Optimizing On Time

Time is irretrievable once it is gone. Your goal should be to reduce the time your users must spend. This doesn’t just mean increasing output on the backend, but maximizing data throughput on the interface.

We all take time for granted, and even those who don’t tend to focus on our individual time-costs. As creators, though, we should also look at the time-cost of our products because if you think about it the math shows that to be even more important. Time is a limited resource, variable to perception, but limited to roughly 24 hours available to every person.

To break down my point, if you can reduce the time a person has to spend with your product, that effect is multiplied for all your users. This multiplication effect makes it quickly achievable to save time, in the global sense, over a set of uses. You might lose an hour or two, but assuming frequent enough use, or enough users, there is a possibility for that time to be reclaimed. Humans are constantly working with technology and further progressing, to achieve this goal; even if it isn’t the direct goal.

Automation means that you can remove a users usage at some scale, possibly even fully. If a user does something every day, and it takes 2 minutes, that adds up to an hour over the course of a month. If you can remove the process completely, you just saved the person 12 hours a year.

For example, I started buying similar sets of clothes, black t’s and cargo pants. I only have to think about what to wear maybe once or twice a month. I saved about 90 seconds a day, in getting dressed. I removed the selection process, so that the choice became automatic.

At scale though, with lots of people using it, even a second, or a few milliseconds can add up. If you cut 0.1 second out of a loading time, that happens 5 times per user a day, you save them 15 seconds a month. If you implemented this in an hour, and it was only you, it would take you 20 years to reclaim that hour. If you had 100 users, it would only take 72 days. So even a very small scale, the global availability of time can be increased.

You can’t just tweak the backend though. Eventually, the time-cost won’t work out mathematically to spend more time trying to get more data across the same channels. You can still manage this by increase the capacity you present, if you do it logically, this is why designers are important. An engineer can get stuff done, but they aren’t always focused on the cost of time for a user. Designers should focus on the user-first, to help increase the fluidity, and thus remove hidden time-costs.

Another option for modifying the time-cost is in condensing the data, in a loss-less manner. Think about he way we use compressors to shrink the data we send over the wire. If we can shrink the details down without losing the context; still conveying the message. We can take huge steps in create a total time-value, vastly greater.

These are the goals that I feel should be focused on. And I do not disregard the fact that the tendencies are when time is saved, to spend it on even more information. This could be said to be good, or bad. I feel it’s negative, but that requires a additional capacity to prevent continued indulgence. That’s a topic for another time.

If You Want News, Focus On The Product

Over the past year I’ve taken various roles in and around various products. I’ve seen, advised on, and been part of the main issue. Companies want news, but they don’t do anything newsworthy. Why the hell does anyone want to write about what you did 6 months ago? 3 months ago? Even last month?

The fact of the matter, in my experience, and my observation is unless you do something on the product side, good or bad, or have some clout you aren’t going to get news. There is a factor of your scale as well, as some sources tend to focus on the larger stable companies and products, which is partly due to the advantage of inertia and size. I’m going to mostly ignore that though and point out product problems I’ve encountered.

I know that there are products that can get by successfully only doing data processing, primarily when offered as a business service. Unfortunately, it’s common to see stagnation or failure in the consumer area because it has pretty low barriers to entry, and often times lower consumer value. I’ve got no problems if this is how you want to start and test a market. As you grow you’ll need to either be so awesome the user wants to keep using it or have another reason for the user to interact with the site.

If you only handle data from one service, that’s great, but why aren’t you handling data from more? Only Twitter or Facebook, why don’t you add the other one to your sources, even better try and get in and add Google +, while it’s still early and/or hot. You are self-limiting and become susceptible to your source’s actions. Free yourself from the dependence, through wider integration plans. Even better, add your own system that can be used without the external dependence, giving yourself more control on the data you want, a protection from external forces, and a possible pivot point.This doesn’t mean you need your system to be the primary, but having it is a good thing.

I’ve had several minor rows with people over this in the past. Often times they aren’t in a position to change it. Once, I was in the only actual position to change it, but it wasn’t what was planned or wanted; I should have done it, anyways. You’ve got to just do it.

Another issue, I’ve had was trying to push a dev issue, that was a roadblock to the companies API. Yes, they offered a public API, but as a consumer data-processing, they neglected some key functionality required for 3rd-parties to offer clients, while also being completely absent from a huge market. I had jumped in to try and help build a client not realizing the issue when I started. Once I found it though, after a few weeks work, I sent several emails and had a discussion with a non-technical person to try and get the issue fixed. I received no replies, aside from the non-technical person, even when I stepped out of the support chain and contacted a developer explicitly. I gave up after a few weeks of trying to get a response. I still support this company’s mission, and wish them all the best.

A big one that killed my big project I was working on at the beginning of the year was that the team had no focus. We were all on different pages, and sometimes there was a delay in one area, or someone pushing hard in areas that wasn’t necessary at the time. Getting off the rails and trying to keep going further is a recipe for disaster. If you fall off of a clear path, collect yourselves, lock-in what needs done, and focus on your goal. Also, don’t let what you’re doing be driven by press reasons, that’s the wrong place to focus and will have you running everywhere.

While I wish I could say that I haven’t and won’t again make any of these mistakes, I can’t. I will absolutely try, and they are things I don’t want to forget because they cost me a lot of time, energy, and passion. When it comes down to it you’ve just got to focus on the product.

  • Problem #1: You’re just a data-processing company.
  • Problem #2: Developers aren’t involved in technical support.
  • Problem #3: Your team doesn’t have the same goals or reasons.

