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Archive for December, 2018

WE LIVE IN A PROGRAMMER’S WORLD

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 13, 2018

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Their perspective affects us all greatly.

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

Recently, I was putting up some outdoor Christmas lights and, wanting to schedule when they would turn on and off at night, I tried to adjust a timer to suit my needs. I didn’t have an instruction booklet, just the timer. I had worked with many timers over the years, but this one gave me fits in trying to set it. What I believed to be On/Off switches, of course, didn’t work. Then I noticed the lights went on and off mysteriously. I tried many variations of the settings, but nothing seemed to work. Feeling stumped, I thought back to something my father told me years ago, “You have to remember, this was designed by programmers, and they don’t think like the rest of us do.” I then applied reverse logic to the settings and “Voila!” it worked perfectly.

I had a similar problem with a new TV remote control which appeared to be simple in layout but wasn’t intuitive to use, requiring a learning curve for both my wife and myself. We have had it for a few months now but still do not understand its full functionality, but we limp along with what we’ve got.

Then there is the problem with my wireless PC printer. Not long ago, the Internet network in our neighborhood was recently knocked out. After service was restored, my main printer failed to recognize my wireless network. To solve the problem I pulled out the original installation CD and ran it. During the process, it couldn’t find our wireless network. Following the instructions, I tried to enter the data myself (with great precision I might add), but to no avail. The only way I could get it to work was to re-attach an old USB printer cable directly to my PC which remains there to this day. I thought this was incredibly odd as my network was working fine and communicating with other devices, but not my printer. This was something that should have taken a couple of minutes to correct, but turned into a two hour headache.

There are many other stories I’m sure you can relate to, but I think you get the point.

What these situations demonstrate is that we live in a programmer’s world. Devices that should be intuitive to use are complicated, seemingly by design. Having worked in the Information Technology sector for over thirty years, I have learned programmers will typically do what is easiest for them to program, not what is best for the end-user. This ultimately means humans are the ones truly being programmed, not the technology, as we have to adapt to awkward devices, not the other way around.

Many years ago I wrote a paper titled, “Theory P: The Philosophy of Managing Programmers” which attempted to explain how programmers think and how to manage them in the process. This ignited a tempest of protests from the programming community accusing me of defamation of character. In re-reading the column today, I stand by my observations and believe they are correct.

Among my comments, I contended, “There is also the problem that programmers tend to be somewhat faddish. It is not uncommon for them to recommend a solution that is technically fashionable, not necessarily what’s practical. An elegant solution to the wrong problem solves nothing.”

We have to remember, programmers are detailists consumed with their small part of a much larger puzzle. As such, they will not necessarily devise something to the end-user’s satisfaction, just their own. This explains why they require proper direction, or they will inevitably invent a devise that will either be difficult to use or cause the human to change to adapt to it, thereby causing strange operating habits or social foibles, such as our dependencies to answer smart phones like Pavlov’s dog or while driving around town, thereby creating a traffic hazard. Whichever it is, I resent having to apply reverse logic to get something to work.

I think my father was right, programmers really do not think like the rest of us do. Unfortunately, we’re stuck in their world, and we have allowed them to call the shots.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

MY TALK ON CITIZENSHIP REDUX

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 11, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Some thoughts on how to promote citizenship in America.

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

This is an updated version of a column I wrote some time ago. There’s a book recommendation at the end which would make a great holiday gift for a young person in High School or College.

I was recently asked to give a lecture on “Citizenship” at a local Masonic Lodge. Drawing from a couple of my past columns, I assembled the following short talk:

My biggest concern regarding citizenship pertains to how we teach history and civics in this country. In some High Schools, “American History” runs from World War II to the present. This means students are not learning such things as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Civil War, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, Prohibition, the League of Nations, and much more. In other words, they only discuss the last 77 years, and not the events leading up to the founding of our country and the turmoils we had to endure. As an aside “World History” is now just World War I to the present. So much for the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Marco Polo, the Magna Carta, Ferdinand Magellan, Alexander the Great, et al. I presume they had no bearing on our civilization.

Such ignorance of our history caused famed historian David McCullough to observe, “We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate and have a very sketchy, thin knowledge of the system on which our entire civilization is based on. It is regrettable and dangerous.”

We are also not educating youth properly in terms of “Civics”; understanding our responsibilities as citizens, such as voting, serving on a jury, how legislation is enacted, or what is included in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. No wonder young people do not grasp the significance of such things as the Electoral College, the structure of our government, or what their rights are.

Naivety and ignorance leads to apathy at the ballot box. In the 2016 elections, only 57.9% of the citizens voted (over 90 million didn’t vote at all). This is a pitiful figure when you compare it to other democracies like Australia, India, and the Scandinavian countries. Surprisingly, this was the highest voting percentage in the United States since 1968 (60.8%). The highest in recent history was in 1960 (63.1%) for the Kennedy/Nixon election. Even though Millennials (ages 18-35) are now the largest potential voting block, they continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.

