Football Team Management 2.0

Fantasy Football (Soccer) [not my image]

Quick update about MyFootballClub, which we wrote about when they launched in May. The venture, which hopes to harness the wisdom of crowds to manage a professional league soccer team (or football club, if you prefer), has just reached its target of 50,000 members. If all members follow through and pay their GBP 35 membership fee, MyFootballClub will soon have GBP 1,5 million in the bank and will be able to buy a team.

Thanks to a novel concept that garnered plenty of media coverage, it took MyFootballClub less than three months to get 50,000 potential owner-managers to sign up. Negotiations with clubs will start soon; the top 4 clubs on members’ lists are Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Cambridge United and Accrington Stanley, but selection will depend on a club’s availability as well as its popularity. Things will truly become interesting once 50,000 members start managing the team…

(Emphasis mine.)

Thanks to Mike W. for the tip.


Bangkok, Maine?

My cell phone rang at 2:41 a.m. today. I had been in a deep sleep and was more than a little confused when I answered.

Me: “Hello, this is Newley.”

Woman with an American accent: “Oh, Hi is this John in…?”

Me: “Sorry, no. I think you have the wrong number. This is Newley in Bangkok.”

Woman: “Oh, wow, sorry about that. You’re in Bangkok, Maine?”

Me: “No, no. Bangkok, Thailand.”

Woman [laughing]: “Oh, wow. That’s amazing! Sorry!”

Me: “That’s okay. It’s a small world.*”

Then I hung up.

Two notes and an asterisk:

1. I think she meant Bangor, Maine, although she clearly said “Bangkok, Maine.” I assume she was calling from somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, because…

2. I have a Washington, DC area code phone number that routes, via Skype, to my cell phone here in Thailand.

If I was confused that a strange woman was calling me from America in the middle of the night, imagine how bewildered she must have been to dial a DC-area code number and reach…an English-speaking stranger in Thailand.

*I’m not sure exactly what I meant by “it’s a small world.” I imagine I was trying to say something along the lines of:

“Hey, isn’t it nuts how in this crazy day and age you can be just, like, trying to call your buddy John to say come on over to our surprise party tonight for Martha, who’s turning 50, and be sure to bring some of those Lays chips that she likes, and also a card, and then next thing you know the streams are crossed because of a solar flare and you’re talking to somebody totally different on the other side of the world — can you believe cell phones these days?”

But it didn’t come out like that.


A New-Look

UPDATE (August 18): I’ve done some additional tweaking and settled upon a design. Finally. I invite RSS subscribers to click through and view the updated in all of its newfound graphical glory.

UPDATE (August 9): I’ve changed the design. Again. Sadly, not everyone shared my passion for the ultra-minimalist layout I was using a few days ago. And alas, dear readers, I ultimately strive to serve you. So I’ve adopted something a bit more exciting (yet still understated). Hope you like it.

As you can see, I’ve tweaked the design of It’s not a major overhaul; I’ve just made some minor changes here and there. Usability, clean lines, and white space still reign supreme.

I’m still fixing some bugs, so if anything seems amiss, please let me know. And if you’re viewing this from from an RSS reader, please do click through to the site and give me your thoughts. Comments for this post are turned on.

More soon…

Wine 2.0

Wine 2.0 [not my cartoon]

Snooth “promises to revolutionize the way people choose wine. By combining the company’s proprietary algorithms with the world’s most comprehensive wine database, Snooth is able to accurately identify the wines best-suited to an individual.”

(Site via. Cartoon via.)


Excellent OS X Writing and Project Management App

Scrivener is a remarkably useful Mac-only project management and writing application. I started using it a few months ago, and it’s quickly become a must-have.

First off: if you mostly write memos or simple documents that require strict formatting, then you should stick with Word. But if you’re a Mac user looking for something to help you manage complex writing projects — a novel, a screenplay, a book, or simply a long article — then you should take a look at this application.

For me, Scrivener’s best features, as I go about assembling my writing projects, are: 1) the ability to import and reference multiple documents and Web pages from within the main window; and 2) the split screen feature that allows me to consult two documents at once within that window.

No more toggling between multiple drafts in separate Word documents. No more consulting various Web sites and PDFs and then returning to Word. Everything now lives in one place, and all of my drafts and other materials are organized by folder.

I also really like Scrivener’s look and feel. It’s an OS X application designed and developed by a writer. And the community of users is also lively and passionate.

Here’s a recent Macworld review. And here’s what Merlin at 43 Folders says about Scrivener.

It’s free to download and use for a trial period; 35 smackers and it’s yours for life.

(Cartoon via.)

The Low-Information Diet

The Low-Info Diet

Tim Ferriss’s Low-Information Diet is based on the principle that in order to be most productive, we should spend as little time emailing — and as much time actually working — as possible.

My Favorite Podcasts

Podcasts. Would life be worth living without them? Here’re some of my faves:

NPR: Shuffle. A daily compilation of the best stories from Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and other shows.

— NPR’s World Story of the Day. Same concept, but limited to foreign dispatches.

ESPN/Soccernet Extra: A bunch of English football journalists discussing the week’s news. Heavy emphasis on the English Premiership.

43 Folders Podcast. Thoughts on personal productivity from Merlin Mann. Centers on David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach. Lots of Apple-related geekiness.

The Marketplace podcast. The daily business show from American Public Media.

The Splendid Table podcast. Features “abundant information on food preparation, appreciation, and culture.” Thanks to A for turning me on to this one.

KQED’s Pacific Time podcast. The show “explores the ideas, trends and cultural patterns that flow back and forth between Asia and America.”

World View, from The New York Times (scroll down to the bottom). Discussions with the NYT‘s international staff.

This American Life. Obviously.

Rojas Spanish Language Podcast. For intermediate to advanced Spanish speakers. I like the host’s Peruvian accent.

On the Media. All media criticism, all the time.

Odorless Durian Radio Story

No Durians

Remember the article about the quest for an odorless durian? Well, NPR’s Michael Sullivan recently did a delightful radio story on the subject.

Solar Power Tower

Solar Tower

BBC News:

There is a scene in one of the Austin Powers films where Dr Evil unleashes a giant “tractor beam” of energy at Earth in order to extract a massive payment.

Well, the memory of it kept me chuckling as I toured the extraordinary scene of the new solar thermal power plant outside Seville in southern Spain.

From a distance, as we rounded a bend and first caught sight of it, I couldn’t believe the strange structure ahead of me was actually real.

A concrete tower – 40 storeys high – stood bathed in intense white light, a totally bizarre image in the depths of the Andalusian countryside.

What’s a Backronym?

I recently stumbled across this remarkably complex Wikipedia entry for “backronym”:

A backronym or bacronym is a portmanteau of backward and acronym[1] coined in 1983.[2][3] It usually refers to a phrase that is constructed backwards from the phrase’s abbreviation, the abbreviation being an initialism or acronym. Sometimes backronym refers to the initialism or acronym itself,[4] but usually in those cases, it is a “replacement” backronym, the abbreviation already having an associated phrase. When the backronym phrase becomes more popular than the original, the word becomes an anacronym.[5]

Got that?

Related: “I Must Take Issue With The Wikipedia Entry For ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.”