The Journal of Universal Rejection

If you feel you need practice handling rejection, I’d like to suggest that you submit to The Journal of Universal Rejection. They accept nothing. Everything is rejected.

Fun game for Friday!

Still haven’t solved the doubled titles problem, mostly because I’ve been busily restoring the computer here (which is up to 80-85% stable and reconfigured).

Here’s a fun game for project managers and would-be project managers. Schedule all the resources to maximize efficiency and minimize expenses.

Why you really should plan projects

All of the reasons for planning in the preceding post are summed up neatly by Magid’s Law:

“It doesn’t matter how you get there if you don’t know where you’re going.”– Paul Magid

Paul Magid is one of the Flying Karamazov Brothers and coined this profound bit of wisdom 30 years ago. It’s the best justification for planning I’ve ever heard.

That’s all I need to say about this.

The 6 stages of UI design review

From Bonni Graham:

The 6 stages of UI design review (with apologies to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross)

  1. Fake cheer (“Welcome, everyone!”)
  2. Denial (“I can’t hear your stupid changes. La la la la la.”)
  3. Anger (“What I did is better!”)
  4. Justification (“This is why it’s better. Love me!”)
  5. Grudging acceptance (“OK, maybe it’s not better and your idea’s not totally stupid”)
  6. Adoption (“I love this idea!”)

Or maybe this is just me….

Cover letters–an illustrative tale

While I’m talking about cover letters, I want to relate a story about cover letters that I think you’ll enjoy.

Back in the early 90s at one company where I had a couple dozen writers working for me, I had been talking to someone at professional meetings who wanted to work for me. He was a great guy and I thought I’d like to have him on the team. A few months later, I had a slot and said “Now’s the time! Send your paper in.” He did, with a cover letter, that opened with the line (including the bold as I’ve shown it):

“Dear John:

Enclosed please find my resume for consideration for a position as a Tecnical Writer.”

I stopped reading right there. He’s a great guy who would’ve been an addition to the team, but, yuh know, I just couldn’t.

I showed it around to a bunch of my staff. They thought that that was pretty good, too. I phoned him that afternoon and explained that I was terribly, terribly sorry but I just couldn’t hire him right then but that I wanted him to reapply. He was much chagrined but he understood.

The rimshot on this is that I called an old friend who was the Tech Pubs Manager at our direct competitor and related the story (without names, of course). She told me about one that she’d gotten a few years before for an editing slot that contained the immortal line:

“And, in addition, my poofreading skills are excellent.”

Apparently, that letter went up on their departmental bulletin board for a couple years for all to admire.

Moral of the story: You cannot proofread your materials enough.

Repost: 85 reasons to be thankful for librarians

Now that you’ve seen the basics of how to become an author, I’ll shortly be posting a series on how to write a winning book proposal for a non-fiction book (and some thoughts on developing ideas for books).

In the meantime, I’d like to post something fun and worthwhile from Zen College Life on 85 Reasons To Be Thankful For Librarians.

Lessons in leadership from the Death Star

Several people were tweeting recently about Lessons in leadership from Design Star at the Leadership With Style site. (For those of you who don’t know, Design Star is kind of a cross between Trading Spaces and The Apprentice, but there’s no Donald Trump. Teams of interior designers go at it to compete for the best design.)
What prompted my post was that when I read the tweet about “Lessons in leadership from Design Star,” I misread it as “”Lessons in leadership from the Death Star.” This is arguably a much better show idea, so I wanted to put some ideas down in case there’s the potential for a Hollywood contract.
  1. There are no mistakes. Ever. If your employees know that they’d better not screw up about anything makes them that much sharper. “Apology accepted, Captain Needa!”
  2. There is no room for anything but complete and total loyalty. Expressing the slightest doubt about something you’ve said or done is completely unacceptable. “I find this lack of faith disturbing.”
  3. Once you’ve honed a fine edge of fear on your team, strop it to a high gloss by threatening them with even greater retribution from higher up the chain. “I hope so, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.”
  4. If people haven’t completely dropped the ball, it may be worth your effort just to kick butt and take names. They’ll get the message and will serve as a further example of the value of meeting your expectations to the other employees. “You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I am here to put you back on schedule.”
  5. Package yourself as a personality, not a person. Go for the mystique. “You don’t know the power of the dark side!”
  6. Don’t delegate. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. “No. Leave them to me. I will deal with them myself.”
  7. Only negotiate from strength: it’s your way or the highway. “He will join us or die, my master.”
  8. Keep your word only to the extent that it suits you. “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”
  9. Always be ready to submit to the greater power of superiors you cannot directly buck. “What is thy bidding, my master?”
  10. On the other hand, never miss an opportunity to subvert and overthrow them to advance your own career. “Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.”
  11. Cultivate powerful minions who will be useful to you as you plot to move up the ladder. “Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.”
  12. Mark your territory. “You should not have come back!”
  13. Gloating when you have the upper hand is acceptable (and very satisfying). “I have you now!”
  14. Remember that, at the end of the day, it’s all about you and you alone. “The circle is now complete. When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master.”
(Thanks to Larry Kunz for management tip #5.)

Add this clause to your next contract

C. Responsibilities of Consultant

Consultant shall observe and abide by all laws, rules, and regulations of the federal, state, city, and municipal governments (and subdivisions or agencies thereof) as they apply to the work described herein and shall assume all liability for loss by reason of neglect, error, mistake, omission, or violation of such laws, rules, and regulations.

Consultant agrees to marry the daughter/son (as appropriate) of the poorest member of the Engineer’s clan and to kill all enemies opposing the proposed project. Choice of weapons and means of burial are determined by the Owner in accordance to Section 25-A. This Agreement to indemnify and save harmless the Owner and the Engineers shall extend to include all expenses incidental to subsequent investigation, defense, and settlement of such claims (including claims to Workmen’s Compensation) of any person or corporation, including claims of the Owner, Engineer’s clan, or the agents or employees of each of them. Trophies taken from the bodies of the dead found at the site of the project or taken in field studies will remain property of the Owner.

Klingon technical writers

The following lovely little nugget is from Documentia, a tech writing firm in Ontario. #2, 6, 12, and 16 are my personal faves.

Klingon Technical Writers
The top 16 things likely to be overheard if you had Klingon technical writers working on your documentation team:

  1. Klingons do not sit in meetings, we take what we want and kill anyone who opposes us!
  2. Certification?! Taking your head and putting it on a pike in my office is all the certification I need!
  3. I will return to the homeworld and my documentation will arise triumphant in the STC Documentation Gauntlet, leaving all others drowning in their own dangling modifiers. It will be glorious!!
  4. Not returning my review copies by the agreed deadline is a declaration of war. Indeed, it is a good day to die.
  5. These software specifications are for the weak and timid!!
  6. This version of Word is a piece of GAGH! I need the latest version of Framemaker if I am to do battle with this manual.
  7. You cannot really appreciate Dilbert unless you’ve read it in the original Klingon.
  8. Indentation?! I will show you how to indent when I indent your skull!
  9. What is this talk of “drafts”? Klingons do not make document “drafts”. Our documents escape, leaving a bloody trail of SMEs in its wake!
  10. Passive voice is a sign of weakness. Its elimination will be quick.
  11. Proofreading? Klingons do not proofread. Our documents are purified with pain-sticks which cleanses the documents of impurities.
  12. I have challenged the entire Marketing and R&D team to a Bat-Leh contest! They will not concern us again.
  13. A TRUE Klingon warrior riddles his document with bullets, leaving it to beg for mercy.
  14. By changing the layout of my manual, you have challenged the honor of my family. Prepare to die!
  15. You question the worthiness of my grammar? I should kill you where you stand!
  16. Our users will know fear and cower before our suite of manuals and online help! Ship it! Ship it and let them flee like the dogs they are!

Do you need a sound effect?

Go to this website and click the red button. Have your sound up enough to hear. (This is totally safe for work and might even be helpful during a meeting.) You can select from a couple dozen different sounds if the default isn’t quite what you need.

And the default noise made me think of a really silly joke to start the week on a good note:

Q: What do you get when you throw two bass drums and a cymbal down a well?
A: “Da-BOMP-shhhhhh!!!”