Sharper

Focus on a sharper life every day
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parislemon:

Just in time for the Labor Day holiday in the United States, Clive Thompson dives into the thing that will ruin the holiday for so many:

Why would less email mean better productivity? Because, as Ms. Deal found in her research, endless email is an enabler. It often masks terrible management practices.

When employees shoot out a fusillade of miniature questions via email, or “cc” every team member about each niggling little decision, it’s because they don’t feel confident to make a decision on their own. Often, Ms. Deal found, they’re worried about getting in trouble or downsized if they mess up.

This seems exactly right. I’d venture to guess that most email that is sent in the work environment doesn’t need to be sent. But it is as a way to cover one’s own ass.

As Thompson continues:

In contrast, when employees are actually empowered, they make more judgment calls on their own. They also start using phone calls and face-to-face chats to resolve issues quickly, so they don’t metastasize into email threads the length of “War and Peace.”

This is basic behavioral economics. When email is seen as an infinite resource, people abuse it. If a corporation constrains its use, each message becomes more valuable — and employees become more mindful of how and when they write.

So maybe the idea isn’t to limit the characters one can write in an email, maybe it’s to give people a quota of total emails sent each month. If they hit it, better find another way to message your colleagues. Or better yet, work harder not to hit the limit!

Most email is nonsense. But what if you could run out of it?

digithoughts:

USB Type-C Connector Specifications Finalized | AnandTech

Love it and hate it — USB cables are part of our gadget-filled lives. Now it’s finally time for a much welcome upgrade to the connectors featuring a smaller and reversible plug orientation.

As some people know, it can take several tries to get a USB cable to connect, and has resulted in more than a few jokes being made about it.

And more than a few tantrums I guess.

AnandTech lists some of the changes:

  • Completely new design but with backwards compatibility
  • Similar to the size of USB 2.0 Micro-B (standard Smartphone charging cable)
  • Slim enough for mobile devices, but robust enough for laptops and tablets
  • Reversible plug orientation for ease of connection
  • Scalable power charging with connectors being able to supply up to 5 A and cables supporting 3 A for up to 100 watts of power
  • Designed for future USB performance requirements
  • Certified for USB 3.1 data rates (10 Gbps)
  • Receptacle opening: ~8.4 mm x ~2.6 mm
  • Durability of 10,000 connect-disconnect cycles
  • Improved EMI and RFI mitigation features

AnandTech writes that since the standard is just now finalized it will be some time before we see the new connectors in production devices.

Could we get a standard that doesn’t look ugly? Fine, reversible is good. But why must USB look clunky, like something designed by a Soviet committee in the 70’s.

Sigh… Maybe they should just copy Lightning from Apple and be done.

There is so much badness in this article it’s hard to know where to start. The idea that the average American drinks 450 cans of soda pop yearly is just sad.

But worse:

"Next year the company hopes for a national rollout of Fairlife, milk in which the molecules have been disassembled and then reformed to create different variations (high-protein, lactose-free milk) that taste like the regular thing."

Rearranging molecules, yummy! And very healthy I’m sure.

Op-Ed: Microsoft layoff e-mail typifies inhuman corporate insensitivity
Lee Hutchinson, arstechnica.com

Satya Nadella and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop during happier times.As a veteran of the aerospace industry, I’m very familiar with layoff notices. During the almost-decade I spent working for Boeing, I survived probably a dozen major reductions i…

One of the more interesting things being missed in the Microsoft layoffs is that many people are hoping to get picked. It’s the only way to cut the cord, get off the gravy train and go do that startup or move to another company. “Pick me” has been heard more than once.

Does it exist?

I use an Android-based phone. And an iPad. And a Mac. And sometimes a PC.

I’ve tried all the candidates I can find so far and they all fail.

Evernote doesn’t sync between clients in a secure way. And I define secure as “let me pick my cloud service be it Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, or other.”

OneNote fails so badly here, the Mac version only syncs with OneDrive. Um…. Simply allow for local file storage and we might have a winner. It’s a great app in many ways.

Outline has no support for tables. That will do it. Still angry it took me $20 to learn that lesson.

IA Writer is a lovely, simple writing tool…. for Mac and iPad. No Android version. Oh… And no table support but the UI is nice enough I could forgive them.

Anyone? And no, Office 365 and Google Apps are a deal-breaker, same reason as Evernote. I want my data where I want it to be.

thisistheverge:

A chat with Microsoft’s CEO: why Apple and Google haven’t won yet
“Guess what, you’re just not a consumer.”

Good discussion from Satya. I really hope he does turn the ship around. What you use to solve work problems matters and the blending of home/work is still in its infancy.

Email is a 40-year-old technology that is not going away for very good reasons — it’s the cockroach of the Internet.
Jason Hirschhorn, talking to David Carr for his column on the rise (again?) of email newsletters. (via parislemon)

Olive Garden Is Evidence Of A Huge Problem In The Economy
Jillian Berman, huffingtonpost.com

One restau­rant oper­a­tor has just given us a small win­dow into a huge prob­lem with the Amer­i­can econ­o­my.

Dar­d­en Restau­rants, the Orlando-based pur­vey­or of sit-down food chains, announced its fourth-quarter earn­ings on Fri­day,…

It might be the case that declining sales at Olive Garden indicate a reduction in wealth in the middle class. Or it might be that the food is terrible and people are eating elsewhere. Hard to tell from this “article”.