Archive for November, 2006

Post Thanksgiving Abundance

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Something strange happens over the course of Thanksgiving weekend in busy people’s minds.

Early this morning, I sent three emails checking on the status of my outstanding project proposals. Not long after, I received half a dozen new consulting leads from friends. A colleague sitting next to me had two big opportunities in his inbox today.

You have all of us Type-A people who are forced to relax with our families for a few days. Then monday hits. Christmas, Chanukah, New Years, Kwanzaa are threatening productivity!

I wonder if:
1. A holiday ostensibly about celebrating abundance manifests more abundance.
2. Thanksgiving is a blaring-clock-radio-between-stations wake-up reminder that 2006 has not abandoned its intention to end.

Password Protect a Folder on the Mac

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

I was looking for a way to password protect a folder on the Mac. I needed to be able to backup a large collection of files onto a USB hard drive and then send it securely through the mail for safe off-site storage. For some reason, this functionality is not integrated directly into Finder.

Finally I stumbled upon a way to do it with built-in OS X software. That is perfect because I wanted to avoid using random 3rd-party trialware for something that an operating system ought to be able to do for free.

How to Password Protect a Folder on the Mac:

  • Open up the “Disk Utility” application
  • File -> New -> Disk Image from Folder…
  • choose a folder to protect
  • choose “AES-128” encryption and press Save
  • Enter your desired new password twice (Do not forget it.)

This process creates an ordinary Macintosh disk image (.dmg) file. The disk image contains the entire contents of the folder, but cannot be opened unless the correct password is supplied. To open it, just double-click the .dmg file in Finder. A password dialog box will appear. Once you supply your correct password, Finder will automatically unencrypt your data and mount the image as a disk.

Reply-All Micro-Groups

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I am fascinated by Reply-All Micro-Groups. These are the temporary social groups that are formed when someone sends out an email message to a small group of addresses that are exposed in the To: or Cc: fields of an email.

Of course, this happens all the time. However, for a true Reply-All Micro-Group to develop, at least one person needs to Reply-All.

Example: Lets say my friends Volker, Ember, and Ojvind do not necessarily have any prior connections amongst them. When I send an email to all three of them, I’ve formed a Reply-All Micro-Group with membership that consists of the four of us.

Interestingly, socialization often emerges in this seemingly arbitrary micro-group. When Ember opts to “reply-all”, she shares her witty idea with the members of the Reply-All Micro-Group. When Volker is looking for people to meet him for dinner at Suppenküche, he might toss out an invite to one of his recent Reply-All Micro-Groups.

Reply-All Micro-Groups have a very limited lifespan. Once the most recent “post” is no longer presenting itself on the first page of anyone’s Inbox Address Book, the critical benefit of addressing convenience is lost and the Reply-All Micro-Group ceases to exist.

Yet all forms of Micro-Groups live on in our collective memory like little “creatures” in a cellular automaton. Maybe a few weeks later, inspired by the original Micro-Group, Ember will send a mail to myself and Volker, but forget to include Ojvind because perhaps he wasn’t so memorable. Maybe she’ll also add Bryan because he’s been on her mind lately.

It’s fun to think of members getting added and dropped as two possible forms of mutations in the Micro-Group genome. The genetic algorithm continues with each new Micro-Group formed.

Inbox Address Book

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

You can easily spot an Inbox Address Book user.

First, her email message subjects all begin with “Re:”

Then, look beneath the message she sent you. You’ll find something unrelated that you sent her months ago, now quoted back to you.

I am thinking about the emergent phenomenon I call the “Inbox Address Book.” Traditionally, people kept a paper or electronic list of friends and their email addresses. The Inbox Address Book is more grass roots, and has some interesting properties.

The Inbox Address Book user never creates a new message with a fresh subject. Everything is a “reply” to the last thing you sent him. When the Inbox Address Book user wants to email you… well, hopefully you’ve recently emailed him.

Only the most sophisticated IAB user will change the subject line. For example, “Re: Conference in Las Vegas” changes to “Re: cristiano ronaldo”. I always appreciate and enjoy this phenomenon. Notice how the meaning of “Re:” is accidentally morphed from “Reply” to “Regarding” in this type of modification. It happens so easily because both words are abbreviated “Re” and both have to do with correspondence.

I don’t have statistics, but a good many humans I know make use of the Inbox Address Book.

I am curious: does the Inbox Address Book user more frequently email those who have recently emailed him? Or, is the impulse to correspond generated without influence from the current contests of his inbox?