It Now! Friends Don't Let Friends Use PowerPoint
As a constant Powerpoint
user, I also fear that it is a cancer and pox upon corporate communications.
It has become a crutch for bad speakers, and it has ruined the development
of oratory skills. This article agrees and makes one interesting
point. Powerpoint is used at worker bee presentations. High-level
executives don't bother. They'd rather hear actual knowledge than
look at pretty and over-produced pie charts. The article also makes
an observation about meeting planners wanting a consistent look from presentation
to presentation. Hmmmm. Does the audience really want to look
at the same formatted slides for the entire day's seminars, through all
of the speakers?
Software Woes Reveal Risk, Opportunity of Direct Marketing
Wall Street Journal
Recently, UPS, the folks
who run "the tightest ship in the shipping business," sent out a software
update to their customers. They made a few changes and now have a
whole bunch of upset customers. You see, the software crashed some
computers and caused downtime of several days for many customers.
The problem is so widespread and serious that UPS is sending out technicians
to help customers who want to uninstall the software. This proves
my long-standing policy. I avoid, like the plague, adding new software
to my computer. If some company sends me an offer for an application
that involves adding a program to my delicately configured computer, I'll
ignore it. Because EVERY time I install something on this beast,
something goes wrong. If the folks at UPS can send out problematic
software, anyone can screw up. If you LIKE fussing with your computer,
restoring data, updating drivers, and so forth, more power to you...enjoy
your hobby. As for me, I prefer to get some work done, such as writing
deathless prose like this.
Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation
One of the best illustrations
of the misuse of Powerpoint and technology that I've ever seen. Imagine
the Gettysburg Address reduced to a Powerpoint presentation. It's
frightening. It makes me wonder if there are great and truly inspirational
speakers today who are submerging their talents because they're using laptops,
LCD projectors and Powerpoint as crutches. Whoa! We need to
pay less attention to technology and more to oratory.
This is a fascinating and
certainly contrarian article about computers in schools. The author
makes the argument that computers waste teachers' time, replace other and
more important curricula, cost too much, become obsolete too quickly, and
really don't teach that much. Certainly worth a look if you have
kids in school, or your community is floating a bond issue to set up a
The mantra in the New Economy
is that you have to be fast,and you have to be first to market with the
glorious new idea you've got. Well, that idea may not be so great.
First to market ain't always the winner. New Economy types like to
think they're nimble companies that can run rings around the old brick-and-mortar
oxen. The reality is that, just like the tortoise and the hare, slow
and steady usually wins in the long run. This article recounts some
famous firsts that didn't work out:
Visicalc - remember them?
How about their successor, Lotus 123? Anyone out there NOT using
About portable computers,
know who had the first laptops I worked with back in 1985? Grid and
Hewlett-Packard. Then, of course, there was the Osborne.
How about the Newton?
The Palm is currently winning that battle.
America Online? Compuserve
was there LONG before AOL.
Others who weren't first
include Disney, Starbucks, IBM, and VHS (remember betamax?).
The point of the article
is that being first doesn't make any difference, unless you have absolute
patent protection (pharmaceuticals), or can set a standard that is too
difficult or costly to ignore (Windows). What does count is doing
it right. Being the second, third or fourth to market allows you
time to see what the first guy did wrong and go to school off of him.
Being first isn't much.
Being best is where it's at.
Online office suites are
coming. They're not here yet, but they will soon be a popular alternative
to installing tons of code on your PC - using an Internet based application
service provider instead. This articles reviews three such sites
that are in beta, and also discusses upcoming efforts from Sun and Microsoft.
Imagine being able to edit a document using the latest software from Microsoft
or Corel, and not having to trot out to the store to buy it, or waiting
for a delivery from UPS. You can't yet. But it won't be much
longer. And the sites this article reviews are baby steps in that
This column is worth a visit,
and if you like newsletters, a subscription to their daily update.
They detail cluelessness and stupidity in the workplace. Read these
stories for a couple of weeks, and you'll learn everything NOT to do at
your company. If you enjoy Dilbert, you'll love this. And the
scary part is, these are true stories!
This is an enjoyable and
dangerously accurate "FAQ" for newbies joining a dot com start up.
Thinking about leaving that comfortable but low paying job in the "old
economy"? Read this first. You'll probably still want to move,
but at least you'll be prepared. And you'll be prepared with a big
supply of t-shirts.
to Read a Business Book
This article, by Albert Madansky, is an excellent discussion of the intellectual process of reading
a business book. He discusses the three levels of reading: figuring
out what the author is saying, analyzing it, and putting it in the context
of other thinking on the particular topic. He goes into the process
of analyzing the book, particular the weaknesses in inductive and deductive
reasoning. Finally, he provides a useful list of classic business
books. If you enjoy business books, this article is highly recommended.
Perhaps you've heard of
this game. Or worse, your staff has been playing it during your meetings.
Basically it's a bingo game where you win by collecting the most jargon
and buzzwords on your card. There are a couple available that are
listed here. I'm sure there are more. Make your next meeting
actually entertaining. Offer prizes!
and Wally's Buzzword Bingo
is Buzzword Bingo
You Can't Afford to Stop
This is a good discussion
of the basics of setting up high availability systems. Some good
ideas are presented:
1. You must do fundamental
project planning and management to make sure that you get what you want
and that all of the stakeholders are included in the process.
2. Plan for a HA (high
availability) system from the start. Adding on components later may
not address all of the key issues. It's best to design the system
for HA from the beginning. Avoid complex systems, and make sure your
staff are fully trained on HA issues.
3. You should not only
have back up system components, you should also arrange for alternate sources
of power, Internet services, communications, and DNS servers. Is
your data truly being backed up sufficiently? Is the replication
process working and tested? Is it supported by the manufacturer?
What about the PC's in your organization? Are there critical data
or services on them that aren't being backed up?
4. Use modular and
industry standard equipment. PC's, servers, disk drives, UPS's and
other components should be easily replaceable with little effect on the
continuing operations of the system.
5. Keep your systems
well organized. Wiring closets should not look like a bucket of spilled
spaghetti. Server rooms should not be used as storage closets.
Room should be provided for access to all of the equipment. Maintain
consistent configurations and set-ups for all of your systems and keep
careful documentation. Consider periodic audits of your systems.
6. Implement aggressive
change management. Many failures occur because of a configuration
change or the implementation of a "harmless" utility. Be very careful
of what changes you make to your stable system.
7. You may not be able
to get by with duplicated systems. You may have to have a second
8. Keep your HA system
secure. Protect it not only from viruses, Trojan horses and hacking,
but also from unauthorized physical access. And keep in mind that
current or past employees pose a serious threat as well. A single
firewall may not be enough.
Change and Technology
This is a monthly newsletter
on change. While not as cynical as I am, they show a VERY healthy
attitude about change.
This is a short introduction
to business continuity planning. The issue is more severe than it
was years ago because of the pervasiveness of computers and their use in
24x7 environments. It used to be that, if a computer went down, you
had a little time to fix it or get a replacement part. Nowadays,
some businesses that must be up constantly have to be fully prepared to
deal with any disasters on an almost instantaneous basis. The article
features the plans and experiences of Nasdaq, whose systems must be up
and running all the time or there would be worldwide market disruptions.
There is a sidebar recommending the basic measures to start a business
Ever wonder what "BE" at
the end of a URL means? I had someone subscribe to this newsletter
recently and I wondered where they were from. This handy-dandy little
chart told me that my new reader was from Belgium. Welcome, by the
Lockdown Vital to Win 2k Value
Getting the best return
on your Windows 2000 workstation investment likely means "locking down"
your workstations, per the Gartner Group. This short article discusses
some of the pros and cons, and what companies are planning on doing.
Keep in mind that a Windows 2000 roll-out is the perfect time to do this,
as opposed to after users have had the product for a while. And companies
that have locked down their workstations experienced some initial end-user
blowback, but found that it eventually settled down.
prints codes that link readers to the Web
This goes in the category
of exciting new technology. Yes, I don't do this very often, and
this particular idea definitely has some issues, but long term it could
be very powerful. It's a combination of a printed bar code and a
scanner that would allow the reader to link to the exact Web site that
provides additional information about, well - whatever. In this case,
the newspaper would link the reader to additional information on the subject
of the article. Alternatively, you could have a print advertisement
that would deep-link to pages in your Web site that cover the specific
products the ad mentions. The concept is that it saves typing, and
anything that makes it easier for the user is a good thing. The only
problems are: who reads a newspaper right beside their computer?
And there's that pesky scanner. But there is definitely some potential
Worried about IT worker
turnover? This article gives some good advice on spotting workers
who are getting ready to bail out. The most important sign is apathy.
Rabble-rousers don't rouse anymore, whiners don't whine, and volunteers
don't take on those whacky assignments anymore. The article also
discusses other techniques to reduce turnover, such as rotating interesting
assignments, exit interviews, etc., but it really focuses on apathy.
500: No Dot-Coms Need Apply
Here's a reality check.
There are NO "dot.coms" on the Fortune 500 list. Aside from AOL,
which is not really a dot.com, your average Internet company is sorely
lacking in the one thing that's critical to being on this list...revenue.
In case you're interested,
here's the list. Besides revenue, you can sort by company, CEO and
industry. Curious to see if your company is on it? The 500th
company had sales of $3.037 billion.
Number of households online to soar to 60% in 2000
The title is pretty self-explanatory.
For those of you making decisions about whether or not to be on the Internet,
or to enhance your presence, this statistic is worth noting.
Have you gotten your DVD
player yet? If you haven't, this article may make you think twice
about the investment. If you've already taken Grandpa's advice and
hooked the cables up properly, then you may suffer some buyer's remorse
after reading this. And if you don't care about DVD, the article
is an interesting discussion about Linux, copyright issues, piracy, and
how nothing is foolproof.
management is not an oxymoron
By Robert Sutton, Computerworld
If you're in love with knowledge
management, read this article before you buy the engagement ring.
The gist is that the important information isn't being stored, or can't
be stored, and that we've put the wrong people (technologists) in charge
of the data. The author argues that knowledge should be managed by
the people who created it, and these same experts should also be in charge
of disseminating it. His best quote: "The reality is that most information
warehouses have become junkyards, databases cluttered with forgotten information.
They are seen as a waste of money by those they were meant to help. The
most valuable employees often have the greatest disdain for knowledge management.
These people are the most talented, so clueless curators of these junkyards
badger employees to enter what they know into the system, even though few
people in the company actually use information."
Complete Guide to Software
While this list may not
be too helpful for larger organizations, it is a nice collection of most
of the more well-known packages in various categories such as anti-virus,
accounting, contact management, etc. There is a capsule summary of
features and price, as well as the vendor URL's. There are some glaring
omissions, such as Great Plaines from the accounting section and Novell's
GroupWise from the groupware section.