Daily Archives: October 30, 2014

Are you sleeping with your smartphone?

New York: A considerable number of people take their smartphones with them to bed – some even holding them in their hands as they dream, said a survey.

According to a latest survey by California-based QR Code Press magazine, 53 percent of respondents said they regularly took their smartphones with them when they went to bed.

QR Code Press released the results of a new mobile technology survey it had conducted to examine certain behaviours with regards to smartphone use, such as taking their devices to bed with them.

While five percent of them noted that they have fallen asleep with their device in their hand, two percent claimed to have texted someone while they were asleep.

According to a Nielsen study, the average American was already spending 34 hours and 21 minutes per month on mobile technology devices.

Some have even interrupted their sleep to make use of their mobile device, most often for social media purposes.


Posted from WordPress for Android

100 buried alive in Sri Lanka tea region mudslide

Around 100 people were buried alive in a tea-growing region of Sri Lanka on Wednesday as mudslides triggered by monsoon rains washed away their homes on a plantation, disaster officials said. One witness spoke of hearing a noise like thunder as part of a mountainside collapsed onto the estate, burying some of the workers’ homes in 30 feet (nine metres) of mud and debris.

“What I gathered is that about 100 people have been buried alive,” Disaster Management minister Mahinda Amaraweera told AFP after visiting the site in the eastern Koslanda region.

“There is no chance they could have survived,” said the minister, as other officials said 16 people were confirmed dead.

Hundreds of soldiers, who initially used their hands to dig for survivors, had switched to operating excavators by evening but hopes had faded of finding anyone else still alive.

“Anyone buried under the mud has a very slim chance of surviving,” Disaster Management Center spokesperson Sarath Kumara told AFP.

The annual monsoon brings vital rains for irrigation and electricity generation but also causes frequent loss of life and damage to property.

The minister said the search and rescue mission led by troops had now turned into a recovery operation, which they hope to resume at first light on Thursday.

He said using heavy machinery also had to be done carefully because the surrounding hills were unstable.

“Initially we estimated the missing number at 300, but most of them were at school or work,” the minister said.

“We have already started relief operations to provide them with shelter and food.

“Even the office where records were kept had been damaged,” the minister said.

The region’s top military official, Major General Mano Perera, said 302 people, including 75 schoolchildren, whose homes were destroyed in the mudslide were being looked after at two schools in the same area.

The mudslide hit at a time when most people were at work and children were already in school, leaving the elderly and the very young at home.

The military officer said about 500 troops had been deployed in the area to carry out the search for victims.

Kumara said 16 bodies have so far been recovered from the disaster around 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the capital Colombo.

“We have reports of 140 houses getting washed away in the mudslides,” Kumara added.

Part of a mountain appeared to have collapsed onto the cluster of homes belonging to the tea plantation workers and their families below, leaving no trace of them, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

Shopkeeper Kandasamy Prabhakaran, 34, said he heard a noise like thunder and then saw houses being washed away by tonnes of mud.

“Right before my eyes I could see houses crumbling and getting washed downhill,” Prabhakaran said.

“It all happened very quickly.”

President Mahinda Rajapakse ordered troops to deploy heavy equipment to speed up the rescue efforts, his office said.

Military sources said they expected more heavy machinery to reach the site, but damage to roads as well as heavy rain and mist were slowing them down.

Sections of several national highways have also been washed away by the rains and a train was stuck after a mountain slope crashed onto a railway line.

The landslide began at about 7:45am (0215 GMT) and lasted about 10 minutes, Perera said, adding “some houses have been buried in 30 feet of mud.”

Authorities have begun checking on the number of people who were in their homes when tragedy struck.

Kumara said the mudslide struck after schools opened and tea plantation workers were supposed to be at work, but bad weather may have prompted some to stay home.

The area is prone to mudslides and residents had been repeatedly warned to move to safer areas as monsoon rains lashed the region, the Disaster Management Center said.

Thirteen people were killed in mudslides in and around Colombo in June.

Cyclonic winds that accompanied the monsoon in June last year killed 54 people, mostly fishermen.


Posted from WordPress for Android

Tailor Your Presentation to Fit the Culture

Fourteen years ago I moved from Chicago to Paris. The first time I ran a training session in France, I prepared thoroughly, considering how to give the most persuasive presentation possible. I practiced my points, and anticipated questions that might arise.

The day of the session, my actions were guided by the lessons I had learned from many successful years of training in the U.S. I started by getting right to the point, introducing strategies, practical examples, and next steps.

But the group did not seem to be responding as usual, and soon the first hand came up. “How did you get to these conclusions?” You are giving us your tools and recommended actions, but I haven’t heard enough about how you got here. How many people did you poll? What questions did you ask?” Then another jumped in: “Please explain what methodology you used for analyzing your data and how that led you to come to these findings”.

