Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Linkage (Page 3 of 73)

The Critter Conundrum

Starting today and running for thirteen weeks, Tuesdays and Fridays at 10am Pacific Time, provided nothing goes horribly awry during the following three months, you may read installments of The Critter Conundrum, my NaNoWriMo-fueled serialized story project, over at the new Stories site.

Share and enjoy, won’t you?

One Night In Portland

I’m going on record (ha ha) with an unpopular musical opinion, and I don’t really care who knows it.

Back in early 1985 two singers released their own versions of the same song. I was thirteen years old at the time, right in the target demographic for Top-40 “Z” stations like Z-100 here in Portland. One of their gimmicks involved voting for the better of two songs via a phone-in tally. Since this one song’s two renditions came out within weeks of one another it probably seemed a brilliant idea to put them up against one another.

It’s possible that I still have my cassette tape recording of the event kicking around here somewhere but I wouldn’t put money on that bet.

Everyone who lived through the ’80s is familiar with and may even like the version that went on to become a one-hit wonder. Me? I still prefer this one, and I always will. So be it.

(For the love of your sanity, don’t seek out the actual promotional videos for either rendition. They’re very, very… ’80s. Hooboy.)

Technical Versus Management Problems

While searching for a way to make MediaMonkey write “now playing” data into Lync 2010’s “What’s happening today” note field (clearly, this is critical work-related tinkering) I ran across a link to an argument with someone trying to solve a problem the wrong way. To illustrate, I’d like to tell a short story about one of my proudest moments in my previous job. It wasn’t a particularly cunning software or hardware implementation, but rather it was finding common ground with management regarding a problem user.

One of the sales managers at Entercom came to me one day and asked me to find a solution to the problem of a new account rep hire who spent all day on ESPN’s website, among others, checking box scores when he should’ve been writing proposals and making calls. We discussed firewall settings, the pros and cons of various “nanny” software packages, and at the end I politely pointed out that what we were trying to do was to use technology to solve a management problem. The loose nut behind the keyboard was the actual problem, and all I’d be doing is giving him hurdles to jump over on his way toward continuing to goof off.

The manager thought about that for a minute, then agreed that he’d first try direct conversation with the hire, followed by disciplinary action if needed, then come to me for the “firewall fix” only if the other steps failed.

Within a few weeks the new hire was a new fire.

I feel good about this story, not because I avoided any technical heavy lifting but because I was able to communicate effectively with someone from a whole other world (sales) about the limitations and relevance of technology as applied to personnel issues. As a side-benefit, my working relationship with that particular sales manager improved considerably because I was able to give him the tools to solve a problem even though I didn’t actually deploy any software or hardware. We were on the same page, and that’s what mattered.

Paleo-what-now?

I can’t add anything to this, so just go read the whole darned thing: Misguided Nostalgia for Our Paleo Past

Here’s a pull-quote, if that’s what floats your boat…

To think of ourselves as misfits in our own time and of our own making flatly contradicts what we now understand about the way evolution works—namely, that rate matters. That evolution can be fast, slow, or in-between, and understanding what makes the difference is far more enlightening, and exciting, than holding our flabby modern selves up against a vision—accurate or not—of our well-muscled and harmoniously adapted ancestors.

Seriously interesting stuff, I kid you not.

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