Thursday, 20 October 2016

Email addiction: How to Break Your Inbox Dependence

Email - Top Blockers of Productivity 

Email seems to be a kind of productive stalling which we desire to depend on. Though we do not seem to work on our real mission we contemplate on just answering the emails for some few minutes. This thought process seems to give rise to bad habits and some few minutes of checking the emails could prolong for a longer period than intended. The outcome is that several individuals acknowledge that checking the emails frequently seems to be an issue for productivity.

In the Work Management Survey by Wrike in 2015, around 40% of the respondents identified email as one of their top blockers of productivity. Replying to email had been considered as unfavourable to productivity, than unclear significances, putting off as well as also short deadlines. A latest book, Unsubscribe – How To Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction and Get Real Work Done, states that email addiction is a time-wasting epidemic in the modern workplace and is focused in helping those who tend to feel overcome by their inbox.Individuals tend to be disrupting their own work on a regular basis without even realizing it. In order to resolve this issue, it is essential to comprehend what seems to be going on in the brain and why does one seem to be obsessed with the inbox.

Increase Stress

Some recent studies confirm this theory and one has found that an average worker tends to check their email 77 times each day, sends as well as receives more than 100 and checks their first one immediately on waking up. Another study has observed that 90% tend to check work emails regularly outside office hours. Researchers have found that we tend to make up for it by spending 3.1 hours a day dealing with personal email when at work. The author of Unsubscribe, Jocelyn K Glei states that while checking emails all through the day could make one feel production, the disagreement seems to be true. Jocelyn also mentioned that besides being a big waste of time, staying on top of the emails continually seems to increase stress also. She informed that `scientists have established a clear link between spending time on email and stress. It means that the more frequently one would check their email, the more exhausted they may feel. In order to have a healthier relationship with your box you could keep in mind the following:

Avoid checking it every five minutes

Study from Loughborough University has found that it takes around 64 seconds for recovering your train of thought after reading an email. Jocelyn adds that `the human brain seems to have a tendency to want to complete task and when it recognises a task is completed, it then release the feel-good hormone dopamine. This is why we tend to feel happy on clearing our inbox or ticking things off a to-do list. But scientists have also found out that the brains mainly likes completing small easy tasks and the impeccable example of the same is the email. Thus dealing with the emails at first tends to feel relaxing and productive, though it also seems to be a never-ending job and after some time the unread emails seems like incomplete task which makes one feel apprehensive. One could check the emails every half hour instead of every three minutes and strive to check it a few times in the day at fixed times.

Close an email conversation

Due to the `Reply to all’ button, with the to and fro conversations, one tends to waste time and focus, according to Jocelyn. She adds that email is not a forum for discussion or debate. Hence reply and politely close down the conversation. The workplace chat apps like Slack are big in the US where they permit colleagues with on-going chats which are divided by subjects and teams and thus one ends up loaded with emails with the fear of missing something of importance. Work emails should be short, simple and if it cannot be solved quickly through email, a meeting could be recommended. This could resolve getting involved with email threads which seems to be time consuming.

Hide your Inbox

Each time the user tends to stop and glance at the inbox, they seem to be incurring something which according to researchers is known as a `switching cost’. But research has shown that having your email program open in the background while working tends to reduce the performance and even if it is minimised, one can see new emails coming in, your brain is aware that they are there, devoting some amount of energy monitoring them. She recommends avoiding this by closing down the email outside your set `checking’ time or placing the screen so one cannot see it.

Create an email hierarchy 

Jocelyn states that the independent nature of email means that everyone can have access to you and your time. Your inbox seems to be a total mix of relevant as well as random individuals, though usually only 5 to 10% of the emails seem to be helpful or important. She suggests categorising the people who tend to email you.

Tackle tricky emails promptly

Willpower tends to decline during the workday and hence morning checking session should be utilised in dealing with emails which need creativity or concentration while the afternoon to deal with the lesser ones which need a quick reply or a delete button.

