back to article You forgot that you hired me and now you're saying it's my fault?

"I'm sorry, who are you again?" I am being challenged by a polite but slightly baffled receptionist. I repeat the declaration I shouted into the video intercom at street level a minute earlier: that I have been hired for the day to train a number of staff on-site. Not being expected when I turn up at a customer site is an …

Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

Love that quote.

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Indeed. In fact, I liken mr Dabbs to a modern day Wodehouse. His prose is delightfuly eloquent and is an absolute joy to read.

So in short, Good shit, Dabbsy.

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Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

Love that quote.

I really want to but I have experienced so much(*) powerpoint that I'm too dead inside to feel anything short of broken bones or near-fatal soft-tissue damage

(*) more than one

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Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

I, for one, have never in my entire life met a single person who "relied on Power Point" who wasn't completely superfluous to the organization. As a consultant, if a middle-manager is introduced to me as "our Power Point expert", that manager is usually the first to be fired. Power Point has wasted more man-hours, more CPU cycles and more meeting-dollars than any other line of purely corporate bullshit that I can remember in my over four decades of trying to teach Corporate America to work efficiently with computers.

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Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

Hey, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Don't blame the tool, blame the corporate culture full of tools who think meetings are how work gets done...

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Happy

Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

DropBear,

Wrong.

Guns don't kill people. Rappers do.

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So in short, Good shit, Dabbsy.

He's so damn good you wonder why he doesn't just write for a living. Then he wouldn't have to put up with those wanks..... Well, maybe us wanks, tho.

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If you can graph it, then you can get fund it!

That's my experience of 35 years of IT, if you can sling enough bullshit figures together to make enough confusing graphs ( it seems to be pie mostly as pie seems to hide all details! ) then you can almost without fail, convince enough management above your current level to fund your latest jolly to software developer HQ 300 miles away and subsequent software toy purchase request. Once you're bored with it, pass it to some minion, who in turn will use it 5 times and then leave to slowly drain support contract money from said company for 3 years until the bean-counters start whinging about belt tightening!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guns don't kill people. Rappers do.

You knows it clart!

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Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

meetings are how work gets done

And there was me, in my simple way, thinking that meetings were what you had to get out of doing any work.

Especially if you volunteer to do the notes and somehow mistakenly forget to write down the tasks you have been given. Or, preferrably, push them onto someone who wasn't actually at the meeting..

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Megaphone

Re: those wanks..... us wanks

NO WANKING IN THE COMMENT SECTION! THERE ARE PEOPLE HERE WITH HANGOVERS, GODDAMMIT!!

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Unhappy

Re: those wanks..... us wanks

Sorry 'bout all the shouting. I guess I shouldn't have drank all that floor wax for breakfast...

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Re: those wanks..... us wanks

Chemical Bob,

Have a cold beer and a wank.

Relieve that frustration before coming back to the board.

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Re: those wanks..... us wanks

It's the floor wax. My first name is *Chemical*, you know...

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Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

Rappers don't kill people, silly! Rappers kill other rappers.

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Anonymous Coward

( it seems to be pie mostly as pie seems to hide all details! )

which is why an almost universal "lesson one" for serious data visualisation is "do not use pie (except to eat)"

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Windows

Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

"Don't blame the tool, blame the corporate culture full of tools who think meetings are how work gets done..."

@DropBear and Jake and all

I'm a teacher. I once had to address a 'breakfast meeting' with the local business-education link organisation. I used PowerPoint in design mode as I usually do when there is only a projector and did my usual spoken presentation and then did a q & a with recording of answers/next actions with names &c in the ppt. I then emailed the resulting file to the facilitator.

Apparently, this was regarded as radically novel.

I was never invited back. Quite a relief as the meetings were scheduled at 7:30 am at a location difficult to get to by public transport.

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TRT
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Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

Unfortunately I was asked as part of a job interview to prepare a Powerpoint presentation about how I would improve technical support in the new amalgamated school. I tried to get out of it. I wriggled and squirmed but my boss wouldn't let me get away with simply using a flip chart or an OHP.

I got the job, but I felt a little bit deader inside.

I also do not believe ANY report or analysis that is presented to me in landscape format. I mean, an incident investigation report, professional and independent, allegedly, was circulated as a landscape document. WTF?! That told me all I needed to know. Where's the real report?

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Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

@DropBear

" Hey, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Don't blame the tool, blame the corporate culture full of tools who think meetings are how work gets done... "

The problem is (as Professor Emeritus Edward Tufte argues -- https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp) that PowerPoint encourages through it layout options, workflow and template structure, a certain way of working that doesn't mesh with how the human brain works. And then you get style guides and corporate templates that compound that problem.

Meetings do get work done, but the word "meeting" implies some reciprocity. The single biggest problem with PowerPoint is its fixed, linear nature. A presentation given using PowerPoint is so rigid that it removes any opportunity for anything other than superficial interaction between the presenter and the audience. It also disempowers the presenter, making him or her a slave to the slides... even if they were his or her slides in the first place.

