Sunday, January 29, 2006

Persuasive Writing

As it pertains to my flames about "regulating the net".

Had to write a journal entry on "How to Write Persuasivly". So I used my flames as a counter example. Follows the entry:


Persuasive writing is used to either shape the readers attitude on a topic, to reinforce existing attitudes about a topic, or to reverse attitudes on a topic. The writer should begin by deciding which strategy they wish to pursue, and choose their rhetorical tactics based on the overall strategy. Some of the tactics a writer can use include emphasizing the benefits of the position to the reader, address the readers concerns, show sound logical reasoning in support of the strategy, or to use reliable evidence to support the strategy. The written work should be strongly organized with a clear focus. Your point must not be hidden behind literary or rhetorical devices. The writer also needs to quickly establish their creditability to the reader and establish common ground for the discussion.

A fine example of how *not* to persuade people to your point of view can be found in my discussion postings on the topic of internet regulation. I did not speak from a position of authority, I did not establish a common ground for the discussion. I did not speak in terms that the readers would understand, comprehend and agree with. I used flamboyant rhetorical technique to incite disagreement, inflame opinion and drive the readers to make hasty judgments. I used personal attacks and comparisons to hateful figures. None of those strategies will work to persuade people to your point of view. In a discussion forum, where the objective is to find as many different viewpoints as possible, it was a valid post. However, if I truly wanted to persuade the people that the Internet should not be regulated or censored, I should have used a much different technique. First, address their concerns. Feel their pain. Introduce the concepts of why censorship is a bad thing gently. Provide realistic, real world examples, evidence and statements of fact. Reiterate their concerns, and show them that there are other ways to believe and behave. Allow the reader to absorb the information and draw their own conclusion based on the information presented, so they will feel that their newfound support for a free and open Internet is their idea, not something forced upon them.

More on Bird Flu

Pandemic? Nah - see previous post.

And, why not? Cause - they have already developed a vaccine. Never underestimate the power of research and human intelligence.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

More Flamage on 'regulate the net'

Posted more of my flames to my english class about 'regulating the internet' on my post, below...

Score on Kyrgyzstan Paper

95/100. Only flaw was that I didn't follow the directions about the topic to the "T". So, I spent 2 hours and hacked that out with one proofread. And technically, structurally and rhetorically, I nailed it. Note to self: Read the directions.

Obligatory link to the paper

Friday, January 27, 2006

BBC NEWS | Americas | Chirac tricked by Canadian hoax

BBC NEWS | Americas | Chirac tricked by Canadian hoax: "French President Jacques Chirac thought he had taken a call on Friday from the new Canadian prime minister - but found himself the victim of a radio hoax."

Regulate The Net?

A gentleman in my online course noted that, “[he] would suggest that the internet be more regulated.”

Then in that case, so should libraries, video stores, book stores and quickie marts. They, too all contain 'pornography', or material that some people find morally offensive. For instance, assume I am an atheist. I find everyone else’s belief in a god to be disgusting and repulsive. To that end, I would find the bible, the quran and the torah to be a pornographic books. If I were in charge of the Ministry of Information, I would have them banned, and people pushing that smut prosecuted.

An extreme example, yes. But who makes those decisions? "Community Standards"? The Internet is global. Do you want a dictator in sub-Saharan Africa making all decisions about what you and your children must read, see and learn? Would you want the health information your children learn chosen by a community that believes female genital mutilation is a good idea? Or, perhaps, to bring it closer to home, you would like the San Francisco GLBT community to decide what the 'standards' are. (Go google that. But not at work).

All of these groups are on the Internet. They all have different points of view. To them, what you do every day may be repugnant and offensive. That steak you're going to cook on the grill will nauseate a vegan or offend a Hindu. Using that charcoal grill will inflame (no pun intended) the environmentalists. So, if you wrote an e-mail and posted to a webpage about grilling a steak for dinner, you would be subject to their restrictions.

