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Is Gamification a Good Motivator?

Faerunner Re:It is like TPS cover sheets. (290 comments)

Don't misunderstand - I'm fully in agreement that obstacles in a child's home life can really complicate the things that the school system is supposed to do with and to that child. I don't hold it against any kid when they are late/underfed/dressed poorly. That's the parents' job, not the kids'! We do need to do more to help kids with out-of-school problems, no doubt about it.

That said, it does not change the idea that schools are -supposed- to teach skills that will help in the workplace. Are they managing it? Not very well. And only part of the problem is coming from the fact that kids have bigger issues than showing up to school on time. The other part is that our school system itself is completely broken. But that's another rant... :)

As far as what my former workplace was thinking? They weren't. They also do yearly "Employee Engagement" surveys where they get loads of unhappy responses... and then launch "action plans" entirely devised by higher-ups who think that working top-down approaches is going to solve bottom-up problems. If it weren't for the fact that the company was so large and well-known I would be surprised if they lasted another few years... as it stands they'll probably struggle along for another couple of decades before they declare bankruptcy from their mismanagement.

more than 2 years ago
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Is Gamification a Good Motivator?

Faerunner Re:Mastery is more important (290 comments)

The problem with feeling like your skills are improving is that at many job levels there's only so much you can improve before you're doing the best you can do with the resources and options presented, and then they should be giving you more responsibilities and challenges so you can keep growing and learning. Instead, after the initial learning curve most people plateau and eventually get bored. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that management won't promote someone just because they've mastered their current responsibilities and are showing signs of wanting more (even if that promotion would improve morale and productivity), and all the "gamifying" in the world won't make up for that lack of mobility.

Gamifying the system doesn't work if your players never get to level up!

more than 2 years ago
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Is Gamification a Good Motivator?

Faerunner Re:It is like TPS cover sheets. (290 comments)

How do you think adults learn not to bring their personal shit into the workplace? School is *supposed to* teach them all of those soft skills like communication and being on time and not discussing personal shit while you're working. Of course it's failing, but we should set aside a space in schools for kids to talk about their home and their problems outside the normal classroom environment anyway. Isn't that what counselors should be there for?

On-topic: Honestly, I didn't like report cards when I was in school and I still don't like them now, and I think that offering real rewards (like "Hey, our office/branch/store gets more money to spend on cool stuff to do with you guys if you do your jobs well (as measured by total $$ brought in, and not any single person's performance)", and "We're gonna offer you stock options and bonuses for every year you're with us", and "Here's a discount on your medical benefits for not getting into a work-related accident!") is a much better motivator than some arbitrary system of scorecards and points.

My last job actually called them scorecards, and the metrics they measured caused bad employee behavior and were in part out of the direct control of employees, which pretty well killed morale - why even try, if you can't win? They'd fire anyone whose scorecard was chronically low, without any consideration toward reasons or whether they could replace the employee (when I left the number of open positions was in the double digits and growing, and new hires stayed less than a month). Then they added an attendance point system, which punished employees for being late or calling off even with medical reasons (a death in the family on a Saturday cost you 2 points just like a hung-over call-off would) while giving one point/month if you weren't late at all. The reward? NOTHING. You got more points, but they capped you at 15 and the full-timers started with 12 anyway. You couldn't trade them in for paid vacation days or a free no-questions-asked day off or to leave early, and calling off remained the same regardless of points - "oh, you can't come in now? Can you come in in two hours?". The points were literally shiny gold stars. They looked good but did nothing. The firings that were supposed to happen when you hit 0 points didn't happen for months after the system was implemented either, and then it only happened if you had 0 points and were also a problem for your managers in some other way.

