posted about 6 hours ago on metafilter
Exquisite Corpse [New York Times] Taking their cue from the Surrealist parlor game, 15 renowned authors take turns contributing to an original short story. Joshua Ferris: Their mothers were distant cousins long estranged. They gave birth within minutes of each other, same hospital, different rooms. (I was not there.) The boy grew up west of the interstate, on the outskirts of the university; the girl in a high rise with a balcony overlooking the water. He won scholarships; she dropped out. Both married, had children, worked hard, suffered losses. In the end they were alone. She had an early-morning flight, he took the overnight. The next day they found themselves, before the small explosion, across from each other in the cafe, in a foreign land in the grip of turmoil, strangers still. ...

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posted about 6 hours ago on metafilter
In a microwave oven of whatever wattage, is cooking something at 100% power for 30 seconds the same as cooking it at 50% power for a minute?If it is not the same, why not and under what circumstances would I want to use the longer time but lower power method?

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posted about 7 hours ago on metafilter
Whenever Dewan Smith-Williams sees Janay Rice on television, she feels like she's looking into a mirror. Smith-Williams, 44, remembers the denial, the secrecy, the sense of isolation, the shame. But most of all, she remembers the fear of ruining her husband's career as a National Football League player — the feeling that coming forth, or seeking justice, would destroy her four children's financial security. She understands that struggle not only because she, too, was a domestic-violence victim, but because she watched so many other NFL wives, many of them her friends, go through the same nightmare. For each of them, it began with their husbands' attacks and worsened with a culture that, they felt, compelled silence. Simone Sebastian and Ines Bebea investigate for WaPo: For battered NFL wives, a message from the cops and the league: Keep quiet. [TW: domestic violence] Previously on MeFi, #WhyIStayed on Twitter.

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posted about 7 hours ago on metafilter
Last week I AskMe'd, thinking software was our problem with becoming a productive tech-support company. Apparently most all of the software acts the same, so the problem seems to be in the management side: how does the physical process of using help-ticket software, and helping people, from the IT Helpdesk end work, and what resources can help teach us to do it right?One of the most confusing things I've run into is the godlike devotion to email; email support is a small fraction of the work we do -- most support calls come in via phone -- but every ticketing program requires an email address to even create a ticket from the admin side, and most documents I've read about streamlining and responsiveness only talk about email ticket requests. Do helpdesks really stop you when you call and ask for your email address? Also, all of the helpdesk software I reviewed (thanks to everyone's recommendations last week) it still seems like many calls will be shorter than the time it will take to properly document the call in the help ticket software. It's a good two minutes by the time you fill in all the categories - and that all-powerful required email address - and document the problem and assign it to yourself and close the ticket, so I know for a fact the time to create a ticket right is one thing discouraging adoption of the ticketing system, and errors is the reason users don't trust it (so many "first name @ customer not a real email address" in the email blank) . Is this a "that's the way it is, just do it right" or is there some guidelines for improving speed, or a minimum call time to warrant entering it into the ticketing software? If all this can be found in a book, I'd be happy to get recommendations, as long as it's not focused on the bells-and-whistles ("take helpdesk requests through twitter! Chat systems with bots for canned responses!" is not productive for us) and more focused on the bare-bones management of help desk support and ticketing systems to document contact. (One last low-priority question: of the recommended software last week, much of it was 'cloud' software -- doesn't that seem low-rent when an expensive service contract tells you to go to MyITCompany.ZenDesk.Com?)

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posted about 7 hours ago on metafilter
Marcel the Shell is back. Previously. Also: Jenny Slate gives an interview on Letterman partially in character, with predictably adorable results.

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posted about 7 hours ago on metafilter
I, and likely most of you reading, consider myself jaded towards advertising. But I've been wondering, have marketers effectively come up with ways to influence people like me who routinely ignore ads?If you usually get pissed off by the ubiquity of advertisements, when was the last time you recall seeing an ad (whether it was on TV or more "sneaky" such as in a Buzzfeed article) and responding favourably, even purchasing the product or service? If anyone keeps up with academic literature on the subject, I'd be interested in knowing about anything on this topic you may have come across. I know some people aren't so critical of advertising, but I'm interested in learning about new ways marketers have devised to get to people who are hyper-critical of being marketed to.

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posted about 7 hours ago on metafilter
I'm looking for something like ivy or wisteria than can survive in harsh heat and sunlight.

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posted about 7 hours ago on metafilter
I accidentally just deleted all the texts between me and one of my contacts. I desperately want them back! Unfortunately, I have not backed up my phone lately. Please tell me how I can get those texts back! I have an iPhone 5 running 8.0.2 on AT&T.

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
My firm needs a coding/numbering system for proposals, estimates, and invoicing to be used for bookkeeping and accounting. Ideally, this system will reference clients and projects, so proposals can be tracked to invoices, and vice-versa. Please recommend your favorite/best practices for coding and numbering systems for proposals, estimates, and invoicing!