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Re: The single biggest problem with PowerPoint is its fixed, linear nature

Oh yeah. You know, I remember an Apple brainstorming seminar / presentation thing I went to once. It was mainly for the education sector, and it was just as the iPad was coming out. They had a brilliant sort of two way Powerpoint like thing. You could draw on your iPad and it integrated with the "presenters" iPad. It was really good. But I never saw it again. It would be typical Apple, I reckon. Brilliant ideas, developed almost to the point of release, then the project evaporates and is never heard of again. It was the same when they were bringing PowerSchool to the UK. It was a superb product which just needed a slight bit of tweaking to get it ready for the UK market. I saw a pre-release of the UK edition and then POOF! nothing.

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Re: landscape

The thing is, Powerpoint being landscape and designed for large text on small pages forces the author to be succinct and focus on key messages.

I can write 60 page documents with all the detail on the planet. Nobody reads them.

I can now summarise the stuff from those documents in seven powerpoint slides. They get read, and they get acted on.

It's that forced brevity that makes me a fan. And all good diagrams are landscape anyway, so it's a nice fit; one good diagram is all you need for 90% of communication tasks.

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Re: landscape

"one good diagram is all you need for 90% of communication tasks."

Bullshit. Total and utter bullshit, in fact.

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Unhappy

Re: The single biggest problem with PowerPoint is its fixed, linear nature

@ TRT

I think the rot goes a lot broader than Apple, though they are certainly one of the notable outbreaks.

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Re: The single biggest problem with PowerPoint is its fixed, linear nature

"You could draw on your iPad and it integrated with the "presenters" iPad."

Interactive whiteboard. PARC, late 1980s.

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Re: The single biggest problem with PowerPoint is its fixed, linear nature

typical Apple, I reckon. Brilliant ideas, developed almost to the point of release, then the project evaporates and is never heard of again

Actually, if it was typical apple, then the software was either

1) Developed by a third-party company they eventually decided not to buy or

2) Developed by a third-party company but so locked down by patents and copyrights that they couldn't just steal the idea.

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FAIL

You were doing so well...

I was completely with you on this (it echoes my own experience over the years) - and then you let yourself down with the licence issue.

There's not much you could have done about your host forgetting the session was happening, there's not much you could have done about no room being booked, but you could have done something about the licences.

After a very similar experience early in my career I always confirmed all of the session details with my host beforehand in writing/email. This always included confirming the requirement for everybody to have their own terminal* or PC with a copy of the software on it. That leaves them with no wriggle room to blame you.

*I am old enough to have trained people in the use of software running on a mainframe and accessed by a dumb terminal.

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Re: You were doing so well...

"That leaves them with no wriggle room to blame you."

When it comes to blaming no wriggle room is necessary.

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Re: You were doing so well...

All trainees having the software in advance? you try that with us and we'll probably tear up the agreement you're negotiating to give us the course. Licences cost capex. Beancounters ensure we don't have any of that until shit actually physically hits the fan- opex is fine though, if you can get a rent agreement in place.

As for installing trial licences, on the day no less, well, that would also never happen. Software version (that'll be a no as it's a trial) not on the company whitelist? thats a 3 week SLA for IT, not forgetting that you have to provide 3 quotes from different manufacturers, so I hope the product has mutliple resellers...

And I think we have 1 guy on the 8,000 employee site with the admin password for the standard install, and he only works 2 days a week (just on the weekends when no one else is here).

You'd be showing us stuff on your laptop. Well, we might be able to get the OHP working I suppose, you'd better hope the bulb holds out as we can't order a new one until the year after it's blown. (Capex)

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Re: You were doing so well...

The problem is, you can't accuse them of lying in front of other staff. You have to accept it, when they give you the blame for their cock-up.

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Re: You were doing so well...

The problem is, you can't accuse them of lying in front of other staff. You have to accept it, when they give you the blame for their cock-up.

Yup, otherwise you won't be asked back, which is crap for your revenue stream.

As a matter of fact, in my consulting years that was often the EXACT reason for some of the work we had: being the bearer of bad news, and thus taking the taint with you when you exit - the consultant took all the blame for the utter cockup made by management so afterwards they were blame free and ready to do it all over again (because an absence of blame means lessons are not learned either).

Not my preferred kind of work, I like to fix things so they stay fixed.

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Re: You were doing so well...

*I am old enough to have trained people in the use of software running on a mainframe and accessed by a dumb terminal.

Or, as we call it now in these hip and trendy times, "the cloud".

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Re: You were doing so well...

Far too many clients lie or just flat don't know and have no clue.

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Re: You were doing so well...

When it comes to blaming no wriggle room is necessary, they will blame you anyway. Arse covering in the name of the day.

There fixed it for you.

