"Over the last few years I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain [...]. I'm not thinking the way I used to think. I feel it most strongly when I'm reading. I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or a lengthy article. [...] That's rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. [...] The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle."
"[W]hat the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I'm online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."
- Keep your Inbox at zero: Knowing you've dealt with all your emails makes it easier to focus on other things
- Log all thoughts / ideas / todos: Write them down, if you keep them in your head they waste precious "mind cycles"
- Schedule tasks for the future: I found this technique particularly powerful yet I rarely see it mentioned. When you capture a todo that doesn't need to be done today, set its start date accordingly, and use a tool that can hide all future tasks. I've always found it disheartening to see a never ending stream of future todos, which is what most task managers show you. The feeling you get when all the day's tasks are accomplished is a powerful incentive to stay focused.
- Can Apple keep growing its revenue and income faster than employees? (They hired over 10,000 people in fiscal year 2010)
- The market obviously values and rewards trends (i.e. first & second order derivatives). How much of a hit will the stock take when Apple's growth slows?
- When a company's revenue, income, rev per employee, and income per employee are all rising and keep doing so for a few quarters... Is it high time to buy the stock?
I was inspired by Jack Dorsey's recent discussion on the importance of design. Many a blog post could be written on that topic. Jack's presentation also reminded me of a question that has nagged me for a while: how do the ballooning costs of the Bay Bridge replacement compare with the Golden Gate Bridge's construction costs?
- Construction time: 4.5 years (1933-1937)
- Longest span: 4,200ft
- Lanes 6
- Cost: $76 million in 1933 (source), equivalent to $1.3 billion today (source)
- Tons of steel: 83,000 (source)
- Fun fact: The bridge opened to pedestrians one day before it opened to cars. At the time the toll was $0.50 each way and $0.05 extra if you had more than 3 passengers
- Wikipedia page
- Akashi Kaikyō Bridge (Japan) completed in 1998 at a cost of Y500 billion or $6 billion (converting to USD using this data and then adjusting to 2011 dollars)
- Xihoumen Bridge (China) completed in 2009 at a cost of $363 million (wow!)
- Great Belt Bridge (Denmark) completed in 1998 at a cost of DKK21.4 billion or $4.1 billion (converting to USD using this data and adjusting to 2011 dollars)
- December 1996: Consultant report recommends replacement over retrofit. It estimates the cost at $843 million for a bridge that includes a single tower. Two Caltrans panels recommend building a new eastern span, saying it will be safer and more economical than a retrofit.
- January 2002: At eastern span project groundbreaking, Caltrans says span will open in 2007.
- March 2003: Caltrans increases eastern span cost estimate to $3 billion, citing the unique scale and complexity of the project.
- May 2004: Single bid received to build a self-anchored suspension bridge at a cost up to $1.8 billion, which is double Caltrans’ $730 million estimate.
- August 2004: Eastern span cost estimated at $5.1 billion, with $1.3 billion in overruns blamed on self-anchored suspension bridge.
- December 2009: Eastern span cost estimated at $6.3 billion, including $2.3 billion for self-anchored suspension bridge.
- February 2011: Construction crews begin to lift into place the fourth section of the span’s self-anchored suspension tower. Current projections have the entire self-anchored suspension span to be completed by late 2013.
“Money doesn’t make you happy. I have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”—Arnold Schwarzenegger“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.”—Groucho Marx
1. Most of your emails are one-word long2. You Rarely Talk to Your Employees Face-to-Face3. Your employees are out sick–a lot.4. Your team's working overtime, but still missing deadlines.5. You yell.
Today has been a day of walking down memory lane. I've been looking through projects I worked on 15 years ago as I was studying in Europe and the US.
March 1, 1995.New VenturesTo: Professor SpindlerFrom: Michael ...Won ...Bart ...Paul ClipRe: New Ventures ProposalThe creation of a on-line collectibles brokerage. Collectibles (stamps, telecards, basecards, currency, etc.) are a worldwide phenomenon attracting vast crowds of collectors and money. Our company will setup an Internet World Wide Web server enabling customers anywhere anytime to buy, sell and exchange collectibles.
The online auction website was founded as AuctionWeb in San Jose, California, on September 3, 1995, by French-born Iranian computer programmer Pierre Omidyar as part of a larger personal site [...]One of the first items sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer for $14.83. Astonished, Omidyar contacted the winning bidder to ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. In his responding email, the buyer explained: "I'm a collector of broken laser pointers."The frequently repeated story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar's fiancée trade Pez candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media.
I was listening to NPR on the iPad this morning (nice app, but so unstable). The subject was rising food prices (30+% increase over the last few years) impacting poorer countries, like those in northern Africa, and that this was one of the main causes of the riots in Tunisia and Egypt: when people go hungry for too long, revolution happens.
Production and marketing costs determine the minimum price of food in the retail marketplace. Production costs are typically called the "farm value" of food, and they comprise about 20 percent of the final food cost. This percentage varies by type of food, depending on how highly processed or perishable the food is. The farm value for meats and dairy products is around 28 percent, for poultry around 41 percent, for cereals around 5 percent, for fresh fruits 16 percent, and for fresh vegetables 19 percent. As consumers demand more highly processed foods, fresh foods from distant places, and foods ready to eat, the farm value falls as a percentage of the retail price.
Raw commodities (farm value), labor, and packaging comprise 67 percent of the cost of food. The rest of the costs are in transportation, advertising, rent, profits, energy, business taxes, depreciation, interest payments, miscellaneous costs, and repairs. These last types of costs have increased at about the rate of inflation and have not changed their share of the food dollar much over time.
"In 2006 Kevin Lafferty of the University of California, Santa Barbara, published a paper noting a correlation between levels of neuroticism established by national surveys in various countries and the level of Toxoplasma infection recorded in pregnant women (a group who are tested routinely). The places he looked at ranged from phlegmatic Britain, with a neuroticism score of -0.8 and a Toxoplasma infection rate of 6.6%, to hot-blooded France, which scored 1.8 and had an infection rate of 45%. […]To repeat, correlation is not causation, and a lot more work would need to be done to prove the point. But it is just possible that a parasite’s desire to get eaten by a cat is shaping the cultures of the world."
"If [the researchers] are right, it suggests that the control of such diseases is crucial to a country’s development in a way that had not been appreciated before. Places that harbour a lot of parasites and pathogens not only suffer the debilitating effects of disease on their workforces, but also have their human capital eroded, child by child, from birth."