It is sad when legal immigrants understand the workings of the government and history better than native born Americans. Maybe all citizens should take the same oath naturalized citizens do. Since 1778, immigrants coming to this country have had to pass a test and take an oath swearing their allegiance to the United States. The current oath is as follows:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Not surprising, immigrants coming through this program tend to appreciate this country and are more loyal than native born Americans. Another cause for this could be because there is less emphasis on teaching American government and history in the schools than in years past. As such, the importance of being a citizen has not been impressed upon our youth.

So, as a proposal, how about administering a modified version of the immigration oath to all native born Americans, perhaps on July 4th? Better yet, how about Constitution/Citizenship Day on September 17th? All that is necessary is to simply modify the first sentence of the Immigration Oath; to wit:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Parents could give the oath to their children, thereby turning it into a family tradition; civic organizations and local governments could administer it in public group settings, or perhaps some other venue. Maybe even the media could get involved and administer it over the airwaves or Internet. It should be administered in some solemn way with a right hand raised and the left hand placed on either a copy of the U.S. Constitution or perhaps a holy book such as a Bible, Torah, or Koran.

The oath is certainly not the same as the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, this is instead a reaffirmation of our commitment to our country and would help promote citizenship and voting. Maybe this is something that should be given routinely as opposed to just one time; to remind people of their allegiance to this country. I cannot help but believe this simple gesture would have nothing but beneficial effects.

One last observation, during this past year, the talking heads on television recommended avoiding any talk of politics at the dinner table, particularly during Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. I disagree. We do not do enough talking at the table in a calm and reasonable manner. Instead of leaving citizenship to the school educators and the media, parents should spend more time discussing it around the dinner table, not in a dictatorial manner, but in a frank and open discussion. I believe our youth would better understand the virtue of the Electoral College if it came from their parents as opposed to an entertainer or athlete.

Maybe then, youth will appreciate the need for “Citizenship.”

P.S. – Here are some reading resources that should be useful:

“Elementary Catechism of the Constitution of the United States” (1828) by Arthur J. Stansbury – for many years, school children learned this catechism. It is just as relevant today as it was nearly 200 years ago. It is available free of charge as a PDF file on the Internet.

Also on the Internet, the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service has a page describing “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” along with links to other free resources.

My favorite book for young people is, “The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle that Changed the World” by W. Cleon Skousen. It sells for about $16-$18 and is available from Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. This makes an excellent holiday gift suitable for students in High School and College. In my humble opinion, all young people should be given a copy of this book as it describes the mechanics of our government. Think of it as a crash course in Civics. Enjoy!

Remember, education is the key to our political future.

Originally published: March 8, 2017

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

BABY, IT’S POLITICALLY CORRECT OUTSIDE

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 6, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Attacking holiday programming.

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

Tis the season, not for Christmas or any other religious holiday, but for political correctness. It appears the holidays have triggered a wave of criticism over audio/video classics as heard and seen for years over our airwaves. This is just another example of political correctness running amok.

First there was the TV special, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” which originally aired in 1973 and won an Emmy Award. For 45 years, it was a beloved holiday classic, but not in 2018 when it was accused of racism. It was recently pointed out that at the dinner-table scene, Franklin, the lone black character, sat on one side of the table alone in a lawn chair, while the other white characters were on the opposite side sitting in regular chairs. Critics today claim this is a very racist scene. To his credit, Charles M. Schulz, created Franklin in 1968, making him one of the first cartoonists to incorporate a black character in his strip. Schulz later claimed he created Franklin after being inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So instead of applauding Schulz’s efforts, he is criticized by the PC police in 2018.

Next, we have the 1964 Christmas Classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” narrated by the late great Burl Ives. For 54 years, this film was cherished by children, but not in 2018 where critics today declare it “disturbing.” Santa is accused of racism for not accepting Rudolph due to his red nose, Hermey the Elf is described as a “Sadistic Psychopath,” the elves are accused of inbreeding, and Yukon Cornelius is considered “Mentally Unstable.” I wonder how we overlooked all of this for over 50 years?

In 1969, “Frosty the Snowman” was brought to television and narrated by the late Jimmy Durante with his marvelous gravelly voice. It was inspired by the popular song sung in 1950 by the legendary cowboy-singer Gene Autry. For 49 years the show was enjoyed by millions of children, but again, as with the others, it is not acceptable in 2018. Frosty’s melting scene is now said to give children nightmares as he is “viciously murdered” by an evil magician who wants Frosty’s magic hat. Santa returns to bring Frosty back to life, but it is now being claimed this scene traumatizes young people. Having grown up in the north, and made many a snowman in my day, we all knew they were not real and what would happen when the Spring thaw came, but to be traumatized by this in 2018, it makes you wonder what they are putting in kid’s cereals these days.

