Monday, March 30, 2009

Get some Quamut ("how to")

In case you missed it, about a year ago Barnes and Noble launched the how-to website, From Reuters Business Wire: "In an age where people can go online and look up how to do just about anything, authored by just about anyone, consumers are often faced with inaccurate, poorly presented information surrounded by ads virtually indistinguishable from content and from sources they are not sure they can trust. But now, ( introduces how-to guides that offer credible information in a concise, user-friendly format."

website, offers this definition for Quamut (pronounced kwah-mutt):
1. Latin for "how to",
2. Authoritative guides published by Barnes and Noble

There are 3 formats:

  • Quamut Online - the guides in their "entirity, free online ... hyperlinked throughout"
  • Quamut to Go - the complete and fully searchable PDF that you can download for $2.95. Most are 2-8 pages long. Print at will.
  • Quamut Chart - many are also available as laminated durable foldouts for $5.95.

Worth checking out?
Lessee, do I like ... Concise, accurate, easily referenced guides? Check. Being able to find information on the web that can be trusted? Check. Tangible "manna-from-heaven"-like laminated foldouts? Check. The ability to just download a PDF when tree-murder-guilt or impulse control are an issue? Check. That it's brought to you by Barnes and Nobel, Inc., the world's largest bookseller? .... eh ....

Be sure to take advantage of:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Resources to make (looking for) work and play a little easier

This post covers just a few of the many online resources that can make life a little easier in our current economy. Though written with job-seekers in mind, most of the things found here could be useful to just about anyone living or working in NYC (and in some cases, beyond).

Stuff to help you (find) work ...

Free WiFi:
  • For listings of places with free Wifi, check out Cup of NYC and this article from
  • JiWire also lists free WiFi locations, many of which you can utilize without freeling like you have to buy something (like public parks). I find this one particularly useful for it's map view feature.
Because you shouldn't have to pay to go to the bathroom:
If, while out around the town on your job search, you need a bathroom (but don't want to have to pay for a small soda at McDonalds to use one), NY Restrooms will help you find the nearest spot that's open to the public.

Coworking and Networking:

If you think you could benefit from the camaraderie, motivation, or possible inspiration and collaboration that could result from working in a shared space with others in a similar field or situation, try finding or starting a coworking group with the help of any of these resources: this Coworking wiki, the Google Groups Coworking group, Jelly, Meetup's Coworking NYC Group, or New Work City.

(Social) Networking:
There are plenty of networking events to be found online as well. Freelancer's Union has lots to offer, including a Networking Party coming up on April 15th (costs $10 and includes a drink). Meetup also lists many networking events.

Also, be sure to maximize LinkedIn and Twitter in your job search.

Other resources ...

  • One merchant is offering free dry cleaning for the unemployed with an upcoming interview.
  • Be on the lookout for free coffee at giveaways like this one from 8am-10am on Tuesday, March 31st at Toasties Union Square location.
  • It never hurts to search the New York City Craigslist "free stuff classifieds", especially since you can find things useful to your job search, like a free haircut.
  • And don't be too proud to clip coupons. If it was good enough for grandma, it's good enough for you. Find vendors in your neighborhood at 8 Coupons, and even have them sent to your phone weekly.

When it's time to reward yourself for all that hard work . . .

  • Find cheap (and sometimes free) drinks with NY Mag's Cheap Guide, Coovents, and My Open Bar.
  • See the upcoming art opening listed on Art Cat and Art Cards, many of which also provide free finger foods and beverages.
  • For free events, be sure to check out the listings on Flavorpill, Free NYC, and Brooklyn Vegan.
  • For a little less than $3/mo., you can join Club freeTime for listings of free events (though by viewing as a guest you can often get enough info to figure out the rest on your own).
  • And then of course you can always "Get Some" for free (condoms, that is) . . . Good lookin' out, City of New York.

Got other resources? Please share them!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I went to Google and all I got was this mug ...

I happily stumbled upon the group Geek Girl Dinners NYC just in time for the first meeting they had last December sponsored by Thoughtworks (if you watch the video on their website for it, I'm the one in the last picture in the montage looking suspiciously to the side while protecting my chicken wing). It was fun, there were some very cool ladies to be met, and there were interesting speakers including Ana Radovanovic - Research Scientist for Google, and Valerie D’Orazio (aka “Occasional Superheroine“) - Writer, Blogger & Social Media Specialist.

Earlier this month, I attended the second Geek Girl Dinner (NYC Edition). This one was sponsored by Google and held at the NYC Google complex. I had high hopes for a full tour of the facility, but instead had to settle for the cafeteria:

... which (don't get me wrong), was damn nice for a cafeteria - with a great view of the Manhattan skyline, a large outdoor deck, and pictures of world renowned chefs along the hall leading in who'd all cooked there (it's right across the street from Chelsea Market and the Food Network headquarters). Rumor had it that one of the staff perks is a free lunch.

The only other thing I got to see (which I had to be escorted to by a very large security guard), was your average bathroom. The hallway leading to it, however, was about a block long (Big Wheel races, anyone?) and white from floor-to-ceiling with (unmarked, closed) doors. It was very (almost disconcertingly) nondescript, leading me to wonder what lurked behind those doors.

Back in the cafeteria (and the real world), the dinner's speakers were fantastic - intelligent, successful, work/life balanced, funny, and level-headed: Corinna Cortes, Head of Google Research NY, and Katrin Verclas, Co-Founder and Editor of

They were followed by a raffle, by which I was slightly downtrodden since a disappointing number of the prizes went to men (Really. Really?!?!) ... I can't complain though, because after all was said and done, I did get to go home with this lovely thermos:

. . . ooh, and managed to snap a picture of this:

(For the visually, challenged, his belt says "DON'T BE EVIL")

... which, I-shit-you-not, I was told I was "not actually supposed to take a picture of". What - does it have some top-secret, controversial significance? ... like serving as a constant reminder to keep the Google-folks in-check, lest they be tempted to use their all-present, all-knowing, and all-powerful pervasiveness for evil? HAHAHA! Ha, ha ... oh, man ... ... heh ... ... eh? ... Ah, whatever.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gaming Imitates Life

The first time I saw this teaser for the game Mirror's Edge, I'm not entirely ashamed to admit it brought tears to my eyes. It was a first-person shooter with so many of my favorite things wrapped into one game: simulated parkour (as you maneuver through urban obstacles with gravity-defying fluidity, grace, and ease), combat, and keeping under the radar. And it didn't hurt that it touches on themes such as information as a commodity, the right to privacy / freedom from surveillance, self-empowerment, and fighting back to reclaim what's rightfully yours.

Oh … AND it is purdy to look at.

With such stunning visuals, I had to wonder about the real life inspiration for the various settings.

Another thing attractive about the game and parkour in general is the practice of infiltration or “urban exploration” - examining the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.

My curiosity in urban exploration across the world led me to discover what undoubtedly has to be the real life inspiration for the storm drains level in Mirror’s Edge: Japan’s “Underground Temple for People” (the G-Cans Project, AKA Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel).

Check out these comparisons: