E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Work Life Integration

Directory of RSI Software

Every now and then I always keep trying to collect a number of different online resources and helpful tips on something so important for all of us, sitting in front of our computers, as helping prevent RSI, that is, Repetitive Strain Injury. Far too many times I have been exposed to a number of different colleagues and friends who have been suffering from such disorder to different degree that over time I have grown to become more and more conscious about trying to prevent it. So that is why, whenever I bump into helpful resources on the subject, I feel like linking to them hoping that others would be able to benefit from them in order to try to avoid RSI.

And that is why I wanted to create this weblog post today and point you to a recent entry that Jeremy Wagstaff, over at The Loose Wire Blog, created under the title Director of RSI Software. In there you would be able to find a whole lot of different resources and RSI related software that would certainly help you get some more awareness of what you could do to prevent such disorder. Here is a quick rundown on how that software tries to help:

1. "Working out how long you’ve been at the keyboard and reminds you to take breaks;
2. Suggesting exercises for you to perform while you’re taking those breaks;
3. Records macros (shortcuts) to specific tasks you do a lot so you don’t have to use the keyboard as much (especially keystroke combinations);
4. Reduces mouse usage by allowing you to control the mouse from the keyboard (including dragging)
5. Reducing mouse clicks by automating the process (move the cursor over something you want to click on and hold it there, and the software figures out you want to click and does it for you)"

As I said, going through the entire article will help you check out on some of the different options available out there and how you can get the most out of each of them. Oh, and if you are wondering about what my favourite piece of RSI software is I would have to agree with Jeremy as well: Workrave. A very ease to install – use that gives you multiple options to self-regulate your own pauses according to your own needs and quite unobtrusive when it is not needed. And when it is needed with the different breaks, the best there is. It will block your keyboard and will gently advise you to go away from the computer and do something else, like stretching or whatever else.

And best part of it is that it is freeware, so you wouldn’t have to pay any money in order to keep you healthy while staying in front of your computer for all those hours. I tell you, if you haven’t tried out Workrave just yet and if you are starting to feel that little tingling then I strongly advise you download it today and get to use it right away. And in the mean time you can also go and check out the different  options suggested by Jeremy, which I am sure would be able to provide some really good tips, too 

(Kudos to Jeremy for sharing this helpful weblog post with us all and for digging out all these interesting and worth while exploring tools to help us keep sharp at what we do. Thanks, Jeremy!)

Tags: , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

So Close, Yet So Far – About the Impact of Technology in Our Daily Interactions

Fancy doing some really interesting and thought provoking reading on the always fascinating subject of technology’s impact in everyone’s day to day life? Yes, I know, I bet you would. Check out then Thomas Friedman‘s So close, yet so far, over at International Herald Tribune, where he actually gets to share a great story on the impact of technology on him and those around him, specially in a recent trip to Paris where he actually got to interact, if you could say that, with a local taxi driver. I can certainly recommend highly for you to go and read the article because in it you would be able to find little gems like this one:

"[…] The driver and I had been together for an hour, and between the two of us we had been doing six different things. He was driving, talking on his phone and watching a video. I was riding, working on my laptop and listening to my iPod

There was only one thing we never did: talk to each other."

Or this other one:

"I relate all this because it illustrates something I’ve been feeling more and more lately – that technology is dividing us as much as uniting us. Yes, technology can make the far feel near. But it can also make the near feel very far […]"

And there are plenty more! I am sure that by the time you finish off its reading you would agree to some extent with what Thomas mentions and perhaps you could even relate to it, too. I know I have. Not here where I live, though. It is a rather small place still to be noticed by technology with such impact, but certainly in most of my travelling done over the last few years more and more I am noticing that, too.

However, the key message I got from Thomas’ article is that, contrary to what he seems to state, I do not necessarily feel that is a bad thing, actually. Yes, I can imagine when situations like that could be rather annoying as they facilitate providing a strong sense of ignoring those around you, but at the same time there are times when you are actually much better on your own and technology may be providing you with the perfect excuse for it. The key message to me though is to find a balance, because like I have quoted a few months back: "We create our own distractions and just need to learn to manage them".

So that is the whole point to me about Thomas’ article, that sometimes it is good to be left alone thinking about your own thoughts and some other times it is good to talk (with others). The key thing is to be able to distinguish when to do what and for what purpose and whom is it going to have an impact on. Because whether we like it or not, Thomas’s article is not bringing forward anything new in this scenario. For quite some time now, there have always been plenty of distractions around us and it has been up to us to decide when we would need to focus and when not. And if it has happened in the past for a number of years I just cannot see how technology is going to have such an impact. If it is used properly, that is.

