Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy New Year and Chrisatms

Happy New Year and Chrisatms 
if you need apple things
just choose here : 
very good place for us 
and good lukc for you 
have a great time 

Sunday, May 08, 2011

To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint?

Bill and I had enormous fun doing our presentation at the Infotec conference in Omaha a couple of weeks ago, which gave us a chance to reconsider a long-standing debate:

As a speaker, are you better off with or without PowerPoint?

The Pros:

PowerPoint can provide an outline for your talk. Of course, you already have an outline. In our case, we use index cards to prompt ourselves through the main points of our presentation. But having those points on a screen behind us lets the audience know where we are. It also makes it easier for them to take notes, if they are so inclined.

You can use images to enhance what we are talking about. (Bill is much better at this than I am. Any interesting image you see in one of our PowerPoint presentations was put there by him.) Images are powerful, often more so than words. As someone who earns her living by producing words, I find this unsettling, but there it is. Jane Praeger, a wonderful speaking and media coach, told us about a hospital that tried everything it could think of to get doctors to wash their hands. Fines, rewards, reminders...nothing worked. Finally, they took a bacterialogical image of one of the doctors' hands, showing the germs all over it and posted that image throughout the hospital and it did the trick.

The Cons

PowerPoint is a crutch, which is why you see so many weak speakers putting up a PowerPoint slide show and basically reading you what it says. Zzzzz. When I recall the really impressive speakers I've seen, most did not use PowerPoint.

If an audience member is looking at your PowerPoint, he or she is not looking at you. This is an important issue for Bill and me, since so much of what we do is intended to engage with the audience directly. We don't hide behind podiums, we ask lots of questions and invite comments, we dress up as a geek and a suit, and we love to tell stories. All of this works better if audience members are looking at us and not at some slide. Engaging with the audience is so important to us that for a few presentations we decided to defy expectations by not having a slideshow at all.

The Problem Is...

People really do expect a slideshow. This was driven home to us when we looked the comments after speaking at a recent conference. "Excellent!" "Very useful information!" And we even got a personal thank-you from one slideshow-weary participant. But among the evaluations there were several who very forcefully missed the PowerPoint.

So, for Infotec, we pulled out our PowerPoint presentation and gave it a serious upgrade. We eliminated some slides that weren't essential and drastically cut the quantity of text in most of the ones we kept. We added images--most notably of Jennifer, Brad and Angelina, an illustration for the statistic that IT projects have less chance of success than celebrity marriages. We tried to keep our PowerPoint lean, mean, on-point, and image-rich. And that's the best solution we've found so far.

If you were there, tell us if it worked. If you're a speaker, and you have an opinion for or against PowerPoint, tell us that too.

And--THANKS--to Jean Munger, Eric Boklage, and especially Joy Lewis and Paula Mau of Luma Services for bringing us to Infotec. We had a blast!

Posted by Minda Zetlin

Friday, April 29, 2011

Podcasting Tips and Links

For anyone who was at my session on podcasting at the 40th annual American Society of Journalists and Authors conference--or just wants to know more about how to create an effective podcast, here are some links that should help you get there, provided by our speakers Christopher Kenneally who podcasts for the Copyright Clearance Center, and Susan Barnett, host of the radio program "51% The Women's Perspective."

First, some general podcasting advice provided by Chris:

From Apple/iTunes

· Basics

· Online seminar for podcasters

Amazon link to “Podcasting for beginners”

By Curtis Franklin & George Colombo

Beyond the Book programs on podcasting

· This publication has a volume control

· The content creation revolution

Beyond the Book social media connections

Next, from Susan, some good advice on how to write for listeners rather than readers:

How to Read a Podcast Script and Not Sound Like You're Reading

And, a PDF that's more detailed (and dryer), but with lots of good info:

Writing Style Differences for Newspaper, Radio and Television

Happy podcasting!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rules for in-house social networks

Google Alerts (I love Google Alerts) just pointed me to my new piece up on the Inc. magazine website about making policy for the use of in-house social networks. Turns out mostin-house networks are fairly trouble-free because most employees assume the boss is reading their posts whereas with Facebook, for instance, they assume the opposite.

Turns out an in-house social network is a good way to learn about social media for companies that are hesitant to jump into the wild waters of Twitter or Facebook.

Talked to one company that uses an in-hosue social network in lieu of email for at-work social matters because they've instituted a strict rule against email for anything but strictly work purposes. Which works for them.

Story here:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

362 Commenters??!

Just got a Google alert from Ubervu Social Conversation that 362 people had commented on or linked to my new article about measuring the effect of social media. I guess social media loves nothing more than media coverage of social media...kind of a snake eating its own tail that (like having a videographer at Bill's and my panel on video at the ASJA conference...)