Not everything seems to be urgent 

Merely5 to 10% of the emails seem to be urgent or important and hence it is not essential to check them during dinner with friends or in bed.

It is OK to ignore some of the emails

While replying to every email one may be considered polite, but time is a limited factor and hence one should not feel obliged in replying to cold-call emails from strangers.

Publicise your email habits

You could inform your colleagues that you only check your emails a few times a day so they can discern what to expect from you.

Let go of the zero inbox notion 

Jocelyn informs that an empty inbox is not a measure of productivity and hence one should let go of the notion that you would ever have one.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Water Taxi of the Future

Water Taxi
A lot of stress has been given towards decreasing the number of cars present on the road by actively promoting carpooling, improvising the transit system and creating bike paths. These attempts will help in freeing the roads in mega cities which possess vast road system but no one has given the thought towards making transit easier in those cities where waterways are abundant.

There is a great scope in bringing such vehicles which revolutionize the use of rivers and canals among the commuters. Thankfully one company thinks about them, SeaBubbles, has come up with an elegant solution to popularize the river ways and canals by unveiling its futuristic four-passenger water taxis.

Features of futuristic water taxis

SeaBubbles futuristic water taxis will help in building city wide transportation network on waterways. These water taxis can easily be summoned by an Uber-like app and these happen to be self-driving in nature which passengers will just have to feed in the destination and get ready for a memorable ride at 30 mph.

The story of SeaBubbles

It was started literally started by water navigators namely Alain Thebault, a sailor and Anders Bringdal, a windsurfer about seven months ago. They have raised $500,000 with SeaBubbles and they have set a goal of making it up to $1million by next year.

What makes SeaBubble great? 

SeaBubble expertise comes from the experience of the team behind it. Thebault has successfully built a win-powered trimaran yatch called Hydroptere in the past. The best thing about this yatch is that it barely touches the water surface instead swiftly glides few feet in the air.

It has made a number of modification and revision to the concept art. At first it shows no room for the wings but later on brings wings for added agility. It should be understood that SeaBubble is actively working towards improving concept art and to attract funding from the prospective investors. As per the estimates of the SeaBubble its water taxi will be ready for testing in August 2016 and it will get into production phase in January 2017. It has set the target of May 2017 fo deliveries of the water taxis.

It has a number of hurdles in front of it which includes proving that boat actually works; making perfect designs for the docking stations and it abides by the local municipal laws. Furthermore drivers will be trained to make use of the self driving software and a unique sensor system will be developed to navigate the tricky water of the rivers.

Limitation for SeaBubbles water taxis

It ambitious water taxis suffer from the geographical limitation which means it can only help in connecting between the two points which borders water. Furthermore these points have to be near transit hubs or luxury or popular destination in order to appear as a prime alternative or lucrative option for the commuters. A number of cities round the globe has navigable river which means SeaBubbles ambitious water taxi will certainly find the fancy of the commuters on global scale.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Google DayDream


Google Daydream View handset

Daydream View handset has been revealed by Google together with various apps and games which can be utilised on your Daydream-ready phone. Google had also announced that the new Pixel as well as Pixel XL smartphone would be the first handsets to be Google Daydream ready.

These are said to be the best phones to purchase if one would prefer to use Daydream when the headset is launched. Google Daydream is said to be the latest effort of bringing VR to mobile devices by Google and is very much different than Google Cardboard.

 Unlike the earlier somewhat disposable VR headset of Google that had been focused in getting people in the VR door with low cost and low smartphone proficiency requirements, Daydream tends to have more tough vision which seems to have its sight set on offering higher-quality experiences to Android Nougat users.

Daydream would be bringing more exciting as well as absorbing VR experiences to users who seem unable to afford a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. It is likely to be on sale in November in the US priced at $79 though there is no information on when it would be released in the UK or Australia.

