False Memories

Apparently, I never posted about my complaint that one cannot replace a compromised Social Security Number the same as you can a bank card. I was sure I had written about it.

One possibility is that I did write something, but I deleted the draft without posting. About two-thirds of what I write suffers that fate. Either I discover the idea was without merit (aka evidence contrary to what I initially thought) or the logic behind the idea too tenuous to support publishing it.

Another possibility is that I thought about writing something, but I never actually wrote it.

Who knows? Certainly not me.

Maybe I can fix the first one by leaving things in the draft state for longer? Or privately publish them with a note why I no longer claim it?

Solving Internal Communications With Blogs

I'm blogging this.
I'm blogging this.

Through the grapevine, a coworker heard in another organization a top administrator wants the rank and file to start blogging. My coworker was opposed. I thought it could be a cool way of internally communicating. Though the conditions to make it work very much depend on the organizational culture:

    1. Encouragement not forced. Managers are asked to pay attention to the things about which the rank and file are proud or excited. Encouraging employees to post about how they created or solved things provides an outlet to express good pride. Something arbitrary like everyone must post something every week will become forced and a drain on morale.
    2. No rules or judgement from on high. The more rules there are around what employees should say or how will stifle them offering real ideas. Instead, only regurgitated ideas from managers would be offered. An echo chamber of everyone imitating each other becomes boring really quick.
    3. Peer judgment is not discouraged. Knowing my peers throughout my organization read this blog cause me to delete about 30% of the potentially work-related posts I start. I value what they think. When I realize what I wrote is not good enough, I am willing to dump it in favor of a complete rewrite or more time to think more to maintain my reputation. Self-editing to make sure I present only my best work requires me to understand myself.

Writing is a good skill to have. Writing for a blog is different than writing an email, a web page, a report, or a presentation. Like presenting, blogging is a useful way for an employee to grow in interesting ways. The hard part is the readiness people have and growing into becoming bloggers. One especially does not want them to become discouraged early. Because then you end up with a morale problem.

At work, we have a blog built into Sharepoint. While the CIO uses it, I am not sure it is the place for me. The audience there is internal to work. My audience is both internal and external.

There is also the idea getting the rank and file to blog is some kind of weird study in improving internal organization communication. Walking around to find out what everyone is doing takes too much time. Regular reports become, “I am working on exactly what I think you want me to be working on,” regurgitation. Blogging is an interesting and difficult to pull off right idea.

Expression Costs

(This started out as a blog comment for Sania’s post Facebook Killed Your Blog. I’m posting it here first.)

We share blogs with the whole world. So our blogs get lost in the noise, bolstering the need for a whole industry optimizing getting found in search engines. Its a concerted effort just get noticed. That’s because blog readers have to seek out blogs to follow, subscribe to the feed, and follow. Finding the best blogs to read is sometimes difficult and more from word of mouth than anything search engines provide.

Blogs also tend to have a lot of information to digest. Social networks have just a line or two with maybe a link to more information. Blog readers typically are designed around the idea of collecting all the posts and letting the user pick which to read. Social networks typically are designed around the idea of just showing recent posts and letting the users choose how far back in time to read.

As technologies lower the costs to express ideas (aka get easier), blogs will get left behind as they have become upside down in value. The costs of writings, reading, subscribing, and commenting on blogs are more expensive compared to micro-blogging or status updates.

Why blog when hanging out on social networks are so much easier? Blogs can only survive as long as they have information worthy.

Why blog when readers are no longer reading? Posting blog entries on social networks does help keep traffic levels somewhat by getting exposure.

As bloggers providing valuable expression leave blogging, the value of blogs decrease. People will still blog. It just won’t be the popular thing to do.

Athensdating.org

Writing a Blog Post About This Scam I noticed a little black and white sign: “Single? athensdating.org” a while ago. A couple weeks ago it came up in conversation. Today I saw it again. So I visited the site.

First impression: A local site should have images to represent something about the locality. Generic stock photography doesn’t cut it for me. The signup for wanted my home and cell phone numbers.

That sounded phishy to me.

Domaintools.com is a great site for looking up who runs a site. If the owner has selected privacy options with their registrar, then that would be a snag. Fortunately for us, the owner of athensdating.org isn’t hiding.

Owner: NuStar Solutions

The note “Email address is associated with about 4,690 domains” caught my eye. So I looked up NuStar and found this article about these popping up everywhere. (At least DomainTools gave me the info in one shot without having to do the same extensive research.) Lots of stuff online about these signs, who is placing them, and whether or not this is a scam.

I’m just going to assume it is a scam.

Picture info: Writing a Blog Post About This Scam on Flickr from sneezypb

Endings

George R. R. Martin ranting about bad endings seems odd. “C’mon. Writing 101.”

One of my bigger terrors is his end to A Song of Ice and Fire will be bad. A slightly bigger one is 3 years between books means the end is possibly a decade away and a sedentary lifestyle will prevent us from getting to read it.

Maybe writing 101 really means never put it down on paper?

Enrolling Administrators

One of the challenges of having 42 institutions is managing the administrators. (Actually we created some 12 spare institutions but why is another  post.) So my challenge was how to not drive myself insane trying to enroll the 6 same admin users to each institution. The best way in my opinion is to create the users in an IMS XML file for each institution and import the data. Creating the users was easy. Next was doing the enrollments.

Naturally, I turned to the Vista 8 Enterprise System Integration Guide on pages 66-67 and 95-96 where it describes which roles can be enrolled at which learning contexts. They go from the lowest most common enrollments at the section level up to the division level. Yeah, there was not anything for the institution level. It even had a comment before the table on pages 66-67:

NOTE: Roles not specified in the table can only be added through the Vista Enterprise administrative interface.

So, because the Institution Administrator is not listed, I could not enroll users to it through the import? It depressed me for about a week. A flash of inspiration had me check the Vista 3 documentation. Sure enough, on page 49 of the Vista 3 System Integration Guide, Institution Administrator is listed. (Admin roles at domain and server contexts, designer roles at instiution and domain contexts are also listed.)

The XML is easy enough to write. Normally, when writing this XML, I just need to refer to the SourcedId for objects I create, so I know their values. However, with this, I need to the know the SourcedId.Id for the institution.

Fortunately, we have collected the properties to a institution.properties and parse it to generate what to run at the command line. Rather than by hand copying the files into place one-by-one, I created a script to take a template, check this institution.properties and place the files in the correct place. In order to make each object unique, a portion of the SourcedId.Name was changed to the name of the destination folder.

Now I just need to add to the script a portion to change the SourcedId.Id for the Institution to the source_id value in the institution.properties. That is easy. Much easier than figuring out where to look in the documentation to find what is correct.

Trust and Transparency

One of the books I am reading, Gut Feelings, made a statement:

Transparency and trust are two sides of the same coin.

without much elaboration.

To place the statement in context, Gerd Gigerenzer was writing about moral systems. Specifically, how the Ten Commandments was so effective because it they are so simple. The American tax code is less obeyed precisely because even experts cannot possibly understand every detail.

People cannot trust or obey what they do not understand. Simply stated rules are more easily understood and thus obeyed. Contrast: “You must file your income taxes by a certain date” against the whole tax code. Compare the certainty of compliance when the taxes are filed versus the certainty all the forms are completed correctly.

Maybe I need to go back and read Easier Than You Think? The beauty of the book is stating everything in a single sentence and then a short explanation for why.

Shoghi Effendi Internet Quote

Many Baha’is hold this quote predicts the creation of the Internet.

A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect regularity.
— Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 203

Perhaps what we know as the Internet is a pre-cursor? After all, the Internet does not yet embrace the whole planet, is very much restricted by nations, and has many issues to work out to reach perfect reliability.

Probably it will in time.

Marbles in the Mouth

Dava Sobel on John Harrison in Longitute:

Harrison, according to those who admired him most, never could express himself clearly in writing. He wrote with the scrivener’s equivalent of marbles in his mouth…. The first sentence [of his last published work] runs on, virtually punctuated, for twenty-five pages.

I propose we call long winded typing which no can understand the point “Marble keys”.

The Golden Compass

I didn’t have any interest in this book (or the His Dark Materials trilogy books of which TGC is the first book) or the movie. Then I heard about Vatican objection to the movie despite the references to the Church being removed. This kind of objection made me curious.

Does being an atheist make Phillip Pullman a bad person? I’d think the weight of our actions should be the measure by which we are all judged. Certainly, those who read the book will be influenced by a tiny degree. I haven’t seen anything in the first 218 page to make me think Catholics are evil. I understand the bad guys are the Magisterium who are linked to the Vatican. Certainly, I can understand why they would object to being portrayed as evil. However, its clear from the writing that events take place in another world similar to ours but not ours…. Unless we have given up air planes for zeppelins, have our own personal daemons, and have conversations with polar bears.

Its fantasy… aka not real. Which similarly means… the evil Vatican is not real. (I hope this is not a case of the truth striking too close to home.)

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