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Tuesday, September 11, 2007Robot Dance
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I’m sure you’ve heard of the Pareto principle, known also as the 80/20 rule. While I don’t think that the percentages of that rule are exact, the principle is true: you should focus on the few things that get you the most benefit.
But while that’s nice in principle, in practice it’s hardly ever done. Why? Because we have too much thrown at us at once, and we’re too busy juggling everything coming at us to take a minute and evaluate what’s essential, what gets the most benefit for the least amount of effort, and what we should really focus on.
There’s no systematic way to focus on the essential stuff, and eliminate the rest.
Until now. I’ve developed a system I call Haiku Productivity, based on some good ideas by others (and I won’t be able to name them all, but know that I am indebted). The key to Haiku Productivity is to limit yourself to an arbitrary but small number of things, forcing yourself to focus on the important stuff and eliminate all else.
Haiku: Limited but powerful
To understand this simple concept, think about the form of the haiku (the common version, at least): it’s poetry in 17 syllables, with 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables (I know there are variations and this is only a rough definition, but that’s not important to this article). The point is that the form of the haiku is extremely limited, to a small number of lines and syllables.
What this does is forces the poet to focus on only those words that mean the most to the poem. While other forms of poetry can go on for pages, haiku are short and compact. As a result, haiku can be some of the most powerful poems in any language.
With such a limited form, you cannot just use any amount of words you want to express a concept. You have to focus on one small but essential concept, and as a result you accomplish a lot with a few syllables. That’s what Haiku Productivity is.
Limited but Productive
So how does this apply to productivity? Well, if you think this will allow you to accomplish twice as many tasks, you’re wrong. You’ll accomplish fewer tasks. But you will most likely be more effective, because you will have to choose only the essential tasks — the ones that will give you the most benefit for your limited time.
What are the other benefits of Haiku Productivity, besides increased effectiveness? Besides forcing you to focus on essential tasks that have a large Return on Investment (ROI), it forces you to eliminate the non-essential tasks. No other system forces you to do that. It forces you to make the best use of your time. It forces you to limit the time you spend on things, which means you have more time for other things that are important to you, and you are able to focus on what you want to focus on, instead of everything coming at you.
It simplifies your life and makes you less stressed out.
Haiku Productivity: Place Limits on Everything
For those who enjoyed Zen To Done (ZTD), this is an extension of those concepts.
The rule of Haiku Productivity is: put limits on everything you do.
That’s it. One rule. What are the things you do? It’s different for everyone, but common ones might be: email, RSS feeds, goals, time wasters, tasks.
What limits should you set? It’s different for everyone. And it’s arbitrary (there are no logical limits for anything — it’s necessarily arbitrary) but based on your own experience and experimentation.
Four in 10 Canadians, particularly younger ones, would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant spending more time with their families, according to a poll released Monday.
The split between genders was fairly even, with 38 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women saying they would accept a 20 per cent drop in pay for 20 per cent more time with their loved ones. Three in 10 Baby Boomers would make that tradeoff, compared with just over half of younger adults aged 18 to 29.
The poll of 2,006 adults, conducted in mid-August by Environics Research for ADP Canada, also found that respondents were willing to consider giving up some of their wealth for a greener future. Half of the Canadians polled said they would consider donating 10 per cent of their paycheques if it meant a healthier and cleaner environment for their grandchildren.
Again, the older generation was less likely to consider doing so with 43 per cent of those over the age of 50 saying they would make such a sacrifice versus 65 per cent of those over 18 and under 30.
But just because Canadians love their families, it doesn't mean they are 100 per cent honest with them. More than one in five Canadians – 22 per cent – said they hide certain purchases from family members. Women who do so are most likely to squirrel away clothes while men are most likely to hide electronics.
Nearly six in 10 Canadians – 58 per cent – say their current financial situation is better than that of their parents when they were the same age. Not surprisingly, 69 per cent of Albertans felt that way, compared with 52 per cent of British Columbians.
Respondents were, however, split on whether the next generation would be better off when they reach the same age: 36 per cent said they would be, 32 per cent said they would be the same while 26 per cent said their children will be worse off.
The mystery of how we read a sentence has been unlocked by scientists.
Previously, researchers thought that, when reading, both eyes focused on the same letter of a word. But a UK team has found this is not always the case.
In fact, almost 50% of the time, each of our eyes locks on to different letters simultaneously.