As a wrap up to this weblog post let me now point you to a letter to the editor where a couple of folks have been commenting as well on this particular article. Check out Letters: Being good, Technology and Society. And specially read the commentary from Rhonda Kelner, whose last paragraph reads as follows:

"IPods, cellphones and laptops should certainly be shut-off at times, and used with great caution, or not at all in some situations, but these gadgets don’t necessarily stymie human interaction and attention. Indeed they often stimulate conversations about technology."

Just brilliant!

Tags: , , , , ,

1 vote
Read More »

That’s What We All Need: A Hug

Here is some Friday fun for you, but with a message. Too good to miss out on it, actually. Something that you know that if done more often it would change things big time for everyone out there! Yes, I know, a strong message, actually, and one that would make you think twice next time you go out in the streets. At least, it did for me and perhaps the perfect way to get the weekend started …

Courtesy from Robin Good (Worth while reading his weblog post, too!)

Tags: , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

Out and About in the Vast Ocean

Sometimes I eventually get to watch different short video clips that leave me speechless, or deep into some further thoughts further and beyond about … stuff. I am sure you have bumped into a few of those as well. Here is the latest one (Taken from a TV commercial) that got me thinking for a while. All I can say is sometimes putting things into perspective is just priceless:

(Don’t you just love the tunes going with it, too ? I surely do !)

Tags: , ,

0 votes
Read More »

10 Tips on Leading a Balanced Life

I know that in the past I have been neglecting one of the other subjects that I get to discuss over here in elsua.net every now and then. Actually if you look into its own category there are not many weblog posts in it, compared to others, so I guess it is time now to do some catching up. Yes, I am talking about the ever challenging Work / Life Balance that, specially, remote workers, whether at a customer location, or while travelling or while at home, we tend to ignore every now and till it hits us big time. Yes, indeed, one of the main challenges that distributed knowledge workers face nowadays, considering how pervasive access to the Internet through broadband has become, is to actually be able to separate successfully life from work. Yes, I know, not easy. I am sure that most of us out there have been facing a number of difficult situations in this respect and we could always do with some more tips on how to strike that balance, right? I know I would be one of those. So that is why a couple of days ago, while going through my daily dose of RSS feeds, I bumped into this particular weblog post by Allen over at Life is a Journal or Self Help and Personal Development for Lazy People and thought I would share it over here as it has got some very interesting points: 10 Tips on Leading a Balanced Life.

As I said, in that particular weblog post you would find lots of wisdom and different tips on how you can master that balance between work / life and I must say that from the whole list of them there were a few that resounded loud and clear at home. So I thought I would list them over here with a quick commentary on my own experience trying to look for that beloved balance:

