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Archive for June, 2014

IN PRAISE OF SALTPETER

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 30, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– How do we deal with incompetence?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

While driving around on a busy rush hour morning, it occurred to me that we tend to express ourselves differently when it comes to incompetence. On the road, there seems to be a handful of people who actually know what they are doing, everyone else seems to be driving in la-la-land. There are the soccer moms who are either texting or yacking away on the phone, teens flying by at Warp 4 to get to school, tired workers not looking forward to the day ahead of them, and the elderly who have no business being on the road early in the morning, other than to irritate the rest of us. You get the picture. I could live with all of their foibles if they just concentrated on driving, but they do not. They are in their own world, oblivious to everyone around them, thereby forcing the rest of us to drive defensively. Personally, I like driving, always have, but not with the nut jobs during rush hour.

Driving is not dissimilar to working in a business or dealing with government. I have discovered people tend to react to incompetence either by one extreme or another. For example, there is the “Blow your stack” variety who deals out tongue lashings and are past masters of the one finger salute. Then there is the passive approach whereby you give the person the benefit of a doubt and offer suggestions for them to correct themselves. The only problem is, they do not pick up on the hints. Two opposing extremes for dealing with incompetence, neither is really effective as people are self-centered and ignore your displeasure.

I tend to be more moderate in my efforts to communicate with them as I do not want to see my blood pressure explode off the charts. In business, I have found it necessary to voice my displeasure matter-of-factually when something goes wrong. Dropping hints simply doesn’t work, and yelling at people is not considered politically correct; then again, you feel much better for blowing off steam. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work which is why I try to be more matter-of-fact when a problem or error occurs.

So, aside from the three alternatives, (Blowing your stack, dropping a hint, or matter-of-fact), what else can we do about incompetence? Ridicule can be effective, which could be construed as a form of bullying, but it can also be effective in motivating a person to perform better. We can also try to “run them off the road,” thereby pushing the person to either improve or drop out. One bit of advice though, do not try to run off a Hummer with a VW Beetle. It’s an old expression meaning you might get crushed if you are not careful.

Finally, you can register a complaint, which is particularly useful when dealing with the government. It will inevitably have to contend with an arduous bureaucratic process, but it may very well be worth it in the end. In business, an Employee Evaluation Form is typically used to document your displeasure with an employee. The good thing about documenting a complaint is that it can ultimately be used in a lawsuit later on, assuming you want to go to the trouble.

How we deal with incompetence is a matter of our degree of patience. The older and more experienced you get, the shorter the fuse. Then again, I’ve seen several young people who also possess a short fuse.

Maybe if we just had a regular diet of saltpeter, we would be more patient, and people would be less incompetent. If this were so, we would be less likely to lay on the horn in traffic, give the one finger salute, yell at an employee, develop ulcers, and maybe, just maybe, people might start to focus on their work.

Instead of fluoride, let’s just add some saltpeter to our water supply and see what happens.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  YOU CAN PUT YOUR EYE OUT THAT WAY – What would the 4th of July be without fireworks?

LAST TIME:  MY 1,000TH FACEBOOK FRIEND  – Is it a milestone or a miracle?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

MY 1,000TH FACEBOOK FRIEND

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 27, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

– Is it a milestone or a miracle?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I recently attained my 1,000th “Friend” on Facebook, which I consider somewhat of a milestone. Sure, there are celebrities and other people with many more friends, but mine has been slowly building over the past seven years on Facebook.

Although skeptical at first, I found Facebook to be an excellent way to network with people, particularly those I haven’t heard from in many years. In addition to connecting with relatives and friends, I use the social media to connect to neighbors, high school and college chums (I even have a few from grade school and junior high), members of clubs and computer groups I’ve been involved with, fraternal acquaintances, politicians, media contacts, business contacts and former employees, younger people I coached years ago who have grown into adulthood, and followers of my columns, as well as detractors, including political spies.

I have personally met most of my friends, but there are also some I know only through the Internet. The lion’s share of friends are in the United States, but I also have many contacts overseas. I know of at least five friends who have passed away, but relatives maintain their profiles in memorial. I have also been approached by several spammers over the years, trying to sucker me into illicit activities, but I have been fortunate to avoid their advances.

I have had to “unfriend” at least three people over the years as they do not observe basic common courtesy on the Internet. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed corresponding with the many people who have crossed my path. We obviously do not agree on everything, but at least we have developed a dialog. I cannot possibly comment on each posting of a thousand people, but I do frequently scan it and comment where I can.