At the BA Festival of Science in York, the researchers also revealed that our brain can fuse two separate images to obtain a clear view of a page.
Sophisticated eye-tracking equipment allowed the team to pinpoint which letter a volunteer's eyes focused on, when reading 14-point font from one metre away.
Rather than the eyes moving smoothly over text, they make small jerky movements, focusing on a particular word for an instant and then moving along the sentence. Periods when the eyes are still are called fixations.
Professor Simon Liversedge, from the University of Southampton, said: "We found that in a very substantial number of fixations that people make when they read, they aren't looking at the same letter."
Instead, the eyes often focussed on different letters in the same word, about two characters apart, he said.
"They could be uncrossed, in the sense that the two lines of sight are not crossed when you look at a word, or alternatively the two lines of sight may be crossed," he added.
The team's results demonstrated that both eyes lock on to the same letter 53% of the time; for 39% of the time they see different letters with uncrossed eyes; and for 8% of the time the eyes are crossing to focus on different letters.
A follow-up experiment with the eye-tracking equipment showed that we only see one clear image when reading because our brain fuses the different images from our eyes together.
The tests showed that we use the information from both eyes, rather than our brain suppressing one image and only processing the other.
Professor Liversedge said: "A comprehensive understanding of the psychological processes underlying reading is vital if we are to develop better methods of teaching children to read and offer remedial treatments for those with reading disorders such as dyslexia."
For obvious reasons, scientists long have thought that salt water couldn't be burned.
So when an Erie man announced he'd ignited salt water with the radio-frequency generator he'd invented, some thought it a was a hoax.
John Kanzius, a Washington County native, tried to desalinate seawater with a generator he developed to treat cancer, and it caused a flash in the test tube.
Within days, he had the salt water in the test tube burning like a candle, as long as it was exposed to radio frequencies.
His discovery has spawned scientific interest in using the world's most abundant substance as clean fuel, among other uses.
Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, held a demonstration last week at the university's Materials Research Laboratory in State College, to confirm what he'd witnessed weeks before in an Erie lab.
"It's true, it works," Dr. Roy said. "Everyone told me, 'Rustum, don't be fooled. He put electrodes in there.' "
But there are no electrodes and no gimmicks, he said.
Dr. Roy said the salt water isn't burning per se, despite appearances. The radio frequency actually weakens bonds holding together the constituents of salt water -- sodium chloride, hydrogen and oxygen -- and releases the hydrogen, which, once ignited, burns continuously when exposed to the RF energy field. Mr. Kanzius said an independent source measured the flame's temperature, which exceeds 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, reflecting an enormous energy output.
As such, Dr. Roy, a founding member of the Materials Research Laboratory and expert in water structure, said Mr. Kanzius' discovery represents "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years."
But researching its potential will take time and money, he said. One immediate question is energy efficiency: The energy the RF generator uses vs. the energy output from burning hydrogen.
Dr. Roy said he's scheduled to meet tomorrow with U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Defense officials in Washington to discuss the discovery and seek research funding.
Mr. Kanzius said he powered a Stirling, or hot air, engine with salt water. But whether the system can power a car or be used as an efficient fuel will depend on research results.
"We will get our ideas together and check this out and see where it leads," Dr. Roy said. "The potential is huge.
"In the life sciences, the role of water is infinite, and this guy is doing something new in using the most important and most abundant material on the face of the earth."
Mr. Kanzius' discovery was an accident.
He developed the RF generator as a novel cancer treatment. His research in targeting cancer cells with metallic nanoparticles then destroying them with radio-frequency is proceeding at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and at the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Manuscripts updating the cancer research are in preparation for publication in coming months, Mr. Kanzius said.
While Mr. Kanzius was demonstrating how his generator heated nanoparticles, someone noted condensation inside the test tube and suggested he try using his equipment to desalinate water.
So, Mr. Kanzius said, he put sea water in a test tube, then trained his machine on it, producing an unexpected spark. In time he and laboratory owners struck a match and ignited the water, which continued burning as long as it remained in the radio-frequency field.
During several trials, heat from burning hydrogen grew hot enough to melt the test tube, he said. Dr. Roy's tests on the machine last week provided further evidence that the process is releasing and burning hydrogen from the water. Tests on different water solutions and concentrations produced various temperatures and flame colors.
"This is the most abundant element in the world. It is everywhere," Dr. Roy said of salt water. "Seeing it burn gives me chills."