25 Ideas To Live 25 Hours A Day

1. Sleep is unproductive and a waste of time.

Every hour you spend sleeping is one fewer hour you get to truly spend living. One hour a day is more than 2 weeks of extra time, every year. Obviously, taking it too far isn’t healthy, but a 4-6 hour night adds 1-2 months to your conscious living every year.

“Sleep is unproductive and a waste of time.” ~ Louis Gray

2. Be Childish.

Never take yourself too seriously, life is too short. Enjoy every moment, and don’t block your own path. Spend your time with making memories and friends.

“If it seems a childish thing to do, do it in remembrance that you are a child.” ~ Frederick Buechner

3. Acknowledge the inevitability of death.

Sooner or later we will all die, fighting for survival is ultimately a losing battle. Stop fretting, and focus on every moment you have in the present.

“This is your life, and it’s ending one second at a time.” ~ Fight Club

4. Money is less valuable than time.

There is no way to gain more time in life, and the clock never ceases. Stop trading your time for more money than you need, if your time is more valuable.

“Time is money says the proverb, but turn it around and you get a precious truth. Money is time.” ~ George Gissing

5. Ignore the little things.

Do only the 20% most import things or those that you feel will have the biggest return. The time and energy you save, can be spent on the things you really want to do.

“20 percent of focused effort results in 80 percent out come of results!” ~ Vilfredo Pareto

6. Never be afraid to challenge the ideas.

There is no reason to let anything stop you, particularly yourself. Rules are roadblocks with 3 options: follow the rules, break the rules, find a way another way around the rule. Choose your own path in life, and never stop learning something new.

“The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.” ~ Aleister Crowley

15 Minute Education Plan

The US public education gets worse and worse, whether it’s class sizes going up, or layoffs due to lack of funding; our pupils just aren’t learning anymore. We face lower standards of return, even though grades continue to rise, this is a problem, it either means that pupils are being trained to be pattern recognizers, that don’t understand why the pattern is, or that the teachers are blatantly lying about pupils competence with curves. We need a new way to get the key skill for maintained learning: understanding. Here is my suggestion for understanding based learning, fit into 15 minutes.

Normal class times are generally in the 45-90 minute range, depending on how the school defines it’s periods, I’d prefer a 45 minute course daily. Working with 15 minute intervals makes it simple to repeat the process and to make sure pupils grasp and understand concepts. The key to understanding is simplifying to a key point of information that you want them to understand. This is particularly necessary in Elementary schooling, to build up a foundation of understanding, and problem solving skills.

Minutes: 1-3

Prepare the topic with the pupils, so that they have a basic idea of the concept, you are working on. Provide the pupils with a couple test problems, non-multiple choice, to test their understanding.

Minutes:4-8

This is time for  the pupils to work through the problems to show how much they understand.

Minutes:9-10

Check pupils responses to this work, so you can see  who had issues, and where the issues were. Make sure you are interacting with all of the pupils as a group, and as individuals.

Minutes:11-14

Have a class discussion calling on those that did particularly well, and unwell, to help gather learning concepts that some pupils gathered and others did not, this will help in the future.

Minute:15

Take those that did well and partner them with those that didn’t do as well.

Repeat this process until the end of class or until all but possibly one or two pupils grasp the concept, if they do this give them a 5 minute break, and an example problem for tomorrow’s concept. While most of the class works on this, you should interact with the remaining pupils, that don’t grasp the concept, and help them to understand that concept, as well as the new concept in advance, to help prepare them for tomorrow’s work.

If you can’t get a child or even an adult to understand a concept within 15 minutes, then the problem is most likely with you, and not the pupil(s). If there is a problem, you need to look at how your teaching, what they don’t understand, and what you can do to improve. You have all the data in the work the pupils did, so you can go through and check for where they might be missing the connection.

One benefit to this, is you aren’t overloading the mind with brand new concepts simultaneously, this helps prevent the pupil from feeling overwhelmed.  A second benefit, is that you get to interact with the children one-on-one this is something that is lacking in most classrooms, and likely why the parental influence is a so much greater determining factor. Another benefit is that it is quick, it lets you know if there is a problem that you need to focus on or not, it is also quite fluid.

The fluidity, is the final benefit, which allows you to do a weekly, biweekly, monthly, recovery of knowledge quickly, by recovery I mean returning memory. Memory degrades over time, but if it recurs even slightly enough to re-jog it, it becomes wholly new again, and will last longer, this is the forgetting curve. Following the concept of the forgetting curve, you can cover 4 concepts a week, and still fit a day for recovery for all four concepts into your plan, to help increase retention. Another benefit is that you get to gain more data into how the pupils have retained the concepts, so you can better predict when you’ll have to cover the information, again.

This post is complete conjecture, and isn’t based on any significant facts.

Thoughts are Evolutionary: The Idea for Arclings

Do you really want to keep pushing ideas out, but have problems fleshing the concept out fully? Or maybe you just want to express the basis of an idea really quick, get feedback, and iterate. The problem with current systems is it’s hard to keep track of the evolution, if you post a lot of other stuff around it.

Micro-blogging lets you throw the idea out there, but doesn’t allow much room for the idea to evolve, or tracking this evolution.

Blogging in the conventional sense is much too concrete(though I’m doing it right now). I find the preconception of blogging to be you must push out a full thought. Why?

I propose a release quick, release often blogging structure and build arc’s as your story develops, making branching trees using link structures. Let the ideas build over weeks, or months, rather than waiting for one single burst of insight, and fleshing it out on the spot.

I propose using story arcs, along with links to the latest preceding events in the evolution, and trackbacks to the succeeding story events. Though this is possible in the current evolution of blogging systems, it’s complicated. I want an Arcling platform that makes the connection process easy, if not intelligent in managing the tracing of the structure.