The interruptions seemed out of place, even arrogant. Why, I wondered, did they feel the need to challenge my credibility? The material was practical, actionable and interesting. Their questions on the other hand – if I were to spend the necessary time answering them – were so conceptual they were sure to send the group into a deep slumber. So I assured them that the methodology behind the recommendations was sound, and was based on careful research, which I would be happy to discuss with them during a break. I then moved back to my conclusions, tools and practical examples. Let’s just say things got worse from there.

The stonewall I had run into was “principles-first reasoning” (sometimes referred to as deductive reasoning), which derives conclusions or facts from general principles or concepts. People from principles-first cultures, such as France, Spain, Germany, and Russia (to name just a few) most often seek to understand the “why” behind proposals or requests before they move to action.

But as an American, I had been immersed throughout my life in “applications-first reasoning” (sometimes referred to as inductive reasoning), in which general conclusions are reached based on a pattern of factual observations from the real world. Application-first cultures tend to focus less on the “why” and more on the “how.” Later, as I began to understand the differences between one culture and another in how to influence other people, I heard many examples of the way the typical American presentation style is viewed from a European perspective.

Jens Hupert, a German living in the United States for many years, explained his opposite experience during an interview. “In the U.S., when giving a talk to my American colleagues, I would start my presentation by laying the foundation for my conclusions, just like I had learned in Germany; setting the parameters; outlining my data and my methodology; and explaining my argument.” Jens was taken aback when his American boss told him, “In your next presentation, get right to the point. You lost their attention before you got to the important part.” In Hupert’s mind, “You cannot come to a conclusion without first defining the parameters.”

Most people are capable of practicing both principles-first and applications-first reasoning, but your habitual pattern of reasoning is heavily influenced by the kind of thinking emphasized in your culture’s education structure.

Different cultures have different systems for learning, in part because of the philosophers who influenced the approach to intellectual life in general. Although Aristotle, a Greek, is credited with articulating the applications-first thinking, it was British thinkers, including Roger Bacon in the 13th century and Francis Bacon in the 16th century, who popularized these methodologies. General conclusions are reached based on a pattern of actual observations in the real world.

For example, if you travel to my hometown in Minnesota in January, and you observe every visit that the temperature is considerably below zero, you will conclude that Minnesota winters are cold. You observe data from the real world, and you draw broader conclusions based on these empirical observations. Francis Bacon was British, but later, Americans with their pioneer mentality came to be even more applications-first than the British.

By contrast, philosophy on the European continent has been largely driven by principles-first approaches. In the 17th century, Frenchman René Descartes spelled out a method of principles-first reasoning in which the scientist first formulates a hypothesis and then seeks evidence to prove or disprove it.

For example, you may start with the general principle like “all men are mortal.” Then move to “Justin Bieber is a man.” And that leads you to conclude that “Justin Bieber will eventually die.” One starts with the general principle, and from that moves to a practical conclusion. In the 19th century, the German Friedrich Hegel introduced the dialectic model of deduction, which reigns supreme in schools in Latin and Germanic countries. The Hegelian dialectic begins with a thesis, or foundational argument; this is opposed by an antithesis, or conflicting argument; and the two are then reconciled in a synthesis.

No matter which type of country you were raised in, and which cultures you are working with, it helps a lot to be able to adapt your style according to your audience. Here are a few tips to guide your preparation when working internationally:

When working with applications-first people:

Presentations: Make your arguments effectively by getting right to the point. Stick to concrete examples, tools and next steps. Spend relatively little time building up the theory or concept behind your arguments. You’ll need less time for conceptual debate. Persuading others: Provide practical examples of how it worked elsewhere. Providing Instructions: Focus on the how more than the why.

When working with principles-first people:

Presentations: Make your argument effectively by explaining and validating the concept underlying your reasoning before coming to conclusions and examples. Leave enough time for challenge and debate of the underlying concepts. Training sessions may take longer. Persuading others: Provide background principles and welcome debate. Providing Instructions: Explain why, not just how.

These days, I give a lot of presentations to groups across Europe and the Americas. I do my best to adapt to my audience, instead of thinking that the whole world thinks like me.

If I’m presenting to a group of New Yorkers, I’ll only spend a moment talking about what research is behind the tool. But if I’m in Moscow, I’ll carefully set the stage, laying out the parameters for my arguments, and engaging in debate before arriving at conclusions. If I fail to do this, they are likely to think “What does this woman think. . . . that we are stupid ? That we will just swallow anything?”

When you hope to engage, when you hope to inform and persuade and convince, what you say is important, but how you say it, how you structure your message, can make all the difference – to the Americans, to the French, to everyone.

Harvard Business Review

Posted from WordPress for Android

%d bloggers like this: