1. Don’t be afraid of your Freedom

    Posted August 12, 2008 in software  |  No Comments so far

    Yesterday, Lifehacker featured a free Mac OS application called Freedom. You specify a time period and the program then shuts off your network connectivity until it elapses. I heard about it here and the Daily Telegraph has published a link to it too.

    Pretty simple, isn’t it? But is it useful?

    Not everyone thinks so. The majority of commenters on the Lifehacker thread have laid into the application. Most of the remarks can be paraphrased as “this is not something that I would use, as I have something called ‘willpower'”.

    What I find confusing, though, is the fact that so many people have used their time to log in and post comments to that effect. If I tried to actively communicate my non-interest in everything that I didn’t like or wouldn’t use, I’d die before I did anything else.

    If the application was buggy, expensive, or easily surpassed by rival products, then these comments would make sense. But it’s free, and it doesn’t seem to replicate features already offered elsewhere. So, as things stand, this is like me logging on to a Harry Potter forum and spending my time writing posts about how I’m not interested in Harry Potter.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t have too much of a problem being productive when the chips are down, but could see myself using a Windows version of this application every now and again.

  2. Why you should work from home more often

    Posted July 28, 2008 in work  |  No Comments so far

    I’m lucky to have an employer with a sensible telecommuting policy – all of our staff are entitled to spend one day per week working from home.

    If this isn’t something your company does, this column from the Economist provides a useful summary of the reasons why they should.

    The benefits of telecommuting are realised in the following areas:

    • Personal productivity – the telecommuter gains on average two hours of time normally lost to the commute
    • Environmental impact – avoiding the commute means a drop in personal CO2 emissions; if enough people did this, the global drop in energy consumption could be huge
    • Business benefits – it’s increasingly recognised that working from home can lead to productivity gains and cost reductions for the business; see the link above for a discussion of these.

    However, it’s going to take some time for working from home to break into the mainstream. Working practises will need to change quite fundamentally in order for less technology-centric workplaces to move to a telecommuting model. But companies should start to move in this direction sooner rather than later.