THE BRYCE IS RIGHT!

Software for the finest computer – the Mind

  • Tim’s YouTube Channel

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,075 other followers


  • "BRYCE's UNCOMMON SENSE SERIES"
    4 New Printed Books & eBooks from Tim on:
    Change/Technology, Management, Politics, and the American Scene
    Click HERE.

  • Categories

  • Fan Page

  • Since 1971:
    "Software for the finest computer - The Mind"

    Follow me on Twitter: @timbryce

    hit counter

     

  • Subscribe

Archive for November, 2016

YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 30, 2016

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– I know mine. What is yours?

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

I know a young man who was recently promoted to the position of “Project Manager.” This was his first management position and he was naturally a little nervous going into it. Knowing I frequently write on the subject, he asked for my advice as to what to expect. I began by saying management is not for everyone as it represents a leadership position where you become responsible for your subordinates. Some thrive in such a capacity, others prefer being led. I had a friend who was a master machinist and happened to be promoted to supervisor where he would be responsible for five people under him. This distressed him greatly as he worried about their performance. So much so, he developed ulcers and became quite ill. He begged his boss to go back to being a machinist, whereby he quickly regained his health.

Just because you’ve been given the title “Manager” doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly been imbued with certain knowledge. You have to work at it. For example, in the Information Technology industry, it is common to see a successful programmer elevated to analyst, then to project manager, then to I.T. manager. Such a person may have been a great programmer, but that is no qualification for becoming a manager. Not surprising, the Peter Principle is applied whereby the person is elevated to a position above his level of competency and the company suffers for it. In most cases, such I.T. managers have a rather narrow perspective as they tend to think less as managers and more as programmers.

Whenever thrust into the position, a person must develop his/her own unique style of management. Quite often we will try to emulate others we respect, we may also read books and attend seminars to learn management techniques, and solicit advice from our confidants. However, we must realize what works for one person may not for another, and because of this, we have to tailor our strengths and weaknesses to the situation at hand. We will inevitably experiment with different suggestions until we find a comfortable style of management.

There are ultimately three variables dictating our style of management:

1. Our assigned duties and responsibilities which defines the scope of our management authority, and as such, our mission as manager.

2. Available resources, both human and machine. The skills and proficiencies of our workers and equipment will play a significant role in the timely completion of work products. For humans we consider experience, performance, and skill set, which includes interpersonal relations (defining our socialization skills). For equipment, we primarily consider its limitations. As my old football coach was fond of saying, “A team is as strong as its weakest player.” If we have weak workers, we will need to improve their skills. If we have limited technology, we may need to consider upgrades. Of course, this depends on the availability of another type of resource, financial.

3. The time allotted to demonstrate you are achieving your goal. For a single project, you will likely need to demonstrate the project is proceeding on time and within budget. For departmental management you will need to demonstrate it is under control and improving productivity. It is very important you understand the timing variable as it will greatly influence your style.

These three variables define the hand we are dealt; how we play the hand is then up to us. Some will become drunk with power and try to micromanage everything under the persona of Attila the Hun. Some will try to make use of carrot-and-stick techniques to encourage workers to perform better, and still others will allow workers to walk all over them.

As for me, I always had a strong sense of organization and communications. Standardized and reusable methodologies for conducting business are invaluable in terms of defining Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, all of which improves communications and clearly delineates how work products are to be produced. Unlike micromanagement, I prefer managing from the bottom-up, whereby assignments are clearly defined and employees are then empowered to see the task through to completion themselves. Other than this, I monitor the operation and run interference to overcome obstacles and obstructions. In other words, I believe in spending less time supervising, and more time managing.

The point is, this is a style that works for me. It may or may not work for you. As to my young friend becoming a Project Manager, I admonished him that, until such time as he discovers his own style of management, I recommended he remain flexible, to adapt and adjust accordingly, study others (what works and what doesn’t), and learn more than teach. After all, style comes with experience. As such, I advised him to learn everything he can about his niche of the business, be fair and honest, and lead by example. Never ask someone to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.

We must never forget human behavior rests at the heart of the science of management. It is not about technology, it is not about numbers, it is about people, which is why we call it “man”agement. Perhaps the best way to define it is “Management is getting people to do what you want, when you want to do it.” And it all begins with your style of management.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  BEING SICK – What happens when the crud hits you?

LAST TIME:  WHAT INSPIRES US?  – The acts and words of others influence us greatly.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 »

WHAT INSPIRES US?

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 28, 2016

BRYCE ON LIFE

– The acts and words of others influence us greatly.

