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(OT): Human Multi-tasking

by dragonchild (Archbishop)
on Dec 30, 2004 at 15:08 UTC ( #418272=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

From this article:

I've been hearing a lot about this topic.

  • On NPR recently, there was a series of reports about people who have quit high-paying jobs and moved to small towns for jobs that paid, in some instances, a fifth of their prior salaries.
  • I read a story recently about some people buying up old schools and converting them into home factories. One couple used the first grade as their bedroom, 4th grade as an office, and revelled in the 20-nozzle shower they shared.

My wife and I have been attempting to engineer a move into the country - me taking a telecommute job with a satellite broadband connection. She wants 5 acres and an old country farmhouse. As far as we can tell, we'll be able to do it in 3 years.

Then again, one of my fondest wishes is to retreat to a monastery for a year, just to see what silence would be like.

How does the "rat-race" affect you? What reactions are you having? What dreams do you wish you could fulfill today, but put off because you have to go to work and pay the mortgage?

Being right, does not endow the right to be rude; politeness costs nothing.
Being unknowing, is not the same as being stupid.
Expressing a contrary opinion, whether to the individual or the group, is more often a sign of deeper thought than of cantankerous belligerence.
Do not mistake your goals as the only goals; your opinion as the only opinion; your confidence as correctness. Saying you know better is not the same as explaining you know better.

Comment on (OT): Human Multi-tasking
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by hardburn (Abbot) on Dec 30, 2004 at 15:12 UTC

    I want a workshop for restoring old arcade and pinball machines. I've got a Nintendo Vs. cabinet sitting in storage now, but my apartment doesn't have the room or ventalation requirements to work on it.

    "There is no shame in being self-taught, only in not trying to learn in the first place." -- Atrus, Myst: The Book of D'ni.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by hsmyers (Canon) on Dec 30, 2004 at 15:44 UTC
    My only advice based on experience is that you should not drop so far out that you cannot drop back in. If for no other reason than to remind yourself of why your new situation is better than the old. Since I live in Idaho it is fairly easy to fall off of the map, but you still need to make the trip to the big city for re-supply once in a while. Enough metaphors, I'd kill for the shower room...

    --hsm

    "Never try to teach a pig to sing...it wastes your time and it annoys the pig."
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by Anonymous Monk on Dec 30, 2004 at 15:53 UTC
    Yeah, I hear a lot of people who are tired of the this "big city thing" and want to move to small towns. But if you go to small towns, their complaint is that there isn't much to do - and in many countries this leads to people (specially young people) moving to cities, or, if possible, people commuting into the city, turning small towns into "sleeping towns". This leads to shops and other services in small towns closing, or, if shopkeepers retire, not being replaced.

    Which leads to the conclusion that people are never satisfied.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by talexb (Canon) on Dec 30, 2004 at 16:02 UTC

    Interesting comment.

    Although I really enjoy being in a big city (well, Toronto is big for a Canadian city -- small compared to many American, European or Asian cities), I would love to be in a larger house. The four of us are using just about every square foot of a 900 square foot bungalow -- you can't just 'leave stuff lying around' because someone else will step on it.

    A friend of mine has a gorgeous house on 100 acres near Peterborough, Ontario. It's lovely, but to do any shopping it's a fifteen minute drive to a small town. The big town (Peterborough) is a thirty minute drive. I don't know if I'd want to be that far away, but it would be fantastic to try it for a month.

    Working at home is fun, but the home/work boundaries are tough to maintain when there's limited space. Food for thought.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

      Heck, I drive more than 30 minutes to work everyday.
      I dream of the day that my biggest problem is how far away the mall is. :D

      Wonko

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by steves (Curate) on Dec 30, 2004 at 16:24 UTC

    I have a few thoughts on this. 5-7 years ago, the telecommuting idea looked like a good way to realize this. Today, I think an employer is more likely to hire cheap overseas telecommuting labor over someone who wants to live out his dream in a country farm house. At least here in the U.S. That's just the economics of the thing. Of all the telecommuters I know, only a few are left. Some kind of got stranded by moving too far out. If the company you telecommute for goes under or cuts your job you may be hard pressed to find something if you've moved too far out.

    A few of my relatives have kind of "dropped out" to varying degrees. One moved to a remote area and has a farm in addition to a regular job. Another one grows a lot of his own food, built his own house, and doesn't have a regular full time job. Some of them tire of this though. Getting up at 5am to feed the chickens may seem glamourous at first, but that glamour can wear off after a while. Or having the car break down and having to make do and take the time to fix it yourself when it's 10 degrees out might make a bigger paycheck look better than it did when you traded it in for the dream.

