In my recent post about the book Small Change I briefly touched on the important concept of opportunity costs. Today Tim Harford (he recommended the book) has another post about the topic:
Judge the value of what you have by what you had to give up to get it
I hope you reading this post and the linked post will be worth you giving up some time doing something else (e.g. wasting time on Facebook).
Money, money, money. Unless we return to bartering I believe it will stay with us and be an important part of our lives for a long time. And with it the question how to spend it wisely. Via Tim Harford I came across an interesting book about just that topic:
While it didn’t teach me as much new as I had hoped it reminded me of a few things and gave me a few things to think about, namely:
- The importance of seeing the money you’re spending, also called the pain of spending money. In our modern world more and more of our money is spent cashless, you don’t really see the money disappearing from your wallet, so you don’t feel the pain as much. While certainly convenient (and I use it all the time) it makes it much easier to lose sight of how much you’re spending (which at least partially is intended, as it gets you to spend more).
- Opportunity costs. If you spend £4 on a coffee/tea/hot chocolate, what are you not spending (or saving up to) it for? If you spend an hour on Facebook/Twitter/othersocialmedia, what are you not doing instead (e.g. writing a blog post like this)? What can you not buy/do by spending money or time or something? What is more important to you?
Neither of these were new to me, I had either read about them before elsewhere or learned about them during my education. But they were good reminders of things to think about more. In particular opportunity costs I think about much more now.
Other readers might learn other things or be reminded of other things from the book. I think it’s a good read, well worth the money (it might pay for itself if you learn something from it…).
Two weeks ago I wrote that I was testing speech recognition software. Back then I said I was going to report back in approximately four weeks, turns out I made my decision much quicker. As I was pleasantly surprised how well the trial was going I have purchased a full version of Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium now.
While not perfect I’m very impressed how well the software is working and recognising what I am telling it. Of course there are a few problems, especially around place names on Islay (although I managed to teach it to recognise Islay quite quickly) and a few other things, but I’m confident that over time this will improve. Also I feel that I haven’t fully learned and explored the various capabilities beyond just writing text but to operate the computer the software has.
Again and again I’m finding opportunities for the speech recognition software to make my life easier. One example is writing my shopping list: I’m using Google Keep for my shopping list. After creating the blank shopping list I just go into the kitchen, check what I need and dictate the things I need without having to sit down at the laptop to type it.
Writing this entry I’m also hardly touching the keyboard, instead I’m leaning back sipping a Bruichladdich Islay single malt whisky while letting the thoughts flow. Very nice and relaxing.
A quick thanks to vowe, who inspired me to test the software after his positive experiences when he used it to keep writing after breaking his hand.
Recently I have experimented with speech recognition software on my Android phone. I have only used it for short sentences but found it quite useful. It allowed me to easily write short updates and Tumblr posts.
Encouraged by those small successes I have now decided to try it on my laptop. I have now installed Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium on my laptop (the trial version for now) to see how useful it is on the laptop. I’m actually speaking this entry instead of typing it. I have to make some minor corrections but it recognises almost everything correctly.
I don’t think I am faster than I am with typing but over time I think it will actually be quite helpful. Nevertheless, I’m using the trial version for now, in a months time I will make a decision if I am going to pay for the full licence.
Having only used it for a couple of hours now I’m quite encouraged with how well it is working so far. It’s a different way of writing but I think it could save me time in the long run. While I can type reasonably fast speaking is still much faster. What’s different is that I have to think in complete sentences, when typing I can think in fragments and complete or change sentences later.
That’s all for today, I’ll probably post an update in about a month or so.