## How come more people have allergies, and what can be done?

There are lots of possible reasons for this increase. Here are my pet theories:

1. Increase in delivery by C-section: 1) Babies born late preterm may not have fully developed 2) Babies missing out on beneficial vaginal bacteria
2. Being too clean with antibacterial soaps and excessive hygiene may promote allergies
3. Smaller families means less exposure to germs from older siblings
4. Dust mites survive winter because of modern homes
5. Yet detergents that allow warm/cold water washing don’t kill dust mites
6. Better sealed/insulated homes with wall to wall carpets promotes mites, mold and other allergens
7. Reduction in breastfeeding is a factor in allergies
8. Overuse of antibiotics can increase allergies
9. Vitamin D deficiency
10. Iodine deficiency may be a factor in asthma

Solutions?

1. Get a dog
2. Move out of cities
3. Avoid smog and road pollution
4. Expose yourself to parasites
5. Take probiotics
6. Take vitamin D
7. Take iodine supplements like Iodoral
8. Breastfeed newborns for at least four months
9. Work on a farm

Search engines are imperfect. A portion of my visitors ask a specific question, but I am answering a different one. Google isn’t yet smart enough to see the subtleties, and directs them to HowTutorial.com. I hope they found what I wrote interesting, but I admit they must remain unsatisfied.

This is the second time I will be collecting questions that need answers from my search logs. The first time, after a series of posts about math shortcuts, I wanted to help someone with a misconception. This time is two trick questions.

Question: What is one number that’s divisible by everything?

Answer: That is a trick question. Instead of trying to solve for such a number, let me tell you that the number is zero. Through a little thinking, you can agree that it is true. 1/4th minus 1/4th equals zero fourths. That is 0/4ths. No forths at all. Nada. Zero. Zero divided by 4 is zero. 0/2=0, 0/9299292929=0, zero divided by everything is zero. The only exception, is 0/0 = undefined. So with that exception, zero is the one number that is divisible by everything.

Question: What number is divisible by all 9 numbers 1 to 9?

## 13 ways to fix the world

For 13 straight weeks I have written a Saturday post on How to fix the world. This week, I thought I would pause, and list out a table of contents for what I have written so far.

1. In week one, Reason.tv and Drew Carey make a case for fixing a declining city. In this case, they talk about Cleveland, but many cities should learn these lessons.
2. In week two, I brought you Hans Rosling and the Magic Washing Machine which had the great concept of the wash line which is just above the poverty line.
3. Next I told you about SeeYourImpact.org which is a charity that let’s you pick a cause and donate directly to a person in need. I donated, and a short time later, I received a photo (see above) and letter thanking me and one other for our donation, and explaining how one families life has been changed for the better.
4. Did you know that you can create a no lose lottery? In week four I explained how you can turn a negative behaviour into a positive. A bit of tai-chi.
5. In week five, I shared what I learned from the book NurtureShock about Tools of the Mind, executive function, and how it will get kids to behave, focus, excel at school, and enjoy it all.
6. Cars can be particularly dangerous for kids, and knowing the dangers can go a long way to minimize them. This week I talked about how to keep kids safe around cars.
7. In week seven, I wrote about the power of juries to do what is right, instead of letting themselves get pushed around by those that wished there were no juries at all.
8. This time I return to kids and cars, but now I talk about high school. Something so simple like changing class start times can save lives, but without a champion it won’t happen.
9. Modern technology can give anyone a super power to restart a person’s heart. The combination of CPR and an AED can mean the difference between life and death.
10. For week ten, I talk about selfish reasons to be helpful, and give you places to start.
11. Polio still exists in the world, and now is the time to get rid of it.
12. In week twelve, I talked about the Institute for Justice and the great work it does to help the “David” fight the “Goliath”.
13. In week M, I talked about how the difference between Hong Kong and the rest of China is rules. There is an effort to engineer more Hong Kong like successes in the world with Charter Cities.

Are you ready to fix the world? Tell me about your strategy, and maybe I’ll share it.

## How to spy on the spies

Some of the most expensive and secretive spy activity takes place in broad daylight. In the movie Enemy of the State, we saw a fictious view of what government satelites could see on the ground. But it is so expensive precisely because it does involve satelites and secrecy. You might not have the big budgets, but you do have an advantage. You can spy back on the satelites from the comfort of earth.

Wired.com tells us of the counter spies. They have modified telescopes to track and follow unknown satelites. Then using image enhancing techniques they make some pretty impressive movies.

The methods they use and the software they have written are available to any of us that wish to join in. The pictures they have taken are very cool.

We can join in, but it does require a budget.