    My first house was old and somewhat remote, and therefore cheap. But after 10 years of commuting an hour or so each way it got pretty old. I did manage to telecommute 2-3 days a week part of that time. But I eventually moved closer to things and it's been so much better. One thing you have to consider is that if it's more time you're after, you may end up just trading time, doing other things out of necessity (such as commuting or growing food) that take as much or even more time out of your day.

    My new goal would be to cash in enough stock at my current job to pay off my house and not have to worry so much about how much I make. The writing's on the wall anyway. I'm in my forties and it seems likely I'll be traded in for a cheaper model, particularly since the overseas moves have started at my current job in a small way. Being able to move closer was actually that sort of dream realized in a much smaller way: I was at a job a short time that paid me both in stock and in cash as incentive for staying through a sale. That lump sum, while relatively small, made a huge difference in what we could shop for in terms of a new house. So one advantage I see of having a regular job is getting the opportunity to cash in like this, at least in small ways. But I would say that there's always that appeal of doing something that's all my own. I think that would be even more appealing if it were something the whole family could get involved in. But my caution there is also experience. I had another relative start two businesses and get out of each one due to all the hours and the small amount of payback.

      Today, I think an employer is more likely to hire cheap overseas telecommuting labor over someone who wants to live out his dream in a country farm house.

      To start with, you need to remember that telecommuting (if done properly) is both a cost cutting and a productivity boosting move for some companies. A friend of mine works for a medium-to-large insurance company, and he told me about a recent experiment they did where they allowed about a hundred employees to work 2-3 days from home. They found that not only did it save them on infastructure costs (electricity, etc), but that the employees productivity was boosted (no water cooler is my guess). The overall outcome of the experiment was that it was a good thing all around for them, and last I heard they were going to implement it on a larger scale.

      As for cheap overseas help, it is a cost cutting measure for some companies, but many companies still can't get their acts together enough to be able to do that. It takes a level of discipline which most companies just do not have, and lets not forget about the language barrier and time-zine differences. Those facotrs alone are why small, agile consultancies (like the one I work for) are only minimally affected by this trend (so far).

      Another point to make about "cost cutting measures" in general is that they are not always the whats best for the company. We have done work for some large NYC companies and there is a trend in the younger managers to squeeze us for all they can, and then we hear them at the next budget cycle that their budgets have been cut (wonder why?). However the older, more experienced, managers tend to give us what we ask for (within reason of course) and not try to squeeze us, they never complain about budgets (well, sometimes, but not as bad as the squeezers do). The fact is that if you "save" money and have $$ left over in your budget at the end of the year, then many times, your budget gets cut to that level (cause clearly you can do what you do for less). Where if you don't try and do everything on-the-cheap, pay people what they are worth and be sure to use up every last cent. Then 9 times out of 10 you not only do you (usually) get the same $$ the next budget cycle, but you also have a better quality product (cause you didn't try and bleed your contractors dry).

      Of course this particular phenomenon tends to be found more in larger companies. But even in smaller companies, taking the long-term view is a good thing, and being short-sighted eventually gets you in trouble.

      Anyway, thats just my two cents :)

      -stvn
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by trammell (Priest) on Dec 30, 2004 at 16:44 UTC
    Coincidentally, This article also appeared today on Slashdot. Some of the replies there are worth reading IMO.

    I've come to accept these interruptions as a fact of life that I have only modest control over. My wife and I have worked out a system of "don't interrupt me, I need to focus" indicators, but my work environment (aka. cube farm) doesn't help.

    In my circumstance, the problem stems from coworkers with some form of ADD, either learned or biological. This becomes obvious in meetings as they interrupt me (and each other), fail to stick to meeting agendas, fail to address pressing issues, etc. I used to find it irritating until I realized that it yields certain benefits for me.

    The way I deal with it is exercise: tai chi, running, and bicycling.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by Anonymous Monk on Dec 30, 2004 at 17:05 UTC
    All I wish for is a 30 hour day - without an increase the number of hours you need to show up for work. The piles of bought, but unread books keep growing. There are so many CPAN modules in my head that need to be freed. There are so many places I need to visit. There's so much untasted food left.

