Inattentional Blindness

August 03, 2013 | Blog

Friday night was the premier of "Would You Fall For That?", a show that performs psychological experiments in the public. The first experiment featured the hosts marketing carbonated water as a "power drink" and convinced beach visitors that it gives magical powers. Most of the people fell for the placebo effect.

The last experiment featured on the episode involved a host passing flyers for her missing dog in Central Park, with large pictures of the dog in the middle of the flyer. While the dog is standing 50 feet away from the host and can be seen as people walk away from the host, the majority of the people involved in the experiment fail to notice the dog. Many people even look in the direction of the dog, they simply walk away and carry on. Even when they dress the dog in gaudy clothing and accessories and update the flyers with the appropriate pictures, people still fail to identify the missing dog that's close by.

The program attributes this phenomenon as "inattentional blindness", which Wikipedia defines as "the failure to notice an unexpected stimulus that is in one's field of vision when other attention-demanding tasks are being performed". Basically, we are often too focused on one thing that we fail to notice anything else that is going on.

Another day, I was watching Shark Tank, a show that features entrepreneurs trying to secure funding from "sharks", or investors, for their ideas, prototypes, or business. I watched the founder of Hy-Conn stand before the sharks and woo them immediately with his product, a connector that lets you connect a hose to a fire hydrant in less than 3 seconds. He brought a fire hydrant, fire hoses, two men, and had one man connect his hose using the standard connector, and another using the Hy-Conn connector. It was clear that Hy-Conn's connector can clamp onto fire hydrants almost instantly; it is a solid product, and investors are impressed.

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Migrating My Blog from WordPress to Jekyll

July 20, 2013 | Technology

After reading about GitHub Pages, I decided to move my blog from self-hosted WordPress to Jekyll and let GitHub do the honor of hosting it. Here's my two cents about the how & why of using Jekyll.

Why Jekyll on GitHub Pages?

No hosting required

This means that there's no need to:

  • Pay for an external host
  • Worry about installing updates for WordPress or WordPress plugins to the latest versions
  • Maintain your own server
  • Back up your database

Security

There's no need to worry about keeping your admin accounts, passwords, or SSH ports safe from hackers; the only way for someone to access your blog is for you to explicitly add them as a collaborator on your GitHub repository. They would also need to able to pull and push code via git in order to change the contents. Even if they get to that point, the only thing they can compromise is the Jekyll code.

Speed

It's blazingly fast, since everything is served as static pages. There's also no need to worry about caching or scaling your site, or even worry about downtime.

However, GitHub Pages is certainly vulnerable to downtime. As GitHub Pages are hosted on github.io and is separate from github.com, I assume that one domain's status will not affect the other for the most part. That said, in the case that GitHub does go offline, the rest of the world will suffer along with you, and some amazing folks will surely work to get the pages back up again in no time.

It's free!

..unless you want to hide your code from the public. I have my repository set to private (sniff sniff) because I thought I'd keep the source code of my paid HTML theme private.

Version control

GitHub uses Git, and Git is a version control system. This means that unlike WordPress and other traditional blogging platforms, you can keep track of all the changes you've made on your pages and posts with Git.

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3 Months of Ruby on Rails at Dev Bootcamp this Fall

November 11, 2012 | SF Bay Area

I'm currently participating in a Ruby on Rails program at Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco, from October to December for the Fall cohort. It's a 10-week, full-time, intensive program for people with or without programming experiences to learn Ruby, Rails, Javascript, SQL, pairing, TDD, and other good stuff. The class' regular hours are from 9-6 M-F, but I find myself staying at the office for at least 12-13 hours a day. We're already 6 weeks into the program, but while this blog is on hiatus again, I've been blogging my experiences at Tumblr:

http://juliemao.tumblr.com/

I promise I'll be back :)