Category Archives: how to work

Activity Space Research, The Chadwick Project

Spent morning at Activity Space Research, The Chadwick Project workshop – Pembroke College, Cambridge – led by William Fawcett (intro came via Jane Tateson at BT)

Taking a modelling approach (as apposed to case study approach) to investigating the relationship between activity and space. Base assumption is that an individual has an agenda regarding activities, places, times and preferences.

Simulations to date have used generic input data to model things like space utilisation. Project is now looking at how to capture real data to be used as input.

Using questionairres to allow individuals to make explicit their preferences. However it is also necessary to reveal peoples preferences through observation. The model will only be as good as the data that goes into it. Huge potential to gather real time series input on activity space usage and revealed preferences. The trends over time may show relationships between events and emotional context of situation.

Interesting fact: hospital beds are typically 83% utilised even though there is a continuous queue to to use them.

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via Nico – find out what events are coming up in your city – and add your own…

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Attended WorkTech06 conference and exhibition on 7.11.06 at the British Library in London. It all sounded familiar and cannot point to anything new that stood out from the day, but was great to be inside the British Library – a great venue. The day was charied very well by Jeremy Myerson (Director of Innovation RCA) and it was good to hear Charles Handy presenting although I found myself disagreeing with his idea that the future of the corporate HQ is nearing its end. I like coming to work where there are other like minded / spirited people (i also like working at home and public spaces such as this Eurostar…). James Woudhuysen gave an excellent closing presentation / rant – just a pity Charles wasn’t there to respond…

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Getting things done

Met with Dan Hill today talking about interactivity in the built environment and away days – an unusual mix… the conversation reminded me to look up: Getting started with “Getting Things Done” | 43 Folders

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Mythical Man Month

Engineering Management Hacks: The BigBook Technique”> A reminder to myself about the mythical man month:

When a task cannot be partitioned because of sequential constraints, the application of more effort has no effect on the schedule. The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned. Many software tasks have this characteristic because of the sequential nature of debugging. In tasks that can be partitioned but which require communication among the subtasks, the effort of communication must be added to the amount of work to be done. [...] Oversimplifying outrageously, we state Brooks’s Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

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info glut

Came across the back logged life while browsing 43folders Merlin Mann’s site on life hacks (linked from Make:) The posting and the 43 folders site contain common sense (but useful reminders) on how to deal with the glut of information digitisation has created.

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Programmers Notepad 2

Programmer’s Notepad 2 – i started using PN when developing in NesC for Crossbow motes and have just come across this updated version – a great simple code editor for windows.

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Neither working nor having fun

Another thing blogs and open source software have in common is that they’re often made by people working at home. That may not seem surprising. But it should be. It’s the architectural equivalent of a home-made aircraft shooting down an F-18. Companies spend millions to build office buildings for a single purpose: to be a place to work. And yet people working in their own homes, which aren’t even designed to be workplaces, end up being more productive.

This proves something a lot of us have suspected. The average office is a miserable place to get work done. And a lot of what makes offices bad are the very qualities we associate with professionalism. The sterility of offices is supposed to suggest efficiency. But suggesting efficiency is a different thing from actually being efficient.

That last point from Paul Grahams essay on what business can learn from open source is curious when you add it to a comment he makes further down:

The basic idea behind office hours is that if you can’t make people work, you can at least prevent them from having fun. If employees have to be in the building a certain number of hours a day, and are forbidden to do non-work things while there, then they must be working. In theory. In practice they spend a lot of their time in a no-man’s land, where they’re neither working nor having fun.

If we believe in our gut that this is true how can we start to quantify this? To change a system or organisation we need to modify what is measured as input and output…

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