    I trade your country farm and broadband connection for some time. Time for myself. Uninterrupted time. No work, no spouse, no kids, no email to bug me.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by steves (Curate) on Dec 30, 2004 at 18:05 UTC

    To clarify, I agree that the overseas moves don't make sense in many cases. But they are happening. A lot of what companies do has nothing to do with what makes sense long term. Unfortunate, but true.

    I was also much more productive at home when I regularly worked there. The company that allowed that realized this and let people work from almost anywhere. I was fortunate to be just over an hour from the local office, so I had the best of both worlds. At one point, I worked at home only for about 6-8 weeks and it was great. Even now, at my current job, I have a better home office and I usually start my day with a few hours at home rather than going in, even though it's only a 15 minute ride. Modern office environments (cube farms) are pretty awful for productivity in my opinion. But, unfortunately for me, newer management prefers us not to take entire days at home -- something I used to do pretty frequently early on. With the other job, where I worked at home a lot, the company was bought and that all ended. My real point was that the general trend I've seen over the past 5+ years is for telecommuting to be less of an option than it was, at least in my circle of friends.

    I think in terms of going for a dream, you should definitely go for it if you're going to feel unfulfilled not doing so.

      Cubes? You have cubes? My, that'd be an improvement!

      When we moved to this stupid new office on the most expensive street in Prague (mind you, we are just an offshore dev center with no local clients) we were told they'll place tables now and get the barriers later. Now two and a half years later, with four times the space and five times the people do we have barriers? Do we have cubes? Do we have any chance to concentrate?

      Thanks god (whichever) for the time difference! Thanks to this I could shift my working hours and work for some four hours alone (almost) in the office after everyone else left. I do hope the (censored to protect the innocent) who invented openspace offices has a painfull afterlife in hell. And that the walls are painted painfull purple and pink and green and orange and red and all the dreadfull colors americans seem to love so much.

      As far as my dream goes ... I come from a small town, where if you took whatever direction then within ten to twenty minutes you were in woods or fields. Small pocket-size fields, small pocket-size woods, small hills, creeks, ponds. Human sized world.

      Jenda
      We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
      Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
      Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home
         -- P. Simon in Mrs. Robinson

        And I've been told that Prague is so beautifull and those smalls streets and stuff...

        It looks like this flood from few years back haven't affected you at all?

        Getting back offtopic - growing up in Europe or some place like New York, and then moving to some less densely populated place (not going off-grid, just moving to some smaller version of newyork...) could do the trick.

        Notice like few posts above someone mentions that living 30m away from center is unbearable - it usually takes 30-45m to drive through city. So moving to Toronto, living on 100acres and driving only 30m to the city may sound like a dream come true.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by stvn (Monsignor) on Dec 30, 2004 at 19:01 UTC

    As far as the multi-tasking thing goes, I am basically glad to have finally found a use for my severe ADD. When I was younger I spent a lot of time day dreaming and wandering off on tangents, and generally being an angst ridden teenager. It was not really fun to be honest. Now that I have gotten older, I have learned to organize the chaos a little better and I am not "happy" without having more than a few tasks on the to-do list. This is not to say I don't still enjoy life, spend time with the wife and kids, pursuing hobbies, etc. I do that as well, it's how I relax. But if my mind is not occupied, I get bored, and if I get bored, I get restless, and then things start to go downhill from there. Keeping busy is a good thing, for me it's part of the "balance" i need it my life.

    As far as the "rat race" thing. I basically left NYC to get away from it, and moved to the Connecticut subburbs where things move much slower. I also quit my high paying job at an advertising company and took a big paycut to get where I am now (a small consultancy). I knew it would be a good move because I knew the owner of the company valued non-work time himself and ran a pretty mellow shop.

    As for "how it is affecting me", well right now I feel I have struck that balance, so things are good. But when we lived in NYC, my daughter (4 years old at the time) used to think I "lived at work" and only visited sometimes. To put it plainly, that sucked. When we found out we were going to have twins, I knew that we needed to make a big change and make sacrifices.

    -stvn
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by zentara (Archbishop) on Dec 30, 2004 at 19:56 UTC
    The "rat race" is the "bane of human existence". I hide in my basement all day to avoid being blasted with polluted air and noise. I pray everyday for the end of this wasteful car-driving frenzy.

