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The Monty Hall conundrum is a brain-teaser based on the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal” in which a contestant is given a choice of three doors, with a prize behind one of them. The host then opens one of the remaining two doors* to reveal no prize, then gives the contestant the opportunity to switch to the remaining door. It has been shown that human nature is to stick with the original choice, but probability calculations prove that it is better to switch. Read the rest of this entry »

We have a dysfunctional Federal government. Clogging congressional phone lines must be only a precursor to the real solution, which is this: do not vote for incumbents. If ever there was a time to heed the old truism that politicians are like diapers (they need to be changed periodically, and for much the same reason), it is now. Yet every two years, most of the voters across the country expect every other district to throw out their bastards while refusing to throw out their own. Re-election rates are obscene, and the average congresscritter seems to have little incentive to push for real change. Partisanship has ensured that districts are drawn to favor one party over the other. The sad truth is, we have the government that we deserve. That can all change if we all just once hold our nose (a little harder) and pull the lever for the other guy.

No Incumbents!

Far from being a ‘digital democracy,’ the Internet is dominated by the opinions of rich, powerful people, according to a study from the University of California, Berkeley.

You needed to fund a study to figure that out? Hey, whadya know, the internet has a learning curve! If you thought “the Internet would give the poor and disenfranchised a voice” and are disappointed that they haven’t dropped everything else in their lives to (learn how to) use it, and in the meantime, the wealthy and educated have used some of their copious spare time to take the lead, was hindsight really necessary? You didn’t see this coming? Sorry to break it to you, but a couple of decades is not enough time to create a world where money does not equal political power, no matter how revolutionary the proposed mechanism might be.

I don’t know about you, but I have yet to get used to the menu structure of Office 2007, so different from the familiar one in Office 2003. It has always struck me as change for its own sake, throwing off imitators like OpenOffice, and more in the service of Microsoft than of users. It would seem that someone in the Evil Empire has seen the light and offered an olive branch. You can now download a new feature that offers help in finding commands from Office 2003 in Office 2007. I don’t know how long it’s been around, but the video demo from the link was recorded in March 2010. I don’t have a copy of Office 2007 yet, so I’m have no way of trying this out for myself, but I know I’ll eventually need it, so I present the information here as much to preserve the idea for myself as to help spread the word in my own limited way.

There is a recommended procedure on personal computers called “defragmenting.” What follows is a layman’s description of how a hard drive works and why defragmenting is important. Read the rest of this entry »

I have two LinkedIn tutorial presentations available, an older Basic PDF file, and a newer Advanced PPS file. Of course, at the rate LinkedIn changes things, neither of these presentations is entirely up-to-date (that would require a great deal of maintenance), but both are still useful.

It occurs to me that something I’ve been saying for a long time is probably applicable to the most recent financial meltdown, and it has to do with the widely held sentiment that, no matter what it is that we do, “We are in business to make money.” My blood boils every time I hear this statement uttered as though it were common knowledge and inherently obvious. The problem is that it is not only misguided, it is 180 degrees wrong! We are not in business to make money, we make money to stay in business. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a difference between following the spirit of the law, and following the letter of the law. There’s a difference between being meticulously thorough, and CYA. There’s a difference between meeting the customer requirement, and meeting the customer specification. Read the rest of this entry »

I was watching a science channel series about colonizing other planets. While most shows were about different bodies in our solar system (Venus! Titan!), one was about going to other stars, and they brought up the idea, long discussed in science fiction circles, of generation ships that take multiple human lifetimes to reach their destination. This proposal has always seemed quite naive to me. Read the rest of this entry »

I have posted on my personal website a one hour long video version of the “Technology Basics” series of articles already posted on this blog. I’ve run into some more problems with my laptop, so I’ve been unable to completely review the video. I would welcome feedback.