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February, 2008:

I Hate Chain Mail

No it’s not mediaeval battle amour that I don’t like, it’s the sort that can clog-up your inbox.  It can range from the sickeningly sweet to vitriolic all in the one document.

I know that chain letters pre-date the internet and email, and probably even chain mail. The only way of dealing with it is the same as we would a virus – send it to digital purgatory.  It is everyone’s duty to break the chain, and save your friends some bandwidth.

The sentiment in this one, the Irish friendship wish, is laudable enough. There is no threat of terrible consequences for failing to forward it (in this version), and the promise of good luck, etc if you do. The sentiment would be even nicer without the tacky how much luck, and how fast you get it at the end.  If you really care about someone enough to send this go and buy them a fridge magnet, or a T-Shirt (with “been there, done that, got the t-shirt!” printed on the back).  If you do think that it will brighten-up a friend’s day do that person a favour and trim the crap off of it first!  Remember the Golden Rule [W] – “do to others what you would have them do to you.”

The Urban Legend website has a nice spin on this email here [^], with an in-depth analysis of each line of the “wish”.  Sophos [^], the anti-virus and -spam vendor has another version of this email and advice that: “Forwarding unsolicited chain letters wastes time and bandwidth.”  Sound advice indeed! 

Oh, did you want to read it?  Sorry I’m not going to post it, it has already polluted the internet enough, I am not even going to link to it!

Hot Air Balloons Over Kilsyth

The other morning I had a surprise – a pair of hot air balloons almost directly over our house! 

 Kilsyth Hot Air Balloon 2Kilsyth Hot Air Balloon 3

It definitely had the Chloe the Corgi wondering what was going on.  She came around to get her breakfast bone-shaped biscuit, saw the balloon and headed back up to the garage door, without the biscuit.  I hadn’t realised up until than that there was a balloon, let alone two almost above me, then the burner went.

Of course I just stood there admiring the view for a few minutes.  By the time that I had come to my senses and got the camera the balloons had moved over the back fence and they were well on their way to Mooroolbark.  In the meantime Chloe had darted in through the fly-wire door that I had left ajar, and was not happy at getting put back outside.


CannibalRabbit is occasionally called upon to make a presentation; thankfully it has been very rarely.  But whenever it does happen (as with most people) it is accompanied by a queasy, sinking feeling.  What I have found is that a presentation is not the same as writing, it needs to flow the in much same way that you talk.  An elegant turn of phrase is absolutely useless if it leaves you tongue-tied in front of a group!

One of the key things is practice, and practice on a trial audience.  One thing that I have found is that if at least part of the audience has been exposed to the big ticket items in the presentation before the big days is that they have had time to digest, question the concepts and form a reasoned opinion.  This does at least two things to help you: it makes you question what you are presenting; and, it makes it obvious if there is a gap in your logic or a missing slides before you get to your last chance.

The other day a newsfeed [^] hit my work inbox that does a really good job of outlining the process of making a good presentation.  This isn’t a what to write, or a template layout, but how to.  Rands reinforces the point that every presentation is different, they have different audiences, and different content, but the same concepts can be applied to the preparation of the presentation.

If you are questioning the amount of effeort that you have to put in, then it is worth remembering this :

“. . . an audience can smell an immature presentation on the very first slide. It has nothing to do with the quality of the content; it’s you standing lamely in front of your slide and silently conveying the “Ok, what I am going to talk about here?” vibe, and it’s presentation death.” [^]

Healthy People are Expensive.

CannibalRabbit’s inner-Accountant was intrigued today after reading this AP report in Wired News: 

Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn’t save money, researchers reported Monday. It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.  Wired News – AP News.

The report went on to note that thin, healthy people have a habit of hanging around with conditions, like Alzheimer’s, which typically require treatment and care over a long period of time.  This “bookkeeping exercise” seems to contradict the common feeling among governments and health authorities that healthy people are cheaper to have in the system.  The economist who led the study notes that governments should want a healthy population for the right reasons, quality or life, and not to save money.