Zeno's Paradox
While critical thinking may not make up for a lack of knowledge, it is essential for gaining knowledge.
Saturday, August 24, 2002:  

Management, Business:

Is It Time to Fire Your CIO?
A decade ago, you rarely heard about the CIO role. A decade from now, companies' understanding of how to use information to enhance business effectiveness will be more ubiquitous, and you won't hear about the CIO anymore. Companies don't require chief telephone officers or chief electricity officers. Before long they won't need an officer-level position for information either.
    Information quality:   High
    Propaganda quality:  Very High
    Propaganda level:     Medium

    -  Ron  7:26 AM

Friday, August 23, 2002:  

Critical Thinking, Influence:

Georgia School Board Requires Balance of Evolution and Bible
Georgia's second-largest school district adopted a policy last night that requires teachers to give a "balanced education" about the origin of life, giving equal weight to evolution and biblical interpretations.
Another case where the poorly educated dictate how others will be similarly educated. Very sad. Creationism is not science. "Intelligent design" is not science. People who say otherwise are either mistaken or trying to delude others. More importantly, they either don't understand what science is, or assume their audience doesn't understand science. Sadly, it's obvious that many people don't understand science. Sadder still, Georgia's Cobb County School District is working hard to ensure their students never understand science.

For more information:
    15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense - Scientific American, July 2002.
    Intelligent Design, Science - Skeptic's Dictionary
    A theory evolves: How evolution really works, and why it matters more than ever - U.S. News & World Report, July 29, 2002. (Available here) "Somewhere in high school in this country is a student who's going to cure AIDS... That student is going to have to understand evolution."

    -  Ron  9:07 AM

Thursday, August 22, 2002:  

Marketing, Business, Corporate Responsibility:

Palm Stumbles Yet Again With Color-Capability Gaffe
Palm announced that the screen could display more than 65,000 colors, and I repeated that claim. This week, however, Palm was forced to admit that the m130 could display only about 58,621 "color combinations," or about 11% fewer than claimed.
I believe the company's refusal to offer refunds is compounding its mistake and further eroding a once-sterling reputation that has waned in the past couple of years because of a string of mediocre products.
Why has Palm fallen so in the past two years? Yes, the poor economy is probably the greatest factor, but the product and marketing mistakes aren't helping. Why such mistakes? Desperation? Panic?

    -  Ron  5:07 PM

Wednesday, August 21, 2002:  

Influence, Critical Thinking:

Granfalloon: a proud and meaningless association of human beings - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

Herein lies the secret to the persuasiveness of the granfalloon. If the professional persuader, the advertiser, the politician, the televangelist can get us to accept his or her granfalloons, then we have a ready-made way to make sense of our lives—the propagandist’s way—and as our self-esteem becomes increasingly linked to these groups, we have a strong motivation to defend the group and to go to great lengths proudly to adopt its customs. What the propagandist is really saying is: “You are on my side (never mind that I created the teams); now act like it and do what we say” - Age of Propaganda, Pratkanis and Aronson
People seek out and create groups to belong to—meaningful, meaningless, or something in between. What groups do you identify yourself with that are granfalloons? Near-granfalloons?

More on granfalloons and propaganda:

    How to Sell a Pseudoscience by Prof. Anthony Pratkanis.
    Propaganda and Debating Techniques by "Agent Orange"

    -  Ron  6:08 PM

Monday, August 19, 2002:  
Human Factors:
Let Users Control Font Size
I'm hereby launching a campaign to get Microsoft to make user preferences override any fixed font size specification in Web designs.
It may be okay for the browser to initially render the page with the designer's text size, but users should be able to easily enlarge text, no matter what the style sheet says. After all, it's my screen, my computer, and my software, and they should do what I say.
One of Nielsen's better articles for the year. He not only makes a case for user-controlled font sizing, but gives font guidelines for websites.

Nielsen in a Nutshell: It's probably a good idea to allow users to control the font size in websites, even if users may currently have a hard time changing the size. Perhaps browsers can be changed to make it easier for people to change the font size. Most importantly, follow good design principles when selecting fonts.

A few comments on the guidelines in the article:
  • Do not use absolute font sizes... What he meant is do not specify font sizes in absolute units (points, pixels, etc) that will not scale through user control. It's a fairly good guideline, fairly important.
  • Make your default font size reasonably big (at least 10 point)... Good guideline, very important.
  • If your site targets senior citizens, use bigger default font sizes (at least 12 point). A sans-serif font is highly recommended. Good guideline, very important.
  • If possible, avoid text that's embedded within a graphic... Fairly good guideline, fairly important.
  • Consider adding a button that loads an alternate style sheet with really big font sizes if most of your site’s visitors are senior citizens... Fairly good guideline, fairly important.
  • Maximize the color contrast between the text and the background... Specifically, light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background. Fairly good guideline, very important.

        Information quality:   High
        Propaganda quality:  High
        Propaganda level:     Medium

        -  Ron  3:05 PM

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