Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘“save time”

That’s a long life: What Einstein equation has to do here?

I classified this article under “lucubrations” assuming that not many readers will select this category from among the other most interesting 35 categories in my blog.  In my dream, I managed an association between Einstein equation for defining energy and my definition for life.

 The details and clarifications of my equation were the products of my conscious state. Einstein defined the energy of an object as the product of the “mass” of the object by the square of the speed of light C. 

My definition of life is the sum of the products of elementary tasks by the speed of light.  Obviously, this equation needs plenty of clarifications.

First, the equation needs not be a sum of products and we can consider many other relevant functions after the definition of a task is understood.

Let us consider that any simple activity is constituted of hundreds of infinitesimal tasks, carried successively or in parallel, in order for an activity to be accomplished.  For example, in line production, every activity is subdivided into smaller tasks with computed standard time to finish an activity.  The idea is to train workers to be skilled, withing the standard time for each task, and even be paid accordingly to efficiency. 

Mind you, that acquiring skills and talent in any profession demands lots of repetition and investment of time and energy.  Well, every repetition of any task is counted in the equation; then, you can imagine how much life has been wasted just to be accredited as a professional or a skilled worker! 

If our brain and limbs could master a skill by simply “getting it” from the first trial of exposure then, imagine how much life we would have saved for another interesting things.  We would feel that life is stretching so long that it seems ageless.

Repetition of a task include the thousands of times that we copy, paste, reclassify, review, re-dust off our productions and memories.  Can you imagine how much life has been wasted by going back to long past activities? 

Dreaming is an activity with thousands of takes to constitute a movie.  Even the recurring dreams, mostly the unwanted ones, are counted.  The second time we experience a “deja-vue” dream is not as bad as the first projection: we tend to sit and watch as one of the audience, instead of being part of the movie; we just wait for this bad film to finish since we feel helpless to stop it or even press “Pause”.

Listen, this is a long story and a long article and I will get to you later for further clarifications and details.  Okay, I am back and I revisited my formula and revised it drastically.

Evidently, very few task go as fast as light C.  For example, the movements and reactions of limbs are pretty slow compared to light; brain reactions are at best as fast as electrons or 20 thousands km per second.  One of the rare task is as fast as C such as in the case when someone says: “I fell in love from the first look.”  This performance has high value rating in life: It can be repeated a hundred times a day; not necessarily with one hundred different women. 

For example, if you are endowed with a vivid imagination and can recapitulate “the moment” in your mind ad infinitum then, you can summarize the best that life can offer and very efficiently.  My position is that it is the first occurence that counts most, but recollecting this miraculous “moment” over and over again beats all other kinds of tasks in whatever criteria system you adopt.

Life equation clearly shows that there are many sorts of activities that ruin quality of life. What is your quality of life when you commute to work?  Repeating so-called automatic reactions in driving a car, a donkey, or a bike for hours a day is definitely cases of worsening the impact and mocking my formula. 

For example, how often you regurgitate worries left over from yesterday when you commute? How often you re-enact the clownish acting drama for the current day difficulties?  How often you ran a red light and ran over a lousy living person?  All these tasks count in the equation and should be eliminated the sooner the better. 

Think of algebra and how to cancel out redundant factors so that your life equation looks much simpler and beautiful.  So, how did you decide to commute in order to “save time” in congested metropolis?

One small problem remains to be resolved before we set our mind to changing our life style to maximize the life equation and its many constraint equations:  How many tasks and activities can fill a lifetime without being repeated again?  Are we indulging in repetitions simply because we lack the imagination to figure out plenty of activities?  Are traditions the main hurdle for our lack of imagination because it dangerously reduced licit or legitimate activities to be experienced?

How about getting on this wonderful job of revisiting taxonomies of tasks and activities that could excite you (or not) after retirement?  How about you fine tune the many tasks that constitute professional line fishing?

What could be the Human Factors performance criteria?

Note: Re-edit (Human Factors in Engineering, Article #38, written in March 31, 2006)

Performance” is the magic answer offered by university students to questions like “What is the purpose of this course, of this method, of this technique, or of this design?”

Performance is what summarizes all the conscious learning in the knowledge bag, for lack of meaningful full sentences available in the language to express clear purposes.

It takes a couple of months to wean the students from the catch word “performance” and encourage them to try thinking harder for specificity.

There is a hierarchy for this abstract notion of “performance”.