It's entirely possible that the scorecards and attendance points could have been managed better and maybe they could have been useful and encouraging but my experience tells me that upper management wouldn't ever want to put the work into that kind of system in order to get good results and that this is probably true for a lot of companies. And considering that games engage us not because of points/coins/rupees/stars but because of what rewards we can buy with those points/coins/rupees/stars.... I'd say the second most important part of "gamifying" your workplace, behind making sure you're measuring actual performance and not loophole-finding, is setting rewards that will encourage participants. And that's gonna cost the company something - free sick days, beach volleyball parties, whatever. From management's view, the challenge is to figure out what is most rewarding to the employees below without costing the company more than the expected increase in productivity will cover. Unfortunately that cuts out a lot of ideal rewards like merit raises, but how much does an extra paid day off cost if you expect a happier, well-rested employee to be more productive the rest of the week?

more than 2 years ago
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The Iceman's Last Meal

Faerunner Re:Not much of a tooth brusher (116 comments)

They also had sand everywhere, including in the flour they used to make their bread. And sand is a really great abrasive, as you probably know. I wouldn't blame all their tooth decay on sweets!

more than 3 years ago
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How Today's Tech Alienates the Elderly

Faerunner Re:Unnecessarily complex? (453 comments)

A commenter on TFA actually stated that one reason he sees the elderly in particular having problems with new tech is that the machines they grew up with were much easier to break (or they were TOLD it was easy to break) and they have the attitude of "don't touch it if you don't understand it". That being the case, they stare helplessly rather than explore - you or I would start pushing buttons at random, opening menus... they are going to look for something simply labeled, because otherwise they are afraid to touch.

A simple solution, therefore, would be to encourage the elderly to explore their new tech devices before yelling for help... if they can't learn that, I would be selling them on a simpler device!

more than 3 years ago
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Terror Arrest Used As Fodder To Fund Real ID Act

Faerunner Re:As a US citizen (212 comments)

I suspect it would look similar to Europe under the EU, albeit still more homogeneous because of our shared history.

We are, after all, the United States. Even the name indicates that the power ought to lie in state governments; that the federal government should be little more than a depot for inter-state commerce and other such wide-ranging affairs. If a state wanted, it could break off relations with the other 49 and get on with life as an independent territory, however unlikely that might seem (people always seem to forget South Carolina's attempted secession from the union).

Leaving one state for another is relatively easy because the states have all kinds of reciprocity. You can hire a moving van in one state and drive it to the next and drop it off there for a small fee; you can change addresses using a simple form from the post office; the culture and language and side of the road that you drive on are pretty much the same no matter where you go in the US. Leaving the country requires a passport, and all kinds of tangles with immigration/emigration forms and requirements, potentially new vaccinations, new laws to learn and follow, and occasionally a new side of the road to drive on. All of that change is a pretty good motivator to avoid moving outside the states if one can mitigate one's suffering under gov't simply by moving across state lines.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Seeks Do-Let-The-Bed-Bugs-Bite Patent

Faerunner I thought... (176 comments)

...Monsanto had already patented every possible genetically modified organism (GMO) they could get their greedy little hands on... you mean they forgot mosquitoes?

more than 3 years ago
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A New Idea, For People Who Want To See More Banner Ads

Faerunner Re:Forget the article, submitter is weird (167 comments)

Whether you recognize it or not, almost every ad you see is hinting at your sense of self worth in some way. Take the JC Penney ad ("The Walk") linked above. That ad, as beautifully made as it is, has a very direct message: "If you really love your mother (and you should!), you should show her your appreciation with a gift from our store!". That of course implies that if you -don't- buy your mother a gift, or if you buy it somewhere else, you're clearly not the best kid ever and should feel bad about yourself.

Now, most people will not process that message on a conscious level, and many won't be affected by it in ways anyone can pinpoint, but imagine a lifetime of "buy this for your family/friends/self" (with the unspoken idea that buying will make you rich/successful/sexy/appreciated by your family) and what that could do to your behavior. Eventually, you start buying because when you don't buy you feel guilty for "being cheap" or you feel like you're not showing your appreciation of others properly, or you'll never be rich/successful/sexy/appreciated by your family, because you can't buy them everything the ads show.

I know you know people who, if they didn't receive an appropriately expensive gift from you, would assume you hated them. THAT is what ads do best.

