My home-boy A-Tang was recently in a car driving back from a party. He asked his friends if he should yell “Boners 5-0″ out the window at a policeman who had pulled someone over. The consensus was that he obviously should.
A-Tang: Boners 5-0!
** Lights + Siren **
Policecop: I heard someone yell something out the window, do you require any assistance?
Partygoer: Uhh… no officer, we’re all fine here.
Policecop: Well I see you’re missing your seatbelt, that’s a ticket. Do you have your license and registration?
Drivey-Tang: Sorry, I don’t have my license with me…
Policecop: That’s another ticket. [To A-Tang] Are you happy? You just got your friend two tickets.
This story illustrates a point. Regardless if something is a good idea or not, if it is convenient to do and it might be a good idea then it is much more likely to be done than something that is difficult and definitely a good idea. For context check out The Easiest Way to Change People’s Behavior.
This applies a lot to personal habits. Anything within arms distance should be good for you. Tired of always eating a ton of chips and soda? Move them into the garage. Getting distracted by things nearby? Move to a different room or location where distractions are further away.
Here’s the kicker though: being a knowledge worker who needs to use the internet for most tasks distractions are always within arms reach. There might be some programs out there that move the most distracting and least productive parts of the internet away and if so they are probably of some value. Self-restraint will also help, but for maximal productivity it takes more than just that. Other solutions: Put on a business hat when doing business and a party hat when just surfing the net, designate certain computers/locations for work or play and keep them separate; your brain will figure it out if you are consistent. Adding a physical component to the context switch will put it out of arms reach.
Today at work Sharepoint was blocking access to Internet Explorer. Something like about:protectedmodeoff. I could look into it, do some searches and figure it out. But it was just quicker to tell anyone affected to download Firefox Portable, which worked.
Another interesting feature: when connecting to the Exchange server in IE it automatically logs in to your email. Which is great until you want to log in to access a different in-box, because you can never log out… EVER! Oops, Firefox time again.
Jeff Atwood from Coding Horror writes:
I’m a little surprised all the people who were so up in arms about the Microsoft “monopoly” ten years ago aren’t out in the streets today lighting torches and sharpening their pitchforks to go after Google.
Was it wrong for everyone to try and bust up Microsoft? Probably. They did quite a lot to make personal computing possible. On the otherhand web developmet is still recovering from IE6. On the third hand, how much of that was given to me for free? And for the record most people have a strange understanding of “free market capitalism.”
I’m not surprised about the difference. Google does me so many favors, for free, every day, even though I’m entitled to nothing. 8 GB email storage? An email client that isn’t awful? Online spreadsheets, word processing, presentations? Feed readers? All of this offered to me for free, as a gift. An elaborate scheme to bribe everyone into loving them? Who cares? What if they shut down all their free services tomorrow? Well then, “thanks for the ride, you’ve been generous.”
This is only speaking from the consumer side though. Maybe they’ll gouge businesses trying to advertise through AdWords. That’s a problem that will take care of itself. If they charge too much then businesses will have no incentive to advertise through them. “But!! I need the traffic!!” they’ll say. Then pay away good buddy! All that traffic can be yours for piles of cash; or you can focus on building a great product that people actually like to use and might tell their friends about.