The most rewarding part of Facebook, as far as I am concerned, is to hear news from old friends, their humor, and their spin on today’s whacky world, particularly politics. I have an old friend in California who has done some remarkable work in photography. I can still sense his personality through his photos. Then there are the business contacts who are frustrated with the lack of management in their companies. Politicians like to discuss what a great job they are doing, even though we know better. And my journalist friends still practice cut-throat news. God forbid if anyone gets in their way.

My readers either love or hate my “Bryce is Right!” column du jour. There is very little middle ground. The objective is not to get people to agree or disagree with me, but to engage their brains and think about things they may have overlooked or taken for granted, a little humor doesn’t hurt either. This is why we refer to it as, “Software for the finest computer – the Mind.” We have too many people operating on automatic. Instead, I want people to engage the clutch, shift, and look around at the highway around them. I realize this may be asking too much.

There are two things I’ve learned from using Facebook; first, not everyone gets my postings and, consequently, I do not see all of the postings from my friends. This is just a foible of Facebook. Second, you have to be politically correct when using this service. I have seen people cast out of the service for a slip of the tongue or the wrong political agenda. Certain postings are deliberately censored if it doesn’t meet with the satisfaction of the Facebook management echelon. Aside from censorship though, it is a fine way to stay connected with people.

I do not want to mention the name of my 1,000th friend as I do not want to embarrass him by turning the spotlight his way. I have never personally met him, but I have corresponded with him as a result of my column and radio segments. He is from Western New York and shares my concerns about our political world and is considered a pillar of his community. I would not have made his acquaintance without Facebook, for which I give thanks.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  IN PRAISE OF SALTPETER – How do we deal with incompetence?

LAST TIME:  HOW OBAMA IS UNDERMINING DEMOCRATS  – With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

HOW OBAMA IS UNDERMINING DEMOCRATS

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 25, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– With friends like this, who needs enemies?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

You have to pity Democratic candidates running for Congress this Fall. It’s not because the GOP has a stellar lineup, but President Obama, as head of the Democratic party, seems to be going out of his way to trash his own party. We haven’t seen anything remotely like this since Jimmy Carter bungled the Iranian hostage crisis in the late 1970’s which cost him his presidency and marked the rise of congressional Republicans. Similarly, Obama’s incompetence as leader of his party is showing and the Democrats are beginning to bristle.

Between the scandals, his bungling of foreign affairs (“leading from behind”), Obamacare, the terrorist exchange, and his War on Energy, he is making it difficult for Democrats to challenge Republicans in the Fall. Even with well rehearsed talking points, Democrats are finding the mood of the country has significantly moved away from the policies as established by the president. This is causing party loyalists such as Diane Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to recently lash out against the President over the Taliban 5/Bergdahl exchange which required Congressional approval, “So, it comes with some surprise and dismay that the transfers went ahead with no consultation, totally not following the law.”

Democratic politicians are distancing themselves from the president. In the Kentucky Senate race, Democratic candidate Alison Grimes released a 60 second radio ad criticizing President Obama over his recent EPA announcement by warning him, “Mr. President, you’ll be hearing it a lot more when I’m in the senate.”

Obama’s so-called “War on Energy” will cost Democrats dearly particularly in coal states like Kentucky. Unions, who have traditionally backed Democrats, also feel seduced and abandoned by the president. Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America also blasted the president’s EPA proposal, “The proposed rule … will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

In prior years, Democrats would follow the party line blindly and not openly challenge the president. This is not so anymore, leaving only Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Obama’s only remaining cheerleaders. However, if Obama makes any more significant snafus between now and November’s elections, even they may turn their backs on him as they are both up for re-election.

The president gives the distinct impression he is not in touch with the realities of the world, certainly not as the chief executive of the United States. Instead, he seems more interested in talking about football concussions on such television shows as “Live! with Kelly and Michael” or discussing global warming at West Point’s commencement ceremonies, an awkward topic for the venue and day.

Everything he touches seems to turn to dust on him. The Taliban 5/Bergdahl exchange, which he hoped would show him as a compassionate commander-in-chief turned into a publicity disaster when the public found out about Bergdahl’s background and who he was exchanged for. He hoped the EPA announcement over lowering coal emissions, would be greeted with enthusiasm by the country. Instead, it backfired on him. And when the White House accidentally revealed the identity of the CIA station chief in Iraq, even his friends in the press corps started whispering about his competency as leader. It’s as if he is acting on impulse for publicity purposes as opposed to considering anything of substance.

In other words, Obama is not acting very presidential and by doing so, he is losing the confidence and respect of his own party. As such, he will be persona non grata in just about every important congressional race in the fall where his endorsement will be considered more as a liability than an asset.