## How to signal 100 miles without the aid of electricity. What is a heliograph?

The Journal of the Royal United Services Institute (Great Britain) for Defence Studies Volume 19 in 1875 recounts a meeting that discusses the heliograph and its inventor. The discussion and history are fascinating. There is even some dissent expressed at the heliographs ultimate value. But since the copyright has expired, I’ll take the liberty of quoting the entire article:

Mr Gheaves: Some years ago I came across a volume of Galton’s Notes of Travel in which he describes how the North American Indians speedily availed themselves of this principle. They had found out the use of a mirror and from a lofty range of mountains through gaps in the forest they had made use of a piece of glass to flash many miles across the country a signal of their intentions and ideas to another body of Indians in ambuscade at a distance. That was the most primitive use I have found of this principle The Plain of Canterbury in the middle island of New Zealand extends some two millions of acres straight across to the mountains and I have often noticed the position of a house on the mountains simply by the rays of the evening sun striking on the panes of glass. I was at that time doing duty as a warden of the Trinity Board and the idea suggested itself to me that the principle might be applied to our lighthouses. We have a lighthouse at the entranco of Port Lyttleton in Canterbury at an elevation of 480 feet and the idea suggested itself to me that the men in charge of the lighthouse by this method might communicate with ships in the oiling and pilot boats by day or by night by day with the light of the sun by night with the artificial light and in reading the Year Book of facts I found that a flag staff that had been erected in Kew Gardens of a great height was finished with a glass diamond cut in facets at the top and that from these facets the rays of the sun could be seen at great distances in the neighbouring counties. I think that the whole argument speaks for itself. It is the simplicity of nature and it is so valuable that it is a wonder to me how it has remained in abeyance so long and has not been utilized. Extract from a letter in the Times of July 16th 1855 from Charles Babbage the Philosopher author of the Calculating Machine I have also evidence that the occulting system of lights was known at St Petersburg in 1853 and I infer that it has been practically applied at Sebastopol from the following extract from a letter of your correspondent at Balakiava Timet July 11th. “A long train of provisions came into Sehastopol to day and the mirror telegraph which works by flashes from a mound over the Belbeck was exceed ingly busy all the forenoon. This can scarcely apply to any other than an occulting telegraph.” Extracted from Good Words, 1873, in an article on Lighthouses of the Future by Sir William Thomson LL. D., F.R.S.

The Chairman: We must feel very much indebted to Mr Goode for bringing this subject before us. The subject is certainly very interesting. As to the originating the plan of talking by reflections I think we have had one instance of its being very old. I happen to know another the case of Admiral Sheriff then Captain of the Port of Gibraltar and in 1835 he told me he used with a common looking glass to talk to his friends at Tangier continually. But these are all tentative things alter all the credit is due not so much for digging the rude ore of any invention but for perfecting it and bringing it to use practically for the nation. Though this instrument may not be perfect for close use in the field. I quite see that for distant use under certain circumstances it may be of the very greatest importance not perhaps as fulfilling all the communications requisite between armies and distant stations but as fulfilling a great many requirements of very great utility. At any rate I think we are all very much obliged to Mr Goode for having brought this before us.

## How do you make money in a world without copyright?

The future will increase the ability to copy. Even physical objects will be shared. But this is not the end for new physical objects. It will be a renaissance of creation. Culture always stands on the shoulders of the creations of other people. The more that can happen, the more culture we will have. Have you heard of a copyright on the recipe for a hamburger? Yet, how many restaurants can you find within a one mile radius of where you are right now that will create one for you to order?

The future is bright.

## How to embed SVG in a webpage so even Internet Explorer can view it

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a text based file that describes images in a vector format. Vector images are infinitely scalable. SVG is an open specification that is getting wider support. The Inkscape open source graphics program reads and writes SVG as its native format.

All major web browsers support displaying SVG to some extent, except Internet Explorer (IE). This has slowed the use of SVG on web pages, since IE is a very popular browser.

The svgweb project comes to the rescue. This open source javascript library uses Adobe Flash to mostly support SVG on IE. Adding SVG to a web page remains more complicated than it needs to be if you didn’t need to support IE, but for now with a little effort, IE can be supported too.

The above image is an SVG. It is viewable in most browsers including IE and the iPad. In IE since you are using Flash to view it, you can right click and choose zoom to see how scalable this is.

