Category Archives: Technology

The Myth of Multitasking, the Internet, Media, Focus and Productivity

The Myth

Multitasking is one of those terms that gets pushed around a lot. We tend to put a lot of value into the ability to be able to work on more than one task at the same time. It’s a skill that gets listed on resumes. It’s a skill that employers are after and it’s an ability to that we expect people to have in general. For me, I’ve always been forced to ask myself the question whether or not multitasking is a real thing. This is one of those skills that’s taken at face value and rarely ever thought about. If you think about it though, you realize that multitasking is really more of a myth than an attainable skill. I won’t deny that maybe there’s a handful of people in the world with the attention, focus, and brain power to actually think about and work on two separate tasks or projects at the same time, but for the majority of people I think it’s highly unlikely and untrue.


A Redefinition

I propose redefining what it means to multitask into a more realistic understanding. For me, multitasking entails having the ability to juggle multiple tasks and projects at the same time, but not actually working on more than one thing at any particular time. Sure, you can juggle multiple projects and keep yourself organized, but I highly doubt whether anyone can actually take in more than one “information stream” (coining this as a term referring to all of the information associated with a task, project, media source, or person etc.) and be able to act on those two or more information streams and further interpret them. The example I like to use is whether or not a person watching two TV shows at the same time can tell you what happened in both programs and further interpret what happened in both. Even a person can, I’d surely argue that they won’t be able to complete either task to the same ability as if they had only watched one television program. Under my understanding of multitasking, many people do have this skill and it’s something that can be developed. The reality is though that with this understanding when a person multitasks they are good at moving from one task to another and their associated focus, smoothly and with little resistance.


The Internet is something that makes it very difficult for people to maintain their focus on a particular task. Nowadays many of us suffer from information overload and those of us who are effective at dealing with this overload are the ones who are capable of closing the figurative knob a little. If you’re writing something, you don’t need to know what e-mails you’ve just received, whose messaged you on Facebook, or what the latest trending topics are. You just don’t. The Internet is meant to be a tool, not a detriment. The only thing you should have opened are webpages associated with your particular writing, task, or project. This is difficult for me to do, so I can only imagine that it is for other people. I’ve seen the negative effect that information overload has on my writing. I’ve gone back and I’ve noticed that there are certain posts of mine that are much more fragmented then fluid. The cause of this has been my inability to focus on the particular topic I’m writing about. You have to be willing to cut the information addiction. When all else fails, disconnect completely from the web. In a previous post about procrastination, I listed this as one of the ways to cope with putting off work. One of the major themes you’ll find in the study of productivity, if you will, is the value of simplicity and limits. You don’t need the all of the vast information available to mankind on the Internet to do great work, you need your mind and the bits and pieces of information that are necessary to whatever your doing. You further don’t need some complicated and complex personal productivity system to stay organized. Sometimes all you need is pen and paper.


A Quick Sidenote: Music and Work

Music is one of those types of media that can be really inspiring. I can admit that when I write I’m usually listening to some music in order to help me set a particular tone in my writing. It can be really helpful. That being said I’ve made a significant observation about what type of music helps and what kind of music can deter your writing/focus. In short, I’ve noted that I can only focus and listen to music when the piece is instrumental. Whenever I try to listen to a vocal piece, it parts my focus between my writing and the lyrics in the song. I think that this is something that is true of a lot of people and even if  it’s not, there’s is something to be said for noting the kind of habits that help your creative workflow and hinder it. Choose an instrumental piece next time and maybe you’ll see a change in your work.

Slax Linux: The Pocket Operating System of 2013 (Review)



The Ultimate Portable Distribution

Slax Linux is a distribution of Linux which is created and maintained by Tomas Matejicek. I’ve posted about it before. At the moment, it is my favorite distribution of Linux and have virtually nothing, but positive things to say about it. The concept behind it is to be an extremely streamlined, but fully function Linux distribution that is meant to be run from a USB drive. It succeeds in every way. At 200+/- MB, it is one of the smallest Linux distributions out there. Sure, such distributions as Puppy Dog Linux and Slitaz are smaller in size, but they compromise a great deal in the user experience. Slax comes pre-installed with essentials such as a full KDE 4 desktop, Firefox web browser, music and media players, and modules which can be sideloaded or installed on the fly in order to provide users with extensibility. For example, you can install the ever popular Wine module in order to be able to run Windows programs. With the ability to install Microsoft Office or your favorite streaming music service, such as Spotify, Slax is an extremely compelling distribution. This is all looking past the fact that it runs from USB drive, which means that you can take your OS with you everywhere. It takes your portable files to a whole new level. Why simply take your files with you, when you can take your favorite Linux OS with you anywhere.


The Installation

As if Slax needed anymore praise, it deserves more just because the ease of the installation and this is really a testament to Tomas’ coding. Slax’s modular design makes the barrier to entry for current Linux users nil and low for Mac and Windows users. You simply have to go to and download the zip file for your particular language installation. Slax is also available in both 32 bit and 64 bit, as well as, virtually every language from A-Z.1 The download should take only a few minutes. Once your down you’ll have a zip file. Extract the files and inside you find your Slax installation folder as well as a Text file, created by Tomas, detailing how to move the files onto your thumbdrive and, of course, make Slax (The USB drive) bootable. You simply have to take a an empty USB drive (make sure it’s formatted FAT or FAT 32) and move the Slax installation onto it. For the next step, you either have to be on Windows or Linux. You have to navigate to the bootinstall.bat file in the boot folder of your Slax installation and this will either launch the command line on Windows or the terminal in Linux and run a script that will make your USB drive bootable. That’s pretty much it. Reboot your computer and make sure to alter your BIOS in order for you to boot from the USB drive. Click through and your Slax OS will boot. With a little luck you’ll find yourself at your Slax desktop. It’s really that easy. You can install software from the Software Center which is limited right now to Linux Firmware, Chrome, Abiword, Gnumeric, and Printer Support. Updates in the future will make all modules available on available through the Software Center. For now you just have to download a module and move it to the modules folder on your Slax USB drive. From there, it will be installed and available on your Slax desktop. I installed Wine, in order to run such applications as Microsoft Office and Spotify, and Libreoffice.

The Experience

I’ve already talked about the elegance of the coding and size of Slax, as well as, it’s portability and extensibility, but something also has to be for its adaptability. By default, Slax comes with most of KDE’s desktop effects enabled, but with a simple combination of Shift-Alt-F12 you can turn them off. Aside from this, you can go into desktop settings in order to make Slax run smoothly on whatever system your using. Depending on your CPU, ram, and video card, Slax’s performance can vary, but the fact is that it’s meant to run virtually on any system and it does. The one exception is the Mac. It’s not impossible, but needless to say, don’t expect your Slax OS to boot from the Mac OS X bootloader. All of that aside, Slax is a visually appealing OS with a small footprint, that still performs in every way. If you want to further support the Slax project, you can purchase a Kingston USB drive directly from for $25 or more. It comes with Slax pre-installed.  Slax is freely available though directly from for download.


1 It’s important to note that depending on the language, the size of the Slax zip install varies.

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