Democrat politicians and strategists have to be shaking their heads. Unless something radical changes in the next few months, Obama will find himself on the outside looking in. Should the GOP pick up the Senate, Obama will be very much alone in the capitol. True, he will still have some veto power, but he will be a lame duck president and, for all intents and purposes, his administration will be at an end.

The president’s comparison to Carter is uncanny. Whereas Carter’s downfall was energy and Iran, Obama’s is a string of decisions and actions causing the public, and his party, to question his competency. Like Carter, Obama’s supporters have already begun to distance themselves from the president. The acid test though will be how Hillary Clinton supports or refutes the president’s actions in her bid for president. If she distances herself, it will be tantamount to certifying Obama’s lame duck status.

Democrats pinned a lot of hopes and dreams on Obama, but now they have trouble grasping exactly what he is doing, and why. There are now cracks in Obama’s foundation, cracks he caused himself. Sadly, Americans no longer believe it is a matter of, “Change we can believe in.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MY 1,000TH FACEBOOK FRIEND – Is it a milestone or a miracle?

LAST TIME:  ACCEPTING MEDIOCRITY IN COMPUTING  – Just because you use Microsoft products, doesn’t mean you are “state of the art.”

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 17 Comments »

ACCEPTING MEDIOCRITY IN COMPUTING

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 23, 2014

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Just because you use Microsoft products, doesn’t mean you are “state of the art.”

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Back in 1996, I helped organize a global effort to promote an IBM operating system for use on the PC; codenamed “Merlin,” it represented Release 4.0 of OS/2 Warp. For those of you ensconced with Microsoft products, there are alternatives to Windows, OS/2 being one. Originally introduced in 1989, OS/2 was a far superior operating system, and way ahead of its time. It offered a true object-oriented desktop, making use of a System Object Model (SOM) which allowed multiple programs to share data at the same time. It also had an easy to use and customizable Graphical User Interface (GUI), a sophisticated High Performance File System (HPFS), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support, crash protection, and much more. It could run DOS and Windows apps as well as native OS/2 programs. It was also the first operating system to support JAVA, offer speech recognition, multitasking/multithreading, and was Internet aware. It was an incredibly stable operating platform. After using OS/2 for a number of years, I had trouble adjusting to the Windows world as I found it to be a quantum leap backwards. Everything I took for granted with OS/2 was simply not there in Windows. There was only one problem with OS/2, IBM didn’t know how to market it and inexplicably backed down from Microsoft.

For one day in October 1996 (October 26th), tiny Palm Harbor, Florida was the center of the OS/2 universe. Knowing a storm was brewing between IBM and Microsoft, OS/2 users lept to the rescue in the form of a worldwide demonstration of OS/2 entitled, “Connect the World with Merlin.” (Click for MORE).

Merlin was the codename for the next major release of OS/2 (v4.0), the last issued by IBM. As a show of support, OS/2 users rallied around the product and put on a demonstration of the product at computer stores, Internet cafes, universities, and PC user group meetings. 28 countries participated in the event, all orchestrated by the product’s customers, not the vendor. This is the first time such an event was conducted in this manner, and perhaps the only one to do so. During the 24 hours of the event, volunteers met in our offices in Palm Harbor and communicated with OS/2 users around the globe using the Internet, cameras and native OS/2 software (NOTE: this was way before such things as Skype). I personally gave OS/2 presentations to consumers and students in Australia, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and of course throughout the United States. As each OS/2 site called in, we marked their location on a global map which was refreshed on the Internet. Dots appeared going from east to west as people followed the movement of the sun.

When the day was over, 165 sites had been contacted around the world, with over 1,000 volunteers participating in the event, not bad for a customer driven marketing event. IBM thanked us for our support and we garnered considerable publicity in the process, but IBM nevertheless abdicated the product over the next few years. Its loyal customers persevered though and went on to create an annual user conference entitled, “Warpstock,” thereby attaining cult status.

OS/2 may have been dropped by IBM, but it lives on as a hybrid product called “eComStation” (click for MORE), which is developed by IBM, Mensys, Serenity, and various third parties. There are still many proponents who understand the strength of the product and have no intention of sipping the MS Windows Kool-Aid. Even though OS/2 is far and away a better product, Microsoft was able to pound them into submission. The same is true for other products:

* Even though Lotus SmartSuite predated MS Office, it is Microsoft’s offering people are most familiar with. If you worked with Lotus SmartSuite though, you realize the deficiencies in MS Office; it is like night and day. Lotus was purchased by IBM who, again, botched the marketing of the product.

* Adobe “InDesign” and its predecessor, “Pagemaker,” were impressive tools for desktop publishing. Yet, it is MS Publisher (a component of MS Office) the public is more familiar with. Again, if you have used Adobe’s products, you realize the weaknesses of Microsoft’s offerings.

