Mark My Words 3.0

"[Machinery] will never be a substitute for the face of a man, with his soul in it, encouraging another man to be brave and true." — Charles Dickens



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NVivo 10 Playing (Quite) Nicely On A Mac

From the outset, this isn’t a beginner’s guide. It’s pretty complicated to get this up-and-running: but, it could be worth it. The fact is that NVivo 10 doesn’t work very nicely on a Mac (using VirtualBox and a copy of Windows 7 Professional). (You could, of course, use Boot Camp but I like being able to switch between Mac and Windows. Things will also change when NVivo 10 for Mac is released at the end of the year.) I have a new-ish MacBookPro (not the one with the retina display) and the thing is really, really sluggish. But, I think I’ve found a cure. At least, one that balances speed with performance. If you haven’t set up VirtualBox and Windows 7 on your Mac yet, here’s a tutorial on how to do that. I use the following settings (you could play with these to find the optimum settings for your Mac):

Within Windows 7, I made sure to disable pretty much every ‘cool’ effect that I could. To do this I went to the following places:

  • Right-clicking the desktop and going to Personalization. I then set a block-coloured desktop background, disabled effects and all sounds.
  • Right-clicking on Computer and going to Properties and then Advanced system properties. I then deselected all of the visual effects. From the Advanced tab I set the Processor scheduling to Application. I also manually set the paging file size to be between 1,024 MB and 2,048 MB.
  • I also disabled Avast! Free Antivirus and told Windows 7 not to bug me about doing so.

My desktop looked like this:


Next, I installed NVivo 10 using the default settings. Once the installation had finished I shut down Windows 7. I then created an AppleScript by going to Applications > Utilities > AppleScript Editor. I typed in the following:

do shell script "purge"
tell application "VirtualBox"
  end try
end tell

I then went to File > Export… and used the following settings:


What this AppleScript does is clear all of the ‘inactive’ memory on your Mac prior to opening VirtualBox. (Effectively, you could run the purge command from Terminal each time but it’s easier to let an AppleScript do it for you.) I found that if I closed most (all) of my applications on my Mac first and then ran the AppleScript I gained the most benefit. Use this small ‘application’ to run VirtualBox rather than opening the VirtualBox application itself. (I placed it on my Dock.) Applications such as Google Chrome for Mac eat up a lot of memory so I would avoid using them if possible!

You can view your memory consumption by going to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor. You will be presented with the following screen:


When you run VirtualBox and Windows 7 you will see that your ‘free’ memory will reduce significantly. However, what the AppleScript should do is give your Mac the best chance possible by ‘clearing’ its memory. As you can see, my Mac is holding 1.54 GB hostage that it could be letting VirtualBox use. (‘Inactive’ memory is used, for example, when you close an application and then re-open it within a reasonable amount of time; it ensures that it loads quicker because it already has it ‘stored’ in memory.)

If you then run Windows 7 and start NVivo 10 you should see, albeit with a bit of lag to start up the first time you run it (not entirely sure why this is the case; it took about 60 seconds to load for me and then almost instantly after that), that it works pretty much in real-time. And that’s it, hopefully. Remember also that your mileage may vary!

Robot & Frank.

Faithlife Study Bible. Get it quick!


Do you get tired of seeing inappropriate advertisements on Facebook? Me, too. So, here’s a way to remove them (if you use Google Chrome):

  1. Install the Stylish Google Chrome Extension
  2. In the Extension, click ‘Write new style’
  3. Give the style a name e.g. AdFreeFacebook and make sure it’s enabled
  4. Add the following code div.ego_column { display: none; } and ensure that the ‘Applies to’ drop-down box is set to ‘URLs on the domain’. Enter in the input box that’s next to it.
  5. Click ‘Save’.

Go to Facebook and the advertisements should be gone! At least, I hope so.

Amazon Wish Lists, ScraperWiki and IFTTT

Recently, I purchased a few items from the Amazon Kindle Store because they had been reduced to less than £1.50. I thought to myself: “I wonder if there’s a Web service that could alert me when other such items on my Amazon Wish List are reduced to less than £1.50?” There are, indeed, Web services that do such things: camelcamelcamel and Chintzee. However, these Web services do not work for the Amazon Kindle Store (but do for most other Amazon items). I asked on Twitter whether anyone knew of a Web service that would work and I was prompted by @torresk to try IFTTT. Of course, IFTTT didn’t have exactly what I wanted but does allow you to take an RSS feed and trigger an alert every time a particular condition is met. In this instance, I want to be alerted whenever an item on my Amazon Wish List is reduced to less than £1.50. Simple, huh? Well, not quite.