Finally, we come to WDOK-FM 102.1 (aka, Star 102) in Cleveland who recently banned the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as it could be construed as promoting male predatory tactics of women, something of keen interest to the #metoo movement (anyone remember the Justice Brett Kavanaugh hearings?). Although it is not a true Christmas song, it was written in 1944 and played around the holidays. It is primarily sung as a duet between a man and a women. In its 74 year history, there have been dozens of renditions by a variety of artists, including: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalbán, Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell, Lee Ann Womack and Harry Connick Jr., Anne Murray and Michael Bublé, Martina McBride and Dean Martin, and many others. Great music, but you won’t hear it anytime soon in Cleveland.

WDOK-FM ran a poll on their Facebook page asking listeners what holiday song should be omitted from their playlist, and out of 600 responses, 94% (564 votes) were in favor of it, but only 6% (36 votes) were against it. So, thanks to a meager 36 people, the radio station dumped the tune. Who-da-thunk-it?

All of these shows and music range in age from 49 to 74 years old, and introduced in the 1940’s, 50’s, the turbulent 60’s, and early 70’s. One cannot help but wonder where was the outrage back then? Were we really so naive and clueless not to see the hidden meanings? Is it possible we were socially mal-adjusted or is there something wrong with today’s sense of right and wrong? Frankly, I think there is something in the water causing this distortion of reality. These classics may not have been the most brilliant artistically, but I do not believe they were deliberately designed to embarrass anyone.

The criticisms of the old television classics appear to be coming from Millennial writers who seem to be making mountains out of mole hills. They either want to create something controversial to boost their readership, or they honestly believe the nonsense they write. Unfortunately, their badgering will likely cause the mainstream media to abandon these holiday classics. I just wonder what they propose to replace them with, perhaps titles such as, “A Charlie Brown LGBT Thanksgiving,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Wussy,” “Frosty the Snowflake,” and “Baby, Get Your Ass Out of Here, Can’t You See I’m Texting?”

The far left is confounded by President Trump who is an ardent proponent of Christmas. The fact he likes to say “Merry Christmas” this time of year, as opposed to “Happy Holidays” or “Season Greetings,” drives them crazy. Since there appears to be a resurgence in Christmas, the left is attacking the peripheral aspects of the holidays, hence the attacks on Rudolph, Frosty, et al. They will not be happy until organized religion, particularly Christianity, is removed from our culture. The reality though is this will never happen.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Media, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

TIME TO END THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 4, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– But not for the reason you may think.

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

It’s time to wrap-up the Mueller Investigation, not because they haven’t found anything of substance yet, but because it is simply out of control with no end in sight. Allow me to explain.

I have been a management consultant in the Information Technology field for over forty years and I have met several consultants along the way. Ethical consultants have no problem defining the deliverables for a project, produce a reliable estimate of costs, and calculate a schedule which is all reviewed and agreed upon by the customer before embarking on the project. Unethical consultants are just the antithesis of this; they define no deliverables, they are not held accountable for costs, and fail to produce a reliable timetable of events. This latter type of project, or “boondoggle” I should say, is a gravy train for the consultant. I find it rather remarkable companies still allow such shenanigans to occur.

To illustrate, years ago I had a client in the New York City area who had a bad experience with a “Big 8” consulting firm (which has since been merged down to the “Big 4”). The consultant promised delivery of a new state-of-the-art system, but hedged at giving the customer a scheduled end date. Interestingly, they had no problem producing a monthly invoice like clockwork. This went on for two years where nothing of substance was produced. After much cajoling by the client, the consultant’s project manager finally announced triumphantly to the customer, “We have just finished Phase 1… now we start Phase 2.” “Phase 2?” the customer asked, “How many phases are there?” No answer was forthcoming from the consultant.

This is the same scenario being played out by the Mueller investigation. We have no idea where this investigation is going, how much it is costing, and when it will be completed. From a business perspective, this type of donnybrook is simply unacceptable.

The investigation was initiated by Order Number 3915-2017 from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein. Its prime purpose was to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”. Robert S. Mueller III was appointed Special Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, and the order was signed May 17th, 2017.

One year and seven months later, the investigation shows no signs of abating and has turned into a distracting political football. As part of Mueller’s investigation, he took over several FBI investigations involving peripheral subjects. Paul Manaford, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, W. Samuel Patten, Richard Pinedo, et al faced a variety of charges in the hopes it would squeeze them to become cooperative witnesses for investigators. So far, we have learned nothing from this tactic.

Now that the midterm elections are over and a new year beckons, it is time to either reorganize this boondoggle, or put it to bed. This reminds me of another client I had in Rochester, New York who had hired another “Big 8” firm to design and develop a new manufacturing system for the company. A team of consultants were assembled and given use of a meeting room where they brainstormed for several months and tacked several poster boards around the room with various ideas drawn up on them. This went on for months with no end in sight. We were contracted to come in, examine the project and make some recommendations. After instructing their systems management how to tackle such an assignment, the systems manager re-assembled the “Big 8” team in the meeting room, he then walked slowly around the room tearing up and discarding the posters. At the end, he said, “Gentlemen, let’s get down to business.”

It’s time for the Mueller investigation to either “get down to business” or get off the pot. Unless, of course, there are parties who do not want it to end as it serves other purposes. Hmm…

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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