Anyway, I had never heard of Ubervu, but I guess it's arrived in my life with a bang.

Posted by Minda

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brought Home a Dragon Fruit

(posted by Minda)

Bill and I spent the last several days at the ASJA conference in New York City, and part of yesterday in Chinatown. If you like Chinatown, but have confined yourself mostly to Mott Street, I highly recommend going a bit further South and East to East Broadway underneath the ramp to the Manhattan Bridge. There you will find no Western looking people at all, no one who speaks any English (though we saw thousands of electronic English/Chinese dictionaries, so apparently they're all trying to learn) and a society that seems to be entirely of and for its Chinese immigrant population.

We wandered the malls under the bridge ramp; I had to go back to find a jeweller who had sold me a 24-karat gold chain the last time I was in New York. It's unfashionable, I guess, but I love that deep-yellow, high karat gold that only Asians seem to wear. That mall also had a huge produce vendor outside. There were stacks of mangosteens, which I was able to identify, having seen them in the Philippines, and a huge stack of something else I couldn't identify: large egg-shaped fruit that were purplish-pink with green leaf-like protrusions. I really wanted to take a picture of the pile but wasn't sure it would be appeciated, and indeed a few minutes later Bill was pointedly told to stop video-recording inside the adjacent grocery store.

Anyhow, we asked what they were. A hefty communication challenge ensued but in the end we understood: Dragon Fruit.

Very sweet, she said. So we bought one. Pricy too. We're going to have it shortly for one of our absurdly late breakfasts. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do Geeks Lie About Deadlines?

How can you tell if a geek is lying? Because his or her lips are moving.

That wasn't quite the message from radio personality Rick Gillis when he interviewed Bill and me this past Sunday on his ESPN radio show--but awfully close. In his experience, he claims, whenever a geek answers a question about how long it will take to complete a task, that answer is always a falsehood.

I've overheard Bill on the phone too many times apologizing to his computer repair customers because their desktop or laptop isn't ready when he said it was going to be. I could pretend I don't know what Rick is talking about but...I do.

But does that mean tech people are deliberately deceitful? Hardly. Most tech work is something like solving a puzzle or untangling a hopelessly knotted string, and it's one of those things that you never know will be done until it suddenly is. There's always the danger of complications you weren't expecting when you started out. So it makes perfect sense to me that geeks can't accurately say how long it will take to finish something. And it makes perfect sense that suits get frustrated and angry when the geeks' predictions turn out to be wrong.

Some suits deal with this in what I call the Captain Kirk mode of management: like Kirk telling Scotty he has three hours to adapt that Klingon cloaking device to work on the Enterprise, instead of asking how long someting will take, they tell geeks how long they have to finish the project. In one case I heard about recently, a geek was comfortably working along on a three month project when he was suddenly informed he had to finish it in three weeks.

It's easy to see why this Captain Kirk method often doesn't work out.

So what does? There's no easy answer to this, but I think it starts with enough mutual trust for geeks to be honest not only about how long they think something will take, but what the factors are, and possible pitfalls, that can affect the timeline. And, whether they want to or not, suits really do need to learn enough basic info about technology to understand these challenges, and what they can do to make the process go smoothly.

Are there other ways to make this better? I'm not sure.

Meanwhile, the interview will be posted online soon, and when it is, I'll post a link.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why Don't Suits Care About Geeks?

Is it true that suits don't care about their relationship with geeks? That's how it sometimes has seemed to us as we've traveled the country discussing this topic. The greatest interest in the book always seems to come from geeks who want to improve their relations with suits, and rarely the other way around.

But maybe we're asking the wrong people or selling the idea in the wrong way?

Anyhow, we just posted a blog entry titled "Do Suits Care?" on our the SAP BPX community blog...

Any comments--or suggestions for how to better reach the suit audience--would be most welcome!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Managing Geeks when You Aren't One Yourself

A little flattery goes a long way.

A new friend of ours decided to peruse this blog and just sent us the nicest email about the Net Neutrality post (below) but also my Inc. Technology article on sales training for geeks (two posts down).

Which serves as a good reminder. One reason I glommed onto the Geek Gap as a topic in the first place is that I do a lot of business technology writing, and it seemed to me that nearly everything I wrote about related in one way or another to the fact that geeks and suits can't seem to understand each other, communicate clearly or work together effectively.

I still do a lot of writing that one way or another relates to the Geek Gap...but for some foolish reason I don't usually post links here. So OK, here's another one, also from on how to manage technology people if you're not one yourself.

The best part, of course, is that I got to quote "The IT Crowd"...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why We Need Net Neutrality

Funny how one thing leads to another.

