In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.

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Technology FAIL

If I haven’t mentioned before, the Lean Six Sigma waste I despise the most is “operator idle time.” Translated: I hate being bored, twiddling my thumbs waiting for something to happen, or otherwise killing time. This means I endeavour to fill my “free” time with value-add tasks – not all of which are, in the end, but that’s another post.
Today’s post is about my latest attempt to make my commute less “idle” (within the boundaries of safe driving of course).  Rather than listening to the same tunes over and over, I’m trying podcasts.  Making my commute more productive AND making up for how rarely I read. (Too much going on to sit still!)
Technology, however, is conspiring against me.
My car has integrated Bluetooth, and my phone has a “car mode” which enables voice commands when it connects to the car’s Bluetooth. Brilliant! Hands-free operation. Love it!
Except every couple of sentences, my podcaster will say something my phone thinks is a voice command! Then I’m fighting to counteract the command; get the podcast started again; get back to where podcast was interrupted; and by the time everything is right again, another sentence or phrase goes by that the phone interprets as instructions.
This is how distracted driving happens despite all our technological advances!
I’m not turning off the Bluetooth altogether in case I need to place or receive a call. My choices are to give up on the fancy voice-operated car mode on my phone, or stop listening to podcasts. OR: go back to my plain old boring mp3 player, with no fancy features, voice control, or Bluetooth. Old school technology for the win!

UPDATE: I couldn’t bring myself to use the old mp3 player…not without a few more tricks first. I tried an audio cable in the headphone jack, and while that worked accidental-voice-command-free, the sound quality was abysmal. What finally did the trick was simply using a different app – besides the car mode voice control music player – to listen to the podcast over Bluetooth. Which serves as a reminder to always keep looking for a better way.

(“Better” being however you define it, of course!)

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The Biorhythms of Bits

I’ve noticed a lot of ads lately for banks which offer free online banking and bill pay. Which strikes me as odd. Free online billpay isn’t a “key differentiator” in the banking market, because everyone (or nearly so) offers it now. The banks would be fools not to! If they wanted to really stand out among their competitors, they should offer “I don’t care what time of day it is” online billpay. In my own situation, if I don’t schedule the online payment by 5 p.m. local, the payment is delayed an extra day. Really? Do all the little 1s and 0s which make up my transaction have a quitting time too? Do they need to get home through rush hour traffic to put their baby bits to bed? Are they tired in the evening because they have to start work so early the next day? Hmmmmm…

I puts on my business process analyst hat, and I thinks to myself: there’s a human involved in this process somewhere, OR, there’s an artificial constraint on the system to observe “business hours” in a world of bits and bytes. Either way, there’s an opportunity here for some enterprising and forward thinking bank! If only one of their employees would read my blog!

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One Red Cent

I am very annoyed with Barnes and Noble right now.

Almost annoyed enough to use the S-word.

That’s right.  SCAM.

I was sooooooooo excited to find they offered free ebooks from Google Books.   All I wanted was Don Quixote, in English, on my BN eReader on my BlackBerry.  And they had multiple editions (from the 19th century, granted, but good enough) through BN, so I could save it to my BN account, and it would sync wirelessly.  AWEsome!

Or not.  I got suspicious when it started asking for my credit card information.  And my billing address.   Huh?  Come to find out, in small letters at the bottom, that they were going to charge my credit card.  $0.01.  One red cent.

NO.  If you tell me the book is free, then give me the book for free.  If you have to charge me a penny – for transaction fees, or whatever kind of fees – that’s fine, charge me a penny: but don’t tell me the book is free.  Tell me it costs a penny.  Then I’ll pay a penny. 

Otherwise, I’ll just read it online, thankyouverymuch.

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Is there a nanotechnologist in the house?

I hope someone reads this blog eventually because I am giving out great ideas for free!

This month: pantyhose embedded with nanotechnology to have slow release capsules of depilating gel. It would work gradually, after several wears; and it would only release the chemical when it came into contact with human skin oils. Once you reached your target level, wearing the hose twice a week would be enough to maintain smooth and silkly legs all the time!

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Dear Nanotechnologists

Please invent gloves with nannites in the outer layer so bacteria or viruses that come in contact with the gloves while we are wearing them are destroyed by the nannites. That way we could wear the gloves when we are in public and no longer fear picking up pathogens on our hands. Please note that the nannites can only be in the outer layer, as human skin is covered with millions of helpful bacteria, and we don’t want weird side effects from them getting hurt.

I’m not asking for royalties for this brilliant idea, but please give me a shout out when you win the Nobel Prize for radically changing the face of epidemiology in the world.