Turkey, Canada and Portugal and the partner country Singapore (emphasis mine), 39% to 48% disadvantaged students are resilient.

Resilient students come from the bottom quarter of the distribution of socio-economic background in their country and score in the top quarter among students from all countries with similar socio-economic background

Compare that with 76% of Shanghai’s disadvantaged students being resilient.

Our near obsession with tuition and shielding our children from outside stress so they can just focus on studying might be a problem. I heard a story about a father not scolding his daughter for fear of distracting her from her exams the next day. She’s a university student. What’s going to happen to her when she steps out of school? Life doesn’t throw stress at you one at a time.

Competition between Shanghai and Singapore

I don’t even know if we’re competing, at least directly. I don’t know what Shanghai is striving for. But what is Singapore striving for? To be an educational, commercial and research hub in South East Asia? Or to beat Shanghai because they won in a study that only focussed on reading, maths and science?

If we want to beat a country at something, we should know what we would get after winning.

Emulating Shanghai

If we (Singapore) truly want to win, to innovate, to lead, then we should lead. Emulating Shanghai just means we’re following them. We might catch up, but we’ll never truly overtake them.

Hey, our primary maths system is adopted by other countries. Israel took up our maths system (in 2002), and per capita, they are one of the richest in the world. Clearly we’re doing something right.

Merits of the Singapore education system

I’ve not been involved in academia for years, so I can’t comment on that. If anything, we should use more real world examples (which PISA does).

For example, a sample maths question in PISA showed 3 clocks, Greenwich 12 midnight, Berlin 1am, Sydney 10am. Then the student was asked

If it’s 7pm in Sydney, what’s the time in Berlin?

That’s immediately applicable in real life. I haven’t seen maths questions in a long time, so the following is something dredged from my memory.

Suppose John spent $X buying some marbles. Red marbles cost R cents, and blue marbles cost B cents. If John bought twice as many red marbles as blue marbles, how many blue marbles did he buy?

Putting aside the obvious reaction of “Why the heck do I want to answer that?”, there are some problems. If I knew John had twice as many red marbles as blue marbles, that meant I already counted them. How else would I know there were twice as many red marbles?

And if I really want to know how many blue marbles John bought, I would just ask him. Let’s say somehow his answer was posed in riddle form. Instead of being a normal person and just tell me he bought 5 blue marbles, John gave me a mathematical riddle to solve. The number of blue marbles had better be critically important…

I could also just ask the store keeper how many blue marbles John bought from him. I doubt the store keeper would also give me his answer in the form of a riddle. But if he did, this world just became more interesting and more exasperating at the same time.

So the student answering that kind of question had to overcome his “Why the heck do I want to answer that?” response before working on the question.

Last thoughts

From the report,

In countries where 15-year-olds are divided into more tracks based on their abilities, overall performance is not enhanced, and the younger the age at which selection for such tracks first occurs, the greater the differences in student performance, by socio-economic background, by age 15, without improved overall performance.

My understanding on that quote is that specialisation has no enhanced overall performance. There’s also this:

Successful school systems – those that perform above average and show below-average socio-economic inequalities – provide all students, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, with similar opportunities to learn.

Schools shouldn’t differentiate between rich and poor students.

And finally, as I wrote before:

Skill honing at an early stage assumes that whatever a student is good at has already manifested itself. It’s a reasonable assumption. It’s only dangerous if the skill specialisation is to the exclusion of all else (or even “many” else). It gets worse if the student don’t like his “special” ability, and also has aptitude in another area that he likes. But the student is already shuffled into Box A for the first skill.

Be careful of streaming.

Elevator waiting maths

John Cook wrote an article on where to wait for an elevator. Where do you wait so you walk the minimum distance to the elevator? Read his article for the full explanation and solution. Here’s a pictorial summary of the solution:

Elevator optimum waiting position

The problem was from a paper written by James Handley (and collaborated with others). Basically, you don’t wait at the average position among all the elevators. You wait at the elevator with the median position.

In reality, however, you still have to enter the space where the elevators are. Therefore, the best position with the minimum distance to walk is

to remain at the point of entry, and to not move at all!

That of course, assumes that the elevators had been activated to arrive at your floor. You know, you need to push the button. How do you push that button if you’re 5 metres away? With a long pole? Other people? Telekinesis?

I have a more in-depth discussion on this in the January 2011 issue of Singularity. Go download it and read it. It’s free.

Here’s something to think about. James Handley is a mathematician. What’s he doing in the faculty of medicine? Because he’s helping with epidemiology. If you’re not familiar with the word, “epidemiology” means the study of epidemics. The spread of viruses, rates of infection and the like.

This reminds me of the time when my thesis mentor (back in my university days) suggested I work in the field of epidemiology. Because my thesis dealt with computer virus behaviour. Oh my god, I just looked at my thesis again… oh dear, ordinary differential equations! *closes thesis hurriedly*

What did you ship in 2010?

This is my list in response to Seth Godin’s year 2010 ship list. Initially, I could only think of 2 or 3 items. I sat down and looked through my blog archives for ideas. It turns out I didn’t do too bad.

First, a definition of the word “ship”. When you ship something, it means you created something and put it out in the world to see. It means you did something that other people can comment on, improve on, hate on (that can happen). Maybe you wrote a useful ebook and told everyone about it. Maybe you painted a garden and put it on your website for sale. Maybe you stood in front of hundreds of people and talked about your ideas. Maybe you organised an event to get people aware of a cause. The conditions are that it must be done, and it must be out there in public.

So here’s my list:

I also helped people with queries including programming, maths, and business-related concepts. I’ve even received engineering problems, although I didn’t do anything (I asked an engineer friend for help). It’s just that I seem to get requests for help, and sometimes they’re strange queries… I’m not sure if these count as shipping, but the prominent ones are with negative numbers in business reports, long-term percentage contribution and reverse engineering a quadratic Bezier curve.

Ok, so I managed to do a lot. So tell me, what did you ship in 2010?