Monthly Archives: September 2018

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How to grow gardens in the desert? Jordan has an answer


How to grow gardens in the desert? If you are the country Jordan, you use a combination of salt water and sunshine. Lots of both. To see how this engineering miracle occurs, see: BBC – Future – How to use seawater to grow food – in the desert.

It’s a great story, well told. Here’s to it scaling up in the future.

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Some thoughts on insurance companies and the use of wearable technology

When it comes to insurance and wearables, I think the effect of these devices will be limited. I think this because:

  1. I don’t believe people are consistent about using wearables. I have been using wearables and fitbits for some time. I believe most people are prone to not wearing them constantly. Inconsistent use will make it harder for insurers to guarantee you a  better rate or for you to achieve one.
  2. You are more likely to wear it and use it when you are trying to keep in shape. If you are not, you will likely not wear it. The insurer can’t know if you are getting out of shape or just no longer wearing it. (I used to use a Nike+ device for running, and I ran consistently, but I did not use the device consistently. Many days and weeks I just didn’t feel like it.) The use of wearables is mostly an upside for you, and of limited value to the insurer.
  3. One reason I gave up on using wearables consistently is that they don’t give you much new information. I walk and exercise consistently and so they often give me the same information consistently. Which means I tend to not wear them often. I don’t need the fitbit to tell me I walked 10,000 steps. I know I did because my commute to and from work plus my lunchtime walk consistently gives me that.
  4. My fitbit scale is great for tracking my weight over time, but an insurer could also just ask me my weight, height and waistline and get a sense of my eligibility for insurance, just like how they ask if I smoke. A very low tech way to measure things. Men with a waist over 40 inches are more prone to heart disease then men with much smaller waists, regardless of what a high tech scale says. A insurer needs a limited number of data points to assess your health risks.
  5. I believe there is limited return for insurers to get this much data. I base this on my current life insurer. I can get life insurance from 1-6X my salary (assuming I pay the corresponding rise in premiums) without providing medical data. They only ask for medical data if I ask for more than 6X. It likely isn’t of benefit for them to process the data for lower amounts, so they proceed without it.
  6. Insurers are data driven, for sure, but I think they are good at picking out a limited number of good numbers to determine what to charge you for insurance. I don’t think the numbers coming back from wearable tech is all that good.

So in short, I don’t believe people or insurers will get much benefit from wearable tech. People will not get breaks on their insurance, and insurers will not be able to reduce their risk substantially with the use of wearables.

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MindMup 2: a good web based mindmapping too

I’m a fan of mindmapping tools in general. One I’ve been using and enjoying lately is MindMup 2. 

Two things I like about it:

  1. It’s simple to modify your mindmaps on the go. You don’t need to do much to add or modify your map.
  2. It’s also simple to export your mindmap into a number of different formats. If you occasionally use mindmaps or you want to start with a mindmap to generate ideas but then you want to do the majority of the work in Word or some other tool, this is a good feature.

Mindmup_2 is a good tool. Go map your thoughts.

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How to ask for help (it’s not as obvious as you think)

If you are uncomfortable asking for help, read this: How to Ask for Help and Actually Get It – The New York Times. After you read it, write out the type of help you need and use the article’s guidelines to insure your request for help is more effective.

We all need help from time to time. Read that and you will be more effective in getting the help you need.

One last thought: show appreciation before, during and after someone helped you. Even if they say it is no big deal to help. If for no other reason, it acknowledges the effort someone has taken to help you.

Get help. Your life will get better as a result. And the people who help you will often feel better about themselves for helping you, so you are helping them too.

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Good advice on how to get started on that project / hobby / adventure you have always want to start


Good advice on how to get started on that project / hobby / adventure you have always want to start can be found here: How to Dare to Begin.

Beginning is often the biggest hurdle. Before you begin, you can imagine all the difficulties you will have, and such imaginings stop you before you can even start. If this applies to you, read the article. You may find yourself getting started after all.

Another thought: take an athlete’s approach to getting started and keeping at it. Get a coach. Get cheerleaders. Talk it up while you are doing the thing you’ve held off doing. Give yourself as much encouragement as you can. Give yourself a goal. Do all those things and you will find you not only get started but you keep going.

Good luck. Dare to do good things. Great things, eventually.

(Image from the article linked to.)