* The RealPlayer multimedia player predated MS Media Player. Further, Real’s peripheral products for recording and editing multimedia are vastly superior.

* The Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers are vastly superior to MS Internet Explorer. Likewise, the Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail reader is more effective than MS Outlook, yet it is the latter which dominates market share.

There are many other examples, such as Intuit’s Quicken versus MS Money, and I could go on and on. The point is, if the consumer doesn’t know better, they will accept the status quo as “state of the art,” when, in reality, it is substantially behind it. Products like OS/2, Lotus, RealPlayer, etc. are cleaner, simpler and more easy to use, not to mention more stable. Nonetheless, it is marketing which dictates the state of the art, not technology.

Consider this, I still have two OS/2 Warp computers and they haven’t crashed in decades, that’s right, decades. Can you say the same for your MS Windows machines?

I chuckle when I hear someone say Bill Gates was a technical genius. Someone is taking it in the arm when they say things like this. A technical genius? Hardly. A marketing genius? Definitely.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HOW OBAMA IS UNDERMINING DEMOCRATS – With friends like this, who needs enemies?

LAST TIME:  LIFE IS UNFAIR  – Murphy’s Laws have a tendency of upsetting us.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Computers, Software, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

LIFE IS UNFAIR

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 20, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– Murphy’s Laws have a tendency of upsetting us.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I think we’ve all encountered our fair share of Murphy’s Laws in our lifetimes. Such idiosyncrasies make life a bit perplexing and frustrating. It’s what causes us to shake our heads in bewilderment, even though they are seemingly minor in annoyance. In my case, I wanted to print a report on my home computer printer. It’s a good printer, at least I bought it believing it would serve all my needs. It is wireless and can be used to print on paper, use as a fax machine, and scan images. Usually, all I need is a single piece of paper printed with nothing more than text, no graphics. When I issue the command, the printer dutifully wakes up, pulls in a piece of paper for printing, then spends the next ten minutes grinding away making sounds presumably to check the print cartridges, paper alignment, or whatever. At first I believed all was working well, but the grinding would unexpectedly stop and go. Just as I was ready to pull the plug in desperation, my report popped out. My printer continued to gurgle and make strange sounds for a few minutes afterwards until it suddenly shut itself off.

I do not believe my printer is unique as I have been able to replicate the experience on other printers, both at home and at the office. I guess printing simple text is too much for today’s printer manufacturers.

Our lives are full of such mysteries which cause us to shake our heads in disbelief. For example:

* Opening the plastic bags in cereal boxes requires either herculean strength or a hedge trimmer to cut the top open. No matter how you do it, the cereal usually ends up on the table, not your bowl.

* There is perhaps nothing worse than to have to go to the bathroom and suddenly realize there is no toilet paper. I think Seinfeld did an episode on this. It’s a mystery to me why people cannot replace such things, be it TP, replacing a stick of butter, taking out the trash when it is full, or whatever. Maybe it’s just me.

* You make a great effort to assure your dog doesn’t defecate inside the house on the rug, but to no avail. Even worse, stepping on his feces in the middle of the night is interesting… particularly in your bare feet.

* You become a magnet for driving behind narcissistic people on the road, regardless of their age. This is where a person believes they are the only one on the road and makes life miserable for the rest of us. I’ve also noticed, when you drive carefully, someone is sure to pass you at warp speed, yet there is not a traffic officer within miles. Of course, when you speed up to three MPH over the limit, the police hound you like the dog you are.

* Now that we have hundreds of cable channels to choose from on television, whenever you channel surf, you only find commercials, no programs. If you will remember, the promise of cable was to do away with commercials. One of the great lies of our time.

* A friend laments about a problem he is experiencing, you offer advice, he ignores it, the problem repeats itself, he complains again. This is what is called a “vicious circle.” Let’s face it, he doesn’t want the problem fixed, he just wants to harangue about it.

* Regardless of what restaurant you recommend for dining that evening, everybody else hates it; and every time someone recommends a restaurant, with rare exception, you hate it.

* Television remote control units seem to be living organisms and related to rabbits (they multiply). I started with two units, one for my cable box, another for my television set, but now I have five units which do a variety of things and are scattered around the room. I’ve learned they know how to burrow like a rabbit as I can never seem to find one when I’m ready to watch TV. They can usually be found deep in sofas, under chairs, in other rooms, etc. Rarely can they be found in plain sight, or is this just me?

* You want to cook something special for dinner, you shop carefully and gather the ingredients. No matter what you do, you will forget something thereby causing you to drop everything and return to the supermarket. After you have knocked yourself out making your creation, you discover nobody wants it. I think a lot of moms can relate to this.

