Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Playing a Game

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why Do People Agree To Work In Boring Jobs? : NPR (Effort Aversion)

Why Do People Agree To Work In Boring Jobs? : NPR: "Why Do People Agree To Work In Boring Jobs?"

'via Blog this'

In the essay "The Myth of Sisyphus," philosopher Albert Camus — who would have turned 100 on Thursday — explored the nature of boring work. There's new psychological research into why people end up in boring jobs.
Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.
Now, one of Camus' most famous essays, "The Myth of Sisyphus," has caught the attention of NPR's Shankar Vedantam, who joins us each week to discuss interesting social science research. He's looking at what Camus said about the daily grind today. Hey, Shankar.
GREENE: So remind us first, if you can, "The Myth of Sisyphus." It really was about a daily grind.
VEDANTAM: Right. It's a famous essay by Camus; and it looks at a Greek myth about a man who's condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a hill, watch it roll down, and then repeat the cycle for all eternity. And at one point, Camus connects this myth to the fate of the modern worker. He says the work man of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd.
GREENE: And you've seen some new research that seems to drive that home.
VEDANTAM: I think so, David. There's new psychological research out of Duke University. I spoke with Peter Ubel, along with a colleague, David Comerford. He's looked at people who do boring work. He asked me to imagine applying for a job at a museum where the job was to stand around for several hours a day telling people not to touch the paintings.
GREENE: We've all seen those people.
VEDANTAM: Exactly. Ubel says there's a difference between how you think about the job when you're applying for it, and your actual experience of such a job.
PETER UBEL: At the time, it might sound like a wonderful job - I just stand there and do nothing, and they pay me for it. Wow; that sounds great. But now, imagine standing there all day long while people are walking about the museum enjoying themselves. You're not even allowed to really talk to them much. I cannot imagine a more boring job.
VEDANTAM: So I think the thing that he's talking about here, David, is the idea that when you're anticipating the kind of work that you want to do, how you think about it might be very different than the actual experience of the job, when you're doing it.
GREENE: What explains that gap? Is it just the matter of a bad job description, or is there something else going on?
UBEL: No. Ubel and Comerford think there's something else; that when we think about jobs that we have to do, we often are confronted by a host of different things to think about. And it's difficult to think about all those things at once and so we simplify it, and we think about just one or two of the characteristics of the job. So if I was to tell you, David, that there was a job opportunity and you had to choose between living in sunny Southern California and in freezing Michigan, which would you choose?
GREENE: Probably Michigan. I'm a Pittsburgher. I like the middle of the country. I like snow. So I think I'd go with Michigan.
VEDANTAM: (Laughter) That was totally the wrong answer, David.
GREENE: Sorry.
VEDANTAM: But anyway, the point is, the question like that makes you think about the weather because, you know, I said sunny Southern California and freezing Michigan. But there are lots of other factors at play, right? There's traffic jams. There's the cost of living. And most people don't think about those things because you simplify the decision into one or two sort of factors.
And one of the factors Ubel and Comerford think we use is this phenomenon called effort aversion, which is that when we think about work and potential jobs, we pick the job that involves the least effort.
GREENE: This is the connection with the guy in the museum. I mean, I suppose that he decides to take this job because he thinks, you know, I get to sit in this lovely museum all day long, get paid and not have to work all that hard.
VEDANTAM: Yeah. Now, it's fair to say, David, of course, that lots of people don't have choices in the work they do. In this economy, a lot of people are just lucky to have a job.
VEDANTAM: But I think what Ubel and Comerford are basically saying is even when we have a choice, we often end up picking the more boring job. They ran this experiment with business school students. They sat the students in a classroom and said: For the next five minutes, you will do absolutely nothing - no iPhones, no computers - and we'll pay you $2.50.
But they gave them an option. They said: Instead of sitting and doing nothing, you could solve these really difficult word puzzles. How much would you want us to pay you?
UBEL: We found that a large majority of the students said we'd have to pay them more than $2.50 to solve the word puzzles, and yet when we actually finished the five minutes and asked them how much they enjoyed those five minutes, the people solving the word puzzles enjoyed the five minutes significantly more. And yet very few of them said yeah, pay me $2 and I'd be happy to do word puzzles 'cause at least I'll be having fun.
GREENE: So they thought they should be paid more to do these puzzles, thinking it was harder work. But actually, doing something during that time actually turned out to be more interesting for them.
UBEL: Exactly. And I think there's a connection here with the world of Camus, David. I think both Ubel and Camus are basically saying when you make choices, make them consciously. Make them deliberately. Don't let unconscious biases guide you. Camus would even go a step further and say, even when choices are forced on you, live your life with your eyes open because meaning doesn't lie in the work, it lies in what you bring to the work.
GREENE: Shankar, thanks, as always.
VEDANTAM: Thank you, David.
GREENE: NPR's Shankar Vedantam - he's on Twitter @HiddenBrain. And you're listening to NPR News.
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Barbie In Real World Measurements

Barbie In Real World Measurements: from www.takepart.com

'via Blog this

What Barbie Would Look Like If She Resembled an Actual Woman (PHOTOS)

Artist Nickolay Lamm re-creates an American icon using real-world measurements.

Barbie never claimed to be a symbol of feminist solidarity, or even a symbol of reality.
It’s already been proven that her oddly proportioned body couldn’t possibly be sustained by an actual human being—and yet her appearance remains an iconic symbol of femininity that millions of girls admire.
That may not change any time soon, but some artists are doing their best to demonstrate that realistic images can be just as desirable as ones based on pure fantasy.
Artist Nickolay Lamm recently decided to give Barbie the ultimate makeover by changing her appearance into one that resembled an actual human being.
Using CDC measurements of the average American 19-year-old woman, Lamm redesigned and 3-D printed America’s most iconic doll.
The new Barbie is noticeably shorter and wider than her earlier version, and even her feet have evolved from miniatures frozen in a high-heel position to a proportioned pair that can stand on flat ground.
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, the artist explained, “If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well,” he said. “If there’s even a small chance of Barbie in its present form negatively influencing girls, and if Barbie looks good as an average-sized woman in America, what’s stopping Mattel from making one?”
That’s a fair question and it seems that now is the perfect time to ask; the toy market is evolving—slowly, but it’s happening. If an engineering toy made for girls and an Easy Bake Oven made for boys are marketable options now, why not a Barbie that expresses her femininity in a way that’s realistic and attainable, instead of artificial and impossible?
(Photos: Nickolay Lamm/The Feed)'

Saturday, July 20, 2013

All Summer In A Day

I saw this story when I was a kid. It was fascinating then, and is still now. It's based on the Ray Bradbury short story.

It's below in three parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What is The Best Leadership Style for The Software Team?

Software Creation Mystery » What is The Best Leadership Style for The Software Team?:

'via Blog this'

From the site:

What is The Best Leadership Style for The Software Team?

4 Effective Leadership Styles in Software Development
What should be the qualities of the best leader for the software team: strong decisive knowledgeable or quiet supportive cooperative? Best leaders have two main concerns – people and getting things done (Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid). Both concerns have cumulative effect – high concern for people makes them motivated and therefore more productive, high concern for production creates sense of achievement and makes people more satisfied at work.
However, there is no one leadership style that suits all situations, projects and individuals. There are 4 main leadership styles (based onThe Hersey and Blanchard model and Vroom and Yetton’s Normative Model), which could be effectively used in software development: The Commander, The Coach, The Supporter and Self-Organization.