Bill and I (thanks to Netflix) are belated fans of "A Bit of Fry and Laurie"--Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie's comedy series that ran in Britain in the 1990s. We just finished watching the third season, in which each episode ends with Fry concocting some sort of bizzarro cocktail while Laurie plays the piano. At the end of the piece, Fry hands Laurie the cocktail and they toast each other with the words "Soupy twist!" This may be Strom for "Cheers!"( Strom is a nonsensical language used by Fry in the series). But Bill's first guess was that it had something to do with Soupy Sales.

Which led him to meander the Web on his Nokia 810 till he came upon a reunion show by some of the TV comedians of the 50's. They chatted about what it was like to perform on TV during the medium's first few years. Few rules, everything live, massive amounts of time to fill (Wonderama, for instance, was on six hours a day) and you were successful depending on how many people bothered to tune you in.

Doesn't this remind you of something...? Like...the Internet today? Compare that description with this recent New York Times story on the life (and sometimes death) of a high-profile tech blogger.

My point is: Look at television. That which was once wild and free is tightly controlled, regulated and highly commercial today, and only a carefully chosen, vetted and made-up few are now seen on this medium. The Internet can head in that direction too, or in the direction of open, free, community-driven.

Net neutrality can seem like not that big a deal, even to those of us who live most of our lives on the Internet. But it's a first step. Let Comcast, Time Warner and Cox and their brethren take that first step to controlling what is carried on their networks and you've set them up to become the NBC, ABC and CBS of the future Internet.

A law that decrees all ISPs must broadcast everything equally would be a big step toward making sure that future doesn't happen.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Do Geeks Need Sales Training?

Yes, according to Martyn Lewis, founder of Market-Partners, and once a lowly geek himself who screwed up his fair share of sales by not understanding the process.

There's a great story in The Geek Gap, courtesy of Paul Glen, author of Leading Geeks, about an engineer on a visit to a customer, who, when asked for his opinion of the company's technology replies "You have NT installed on some of your servers. Only an idiot would do that." And didn't realize that he had blown the sale. Of course most geeks would be smart enough not to do something like this, or so you might think.

The days of keeping geeks locked in the basement are long over. In successful companies, especially technology companies, they have to interact with customers. Can sales training help them be better at it?

That's the subject of my new article in Inc. Technology on the Inc. Magazine website. It turned out to be a pretty fun piece...if you check it out, let me know your opinion.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New Geek Gap content at SAP's BPX Community

We're getting more involved in SAP's BPX community!

BPX stands for "business process expert"--what we call go-betweens, the increasingly important liaisons between the business world and the tech world.

We've begun contributing regular content to the site, as articles, blogs and wikis, and it's some of the most fun writing we've done for a while.

Here's our first entry, about how the 2010 Census field operatives will have to collect information with paper and pencils, just as they would have in the 19th Century, after the Census Bureau spent more than half a billion dollars trying to get handheld devices into the field.

Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Geek Gap TV at SAP

If you've been following our Geek Gap doings, you may know that we traveled to California week before last to give a Geek Gap presentation to a live audience at SAP Corp., as well as countless watchers over the Web via Webex and Quicktime.

If you missed that event online, here's a chance to see it again. (You will need to use Internet Explorer to view the video.) It will be up on the SAP site for the next few days. Take a look, and leave a comment or drop us a line at to let us know what you think!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Amazon Screws Print-on-Demand (POD) Publishers

You don't need road manners if you're a two-ton truck.

Amazon proved the truth of this adage this month when it issued new contracts forcing print-on-demand publishers to use its service BookSurge to print books.

For anyone who doesn't know, print-on-demand (POD) is a long-tail technology that allows publishers to print and sell books one at a time, in response to purchaser orders. You still wind up with a physical book that is shipped to you, but it didn't exist until you placed the order.

A number of mostly small or medium sized companies have popped up to serve this market, and while printing a few copies of any individual book is not an especially viable business model, in the aggregate, it makes for a workable business. Writers who want to self-publish can get their books to interested readers. Books that have gone out of print at traditional publishers find new life in the POD world, and readers can buy them without having to search for used copies. Online booksellers like Amazon take a nice cut of the purchase price, as they do with every sale. Everyone benefits.

Only Amazon has decided this isn't good enough and is now insisting these smaller POD companies are longer entitled to print their own books--at least not if those books are to be sold by Amazon. They must use Amazon's service instead.

Here's a link to an ASJA press release about this. At times like these, it's nice to remember that there's another two-ton truck on the road: Barnes & Noble, whose site is comparable to Amazon in many ways. Maybe time for a switch...?