* Similarly, you are ready to finally tackle a major chore, such as repairing the lawn mower, fixing the garbage disposal, or changing the oil in your car, only to discover you’re missing something, such as a specific tool or component part of the product. After you have gone back to the store five times, and are now properly equipped to address your problem, the phone rings and you have to talk to Aunt Edna in Iowa for an hour. It’s not until midnight before you finally finish your task.

* Regardless of the weed spray you use, they only disappear for a couple of days before resurfacing and flourishing. The same is true with lawn fertilizers that do not seem to take effect. You get the feeling they should be reversed; put the fertilizer on the weeds and the spray on your grass.

* You’ve been waiting for a particular television show all week. Just as it begins, the network news breaks in with an inane announcement and overruns your show; or even worse, just as the show is concluding, you either suffer a power outage, or the television station decides to perform a test of the emergency broadcast system. You never find out how your program ends or “Whodunit.”

* Anytime you want to access the Internet, service seems to be disrupted. Only after cajoling the modem and router for several minutes does it seem to wake up. Mysteriously, the telephone and cable TV connections are also affected thereby causing you to call your network provider to complain. Inevitably, you speak to a robot in India, not a human being, where you are put on hold for at least 30 minutes. Miraculously everything clears up while you are on hold.

* You get to a meeting early, as does everyone else, except one person; yet the meeting is delayed until the person finally arrives late. Of course, no apology is offered for being late.

* In a heated debate, you make a brilliant and articulate argument which solves the world’s problems. Inevitably, someone asks you to repeat it after you have winded yourself.

* As you get into a checkout line at a grocery store, the woman in front of you has no less than 100 coupons which the clerk must verify one by one, and issue the credits against her bill. You will gladly pay her bill if she would just take her groceries and leave. Amazingly, she walks out of the store with an entire cart of groceries for free and $50-$100 cash in her pocket.

There are many other annoyances which I’m sure we’ve all experienced, such as squirrels darting in and out of traffic as we try to drive through a neighborhood, holding a toilet handle ten minutes in order to flush it, ear and nose hairs on men, including their wild eyebrows, and when simple common courtesy is not returned.

These types of things annoy us as they tend to surprise and disrupt our normal routine. We like to have control over our lives and resent it when the unexpected or seemingly illogical occurs, thereby affecting our comfort zone. We also tend to become impatient when machines do not work according to specifications. You ask for something black and white, and inevitably get some shade of gray instead. More than anything though, we have trouble adjusting to situations we do not consider fair, thereby we feel mistreated. No wonder we have a drug culture in this country to cope with all of our anxieties. Life would surely be easier if it was less complicated, people were sensitive to the world around them, and practiced a little common sense. But who am I kidding?

There is something about Murphy’s Laws that just gets under our skin. As for me, it’s computer printers.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  ACCEPTING MEDIOCRITY IN COMPUTING – Just because you use Microsoft products, doesn’t mean you are “state of the art.”

LAST TIME:  THE ELEMENTS OF LEADERSHIP  – Is it as easy as one, two, three?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

THE ELEMENTS OF LEADERSHIP

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 18, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Is it as easy as one, two, three?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have always contended leadership is an essential trait to become an effective manager. Whenever I mention this, many people disagree and claim it has nothing to with management whatsoever, which is perceived as nothing more than overseeing the activities of others. In this instance, I believe they are confusing supervision for management; the two are certainly not synonymous, yet I concede many of today’s managers tend to practice a Theory X form of micromanagement whereby the supervisor makes all of the decisions for the workers top-down. In contrast, I believe managers should manage more and supervise less, representing a bottom-up approach whereby employees are trained, delegated responsibility and allowed to conquer projects without someone breathing down their necks. From this perspective, management is substantially different than supervision.

From my experience, there are three essential elements for leadership:

* Must be able to read a map – meaning they have a sense of direction about them or what used to be called “vision.” Not only does the person know where to go, but how to get there. This usually means the person is better educated or is highly proficient in certain skills enabling the person to conquer problems.

* Confidence – whether it be true or fabricated (aka “bluff”), the person exudes self-confidence in how to succeed, thereby creating believers and followers. True confidence is preferred as opposed to fake which may lead people down the wrong path, thereby causing them to lose respect for the leader. Workers need to believe the manager knows the proper course of action for success.

* Strong interpersonal skills – to articulate objectives, review plans, delegate responsibility, and review progress. A good leader knows how to motivate workers, whether through communications or by example. Such skills requires some industrial psychology to properly motivate people. A sense of politics doesn’t hurt either.

Some of the best managers I’ve met over the years possessed these three basic elements. The good ones though are also not afraid to admit when they are unsure of themselves and smart enough to seek the counsel of others. Failure to do so has caused managers to go into a self-destruct mode.

Finally, let us be mindful that not to lead is to follow. Today, we are hearing a lot about “leading from behind,” not just in government, but in business as well. This is a disastrous trait in a manager. It means you are more willing to follow than to lead. If you are paid to lead, lead; if you are paid to follow, follow, but do not ever confuse the two.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  LIFE IS UNFAIR – Murphy’s Laws have a tendency of upsetting us.

LAST TIME:  LOGICAL SYSTEMS  – Provides independence and the ability to migrate from one computer platform to another.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

LOGICAL SYSTEMS

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 16, 2014

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

– Provides independence and the ability to migrate from one computer platform to another.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have had business friends over the years ask me why it seems so difficult and time consuming to upgrade their corporate systems to take advantage of the latest computer technology. In their minds, their systems are relatively simple; the concepts of such things as accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, manufacturing, etc. are relatively straight forward. Yet, companies incur millions of dollars in keeping them up-to-date. The question is, “Why?”

In a nutshell, computers and the programs used to run them are physical in nature. Frankly, there is nothing “soft” about software as it exhibits some pretty “hard” properties. For example, it is still difficult to use the same program on different computers. As such, the computer technicians and programmers are more in tune with the physical aspects of systems as opposed to the logical side of the house. Systems are actually logical in nature and can be implemented physically many different ways. For example, there is nothing magical about billing, debiting or crediting a bank account, tracking the cost of parts, etc. These are simple business processes companies have used for years. The only problem is they are rarely defined in terms of their fundamental properties. To illustrate, for inputs and outputs, a definition of the data elements to be used, and when this has to occur (timing). After this is determined, we can find a suitable physical implementation. Managing the logical components of a system offers independence and the ability to migrate to another platform as required. Sounds simple, but few companies know how to do this anymore.

Years ago we presented this logical/physical concept to a Fortune 500 customer of ours. This was an international conglomerate with many divisions producing a variety of products. Their corporate office wanted to put our concept to the test, specifically with a Payroll System. Basically, they wanted all of their divisions to process payroll in uniformity. To do so, they first defined their system logically under our direction, then they selected a “preferred” physical implementation. This was still the age of mainframe computers, and they selected IBM’s MVS as the standard platform. They then programmed and implemented the system accordingly. Those divisions who had an IBM MVS machine was given a turnkey solution. Those that did not were given the specifications of the logical system and directed to implement it physically themselves. This resulted in the same system being implemented on Honeywell GCOS, DEC VAX/VMS, IBM AS/400 and Prime computers. Because they were all programmed in accordance with the same specifications, everything looked and behaved remarkably the same. Even better, the company was able to upgrade hardware with little difficulty.

This payroll system proved our point and convinced our customer of the need for first designing systems logically before determining a suitable physical implementation. Although we have been able to replicate such success with other customers, designing systems logically is now the exception as opposed to the rule in today’s corporate world. This explains why there are so many corporate system snafus today, and why my business friends grouse about system upgrades.

For more information, see:
Logical vs. Physical Design: Do You Know the Difference?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE ELEMENTS OF LEADERSHIP – Is it as easy as one, two, three?

LAST TIME:  THE NEED FOR CONCEALED WEAPONS CLASSES  – Why it should be considered mandatory to attend such classes.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE NEED FOR CONCEALED WEAPONS CLASSES

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 13, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– Why it should be considered mandatory to attend such classes.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Let me begin by saying I believe everyone in the country should attend a concealed weapons class. Whether you are a pro or anti gun advocate, every citizen should attend such a class, be it privately taught, in schools, or some other venue. If you are unfamiliar with the class, let me clear up an important misconception, it is NOT about gun advocacy, it is about gun safety. Although such classes vary from state to state, it is essentially used to teach the fundamentals of how a gun is used, how it should be stored and maintained, and all of the pertinent laws associated with it.

I took such a class a few years ago here in Florida and was very much impressed by the knowledge and professionalism of the instructor. Again, this was less about the actual firing of the weapon as opposed to a description of the various types of weapons (e.g., rifle, shotgun, semiautomatic, single and double action revolvers, etc.), what their capabilities are, gun safety “do’s and do nots,” and what to do in an emergency. For example, in my class, the instructor gave some pragmatic advice as to what to do if someone breaks into your home while you are there. It wasn’t so much about shooting the suspect as opposed to contacting the authorities and protecting yourself. Overall, I found the class to be equally useful for those who were already knowledgeable about guns as well as the uninitiated.