    One thing about moving to the country...and I've seen it happen. You move, thinking you have this great "telecommuting job", then it ends, and you are forced into a daily commute of a couple of hours each way. Then you realize the benefit of clean centralized cities. America has destroyed the cities with cars, and I envy the scenes from European cities where people are actually walking around and enjoying things, instead of riding by with their car windows rolled up so they don't have to breathe their own exhaust.


    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. flash japh
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by geektron (Curate) on Dec 30, 2004 at 23:13 UTC
    funny ... i "dropped out" of the race, or at least tried to, a few years back. moved out of Silicon Valley, moved to a smaller (though not backwater) city, and tried to start over again. i was tele-slack^M^M^M^M^Mcommuting, flew back for meetings, and it all seemed OK.

    then i started missing the things bigger cities have to offer. like choices in nightlife. like a real diversity in people. like places to go at 4am ...

    and now, i'm working on moving BACK to a city that has a race. or at least trying to.

    i got some of my life back from my career while here, but now ... i need *more* of it. i'd love to just go back to 1099 consulting or something ... but it's not really the time for that anymore, in some places.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by qq (Hermit) on Dec 30, 2004 at 23:17 UTC

    I just moved from a scottish fishing village to nearish london. I miss the countryside, stars, trees and peace (but not the fish stench).

    I telecommute. I'm satisfied with the time and freedom it gives me. But my career is stagnating. Because telecomuting jobs are hard to come by I have to take what I can get. Financially this is frustrating. Worse is that I take jobs where I learn little.

    If I didn't have a family I might try short/medium term contracting, and travel as much as I could. As it is I'm wondering if I'll ever make enough money to afford two homes - or if I can get a part time job on a farm.

      Oh, and I was planning on moving to Scotland this or maybe next year ( I'm from one of new EU countries, supposedly Scotland welcomes us), I'd probably aim for Eddinburgh, as they say they've got jobs for UNIX admins there...

      All in all this whole thread seems to suggest that moving anywhere in general is not a very smart move, you've got contacts and reputation where you already are, and supposedly the best way of gaining successfull employment is networking, how are you going to network in totaly strange city/country?

      People loosing their telecommuting jobs and having problems finding any other employment confirms that sad true.

        Actually a unix admin job in Edinburgh is definitely viable. I've seen lots on jobserve.co.uk. However it's hard to get a perl programming job in Edinburgh. Its ok if you've got decent C or Java, but not by itself. There is an Edinburgh perl mongers as well, but the list is very low traffic.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by steves (Curate) on Dec 31, 2004 at 00:33 UTC

    Part of me wants to live in a real city. As it stands now, I'm 15-20 miles from a large on in suburbia. There are plenty of 24 hour places and it's an easy drive to the city, but the points people make about living in a city are good ones.

    I think it's human nature to always yearn for something different. Different always seems better, at least until you get there. And sometimes it actually ends up being better. I admire people who aren't afraid to make huge changes in their lives to at least try new things. I've found that since having kids, I'm less likely to do that any more.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by mkirank (Chaplain) on Dec 31, 2004 at 06:17 UTC
    My few cents
    One way of solving a problem is create a bigger problem (take up bigger challenges) :-) ...
    when things start to get bad or you feel there is no time for other things (blah , blah ,blah).
    What i do at times is just sit back and think of 9/11 or the recent Tsunami that hit Our part of the world
    You do not know what will happen in 1 year from now (this is especially true for those who do not like change)
    Things change in a second
    so Live in the present and do what you like (If you *really* want to work from the country side do it ,You can always come back if you dont like it)
    remember what you have, there are lots of people out there who would love to be in your shoes .
    Happy new year to all
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by martinvi (Monk) on Dec 31, 2004 at 10:13 UTC

    What "rat-race"?

    There are a lot of people around, striving for this and that, doing stupid thing and -- dying at the age of $age. Observing this simple fact, I've stopped racing. Going from dork to schnook, getting promote from dimwit to Chief Assistant Dimwit isn't worth a single second of my life. My dream is the ... improvement? enlightment? whatever! ... of myself.

    Not to adherence to things, situations, people etc. I like. Not to decline things etc. I dislike. It happens every moment. Right now. Here. And I strive toward that calm and gleefull serenity to enjoy every single moment without thoughs of its contents.

    That's a long way to go and it's much more important to me than all and every "rat-race". Also, it's a little bit hard to my co-workers and generally to people, but then it's part of that enduring learning to make it more enjoyable to them also.

    Hmpf ... that's a lot of sugar for that little cup of coffee.

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by Hena (Friar) on Dec 31, 2004 at 13:51 UTC
    Hmm... my problem is understanding what does the place of living matter in this. Perhaps it comes from neve being in "big city". Here, i'm living next and working in the biggest city Helsinki, population ~0.5M. This is not annying to me. I have a job, which I enjoy doing and get paid pretty good. Noteworthy is that I probably would not take a job, which would pay twice as good, but wasn't as enjoyable.

    I quess that my view on these things is that most things annoy you as much as you let them. If i want to sleep happily during night, I put my cell phone on silent for example. Or even if I have a laptop, which to work with. I don't do work at home unless i count it as working time (eg target is 40 hours per week). I I work one week 50 hours, then I probably do 30 hour week later on and so on.

    Another thing that is important is vacation. In vacation one should NOT work pretty much in any circumstances. I may come to my office to read mails and web, but I won't answer to work related matters. Happily here we have (mandatory by law after 1 full year of employment) 6 week vacation per year so one can have a month long summer holiday :). And during holiday its important to have days, when you do NOT have to do anything. Just hang out and do whatever (almost :)) comes to your head.
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by spq (Friar) on Dec 31, 2004 at 18:06 UTC

    It's something we have been considering a lot lately. Personally, I'm looking for some happy medium. A house in a basically rural environment, but a reasonable (30-60 minutes) commute to a small college town. Currently we have our eyes on Northern Vermont in the vicinity of Burlington.

    Being close to a small to medium city with a decent college population generally means there is stuff to do (restaurants, theater, good pubs, movies, etc.). And it takes me 30-45+ minutes to get into Boston and park to do anything now and can be such a pain we frequently pass; and we only live 5 miles from Boston! And if telecommuting and consulting dry up for a while, I could hopefully find at least a moderate salary (for the area) doing some basic IT work in town.

    So for now, I'm trying to build up a consulting business, looking for good telecommuting opportunities, and planning for a few years down the road. Maybe it will happen, maybe not. But for now, it's a nice daydream! (go to your happy place Sean ;)

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on Jan 03, 2005 at 15:12 UTC
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by punch_card_don (Curate) on Jan 03, 2005 at 17:50 UTC
    The most important thing is to know yourself, and continue to know yourself as you evolve with age.

    I can still remember in my twenties and early thirties speaking ill of "those rural losers", being pre-occupied with nightlife, variety, urban excitement, being at "the centre of it all"....and so I clung to my city life.

    But as work exposed me to life outside of the big city, and to life outside Canada, and as I matured, my point of view changed. What I once thought was 'cool' increasingly seemed to me to be nothing more than cheap distractions designed to fill the void for those with no real life and to fill the pockets of those who provide the distractions. The boringness of suburban and rural life increasingly seemed to offer the peace, the space, the contact with nature, for true personal and spiritual development. The homogeneity of the population of small towns that, as a good well-indoctrinated son of the "diversity God", I had once spat upon as throw-backs to badder times, increasingly appeared to offer a place where I too could finally belong to a community of "my kind" just like the immigrants who huddle in their enclaves in the big cities, having grown tired of a lifetime of apology for my non-ethnic heritage. It was a difficult thing to let go the feeling of being where the action is. But when I finally moved to the country 7 years ago, it felt like coming home even though I had never lived there. And I don't miss the city one second.

    On the contrary, I find myself developing the same disdain for things urban that I once had for things rural. In other words, know yourself and find what suits who you are at this period in your life.

    That needs to be interpreted two ways: it's also important not to get into a situation that doesn't suit you. Life in the country, life in the suburbs, life in another country - they are very very different. I've lived and/or worked in a bunch of places and countries, many overseas, and I learned that life is made up of the little daily things. It's one thing to "appreciate" someone else's ways for a while, but another to imagine you're pretty much destined to adopt them as your ways if you're going to stay in a place and get along. It's hard to remain a trendy metrosexual in coaltown USA; it's hard to develop empathy and complicity with people in mainstream society in a socialist country if you're a die-hard capitalist; it's hard to take anyone or anything seriously in San Francisco if you're a true Okie from Muskokie. And there's nothing worse than real "city folk" moving to the country and then complaining about exactly what makes it the country. Just remember, the nice scenery also comes with farmers spreading manure, a more relaxed attitude to application of 'silly city laws' like gun control and traffic laws, a more fervent respect for the region's heritage and roots and traditional values ....you should be comfortable with these things or plan to find yoursleves very alone.

