Productivity Measurements and Telecommuting

Over the years, the improved channels of telecommunication have paved the way for an increase in number of Telecommuting jobs. Telecommuting occupations are not your typical office work and that is why, it has become a focus of productivity measures issues. There are a lot of myths that surround telecommuting and Productivity Measurements. Some say that measuring productivity is much more difficult in telecommuting than in regular office work.

Before going forward, let us first individually define what Productivity and what Telecommuting is. Productivity (in Economics) refers to the amount of output produced in a specific amount of time. In a factory or office setting, this can easily be computed by dividing the number of units of output with the time spent to produce them. For example, an office worker is given the task to compile kits for the participants of a lecture. He was able to compile 25 kits in 1 hour, and that becomes his productivity rate.

Quantitative data is more easily translated into productivity rates rather than qualitative data. On the other hand Telecommuting (other known as working from home) is form of work where the employee works on his or her own schedule. It is called telecommuting because the time and process of commuting to and from the work place are replaced by links of telecommunication. A few of the most popular telecommuting tasks is Medical Transcription and Insurance Underwriting.

The issue that lies between Productivity measurement and Telecommuting are claims saying that Productivity measurement is harder to achieve than with regular office work. This is claimed to be the major downfall of telecommuting. Because of this, employer supposedly has no hold on the productivity of their personnel who work form home.

However, that is really not the case. Productivity Measurements are still easily achievable with Telecommuting Jobs. The rate telecommuting employee works, is the same with every project that he / she receives. A Medical Transcriptionist may complete transcription of 5 files in an hour. No matter how many hours a day a medical transcriptionist chooses to work, his or her hourly rate is still the same.

Another myth about productivity measurement and telecommuting is that an employee has no hold on how much an employee works on a set number of days. This is opposed by the fact that employers enforce deadlines that a Telecommuting employee must adhere to. In example, an Underwriter is given 10 insurance policies to process in a span of 4 days. It is of no consequence to the employer how his or her Underwriter divides the task over 4 days as long as it is completed within the set number of days.

Telecommuting is a practice that will unduly continue to grow. Since early fears that it may not be a as easy to regulate and measure as regular office work, it has been proven that it is not so. That is the reason why employers should not shy away from hiring telecommuting personnel because they can still measure and regulate their productivity rate since not having set office hours.

Digital Infrared Photography Pictures Made Easy

Digital infrared photography is a fairly basic photographic technique that yields amazing images. There is a spectrum of light that can not be seen with the human eye, but it can be seen and captured through the lens of your digital camera.

Images captured with this technique have a surreal dreamy look. A picture of a green leafy tree against a bright blue sky taken with digital infrared photography becomes a picture of a brilliant white tree against a dark foreboding backdrop of sky.

This happens because visible light is ignored and only infrared light (light from the spectrum we can not see with the naked eye) is captured. The resulting compositions are stunning. However, the technique is not difficult.

Digital Infrared Photography Equipment

Infrared pictures can be really unique. Here is a resource to learn more about the technique and see samples of what can be done with inferred photography.
A digital photography course is a great way to learn this technique. There are even free digital photo classes offered online [http://www.mydigitalphotoclasses.com/digital-photo-classes.html].

Modern digital cameras differ in their ability to capture infrared light. To test your camera's infrared capabilities, point your television remote control at your digital cameras lens from 6 inches away and press a button on the remote. If you see a light in your camera's LCD coming from your remote, you're in luck. Your camera is capable of digital infrared photography. If you saw no light being emitted from the remote, your camera probably has an internal infrared filter installed by the manufacturer to preserve the camera's ability to focus on images in the normal light spectrum.

Now that you've tested your camera, you need only two additional pieces of equipment: a filter and a tripod. The purpose of the filter is to "filter" out visible light and only let infrared light through. Filters are fairly inexpensive (approximately $ 20). The Hoya R72 filter is one of the more popular filters and can be obtained from your local camera store. If your camera has a thread adapter (most digital cameras do not), you'll also need to purchase an adapter. If your camera does not have a thread adapter, you'll have to get creative to attach the filter. With gelatin filters, it's as simple as cutting the filter to size and taping it to your lens. Your local photography store should be able to help here, too. While you're at the camera store, pickup a tripod also. These are needed due to the increased aperture and reduced shutter speed required for infrared photography.

