April 26, 2006

Thinklets for Problem Solving

The latest Computerworld has a great article on ways to improve your critical thinking skills.

Five Steps to More Critical Thinking by Gary Shea

I especially liked the sidebar, titled More Thinklets, which gave quick techniques for kickstarting your mental engine. Some gems:

Personal Visioning:

Consider the problem, project or idea. In five minutes, writing as quickly as you can, answer questions like, "What do I want to do?" and "What will this be like when it is done?" No pauses! This technique brings information from the subconscious to the surface.

The author also includes the usual SWOT analysis and a Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi-esque "High Performance View":

High-Performance View:

Have you ever been "in the groove," where everything is humming along and the productivity is high? What did it take? Think of how to create an environment that supports it.

The author also includes a faceted analysis, which is really just TRIZ (article on TRIZ from this blog's archives):

Attribute Brainstorming:

Get down to basics: size, weight, color, duration, strength. This is useful for product improvements and can also lead to other kinds of insights.

All in all, it's good to keep such quickies in your mental toolchest for those gnarly problems that keep coming up.

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April 24, 2006

Reading List Thus Far

Finished up the collection of Philip K. Dick short stories. Man that guy was pretty twisted for his era (1950s), huh? He was the Stephen King of his day, writing up a storm, with out-there imaginative stories that none of his contemporaries could touch.

Currently reading: something a bit less dystopian: The President's Assassin. Essentially this is The Sentinel in book form (which is really "24" in movie form, right?).

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April 21, 2006

Everyone Needs More Monitors

Now even the New York Times has gotten on the "multiple monitors increases productivity" meme that's been floating around the blogosphere.

The Virtues of a Second Screen

Somewhere, in the PR departments of ViewSonic, Sony, NEC, or even Corning, a flack is getting one heck of a bonus.

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April 14, 2006

Tactical Clipboard

The Barrier Shield folks finally have their own website, aptly named BarrierShield.com, having previously only lived on reseller ALD Company's web catalog for some time.

Photo of Barrier Shield

This thing is reminiscent of medieval bucklers, albeit a cross-cultural meld with the right-angle tonfa handle. I wrote an About.com article on the tonfa as a police weapon, and this shield seems like a logical extension of that idea.

Now they should make it out of ballistic polycarbonate, so that it can withstand firearms too.

And how about making it into a clipboard, so you have it with you all the time? Might have to make that obvious enable-striking handle a bit more public-friendly, though.

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April 12, 2006

Reading List Thus Far

Finished up Issac Asimov's I, Robot, continuing in my tradition of missing out on popular current movies and resorting to reading the original "book" version.

You know how they say science fiction is at heart social satire, that it shows more about the era and culture of the book's writing than of the fictional future depicted in the story? Bang on with this book.

Much of the book takes place in the early 21st century--er, right now. So there are references to events taking place in 2004 and 2006 that are pretty funny. Did Asimov think we were going to be that advanced 50 years into the future?

Yet they're still very "1950s". All the characters smoke cigarettes, even on some faraway space station. The whole notion of needing to take motion pictures for surveillance, instead of ubiquitous video everywhere (think Rodney King, London's street cams) produced a chuckle. But Asimov did get the whole flat-panel TV thing down with those "visiplates".

Next up: Philip Dick's The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories. I just watched Code 46 and I guess I'm going on a dystopian science fiction run for a while.

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