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Comment Re:It is like TPS cover sheets. (Score 1) 290

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.

Comment Re:Mastery is more important (Score 1) 290

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!

Comment Re:It is like TPS cover sheets. (Score 0) 290

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?

Comment Re:Unnecessarily complex? (Score 2) 453

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!

Comment Re:As a US citizen (Score 1) 212

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.

Comment Re:Forget the article, submitter is weird (Score 1) 167

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.

Comment Re:Some People (Score 1) 728

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.

Comment Re:Lego (Score 1) 458

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!

Comment Re:Lego (Score 2, Interesting) 458

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!

Comment Re:not stalking (Score 1) 123

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!

Comment Re:Hang on... (Score 1) 728

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?

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