While some people see gun control as the answer to solving weapons accidents and assaults, I believe an educated populace would save more lives and result in fewer victims whether it is due to an accident or premeditated assault. An informed public is less likely to become a victim and more likely to survive a shooting situation. Anyone who has attended such a class would probably agree, education is the key. Everyone from Middle School onward should be taught the lessons of gun safety. Even children in Elementary grades should learn some of the basics.

Again, let me be clear, this is not about gun advocacy or how to hurt anyone, and it certainly is not intended to glamorize guns, which we will leave to Hollywood. Instead, it is about safety and knowing what to do in dangerous situations. It is about survival.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  LOGICAL SYSTEMS – Provides independence and the ability to migrate from one computer platform to another.

LAST TIME:  WHERE DO WE GET OUR NEWS FROM?  – Is it about accessibility or reliability? Or does anyone care anymore?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

WHERE DO WE GET OUR NEWS FROM?

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 11, 2014

BRYCE ON NEWS

– Is it about accessibility or reliability? Or does anyone care anymore?

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I recently asked my readers where they got their news from. It wasn’t exactly a scientific poll and I received a modest number of people participating, just enough to reveal some interesting facts which I believe to be true.

In the old days, the main source of my news came from the daily newspaper, network television, and weekly magazines, such as “Newsweek,” “Time,” “Life” and “Look.” This, of course, all changed as many more news outlets have been introduced. Because of this, I no longer read the newspaper as voraciously as I did, primarily because I no longer trust the writers. It has been my experience they are more interested in selling newspapers than writing unbiased truth. The same is true in television, and the magazines are now extinct for the same reason. Regardless of what the press says, it is not about venue or packaging, it’s about content. This has caused people to look for new sources to replace their predecessors who are rapidly fading from view.

In my survey, I asked people to list all of their sources of news, not just one. According to my survey, the Number One source is now the Internet, which should not be a surprise. Instead of trusting a single news source, such as a specific newspaper or television network, people have discovered they have to dig for their news, and what better vehicle than your web browser? Today, web sites such as Google News, Yahoo! News, The Drudge Report, and Brietbart have replaced newspapers, which was listed way down on the list, tied for seventh place. These Internet services monitor several news sources, and display them on a single page. This approach prohibits a single news source from spinning the news one way exclusively.

The number two source for news was the Cable News Television Networks (e.g., CNN, Fox, MSNBC). Interestingly, they easily trounced their prime time network predecessors (ABC, CBS, NBC). The fact people turn to cable news is indicative of their need for accessing news immediately, as opposed to waiting for sporadic reporting from the networks.

At Number Three was AM Radio, which was way ahead of XM Radio (tied for #7), FM Radio (#12), and even Network Television (tied for #4). This tells me people are still listening to AM for news as opposed to music on FM or XM.

The top three news sources in the survey (Internet, Cable News, and AM Radio) suggests people want quick access to the news, and they want more factual information as opposed to “spin” as touted by a single news vendor.

Here are the most popular sources of news according to my survey:

1. Internet (e.g., Google News, Yahoo! News, News Networks)
2. Cable News Television (e.g., CNN, Fox, MSNBC)
3. AM Radio
4+5. Network Television (e.g., ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS), Daily Newspaper; (tied)
6. E-Mail blasts
7+8. XM Radio, Newspaper (read Now and Then); (tied)
9+10. Weekly News Magazine, Social Circles (School, Office); (tied)
11. Other (e.g., Comedy Central)
12. FM Radio

I also had one person admit he/she does not regularly follow the news. Whereas my survey was answered by adults, a couple of years ago I tried a similar survey among 100 high school Juniors (I was making a presentation as part of the “Great American Teach-In”). As these young people would be voting in the next election, I was curious how they accessed their news. Of the 100 Juniors present that day: two boys claimed to read the newspaper (even if it was only the sports section), one watched network television, and one watched Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart on his smart phone. The rest of the Juniors did not follow the news which seemed rather strange to me, nor did it seem to surprise anyone. They were simply not interested in current events.

Even though there are more venues today, I suspect most people are clueless as to what is going on in the world. Maybe they’re simply apathetic, or maybe they no longer trust the news. Actually, I suspect it is a little of both. The results from my survey leads me to believe it is less about news venue, and more about content. True, we want immediate access to the news, but more importantly, we want it to be reliable and trustworthy, and this is something we are having trouble finding in the 21st century.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE NEED FOR CONCEALED WEAPONS CLASSES – Why it should be considered mandatory to attend such classes.

