Category Archives: Communication

for matters relating communication

Point-of-View Blindness

You have a point-of-view. It lets you see some things. Unfortunately, if you use it wrong, it can prevent you from seeing things.

I was recently talking with someone (Dan) who is having trouble with math. He sees that. He tried to get help from another student who does understand the math Dan is having trouble with. The other student, though, does not understand how Dan does not understand. Because of that, his explanations confused Dan more than ever.

That other student would not make a good math tutor. Understanding math is not enough. One also has to understand how someone else could fail to understand. That requires stepping past one’s immediate point-of-view.

There is nothing special about your point of view other than it being yours. It might not be enough when you are dealing with others. Consider that the next time you try to teach or persuade someone else.

Unnecessary Change

The computer field has a lot of change. Personally, I think that there is too much. Quite often, changes appear to be made for the sake of change. When this breaks something that was working, it is somewhat irritating.

My local corner store is a combination Esso/7-11. I have an Esso loyalty card.

It used to be that I would be prompted to swipe my card; the swipe would then be acknowledged with a message.

Obviously, this was too easy.

Now, there is no prompt. There is an acknowledgement of the swipe (I think): the display blinks once.

Who thought that this would be better?

It is not as if there are not other changes that would be more useful. For example, if I wish to redeem points and make a purchase, it has to be done as two transactions. My Petro-Canada loyalty card does not have that limitation.

Computer Stuff Can Be Invisible

It is easier to deal with things when you can see them. While computers are very useful, sometimes, they hide things.

A note attached to a fridge works quite well. The note on the fridge is in your face. If you have a notes file on your computer, you have to explicitly look at it. If you do not, you do not see it.

A local company has been running an ad on the Web that I have seen many times. It is a very nicely done ad, but it is about a winter need. Spring is nearly half over. It was too easy for them to miss this. I sent an E-mail yesterday letting them know.

Job Fairs Are Fairer

These days, it can be very difficult to get any response from a job application. Many employers only reply to those they short-list.

Last week, I attended a job fair. It was the first time in quite a while that I had the opportunity to speak to employers about employment.

It felt good to be treated as if I mattered.

I think that employers should do this more often.

Brick and Mortar Also Build Community

Many people do things through the Web. This can be very useful. It can save time and money. It can also short-change the local area.

A friend (Duncan) and I play board and card games at a local hobby store (High Octane Comics & Collectibles (their Facebook page). I might not have met Duncan otherwise, and he suggested another group (our next meetup) that we now both game with.

If Duncan and I were playing some on-line game, we might not have any other contact. Duncan is great for playing quite a few different games with.

Kamloops is not a large city, and it is nice to find people to game with. It is also very useful to be able to see games before purchasing them.

For the past few years, we have had had a gaming convention in Kamloops: Attack-X. This got going because of local contact. I met the head of the convention at High Octane.

High Octane and other gaming stores are very useful for meeting people. It is one reason why I give them business.

You can enjoy good company with people in your own community.

Bad Rules

Have you ever played a long game where two players are competing fiercely and a nasty rules argument gets going?

If you ever wonder why gamers can be so picky on rules, this is part of why. Ambiguous rules make for horrible arguments, and they will happen right when it really matters.

As a gamer, it is not fun to play a long game and get into a situation where two players both think they are right about a rule interpretation, each was counting on his interpretation, and it turns out that both interpretations are valid.

No one ends up happy. If you write rules, please make them as clear as possible.

Are You Seeing What You Think You Are Seeing?

URLs are used quite heavily by some to point others to some interesting material. Some URLs end with a anchor. That is a specific point on the page that is to be displayed. For example, a long Webpage may be divided into four sections, and the person referring it to you may wish to point out section three (on, say, poodles).

The URL could be http://www.example.com/dogbreeds.html#poodles or something similar. If given just http://www.example.com/dogbreeds.html, you would see the start of the article. With the anchor, presumably, you would see the article displayed at the start of the section on poodles.

Unfortunately for me, I just noticed that when Firefox (version 28.0) loads a Webpage, it does not display at the anchor point but only the beginning. If I reload, the same behaviour occurs again. If I click on the address and then press [Enter], only then do I see the article positioned at the anchor point.

I wonder how many times I have given up on a Webpage referred to me, because I thought it did not have the content I wanted.

Whom Do You Trust?

The recent U.S. presidential election had rather ugly rhetoric. The first item in RISKS List volume 29, issue 93 *Fake News* gives new meaning to *No news is good news*?!! lists a number of articles in media dealing with fake news. It is sobering reading. Some fake news stories got more engagement than genuine news stories. And people decided whom to vote for based on this?

Please do not blindly trust everything you read even if, and maybe especially if, it is telling you something you agree with.

With computers, information can spread very quickly. It does not mean that the information is correct.

The Importance of Good Rules

Many times, people do not know how to handle a situation. Many times, it is because they do not know the rules or do not have any rules.

I was recently playing a game with a friend of Smash Up by Alderac Entertainment Group. We were having a good time. It is a great game. Unfortunately, we came across a case that we did not know how to handle. The rules did not seem to cover it.

I have since found out that the rules do cover it, but at the time, we did not know how to handle the case, and it was frustrating.

An example in a larger sphere is meetings. Some people do not like meetings, because they do not know how to handle them. The basics of Robert’s Rules of Order are not complicated, nor are a few basic rules of organisation for meetings. If you do not know the rules though, you may have very unproductive meetings. Here are some of the rules for meetings:

A meeting is not for doing things; it is for making decisions and monitoring the results of implementing the decisions. In and of itself, a meeting is of little value.

A meeting must have a purpose. If the purpose of the meeting is to discuss marketing plans, discussing office furniture purchases is off-purpose.

A meeting must have an agenda. Without a plan of what will be discussed, it is all too easy to go off-course and waste time. Attendees should know, in advance, what is going to be discussed, and should have the opportunity to research the issues.

A meeting should have only the attendees required for making the decisions. People who are affected by the decisions can be informed of the decisions after they are made. Concerns that they may have can be addressed through the research the attendees do before the meeting.

Unfortunately, there are some who will try to derail meetings or who look upon them as time off. Therefore, the above and any other rules must be enforced.

You may disagree with some of the details, but can you really see a meeting working without a set of rules?

Good rules are important to getting good results.

Normalcy

It has been unseasonably cool here in Kamloops for the last ten or so days.

I follow the forecast temperature graphs on Weather Underground. Because these show a normalised range for the graph, the graph range might be lower or higher than just previous. It is important to pay attention to the scaling.

The graphs look about the same shape each day as they did during high summer: start low, go to maximum during the day, then drop. However, the temperatures are about ten degrees Celsius lower.

Just looking at the graphs is misleading. Labelling counts. A picture may well tell a thousand words, but sometimes, pictures leave out critical words.