Category Archives: Communication

for matters relating communication

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.

More on Not Finding Things

Last week, I wrote Indexing and Finding (or Not Losing) Stuff.

Google Maps will suggest locations based on part of what you type. Unfortunately, it is not complete.

When I encounter the name of a community unknown to me, I often like to find out where it is. Sometimes, a community name can be used many times. For example, The Simpsons is set in Springfield, state unspecified. There is a Springfield in many U.S. states. Try finding them all using Google Maps. You are only going to get some of them.

I follow RocketNews24 which is a fun Japanese news site. Sometimes, they give a community name, but do not state which prefecture it is in. There are 47 prefectures.

Google Maps could be better about this. Sometimes, I have figured out the piece in the middle after doing some other searching. I then find that Google Maps does know about the community. So why did it not present it before?

What you can not see is effectively not there.

Indexing and Finding (or Not Losing) Stuff

If you do not know where something is or how to find out where it is, it can be lost forever.

Consider a song that you know a line or two of but not the artist or title. With the Web, you have a chance of finding it if someone has written up the lyrics. Without the Web, it would be much harder.

There is a game on the Armor Games Website that I would like to play again. It involves controlling a tank to solve logical problems. Armor Games does not have a very good lookup system. It only accepts one word and that a title word. This particular game, whatever it is called, does not have “tank” in the title. I am out of luck unless I run through hundreds or thousands of game titles. The game is effectively lost to me unless I want to go to quite a bit of effort.

If you are indexing your Website, please consider a more sophisticated model than just one keyword from the title. The description for that tank game might well have “tank” in it or something else that I could use to find it.

Not the Big Time

No, I have not made the big time yet.

I recently received one of those calls. After the initial hellos, it went about like this:
Caller: “I’m calling you from Windows technical department.” (That wording and in an Indian accent.)
Me: “Wow! I’ve finally received one of these scam calls. Bye bye.”
and I hung up.

Microsoft does not make calls like this. It is a scam to get you to put malware on your computer. Can you hang up as quickly as I did? You should.