Is Ctrl+Z handicapping us in the real world?

Has an easy undo feature trained us to work at high-speed but low focus?

When it’s always easy to undo and correct, there’s no reason to focus on getting things right, or even thinking things through before doing them.

Handwriting (or typing on a typewriter) a document meant being focused on the task because any mistakes meant ugly cross marks or rewriting the page.

Similarly, working with physical objects – in a carpentry class in college, or cooking a simple dish – required strong focus. A wrong cut in a wood slab meant a wasted slab or a hacked joint. A dish could end up overcooked or unsalted.

But when working on a computer, any errors due to a lack of attention can easily be rectified with a simple undo, removing the need for full focus in the moment.

As we (I) spend more of our time—work and leisure—on computers, we may have trained ourselves to expect the undo feature everywhere.

This mental training (‘all errors are undoable’) creeps into our non-computer activities and interactions. We may be forgetting to stay fully focused in the moment, to think ahead (before we speak/do), and thus may be becoming more inefficient/incapable than before.

Continue reading Is Ctrl+Z handicapping us in the real world?

How to cure a headache…

I had a mild headache and bad tinnitus when I slept last night.

I woke up with a headache, and the tinnitus returned soon after. So I skipped the morning work session, and went back to sleep. Woke up late, then spent another few hours reading in bed. The headache had only become a bit worse.

Now, finally, I’ve managed to get rid of the headache.

How?

  1. Treated myself to a mini roll stolen from R’s stash
  2. Went for a run in the woods in lovely weather – 15°C with a light drizzle.

Simple remedy, and one with no negative side effects (other than her cursing me for stealing her dessert stash).

Continue reading How to cure a headache…

Running a marathon vs a marathon cleaning session – a case of recency bias and duration neglect

Many hours into yesterday’s cleaning slugfest, R asked me if it was harder than the marathon the previous weekend.

I was squatting on the floor, scrubbing the shelves clean while a knee and the back hurt. My instant answer was ‘yeah’.

It was a case of recency bias – I was still suffering the pain from the cleaning (I was 4 hours in by then). The marathon1 had been a week ago. System 1 distinctly felt the current pain while forgetting the one in the past.

It was also a clear case of duration neglect. At times the cleaning was harder, nastier, and maybe even more painful than the marathon. However those painful periods were few. Most of the time it was just mildly irritating and dirty.

The marathon had been, in the latter half, nearly 90 mins of fighting biting physical pain and mental fatigue. Those final 90 mins were harder than anything I’ve done in a long time. I had to use all my willpower and focus training (thanks meditation & Calm) to keep myself going.

Yet, there were no ‘peak’ incidents of pain or suffering during the marathon – just a long period of struggle. So the brain, using system 1, ranked the marathon below yesterday’s cleaning session in effort. Duration neglect + peak-end rule!

My (self) training on biases kicked in quickly. Almost immediately after I answered ‘yeah’, I corrected myself ‘this is not even close’.


  1. Since the marathon post isn’t up yet: I ran the London marathon last Sunday. I’m still recovering. 

Well begun, and well done

Started the day with Parkrun. 24:51 of running, and about just as long chatting with the regulars. In fact spent first lap of the run chatting too – Anne’s dad, Rich from Phoenix, Andy, and Val. Never really bothered to run hard, but ended up with a decent time nonetheless. All the chatting in the first half meant that I had a negative split 🙂

It was a near perfect start to the weekend – a good run, lots of friendly faces, sunshine, and lots and lots of lovely, friendly dogs.

Back home, spent two hours reading the book in the conservatory. It was a beautiful morning with lots of sun, but often interspersed with dark clouds and chilly wind.

After lunch, made myself a coffee, and called home. It turned into an almost hour long video call with parents. It was nice to see them both. It was even better to end such a long call without getting into a fight over anything 😅

Had planned to call a friend too, but the long call home drained all my calling energy.

So I started with the long planned cleaning of the utility room. I expected it to be a long slog. 7 hours of slogging later, I’m only about ⅔rd done. I didn’t expect it to be that long slog!

At least the output is looking good.

While I was cleaning, Soham came over to spend some time while playing a video game and chatting.

I’d also brought Dudley over for the evening. He wasn’t happy though that I was cleaning, and not spending time with him.

After the long cleaning, took a long, hot shower, had dinner, and now watching MOTD.

I’m knackered, and very sleepy. Not broken, yet. Might have to cancel tomorrow’s bike ride plan though

It was a very good day. Hope tomorrow is more of the same.

Council elections 2019 – Guildford

Total: 48 seats
Lib Dems 17 (+7)
R4GV 15 (+15)
Conservatives 9 (-25)
GGG 4 (+1)
Labour 2 (+1)
Greens 1 (+1)


Quick notes:

Conservatives have governed the Guildford borough council since 1999. Today they lost 25 seats – going from 34 out of 48 seats, to just 9 seats. All of these remaining 9 were in armed forces heavy villages around Ash and Normandy.

They lost remain voters in the town by becoming the party of Brexit. And they lost Brexit voters in the villages by dismissing the widespread opposition to the local development plan, and cynically passing it just a week before the election.

(The plan allows three separate developments in the green belt for a total of about 4000 new homes. It’s massively unpopular for a variety of reasons – green belt love, house price NIMBYism, bad traffic and amenities provision…).

Labour remained immaterial, winning their token 2 seats in Stoke.

Lib Dems gained much of the Remain vote in the urban areas in and around town – gaining 7 seats to become the largest party with 17 seats.

Two groups of local/independent parties – Guildford Greenbelt Group and Residents for Guildford and Villages – gained most of the previously conservative votes in the villages.

Both these parties were formed in opposition to large scale house building plans in the green belt. The Brexit voting conservative voters in the villages are angry about the developments, and punished the Tories for their arrogance.

I wonder if R4GV+GGG will now be brave enough to push for a recall of the much hated local development plan.

Continue reading Council elections 2019 – Guildford