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
Political geographer Phil Steinberg reacts to marine ecologist Jon Copley's piece on the new gravity model of the ocean floor from David Sandwell and others at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. "Instead of understanding the ocean as something to see through as one seeks to map the seabed, water is reframed as something to see with. Volume, rather than being understood as a barrier to vision, becomes a means for achieving that vision." Copley asks: "Philosophically, when it comes to exploring anywhere on our dynamic world, how and when do we decide that somewhere has 'been explored'?" (via)

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
How secure is public wi-fi? A lot less than you probably imagine.

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
So Awesome Mix Vol. 1 turns out to be a perfect album to drown out the sound of rain while I'm reading before bed. What other commercial mixes or soundtracks are similar (not too bouncy and without large changes in volume) and might also serve in this capacity.Difficulty: it needs to be something I can store locally as internet service is spotty so streaming services are out. And while I'm not totally opposed to instrumentals I prefer lyrics. Also I can't really figure out why this mix works for me in this capacity so all suggestions are welcome if you like it for the same reasons you like Awesome Mix Vol. 1.

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
I've been told that my productivity at work needs to improve, and that I should think up three ways in which my manager can measure my productivity and its improvement. Difficulty level: software engineer. Wall of snowflakes inside (longer than expected, sorry folks!)Some background: I've been working for the same company for five years, and for the first two years I was a plain and simple Engineer (we don't have senior engineers at our company, but by the end of my second year I was taking on senior-developer-ish tasks). In 2012, I was promoted to Engineering Manager, taking charge of a group of four engineers on a project that was kept very hush-hush. At the outset of the project, the day I started my new job, the company owner (who is a bit of a micromanager and gets involved at all levels, whether you report directly to him or not) told me that he didn't think I was capable of doing the job of EM. I stood up to him, but throughout the next year he made comments to that effect, regardless of mine and my team's performance (the rest of the management chain, up to senior VP level, praised me for how good our performance was). At the end of my first year, I was summarily removed from the position of EM — the company owner had decided that I wasn't the right person for the job, and hired someone else. I was told that this didn't reflect on me as a manager, but I was demoted to being an engineer again, and put on a team with whom I'd worked previously, though on a new project After that, my work suffered quite a lot. For the first few months I was getting up to speed with my new project, which has a steep learning curve. At the same time, my manager (who is based in China; I'm in the UK) was taken seriously ill, so there was little contact from above to tell me my performance wasn't good. Finally, during our annual review period, that manager told me that I needed to improve. He was absolutely right and I didn't challenge him; I just set myself some goals and went and achieved them. Not long after that, he resigned as a manager (he has a long-term illness so it made more sense for him to be an engineer) and we were given a new manager, based in Atlanta, who had never managed a team before. In August, I had a slump. Only a couple of weeks, but it was a serious one. I suffer from depression occasionally, and whilst I'm not currently medicated I have needed to be in the past. When I was in my slump, my colleagues reached out to me and helped me through; at this stage I hadn't spoken to my new manager about the problems I was having because he was on holiday. At the end of August my new manager said that there had been concerns about my performance "up the management chain," and that I needed to improve. I said that I recognised I'd been in a slump, that my colleagues were helping me, and I set myself some short-term goals (making those goals clear to my manager too). Almost immediately my productivity improved, and I started to feel confident in my work — happy to be an engineer for the first time in a year, really. I met my goals (though I didn't discuss them with my manager as he was unavailable for long stretches during this time; I don't know why) and I was pleased with how I was doing. I made a point of sending my manager daily status emails to keep him appraised of my work whilst we couldn't have a conversation on the phone, and it became a habit. A month after that first conversation, he brought up my performance again, saying that there were still concerns, but not specifying what they were. I was so surprised by this coming up again after a month of nothing but silence from hime that I didn't press him on why it hadn't been brought up before. He once again said that "senior management" were involved, and that he'd also contacted HR about this. He told me we'd talk the following week to set some short term performance goals. That "next week" call got postponed for three weeks in a row. We had the call today, and he told me that he was pleased with my improvement in productivity, but that he still needed to set some goals for me and then decide, based on those goals, whether I needed a performance plan (which is workplace-speak for not-quite-on-probation). He mentioned upper management again (but refused to name names when pressed). He told me that I should think up some ways that he could monitor my productivity over the next three weeks, and that we'd talked again when I'd had the ideas. He will also think up some metrics, and we'll pick the best three to measure me by. Now, I'm well aware that you can't measure developer productivity by lines of code or by bugs found or whatever. I'm struggling to think of ways to actually measure my current productivity (and I still don't know, I realise now, what he's actually looking for from me). The only things I can think to measure are: - Number of patches landed per day/week. - Number of bugs closed per day/week. - Number of code reviews per day/week. But after that I'm at a loss. Any suggestions as to what I could / should be measuring would be appreciated.