Shooting Techniques

Once you've got your camera outfitted with an infrared filter, you're ready to go out and shoot. Landscapes with green leafy foliage and a bright sky make the best subjects when starting out. Portraits of people in sunlight also make interesting compositions. Every camera is different so you'll want to experiment with various settings and their effect. Some cameras are capable of taking good digital infrared photography in "automatic" mode, so try that first. However, if "automatic" mode does not yield good results, the following is a list of manual settings to use as a starting point:

  • Flash Off
  • Black & White Mode On
  • Film Speed: ISO 400 (or the highest available)
  • Shutter Speed: 1/15 of a second (slower is better)

Digital infrared photography opens up a whole new world to photographers. With just a few relatively cheap pieces of equipment, you can create stunning compositions from the world of the invisible light spectrum. This article just scratches the surface of what you can do with digital infrared photography . There is so much more that can be done within this area of ​​photography and there is a whole array of other basic photography techniques that yield amazing results. The best way to learn how to take full advantage of your digital camera or expand your photographic skills is by taking a digital photo class. They are a lot of fun and with just a little instruction you can learn how to take amazing pictures.

Driver Education Games

Driver education games are fun and informative and a good practice ground for students. While playing games, students are able to test their driving skill and knowledge and also find out where their weak points are. The games are useful because the students learn proper driving methods and techniques without actually putting themselves in arms way.

There are two types of games that can be played – one is the simple quiz game that test driving knowledge. Students can choose from a series of quizzes on various topics. This is a challenging way to test what students have learned in the driver education program, and it also prepare them for their driver tests.

Each question comes with multiple choices, and students will be given their score along with the correct answers at the end of the game. There are plenty of website where students can register for these quizzes and get results instantly.

Video games and simulation is another driver's education activity. These games put students behind the wheel. By using certain controls, they can drive the car and progress to different levels. Scoring a certain amount of points allows the student to move on to the next level until the highest level is reached. At the same time, students can easily lose the game if they make mistakes. The graphics are very realistic and the games can be quite challenging. Video games are so much fun that parents play with their kids and see how well their children have grasped the concepts of driving. These games include stopping at signals, changing lanes, making turns, recognizing road signs, parallel parking, merging with traffic, parking and backing out of a parking space and so on.

In virtual driving simulation games students can practice driving in a virtual environment. Sitting behind the wheel, players must make their way through busy streets, highways and intersections and make real decisions. This is an excellent way for students to practice and prepare for their driver's test.

Entrepreneurship: What does it REALLY mean?

Introduction:

In a world where ideas drive economies, it is no wonder that innovation and entrepreneurship are often seen as inseparable bedfellows. The governments around the world are starting to realize that in order to sustain progress and improve a country’s economy, the people have to be encouraged and trained to think out-of-the-box and be constantly developing innovative products and services. The once feasible ways of doing business are no longer guarantees for future economic success!

In response to this inevitable change, some governments are rethinking the way the young are educated by infusing creative thinking and innovation in their nation’s educational curriculum. In the same vein, they are putting much emphasis on the need to train future entrepreneurs through infusing entrepreneurship components within the educational system, especially at the tertiary level.

Some countries have taken this initiative to a higher level by introducing entrepreneurship education at elementary schools and encouraging them to be future entrepreneurs when they are of age. In a series of survey funded by Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, it was found that nearly seven out of 10 youths (aged 14-19) were interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

Being an entrepreneur is now the choice of the new generation as compared to the preferred career choices of yesteryears such as being a doctor, lawyer or a fighter pilot. In a recent visit to the bustling city of Shanghai in China, an informal survey was carried out among Chinese youths by the author. The results of the survey showed that being an entrepreneur, especially in the field of computer and e-commerce, is perceived as a ‘cool’ career and is an aspiration for many Chinese youths Prior to the ‘opening up’ of modern China, being an entrepreneur was perceived as the outcome of one’s inability to hold a good government job and those who dared to venture, were often scorned at by their peers. Times have indeed changed.

