Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dialog Box from Hades

I ran across this dialog box on the Microsoft Partner site. I read it three times, went and had a cup of coffee, came back and read it five more times. It's almost musical in its incoherency.

(Click for Larger Image)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm Scared of My Snowblower

There are 3 WARNINGS and 2 CAUTIONS on just this page of my new snowblower's operator manual. I fear starting it may end civilization as we know it.

(Click for Larger Image)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gas Prices Are Interesting

According to this chart from we are in the midst of the steepest drop in gas prices in the last five years. It certainly already felt like it, but until I saw this chart I didn't realize how dramatic it has been historically. Almost two dollars in less than two months. I hope Exxon executives can keep their second butlers!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Creepy Smiles

I wonder if I'm the only one totally creeped out by the smiles in this commercial.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Everything Shaker

My favorite type of bagel is the "everything" bagel. However there never seems to be enough of the "everything" to satisfy me. Hence, I created the "Everything Shaker" (click for larger image). Now, in addition to the baked-in "everything" that comes on the bagel I can shake on a little more to the other side. Now everything is everywhere and all is good with the world.

Everything is:
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flake salt
  • Minced garlic
  • Minced onion
If the holes are large enough you could also add sunflower kernels.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The 10 Commandments of PowerPoint Presentations

Every presentation and every audience is different. The rules below apply to actual presentations where an idea or product is being sold. These rules don't necessarily apply to small group project meetings, classes, etc.
  1. Have a good, well thought out, story and tell it well. PowerPoint will not save a bad presentation. The slides are just there to help support you by providing a framework for your words.
  2. Use handouts. Let the audience know they'll be getting the notes at the end, but don't hand them out at the beginning unless you want to be ignored.
  3. Use interesting professional stock photo images, not cheesy clipart. If you can't come up with a good, evocative, relevant image, don't use one.
  4. Only use transitions, animations, and effects if they're important to your story and help clarify a concept. Don't use them just to use them. At times an animated "building slide" can help you maintain audience focus on individual points. 
  5. Build your presentation from an outline. Put the whole story together first, and then start refining. You can use an outline format of your own choosing or you can try PowerPoint's outline view. In either case, purge slides ruthlessly. Your audience will thank you.
  6. Use fonts that are large enough for the room to see, not just the people in front. If you are forced to use smaller font, you're likely trying to cram too much on one page. You should never have to say "sorry for the eye chart everyone." What's the point of showing a slide no one can read? You're better off without it or, at least, breaking it into two slides.
  7. Practice. Practice makes professionals…in anything. Present to someone who knows the material and someone who doesn't. They'll both help you fill in the gaps and you will pick up valuable changes. If possible, record yourself and watch it. You will no doubt cringe several times, but better you than your audience. 
  8. Don't try to cram every slide with text, charts, images, and the like. Some of the most powerful, effective slides are less than ten words. If you need to use a chart keep it simple. It should make a point without too much narrative needed.
  9. Don't use more than 3-4 bullet points per slide, and use "sub-bullets" sparingly, if at all. If they're there to help you remember what to say, refer to rule 7. You want your audience listening to you, not reading slides.
  10. Don't put all your notes up on the slide, put them on index cards, work from an outline, or memorize them. You may also prefer to use PowerPoint's Notes pages. Just make sure to delete them if you hand out the slides.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Own Your Own Slice of Generator Land

We've just added some personalization stuff at Generator Land. Now our intrepid GL faithful can create their own pages and save their generated nonsense for posterity. The pages can be shared or listed in our member directory. It's pretty cool. We're already generatin' new features for personal pages. More to come.

My page is at

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lindsay Lohan Wants to Be Marilyn Monroe

So The Lohan posed for a bunch of nude and semi-nude photos in the hopes of being labeled the next Marilyn Monroe. Given Marilyn's career path I'm not sure that's such a wise ambition. Perhaps she should just roll the dice at the "Spoiled Starlet Headline Generator" instead. It would be a much safer bet.


Friday, February 08, 2008

I was talking to a friend today about the concept of having a low "Campaign cap" on presidential candidates to ensure we got a better cross-section of citizens in the race (not just rich people), when it occurred to me maybe there's a way we could take advantage of the unstoppable force that is reality TV to elect our next president.

Maybe we could take a little bit from the each of the different reality TV concepts and combine them into a new electoral process:

Let's narrow the field using the American Idol concept. Following a background check, travel to several major metropolitan areas, bring in every Tom, Dick, and Hillary that wants to be president and run them by a panel of judges from mixed backgrounds with no party allegiance. Maybe a cop, a hairdresser, a college professor, a cattle rancher, and a hip-hop record producer (I'm just thinking out loud here). Candidates give a 60-second stump speech and get evaluated by the panel. Once the panel weeds out the truly lame candidates, the rest get presented to the American Public who narrow the field down to 15.

Next up, is The Apprentice portion of the competition. Task each candidate with a series of political problems and scenarios to work out. Solve a healthcare crisis, use diplomacy to stop two countries from going to war, deal with charges of philandering, whatever. Have them work together as well as individually. Rate the results objectively and narrow the field to 8.

Finally we move to Survivor. Put all eight remaining candidates on an island and let them prove they're healthy and cagey enough make it in the Washington jungle. The winner gets four years in the White House. And a Toyota Prius.

This is just one idea. If you have another in the same vein let me know.

A Great Article About Planning a Presentation

I thought this was an excellent piece from "Rands in Repose" about how to plan a presentation. I discovered that I actually already follow a few of the tips, but many of them were brilliant and new to me. I especially like the idea of practicing your presentation immediately after roughing out the slides. Why? As the author says:

"Build confidence. You now know the absolute worst case scenario regarding this presentation. There is no way it could be worse than what you just went through."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Nice Canned Surveys

I was looking for some Web User Satisfaction survey samples and ran across this site:

Vovici is a survey/feedback/marketing vendor and shares a lot of nice survey templates free of charge. Good deal.

Friday, February 01, 2008

If the Pizza Is As Bad As the Web Site...

A Web site can make you look more professional or experienced than you are. However, sometimes it can make you look like an idiot even if you have a good product or service. This is especially important for small business who don't have big marketing budgets and rely on the Web for part of their lead generation.

The site below is a pizza place that I've never tried that's a few block from our house. I decided not to order from them simply because their Web Site sucks. It's a good thing they've littered their site with Google AdSense ads (and a LOT of other things) because I can't imagine a lot of people will buy their pizza based on the site itself.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Top Ten Top Album Lists on the Web

Each January I go back through the various "Top Album" lists and start dumping music from Rhapsody onto my MP3 player (gotta love subscription music services!)

This year I Delicious-ed all my favorite Top Album lists to make it easier. Feel free to take advantage: