Sunday, September 30, 2018

More phony ‘LinkedIn’ phishing emails

On August 12th I blogged about getting Phony ‘LinkedOut’ and ‘Inlook’ phishing emails. The fakes claiming to be from from LinkedIn got the message grammatically wrong – “You appeared in 6 search this week.”

This week there has been a bunch of similar emails – including three so far just today. As shown above, they are ludicrously inept. A real message about searches this week should arrive only once. (Multiple messages would be expected to have the number of searches increse over time, but these three instead showed a decrease). The email addresses also are not consistent with LinkedIn.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Failure to communicate

Poor understanding of second language can get you into trouble. Back in 2006 Berlitz had a humorous TV commercial (made in Norway) with the punchline Improve Your English. As shown above on YouTube, it has a German Coast Guard trainee get confused between the words sinking and thinking. I was introduced to it via another recent YouTube video by Rashid N. Kapadia.

The set for that Berlitz commercial looks plausible. There are two relay racks full of equipment at the far left, and a table with what looks like a large marine radio receiver (presumably tuned to a distress frequency like 2182kHz). But there is another copycat YouTube video which uses the sound track from the radio, but hilariously instead just has the equipment for a recording studio – some graphic equalizers, level meters, and a cassette tape deck.

There is a blog post about that and other Berlitz commercials at the Marketing Mixed blog titled “Sinking” about strategy.

Another similar YouTube video has the situation switched to a trainee from the Egyptian Coast Guard.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Why would you bet on a horse race that already has taken place?

You would not, unless you like to gamble on almost anything. But for the November election here in Idaho there is Proposition 1 - ludicrously given the brief ballot title of An Initiative Authorizing Historical Horse Racing at Certain Locations Where Live or Simulcast Horse Racing Occurs and Allocating Revenue Therefrom (and also titled the Save Horse Racing in Idaho Act).

Whenever we see an unusual word like THEREFROM we can smell that attorneys are telling us a pile of horse manure. This is the latest try to get back to a form of gambling which had been passed by our state legislature in 2013. In 2015 they came to their senses and passed another bill repealing it. Then our governor tried to veto that bill, but he waited too long.

How does Historical Horse Racing (HHR) work? The Wikipedia article titled Instant Racing explains that play begins when a customer deposits money in a terminal (resembling a slot machine), and a race is randomly selected from a video library. The customer is NOT shown details like the date and location of the race – just some information about the jockeys and trainers winning percentages. Based on that handicapping information the customer makes a pari-mutuel wager on the outcome (top three finishers in order). Then the customer sees a brief video clip of the finish (perhaps just a two-inch square).

Naturally there are groups running TV ads supporting and opposing Prop. 1. In favor is The Committee to Save Idaho Horse Racing, Create Jobs, and Fund Public Schools, or more briefly, Save Idaho Horse Racing. Against is Idaho United Against Prop 1.

A combination of money and politics creates peculiar rationales. Up north, the Indian casino operators who already have slot machines oppose Prop 1. (Paulette Jordan, the Democratic candidate for governor, once was co-chair of gaming for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians [ATN]). At the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) their chief honcho Wayne Hoffman supported Prop 1 with an article titled Prop 1 gives voters a chance to save an industry that politicians have nearly destroyed, which also was published as a column in the Idaho-Press Tribune. His stance contradicts the IFF’s statement that it:

“…exists to advance conservative principles – limited government, free markets and self-reliance – [that] made our country the envy of the world.”

Prop 1 instead has the government intervene in the market by granting a special privilege to some (which hardly is supporting self-reliance). But that’s OK, since they really are opposing a liberal Democratic candidate. By the way, the Idaho-Press Tribune had an editiorial against Prop 1 titled Vote ‘no’ on horse racing slot machines.     

If Prop 1 passes, then who else might line up to ask for similar forms of gambling with terminals resembling slot machines? First, there could be Historical Rodeo Riding (HRR). An eight-second ride is short enough to show completely on a video.  

Second, there could be Historical Car Racing (HCR) in both a drag race version (short enough to show completely) and a longer, boring oval track (NASCAR or Indy Car) version.

Third, sports bars could ask for Historical March Madness (HMM) with betting on either the Elite Eight or Final Four in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.