The problem you describe is not technical or moral in nature, but rather a management problem. Manage your family to have values and respect. Educate your children that there are nasty ugly things on the Internet, and looking for them is wrong. Be open and allow them to ask questions about the things they find. Manage your employees so they are discouraged from watching porn on company time. Filters, at the micro-level (Net Nanny) or the macro-level (Ministry of Information) are not effective. The children (or employees) will find their way around. If you raise them right, they won't be scarred by the sight of some "T&A". If you manage your employees correctly, they will do their job and not surf for pr0n.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

INTJ - imagine that.

  • moderately expressed introvert
  • slightly expressed intuitive personality
  • moderately expressed thinking personality
  • slightly expressed judging personality

Odd note: "They are rather rare, comprising no more than, say, one percent of the population." But, in my trade and the people I associate with, I'd say 80% are INTJ. (Computer programmer and system administrator)

Quotes I liked:
Anyone considered to be "slacking," including superiors, will lose their respect -- and will generally be made aware of this

[...] are not at all eager to take command of projects or groups, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Now there is an understatement for me! Very very true.

pragmatic about the present, skeptical about the future, solipsistic about the past,

solipsistic - The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified. And here I thought I was just slightly psychotic

[...] tend to be individualizing as parents, mindmates as spouses, and learning oriented as children. Ah yup, right again

Famous people:
  • Gandalf
  • Hannibal Lecter
  • Professor Moriarty
Overview of the whole concept:

The Test (free, 70-odd questions)


Rational archetype:

Mastermind Rational:

Monday, January 23, 2006

Kyrgyzstan: A new Tourist Destination

Assignment Two for my english class - write a researched memo about expanding a company to a new country. See Below . . .


To: Jack Welch, President, C&C Industries
From: William England, Student
Date: January 23, 2006
Subject: Expanding Adventure Travel to Kyrgyzstan

C&C Industries has enjoyed remarkable success in the eco and adventure travel business. To serve the fast growing Eastern European and Asian markets, C&C needs to expand. We have investigated several areas of the world, including South East Asia, South West Asia, Africa and Central Asia. Given the political, economic and cultural climates, we are making a recommendation to expand our operations to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.

Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic with abundant natural beauty, a long history and proud nomadic traditions (CIA, 2006). A landlocked country, Kyrgyzstan enjoys many tall peaks, glaciers, and high altitude lakes (ibid.) After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan was left without support and minimal natural resources. Employing a liberal agenda and help from Western agencies, the government has embraced tourism to bring needed currency into the country. Kyrgyzstan has done more to encourage visitors and streamline government processes than any other Central Asian country (Yahoo! Travel, 2006). The people of Kyrgyzstan welcome tourists, often meeting visitors at the bus stations to welcome them into their houses (ibid). It is an open, friendly country, and ripe for expansion of the tourism industry. The country offers scenic mountains, the second largest mountain lake in the world, and many rare animal species (Postel, 2001). All of these would be strong draws for our primary clients in eco and adventure tours. Kyrgyzstan also offers Central Asia's premier territory for serious trekking and mountaineering, with peaks over 24,000 feet (Yahoo!, 2006).

The largest opportunities for tourism in Kyrgyzstan are in the growing market for something different than the typical package holiday. The newly wealthy in Eastern Europe, Russia and China are beginning to seek something other than the polished resort vacations offered in traditional tourist destinations. American and Western European travelers are seeking history and a different culture. Americans especially are interested in learning more about the Islamic culture. Kyrgyzstan is 75% Muslim, although they are considerably more open to Western visitors than other Muslim countries (Postel, 2001). By positioning our company in Kyrgyzstan, we can meet these emerging markets head on. Kyrgyzstan offers many tourism opportunities, but few large multinational tour companies. It can be considered an underserved market. In 1998, six of the 198 tour companies were foreign owned (Afshar, 1999).