Google DayDream

ZTE VR – Android Nougat/VR Maintenance Software Update

Google has also claimed that Samsung, Asus, Alcatel, LG, HTC, Xiaomi and ZTE will be manufacturing phones which would be `Daydream ready’. Besides these, Huawei has also confirmed that it would be making Daydream-ready phone together with headsets and controllers.

The first smartphone, the ZTE Axon 7, has been announced to be Google Daydream compatible together with its own VR headset – the ZTE VR which requires Android Nougat as well as necessary VR maintenance software update of Google to pull it off. This would be coming in the Android Nougat 7.1 update.

Google Daydream will be running apps as well games download from Play Store thus making it simple in locating experiences in utilising the headset. Towards the end of 2016, as per Google, there would more than 50 apps and games made available to the users on the platform.

In the forthcoming months, HBO, Netflix and Hulu would be having Daydream ready apps. The New York Times would be launching an app for its VR videos also.

Clickable Touch Pad

When the platform is launched, Google would be making its own apps compatible with the Daydream platform comprising of Play Movies, Photos, YouTube and Maps. Announcement had also been done by Unity and Epic on the development support for Daydream from the gaming point of things.

The Daydream View headset portrayed by Google is said to be one choice for Google Daydream VR which enables the companies to take a hold on the tech that would probably result in various looking headsets. Limited information regarding its controller resembling a Wii remote have been provided by Google.

It shares some common physical qualities for the modern TV touch remote of Apple. It will be featuring a clickable touch pad, towards its top which will bring native touchscreen like gestures to the virtual world. Then there is an app button which tends to put your apps in view and finally the home button takes you back to the home screen of Google Daydream.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Periscope Extends beyond Phones as Twitter Tries to Take on Facebook Live


Twitter is second most popular social media platform after Facebook and it has been getting stiff competition from it when it comes to keep users engaged and entertained on the platform. Recently Facebook has launched the Facebook Live feature which allows users to create live videos and proclaim the happening in their lives to the followers in an instant. Twitter has brought a similar feature on its platform in the name of Periscope which essentially is a live-video service. Periscope services has been launched to broaden the audience reach and to keep audience engaged on the Twitter platform.

Periscope will be a delight for the individuals and media outlets alike

Twitter’s Periscope Producer will allow the media outlets and individuals to create live video feeds which will be uploaded directly on the Twitter. Periscope made its debut last year but it has strictly confined to the smartphone. Now users wouldn’t even require smartphone to record and broadcast live videos using the Periscope feature. In order to test the capability of the advanced Periscope Florida television station broadcasted a live video on its official website later it was redistributed to the same feeds on the television. In beginning Twitter will only allow major producers such as Disney and ANC News along with a number of major media outlets to make use of the Periscope.

Privacy is a huge concern for Twitter

Since the launch of Periscope service people have started using it for broadcasting the live video of TV shows and movies from their smartphone. This has resulted in the unwanted rise in the piracy issue which doesn’t go well with the video content producers such as much labels and movie production houses.

Twitter has high hopes from Periscope Service

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has stated that the launch of Periscope will help in increasing the popularity as well as reach of its messaging service. Twitter has already indulged in steaming the news, sports events as well as the entertainment segment based content. Twitter is aiming towards offering more to the users than just offering a great way to set out their thoughts in tweets and to keep tab on the happening in and around them. Dorsey further elaborates that inclusion of the Periscope will offer a great way to upload, share and view live videos on global scales.

Everyone wants to jump on live video wagon

A number of internet companies ranging from SnapChat to Facebook have jumped upon the wagon of bringing live-video functionality on their platform in order to generate huge advertising money later on. Some of the companies have even started to experiment with live streaming functionality for the marketing purpose. This includes General Motors which has launched its upcoming electric car named Chevy Bolt EV through using the Facebook Live at the beginning of this year. On other hand media outlets are utilizing the live video feed to broadcast the presidential debates in US.

