Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Letter to Microsoft

Dear Microsoft,

Hi. My name is Waldo, and I'm a frequent user of your products. I know sometimes you get a bad rap, what with your domination of the marketplace and vastly over-hyped and underperforming OS. But I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to talk about your Office Suite 2003, and particularly, Powerpoint.

Let me tell you, I know something about Powerpoint. I have spent the last 10 days creating, collating, formatting, animating, and in general, owning slides. I've edited, re-edited, and then changed the edits, causing the whole process to start over again. And I've come to this conclusion:

Powerpoint will eat your soul.

Powerpoint is like some giant black hole of happiness and job satisfaction. I don't know why you would make something like that, unless it's that you need souls to power your MSN stuff because Google is "pwning" you left and right. That seems to be the only explanation, because I can say without a doubt, I have less soul now than I did when I started using Powerpoint. And although I wholeheartedly support our capitalist system, I don't think that having your applications suck up souls to feed Bill Gates' Nosferatu-esque appetite is all that ethical.

Also, since we're here, why would you make another edition, and then force me to get a text converter, and then not allow me to edit effectively? Office 2007 looks flashy and great, but if I'm using 2003, I can't really do anything with the 2007 stuff, now, can I? And why in the name of all that's holy would you comPLETEly change the menus? Why?

Maybe it's a way to make me lose my soul faster. I don't know. But I do know this-- my soul isn't doing you much good. You can't be getting quality souls out of people using your product, because they're all so bitter and angry.

A great thing to do, if you want my opinion, would be to give all the souls back, and instead suck up every slideshow with fancy graphics and animation, and make everything else look like butcher-board or overhead projector slides. You know, black and white, pen or marker, and NO ANIMATION.

That's just me, though.



Tuesday, April 01, 2008

May all your wishes come true...

Today we're talking about goals.

"But Waldo," you say, "the title references wishes."

"Shut up and let me finish," I say.

Wishes are great. Wishes are what we think about doing or becoming, or sometimes they're little vindictive thoughts about how we want to stab someone in the eye with a pen...... but I digress.

The problem with wishes is that, by their nature, they are unattainable. "I wish I was better at playing basketball" is as imaginary as "I wish fairies would come and sprinkle pixie dust on my car to make it run better." What we need are goals. (I told you to let me finish).

Goals, by their nature, are attainable. They are realistic, and they are quantifiable. There's a very definite flow, from wishes to goals to plans. Let's look at how that works. I will give you an example:

One of the things I struggle with is PT (physical training). Not, let me add, that I'm way out of shape or anything, but I'm not one of these guys who could model for Men's Health. I wish I were better at PT, and I wish I could model for Men's Health.

My problem now is that me saying I wish I were better at PT is doing nothing for me. There's no plan there, and I can just as easily say it sitting in my chair watching TV and eating Girl Scout cookies as I can running around the track. So where do I go from here? I have to assign meaning and numbers to my wish.

My goal is to score a 300 on the Army Physical Fitness Test. That's 75 push ups in 2 mins, 80 situps in 2 mins, and 2 miles in 13:09. That's what the Army tells me is being good at PT.

My other goal is to weigh 195 lbs.

OK, so now I've got numbers. Now, given those numbers, I can make plans. So, one plan is to do PT every night after work, focusing on push ups and situps for 15 minutes, followed by a three mile run. Or I can do gym workouts followed by treadmill runs of 30 minutes. Or any number of other plans. For the weight loss, I can monitor my caloric intake, limiting myself to 1800 calories a day, until I hit my target weight.

You see where I'm going with this, right? Wishes need numbers to make them attainable. Once you assign them numbers they become goals. Goals drive plans. Periodically, by the way, you should stop and reassess your goals. Maybe you will need to make a change to your plan, or you might need to (much less frequently) make a change to your goal.

It's a great system, but it only works if you've got self-discipline and motivation. So, I am going to provide myself with some motivation here by listing my goals for this deployment. Here you go, in no particular order:

  • Score a 300 on the APFT
  • Weigh 195 lbs
  • Get a COMPTIA Security + certification
  • Complete the Rosetta Stone Intermediate Arabic program
  • Be rated as one of the top three Captains in the battalion
  • Attend the ARCENT Signal University Microsoft System Admin class, the Cisco series of classes (three of them) and the Promina/REDCOM classes
  • Write and publish an article for the Army Communicator (the Signal Corps professional journal)
  • Maintain a network operational readiness rate of 95% or better
Each one of those goals has plans behind them. Ask me in 12 months how I'm doing.

And the coolest thing about this is, if you can make a wish, turn it into a goal by assigning it a quantity, make your goal attainable by designing a plan, and then work your plan, your wishes do come true (except for that fairy dust thing... you're on your own there).