Better attention than a goldfish

Goldfish imageA recent study commissioned by Microsoft Canada found, disturbingly, that the human participants’ average attention spans had fallen to 8 seconds, a shorter time frame than measured for goldfish (Evernote, New York Times). One of the major suspected drivers of these results is the propensity of the participants to use a mobile device while “paying attention” to something else.

Even comparatively minor distractions apparently have a compound effect on concentration and productivity (Computers in Human Behavior, Evernote). What is required to avoid this effect will be different in different contexts (Knowledge@Wharton). But, being as “present” as possible in or to whatever situation we’re engaged in should be helpful in at least raising for ourselves the question of whether the amount of time and life invested into something—e.g., a ding, chirp, buzz, beep, or blink—is actually worth the return that might be expected from that thing.

Overlining text in Microsoft Word

Overlining is comparatively straightforward in Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. But, for Microsoft Word users, overlining still isn’t a default formatting feature, as is its companion underlining. Sometimes inserting a symbol or special character will work if you can find one that matches the overlined character you need. In other cases, Word’s cache of symbols and special characters simply isn’t large enough to cover everything (e.g., when discussing nomina sacra). Sometimes, creating a character image might work, but inserting an image can create issues with text flow and line spacing.

Another option Word users have is to use field codes or the formula editor to insert the term that involves the overlining. In this case, vertical line spacing seems like it isn’t easily disturbed, but you may notice a bit of extra horizontal spacing between what’s inserted via the field code or formula editor and the rest of the surrounding text. Having overlining as a built-in text format would still be preferable, but using this work-around seems to yield pretty reasonable results.

(Update: HT to Andrew Kinsey via Facebook for correctly noting that I hadn’t previously simply collapsed the field code option into the use of the formula editor. The two methods achieve the same results but do deserve to be noted separately since one might be more convenient than the other.)

Google Drive and Office 97–2003

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Google Drive’s Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps are scheduled to cease supporting exports to Microsoft’s older Office 97–2003 formats at the end of the month. According to the Google Apps blog,

In September, we added the ability to export Google documents to the newer Microsoft Office formats that rely on open standards (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx). . . . As we announced in October, after January 31, 2013, users will not be able to export files to the older Office 97-2003 formats [e.g., .doc, .xls, .ppt]. For users who still use Office 97-2003, we recommend installing the free compatibility plugin from Microsoft, which will allow them to open the modern Office file types.