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

Baseball immortal Willie Mays recently turned 85 and as a kid I always had great respect for him. True, the Hall of Famer won his share of awards for his play on the field, but that wasn’t what impressed me about him. Even as a kid, I recognized his love for the game and how he was a student of it. He would watch everything on the field and had an uncanny ability of being able to steal the other team’s signs which gave him a definite edge. Some would only watch him when he was at the plate. I learned to watch him all the time. As a Little Leaguer, I tried to emulate his play, not just his physical abilities, but his never satiated curiosity of baseball. He was very inspirational to me and helped create a life long love affair with the game. So much so, I purchased an autographed baseball bearing his signature years ago.

Inspiration stimulates us to action, to try to do better, to exceed our own expectations, and represents the hot buttons we push to motivate ourselves. Inanimate objects, such as flags and other symbols, are important, but I’m not certain they truly inspire us. Music, poetry, and text stirs our souls, but it is people that truly inspire us. It is the imagery of the human figure we relate to, whether they possess a quality we wish to emulate or what they have been able to achieve in their lifetime, something which causes us to become envious of them, something we want to replicate. True, their words may be important, but its their symbolism we act on. Although inspiration can result from major actions, it can also come from simple deeds or lessons learned, something that strikes another like an epiphany and fills a void where one exists.

There are essentially two characteristics causing people to become role models for others, either who they are (their station in life) or what they have accomplished. As to the former, we look to others for guidance and leadership and invest our trust in them, whether it is a teacher, a coach, a member of the clergy, an officer in the military, a government official or whatever. We believe in what they say and what they represent, and as long as they maintain a clean record, they will always remain an inspirational symbol for others to emulate. However, should their reputation become tarnished, people will readily abandon them.

I tend to believe people are more inspired by the accomplishments of others who are measured by their ability to get things done, particularly in the face of adversity. They stood against the status quo and against all odds. Although we remember those who were successful, we also find admiration in those who tragically failed. It is the fight in their eyes that spurs us on. To stubbornly push on, not knowing whether we will win or lose. It is this courageous tenacity, to boldly go where nobody else has gone before, that people gravitate towards. It is their hard work, their sacrifice, their accomplishments that inspire people to action, e.g., “If he/she can do it, so can I.” Even if the person’s reputation is soiled, their accomplishment is not. Case in point, baseball’s Pete Rose; even if you think his reputation has been ruined, you have to tip your hat to him for his 4,256 hits, a major league milestone which will likely never be broken.

Those that inspire us tend to be quotable. There was either something the person said or a lesson they indelibly impressed upon our mind. This is particularly true of religious leaders such as Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, and Confucius. Their quotations help make the hard connection between ourselves and the other person.

The people who inspire us says a lot about ourselves, how we think, our interests and priorities. Whereas creative types might find inspiration from the artistic works of Pablo Picasso or the poetry of Robert Frost, others might find the genius of Albert Einstein more appealing. Many find inspiration in the work of Mahatma Gandhi. As for me, I see much of his work as admirable, but not inspirational. Instead, I find inspiration from other types of people. In addition to my family and religious figures, the following list of people have positively influenced me in my walk through life. See if you can glimpse into my personality.

Winston Churchill – I’ve read a lot about Churchill over the years and have even visited his home in Chartwell. His rise to becoming Prime Minister during the dark days of World War II is fascinating, particularly as he tried to hold Great Britain together until the New World could come to its assistance. As a writer, his “History of the English Speaking People” was magnificent. And as a cigar aficionado, I envied his cigar humidor featuring over 10,000 cigars. When I visited his home, I went to his study where I could imagine him working at his standup desk. I stood there for quite some time taking it all in. I think it’s Churchill’s defiance of Hitler, his oratory and immense curiosity about everything that I am attracted to.

Favorite quote: “Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told.”

Abraham Lincoln – Lincoln was another favorite subject I studied. His rise to the Presidency and his ability to turn former adversaries into friends is a lesson for us all. I also admired his ability to stay focused during the Civil War, even under the weight of his own son’s death.

Favorite quote: “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”

Jack Benny – Some may be surprised to see Jack’s name mentioned here. In addition to being a great comedian, he taught me an important lesson about teamwork. To Benny, it wasn’t important for people to tune in to see or hear him on television or radio, it was important for people to tune into “The Show.” He would be the first to recognize the contributions of his cast, the writers, his guests, and everyone else involved with the show. Because of his focus on teamwork, the Benny show remained in the Top Ten for years and years.

Favorite quote: “I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.”

Ronald Reagan – It was interesting to watch Reagan’s rise to the White House. He came at a time when morale in the country was very low and I give him credit for finally ending the Cold War.

Favorite quote: “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”

Theodore Roosevelt – I read a lot about Roosevelt as he ascended to the Presidency. What always amazed me was his energy and zeal for life. He was far from being a physical specimen, but his enthusiasm was contagious, even when you only read it in print.

Favorite quote: “There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.”