I still appreciate the art that goes into a well-crafted 60-second piece, though. And I might save them for later, if they were relevant to my interests.

about 4 years ago
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A Nude Awakening — the TSA and Privacy

Faerunner Re:Some People (728 comments)

Ok, but the median is 100, and the "average person" isn't too far from that median in any given population, ie, they're at the 'top' of the distribution curve, in the middle of the grouping. And if you're using a standard distribution curve, and pick any "average" person with an IQ of around 100 out of the bunch, on a standard distribution curve nearly half of the population is going to be at or below that point in the curve, with most in the 90's and numbers trailing off as you get to the low end. As far as I can tell the statement's correct, or at least close enough to be funny. You're over-thinking a cheap shot at idiocy.

about 4 years ago
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Thought-Provoking Gifts For Young Kids?

Faerunner Re:Lego (458 comments)

I have no idea, but I'd like to think it's because they're the most mind-shatteringly amazing blocks in all of human experience. The book was published in 1932 and the cube was invented in 1936, so a connection is plausible.

That, or SOMA means something in Danish, the language of the guy who invented the cube (although Google Translate says no), or it just sounded cool. The world may never know!

more than 4 years ago
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Thought-Provoking Gifts For Young Kids?

Faerunner Re:Lego (458 comments)

Quite right, which is why the Soma cubes and Hi-Q/"Solitaire" stand out as great gifts. They're very much single-player.

more than 4 years ago
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Thought-Provoking Gifts For Young Kids?

Faerunner Re:Lego (458 comments)

Seconding Lincoln Logs. I loved my lincoln logs set. If you can, get one of the older sets that didn't have as many specialized plastic bits - these days the sets have flags, horses, people, etc that detract from the number of actual wooden logs in one set and restrict the building possibilities. I used to spend hours with my set.

Also good were strategic board games (especially stuff like Risk, Checkers, Chess, chinese checkers, Mastermind, and Hi-Q. We also had a pair of Soma cubes (like 3d Tetris!) with a booklet of shape puzzles which provided endless hours of fun and spatial reasoning practice. These things are mostly cheap and in the case of the Soma cubes were in fact "unremarkable bits of plastic" - they were just educational, interesting unremarkable bits of plastic which I still remember as being great ways to spend a rainy day, and they're open to kids of almost any age because they're SO simple to start with, but they scale beautifully as the kids age. I guarantee - if you hand your nieces/nephews a Soma cube set they'll have to wrestle it away from their parents before they can play with it!

more than 4 years ago
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Cisco Social Software Lets You "Stalk" Customers

Faerunner Re:not stalking (123 comments)

You completely missed the point if you think this is only about reading. The company is free to search "HP Printers suck" and find and read every single comment I make on the subject.

What I find skeevy and stalker-ish and generally unexpected is when a company rep is being paid to inject themselves into the conversation and attempt to fix the problem. Reading is okay, although if a company "follows" me on Twitter I'm going to be surprised - that's a lot of resources put into watching what I say in case I say something about them! Replying? If the company wants to waste a lot of time and money, they can hire someone to comment on my blog posts or retweet everything nice I say. But pursuing customers day after day, waiting for issues to pop up so they can fix them? A little overenthusiastic, and it doesn't fit with my ideas of a working business relationship. As with any partnership, some "alone time" is necessary and I'd rather not have a company breathing down my neck every time I post online, just in case I say something bad about their product. It reeks of stalking behavior and tells the customers "We don't think you're responsible/intelligent/trustworthy enough to tell us when we could improve or that something needs to be fixed, so we're going to keep a close eye on things ourselves!"

I didn't sign up for any company's "service" contracts and I don't expect or need them to go out of their way to "fix" things every time I make an offhand comment on my blog. I don't care if they take my feedback into consideration when I post it publicly. Mining blog posts and finding out that the public thinks your printers use too much ink is a great way to improve your product in the long run, and if I post a review publicly I expect the data to be used like that.