In order to use SVG in a webpage, follow these steps:

2. Modify the head section of the html to point to the svg.js file. This must be the very first javascript file loaded. Two other files svg.htc and svg.swf must be next to svg.js.
```<head>
<script src="svg.js" data-path="."></script>
```
3. Use the following syntax to place the SVG image file MY.svg within your webpage:
```<!--[if !IE]>-->
<object data="MY.svg" type="image/svg+xml"
width="500" height="500" id="mySVG"> <!--<![endif]-->
<!--[if lt IE 9]>
<object src="MY.svg" classid="image/svg+xml"
width="500" height="500" id="mySVG"> <![endif]-->
<!--[if gte IE 9]>
<object data="MY.svg" type="image/svg+xml"
width="500" height="500" id="mySVG"> <![endif]-->
<img src="SVG_alternative_image.png" />
</object>```

Detailed instructions for more in depth understanding and use can be found in the svgweb package user instructions.

## How to find files on Windows 7 with the advanced search

Windows 7 no longer has the easy search wizard I am used to from Windows XP. In every Windows Explorer window there is a search box in the upper right hand corner. What you type there automatically becomes a search for files with that text in the name. But some searches need more help than that.

Microsoft has really done Windows 7 a disservice with the usability of search. The claim is that Windows 7 now has search as a basic function of the operating system, but the result is an obtuse interface that nobody can love.

First the good part. There are special keywords that provide advanced instructions for your searching. Enter them as you would any text you hope to find in a file name. Combine them to get very specific:

 Find all pdf files in the current directory type:pdf Files newer than 12/25/2010 after:12/25/2010 Files older than 3/14/2011 before:3/14/2011 File modified yesterday datemodified:yesterday File size between 100KB and 3MB size:100KB .. 3MB Office file saved by user Peter lastsavedby:Peter Image file with width 640 pixels Width:640 All music type files Kind:music The My Pictures folder kind:folders My Pictures All indexed files that contain text: “bubble” contents:”bubble”

That last search was for a particular text in a file. Windows is particularly weak for this search. Not all file types are searched. To improve the scope of this search, we have to modify some system wide settings. We can modify the indexing rules, but the change takes a while, so this won’t help for a search right now. Here is what to modify:

1. Press the Start button
2. In the Search programs and files field enter search
3. Under Control Panel select Change how Windows searches
4. Click on the Advanced button
5. Select the File Types tab
6. Choose Index Properties and File Contents
7. Add a check next to any extensions you want indexed for search

That is a lot of trouble, and there are still file types that aren’t searched.

Before I leave native Windows 7 searching, let me direct you to documentation on many of the special search keywords and syntax. The format is called Advanced Query Syntax (AQS).

When you have despaired of native Windows 7 file search. It is time to add a freeware tool called SearchMyFiles. It is easy to install, just copy the contents of the downloaded zip file to your desktop, to somewhere in your path, or create a directory for it and add it to the All Programs menu. Run SearchMyFiles and use the graphical user interface (GUI) to search for files based on their contents.

It is a good program. You can search inside binary files. Limit your search to files changed in the last 10 minutes, or files that are read only. There are many simple and advanced options. It is almost good enough for me to forgive Microsoft for the lack of a real built in search option. Almost.

## Two secrets to happiness

Photo by kristian.strobech

To be happy, you must keep two parts of you happy. There is the immediate experience, and there is the remembered self.

If you are happy at this moment, but do not remember it later, then you have only the fleeting enjoyment. Happiness in the short term is important, but happiness remembered is also important. What is more, it is the reflective self that drives us to seek out future remembered happiness.

Your narrative of your life is the story you remember of your experiences. When you are on automatic pilot, the experiences that get remembered are not consciously chosen. But you do have some control over what you remember if you attempt it.

The automatic pilot part of our story of our lives does follow some rules. Understanding some of these rules can help us create remembered happy moments. When you tell the story of a time in your life, you notice beginning and ending points. You remember changes in the narrative. A one week vacation and a two week vacation are both remembered the same. Make sure to end on a happy note. Change things up. Learn from your memory to know what kinds of things are remembered.

Just noticing when you are happy will increase your memory of it. But adding meaning to a moment also makes it more likely to become part of the narrative of your life. Creating meaningful happy moments thus creates both short term and long term happiness.

One way of creating meaning is to work toward a goal. Enjoyable work with meaning and celebrating successes at milestones, become meaningful happy moments.

If you remember more times that you are happy, you will increase your overall happiness.

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David McRaney of You Are Not So Smartput me onto Daniel Kahneman and this idea of two types of happiness.

## The secret to engineering success; How to fix the world #M

Imagine you are a benevolent dictator. You want your country, and your people to succeed. How can you make that happen? You can’t just order that it be true. The power to coerce your subjects does not create success. In fact, the coercion will get in the way of success.

Choice is the antidote to coercion. As benevolent dictator, you want to allow your subjects choices. Creating a framework that protects choices gives your subjects the confidence that their investment of effort is not wasted. Choices of alternatives by interested participants is the most efficient search algorithm for new and better alternatives. This is evolution of ideas. Survival of the fittest ideas is our method of engineering success.

So as benevolent dictator you want to create as close to a night watchmen state as you feel comfortable with. The farther you are from that, the less confidence your subjects feel in investing effort.

In practical terms, create charter cities:

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