1. The Commander

In tough times people need a strong leader – the person who can take responsibility and make decisions, the person who could motivate and inspire, the person who could move against winds and resistance.
Commanders are needed
  • in crisis, when bold, quick and direct decisions should be made. The project is doomed, customers are leaving or there is fire in the building.
  • when changes are necessary and there is strong resistance and barriers to make them. The leader creates a vision, finds a way to accomplish it and leads a change. The company moves to the new market or adopts new approaches as Agile.
  • when people lack commitment, faith in company and willingness to work, because of previous failures, degrading environment or unpopular management. The leader can wake them up, inspire and move forward.
Commanders make and influence most decisions. The downside of this leadership style is that leader can slide to autocratic methods, demotivate and annoy people. Often decisions are not optimal – they don’t take in consideration all available information, options and perspectives. This style is effective in short-term, in long-term it could be dangerous for people and projects.
Skills and traits of Commanders are very important as they are the main factor of success. The Commander should be energetic, confident, decisive. Also as Commanders make most decisions they should be knowledgeable, forward-thinking and broad-minded.

2. The Coach

The Coach is experienced, knowledgeable and supportive person, who is needed when team lacks focus, expertise and understanding what should be done and how.
Coaches are concerned about growing people, creating enabling and trusting environment. This leader makes decisions collectively with a team. The Coach explains rationale behind decisions, listens and provides feedback. He encourages personal growth, builds long-term capabilities and prepares team and individuals for independent work.
This style has high relationship focus. The downside of this style could be micro-management and low concern for productivity.
Important qualities for Coaches: knowledgeable, empathetic and cooperative.

3. The Supporter

Supporters are needed to help teams, remove barriers and coordinate activities. The Supporter is an ego-less quiet leader and facilitator. Supporter makes joint decision with the team as equals, delegating majority of decisions to the team. In addition, this leader concerns about creation of harmony and balance between team members.
Important qualities for The Supporter: good communicator and facilitator, socially skilled and diplomatic

4. Self Organization

A cohesive, motivated and confident Team doesn’t need formal leaders. The team makes most decisions, while every member could step in and become leader in specific areas and situations. People are highly capable, committed and self-driven. The team should have diverse and independently thinking team members to prevent groupthink (see Wisdom of Crowds).
It is most preferable and most difficult to achieve style. Usually the team transcends through previous steps and becomes truly self-organized team after experiencing victories and failures, growing and gaining experience together. The Team have shared purpose, principles and values. Team members trust, support and respect each other. Almost everything is possible for such team.

Selecting Style

Teams and leaders use these 4 styles depending on a situation and specific people. The best leaders guide their team and people through these stages to the point when formal leaders are no longer needed – self-organizing team. It is possible that a self-organizing team will need a strong leader in tough time, a coach when moving to the new domain or a supporter to resolve external problems. However, the team, which experienced flow, independence and self-organization will strive to get back to this state again.
Important factors
  1. Commitment - are people ready, motivated and willing to accomplish goals?
  2. Competence and clarity of direction: do people know what to do and how to do it?
  3. Cooperation and cohesiveness: can team effectively work together, make decisions and avoid conflicts? The larger group need more coordination.
  4. Resources and support: does team have necessary tools, money, people, etc? Do they face serious barriers and require support?
  5. External coordination: does team need to collaborate with other groups?
  6. Leader - last, but not least: does leader have necessary authority, knowledge and experience?
All these styles could be effectively used in software development. But at the end, the most important factor of success is people. The style should match people commitment and capabilities. It is mistake to command skilled and confident team and it is mistake to give reins to unmotivated and inexperienced people. Leadership style is one of the secret ingredients of the Software Creation Mystery – it could bring great success or miserable failure on the same project with the same people.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

20 Apps (Games) for Play-based Learning

20 Apps (Games) for Play-based Learning:

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20 Apps (Games) for Play-based Learning

Even though older adults might still carry a negative association with video game consoles and devices, today’s technology is vastly different than it was 20 years ago.
Apps have exploded on the scene, and while there are plenty of time wasting games available on the market, today’s offerings also include a wide range of affordable apps that enrich learning and allow for quick on-the-go play. Whether your child is waiting for the doctor or relaxing on a long car ride, the following apps are some of the best games that pack an educational punch.

1. The Letter School

The Letter School app won the Editor’s choice for Children’s Technology Review for 2012. It is available on iOS devices and uses three simple components for learning letters; tap, trace, and write. In the first mode, children tap on the end of the letter and watch the app draw the letter. Then they use their own finger to trace the letter. The app uses cute graphics like railroad tracks to make tracing fun. Finally, the child writes the letter himself, with guidance from the app in the event he goes off course. The app offers uppercase letters, lowercase, and numbers too.

2. Amazing Alex

From the makers of Angry Birds comes Amazing Alex. He is a boy who cleans his room in the most interesting ways. Children will not even know they are learning the principles of physics as they manipulate different objects in the room to get it clean. The graphics are stunning and the gameplay is intuitive and addicting. Amazing Alex has over 100 levels and is available for both the iPhone and Android.

3. Awesum

If your child likes puzzle games and math, Awesum is a fantastic combination of Tetris and Sudoki. Numbered cubes fall from the top of the screen and children must match the numbers so that it equals a predetermined sum. When they line up, the cubes disappear and keep the wall from filling the screen. This app is available for Android phones and tablets. Using color graphics, sound effects, and awards, this app teaches mental math skills without pain and suffering. In 2011, Awesum won awards for the best children’s educational app.

4. Barefoot World Atlas

Traveling explorers and geographers will love the Barefoot World Atlas app available for iOS devices. It is a higher priced app at $4.99 but takes kids on an interactive and magical tour of the planet. Kids can explore continents, countries, environments, and oceans. With a tap of the finger, children can explore new cultures and learn about different ways of life.

5. Jungle Time

For parents looking to teach children how to tell time, Jungle Time was featured in Parenting magazine as one of the 10 best educational apps for kids. The clock speaks in several different languages and has large numbers and hands for easy to read lessons. There are three different clock styles as well as the ability to learn 12 or 24-hour time. You can track your progress and manually set the time with a tap of your finger. This app is available for iOS devices.

6. Mad Libs

For kids who have trouble understanding the difference between a noun, verb, and adjective, the beloved Mad Libs game is now available in a lite and pro version for the iPhone and iPad. In addition to the standard word game, kids can share their stories through email and get hints for silly words to add to their story.

7. Super Why!

The Super Why App is based on a popular kid’s television show that makes literacy an adventure. The four characters, Alpha Pig, Princess Presto, Wonder Red, and Super Why each have a special super power. The app is designed for children ages three to six and includes word hunt games, tracing, rhyming, and sentence completion. This app is available for iPhone and iPad.

8. My Mathbook

Cleverly designed in a visually appealing math book layout, My Mathbook HD is a highly organized and entertaining math app for kids. The book is divided into sections such as numbers, computation, shapes, and test. There are several games for each concept, including tracing, simple computation, and shape coloring. The beautiful graphics and layout make it an educational and pleasurable activity for children ages four to six. This app is currently only available on the iPad.

9. Ladybird Ready for Phonics

Kids who love space will enjoy the Ladybird Ready for Phonics app available for iOS devices. The games consists of 12 levels that progress through important phonics principles. Parents can also unlock the levels manually if they wish. The app has been tested in classrooms with great success. In addition to phonics lessons, the space themed app helps kids learn the “tricky” words that cannot be sounded out.

10. The Android Shape Builder

The Android Shape Builder App is a fantastic educational game for children who love puzzles. Different scenes are displayed on the screen and children must use different shapes to fill in the image. With 144 puzzles, bright colors, and quality sound effects, children won’t even know they are learning geometry concepts while they put together the image on screen.

11. Brain Challenge

Brain Challenge for iOS is a comprehensive app that develops math, logic, memory, and focus. There are over 40 separate mini-games that use creative thinking in puzzles, trivia, quizzes, and other mental mind exercises. It is currently $4.99 and suitable for older children and teenagers.
You can monitor your progress with status charts that detail your success in the different areas.