Billy Mitchell – the forgotten Army General who advanced the concept of “Air Power” and had the audacity of telling his superiors in the military they were wrong, even in the face of his own court martial. Mitchell was prophetic about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by 17 years. He was ostracized for telling the military what they didn’t want to hear, the truth. I do this quite often myself.

Favorite quote: “In the development of air power, one has to look ahead and not backward and figure out what is going to happen, not too much what has happened.”

Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) – More than just his adventures around the world as documented in his many books, Clemens inspired me by saving himself from bankruptcy and saving the honor of his family by starting his career over again in his late 50’s. And as any writer who has studied his work can tell you, his mastery of the English language, his use of words and sentence structure was incomparable.

Favorite quote: “It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail.”

So what does this list say about me? That I am attracted to people who are unabashed visionaries, not afraid of adversity, their resolve in themselves and their cause, and to rise above their limitations to achieve their goals.

As for Willie Mays, I was just glad to see him play the game he loved. My favorite quote of his was honest and something I took to heart, “In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without one-hundred percent dedication, you won’t be able to do this.”

Even to this day, I keep his autographed baseball on the credenza in my office as a reminder. Say Hey, Willie on your 85th.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE – I know mine. What is yours?

LAST TIME:  HOW NOT TO COOK A THANKSGIVING DINNER  – No, this is not about cooking recipes.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

HOW NOT TO COOK A THANKSGIVING DINNER

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 23, 2016

BRYCE ON LIFE

– No, this is not about cooking recipes.

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

Let’s face it, cooking a Thanksgiving dinner can be quite an undertaking. Whether it is a major family function or a gathering of friends, a considerable amount of work is required. First, the house needs to be cleaned (particularly if you are having guests for dinner), not to mention the dishes, pots and pans, glassware and cutlery. Then there is the researching of pertinent recipes in order to establish a menu. This is followed by several trips to the market to shop for everything from appetizers to dessert and everything in-between. On Thanksgiving Day, the kitchen is put into high gear, the likes of which is unlike any other day of the year. There is, of course, never enough counter space or cooking utensils. When dinner time arrives, the meal has to be served at the table, a few thoughtful words are spoken as a prelude to the meal, and everybody “digs in.” Afterwards, the kitchen has to be cleaned, and everything needs to be washed. What little is left of the bird is cutup for later consumption or to be given to guests to enjoy later as a snack. Finally, the garbage has to be disposed of, which can be substantial. Other than this, cooking a Thanksgiving dinner is a piece of cake.

Actually, my family doesn’t mind doing all of this as everyone has learned to pitch-in and help out. If we manage our time properly, it turns into a pleasurable experience as opposed to an imposing task. However, I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm and, instead, many people loathe the thought of preparing such a meal. It’s not that they don’t know how to make the meal, they just don’t want to expend the energy, preferring to allow someone else to knock him/herself out. As much as they love the meal, they despise the hassle of putting it all together. So much so, they’ve worked out several schemes to avoid cooking, namely:

* Prepare a TV dinner – this requires perhaps the least amount of effort, and will only cost you a couple of bucks. It ultimately depends on whether you want to socialize with anyone this time of year. To recluses with a microwave, this is the preferred meal of choice.

* Go to a restaurant or hotel – there are some rather excellent meals available with all of the trimmings you can imagine, for a price. It will certainly cost more than a TV dinner and will require you to dress up a bit, but it may indeed be worth it, particularly since you will not be asked to clean up afterwards.

* Charitable groups may offer a free dinner, particularly churches, schools, soup kitchens, and groups like the Rotary, Lions, Elks, and Masons. The food may not be home cooking, but you are pretty much guaranteed a square meal (and you can’t beat the price; free). Sometimes, such groups may ask you to assist in the preparation of the meal or the cleanup, such as “busting suds”, dumping garbage or pushing a broom. It ultimately depends on your finances and if you are willing to lift a finger. If your objective is to do nothing, then you might want to ask what is required of you before you accept the meal; either that or sit close to the door so you can make a speedy exit.

* Mooch off a friend, neighbor, or family member – This is perhaps the most common tactic used by people who do not want to cook, by wrangling an invitation into a person’s home where you not only enjoy the meal but socialize and consume their libations. If you are not invited, you have to learn how to hint for one, e.g., “What time should I be there?” Very important though, your presence should not be viewed as a burden, which means you have to socialize and volunteer to help out, such as cleaning up. It is also good form to bring something with you, such as a bottle of wine, flowers, or perhaps a side dish (check with your host/hostess first). Whatever you do, master the art of thanking the host/hostess graciously. The point is, if you contribute nothing, it is highly unlikely you will be invited back.

* Hospitals – It is also possible to check yourself into the hospital for the day, at which time you’ll be treated to a comfortable bed and a full course of some rather bland food. It all depends if your insurance is paid up, otherwise it can be an expensive proposition.