With the launch of Periscope Twitter also jumps up in the live streaming train and joins other popular live-streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube.

The Best Project Management Software for Syncing Team Efforts


Online Project Management Software – Visibility & Control

Users looking to make their daily routines much easier to manage, should visit Wrike, an online software for project management that is utilised by high-performance teams and productivity experts around the globe. Wrike’s project management tools and features make it easier to manage tasks and projects so that teamwork and collaboration become efficient. Additionally, Wrike gives you more visibility around who does what, when tasks are due, and how each task fits into the larger picture.

The company was established in 2007 with headquarters in Mountain View California. Wrike has been acknowledged by San Francisco Business Times/Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of the Best Places to Work as well as one of the Top 100 Workplaces in 2015, by the Bay Area News Group.

Translated into 10 languages, Wrike is used in 120 countries and in 2014 was also awarded Cool Vendor status by Gartner. Being an online project management software, it provides complete visibility together with control over all tasks that must be performed. With the support of the software, project management gets easier. Wrike becomes the control point in coordinating efforts with the rest of the business. Their project management tools include being able to organize tasks into folders, time tracking, an interactive timeline, communication and feedback on the tasks themselves, and online collaboration features for teams of any size.

Heightened User Experience


The main purpose of the software is to assist in optimizing your workflow and enabling your company to focus on fundamental tasks. There are useful features for marketing and creative teams in the form of proofing and approval, resource and workload management, document versioning, project templates, time tracking and budgeting, together with visual dashboards and reporting. You can organize your project any which way you please and complete it all in one place.

Wrike also has mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices. With the native Android app, you can work on your tasks with ease, no matter where you are. The Wrike Android app tends to provide much more convenience and efficient project management functions. The new app has a heightened user experience that makes creating, editing, scheduling, and discussing tasks while on-the-go so much easier. The recently released mobile dashboard also provides an overview of your important tasks within seconds.

With the mobile app for iOS, one can log ideas, update tasks, or leave feedback while on the go. It almost takes away the need to open a laptop since your mobile device can easily accomplish most of the work that needs doing. More importantly, your mobile is always at handm, making important details readily available at your fingertips.

Sync Team Efforts & Keep Projects on Track

With Wrike, one can synchronize a team’s efforts, keep the project on the track and get additional tasks performed together in the cloud. It is an ideal real-time workspace where one can find the team collaborating in order to get tasks done with precision and efficiency. With Wrike, productive performance of every team member can be amplified, regardless of where they may be located in the world. No matter what your workflow looks like, Wrike can help improve communication and clarity as well as accountability in accomplishing the the parts of any project.


Microsoft New Reality Hololens Comes to UK


Microsoft has wasted no time in launching its own VR headset after the anticipation filled launch of the Sony’s PlayStation VR just a few days back. Sony’s launch of VR headset was due for a long time which helped in creating a buzz around it and Sony has carefully launched a number of game titles to with it. So far Microsoft has stayed clear of doing anything with VR as other rivals has been actively developing and launching products in this segment. Microsoft isn’t bringing a pure VR experience to the users with its VR headset rather it is bringing a ‘mixed reality’. Microsoft has also averted the use of term ‘augmented reality’ for promoting its HoloLens for popularizing its own ‘mixed reality’ concept.

Microsoft HoloLens was first launched in US 

Microsoft HoloLens will be making its way to six new countries which includes UK and preorder are opening from today while delivered will likely to be made in late-November. Microsoft has launched HoloLens in its home country ‘US’ way back in March but it has not yet emerged as a dominant player in the VR segment. It is worth noting that Microsoft HoloLens is only available for the developers and enterprises in US for a massive price of $2,700. In order to increase the popularity and to offer greater functionality and feature on its HoloLens Microsoft has partnered with a wide range of commercial partners which includes Audi, Nasa and Lowe for application creation.

