Wednesday, August 27, 2008
If you stare at a computer long enough you will get eyestrain, maybe headaches, sometimes nausea and possibly diarrhea. Maybe you get paid to stare at the computer all day, maybe you're addicted to social networking sites, maybe both - regardless of why you stare at the screen all day you should consider a few ways to reduce the chances of eye-strain, headaches, tension, and a variety of other ills.
1. Make yourself comfortable
Ergonomics, schmergonomics. You heard of those, right? (I'm slouching something fierce right now) I'm not going to go into detail about sitting on a new funky chair designed to make work more enjoyable. Laptops and mobile devices have made computing from a variety of places (some much less ergonomically sound than others) much easier and more common. I'm a fan of "make yourself comfortable." If you're not comfortable and you stay in a position too long something will either get pulled, strained, knotted or possibly just stronger. There is absolutely no reason to keep yourself in an uncomfortable position for extended periods of time, unless you're practicing the westernized version of yoga, in which case you're cool.
2. Take frequent breaks
I've read a variety of conflicting reports about breaks increasing productivity. While most don't agree on exactly exactly how often and how long breaks should be, most all reports claim that breaks are good for you. As for the frequency and duration of optimal break-time I really think this is up to the individual, some people can concentrate at a higher capacity longer than others. But when you're concentrating on something its pretty easy to forget about taking a break. If you're sitting motionless for a majority of your work a break that gets the blood pumping can be extra beneficial. Also I think there's great benefit to getting outside, especially if you're a cube worker - maybe run out to your car to grab that important document or something, and while you're at it take the long way around the parking lot, maybe crossing the street to enjoy that little park you've never noticed. Breaks are good for the eyes, the mind and can often lead to great insights on problems with elusive solutions. Go on, try it before you continue onto number three.
3. Exercise your eye muscles
If you're staring at a screen all day your eyes don't get much re-focusing and they could get stuck that way. Really! There's a variety of exercises for your eyes but the simplest way I know is to occasionally focus on something far away for about 5-10 seconds then shift your focus to something much closer for 5-10 seconds.
Luckily there's a window near most of my computing areas, I like to stare way off into the distance and try to make out details in trees or on mountains and then focus on some of the little scrapes and scratched that occasionally show up on my hands.
4. Kill the fluorescents
If you, like me, work in a place with overhead fluorescent lighting and have to stare at a screen for extended periods (and especially if you're working on image-heavy stuff), I'd highly recommend purchasing some task lighting. I've purchased Ott lights and use them instead of the overhead lights when working with images, this also helps improve color-accuracy since your monitor is getting bombarded with other light.
5. Don't forget to blink!
Sounds silly, but its very true. We don't blink as often when we're zombies in front of a monitor. I taped a note to one of my computers that says "don't forget to blink" - seems to work as a reminder. I've heard you can just not blink at all and use eye-drops instead but I, for some reason, don't do eye drops or contacts - creeps me out.
6. Avoid carpal tunnel syndrome
I suppose there's something important about avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injuries. Yeah, probably just avoid them. I like to shake my hands out every so often, but its easy to forget unless I notice cramping. Which leads me off topic... do you remember having writers cramp? Back in the day when people used pointy objects to write on paper? Did people get carpal tunnel from writing (by hand)? Just wondering.
I'm sure there are plenty of websites to help prevent you from injuring yourself at work, or due to work - I didn't even bring up any dangerous jobs, I'm mostly thinking of computer workers and computer workers are so smart they probably know all these things already, huh?
What are some of your favorite ways to insure that you're not killing yourself at work? Leave me some comments & don't forget to blink!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.
I'll have to wait for a few hours before I try it.
I'm curious as to whether people who aren't completely comfortable with html, web 2.0 and the likes would be willing to use something like this. A friend recently asked me to show them how to send pictures and videos from the web to other websites (e.g. embedding a picture as a myspace comment). A lot of sites have the code already for you but you have to push a couple buttons that seem like magic.
I'm curious if this friend would find something that made it all easier, well, any easier - or if it would appear far too technical.
If it saves me a few minutes of copying, pasting, and/or formatting I'm all for it.
But then again, I rarely send a map in an e-mail, if I need to tell somewhere where something is and they know there way around the web I can tell them to "look it up" - but if they're not familiar I'll generally resort to printing out a hard-copy for them, or send them a nicely formatted link (one that simply says "click here") so they can find it themselves.
Will something like Ubiquity make me send more maps and reviews to people? Probably.
Will they like receiving more maps and reviews? I don't know - I suppose it depends on who receives them. Some people may thank me for saving them the time of looking things up, while others might complain that they got something weird in my last e-mail they didn't understand (e.g. older relatives).
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I suppose a next smart purchase would be a paper shredder, so I can get rid of certain documents without the fear of personal information being stolen.
I finally set up most of my bills for online bill pay. I suppose having secure internet access and a new laptop gave me the confidence to do it. There's an option to receive bills electronically which I haven't set up yet, but will do soon.
In the past I pulled all my paper bills together once a month and sat down with them to write out checks and mail payments. I've found that this isn't always the best idea, since due dates are different. I'm going to call and find out if I can change the due dates for certain services and utilities - not sure if it's possible, but it would be nice.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
He added slide notes at the bottom, "that can help give you the flavor for what’s happening as I wave my hands around on-stage like a huge dork."