The largest obstacle to building a tourism business in Kyrgyzstan is the lack of skilled guides with language skills (Afshar, 1999). By providing training to younger guides and translation services for more experienced guides, C&C can position itself to take advantage of the existing guide community, while creating a new generation of highly
Subject: Expanding Adventure Travel to Kyrgyzstan
Page: 2

skilled guides, fluent in Chinese, German, English and Russian. Other challenges include the limited infrastructure – there are less than 500 kilometers of rail track in the country – and limited incoming air traffic. From the USA, it requires at least one transfer, and over 14 hours flight time to arrive. However, the primary customers of C&C eco-tourism in Kyrgyzstan will be people closer to the country – European and Asian travelers. There are daily direct flights from England, Germany, Russia and China (Yahoo!, 2006) Our primary market will find the additional challenge of getting to the country an appeal, rather than a drawback. "It is assuredly not for everyone, if you are an adventure type with a passion for the rugged outdoors, if you are pride of yourself on intrepid tolerance, if you are appreciate or seek out places untouched by 'development', Kyrgyzstan should be at the top of your list." (Vickery, 1998)

The employees who relocate to Kyrgyzstan will find it a grand challenge. Our company has been built upon the adventure spirit. While conditions are not ideal, with limited communications, poor infrastructure and questionable sanitation, they are improving and the government is committed to improving the infrastructure to draw foreign visitors and investment. Cost of living is low, and the capitol city of Bishkek provides all the amenities of modern life. The rural areas are less developed, and we do not recommend housing any of our staff outside of Bishkek at this time.

The Kyrgyzstan government has undergone significant changes recently, and is not entirely stable yet (CIA, 2006). This instability creates a great opportunity for growth by foreign investment. The country is rebuilding itself, and trying to find a new image to draw foreign investment. By providing premier tour services, our company can influence future government decisions and help to build a positive, friendly face for the new Kyrgyzstan. Our employees are skilled in negotiations with less stable governments, such as our success building the Argentine branch during their recent financial and governmental crises. We believe that the government turmoil offers an excellent opportunity to build a successful operation. Economically, the government has done an excellent job, reducing inflation to below 5%, with GDP in excess of 6%. Government debt is below 1% of GDP, indicating a fiscally stable environment to conduct business (CIA, 2006)

The final opportunity to succeed in Kyrgyzstan is simply that it has not been promoted – the country is unknown outside of the region (Afshar, 1999). Our advertising department can work with the Kyrgyzstan government and the in-country employees to develop a comprehensive marketing campaign. This new campaign will target the young, disaffected liberal tourist seeking an experience of a lifetime. Interest will be built through community discussions, targeted marketing, traveling exhibits, brand placement in popular cultural activities common to our target demographic. We have begun initial talks with television production companies about a new reality-based show documenting
Subject: Expanding Adventure Travel to Kyrgyzstan
Page: 3

the travels and travails of touring the country. We feel that by promoting the features of the country and by positioning the Kyrg brand as an alternative to Western culture, we will appeal to our demographic and create a strong interest in our products.

Kyrgyzstan is a country on the cusp of a new era, with new government in place, unspoiled natural beauty, and a culture significantly different than Western norms. The policies and people are open and inviting to tourism. C&C is poised to take operations to new territories and expand our business. C&C has the people, the adventuresome spirit and the experience in building successful tour operations in times of opportunity and change. The foundations in the country, including people, destinations and economy are in place. C&C will be able to lay a solid business on those foundations and be poised to offer a premiere alternative destination for adventure and eco tourists.


Afshar, Anisa. (1999, June). Incoming Tourism in Kyrgyzstan. Retrieved January 20, 206 from

CIA World Factbook – Kyrgyzstan. (2006). Retrieved January 19, 2006 from

Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide : Yahoo! Travel (2006). Retrieved January 23, 2006 from

Postel, Eric and Nevenchanny, Yuri. (2001, August).Kyrgyzstan -- A Jewel of Central Asia. Retrieved January 21, 2006 from

Viickery, Tim. (1998). Kyrgyzstan: Unusual Jewel of the East. Central Asian Monitor. Vol. 6

A Picture Share!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Talking to the Stars

Last night, I helped (ok, watched mainly) Andy, my neighbor, to install a 2 meter and 70cm antenna on his roof. The assembly that is bolted to the roof rotates 360 degrees horizontally and can move the antennas 180 degrees vertically - it's all controlled by a computer, allowing Andy to track the satellites as they cross the sky.

Best part - I'm licenced on those bands, so I can play too!