    On the practical level, I think few companies hire directly into telecommuting jobs. Generally it's an apple they give employees who have proven themselves in the office. I solved that problem by working freelance. It's not for everyone - you have to like your work, not mind working completely alone, be able to keep your focus, be comfortable with a high degree of revenue insecurity, have back-up plans for retirement and benefits, and not mind doing sales to new clients. You pretty much have to have some form of security, personal wealth, or a rock-solid client list from a previous professional activity first. But for those suited to it (there's that word again), it can offer incredible freedom to work when, where and how you like. Me, I work about 30-hours per week and use the rest of the time for other income or capital generating pursuits - I might rebuild a car and sell it one month, then take on a landscaping project in the summer, I do plumbing and drywall sometimes...it makes for a very varied life that never gets stale, is 100% of my own making, and provides immense personal satisfaction. All that comes of course with a price - I don't have stock options. I'll never be CIO of a large corporation. But I'm pretty confident I'm a damn sight happier on a daily basis than most CIO wannabees.

    Forget that fear of gravity,
    Get a little savagery in your life.
Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by legato (Monk) on Jan 05, 2005 at 19:20 UTC

    As an accomplished meditator, and one who has lived in both urban and rural areas, I find the city extremly to my liking. Then again, it is good to get out to the country for a while.

    You see, when one learns to meditate properly, there is a silence within that is far more consuming than a monastic type of silence. The interesting thing of being surrounded by "silence", as in a monestary, is that one discovers the world is not really a silent kind of place. I spend a week house-sitting for a friend out in the middle of nowhere, and every day I got out and walked in the forest for hours, sitting and thinking under the trees. There was no "artificial" noise, but it was as noisy as any city -- just in a different way. The more I did this, the more I could hear, and I realized there are few physical places that one could entirely escape.

    So, I learned that turning inward was the only real answer. Good thing, too -- I get the conveniences and advantages of city living, but I never feel pressured by the "rat race". Turning inward sort of makes one realize that none of the daily stresses really matter all that much, and it becomes easy to dismiss them -- the phrase "leave work at work" becomes possible. And, even at work, I find that I have little or no stress; not because I have a low-stress job, but because I can no longer jusitify being consumed by the stresses of the job.

    Anima Legato
    .oO all things connect through the motion of the mind

Re: (OT): Human Multi-tasking
by Mr_Person (Hermit) on Jan 06, 2005 at 17:06 UTC

    I recently read a book that I'd recommend called "Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology," by Eric Brende. Brende was pursuing a graduate degree at MIT and taking some classes studying the influence of technology on society. The more he learned, the more he disliked what technology was doing to the culture. About that time, he happened to meet a man who lived in an Amish style community, and he decided to try living their lifestyle for 18 months. Their rules about technology were even more strict than most Amish (no motors of any kind), but their rules were imposed not because of their religion, but because they purposefuly set out to live with less technology.

    It was an interesting read and really made me think about the purpose of technology in our lives. For instance, think about how much time we spend making various "time saving" devices work, does it really end up giving us more time? I found that thought particularly interesting because my whole career (the computer industry) is based on maintaining machines that were supposed to make things easier for us.

      For instance, think about how much time we spend making various "time saving" devices work, does it really end up giving us more time?

      This is a very interesting point. The whole goal behidn "time saving" devices is that the time spent setting them up is amortized over each successive use. So, let's say you have a process that takes 10 seconds. If you can cut it down to 5 seconds, but take 50 seconds to set up that new process, you need to do your process more than 10 times to see any savings. If you do it less than 10, you actually have lost time.

      This is a very big part of XP programming, particularly YAGNI. If you only do the simplest thing that could possibly work, then you haven't spent time that may not be amortized. However, if you do something 2-3 times and can reasonably expect that it will be done more times (like different reports, similar classes, etc), then you should spend time setting up a framework because that time will be amortized in the short-term.

      However, especially outside programming, figuring out the cost-benefit ratio of time-saving devices is very tricky because we don't know how many more times we will need to run that process. Washing machines are easy, but is a leaf-blower?

      Being right, does not endow the right to be rude; politeness costs nothing.
      Being unknowing, is not the same as being stupid.
      Expressing a contrary opinion, whether to the individual or the group, is more often a sign of deeper thought than of cantankerous belligerence.
      Do not mistake your goals as the only goals; your opinion as the only opinion; your confidence as correctness. Saying you know better is not the same as explaining you know better.

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