Make most of the HoloLens 

Microsoft HoloLens brings vast opportunities for the users to utilize ot for variety of purposes. Users can make Skype call on the headset using the Microsoft’s Skype application especially optimized for this device. Herein users will be able to experience the true extent of the virtual reality when person face appears on the space in front of the user.

A lift making company called Thyssnkrup is already making use of the HoloLens to give direct advice to engineers in field regarding the repairs and work with Skype. Simply tapping or pinching on the holographic objects can help in moving them from one position to another or users can even indulge in core painting exercises using HoloLens.

The might of HoloLens

During the launch event Microsoft showcased the potential of the HoloLens by bringing in a live project from the Case Western which is being utilized as teaching aid for the medical students. During this a human body appeared right in the middle of the room wherein first skeletons emerged then whole set of internal organs were made visible to the people. Users can easily walk past it or interact with the image by moving away different layers with different motion centric gestures.

Headset is light weight and doesn’t cause a strain on the neck but it will take some time before you become habituated to it. Microsoft mixed reality is an unproven technology at the moment but it has shown its mettle in this short demonstration where it brought a swift mixing of the real and virtual world.

Meet Luigi MIT's Sewer Scouring Robot


Luigi – Sewer Trawling Robot

A sewer-trawling robot has been created by Underworlds, a project from Senseable City Lab of MIT which has been designed in connecting the gold mine of information prowling in the sewer.The robot in question is known as Luigi and up to now, has been deployed underground in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Boston and Kuwait as a part of an experimental program which could be spun out in various cities worldwide.

Scientists are of the belief that on researching fecal matter they would be capable of envisaging the spread of infectious diseases, provide an image of the collective health of the community together with influence policy. The Underground project, launched in 2015, has been bringing experts together from engineering, public health and biology sectors.

Carol Ratti, MIT professor, co-principal investigator and founder of Senseable City Lab had commented that `the name (Underworlds) tends to highlight the rich amount of insights hidden in our cities and in this case in sewage’. Scientists can monitor urban health patterns and diabetes, analyse drug usage as well as identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria, by sampling and interpreting human waste.

Biomarkers in Human Waste – Insight in Infectious Diseases

Co-principal investigator of Underworlds and director of the Alm Lab, Eric Alm had explained that ` we all tend to flush valuable health data in the toilet. Sewers tend to signify an exceptional opportunity where health data from everyone in a community is assembled together.

With the provision of biomarkers in human waste, they are in a position of obtaining some insight regarding infectious diseases like flu strains, which has ultimately made it possible for the scientists to expect and alleviate epidemics. Collection of fecal samples is not really a desirable task.

 Ratti recalls that initially the sampling method had been very `low-tech’ and the same was lowered to a 20-foot pole with a bottle taped to the end of it in a manhole and the sample had been scooped out. Sampling waste by hand was not enjoyable and hence they started developing the robots.

To quicken things up, the team had installed a large pump at street level. He commented that all these methods seemed to be quite messy. It was then that the first automated sewage-scouring robot, Mario had come to the rescue.

Nintendo – First Generation Model

Named after the famous plumber, Nintendo, the first generation model updated the process though was not adequately fast. Then came in Luigi, which has been much more compact and economical wherein the new model has enabled the team to streamline the collection process.

Luigi measuring around 3feet long and 3 inches in diameter comes with a motor, pump together with a filter. In order to get the task done, the remote-controlled robot tends to descend from street level to the waste water and seizes the bacteria by pumping the water through a filtration system.

 On obtaining the samples Luigi tends to return to street level for refining and dispensation. Ratti has stated that usually the examination of sewage is carried out in the treatment plants beyond the cities which tend to lose the precise data owing to the time in transport.

However they are capable of beginning the filtration process of fecal and urinary matter in situ. Moreover accumulating fresh sample seems to be critical since gut bacteria tend to die off as soon as they enter the sewer system.