To get this to work you’ll need a few things:

  1. To be registered on IFTTT.
  2. To be registered on ScraperWiki.
  3. To have a ‘public’ Amazon Wish List. To do this, go to a wish list and click “Manage this List”, then “Change privacy settings” and choose “Shared with link”. Once you’ve done this, click “Share with Friends” and note down your unique wish list code i.e. the bit after /registry/wishlist/.

Next, go back to ScraperWiki and fork my AmazonScraper. You’ll notice two variables at the top: wishlist and limit. Update wishlist to the code that you noted down above and change limit, if you wish. Click “SAVE SCRAPER” and then “RUN”. You should see under the “Data” tab that the items in your Amazon Wish List have been added. Of course, you should have a few items in there first! It should look like this:

Go back to the scraper overview and edit the schedule to run every day (a paid account will enable you to change this to every hour). Then, click “Explore with API”. Change the format to rss2 and ensure that the query in SQL is: select * from `swdata` order by pubDate desc limit 10. If you have more than 10 items on your Amazon Wish List you may want to change this number (the maximum is 200). Copy the URI ready to be used in IFTTT, it should all look like this:


Finally, create a new recipe in IFTTT selecting “Feed” when you’re presented with “this”. Choose “New feed item matches” and then paste in the URI that we copied earlier into “Feed URL”. In “Keyword or phrase” type: Is going cheap! Then, choose how you want to be alerted. I requested to be emailed using Google Mail when an item in my Amazon Wish List is going cheap but feel free to set whatever method you feel is appropriate to you. You should then be presented with a screen that looks like this:


That’s it, I think. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments. For the geeks, an enhancement would be to iterate over the pages of an Amazon Wish List if you have more than 200 items in there. Have fun!

Marketing Eight Hidden Needs

Eight ‘hidden’ needs that marketers use to get you to buy their products:

  1. Selling emotional security
  2. Selling reassurance of worth
  3. Selling ego-gratification
  4. Selling creative outlets
  5. Selling love objects
  6. Selling sense of power
  7. Selling a sense of roots
  8. Selling immortality.

Thanks, Vance Packard!

Scientists vs. psychics

This is a short post and focuses on an article I picked up from the BBC earlier today. (It’s also on the Guardian website, too.) The article reports on how scientists have attempted to ‘debunk’ ‘psychics’ by designing an experiment to test two people’s ‘psychic’ abilities. Two quotes from the article intrigued me. The first is the reaction from one of the ‘psychics’ to the experiment itself:

But one of the mediums, Patricia Putt, rejected the suggestion that this showed any absence of psychic powers - saying that she needed to work face-to-face with people or to hear their voice, so that a connection could be established.

This is intriguing because the psychic makes a very valid point. The point is that the scientists had fabricated an experiment that was conducted within a laboratory setting. It also questions the operationalisation of ‘psychic abilities’. For these scientists, psychic abilities meant being able to create ‘psychic readings’ of five volunteers and then getting the volunteers to identify themselves from the readings. Who decided that that was an appropriate experiment? Are there other experiments that would generate different results? The second quote is even more interesting given its author: 

But Michael Marshall of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, who helped to organise the test, said it showed that claims to have special abilities “aren’t based in reality”.

This is interesting because of the use of the word ‘reality’. In trying to make a mockery of the ‘psychics’ the skeptic fails to appreciate that the experiment itself was conducted in a ‘reality’ that may be different to the ‘natural’ settings of everyday life. As Karin Knorr-Cetina notes:

In the laboratory scientists operate upon (and within) a highly preconstructed artifactual reality.

While the results of the experiment show what they show one must be careful as to how far the results can be generalised. Scientists say this to social scientists all of the time (and that’s without saying that this experiment only used two ‘psychics’ and five volunteers), so don’t be fooled by the ‘purity’ of experimentation! And, scientists and skeptics, don’t forget that the laboratory is of itself an artificial reality.

Google Now.

Haiku Deck.

Noisy Typer.

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