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Preparing for New Ratings System

In January we will start in earnest on rewriting the "Student Ratings" system. The system is to allow students to rate their professors and the courses they are taking. (I am hoping we can change the name of the system to better reflect what it does. We aren't rating the students, after all. That is what grades are for.)
Gene and I had a good conversation with Nate W. and Tom M. today about the general design principles of the system. This is a project where we are going to try out our model of having separate teams work on the UI and the web services and treat them as parallel projects. Our hope is that we can get better and more reliable web services if they are ONLY way to talk to a system rather than just the tack-on way that the main programmers don't use because direct-to-database is faster.

My New Standing Station

I recently inherited an Ergotron WorkFit-S stand/sit computer stand. I'm really liking it, and it is turning a lot of heads in the office. I added the optional swing arm attachment so that I could more easily share my monitor with people that walk into my office.

Ergotron Workfit-S Dual Sit-Stand Workstation 33-341-200 (Google Affiliate Ad)
It lets me slide my computer up for standing, or slide it down so I can sit. I've been wanting to stand more at work for a while, but I haven't been able to find a good way to switch between standing and sitting. This stand seems to be fitting the bill pretty well.

Even better would be a whole desk surface that smoothly raises and lowers. There is a really nice line of tables from Steelcase in their Airtouch line, but they are more than twice the cost of this solution from Ergotron. Those Airtouch desks are nice because you can instantly raise and lower the desk rather that waiting for a slow electric screw mechanism that is common and &…

Volunteer Employees

Read today from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
You can buy a person's hand, but you can't buy his heart. His heart is where his enthusiasm, his loyalty is. You can buy his back, but you can't buy his brain. That's where his creativity is, his ingenuity, his resourcefulness. PC [Production Capacity] work is treating employees as volunteers just as you treat customers as volunteers, because that's what they are. They volunteer the best part--their hearts and minds.   The people I admire most in my working experience have been the ones who were excited about the work that they were doing. They treated their employment as more than just drudgery to be finished with each day, but as a challenge to be grappled with and enjoyed. In this quote, Covey seems to be getting at the right way to treat people so that they can flourish in that sort of work environment.

Sitting or Standing at Work

I've read some stuff about the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time. As a consequence, I've been experimenting with standing more at work when the task will permit it. I've been enjoying it. I think the next step to make that work even better would be to get a desk that can quickly raise or lower. (The glacial speed movements of some electric raise/lower desks would discourage much use.) Here are some resources I've found interesting.

NY Times article is a good summaryThis piece from Exercise and Sport Science Reviews is co-sponsored by Steelcase, the furniture makers, so I must take it with a grain of salt, but it recommends standing as an activity that should be categorized as superior to sitting, whereas they have been both lumped together as "sedentary" in previous literature. An abstract with says standing or sitting on a therapy ball are about the same, and both more active than sitting in a chair. This survey of papers says the resu…