Using Technology To Simplify Your Life In Spite of Technology

Hi everyone!

For those of you who haven’t heard, I’ve graduated from the University of Victoria with a Ph.D and have moved on to Oregon State University doing a postdoctoral research position. I am currently working with Margaret Burnett. Her group is mostly a Human-Computer Interaction group with flavours of Software Engineering. She is especially focused on end-user programming, in which ordinary end users have to solve programming problems, like when they use Excel; as well as human interactions with machine learning systems.

There are many interesting things going on at OSU. I think it’s partly because it’s a new place, but also because as a postdoc, I have a number of additional commitments I didn’t have as a student. I’ve participated in grant proposal writing, paper writing, and similar duties, and as the postdoc in the group, I am involved across a larger number of projects than as a Ph.D student. This means that I have more things to keep track of, more meetings to go to, and more people to interact with.

While in the United States, I took the plunge and bought an iPhone 4S. This adds another level of complexity: a smartphone requires data for it to be useful, and now I have yet another device in which I have to manage data on. The iPhone is useful as a way to check my calendars, my To-Do lists, and to read papers on, but it requires a new level of organization to ensure that it can serve these purposes.

As a result of this rather increased level of complication in my life I am going to write about Using Technology To Simplify Your Life In Spite of Technology. Why the funny title? Well, technology has the ability to help you, especially through automation, but at the same time it requires time. You need to commit to keeping the devices updated and working, and you need to ensure that they’re going to be serving you.

I’m hoping that these upcoming articles will help some people gain ideas about how they can synchronize, share, and acquire knowledge, and maybe stay organized in the process. I’m sure that many of you readers are familiar with many of the tools and techniques I’ll discuss (since, after all, you might have told me about some of this stuff in the first place) but I hope that hearing about how these services are integrated together might help others out there.

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