Firefox's killer feature

I work on a few different computers and have dabbled with using Firefox as my browser on some of them. I have now discovered the killer feature that has made me a total convert.

No, it's not tabbed browsing, although that is really quite good. (If only it were 100% implemented instead of 90%!) Nor is it popup blocking, which is also very good, but just as well implemented by the Google toolbar. Nor is it all the other things the Mozilla folks justifiably blow their own horn about.

For me the killer feature is that when I press Ctrl-+ the text on the Web page gets bigger. When I press Ctrl-- it gets smaller again. What is great about this is the text changes size in a useful way, not like the lame text size menu item in IE. The keyboard shortcuts are so fast and convenient (and mnemonic) that I find I use this feature all the time.

This feature is just great for my own middle-aged eyes. I predict it will cause a huge switchover of baby boomers to Firefox. I'm going to install it on my mother's computer too, next time I visit.

Matcha: placebo or miracle drug?

I miss out on a lot of good stuff because I am skeptical enough that placebo effects are not very effective in my case.

For example, the Vancouver Sun recently devoted a lot of column inches to matcha tea. It is filled with testimonials to matcha's energizing powers, such as "With coffee, I really felt the ups and downs of caffeine. With matcha, the energy lasts and I don't crash. The difference is huge."

My wife and I have tried it a few times now and I'm here to report that ... I don't know whether it has an effect or not. The tea itself has a strong flavor so if you buy a prepared cup at Blenz or a tea house, it is likely to be dolled up with lots of milk and sugar. The intense green color is a conversation starter though.

As for its mystical powers, that cause it to "treated just like gold" in Japan, well, I think it helps if you believe in it. I won't say any more so I don't spoil the experience for you.

The stuff is pretty expensive though so maybe that helps.


A modest proposal: 25 hour day

If I could convince you that I know how to achieve the following benefits, you would think I'm a genius, right?
  1. Eliminate jet lag
  2. Extend people's lives
  3. Improve people's health
  4. Remove a major impediment to global commerce
  5. Complete the metric system
  6. Eliminate all problems associated with leap years
Here's the deal. When they put volunteers (?) in caves with no timekeeping devices or time cues of any kind and let their bodies find their natural circadian rhythms, people naturally settle into a 25 hour pattern, instead of 24.

I propose that we take advantage of this observation, revamp our system of time and do it right. Ever since the invention of the light bulb and shift work, the connection between people's sleep-wake cycles and the hours of day and night have been completely disrupted anyway, so it should be no big deal.The precise idea is this. We replace the current day with a New Day (ND) which is about 25.05 hours long. This length is chosen so that there are exactly 350 ND in a year. Since the ND is independent of the daily movement of the sun, there is no need for time zones: the entire earth uses the same time.

Let's think about what this means. No matter where you travel, when you arrive the time is the same as the time in the place you left. Hence benefit #1. With the ND, we all get an extra hour in our day, effectively extending our lives by about 4%. That's benefit #2. The ND corresponds to our natural biological rhythms, hence benefit #3. Benefit #4 results from the elimination of time zones and because everyone's work day is the same. No more scheduling phone calls at odd hours to talk to your remote office!

The adoption of the ND gives us the perfect opportunity to change the definition of an hour to something more metric, so perhaps we have 10 New Hours in a ND, 100 New Minutes in a New Hour, etc. It just makes sense. Time is the one area where the metric system has not had much impact; let's take care of that little problem right now. (Benefit #5)

Since there are now exactly 350 ND in a year, we can have 10 New Months of 35 ND each. Each New Month could have five New Weeks consisting of (in a nod to tradition) 7 ND.

Benefit #6: there is no need for leap years anymore because the ND is defined in terms of how long it takes the earth to go around the sun. Think of the savings in simplified accounting, programming and calendar production! (The same calendar works year after year!)

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most profound. I urge you to join with me to advocate for this elegant solution to many age-old problems. Let us adopt the 25 hour day as soon as possible. A New Day is coming!

Update: I have recently learned of an alternative proposal in the same spirit: The 28 Hour Day which was featured in digg.