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The truth about cell phones and airplanes; office technology and the multitasking illusion

The Truth About Cell Phones and Airplanes
Source: Network World

Don't be fooled: The real problem with allowing the use of cell phones during commercial flights has nothing to do with safety, according to Network World.

Instead, officials at the Federal Communications Commission are concerned that in-air cellular connections might disrupt wireless networks on the ground. In theory, a cell site would detect phones in use overhead and would automatically begin registering those phones for its network, even as the airplane passes out of range.

FCC experts believe that process would eat up system resources and hamper network performance for ground-based callers. But other experts say recent changes in cellular technology make such a scenario unlikely.

Meanwhile, officials at the Federal Aviation Administration still support a ban on in-flight calls because they are concerned that the devices could disrupt an aircraft's navigation systems, although no such cases have been documented, according to Network World sources.

Who Me? Resisting Change?
Source: Leadership For A Networked World

Many tech leaders like to think that resistance to change and hide-bound cultures are bad things that happen with other department heads, never with themselves, the ultimate masters of change. As one former-comedian-turned-U.S. senator once quipped, "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."

Karen Evans, former administrator of e-government and information technology at the Office of Management and Budget, shared a story with Harvard professor (and blogger) Jerry Mechling about working with federal chief information officers to share resources and work across agency boundaries, as called for by the E-Gov Act of 2002. Agencies were content to discuss the strategies to a cross-agency shared-services model, but they resisted moving into an operational phase, Evans said.

Working with Evans, OMB's then-deputy director for management, Clay Johnson, asked a gathering of federal CIOs to think of all the phrases they used that reflected this resistance to change. Here are some of them.

You have a potential IT management problem if you hear the CIO say:

  • We are different from all other agencies.
  • This is an unfunded mandate.
  • I don't have enough time to plan; I need it now.
  • But we have always done it this other way.
  • The benefits of this are unquantifiable.
  • We will get a project manager as soon as we can.
  • We can finish developing the requirements later.
  • Let's just hire a contractor to do it.

Office Technology and the Multitasking Illusion
Source: Computerworld

Management experts who are studying the link between information technology and office productivity have some bad news for everyone.

All those devices that are designed to boost the productivity of your employees — PCs, laptop computers, smart phones and the like — might actually be wasting more time than they are saving, according to Computerworld.

The problem is not with the products but with the distractions they cause. Every time people interrupt one task for another — stop work on a document to check e-mail, for example — they need a little recovery time before they can get back on track with the original task.

As the number of distractions multiplies, the amount of time lost begins to pile up. Research firm Basex estimates that office workers lose an average of 28 percent of their day to interruptions and recovery time, Computerworld reports.

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