However, I don't expect or like it when they start using my feedback as a means to push their other products and services on me as soon as the comment is made, which is what the Cisco service threatens to be all about. "Oh you don't like that feature? You should try this NEW printer! We can make it ten times better! You're out of ink? The online store is this way!"

It's the difference between a store manager noticing that a lot of people buy corn flakes (and ordering more next time) and the same manager hiring people to follow you around the store, waiting for you to mention that they're out of corn flakes so they can apologize profusely, suck up a lot, attempt to fix the corn flake problem by ordering more immediately and offering to have them shipped to your home, and then handing you a customer service evaluation at the door on the way out. Maybe some people enjoy that level of service, but you have to at least admit the existence of those of us who dislike being followed around and asked if everything's ok in 5 minute intervals!

more than 4 years ago
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Cisco Social Software Lets You "Stalk" Customers

Faerunner Re:not stalking (123 comments)

I never said my expectations were fair, reasonable, or easily met!

I have no problem with people -reading- what I have to say - if I took issue with people knowing my views I wouldn't air them. Why are you so caught up on the "reading" aspect?

more than 4 years ago
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Considering a Fair Penalty For Illegal File-sharing

Faerunner Re:Hang on... (728 comments)

Clearly, if you are confident that you are valuable and that your time is valuable, if you work hard, have great self-esteem, and never spend any money you don't absolutely have to, riches will rain down on your head and you will never want for anything again. Why worry about such niggling little things as feeding your children and keeping your cows safe? Just tell everyone you know (including the cows) that you're charging them $200 an hour for the time you deign to spend with them - it's a guaranteed path to riches!

You don't need to suck up to rich people to get rich, right? I mean, isn't that the antithesis of the American Dream?

more than 4 years ago
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Chip Allows Blind People To See

Faerunner Re:This is actually pretty cool (231 comments)

Thanks, that's really useful!

It's actually only slightly worse than my uncorrected vision where clarity is concerned (the cars in the original image look almost as blobby without my glasses as they do in the taxel image with my glasses on!), but seeing in full color makes a big difference in depth perception and pattern recognition. If I didn't have the reference image I would have difficulty telling what that greyscaled set of blobs really was. I can't imagine that being too useful in situations where there is a lot of visual info to process. Maybe in a very clean, very bright room it works well... it's a start!

more than 4 years ago
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School Children Are Now Too Fat to Fit In Class Chairs

Faerunner Re:Not surprising (84 comments)

The accessibility issue is why I'm volunteering here (in Pittsburgh) with a nonprofit agency that includes an urban ag initiative. I work at the "farm" (a reclaimed baseball field) every week, and there's a farmer's market that's paired with the local food bank for greater selection than we can produce (trucked in from local farmers), and the ability to take food stamps and WIC. The project is still in its infancy and doesn't get many customers, but we're in an area where the nearest "grocery store" that isn't a corner booze and cig place is at least 5 miles away down the highway; not a good walk by any means, so we're hoping word spreads that there are veggies to be had closer to home.

We're in a "food desert", and the people here show it. Surprisingly, there are no gardens except the ones started by the ag project (I suspect people here are so worn down they think a garden would be too much effort). When we moved into our home here the yard was full of snack wrappers (twinkies, chocolate chip "granola" bars) that I assume were tossed by the prior resident's kids, but there wasn't a single orange peel or apple core on the lot. In one of our cupboards we found a crumpled McDonald's bag. The kitchen was coated with grease (literally - I had to soak the cupboard doors and shelves in industrial de-greaser!), and I had to clean the phone number for Pizza Hut off the wall in the living room.

If any of this surprises you, you don't realize how poorly most Americans eat, especially when they are living in an area that is both low-income and far from any walkable grocery stores. Pizza hut costs more than I'd ever pay for regular meals, but if they deliver and the other choices are walking five miles to the nearest store (and doing so while trying to find free childcare and/or taking your kids with you!) or paying for a bus and then trying to budget and squeeze your shopping bags into a bus seat, getting home and spending another half hour in the kitchen cooking... sure, that's the healthy option, but how many people have the opportunity and motivation to choose it?

I doubt Australia faces the exact same issues as the urban US, but I'm sure their problems are similar enough, when it comes to the reasons behind child obesity.

Then again, if the desks are really too small is it fair to call the kids fat? I suspect these desks are still being made to fit the 1940's "average", when people were still building basements for 5'4" tall adults (I hate old house basements!). Maybe the measurements need to be adjusted for today's average healthy build and if the "fat" kids -still- don't fit, then we can start blaming their size.

more than 4 years ago
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Cisco Social Software Lets You "Stalk" Customers

Faerunner Re:not stalking (123 comments)

When do you have the right to complain? Am I allowed to email you? Can I use your /. username as a Google search term, find someone under that name on another site, and follow them? Can I check for your profile on LinkedIn? Can I look you up in the phone book and call your home to discuss the comment you made?

Do I have to make contact for it to be stalking and harassment, or is there some critical mass of your posts on /. that I have to store before it starts getting creepy? Is it creepier if it's an individual rather than a company doing it?

When I post something online, whether it's to my blog or to /., I have expectations for that post's use. I expect that if it's copied it will be linked back to the original, I expect that it won't be used to market items to me (except where I have opted into the marketing), and I expect that no one's mining it for complaints related to their products. If I want to write a post bitching about my HP printer's waste of ink, I don't expect an HP rep to call me the next day and ask how they can improve the printer.

In some cases it would be useful to provide feedback via that kind of medium, but for most people most of the time, we aren't providing company feedback when we say HP printers suck because they use too much ink, and we don't expect HP to find that comment, track it, and offer assistance (not that they would, anyway - I suspect most complaints that people make outside the hearing range of the company they're complaining about are such things as would not be fixed even if the company knew about them, and there's a good chance the company already does).

more than 4 years ago
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Chip Allows Blind People To See

Faerunner Re:This is actually pretty cool (231 comments)

Ok, but a tactile input system or a forehead system is always going to be conspicuous, will always require an adjustment period while the brain re-learns how to deal with the input, and just isn't as freaking awesome as retinal implants.

Yes, sensory substitution -works- but it clearly doesn't work very well because I don't see any blind people using it right now. What does it cost? Is it covered by insurance? If I went blind I'd rather stay blind than pay several thousand dollars to strap something to my forehead every day, just to see dull shapes and colors. I know what it's like to be nearsighted and not be able to pick out fine details without getting -really- close, and if I had to choose between blindness and poorly rendered, poorly colored tactile vision rendered by a forehead strip that made me look like a star in a bad 80's technothriller, I think I'd stay blind and hold out for an improvement in the tech.

Of course, I'm not blind. While I'm pretty nearsighted and can't read what I'm currently typing from more than a foot away without my glasses, I can get around just fine without them if I'm not required to drive. I once worked for a week at a girl scout camp without them (they broke) - performing all my regular duties, and even learning to recognize my co-workers across a field full of people without needing to see their faces. But that ability also means I've never had to navigate completely without sight except by choice (like walking to the bathroom for a drink at 3am). I assume many blind people would enjoy the chance to see, but I can only assume no one's that excited by huge sight-replacing devices with 512 "taxel" resolution*, except as a step toward better things.

*I've tried to imagine this and even asked Google to come up with an image that showed what this might 'look' like and come up with nothing, so I can't even compare it to my own nearsightedness as far as clarity of the image and how useful it would be - anyone have an example?

more than 4 years ago
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Judging You By the Online Company You Keep

Faerunner Re:Financial Meltdown (117 comments)

Better risk analysis wouldn't have helped with the attitude of many people that "The market isn't going to crash", "Subprime lending is going to work out just fine", and "If it gets too bad we'll just pass the debt on to someone else!".

Knowledge is great, but without insight it becomes meaningless.

more than 4 years ago

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