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
How do you handle and keep track of articles to read later?It's important in my work (and really, anyone's work) to make sure I'm reading and staying on top of industry trends. I'm curious how everyone does this without getting overwhelmed. At work, I use a task management system that's mostly based on Michael Linenberger's Manage Your Now. I work in Social Media, so I'm seeing interesting articles everywhere (interesting blogs, trade press, mainstream media, etc.). Usually, when I come across an interesting link to read later, I put it in my tasklist with a Low Priority. My problem is that my tasklist starts getting pretty full very quickly. I've considered starting a list (in GTD style), but this could also get very overwhelming very quickly. I'm not necessarily worried about finding time to read. I can usually either find time or schedule myself some "research time" so I don't get booked for a meeting. So I'm more interested to know how you handle this in terms of Tasks. How do you keep track of articles to read without finding yourself with a huge list of articles and feeling overwhelmed?

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posted about 8 hours ago on metafilter
I have some very old (40 years?) sliding doors which run on casters (?) one of which broke and I'm trying to figure out how to replace it.Here are photos of the working one: one, two, three. And here's the one with the one with the missing wheel. (The wheel is gone, so I don't have the option of trying to reattach it-- I need to find a new one) Can you identify exactly what these would be called? The wheel portion seems to have been gromitted (?) on to the metal portion, so either the whole piece needs to be replaced, or I need to figure out how to attach a new wheel onto this (seemingly unique, probably nonstandard?) metal portion that is then attached to the hanging door.

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
My MA dissertation in due in two days. I have loads to do, I'm totally lost, and if it wasn't for the tons of time and money already invested in it I'd be at the point of giving up. How do I keep my focus for the final stretch and not have a nervous breakdown? If you have experience of surviving Dissertation Hell please let me know how you coped.I am in utter panic because I've left myself with what seems like an impossible amount of work to do. I have all my research done but I'm still trying to piece it all together with literally hours left. I have lots of the smaller chapters half finished, and I'm begging my boss (fingers crossed as I haven't heard) if I can have a last minute day off tomorrow, which should allow me to finish the shorter chapters, format, etc. But my goal tonight is finishing my discussion section - its qualitative so I have all the themes and related quotes but it's trying to stitch them together with the literature - and I feel like there's a million jigsaw pieces in front of me and I have no idea how to put them together. I did tons of reading and have reams of notes and I'm totally lost with what bit relates to what. I already got an extension as I had a recent sudden bereavement, so I can't get another. And there is major family drama going on around me (like, actually on the local news level stuff) and the last month has been impossible to keep my focus, especially the last week. While there's no point crying about the lost time now, I feel totally paralysed by what I have to do and how I'm going to get it done. At one point I was hoping to do well, now I'd be happy to scrape a pass, but I'm so worried that I'm not even going to get it in that I'm looking at the screen and nothing is making sense. If you have been here, how did you manage? I'm planning an all-nighter tonight, hopefully will have all day tomorrow (I will probably call in sick if I'm not allowed, I don't even care), and possibly all night tomorrow and then collapse on Wednesday night. Physically the adrenaline will keep me going but what can I do to stop the mental white noise of terror? My supervisor is on leave, and none of my friends have done this, and while one of my fellow students has been supportive he was very organised and had it done well in advance so that just makes me feel worse! Any tips, like any, would be appreciated thanks.

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
Please help me find a simple high quality WMV to MP4 file transcoder that will run on my Mac.I have a bunch of WMV files. I don't like WMV files. I'd prefer to have them in MPEG format. I am looking for a simple transcoder that will run on my Macintosh and turn my WMV files into MPEG files without asking me a lot of questions I don't care about and don't understand. I don't want to be selecting the movie dimensions (it should be the same as the input file), I don't want to be asked about frame rates or keyframes or other video details. I just want it to be the same as the WMV, but in MPEG format. Don't change the size, and as much as possible don't change the quality. The WMV files are stored locally and the MPEG files will also be stored locally. This is all on a Mac. I don't mind paying some money for an application that will do this. When I search for transcoders I end up with links to a gazillion shareware sites that all seem shady and not likely to do what I want.

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
Do you know of any compelling, well-written memoirs by archaeologists, anthropologists, or paleo-anthropologists discussing field work, preferably during the twentieth century? The more detail about day-to-day work in the field and departmental intrigues, the better!Years ago, I chanced on Robert Wauchope's book, They Found the Buried Cities: Exploration and Excavation in the American Tropics, which is mostly a collection of excerpts from nineteenth-century accounts of travel in Central America. I liked it well enough, but the part of the book that stayed with me was the opening section, in which Wauchope reminisced in detail about his own work as a Harvard graduate student in the 1930s, helping to organize excavations in Central America. I loved the accounts of both the logistics and the academic politics involved. It seemed so familiar, and yet so, so strange. What other accounts like this can people think of? I guess what I'm looking for is: academia, retronaut-style, served with a side-salad of travel to distant and exotic climes. Thanks!