These are just a few of the ways to avoid cooking during Thanksgiving. I’m sure there are many others, but these are the most common. As for me, I simply resign myself to the task and try to make the best of it. Heck, we even have fun.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  WHAT INSPIRES US? – The acts and words of others influence us greatly.

LAST TIME:  MICROSOFT DUSTS OFF SPEECH RECOGNITION  – Company introduces new voice technology.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 Food, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

MICROSOFT DUSTS OFF SPEECH RECOGNITION

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 21, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Company introduces new voice technology.

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

On October 19th, 2016, Microsoft announced a new speech recognition technology that reportedly transcribes conversational speech as well as a human does, with an error rate of just 5.9%. As such, they claim this is an “Historic Achievement.” In theory, people will be able to issue commands to the computer and write text using voice commands to either your PC or smart phone.

Don’t get too excited just yet. This is actually an old technology. Back in 1996, with the advent of OS/2 Warp 4, speech navigation and VoiceType dictation was embedded in the operating system. As you may remember, OS/2 was IBM’s alternative to Windows on the PC. It was an excellent operating system, and I still have two computers running it flawlessly, but there was just one problem with it, IBM didn’t know how to market it and abdicated the desktop to Microsoft. OS/2 users, including yours truly, still recognize it as head and shoulders above anything Microsoft has produced, but that is another story.

Under OS/2, the user wore a voice activated microphone headset. From it, the user could navigate the computer using the commands found on action bars and pull down choices; for example: File, New, Open, Print, Save, Exit, Close, Find, Undo, Ok, Cancel, Maximize, Minimize, Help, etc. Frankly, it was quite efficient in operation and freed the user from simple tasks used with the keyboard and mouse. The second part was VoiceType dictation which allowed the user to dictate text for word processors, e-mails, and just about anything requiring text entries. Before you could use it though, they provided a routine which allowed you to train the computer. This was done by reading sections of literature from Mark Twain and took approximately one hour. The VoiceType dictation was effective but many people didn’t believe the computer could keep up with them and lost interest. As an aside, I suspect people no longer possess the skills needed to dictate a letter, something that has been lost in time as well as the “shorthand” language.

Another software product that acted in a similar manner was Dragon NaturallySpeaking by Nuance Communications in 1997 for use on the Windows platform. It is still actively marketed to this day. Other packages are also available.

Microsoft’s announcement is welcome news if it can process text faster and more accurately. Unfortunately, their announcement didn’t include a video or sample application to demonstrate their technology. The company even admits in their announcement, “the technology still has a long way to go before it can claim to master meaning (semantics) and contextual awareness.”

For more information on Microsoft’s speech recognition project, click HERE.

It’s interesting, OS/2 users always knew the operating system was way ahead of its time. Now we know precisely how many years ahead it was: 20.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  HOW NOT TO COOK A THANKSGIVING DINNER – No, this is not about cooking recipes.

LAST TIME:  FOR THE LOVE OF COFFEE  – How much do you consume?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

FOR THE LOVE OF COFFEE

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 18, 2016

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How much do you consume?

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

I enjoy a good cup of coffee. I recently celebrated a birthday and in doing a little simple math I determined I have consumed over 25,000 cups of coffee in my lifetime; that’s over 1,500 gallons of coffee and a heckofa lot of caffeine.

I began drinking coffee while in college in order to stay up late at night to write a paper or cram for a test. Like a lot of people, I started out by adding cream and sugar to make it palatable, kind of a creamy flavor. Over time though, I learned to drink it black and believe I have a better appreciation for coffee than when I put in all of the additives (plus there are a lot less calories in a black cup of coffee).

I’ve sampled coffee from around the world and admittedly some countries are better than others. For example, in Japan, a country that specializes in green tea, it’s difficult to find a really good cup of coffee. Brazil has some excellent coffee which they drink in small espresso-like cups. Brazilians jokingly admit the most important person in a company is the “Coffee boy/girl” as they wander around pouring coffee for anyone wanting it. The coffee is rather thick and strong. Consequently, most people add sugar to sweeten it up. They were amazed I could drink it black, cup after cup.

When I entered the workforce in the 1970’s, just about everyone seemed to drink a cup of coffee. Not so anymore. Now it seems people prefer some sort of tea or bottled water. I guess this is why I’m surprised companies like Starbucks have become so successful selling coffee. Somehow they were able to take a mundane product, put a new spin on it, and make quite a bit of money off of it. It used to be you would pay as little as a nickel, dime or quarter for a cup of coffee. In New York we would jokingly refer to the “Manhattan Breakfast” as two cigarettes and a cup of coffee for 55 cents. However, Starbucks and others have turned the simple cup of coffee into a prestige or elegant dessert, kind of like what you see at a pastry shop, and for a price much heftier than your pocket change. You really have to hand it to American marketing on this one; to take something which costs pennies to make and turn it into a cash cow.