Who Moved My Brain? Revaluing Time & Attention
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I recently ordered DSL from Verizon. The wireless router came about a day after I ordered it and I had to wait a few more days for my service ready date. Yesterday I got home and plugged it all in, fired up the laptop and tried to get online. No signal. So I unplugged everything and read the instructions. After following the installation instructions I had everything plugged in the same way I had before and it still didn't work.
I decided to insert the CD that came with the router and launch the easy to follow instructions. It would get me to the point where it would tell me it was checking my connection, and then it would say my connection failed and started me through a tedious trouble-shooting process. I'm guessing thousands of people actually figure out what went wrong, such as "Is the power switch in the On position? If not, turn it on." but I was getting frustrated, so I called the toll free help hotline. This was almost more painful. Enter your home phone number (OK, I don't use a land-line, do I enter my cell?), the automated menus make me more frustrated, "Are you calling about . . . your home phone? . . . press one. (pause) Are you calling about . . . wireless service? . . . press two. (pause) etc. etc. I finally talk to an operator and explain my situation and ask only if she can verify that my service ready date has been confirmed, so she transfers me to technical support which begins again with "Are you calling about . . . your home phone? . . . press one. (pause) . . . etc. I eventually talk to another operator who can't find my order anywhere and who thinks I might not have placed an order. I tell her the equipment was already shipped to me so it must be in their records somewhere. This goes nowhere, so I eventually hang up.
Then I remember my dad taking everything apart and decide its come down to that. I figure the brand new wireless router is probably not the problem since lights blink when its plugged in, so instead I focus on the cables. I follow the phone line through the cupboads outside, up the wall and back down the wall until I find a junction box (or something that I'll just call a junction box), I take that thing apart and look at all the things that make it work. It's pretty basic with some wires connecting lines in and out. Everything looks alright so I decide to take it apart more by unscrewing the screws that connect certain wires. I look at all the wires and screws and put it all back together. When I retried the router viola! it works fine. I'm assuming there was a loose connection, even though all connections looked alright.
So now I have DSL at home and will hopefully blog a little more frequently and with better language on more interesting topics and gain friends and influence people. Or I might just spend more time pouring over Cute Overload.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Adaptive Path has released all four concept video's for Aurora, here's a link to the blog (including all four videos): Aurora
In the last video they bring up the concept of data ownership, which I find interesting. They mention sharing a daughter's "feed" - a web history profile which could be theoretically used to generate recommended items from Amazon. I paused the video and looked really closely at what information Amazon theoretically wanted in order to make recommendations: "Composite semantic history, basic demographics, shipping addresses and social network."
(It also mentioned that this information will expire in 24hrs)
I don't sense anything sinister in this type of information (unless you've been up to some sinister stuff online), but I wonder how online recommendations will affect our choice-making and taste.
"I've registered with this or that company, so you can just buy me whatever is on my list."
Shopping for birthdays and holidays would be much simpler, but I wonder about the meaning of the gift-giving in this sense.
Doesn't the gift-giving become stripped of personality, similar to giving cash instead of something thoughtful? I'm just typing out loud here. I'd love to here your thoughts on this.
Here's a link to the complete video (on Vimeo), without commentary.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I'm happy to see forward thinking concepts being pushed, rather than the same models we're all comfortable and familiar with.
I'll embed the first two videos here for your convenience, it looks like they'll be releasing more videos soon. Take a look...
Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.
Aurora (Part 2) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.
You can read more about Aurora on the Adaptive Path blog.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Over the past weekend I boxed up all my possessions and said goodbye to my old home, moved about four blocks and into my new place. I love the new place and have already arranged furniture, set up the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. I still have boxes of things shoved into cabinets and nooks and though I tried to label every box and organize the packing according to the items location or function towards the end of packing (when friends were moving boxes into pick-up trucks and such) some boxes became catch all's.
Before all the little things get unpacked and put into their proper places there's the occasional wondering about where a certain item is. Sometimes this happens even after its been unpacked. Luckily most of the things that are still hiding in boxes, sometimes inside of other boxes are mostly unimportant details (except my iPod headphones which I wish I had right now so I could blast my own music and drown out the piped in tunes at the cafe I'm currently writing from).
I had heard of this thing called Cuil in the past couple days, but hadn't taken the time to find out what it is. Today I'm looking into it with a great deal of interest. It's a search engine that claims to be the "world's biggest search engine" - I'm not sure I'd have the ability to prove or disprove that staement, but I can mention some of its freatures.
Columns - the search results are given in columns, you can specify either two or three columns. It seems to give you more browsability in a single page, maybe its just nice becasue its a new layout for search results. I like it.
Drilldown - allows you to "explore by category" after your search. The subject headings drop-down dynamically which is really nice. And if you click on one of the recommended subjects it opens a new search result page with a new subject list on the right, which you could browse through again.
Roll-over definitions - if you pause on a subject it recommends it will give a brief definition of the subject or term. This is really nice if you're not sure how relevant the topic or term is to what you're looking for. I had a search with a person's name in a sub-set of the categorical explorations - and the roll-over definition explained who they were.
Tabs - Cuil will give you tabs of possibly relevant topics aftger your search. If there are a lot of recommendations the right-most tab will be a "more..." tab that drops down with even more suggestions. Once you click through you no longer get tabs - not sure if this is good or bad, I like the tabs and wish they would exist on any search result page, but I suppose thats where you could continue searching by category.
Navigation suggestion - as you type, Cuil may give you recommended websites that match your search in a list form. Seems to work like a charm and saves you from typing really long words.
I'll have to continue playing with Cuil and see if my search habits change. Have you used Cuil? What do you think? Do you find it easier to use than other search engines? I'd love to hear your opinions.