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
Whether you are a scholar looking for more knowledge and pleasure in life, a bluesman looking for more talent and success, or a 4th grade boy looking to make a quick buck, perhaps the time is right to leverage that one thing for which there was previously no market? The soultradingcompany.com is here to help! </>

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
What should I do with a few days in Alaska (based in Anchorage)?I'll be in Anchorage for business for 4 days in early November and would like to tack on a few days at the end to see a bit of Alaska. Obviously I understood it would be cold, but wasn't prepared for so many of the activities and hotels to be closed this early in the year (Denali, trains to Seward, etc.). What are good activities for early November? Before I book a plane ticket I'd like to decide if I should stay two days or three. I'm not looking to make this into a big vacation, just get a taste (besides, all outdoors activities seem to be impossible this time of year). I would love to take a train trip but it seems to be very limited (only to Fairbanks once a week). Am I looking in the wrong place for train travel? Is there somewhere worth stopping closer than Fairbanks that will have hotels/services open? Would it be better to rent a car and drive to Seward and stay a night there? Is driving difficult or dangerous in early November? Should I stay in Anchorage and take day trips or head out to stay in another town? Is there a short hike or bike ride near Anchorage with great views nearby (or is it too cold/unmanageable that time of year?) I don't have a lot of time to plan, and everything I see online seems to link to tours, which I like to avoid. I'm a "do it myself" type of traveler but if there's something amazing you can only do by tour I'lm open to it. Is there a half day boat I should take or a magnificent old railroad hotel I should stay at? Essentially, I'd like to know if there's a point in trying to get out of Anchorage that time of year due to the weather, or if I should give up and just find some neat things to do in town on this short trip.

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
I'm trying to update my GoPro Hero 3+ black, after losing the wifi password for the app. Snag: I only have the camera, the SD card adapter is on a truck. Other snag: Finder is not allowing me permission to add/change anything on the camera.Using Mac 10.9.4. Clicking "get info" on the camera in finder shows info, permissions says "read only." There is no lock to change the permissions like I'm accustomed to. I only recently updated to 10.9, is this a new thing with permissions?

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
The thought of taking medications that make one feel nervous/anxious makes me anxious because it's a focus of my anxiety problems. I'm therefore nervous about taking my albuterol inhaler (I have bronchitis, it sucks, so I should really take the inhaler). Can you give me information about what to expect in terms of restlessness, anxiety, nervousness, etc.? Duration, symptoms, etc.? I'd ask my doctor but she was totally uninterested in my special snowflake needs (university clinic, she's not my permanent doctor).

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
As a partial follow-up to this question, I would like to talk to someone about prescription treatment but do not have a primary doctor and I'm not sure who's best to see or how to go about making an appointment.I am seeing someone who I am fully attracted to and everything in bed has been okay for the most part, but lately I've had a little bit of performance anxiety. We've had some time off due to her traveling and the last couple times we've been together I've had some issues. I don't have a regular doctor and I'm not sure who to turn to; through my careprovider BlueCross Blueshield I see listings for general practitioners but I'm not sure this is the best (or quickest) option. She'll be back in town tomorrow night and I was hoping there was someone I'd be able to book in the next 24 hours to see if this could be addressed. In Chicago if that helps and have any options that are Bluecross Blueshield friendly. Thanks!

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
I love my car. My car is in decent shape for being almost 5 years old and for just hitting the 100,000 mile mark, has never been in a wreck, oil is changed mostly on time. It's a good car. And I have a solo road trip coming up in a few days. Do I really need to get these repairs done now, or can they wait?The issues are like this: a) My brakes are occasionally squeaky when I come to a stop. It's not really loud, but it's noticeable. It's been like this for a few months now, and only a slight increase in frequency/intensity of squeak. b) There's a tightness and a squeak to my steering wheel first thing in the morning when I start my car. That belt has been replaced within the last year or so, and I have no problems with my steering in general. But still: squeak. c) I'm coming up on a 100,000 mile maintenance visit that will be a doozy. My mechanics, who are great and trustworthy, have assured me that it can wait a few thousand more miles (so, 104,000) while I save the money to have the work done. So what must I take care of before I embark on this trip (~700 miles total)? The repairs are a significant expense, and I'd have to take time off work, so I'm reluctant to do anything that isn't absolutely necessary at this point. But I also don't want to lose control of my brakes (for example) when I'm far from home. What would you do in my position?

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posted about 9 hours ago on metafilter
So this poster has re-appeared in time for the upcoming Toronto Mayoral election. Anyone know who did it or if it's possible to buy a print?

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