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Re: You were doing so well...

There aren't many of us left who even remember dumb terminals.

I used to write assembler code to talk to the dumb things, Then (as things advanced - cough!) I used to write code on more intelligent (but cheaper) terminals that emulated the expensive (but dumb) terminals. This was even before PCs.

Progress is a wonderful thing.

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Re: You were doing so well...

you forgot the:

me. can i have the guest wifi to demonstrate the software.

they. sorry we dont have guest wifi.

me. you do realise it is SAAS with a stub install for hardware connectivity to your presses?

they. yes, we read the specs you sent along with the requirements. dont you have a 4g dongle?

me. sigh, yes but here in the highlands you dont seem to use mobile phones judging by the signal on my EE or Three or O2 dongles.

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Had this from the IT tech side before

it's ALWAYS the Marketing marpets or Sales twonks who screw this up, and seem to have limited grasp of legality as to software licences (or anything else to be honest, Data protection is an inconvenience to be ignored. if they even get the concept)

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

IME IT staff are pretty lax at it as well, I'm currently spending my days rebuilding servers as a previous member of staff used Datacenter Edition on everything no matter what. There was an unholy glint in the eye of the Microsoft Partner who carried out the audit when he found that....

I do get the similar half accusing, half polite "Who the fuck are you?" attitude when I go to sites. Last time though, it was for an interview, where of course the Recruitment Consultant had doctored the job description so I had no clue exactly what the job was and the guy interviewing me had forgotten to tell reception I was coming. Both things my fault of course.

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

"used Datacenter Edition on everything no matter what"

Not clever, but if you're running reasonably dense VMs it means that you license the hardware once and all of your Windows VMs on that hardware are covered. Of course, Microsoft have got wise to the ever-increasing number of cores on a CPU, and there's an element of per-core in there now, but it rapidly works out cheaper than Server Standard if you're cramming the VMs in.

I don't know how this works with Server 2016 and Containers. Anyone?

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

It's fine on the Hyper-V hosts, but this guy was using the same license on VMs and standalone servers when enough licenses had only been bought for the hosts.

It's 2012 R2 licenses so still 1 license per 2 CPUS in this case, 2016 has changed to per core licensing I belive.

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

@Franco

Yeah - 2012R2 was per-CPU with minimum 2 CPUs. 2016 is per-core with minimum 8 cores.

Of course, most of our servers are 10-cores per socket. Sigh...

Also - I am not Microsoft Licensing. I just have to steer people in roughly the right direction from time to time. They have an 0800 number if you need to speak to them and they've always been very friendly with me!

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Trollface

...and they've always been very friendly with me!

Commission friendly?

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

guy interviewing me had forgotten to tell reception I was coming.

Many years ago, in a universe far, far behind, I started 'working' for a large US company that manufactured cellular base stations.

I knew it wouldn't last long when I had to wait in reception for two hours and then, once let in, sit at a desk with no power, networking or PC.

My new manager had managed to forget that his staff numbers were doubling and had forgotten to tell anyone else in security or IT that I was starting.

Fortunately, HR[1] and Finance knew. Which meant that I got paid. For the 30 months that I managed to put up with one of the most dysfunctional IT organisations that it's been my displeasure to be employed by.

[1] One of the few things that they actually did correctly there.

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

hey have an 0800 number if you need to speak to them

We see that number as somewhat of a Magic-8 ball. Every time you ring it you get a different answer..

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

I worked as a systems administrator at an accounting firm for a few years.

This was just after they had absorbed a smaller firm.

It turned out that the smaller firm's IT guy had purchased 1 legal copy of Windows 2000 and one copy of MS Office and installed it on all 50 machines in the firm. He did the same with all the accounting software.

He was fired as soon as that was found out, and I was hired on. It was a mess to fix. It also wreaked havoc with our IT budget that first year.

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

He was fired as soon as that was found out.

Instead of the manager who ordered him to do it?

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Headmaster

Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

Being pedantic; 2016 is licensed per pair of cores so the minimum per host is 8x2 or 16 cores...

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Re: Had this from the IT tech side before

you can buy core packs which are cheaper than full versions. it isnt crazy expensive for 2016. Datacenter 2016 also comes with different features now (storage and stretch cluster options)

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Ah, 'booking'

I did internal training stuff for BT for a while.

Someone else did the booking etc, all had to do was turn up with a laptop and get going.

"Room? you say?" nothing out of the ordinary, but 'sorry our 'loan' projector is not working, we've supplied a white board and some A1 pads for you."

I did one session, in a projector-less manky room at a phone exchange for line managers and totally baffled them by whipping out a VGA lead and plugging it in to the big TV that looked abandoned and covered in dust. Looks of "What devilish sourcery is this?" abounded.

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Re: Ah, 'booking'

@Elmer Phud

Looks of "What devilish sourcery is this?" abounded.

+1 isn't enough ;-}

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