And, a couple of fuzzy photos:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Legacy of Offshoring

I heard a story the other day from a friend who works in a company where all the billing systems, back end systems, all IT development and more were offshored and outsourced, without any concern for the future of the application or the impact to the customers. Here's his quotes, lightly edited to protect the guilty:

"Fundamentally, there are systematic issues that have been discovered in the software that loads the [...] tables that [produce] the [affected] data. An extensive analysis has been underway to fully identify the root problems and provide design corrections. The logic involved is highly complex and requires considerable time to properly analyze. Unfortunately, we don't currently have clearly stated business rules for the associated data.

"Where we stand now is that the business rules which we have implemented are being reverse engineered as much as possible out of the current highly complex code. Following completion of this reverse engineering, discussions will be needed with the billing vendor to verify (and correct as appropriate) the rules obtained. Then corrections and adjustments will be made to the code. That said, we are weeks and perhaps months from having this addressed."

Tip: Don't fire everyone. Or, if you're going to do it anyway, make dang sure everything is fully documented.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Modify Mighty Mouse horizontal scrolling in Firefox

macosxhints - Modify Mighty Mouse horizontal scrolling in Firefox

I love my Macintosh Mighty Mouse (Thanks, Mom!) but in Firefox, the other web browser, the default action for moving the roller ball to the left or right was to move forward or backward in the browser history. Real PITA, because you don't have fine control when scrolling up and down.

The above linked article clears this up quite nicely, with just one change!

Started English Class...

English 306 started this week. Business Communications. Took the first quiz on Sunday - 19/19. Had our first assignment, too - write a memo outlining a problem with Park University. I chose the online classroom in the following memo:


TO: SL Sartain, Director, Park Accelerated Programs
FROM: William England
DATE: January 16, 2006
SUBJECT: Improvements to Park Online Education

Park University offers one of the most highly regarded distance learning programs over the Internet. However, the current program is limited by the technology used to implement the online classroom. Students now achieve in spite of the system, not because of the system. Park Online classrooms could offer so much more – a single stop for students to learn, work and play.

The Park Online classroom has several flaws. First, the web application is not using standards compliant design and cross-platform code. When using Safari, the default web browser on the Macintosh, you are presented with errors and not all features work correctly. Second, the interface for viewing and editing posts in the discussion forum is difficult to use and lacks basic editing features. The forums do not support any basic markup code, which means the students cannot use even basic formatting like tabs or indents. The forums do not follow basic usability guidelines, with posts often requiring users to scroll left and right to read the whole line. Third, there is no global storage or cross-class features on the site. These would enable students to keep a journal of their online experiences or store general documents. Interaction with other students outside of the class would help to build a sense of community and belonging. Finally, there is little integration with the main campus website for e-mail, enrollment and course schedules. Integration of the main website would allow Park students to have a one-stop-shop for all their online college requirements.

By implementing small changes in the code of the web application, the browser compatibility issues could be fixed, allowing all students to enjoy the experience equally. Simply following industry standard coding practices would resolve many cross-browser conflicts. The forum editing and viewing challenges can be overcome by using code from well-designed discussion forum software. Many of these packages are available for no cost under an open-source license. The only costs would be for implementing the changes. These two changes would bring the Park Online classrooms up to par with the rest of the Internet, and allow students to use familiar technology in the forums.

Creating a ‘portal’ system for the Park Online classrooms would increase the value of the site for Park students. Integrating community features, like generic discussion forums would motivate the students to visit the site regularly. Community features build a sense of belonging and enable students to build relationships. Other features could be added as resources permit, including online journals, personal web space or blogs, and long-term document storage. Adding portals for e-mail, course schedules, enrollment and other college functions will also enhance the value of the Park Online website by creating a single source for all Park Online information.

The Park Online classroom offers a unique solution for distance learning, and is highly regarded by students and the community. By implementing some small changes, the Park Online classroom can offer so much more for students. Browser compatibility can be improved. Tools for editing and viewing forum posts can be improved. By creating a true portal, students can build a sense of community in their online education and have a single source for all Park information, communication and tools.