I find it all rather amusing how some people like to hold a pseudo-intellectual conversation about the merits of their favorite coffee. What was once known as “the rocket fuel of business” has become the “national pastime for frivolous discourse.” As for me, I just wanted the buzz.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  MICROSOFT DUSTS OFF SPEECH RECOGNITION – Company introduces new voice technology.

LAST TIME:  A FONDNESS FOR GARAGES  – A glimpse inside the men’s clubhouse.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A FONDNESS FOR GARAGES

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 16, 2016

BRYCE ON LIFE

– A glimpse inside the men’s clubhouse.

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

I think most men enjoy their garages; I know I do. Many see it as a “Fortress of Solitude” where a guy can store his tools and equipment, not to mention his automobiles. There is usually some form of work bench, a radio tuned to his favorite station, and a few signs or license plates posted on the wall to give it that “homey” feeling. Some people keep their garages immaculately clean which is often a reflection of how they keep their cars. Others even go so far as to add heating and air conditioning, not to mention a television set. There are even those who turn the garage into an office, a rec room, a fitness center, or possibly a kennel, but these are the exceptions as opposed to the rule. Most use it as was designed to be, a place to store your cars and any other paraphernalia your wife won’t let you bring into the house.

I always liked the idea of a garage detached from the house, although I’ve never owned one. My grandfather in Buffalo, New York had such a garage and he kept it spotless. As a little kid I thought of it as a clubhouse or fort to hide out in. It wasn’t massive, but it was fun to explore the flotsam and jetsam my grandfather stored there. His tool set was well organized but it all looked rather old, probably from the days of the Civil War I imagined. In all likelihood, my grandchildren will look upon my tools in the same manner. Tool sets are one of those rare things we seldom discard. For example, I still have tools which I used in my college days forty years ago. Only God knows how old my grandfather’s tools were. Maybe they were handed down from generation to generation going back to the time of William Wallace in Scotland. Yea, they looked that old.

In addition to a basic workbench, there are essentially three things men need in a garage: power, lights, and shelving. Rarely does a garage have enough electrical outlets and, as such, men will add power strips and extension cords to accommodate their needs, usually to an excessive degree. Having suitable lighting is imperative in order to see what you’re working on. While some people install additional overhead lighting, I prefer a good retractable light I can pull down from the ceiling and look under a car’s hood with, the same sort of light you would find in a service station. I personally cannot imagine a garage without one. As to shelving, we need storage space for such things as automotive supplies, garden chemicals, paint, and camping equipment that we haven’t used in at least a dozen years. The piece de resistance of garage storage is, of course, the tool box. It is every man’s dream to own a clean and strong metal tool box with several drawers to organize and store his tools. It is the pride of any garage, regardless whether it has anything in it or not.

Typically, a garage floor is either oily and dirty or someone has installed something to absorb water and all of the other drippings emanating from a car, be it oil, transmission fluid, or radiator fluid. Even if you have gone to the trouble of painting or tiling the garage floor, unless you have something to absorb the goop, all of your efforts will be for naught. To this end, I have seen a variety of mats and carpeting used, even newspaper and flattened boxes. As they get sufficiently soiled, you can dispose of them accordingly. Perhaps the most imaginative approach is a long flat aluminum pan that can hold a sufficient amount of cat litter, which is very absorbent and easy to dispose (not to mention a lot cheaper than most of your other alternatives). There is, of course, only one drawback to it, and that is if you have a cat who needs to relieve himself and knows how to get into the garage.

Finally, we come to garage doors. My grandfather’s garage had old fashioned side-by-side barn doors that swung open. Most of the houses I have lived in though had the classic garage door on springs that opened bottom-up. For my younger readers, it may come as a surprise to learn we didn’t always have electric garage door openers. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that home garage door openers became popular. Prior to this, everything had to be opened and closed manually and inevitably the job of tending to the garage door became the responsibility of youth to perform, e.g,, “Son, get out and open the garage door.” Most of the time it wasn’t really a bad job unless one of the garage door springs was weak or broken thereby causing the door to gain considerable weight and give you a hernia at any early age. My father never understood the problem as he would admonish me, “Oh come on, lift it up. What’s the big deal? I never had a problem opening the garage door when I was a kid.” Somehow he conveniently failed to remember his father had side-by-side garage doors, not a massive wooden door that weighed ten tons without spring support.

Regardless of the petty problems associated with the garage, it remains one of man’s favorite spots where he can play with his toys, enjoy a smoke without being harassed, and keep his treasures away from the other members of his family. It not only keeps him happy, but his family as well, after all, it keeps him out of their hair.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  FOR THE LOVE OF COFFEE – How much do you consume?