With this change in mindset and the relative knowledge that entrepreneurs bring forth increased job creations, the awareness and academic studies of entrepreneurship have also heightened. In many tertiary institutes, many courses of entrepreneurship and innovation are being developed and offered to cater to the increasing demand. The term “entrepreneurship” has also evolved with numerous variations. The proliferation of jargons such as netpreneur, biotechpreneur, technopreneur and multipreneur are coined to keep up with the ever-changing times and business conditions that surround us.

In view of these changes, it is important that the definition of entrepreneurship be refined or redefined to enable its application in this 21st century. To put it succinctly, “Good science has to begin with good definitions (Bygrave & Hofer, 1991, p13).” Without the proper definition, it will be laborious for policymakers to develop successful programs to inculcate entrepreneurial qualities in their people and organizations within their country.

The paper will provide a summary of the definitions of entrepreneurship provided by scholars in this subject area. The author will also expand on one of the definitions by Joseph Schumpeter to create a better understanding of the definition of the term “entrepreneurship” as applied in today’s business world.

Entrepreneurship through the Years:

It was discovered that the term ‘entrepreneurship’ could be found from the French verb ‘entreprende’ in the twelfth century though the meaning may not be that applicable today. This meaning of the word then was to do something without any link to economic profits, which is the antithesis of what entrepreneurship is all about today. It was only in the early 1700′s, when French economist, Richard Cantillon, described an entrepreneur as one who bears risks by buying at certain prices and selling at uncertain prices (Barreto, 1989, Casson 1982) which is probably closer to the term as applied today.

In the 1776 thought-provoking book ‘The Wealth of Nations’, Adam Smith explained clearly that it was not the benevolence of the baker but self-interest that motivated him to provide bread. From Smith’s standpoint, entrepreneurs were the economic agents who transformed demand into supply for profits.

In 1848, the famous economist John Stuart Mill described entrepreneurship as the founding of a private enterprise. This encompassed the risk takers, the decision makers, and the individuals who desire wealth by managing limited resources to create new business ventures.

One of the definitions that the author feels best exemplifies entrepreneurship was coined by Joseph Schumpeter (1934). He stated that the entrepreneur is one who applies “innovation” within the context of the business to satisfy unfulfilled market demand (Liebenstein, 1995). In elaboration, he saw an entrepreneur as an innovator who implements change within markets through the carrying out of new combinations. The carrying out of new combinations can take several forms:

The introduction of a new good or standard of quality;

  • The introduction of a novel method of production;
  • The opening of a new market;
  • The acquisition of a new source of new materials supply; and
  • The carrying out of the new organization in any industry.

Though the term ‘innovation’ has different meanings to different people, several writers tended to see “innovation” in the form of entrepreneurship as one not of incremental change but quantum change in the new business start-ups and the goods/services that they provide (egs, Bygrave, 1995; Bygrave & Hofer, 1991).

In the view of Drucker (1985), he perceived entrepreneurship as the creation of a new organization, regardless of its ability to sustain itself, let alone make a profit. The notion of an individual who starts a new business venture would be sufficient for him/her to be labeled as an entrepreneur. It is this characteristic that distinguishes entrepreneurship from the routine management tasks of allocating resources in an already established business organization. Though the definition tends to be somewhat simplistic in nature, it firmly attaches the nature of entrepreneurial action with risk-taking and the bearing of uncertainty by the individual (Swoboda, 1983)

In a Delphi study, Gartner (1990) found eight themes expressed by the participants that constitute the nature of entrepreneurship. They were the entrepreneur, innovation, organization creation, creating value, profit or non-profit, growth, uniqueness, and the owner-manager. The themes could be seen as a derivative and expansion of Schumpter’s earlier concept.

Expanding on Schumpeter’s Definition:

After digesting the numerous definitions of entrepreneurship, one would tend to see a strong link between these two terms: entrepreneurship and innovation. In retrospect, most of the definitions tended to be, to some extent, a re-work and expansion of Schumpeter’s definition of entrepreneurship (which is that of innovation being applied in a business context).

As defining the term of ‘innovation’ is highly debatable and would merit a paper on its own, the author has thus, for convenience, summarised the definition of innovation. Innovation can be perceived simply as the transformation of creative ideas into useful applications by combining resources in new or unusual ways to provide value to society for or improved products, technology, or services.

In the author’s opinion, the difficulties of defining “innovation” could be the reason for the quandary one finds in attempting to arrive at a clear-cut definition of the term ” Entrepreneurship”.