Fourth, movie theaters could ask for Historical Movie Endings (HME). Bet on which characters will survive until the end of a slasher movie like one of the ten in the Halloween series. (Don’t ever bet against Jamie Lee Curtis!)    

And so on!

The 1894 image of a horse race came from the Library of Congress, and the image of horse manure came from Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Stopwatch, countdown, and progress-bar timers for speeches

It is very helpful to have a timer you can glance at to keep track of where you are during a speech. One common type is a stopwatch function on a wristwatch or smartphone app, but knowing how much time has elapsed really is less useful than knowing how much you have left (via a countdown function on a lab timer, as shown above).  

It is more useful to have an analog progress bar that uses a color change to display what fraction of the allotted time has been used and is left. On December 14, 2017 I blogged about a Review of the Timer function on the Toastmasters International Mobile App. That app provides a progress bar display.

I just ran across a blog post from June 18, 2018 by James T. Jarc titled The Color-Timer Method: Exploring the use of a visual timekeeping application in introductory public speaking classes. He linked to his Colortimers web site, which displayed four working timers.

One titled Blow out the Candle has a vertical progress bar that burns downward. It inspired me to use PowerPoint to mock up the horizontal Fuse Timer shown above. As the fuse burns down the flame gets taller.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Teenage students need to learn how to speak up in classes

At The Atlantic on September 12, 2018 there was an article by Taylor Lorenz titled Teens are protesting in-class presentations. It was subtitled Some students say having to speak in front of the class is an unreasonable burden for those with anxiety and are demanding alternative options.   Presumably he meant those with the severe problem of a diagnosable social anxiety disorder (which used to be called social phobia). Public speaking phobia is a subset of social phobia. In his 13th paragraph he also claimed:

 “Anxiety is increasing at a faster rate than depression as the leading mental-health issue affecting teenagers, a recent study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found.”

That magazine article was titled Epidemiology and impact of health care provider-diagnosed anxiety and depression among US children. It covered a far wider age range than just teenagers (ages 6 to 17), and reported on all anxiety rather than just social anxiety.

But there are good statistics on social anxiety in U. S. teens, which came from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication - Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). As shown above in a bar chart, about 10% of teens have social anxiety disorder, which is an upper bound for the percentage with public speaking phobia. So, about 90% of teens don’t have a major problem with speaking up in class.

A magazine article about fears in the NCS-A reported that 24.9%, or one-quarter of teens feared speaking in class (and 35.8% feared performing for an audience). The other three-quarters of them had no fear. I blogged about this on June 11, 2012 in a post titled What social situations scare American adolescents, and what are their top 20 fears.

After that Atlantic article there were some dissenting replies. At Quartz on September 13, 2018 an article by Annabelle Timsit said Students are resisting in-class presentations. Here’s why teachers shouldn’t cave. On September 15, 2018 the Las Vegas Review-Journal had an editorial titled In defense of public speaking which remarked:
“It’s understandable that children want to avoid difficult things, like public speaking. The job of adults isn’t to indulge these juvenile fantasies but to help them develop the knowledge and skills needed to overcome the challenges they’ll face in life. That includes public speaking.
A school that doesn’t do that isn’t doing its job.”

After all, schools aren’t requiring public speaking just to be mean. It is part of the English Language Arts (ELA) in the Common Core standards. One web site about them notes that for grades 11 and 12 students should be able to:

“Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.”

You can find a more detailed discussion of the standards in a 2011 document from the State of Washington titled The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics: Analysis and Recommendations. (See page 6).

Yesterday at Forbes there was an article by Carmine Gallo titled Don’t abolish in-class presentations, teach students to enjoy public speaking. 

The image of students in a class was modified from one at Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Having your thunder stolen

On September 20, 2018 The Onion (a satirical newspaper) had an article titled 4th grader panics upon realizing classmate giving presentation had exact same summer as he did. It said that Bryan Gardner was freaked out by the preceding presentation being the same as what he had planned. (Their teacher was depressed because she also had the same summer).

This problem is known as stealing thunder. In a topical seminar it can be a big problem if you just do the same superficial research as another speaker. On January 22, 2014 I blogged about a cure -
Don’t just get on the bandwagon! Find your own speech topic and approach.