LAST TIME:  FACEBOOK’S WORKPLACE  – The latest twist on collaboration software.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

FACEBOOK’S WORKPLACE

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 14, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– The latest twist on collaboration software.

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

Project collaboration has always been a concern to managers. It is essential to keep everyone rowing in the same direction. In the past, this was accomplished by conducting meetings, preferably before the work day begins. However, due to our fast paced world, it can be difficult to get the project team together. To overcome this problem, we have turned to technology.

Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) offered one of the first ways to allow birds of a feather to discuss topics of mutual interest and share files. These were eventually phased out as the Internet grew in stature. By itself, the Internet became the de facto standard for people in the workplace to communicate and exchange files.

Then along comes Lotus Notes in 1989 (now IBM Notes). Originally a mainframe based system that has migrated down to smart phones, it represents a collaboration tool offering e-mail, calendars, and business applications. Actually, it was quite a good product for its time. Although it is not entirely dead, it’s market share has diminished.

However, with the advent of smart phones, instant messaging, social media, and VoIP, something was needed that is more in tune with how people today use technology.

One such product is Microsoft’s SharePoint which was commercially released in 2003. The product is typically bundled with Microsoft Office and is primarily used for document management and storage. Between Office and SharePoint, thousands of companies use it for collaboration purposes. As such, it dominates the marketplace.

Launched in 2013, “Slack,” a collaboration tool used by communities, groups and teams offers chat rooms, direct messaging, and group telephone calls. It also integrates with a large number of third-party services.

Now along comes “Workplace” from Facebook which is based on the popular social media which millennials are more familiar. Introduced in a press release on October 10th, the product has been described as a “buffed-up chat room and team management software.” Unlike products like IBM Notes, “Workplace” is primarily a communications tool, not a project management package or office suite, at least not yet. It currently includes Instant Messaging, e-mail, VoIP, and file sharing. In a way, it’s not too dissimilar than what the BBS packages originally offered except for a slicker appearance, portability, and greater ease of use.

Facebook claims “Workplace” was originally developed internally within the company, and has been testing it with other businesses. According to their press release:

“We’ve brought the best of Facebook to the workplace — whether it’s basic infrastructure such as News Feed, or the ability to create and share in Groups or via chat, or useful features such as Live, Reactions, Search and Trending posts. This means you can chat with a colleague across the world in real time, host a virtual brainstorm in a Group, or follow along with your CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.”

As for me, I question the necessity of keeping workers plugged into smart phones 24/7. I cannot help but believe this will become an interference which will hinder productivity.

Pricing is based on volume of users within a company, for example:

Free 3 month trial, followed by:
$3/person – Up to 1k monthly active users
$2/person – 1,001 – 10k monthly active users
$1/person – 10,001+ monthly active users

“Workplace” is also available free of charge for Non-Profits and Educational Institutions. Both High Schools and Colleges should investigate this further, as should businesses with people who are smart phone savvy.

Look for Facebook’s “Workplace” on the Internet at:
https://www.facebook.com/workplace
or
https://workplace.fb.com/

As for Microsoft’s SharePoint and Slack, they should be hearing footsteps.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  FACEBOOK’S WORKPLACE – The latest twist on collaboration software.

LAST TIME:  A FONDNESS FOR GARAGES  – A glimpse inside the men’s clubhouse.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

PRIME TIME MORALITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 11, 2016

BRYCE ON MORALITY

– Does everything on TV have to be rated “R”?

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

I came home from work not long ago and decided to watch some prime time television on one of the major networks. I’m not going to mention which one as I think they are all basically the same. It was a sitcom night and my wife and I watched three of them. Over the next hour and a half it occurred to me the network was transmitting some rather disturbing messages:

* They discouraged smoking, but promoted recreational drug abuse and alcoholism instead.

* Pre-marital sex, lesbianism and a ménage à trois was portrayed as okay, and marriage was for suckers (and will most likely end in divorce).

* Profanity and lack of manners and courtesy was considered the norm, not the exception.

And this was just one evening’s worth of prime time.

In 90 minutes I learned my sense of the world was all screwed up and I should be more like these hip young characters in the shows. I am certainly not a prude, but these messages disturbed me in terms of what Hollywood is telling our youth.

It wasn’t always like this of course, as censors watched prime time content carefully. This all changed with the advent of Cable-TV which could offer more risque programming for its viewership. Profanity and pornography quickly crept into our consciousness. It seemed the more lewd and obnoxious the program was, the better. Cable-TV became such a powerful force that the prime time networks could no longer resist and lowered their standards in order to remain competitive. This of course marked a significant change in our culture as our vocabulary, humor, customs, and morality was greatly affected.