Take for example, if someone starts another run-of-the-mill hot dog stand in the streets of New York, will he termed as an entrepreneur? According to Drucker’s definition, he will be seen as one. However, if the above definition by Schumpeter was used as a guideline, the answer is probably ‘NO’.

Why? The core of the matter lies in what is so innovative about setting up another hot-dog stand which are in abundance in New York. On the contrary, if he is the first one to start a stand selling hot-dogs with Oriental Sweet and Sour sauce topping; he could be termed as an entrepreneur (even based on Schumpeter’s requirement) as he has done what others have not done before. In the context of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation are key points in the whole scheme of things.

In this manner, by adding “innovative” features to a product or services and setting up a business based on these additional features to compete in the existing market, new entrants may be able to gain this competitive advantage over existing market players.

In the case of the hot-dog seller, it may be argued that his addition of Oriental Sweet and Sour sauce toppings may be seen as nondescript. This runs in contrary to some scholars’ definition of entrepreneurship as requiring quantum changes in the products/ services to be justified as being entrepreneurial (Bygrave, 1985; Bygrave & Hofer, 1991).

Consistent with creating new products for sale, someone who starts a business by providing a totally new way of serving his customers/ clients is considered to be entrepreneurial too. Though, it is often argued that there are no real new products or services in a case where one does not look to the past products and services for ideas for improvements. Thus, the notion of incremental improvements should be accepted as being innovative too.

Innovation in the business sense may not necessarily involve, in the physical sense, the introduction of a new product or service. It can be in the form of what is commonly known as creative imitations. For example, if an individual starts selling a product that is already common in his area or country, he will not be seen as being entrepreneurial. However, if he is the first to sell the same product in a virgin locale or to an untouched market segment, he will be seen as an entrepreneur in his own rights.

Take Muhammad Yunus, for example. Yunus became an entrepreneur when he started a micro-loan program for the poor villagers in a rural part of Bangladesh named Grameen, with only US$26. The loan was divided among 42 villagers to assist them to buy small items such as combs, scissors, needles and other necessities to start their own home businesses. In the past 22 years, Grameen Bank has grown with over $2 billion loans granted. It has now become a model for several micro-loan facilities.

>From the following example, Yunus created banking and lending facilities in Grameen specifically for the poor villagers. Banking and lending money activities are not new but Yunus was the first to provide such facilities in a rural part of Bangladesh and that is definitely innovation and risk-bearing on his part as a social entrepreneur. In short, innovation need not arise mainly from a new product or service but it could be an old product or service finding a new market for penetration.

An individual could be termed as an entrepreneur if he or she sells a product or service using new systems and/ or mediums of marketing, distribution or production methods as a basis for a new business venture. A good example will be Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, the successful Web-based bookstore. He was one of the first to sell books on a large scale using an online store and also patented the one-click system for online buying. Though selling books is not an innovation in itself, Jeff Bezos was innovative in the use of the Internet then as a viable marketing and sales channel for selling books.

Another example from the field of e-commerce is Stuart Skorman, the founder of Reel.com [http://Reel.com]. Reel.com [http://Reel.com] is essentially one of the first cyber movie store with a very large inventory of over a 100 000 videos. Though setting a movie store was revolutionary then, Reel.com [http://Reel.com] main distinction was being known as the first online store to expand by opening an offline store. The founder felt that by doing so, the online store could be an advertisement for the offline store and vice versa, thus strengthening this click and mortar business venture- an example of creativity and innovation applied in a profitable business context.

Conclusion:

This paper has started as an attempt to redefine the term of entrepreneurship but ended up ‘updating’ the wheel, based on the definition as proposed by Schumpeter. The paper expanded on this influential work by giving examples to illustrate what innovation in entrepreneurship was and hope that along the way, new insights were unearthed in the study of defining entrepreneurship.

In summary, the author hopes that this paper would further encourage the infusion of creative thinking and innovation within the educational system to nurture future entrepreneurs with a competitive edge. In the author’s view, the characteristics and capabilities to set up a new business venture based on doing things that have not done before should be encouraged. Innovation needs to be the cornerstone of entrepreneurship as opposed to the mere setting up of another new enterprise without implementing changes or adding features of improvements to the products and services provided and/ or its business processes.