Saturday, December 29, 2007

Are You Obsessed With Your Job? Revisited.

I found this article on Yahoo a while back, just two days after I wrote about being obsessed with jobs and work. I told myself I would write my response to the article as it seemed to be a message written directly to me about my life and my work. Now the ironic part here is that I've been so busy and consumed with my work that I haven't had time to write anything until yesterday.

The article, written by Heather Boerner of Yahoo Jobs outlines the steps one can, and should take, to identify their work habits and manage them. After applying a few of the steps to my daily life I've found that I do, in fact, focus on work a bit too much and have a tendency to say "yes" more often than I should.

Since I first read the article I've started to apply some of the techniques mentioned to see how they affect my lifestyle. One of the biggest challenges I've found with this new work/stress management policy is convincing everyone around me, especially co-workers, that I've not lost my enthusiasm for the job but that I'm just trying to maintain my physical health and mental sanity. When I apply the techniques for maintaining a proper balance I notice I am more relaxed, I do not lose my temper as easily, I sleep better and I am more personable throughout the day. This is a me I like much more than the old.

The trick here is, as with everything in life, to find the proper balance. While I'm still no expert in this, I've become much better than I was just 6 months ago. Some days I might not be as involved as I should be, some days a bit too much but I am much more in control of my physical and emotional self and it is noticed by those around me.

The real and ultimate test will be my perceived success in the future. Will I feel that much different? Will I ultimately accomplish more in my lifetime with the proper balance? Will I feel as if I didn't accomplish as much? Only time will tell I guess. To make sure I'm honest, I fully plan to revisit this topic every so often to share the updates on my pursuit of balance.

- Mitch G

Friday, December 28, 2007

Students Create Wireless Self-Driving Car

This article worries me. Not that I'm afraid of having a car drive me around as I trust by the time the technology passes the strict NTSA standards it will be suitable for my daily use but because I enjoy the driving experience and buy exciting cars because of it. If every car on the road was able to self-drive then it wouldn’t matter what type of car your own because they would all drive and function the same. The only options would be whether you want plush or firm, cloth or leather seats.

Except for the occasional traffic-induced rage, I rarely wish that my car could drive itself. I do realize however that there are many people out there that loathe driving and would love nothing more than to have their car take them where they need to go. This loss of control and loss of choice is what you see in almost every past and present sci-fi movie. The loss of control inevitably leads to some type of dilemma for the main character causing them to wish they had maintained more in their life.

One reference is the movie i-Robot where Will Smith is taken for a ride in his self-driven Audi. All of the highways are completely automated which results in a major problem for Smith. The only reason he has the option to drive the car himself is because he has police authority to do so.

Just last year the NTSA partnered with GM’s Buick brand to test a handful of partial-self-driving cars on Southern California highways. The cars were able to maintain an 8 foot gas at a constant 60mph and could accelerate, brake, and steer themselves with little or no input from the human driver. So the technology is there and the testing has started.

The only level of automation I would gladly accept is a car capable of self-drive that would activate only on a specific portion of highway, if, and only if you wished to travel on that portion of the road; everything else would be left to the driver. Not that I would have any say in the issue, but I would fight vigorously to maintain my control for as long as possible. Efficiency, bah; control and driving pleasure, yes please.

I must however tip my hat to the students who were able to make the project a success. It takes a lot of hard work and ingenuity to create a self-driving car out of readily available technology and on a minimal budget.

With self-parking cars and smart cruise control already available, it is obvious we are not far away from the time when self-driving cars will hit local showrooms. I know I’ll be anxiously awaiting that day.

- Mitch G