Some would argue, “What’s the big deal? The kids are going to learn it anyway.” This may be so, but I question the media’s role in advancing it. Think about it, whereas the “Big 3” networks at one point offered programming rated “G”, today they would easily earn an “R” rating regardless of the day of the week.

Television signals have been traveling through the cosmos since we started transmitting in the 1940’s. Distant worlds are just now receiving pictures of “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” among others. I wonder what their impression of Earth will be when they finally receive episodes of “Two Broke Girls”, “Two and a Half Men,” and just about everything else we show these days. I wonder if they will understand any of it, as I know I have trouble making any sense of it myself.

As I have written in the past, our sense of comedy has changed radically over the years. Whereas, we were more “suggestive” in the past, which would cause viewers to use their imagination, now it is all “in your face,” leaving nothing to the imagination. I am just questioning the wisdom of having the networks drive home questionable moral values over and over again every night. Is there no self-control or sense of responsibility in the media anymore? Evidently not.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  FACEBOOK’S WORKPLACE – The latest twist on collaboration software.

LAST TIME:  MORE CUSTOMER SERVICE SNAFUS  – Four stories which you will undoubtedly relate to.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 Morality | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

MORE CUSTOMER SERVICE SNAFUS

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 9, 2016

BRYCE ON CUSTOMER SERVICE

– Four stories which you will undoubtedly relate to.

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

We have all experienced some sort of customer service snafu over the years. I have written about several of them in the past, and just when I think I have seen everything, some knucklehead pulls another screw-up which causes me to shake my head in bewilderment. I have four more installments for your enjoyment.

First, there was Hurricane Hermine which glanced Florida in late August. As I live on the west coast, in the Tampa Bay area, we only received the back-end of the storm. Nonetheless, we experienced a power outage in our area. This is not uncommon for us, and service is normally restored promptly, but this time it was an extended period. As usual, we dutifully called Duke Energy to report the outage, which was answered by computer. We were told the problem had been reported and Duke was working on it. Twelve hours later, service had not been restored and we received no notification of our status.

I then called the company’s customer service and patiently traversed their Voice Mail jail. Only by cleverly doing an end-run on the service did I finally get to talk with a human being. She sounded like a young lady who told us, “We apologize for the inconvenience, but due to the storm, all of our people are out solving the problem, and we thank you for your patience.”

I said, “That’s nice, but what is the status of my local problem?”

She replied, “We apologize for the inconvenience, but due to the storm, all of our people are out solving the problem, and we thank you for your patience.”

I replied, “I do not need your apology, I just want to know if you can tell me anything about my local problem. It’s okay to admit you don’t know.”

Again, she replied, “We apologize for the inconvenience, but due to the storm, all of our people are out solving the problem, and we thank you for your patience.”

In other words, she was working from a script and was not allowed to think or help the customer. I was appalled. Then again, maybe I was still talking with a computer. Oy!

My second story involves my mother who had a fraudulent charge added to her MasterCard bill last November. She contacted the company promptly to explain the error and, theoretically, they would explore and correct the problem. This went on for several months, whereby the charge was removed from her bill but added back on the next month, while accumulating interest charges in the process.

My mother was forced to write several letters to MasterCard along with copies of past bills to show the error. This became so obnoxious that she stopped using the card completely. So much for a cordial relationship.

Her latest bill came in and, lo and behold, the charges were back on. I told her I would call the company on her behalf. I figured cordiality hadn’t gotten her anywhere so I decided a more surly approach was in order. After traversing their Voice Mail jail and properly identifying myself, I asked the clerk why the company perpetuated this fiasco. Of course, she didn’t know why but it was obvious she wasn’t going to solve the problem. I was told to call their fraud department and after traversing their Voice Mail jail once again and properly identifying myself, I spoke with another clerk who claimed she had removed the charge from the bill and any accrued interest. She ended by saying the matter should be resolved in 30 to 90 days, which is what they told my mother originally. I then said loudly to my mother sitting nearby (so the clerk could hear me), “Yes, they said they’ll have this fixed by the next century.”

I received a frosty response from the clerk after that and I’ll be curious to see if the charge is indeed removed from her bill. If so, she intends to destroy the card and kill the account, which she has held for a number of years.

My third story involves an artist friend living in southwest Ohio. He had just completed a piece of artwork on a Thursday and rushed it over to the local UPS store to ship it to New York by Monday. Unfortunately, when he arrived the clerk informed him the truck had already left for the day and his shipment wouldn’t get there until Tuesday, which was unacceptable.

He asked, “Are there any other UPS stores nearby which might be able to take it for me?”

“Maybe,” she replied, “But I do not know the other stores.”

This is when she began to suffer from a bad case of the stupids. My friend pulled out his smart phone and quickly located three other stores. “Here, can you call them for me?” he asked.