The next level of abstraction is to answer: “What kind of performance?“.

The third level should answer: “How these various performances criteria correlate?  Can we sort them out between basic performances and redundant performance criteria?”.

The fourth level is: “How much for each basic performance criterion?  Can we measure them accurately and objectively?”

It seems that every discipline has created for itself a set of performance criteria and they are coined in stone, so that an insertion of another element into that set, is like a paradigm shift in its field of science.

If you prompt a business or engineering university student to expand on the meaning of “performance”, when supported by a specific example, it might dawn on him to spell out another piece of jewels such as: “max profit”, “minimize cost”, “improve quality”, “increase production”, “save time”, or “increase market share”.

In order to reach a finer level of specificity we need to define functionally, for example, what “max profit” means.  A string of monosyllables rains from every where such as: “increase price”, “cut expenditure”, “sell more”, and again “improve quality”, “save time”, or “increase market share”.  If we agree that profit is a function of market share, price, expenditure, added values of products, and marketing services then we can understand what could be the basic criteria and which criteria dependent on the basic ones.

How can a business improve performance?

How can it make profit or cut costs? 

Should the firm layoff redundant employees, force early retirement, dip in insurance funds, contract out product parts and administrative processes, eliminate training programs, scrap off the library or continuing learning facilities, streamline the design process, reduce advertising money, abridge break times in duration or frequency, cut overhead expenses such as control lighting and comfort of the working environment, stop investing in new facilities, firing skilled workers, settling consumer plaintiffs out of court, searching for tax loopholes, or engineering financial statements?  How can a business increase its market share? How can it survive competitors and continually flourish?

How can a firm improve products for the quality minded engineers?

Should it invest on the latest technological advancements in equipment, machines, and application software, or should it select the best mind among the graduates, or should it establish a continuing education program with adequate learning facilities, or should it encourage its engineers to experiment and submit research papers, or should it invest on market research to know the characteristics of its customers, or should it built in safety in the design process, or perform an extensive analysis of the foreseeable misuses of its products or services, the type of errors generated in the functioning and operation of its products and their corresponding risks on health of the users, or manage properly employees’ turnover, or care about the safety and health of its skilled and dedicated workers, or ordering management to closely monitor the safety and health standards applied in the company?

At the first session of my course “Human factors in engineering” I ask my class:  “What is the purpose of an engineer?

The unanimous answer is: “performance”.  What are the criteria for an engineer?  The loud and emphatic answer is: “performance”!

At the first session of my class I repeat several times that the purpose of the engineering discipline is to design practical products or systems that man needs and wants, that human factors engineers are trained to consider first the health and safety of end users, the customers, the operators, and the workers when designing interfaces for products or systems.

At the first session I tell my class that the body of knowledge of human factors is about finding practical design guidelines based on the capabilities and limitations of end users, body and mind, with the following performance criteria: to eliminate errors, to foresee unsafe misuses, to foresee near-accidents, to design in safety operations, to consider the health problems in the product and its operation, to study the safety and health conditions in the workplace and the organizational procedures, to improve working conditions physically, socially, and psychologically, and to be aware of the latest consumer liability legal doctrines.

A month later, I am confronted with the same cycle of questions and answers, mainly: “What is the purpose of an engineer?”  The unanimous answer is: “performance”.  What are the criteria for a human factors engineer?  The loud and emphatic answer is: “performance”!

A few students remember part of the long list of human factors performance criteria, but the end users are still hard to recognize them.

A few students retained the concept of designing practical interfaces or what an interface could be but the pictures of end users are still blurred.

I have to emphasize frequently that the end users could be their engineering colleagues, their family members, and themselves.  I have to remind them that any product, service, or system design is ultimately designed for people to use, operate, and enjoy the benefit of its utility.

Human factors performance criteria are all the above and the design of products or services should alleviating the repetitive musculo-skeletal disorders by reducing efforts, vibration, and proper handling of tools and equipment, designing for proper postures, minimizing static positions, and especially to keep in mind that any testing and evaluation study should factor in the condition that a worker or an employee is operating 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and for many years.

I tell them that any profit or cost cutting is ultimately at the expense of workers/employees, their financial stability, safety standards, comfort, and health conditions physically, socially, and psychologically whereas any increase in performance should be undertaken as a value added to the safety, comfort, and health of the end users.




October 2020

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