time reversal

the stories of four physicists separated by the whims of fate

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Music at Work

January 11th, 2009 by william

In returning for another semester of reserach at UI, I have been thinking about how I could be more productive. There are plenty of things I do outside of work that make me happy and hence more productive, but what keeps me productive while I am at work? Hmm. The first things that come to mind are fear, awesomeness, food, women, and music.

I live in constant fear of blinding myself as no one in my lab wears laser safety goggles, so I remain dilligent in that regard. But that sort of fear doesn’t encourage me to do more work. I guess I should be afraid that if I don’t do more work then I will be fired, but I am not. I have only been fired once, and that was for a job I stopped going to. They fired me a year later.

There is plenty of awesomeness in my lab, but that is not a stabile feedback mechanism. If something stops working (and the more important it is to fix), then I will probably lose interest or decide to fix it later. I occasionally stop to eat something in the office, but I have to stop working to do that. This only increases the probability that I will become distracted.

There are no women in lab.

That leaves music, which was the whole reason I wanted to write this post. I usually listen to music while I am doing work, and I estimate that it increase my productivity by around a factor of 2.3.  It helps me to stay focused and drowns out the noise of the million cooling fans in lab.

For the past semester, I have mostly just streamed music over the internet or listened to music from my ipod. This worked OK, but I cannot carry all of my music on my ipod, and the music I can stream over the internet is not organized the way I want it to be. I thought about this for a while and decided it was best just to buy a small portable hard drive, and keep all of my music on that.

What I really wanted to find was a cross-platform media player that I could install on and run from the external drive the software interface and playlists would be the same no matter what computer I was using, but I couldn’t find a program to do this. What I eventually decided to do was install Songbird on all the computers I would listen to music on, and just save the user profile on the external hard drive.

It turns out that all Mozilla software can be opened in a query for profile mode, so it is pretty easy to walk up to any computer and have at least the Mozilla software running in a familiar manner. I think this setup will work pretty well, but does anyone have a better suggestion?

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