Do you use Google Chrome? More than half of the entire population on the internet now does. I work with software engineers, but remarkably few of them know all its secret shortcuts. So no wonder if the rest of us have missed some. Here are my favorite less-well-known-ones for the Mac:

  • Press ⌘ and click a link. Opens the link in a new tab in the background.
  • Press ⌘-Shift and click a link. Opens the link in a new tab and switches to the newly opened tab.
  • ⌘-Shift-T Reopens the last tab you’ve closed.
  • Press ⌘-Option and the right arrow together. Switches to the next tab.
  • Press ⌘-Option and the left arrow together. Switches to the previous tab.
  • Press Shift while clicking the + button in the top left corner of the window. Maximizes the window.
  • ⌘-Option-H Hides all other windows.
  • Type a URL, then press ⌘-Enter. Opens the URL in a new background tab.
  • ⌘-L Highlights the URL.
  • Select an entry in the address bar drop-down menu with your keyboard arrows, then press Shift-Fn-Delete. Deletes the entry from your browsing history, if possible.
  • ⌘-Shift-D Saves all open tabs as bookmarks in a new folder.
  • ⌘-Option-F Searches the web.
  • ⌘-Option-C Copies the URL of the page you’re viewing to the clipboard.
  • ⌘-Shift-Option-V Pastes content without source formatting (handy when writing a document in Google Docs or other WYSIWYG editor)

Here are the complete lists of Chrome keyboard shortcuts for Mac and Windows.

Finland consistently scores at or near the top in worldwide education surveys. The implications for the US have been discussed widely in US media, including prominent articles in The Atlantic, the New York Times, and The Washington Post.

I’m quite interested in this. Born in Finland, I am a US resident and went to public school in both countries. My father is Professor of Education at the University of Helsinki, my own graduate studies were in sociology and I am currently homeschooling my children here in the US.

Although homeschooling is legal it is still rare in Finland. Most Finns are happy with public education and don’t see the need to homeschool. Moreover, private education is virtually nonexistent.

I’ve just finished reading Pasi Sahlberg’s 2011 book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland and it occurred to me that the reason for Finland’s success in public education might be that it strikingly resembles homeschooling.

Here are my notes from the book.

  1. Finland is small – but as a unit of educational reform 5.3 million is comparable to many states and provinces in other countries (including US states, which have a lot of say in designing their education systems)
  2. In international educational surveys, Finland went from being an average performer to a top performer in just a few decades. At the same time inequality between students, which started out being considerable, was reduced to a minimum.
  3. Finland is homogenous in terms of language and culture – but it is the most rapidly diversifying European country, and has managed to improve even as it has diversified


  • Not only small classes but also small schools
  • Motivated teachers who get a great education and a lot of autonomy
  • Absence of testing and audits keeps school stress-free
  • Shorter days and less homework mean there’s more energy left to be creative
  • Children learn to read early regardless of school; their literacy provides a basis for other learning
  • Normalcy of special ed: roughly half receive it at some point
  • Other people really value teachers
  • Well designed spaces and nutritious warm meals
  • High social cohesion and trust. On average, a Finn belongs to three clubs or associations


  • Children are spending more and more time on their devices; they use them to learn different things at different speeds
  • Children find themselves in bigger schools; small schools are disappearing
  • Devices are also changing how children spend time together face to face
  • Boys are no longer reading as much for pleasure (no data on girls?)
  • Older children increasingly feel the lessons at school are irrelevant

Sahlberg’s reader will conclude that a great school is small, led by highly educated teachers who are free to do things their way, has short days and issues little homework. It relies on parents and other people who help the children learn to read early. When a child has difficulty learning something – which happens to many at some point – they get help from a specialized teacher without being stigmatized. Plus, everybody there benefits from well-designed spaces and good food.

To Sahlberg the key challenge now is personal media. Because children spend so much time on their screens, teachers find they are harder to reach. They read fewer books on their own and their learning is out of synch with their peers. Hence, more effort is required from teachers to engage each individual student. But schools are getting larger and as the kids get older, they become even less engaged and more dissatisfied. They no longer see any reason to be in class. They use their devices to access information and to communicate.

Sahlberg’s answer, which he calls the Big Dream, is school as a safe community where children are free to pursue their interests, learn more diverse things, and discover their unique talents. In the future he paints, classroom-based teaching gives way to customized, activity-based learning:

Rather than continue thinking of future schooling in terms of subjects and time allocations to them, the time is right now to make a bold move and rethink the organization of time in schools. This would mean having less time allocated to conventional subjects, such as mother tongue, mathematics, and science, and more time for integrated themes, projects, and activities.

He continues:

This would also mean a shift from common curriculum-baed teaching to individual learning-plan-based education. This would lead to extended time for all students to spend engaged in personally meaningful workshops, projects, and the arts.

Sounds a lot like homeschooling.

Over New Year’s weekend a bunch of heavy app users I was with sat down to list apps they found interesting / useful this past year. Here’s my list:

  1. f.lux – will save your eyes and help you sleep better. My top app of the year
  2. Moves – slick new step counter that tracks how much you move
  3. Lockitron – iPhone-controlled doorlock
  4. Areaware alarm clock – app+stand that turns your iPhone into an alarm clock that isn’t too bright at night
  5. AR Drone 2.0 – app+drone, fly a programmable quadcopter from your phone (so fun I co-organized a quadcopter programming contest)
  6. Carat – monitors your iPhone battery usage & resource consumption
  7. Findery – stories like nowhere else about familiar & strange places
  8. GmailMeter – analytics on your Gmail use
  9. Postmates – get anything delivered to you in San Francisco in under 1h
  10. 1Password – manage all your passwords securely in one place
  11. Fing – scans all IP addresses on your network
  12. Dropcam – app+camera, simple home security camera
  13. Me Today – private photo sharing for families & close friends (built by our team, email me for a beta invite)

According to a study by the city of San Francisco, one large chain store selling food in a central location would kill 321 small grocers & up to 1,284 jobs.

That made me wonder how the huge same day delivery centers Amazon is building around big metros in the US (including one the Bay Area) will impact the small merchants in those cities.

“Same-day delivery could be a big blow to our retailers down the street,” agrees an interviewee in SF Gate.

Small pieces loosely joined makes cities, the Internet, any social platform more unpredictable, creative, and simply more fun.

What makes a great team? Here’s a checklist based on six famously successful groups (Xerox PARC, the 1992 Clinton campaign, Disney animation studios…) in the book Organizing Genius.

Interestingly, “all of these 21 elements feature in all of the great groups,” notes the reviewer who put the list together. “It would seem that you don’t get a great group unless all of these conditions are met, somehow.”

1. A clear, tangible outcome. The best outcomes are widely recognized as important or fantastic.
2. An outrageous vision for the outcome.
3. A leader who can get people to get personally committed to the vision and the outcome.
4. Exceptionally capable people on the team – the best talent available.
5. A leader that the team respects.
6. A leader who gives the team members the information, recognition and latitude they need to deliver the outcome.
7. A leader who keeps the team focused without micro managing it.
8. A shabby workplace with access to all the equipment, materials, tools and training the team needs to deliver the outcome.
9. Team is protected from bureaucracy of the sponsor/sponsor organization.
10. The workplace enables collaboration.
11. Team is insulated from distractions.
12. There is one focus for the team – the outcome.
13. Team members have responsibilities that are aligned to their expertise, interests, and capabilities.
14. Team members are willing to work on what needs to be worked on when it needs to be worked on.
15. People don’t always get along but everyone wants to achieve the outcome so this common desire transcends individual conflicts.
16. Team members know that each team member has been personally selected for the team because he or she is most able to get the job done.
17. Failure is accepted; incompetence and disloyalty is not.
18. The team has a common enemy.
19. The team believes they are on a mission from God.
20. The team doesn’t realize their mission is impossible and impractical.
21. The team is physically separated from those not on the team but retains a linkage with the ultimate sponsors of the mission generally via the team leader(s).

Neil Postman, interviewed on the McNeil/Lehrer Hour in 1995:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s 1836 essay Nature reads like a credo of current-day startupism:

Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.

I came across this definition of success in a book on homeschooling:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

My book attributed it to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but this site traces it to a 1905 publication by Bessie Stanley.

Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

Elad Gil posted a list of 5 questions to ask yourself about your startup. I like it a lot, and think it applies more broadly than just entrepreneurs building startups. Here’s his list:

  1. Do I Have The Right Team In Place?
  2. Do I Have The Capital I Need?
  3. What Should I Be Doing Less Of? Or More Of?
  4. How Is My Product Doing?
  5. What Can I Do To 10X My Business This Year?

For a family it might be:

  1. Am I being the partner I want to be?
  2. Am I spending money on unnecessary things?
  3. What should I be doing less of? More of?
  4. How are my children doing?
  5. What can I do to 10x our happiness this year?

In this spirit, David Brooks wrote in the New Yorker last year:

The cognitive revolution of the past thirty years provides a different perspective on our lives, one that emphasizes the relative importance of emotion over pure reason, social connections over individual choice, moral intuition over abstract logic, perceptiveness over I.Q. It allows us to tell a different sort of success story, an inner story to go along with the conventional surface one.

The full article is here.