LAST TIME:  CREATING UNIVERSAL SYSTEMS  – Designing systems to cross cultural boundaries.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Media, Radio, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

CREATING UNIVERSAL SYSTEMS

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 9, 2014

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

– Designing systems to cross cultural boundaries.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

“There is only one problem with common sense; it’s not very common.”
– Bryce’s Law

GENERAL DISCUSSION

In this day and age of “globalization” more and more Information Systems are crossing geographical boundaries. Because of this, serious consideration should be given to making systems universally applicable to any country. Some might consider this an impossible task, but it is actually easier than you might think. It just requires a little common sense and some planning.

First, it is strongly suggested you adopt standards for system development. System Design Methodologies are particularly useful, but consideration should also be given to the “look and feel” of your systems, to assure uniformity in operation no matter where you use it on the planet. We have found the “Common User Access” (CUA) standards developed by IBM excellent for screen design. Beyond this, consideration should be given to all inputs and outputs, including forms, reports, messages and Help text.

The biggest problem in making universal systems is that programmers tend to bury too many of the details of a system down in the program source code, which is not a good place to tinker around in. Instead, certain elements of the system should be placed in separate files thereby making it convenient to translate. Consideration should be given to creating separate files for:

* PRINT MAPS – An output, such as a report or printout, can be decomposed into various sections. When a program is executed, one of the parameters should be the desired language (e.g., English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese, etc.). Based on this, pertinent print maps are called from the “Print Map File” to assemble the requested output.

* SCREEN PANELS – This is similar to the “Print Map File” whereby the sections or a screen can be decomposed into its various panels. As a program is executed, pertinent panels are called from the “Panel File” to build the screen.

* MESSAGES – Messages are too often buried in source code. Instead, they should be placed in a separate file for printing or display in a screen.

* HELP TEXT – Help text should also be maintained separately for easy retrieval based on the selected language.

Separating Maps, Panels, Messages, and Help text from program source code, makes it easy to translate to foreign languages. Further, it encourages developers to share and re-use resources, thereby contributing to integrated systems and expediting development.

A serious consideration in the Far-East is the Double Byte Character Set or DBCS which is used to accommodate Japanese and Chinese Character alphabets with voluminous characters. To construct one such character, two bytes must be stored in a single byte (hence the name “DBCS”). Fortunately, the technology has evolved and DBCS is implemented in most operating systems today. However, developers should be cognizant of this requirement, particularly as they are designing Inputs, Outputs, and Files. Check with your hardware or operating system vendors for specifics. Better yet, check it out on the Internet.

INPUT/OUTPUT DESIGN

During design of the Inputs and Outputs, consideration should be given to the expression of certain types of data elements; for example:

* DATES – How dates are to be expressed may vary from country to country; for example: Nov 13, 2014 – 13 Nov, 2014 – 2014-11-13. How a date is presented to an end-user is different than how it is physically stored.

* TIME – This is similar to dates; some people like to see AM/PM, others like military time, e.g., 14:30 (2:30pm)

NOTE: Regardless of how Dates and Times are to be physically presented to the user, standards should exist to express how dates are to be physically stored, such as “YYYYMMDDHHMMSS” (Year/Month/Day/Hour/Minute/Second). Failure to do so caused the horrendous Year 2000 (Y2K) problem years ago.

* TIME ZONE – Representing local time.

* CURRENCY – What form of monetary values should be expressed; Dollars, Yen, Pounds, Euro Dollars?

* MEASUREMENTS – Accommodate different units of measures for weights (pounds vs. grams), distances (miles vs. meters), and temperatures (Fahrenheit vs. Centigrade).

* TEXT – The Western world prefers viewing text horizontally from left-to-right, but as we go into the Eastern countries, they like to see text vertically, sometimes right-to-left.

Many operating systems today provide the means to capture such settings. However, it might be necessary to establish a separate “Personal Settings File” for a particular Information System.

Attention should also be given to DEFAULT settings, particularly at time of input. Further, where applicable, consider auto “UPSHIFTING” or “downshifting” text as needed. For example, most Internet addresses (such as a URL or e-mail address) should be downshifted.

The techniques mentioned above are simple and effective to implement. It is important that a translation strategy be considered as part of the system design. During design, your mantra should be “Know your audience; make it usable; and think Global.”

NOTE: This paper is excerpted from the “PRIDE” Methodologies for IRM at:
http://www.amazon.com/PRIDE-Methodologies-IRM-Tim-Bryce/dp/097861822X

Originally published: 12/20/2004 (with additional text added)

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHERE DO WE GET OUR NEWS FROM? – Is it about accessibility or reliability? Or does anyone care anymore?

LAST TIME:  D-DAY +70 YEARS – WE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER  – A tribute to our Normandy vets, and a history lesson for our youth.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Software, Systems | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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