  1. Go home from work on time: This is certainly difficult for those of us working from home all the time, but I have learned to appreciate the value of a home office door that gets closed at a certain point of the day and which will separate your work from your private life. A big thumbs up for the home office door! Thus use it!
  2. Don’t be a yes person: To be honest this is the one single tip of the whole lot that I haved struggled with the most in my recent past. I know all about the Power of Saying No (I am getting very good as mastering it nowadays although I still need to get a PhD on it) and how gratifying it may become at some point in time, but I am finding out that sometimes it is not as easy as what people think. So the sooner you start working on it the better off you would be. Just say No! (Already feeling better?)
  3. Go to bed and get up at the same time everyday: Oh, yes, this one was also another big hitter with myself till it actually got me. I was just getting too little sleep (Yes, I know, too many things to do, to read, to digest, to dive into …) and all of a sudden my body complained. Ever since then I make a conscious effort to sleep, at least, 7 hours a day going to bed and getting up at the same time and I cannot stress out how much better you actually feel about yourself and the things around you. So go and get some sleep!
  4. Slow down: Oh dear, it looks like someone was reading my mind on this one. I must say that I was very bad at doing this back up to not long ago, but for the last two and a half years things have changed dramatically in this area for myself. And for the better. I tend to appreciate more the little tiny things around us, and appreciate those little precious moments that otherwise would go by unnoticed. And if you have had a chance to check my Flickr account you would be able to see some of that. Thus, like a good old friend of mine would say, "piano, piano, arrivamo lontano".
  5. Don’t buy into the culture around you if you don’t want to: "I am a human being and unique with my own feelings and needs". Amen to that! Be yourself and stick to it!
  6. Create your own sub-culture involving your friends and family: Ahhh. those nature rambles! Oh, remember, you only have got one family and a bunch of friends, treasure them!
  7. Recognise you have the right to be healthier than those around you: This is just so true ! You cannot imagine what inertia can do to you in this respect. Your own health is perhaps the most precious gift we have all been provided with, so why waste it, right? I remember the times when my eating habits were completely different than those I try to stick around with nowadays. Sticking to regular eating times and exercise on a daily basis can do miracles, I tell you. They did with me, which is probably why I am sticking around with them till today. Just do it!
  8. Do something meaningful with your spare time: "Find out what skills you have (everyone has them!) and see how you could use those skills to help others." What are you waiting for ? Put them to the test and dive in!
  9. Let go of the need to buy the next big thing: I didn’t realise about this one till I actually read that particular weblog post and it is just so true. I succumbed to that temptation a couple of times already and it wasn’t easy. Thank goodness it has quieted down a bit now and it will be a long while before I would have those cravings despite all of the different gadgets that are flowing around, like the latest Sony Mylo. Somehow I just feel that this time around I will pass. Why bother, right? What is the point?
  10. Develop compassion, patience and tolerance for your fellow people: This is just so true ! And something that I have mentioned already a few times already. It is all about nurturing relationships with others, work with them to become better at what you do. I know, not an easy thing, but if only we would all take a few minutes a day to do this I am sure things would be a whole lot better. In every single aspect, nurture who you are and who you connect with. For your / own good.

As I said, mastering the art of striking a good balance between work and life is not an easy thing, we all know that. But with tips like the ones Allen has put together I bet that the challenge would be less so. If you would want to, that is, because after all it would be up to us all to reach it and continue with things as is. So what would it be then for you ? Reached that balance already or are you still struggling?

Tags: , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »

Global InnovationJam Is Now Over!

After 76 hours of uninterrupted and frenetic activity. After 53.000 participants (IBMers and their family members and IBM’s customers and business partners) got together to share over 37.000 posts spread around four different Forums and after nearly 3 million web pages viewed and about 67 participating companies in addition to IBM the Global InnovationJam is now over ! Yes, indeed it is all finished ! Well, at least, for now. Earlier on today the first phase of the InnovationJam just concluded after a mind-blowing experience of connecting with several thousand people coming from several dozen countries across timezones and geographies. I tell you, folks, I have participated in several IBM Jams in the past but as far as I am concerned this has been one of the best. At least, that is how I have felt it over the last three days that has taken place.

The incredible amount of great topics discussed is going to be difficult to surpass. There have been hundreds of discussions on multiple topics covering the four different Forum areas that I mentioned earlier on this week, plenty of them related to how emerging technologies could be used to ensure businesses start adopting some of the most relevant and worth while exploring social software tools, like blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, web syndication, (people) tagging, podcasting, etc. etc. At the same time there have been plenty of people collaborating on how these same new emerging technologies could actually help fix some of the different issues related to Going Places, Finance & Commerce, Staying Healthy or A Better Planet, along with many more ideas on other traditional, although out of the box, thinking for solving some of those different issues. Again, just mind-blowing.

But the hard work actually will start from today onwards. Because this event has just been the first phase, out of two. In early September, from the 12th till the 15th, there will be a second phase where we will get together "to refine and rate the ideas" that have been put together in phase 1. So there is now plenty of work ahead of the folks responsible for the Jam in gathering and analysing all those ideas so that they could then be put together for that second phase I mentioned earlier on and continue venturing into taking some of those ideas into completion.

From a participation perspective it looks like there has been lots of different contributions although not many people have been weblogging much about the event, while it was taking place, apparently. At least, that is what Technorati  says. I guess everyone was at the Jam reading away, chiming in, collaborating and sharing some of those great ideas. We shall see how things go from here. One thing for sure though is that if I have been able to make it to phase one I am surely not going to be missing out on phase 2. Thus stay tuned for some further insights as I will be sharing some thoughts along the way as more new information becomes available. Now it is time to go back to our daily routine, relax from all the frenzy, reenergise ourselves and get ready for phase two, because it will be as exciting and interesting as phase one. No doubt!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

0 votes
Read More »