“But I don’t know these people,” she claimed.

“Neither do I,” my friend countered, “but you’re the UPS rep here, shouldn’t you try?”

Evidently not, thereby compounding my friend’s problems. Naturally, he went to FedEx who delivered his artwork on time to New York.

My last story involves my local cable operator, Bright House. I had used the company’s cable, ISP, and land line services for a long time. Over the last few months though, I noticed my bill slowly increase to about $170/month. When I received a brochure in the mail from one of their competitors, I called to see what they could offer me. To my surprise, they could lower my monthly bill by $70. Of course, I gave them the okay to proceed.

I then called Bright House to cancel my service. Frankly, the clerk wasn’t interested in why I was leaving. He simply processed the termination order and that was that. I was surprised they couldn’t care less why I was leaving them. You would think they would try to determine my reason for leaving and try to keep me as a customer, but such was not to be.

Lessons Learned

From these experiences, as well as many others, I have learned the following:

1. Such companies are really not concerned about the customer unless it directly involves making money; as to customer problems, forget it.

2. Customer service representatives are not given any authority to solve problems. They only follow scripts and not allowed to think outside the box. As such, they are not resourceful, thereby making them useless. This is why you should always ask for a supervisor or someone higher when reporting a problem.

3. Voice Mail is designed to prohibit customer contact, not improve service. It is intended to frustrate the customer, not solve problems. By creating a frustration factor, companies wear out the customer in order to have them pay the bill as opposed to waiting for a customer service rep who is incapable of helping them.

By the way, anybody remember where the word “Snafu” comes from? It’s an old military term meaning, “Situation Normal, All F***ed Up.” And that pretty much describes the state of customer service in this country.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  PRIME TIME MORALITY – Does everything on TV have to be rated “R”?

LAST TIME:  IT’S SHOWTIME!  – The 2016 election is finally here.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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 »

IT’S SHOWTIME!

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 7, 2016

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– The November Election is finally here.

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

Tomorrow is election day. As has become custom, I intend to be the first person in line at my voting precinct. Unlike the primaries, I suspect there will be many more people lining up behind me. It should be interesting.

Over the last few decades, America has been experiencing a pendulum effect in terms of going from Democrat to Republican and back to Democrat. Now, after eight years of liberal Democratic rule, it is time for a “correction” whereby the pendulum will likely swing to Donald Trump before it is too late to reverse the progressive agenda. Whereas Jimmy Carter begat Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama begat Donald Trump. Our two most incompetent leaders are giving way to two of the best.

For those of you voting for an independent candidate, please understand you will likely be helping to elect Hillary Clinton and undermining the appointment of Supreme Court justices for at least a generation, which has been a goal of the left for a long time. Plain and simple: By voting independent you are undermining the Supreme Court.

The Democratic Party is no longer the party of the people, but of special progressive interests bent on changing America. This year, the Republican Party experienced an influx of Democratic members who have abandoned their party due to its excessive liberal inclinations.

The Main Street Media (MSM) is still loyal to the Democratic Party and rushed to the aid of Mrs. Clinton when it became clear she couldn’t compete with Donald Trump on her own. Since the GOP Convention in Cleveland, the MSM has gone into overdrive to attack Mr. Trump and distract the voters. Only now are the American people waking up to the fact the MSM is corrupt and offers nothing but dishonest reporting, degenerative analysis, fraudulent polling, and fallacious fact checking. It should come as no surprise the MSM is now less trustworthy than the Congress, the President, and the candidates. People understand not only that they lie, but are being paid handsomely to do so.

As the “Greatest Generation” and “Baby Boomers” get older, the millennials are becoming the principal voting bloc, yet most are unprepared to make an intelligent decision. They tend to be naive, apathetic and, frankly, unaware of the issues involved with this electoral contest. This is likely caused by a de-emphasis in classes on Civics (government), and America history. As such, they do not possess a fundamental understanding of such things as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They are also lacking an understanding of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and just about anything in the 18th and 19th centuries. Consequently, they do not understand the differences between socialism and capitalism, the dignity of work versus entitlements, and the basic structure of our government. In other words, they have become “sheeple.”

We now have within our grasp the ability to take back the country, and set it back on the right track. This is an opportunity we may never get again. If we blow it, our economy will likely implode, the Supreme Court will turn left, and we will become a third world country with China and Russia taking over as world leaders.

Consequently, 2016 will either go down as the year of the uniformed voter or the year we turned it around.

God help us tomorrow!

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 40 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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  MORE CUSTOMER SERVICE SNAFUS – Four stories which you will undoubtedly relate to.

LAST TIME:  THE POWER OF GOOD COACHING  – Imagine if we could do this in the workplace.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: