This post has nothing to do with technology at all... but it must be said.

The American Presidential debate is on TV tonight.
Apparently, it is nothing at all like the Canadian Prime Minister's Debate.

According to what I heard on the radio (Jazz.fm) on my way to work this morning, the Presidential Debate comes with 40 pages of rules. Forty pages!!! What is with people and their love of rules? One of the rules is something like "the Candidates are not allowed to argue with each other."
Before I ask the obvious question (ie: what kind of stupid debate is that?), I'd like to talk about the Canadian leadership debate. I can't believe I didn't post on it, as I did watch it this year, and was quite stunned. I did, however, write an email to a friend about. The Canadian Debate consisted of four old guys yelling at each other, trying to look manly.
Here's what I thought at the time:

Martin was terrible. He wasn't prepared. He didn't answer a single question. He spent the whole night dodging. Is this supposed to instill confidence in the Canadian people? ...His arguments and attacks were terrible. He would simply dismiss anything said by his opposition... He should have been much calmer, much cooler, more organized and more direct. Worse yet, he'd had the same debate the night before, only in French and produced exactly the same results. He should have reviewed his performance and improved his tactics ... Even his grammar needed help in some areas. Phrases like "significantly increase the significance of..." popping out of his mouth.
Layton also needs much improvement. He was not very articulate, despite having a PhD. He only answered half of his questions directly, only half of his... questions were well phrased and he simply could not resist plugging the NDP. His arguments were punctuated with "Vote for the NDP. We'll fix it for you! We're a viable alternative." This doesn't do anything at all for the party's credibility. We all know why you are here Layton. Everyone else is here for the same reason. So stop flagging yourself and stick to the issues at hand.
Harper was good. I would say that he was able to answer 85-95% of the questions posed to him directly. There were only a few that needed work. He also needs to work on the way he asks questions. When he was looking for answers from Martin on scandals, money and responsibility, he did very well. In other areas, he needed a little bit of work. He couldn't quite articulate his questions pointedly enough.
Duceppe was by far the most articulate. I suspect this has to do with the fact that he knows full well that the Bloc will not win a government of any kind. They have styled themselves as the opposition in order to leverage this position. He was almost never on the defensive and so had plenty of time to attack. His questions were direct and very well worded. In terms of ability, he was by far the best. Too bad he's the leader for the Bloc. Why does Quebec get the best leader?

Thoughts on the evening:
I would like to have heard the leader of the Green party speak. I watched Countdown, hosted by Mike Duffy afterwards, and he was there. I think it would be interesting to hear his views There were some comments on poor moderation. I disagree entirely. Let them have at it! I also disagree with the notion that the arguments on a whole were poor and the evening was just four grumpy old men arguing, and that somehow this is either bad or unexpected.

Very different from what will be on TV tonight.
As the chap on the radio said this morning, here in Canada we are spoiled. How do the American people put up with such a sanitized debate? Bush and Kerry should be able to duke it out. The campaign has been dirty enough anyway, so what are people afraid of? Unfair play? People should voice their opinions, and loudly. This is especially true if they are going to run a country. If you are voting for someone to be in charge, then I would think that you might want to know what they think about certain things.
I mean, I do.
We have all this freedom to say what we like, so why don't people use it? Why fear offending someone? People should speak out!


Blogs Canada

I discovered the Blogs Canada website today.
I've listed myself and am waiting for approval.

Neat idea actually, listing blogs by countries.
They also have a top ten blog list.

On wings, as eagles...

Have a look...

Click on the Eagle tracker.
The wonders of GIS.

Pamela and Olivia can now be watched by the world... well, their stars can. It's a neat idea. I'd love to have some idea of their actual flight patterns though. It's hard to tell where they've been from this map.

The Bird Studies Canada main page could use some work.
It's very...


New look

Not sure if I like it or not.
I might fiddle with it later.

If I were a rich man...

Read the article...

I'd love to have my own business, but I don't agree with these guys.
Dropping out of school in order to make a quick buck seems like short term thinking to me. Statements like "My current analysis is that the real cost and opportunity cost are greater than the potential benefit I would receive from going to school. I'm not anti-education, I just don't know if economically it makes sense," are, in my opinion, ignorant.
How can you weigh education solely in money?
If you do, then you've missed the point I think.
I guess that's why they're rich and I'm not.
But then, I'm not sure I'd start my own business for the sole purpose of getting rich anyway. I'd like to do something useful, something that people really need in order to make life easier. Half of the Dot Com business weren't.

The ultimate business or job would be, for me, to do something that I love and to have people really need it.
If I ever find that perfect niche that will never run dry, I'll let you know.


1984 never came

It's amazing how paranoid people are about the Internet and government. Every time I hear the profoundly stupid idea about how the "Government," (but what really is meant is the American government) is scanning all Internet traffic for key words so they can find terrorists, I want to get up on my soap box and give a lecture on how the Internet works.

Usually, I can't resist the urge and I go off on a tangent for a few minutes.

Unless you work for the FBI, or the NSA or the CIA, or are already a criminal with a record, it is extremely unlikely that anyone from the US government is taking the time to scan your PC for secret terrorist messages. They certainly are NOT monitoring all possibly traffic coming in and out of your machine. If you aren't living in the US, it is even less likely that everything coming in and out of your PC is being monitored. I am 100% certain that if you send a message to a friend in Alberta and it never leaves CA net that it is NOT going to some mythic server in the Whitehouse or Pentagon for scanning.
It's just not how the Internet works.
It never was.
It is extremely unlikely that it ever will be.
Stop worrying folks.
Big Brother is not watching you.
He's got better things to do with his time.
Like play golf.


Scholar's who blog

Take a look...

I wonder if it would be presumptuous to add myself?


Black Plague

Black Plague

There has to be an easier way to create a Google bomb.
This is someone else's idea, but I have to admit, I rather like it.

Yet another person who thinks like me

Remember my "What Max needs" entry from a few day ago?

This just in: the best way to deal with email overload is, and I quote, "not to become overloaded."

People who think like I do

A clip from the MaxBarry.com email I received this morning:

"Neuromarketing experiments suggest that a particular part of the brain is related to product affection—that is, it gets busy when people look at products they like. So if marketers can find a way to stimulate that part of the brain, consumers will start drooling and fumbling for their credit cards no matter what crappy product they’re being offered"

Note that last one "no matter what crappy product they're being offered."
Now go back a few days to the "Epidermal Disorganization" entry.
Of course, I am more cynical and believe that people really are dumb enough to buy what they're told. ;-)


And now for a piece of wit

Read this...
and this also...

I needed to clean my mouth out after that last post ;-)

The second one is brilliant

Flaming Glory

A few years back, I wrote a paper on Web Community development for the McMaster World Congress on eCommerce. I have mentioned it before; never mind what I said about it, just know that I still think community development in the online world is an important and useful subject. A well-developed web community has enormous potential as a marketing tool, I am convinced.
One of the reasons I wrote the paper is that I was inspired by a community I frequented. It was fun, interesting and seemed to have a lot of potential. In fact it, plus another web community, were samples used in the paper.
Last summer, the official community was disbanded. A few unofficial communities had already sprung up, but a particular group of individuals decided to create a new community that would house the members of the isbanded forum.
Of course, I volunteered.
For whatever reason, no one wanted to listen to what I had to say, despite the fact that I was the second oldest remaining member (and by oldest, I don't mean age but attendance). I knew the most people, knew what they wanted and repeatedly stuck up for those who unfairly became the underdog.
I hate to say I told you so, but I did.
I didn't predict it would be this bad (no one could have), but I did tell you there were problems.
What a disaster!
A once great community has since become a case study in everything that one should not do. I should write a blog with everything that went wrong. Maybe I will.
Time went by and I lost interest, but I would keep dropping by to monitor what was going on and offer advice which was not accepted on even one occasion. Arbitrary closure of discussion drove members away. The forum developed an entire ROOM of 6 or 7 threads solely devoted to rules (and nothing else). It's not as though any of these rules were a good idea, either. Two examples:
Members could link to their personal websites, but not to their blogs or live journals. The reason for this was the potential for "inappropriate content."
Members could not exchange services for fees or start charity projects, but they could donate to the administrator of the site. No accounting of any donations was ever made.
I later discovered that the administrator had told people she had more than 18 years of "professional web administrator experience."
Do the math folks.
That's 1986.
She had a web community on DARPANET?
The "web" as we know it wasn't released by CERN until 1991.
She also needed an 18 year old kid to set up her site for her, as she could not do it at all. How is it possible, if she has that much experience?
Think about it.

The administrator finally stepped down several months ago, but there was little if any improvement. She remained as "Administrator Emeritus," and continued to control the direction of the site.
Over the Labour Day long weekend, she left permanently. However, she could not do it gracefully.
Below is an unedited (except for references to the community's name) portion of her closing remarks to a once truly great community. It was diverse, dynamic, fun and full of life. You will be sickened, I am sure.

"Folks, I am retiring from fandom.
I will no longer be a member of this community, or any other fan community, and this will be my final blog entry.
I'm going to say a few words before I go, to the people who are friends and associates of the XYZ forums.
During the first difficult days of the XYZ forums' existence, a handful of ugly, bitter and manipulative members of the fan community launched a public and behind-the-scenes assault against the staff of this forum... in the pursuit of a personal and collective agenda to discredit me, and to discredit and divide the XYZ community.
In doing so, they quadrupled the workload and magnified the fatigue of the hard working staff members of this place who were struggling around the clock at that time, to develop a home for displaced friends and giving 100 PERCENT EFFORT to the task.
The disruption was INTENTIONAL, vile, self-serving, manipulative and arrogant.
The consistant attacks and harassement against this community, both on the forum and behind the scenes, has contunued over a period of ten long months... the arrogant behavior has been astonishing, and the competitive behind the scenes maneuvering, manipulation, and backbiting has been nauseating.
An even more arrogant and self-serving project, was the founding of the ABCD forms... a community that was deployed by former members of the QRS staff and arrogant "old guard" members of the QRS community to "protect" the loons from the evil staff members at XYZ who were threatening forum closure.
When it was explained to these individuals that the reason behind our closure warning was that some of the XYZ staff members involved in the launch of this forum had been harrassed beyond their ability to cope and PERSONALLY THREATENED AND FRIGHTENED INTO SILENCE... there was absolutely NO CONCERN expressed, from any of the former QRS moderators or disssenters. In fact, we were told that we should expect it.
The self-serving meanness of the people who have attacked this community over the last ten months on the forum, on other forums, and in chatrooms and blogs has been mind boggling. Their attitude of exclusivity, and their arrogant and manipulative behavior, are a rotting cancer that is destroying this fan community from within, and collapse is imminent. I'm not going to be around when it happens."

Later she writes:
"This job has cost me many friendships, and it has cost me my health. I no longer wish to have my spirit soiled by the mean, ugly, vomitus members of Celebrity QRS' fandom and his representation... and I'm walking away.
We all have choices; this is mine."

I am posting this publicly for one reason only: It is the worst example of human behaviour I have ever come across online. I have met many strange and unusual people that I would not be comfortable meeting in person, but I have never "met" anyone who exhibited this degree of contempt for her fellow human being.

If you are a moderator of a community or an administrator, let this be a harsh lesson to you.
Never, ever become this, no matter how angry you are, no matter how difficult the job. Potentially, the entire world can see this, if they wish, and venom like this will give you a bad reputation. If you open a community, when it becomes difficult, remind yourself that it was you who chose to do so. If the burden is too great, close your community in quietness and discretion. Maintain your self respect and a modicum of integrity. Flamboyant displays of rage are no more appropriate in the online world than they are in the "real" world.



On whose opinion the developer should look to:
(Taken from Plato's Republic, Book 10)

Socrates: Nay, hardly even the workers in brass and leather who make them; only the horseman who knows how to use them --he knows their right form.

Glaucon: Most true.

Socrates: And may we not say the same of all things?

Glaucon: What?

Socrates: That there are three arts which are concerned with all things: one which uses, another which makes, a third which imitates them?

Glaucon: Yes.

Socrates: And the excellence or beauty or truth of every structure, animate or inanimate, and of every action of man, is relative to the use for which nature or the artist has intended them.

Glaucon: True.

Socrates: Then the user of them must have the greatest experience of them, and he must indicate to the maker the good or bad qualities which develop themselves in use; for example, the flute-player will tell the flute-maker which of his flutes is satisfactory to the performer; he will tell him how he ought to make them, and the other will attend to his instructions?

Glaucon: Of course.

Socrates: The one knows and therefore speaks with authority about the goodness and badness of flutes, while the other, confiding in him, will do what he is told by him?

Glaucon: True.

Socrates: The instrument is the same, but about the excellence or badness of it the maker will only attain to a correct belief; and this he will gain from him who knows, by talking to him and being compelled to hear what he has to say, whereas the user will have knowledge?

Glaucon: True.

Socrates: But will the imitator have either? Will he know from use whether or no his drawing is correct or beautiful? Or will he have right opinion from being compelled to associate with another who knows and gives him instructions about what he should draw?

Glaucon: Neither.

Socrates: Then he will no more have true opinion than he will have knowledge about the goodness or badness of his imitations?

Glaucon: I suppose not.

What Max needs

This from MaxBarry.com:

"As regular readers of this site already know, I am a long way behind on this. I have a page that lets you know exactly how long, and this has been standing firm at 12 weeks. Which is heinous enough, right?
Except when life got a little crazy a couple of months ago, I stopped relying to e-mail and stopped updating this page, too. So when I sucked it up and came back to my Inbox today, I knew it would be bad. But when I saw exactly how bad, I was dumbfounded. I am now 23 weeks behind."

I cannot imagine being this far behind in my email (as I average about 50 messages a day, not including all my spam, more if work is busy, and 23 weeks worth is over 8,000 emails).
What Max needs is a plan.

Read your email every day Max.
Take half an hour and do nothing but email.
Do it first thing in the morning. That's what I do when I get in to work. I do nothing but email for the first 15 minutes of my day, often with a coffee.
Then I answer them as they come.
When I get back from holiday, the first thing I try and take care of is my email.
Otherwise, you have to sit and get caught up.
And that takes a very long time, as I am sure you know.

If I had 8,000 emails to go through, they'd all be getting the delete button.


Trying to weed out the competition?

Apparently Yahoo! and Hotmail filter Gmail invites into the spam folder.

That is one act of desperation if ever I saw one.
Especially given that I have no friends without a Gmail account, all of them have invites that they are trying to pass off to their friends (who are all doing the same thing).


Epidermal Disorganization

I don't know very much about marketing.
I only know one thing: no matter how stupid it sounds, if you invent something and give it a long name that sounds extremely serious, people will buy anything.

Including certain Vichy facial products, which do enough good in their own right and don't need a non-existent, fancy sounding facial disorder in order to sell.

I can only imagine the look on the face of the poor chap that had to read that commercial the first time.

Customer Service

Over the weekend I happened to watch a show.
I don't remember the name of it and I don't remember the channel, only that it was either PBS or TVO.

The show was a documentary about customer service and management at Heathrow Airport.
All I remember is thinking "That's the sort of job I would love to have."
The documentary the manager of Heathrow Airport around over the course of several days. At the time of shooting, Heathrow was undergoing some renovations. It was this fellows job to ensure that things flowed smoothly and that everyone, customers in particular, was satisfied. It was very useful job and one that I don't think enough people value as much as they should. The fellow would speak with various departments getting input and feedback on various issues. He even happened to help a lost customer on the way (the customer had no idea he was the manager. She seemed to think he was a bellboy.)

His goal in life was to improve life for everyone else.
This is a goal I value, and one that I think more people should share.


What your mission is not...

If you are going to have a mission statement, for crying out loud don't make it a rewording of your rules. That's not a mission statement.

A sample mission statement (for newbies)

At Almighty Technical Corporation our purpose is the discovery, communication, and preservation of knowledge. In our research and development, we are committed to creativity, innovation, and excellence. We value integrity, quality, and teamwork in everything we do. We strive to inspire critical thinking, personal growth, and a passion for discovering the unknown. We serve the social, cultural, and economic needs of our community and our society.

Now, if you want a mission statement for your community, I suggest something like this (as the above is probably not appropriate) :

Our mission is to benefit the community. We strive to perfect the art of good communication while respecting the individuality of all members. We value honesty, integrity, original thought, respect and the free exchange of ideas. We seek to provide a family friendly environment, free of hostility.

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