12. Chicktionary

Word enthusiasts will love Chicktionary- a cross between Hangman, Scrabble, and Scramble. Kids hatch the hen’s eggs, which contain letters. The goal is to make as many words as possible. Shaking the device allows you to rearrange the letters for more help.
The hens do all sorts of silly things and the game design is fun, colorful, and quirky. You can earn rewards along the way too. This app is available for iOS devices.

13. Color Splash

Art teachers love using Color Splash for the iPad. This photo-editing app allows a user to alter paintings, images, and other artistic drawings to highlight areas of color and design.
This way, students can focus in on a particular technique or concept without the use of a projector. Color Splash is one of the most affordable editing apps on the iPad for only $1.99. The app comes with robust sharing options for students to display on Facebook and other similar sites.

14. Slurpy The Frog

An activity book designed for young children between ages three and five; Slurpy the Frog is a cute and funny animal that teaches kids concepts like shapes, relationships with size, and important facts about the world. It is a visually appealing app that contains 100 different activities that progress in difficulty.
The app is available for the Windows Phone.

15. Brain Thaw

Puzzle addicts will love Brain Thaw, an app that teaches mental math concepts using different puzzles.
The main character of the game is Newton the clever penguin. He loves to eat numbers according to the math rule given, but evil yetis will try to stop you. As you pass each level, the math rules change and increase in difficulty. It covers multiplication facts, fractions, division, addition, and subtraction.

16. Meet The Insects: Forest Edition

Meet the Insects: Forest Edition is a visually stunning app available for the iPad. Now bug lovers can meet the critters up close and personal with high definition images, facts, and trivia. Kids can go through the bug story, take a quiz about their favorite insect, and record observations in a digital journal.
You can even watch the bugs in action with video clips. The app is currently $3.99 and won the Red Dot Design Award.

17. Ansel and Clair’s Ride with Paul Revere

Ansel and Clair’s Ride with Paul Revere is an educational history app designed by Cognitive Kid for ages six to twelve. Both Ansel and Clair are childlike aliens who want to learn about history. The story begins in Boston and covers the major events of American History.
At the end of each unit, there is a quiz and the opportunity to take a snapshot of the location for the child’s scrapbook. There is narration and photos of historical artifacts to go along with the story. It is available for iOS devices.

18. Shake a Phrase

Shake a Phrase is a fun language app designed for kids who enjoy creative writing. Children age eight and above will learn vocabulary and parts of speech by shaking their device and watching silly sentences pop up on the screen. When there is an unfamiliar word, just tap on it to get the definition. Creative writing prompts are also included. This app is available on iOS devices and covers over 2000 vocabulary words.

19. Jungle Coins

Jungle Coins is a money app for kids learning how to count coins and bills. The app is available for many different currencies including the Euro, the British Pound, American Dollar, Australian Dollar and more. The animals come to life while teaching children how to count change and substitute coins for bills and vise versa. Right now it is only available on the iPad for $2.99.

20. Kids Genius All in 1

Kids Genius All in 1 is an app that contains 18 games covering a range of educational concepts from math to language, music, animals and nature. Flashcards, trivia, tracing drills, and other activities are all included in one handy app so kids don’t have to exit out of the game to access another subject. The games are made for children four and up, and can be downloaded on any iOS device.


Julie DeNeen has her bachelor's degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Haven. She spent several years working for a local Connecticut school at the district level, implementing new technologies to help students and teachers in the classroom. She also taught workshops to teachers about the importance of digital student management software, designed to keep students, parents, and teachers connected to the learning process.
You can find out more about her @jdeneen4 and Google+.

Read more: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/trends/20-apps-games-for-play-based-learning/#ixzz2IZIzbMDt

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!!

It's been a while since I said anything, and even longer since I said anything worth reading!


With that said, not much to say so far this year except a big raspberry to the Cincinnati Bengals for losing to the Houston Texans! What an absolutely horrible game in which you played well below your capability, and ended my football watching for the season. Mostly. Except for other games that may or may not be watch-worthy.

  As an aside, I recorded the game and watched it Sunday, a day after taking the girls to Enchanted Rock. they climbed, I hiked, but it was a cold, busy day.