Both in litigation and crisis communication it may be better for persuasion to reveal negative information about your organization before an opponent can. Back on July 15, 2009 I blogged about it in another post titled Stealing Thunder: say the worst, but say it first. Laurie Kuslansky at A2L Consulting discussed it briefly on April 28, 2014 in an article titled 4 tips for stealing thunder in the courtroom. Kathyrn M. Stanchi had an exhaustive 54-page article in the 2008 Rutgers Law Review titled Playing with fire: the science of confronting adverse material in legal advocacy.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Silliest quote for the month

At CNBC on September 8, 2018 there was an article by Elle Kaplan titled 8 simple ways public speakers overcome their own fears to impress and inspire that also was posted at Yahoo Finance. It had the following eight section headings:

1] Know what you’re walking into

2] Know your audience

3] Structure your speech

4] Focus just on your content and not yourself

5] Smile, and go on

6] Execute the right tone, volume, and pace

7] Eye contact

8] Practice

But the article failed to follow #4 and focus on the content. The very fourth sentence says:
“In a survey, public speaking is ranked as one of the top phobias for most Americans, according to the Chapman Survey on American Fears.”

The article referred to the web site for those Chapman Surveys, but Ms. Kaplan clearly had not checked on details for the 2017 survey. Their press release has a graphic showing the Top 10 Fears of 2017 – but public speaking isn’t there. It isn’t even in either the Top 20 or the Top 40. Their blog post has a list of fears showing public speaking really is ranked only #52 out of 80 fears! That is very far from the top, and not a phobia. (Back in 2011 I blogged about What’s the difference between a fear and a phobia?).

When you look at the survey methodology for the question, you will find it is also about fear rather than phobia – it is question qn23m on page 12:

“How afraid are you of the following? – Public speaking”

Back on October 26, 2017 I blogged about How can you make a public speaking coach run away like a scared zebra? Just tell them where public speaking ranked in the fourth Chapman Survey on American Fears. And on  October 14, 2017 blogged about What do the most Americans fear? The fourth Chapman Survey on American Fears, and being innumerate.

The graphic came from here at Openclipart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A humorous typo

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Cartoonist Doug Savage lead up to it by posting a week of related Savage Chickens cartoons. On September 14th he posted the one shown above, claiming The Legend of Blackbeard came from the typographical error of adding an extra D.

Humor columnist Dave Barry was responsible for making International Talk Like a Pirate Day into a holiday event. There even is a 6-1/2 minute training video on YouTube. And the Toyota Yaris is the official car for this day, which I blogged about back in July 2011.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Tent cards for member names and meeting roles at Toastmasters club meetings

One detail of running Toastmasters club meetings is identifying members and their roles. At St. Al’s Toastmasters Club we use two-sided 8-1/2-inch wide by 2-1/2-inch high tent cards, as is shown above. (Capitol Club had reusable clip-on name tags which sometimes accidentally got taken home after meetings).

At the last District 15 Leadership Training Institute (TLI) Jerry Shaeffer from the  CommuniCreator’s Club mentioned his club was using tent cards identifying meeting roles. I did a Google search and found that District 58 in South Carolina had 11-inch wide by 4-1/4-inch high tent cards with the role name on one side and a description on the other, as is shown above. You can download their Meeting Roles Tent Cards as a PowerPoint file.

I realized that we could get even fancier and add one-inch high pink meeting role cards as ‘hats’ to slip over our name tent cards. That combination would let everyone know exactly who is doing what – even if there is no printed agenda. We tried them out today and voted to use them from now on.   

Avery makes some embossed tent cards. Their #5305 are 2-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches (two per sheet).
Their #5309 are 3-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches (just one per sheet).


Monday, September 10, 2018

Do you have a screw loose?

I mean literally, not figuratively. When we moved into our new house about five years ago there were some stripped screws on the door hinges for a few kitchen cabinets. I repaired them by inserting the ends of three round wooden toothpicks dipped in white glue to plug and refill the holes. That’s one common repair method reusing the same screw. You also could either use longer screws or larger diameter screws, or drill out the hole and glue in a wood plug (cut from a dowel rod). These options and others are discussed in an article at The Spruce Crafts titled How to fix a screw that has stripped out.

My repair on the most used hinge finally let loose. As shown above, this time I redid it by cutting three pieces from the middle of those 0.08” diameter by 2-1/2” long toothpicks, and using a lot more yellow Titebond PREMIUM Wood Glue.

When we had breakfast with one of my wife’s friends I mentioned doing that repair. She had also used the “toothpick trick” for fixing loose screws on her tap shoes. There is a risk of damage to wooden floors when a loose screw starts protruding. The Tight Taps web site sells three different sizes of screws, and they also have a 1-1/2 minute YouTube video on How to fix a tap shoe screw.    

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Is the glass half full or half empty?

A cliché about optimism and pessimism is that a pessimist says the glass is half empty, while an optimist says the glass is half full. There even is a Wikipedia page.

There are other more creative replies. A physicist says the glass really is half-filled with water and half-filled with air. An engineer says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. A bartender says for $2 I can refill the glass with orange juice, or for $5 I can add a fifth of a glass of vodka, and make it into Screwdrivers. (That’s a specific version of a Tom Peters quote - that the real question instead should be how do I fill the glass?). If the glass scares you half to death, then you have glassophobia.

Back on January 30, 1997 a Dilbert cartoon had the following clever dialogue:

Ratbert: A pessimist says the glass is half empty. An optimist says it’s half full.

Dilbert: Did you put your lips on my glass again?

Ratbert: And the engineer says…

Dilbert: It’s a good thing I put half of my water in a redundant glass.

On September 1, 2018 another Dilbert cartoon which inspired this post had some less clever dialogue:

Pointy-haired Boss: A pessimist says the glass is half empty. An optimist says it is half full.

Dilbert: The engineer says the glass is too big.

Pointy-haired Boss: The manager says the engineer should shut his pie hole. 

There was an article by Diana Booher on pages 12 and 13 of the February 2010 issue of Toastmaster magazine titled The Link Between Language and Leaders which said:

“As a presenter and leader, you may be called on to deliver bad news. If your audience sees the glass as half empty, you have every right – even an obligation – to help them see it as half full.”  

I looked on Pubmed and found a pair of articles from 2011 in the Canadian Veterinary Journal by Myrna Milani on Half-empty and half-full communication – one in October about the client and one in December about the practitioner. There also is a definitive 27-page article with 320 references by David Hecht in the September 2013 issue of Experimental Neurobiology about The neural basis of optimism and pessimism.

Update on September 19, 2018

Fifteen years ago there was a magazine article by Craig R. M. McKenzie and Jonathan D. Nelson titled What a speaker’s choice of frame reveals: reference points, frame selection, and framing effects that appeared in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review for 2003, on pages 596 to 602, vol. 10 no. 3. Their abstract began [percentages added by me]:

“Framing effects are well established: Listeners’ preferences depend on how outcomes are described to them, or framed. Less well understood is what determines how speakers choose frames. Two experiments revealed that reference points systematically influenced speakers’ choices between logically equivalent frames. For example, [88% of] speakers tended to describe a 4-ounce cup filled to the 2-ounce line as half full if it was previously empty but [only 31% described it as half full or instead 69%] described it as half empty if it was previously full.”

They also looked at glasses one-quarter or three-quarters full, with the results shown above.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

An ineffective graphic about personal growth for effective leadership

There is an enormous pile of books on the topic of leadership. (Here in the Treasure Valley the online metro public library catalog lists 941 books on the subject of Leadership, and 718 books on Success in Business.  

On the new books shelf at my friendly local public library, I picked up one to skim, Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward. Chapter 4 is titled The Trilateral Leadership Ledger, and is described at the bottom of pages 95 and 99 by a graphic similar to the one shown above. It is supposed to be: “a way to self-assess their effectiveness and track their progress.” As shown above, it combines three categories – Character, Tasks, and Relationships. Each category is ranked on a scale from zero (dismal) to ten (perfect). When you look at this row of three bar charts, you would be tempted just to average those rankings.

But instead their score for leadership effectiveness is supposed to be the result from multiplying those rankings. A better graphic would make the multiplication more obvious, as shown above. It also should show that the score is on a range from zero to a thousand. (I left off the registered trademark symbol after searching the USPTO database and not finding a registration for that phrase).

Better yet, since there are three dimensions, you could simply show the product from that multiplication as a volume. (For simplicity I left off the three zero to ten scales).