hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

June 24, 2006

Marcelo Balboa's riveting World Cup insight

If you watch sports on television in the United States, you are no doubt aware of the inimitable and insightful commentary of former sports stars who--no longer as physically agile and spry and they once were--provide "color commentary" as broadcasters.

Lucky for us, their mental agility is still sharp as a tack.

Like a good chunk of the rest of the world, I've been glued to the FIFA World Cup matches being broadcast by Disney. And most of the games which I've been able to watch have been a pure pleasure, thanks in no small part to the insight that Marcelo Balboa (the former US captain and first American to attain 100 caps) has been able to provide.

Nothing--and I mean nothing--gives the viewer a more thorough understanding of the game then a former athlete in a headset and a suit. I've played soccer for more than 30-years and Marcelo is continually teaching me new things about the game.

Marcelo's riveting insight thus far? I'll try to summarize his top comments during World Cup group play:

  1. "That's not a foul."

  2. "That's not a good call."

  3. "That's not a yellow card."

  4. "That's not a red card."

  5. "That's not a penalty kick."

  6. ["Does he have a downside, Marcelo?"] "Maybe his hair."

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Marcelo Balboa's riveting World Cup insight

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June 21, 2006

Monster spammer err... admirer continues his ill-fated pursuit for my hard-to-gain affections

To Whom It May Concern:

I have received this message from Monster no less than 10 times. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Is this the value of listing my resume with Monster?

I had expected more than additional spam in my inbox. Perhaps, that was my mistake.

Some of the most frustrating things about this spam? Glad you asked.

  1. First and foremost (that's why there's a "1" in front of this one), I'm a little confused as to why I spent hours filling out a profile if I am to be continually subjected to spammy requests that ignore the details I took the time to provide.

  2. Although "manager trainee" at an insurance interest sounds like an exciting and rewarding position, this is far below my advertised skill set.

  3. Even if I were interested in becoming a manager trainee, it would likely be a manager trainee for a marketing position, given that my resume on Monster clearly lists more than 10 years of experience in marketing. (I know some folks have a hard time separating marketing and sales, and for them, I have a special place in my heart. It's the place where hate and evil thoughts reside.)

  4. I am fairly confident that--even though [SPAMMER] is the largest subsidiary of [SPAMMER]--the pay scale for manager trainee is likely a smidgen lower than what I've specified as my minimum salary requirements.

  5. A wholly owned subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company is just a tad larger than what I've specified as my desired company size of less than 100 employees.

  6. (NOTE: You may want to send this one on to the folks in product development with the subject line "Feature Request.") There is no clear way to prevent the [SPAMMER] from continually sending me these emails.
I would encourage you to take action against this individual, unless of course you see this continued spamming as "valuable." It certainly does have one specific value: eroding my opinion of Monster and the service it offers.

Please advise as to how to rectify this situation.

Thanks in advance,

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Monster spammer err... admirer continues his ill-fated pursuit for my hard-to-gain affections

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June 20, 2006

Made-up spammer pseudonyms that almost make me want to reply so that I can begin a pen-pal-esque conversation and count them among my friends

  • Claudio Serquis

  • Rhoda Roselee

  • Guillermina

  • Ophelia Bridget

  • Julio Boone (illegitimate great great great great grandson of the wild frontier)


Made-up spammer pseudonyms that almost make me want to reply so that I can begin a pen-pal-esque conversation and count them among my friends

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Googlezon or AmazonBay?

Remember the threat of Googlezon and the demise of modern media? It's a year later than EPIC 2014 in 2015: A Look back. And, now, the financial markets are the target of the conspiracy theory. Well, and they have an English accent.


Googlezon or AmazonBay?

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June 07, 2006

PowerPoint pain point: Drop shadows

Ah, PowerPoint, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Today's PowerPoint-makes-it-easy-to-be-ugly discussion: drop shadows.

Drop shadows are meant to present the illusion that an object is sitting off the plane that is the PowerPoint page. They are designed to add visual interest and impact to a presentation.

Do they? No, not really. Unfortunately, they are yet another thing that PowerPoint makes too easy. Easy and ugly. Ugly and ineffective. But just because it makes it easy, does that mean we should be using it, gentle reader? (HINT: You should be shaking your head "no," right now. Emphatically would be nice.)

Now, ideally, you divorce your drop shadow creation from PowerPoint, entirely, and opt to take care of your drop shadow needs with a program that is capable of rendering effective drop shadows (I tend to use Adobe/Macromedia Fireworks, because it was designed for building on-screen graphics). But if you must use PowerPoint for drop shadows, read on.

And so, we come, ever so meanderingly, to the topic of today's tactical PowerPoint discussion...

Rendering more realistic drop shadows using Microsoft PowerPoint

Now, when one chooses to apply a drop shadow to an object in PowerPoint, one would think that it would be as simple as pressing the "Shadow" button. One would think.

Stop thinking that way.

Pressing the shadow button renders something ugly, like this.

Microsoft PowerPoint drop shadow
PowerPoint Drop Shadow

But I can improve it, you say. Look it's a (oooh) semi-transparent shadow, now. And look, I can move it around with these little arrow thingees. Look, it's moving.

No, just stop. Move away from the shadow button.

Truth of the matter is, the shadow button is fraught with reality distortion. For example, except when you've been standing in front of the bright, bright lights of a police line-up (and I know you have), have you ever seen a shadow cast with a perfect border? I mean, seriously?

No. The answer is no.

Shadows do not have perfect borders. They have borders that degrade, imperfectly. Yet, our "friend" the PowerPoint shadow button with all his "I'll make this easy for you! Just give me a press!" sweet talk, gives you a perfectly rendered duplicate of the object it is attempting shadowing. As if it were standing in a police line-up.

I think you see where I'm going here? That's right, the criminal element.

So, now I hear you talking again. Piercing whining like fingernails on the chalkboard. But how, you screech, am I supposed to make a drop shadow without one of those fancy schmancy image editing programs?

Calm down. Here's how.

  1. Select the circle drawing tool. (But my object is a square, I hear you saying. Pipe down, you should hear me saying, and stay tuned.)

  2. Draw a large circle

  3. Remove the line (Select circle object, select line tool (paint brush), select No Line)

  4. Now, let's get to fixing that fill... Select the circle object. And then select the fill tool (paint bucket)

  5. Choose Fill Effects

  6. From the Gradient tab, select the One Color radio button

  7. From the Color 1 drop down, select the color black

  8. Drag the slider all the way to Light

  9. Under the Transparency area, drag the To slider to 100%

  10. Under the Shading Styles, select the From Center radio button.

  11. Hit Ok

I can see your lip quivering, again. No back-sass now. Just do it.

You should wind up with something that looks like this.

Microsoft PowerPoint drop shadow
Revised PowerPoint Drop Shadow

That's so many steps, you screech. Well, listen here. Ugly is easy. If you want to stay ugly, then stay easy. That and I was overly descriptive. Once you get this down, it will only take you a couple of seconds. And I promise, it will be well worth those extra seconds.

Now, you have the start of a nice drop shadow, regardless of the shape casting the shadow. Try distorting the perspective. Play with the transparency. Change the color. (This also, by the way, makes a very nice glow.) You may even want to try it in shapes that more closely match the shape casting the shadow. All I'm saying is go ahead and experiment like you were still in college. You know what I'm talking about. Have some fun.

Once you've mucked around with it a bit. Try applying it to shapes. Have those shapes sit on the slide. Have them float a bit. Work with it.

Microsoft PowerPoint drop shadow
Applying the revised PowerPoint Drop Shadow

Hopefully, this has helped a bit. And hopefully, it has motivated you to avoid the easy (read ugly) way out with that good-for-nothing-ne'er-do-well shadow button.

Next up? Something equally critical to improving your application of the drop shadow. That's right. You guessed it. Next time, it will be the PowerPoint drop shadow's best friend: the PowerPoint light source.

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PowerPoint pain point: Drop shadows

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June 05, 2006

PowerPoint pain points

While I tend to use hypocritical as a soapbox for espousing all sorts of strategic mumbo-jumbo, I do, in fact, tend to think tactically every once in a while. So, I thought I would take some time to share some of those tactics. Just to change up the pace a bit. You know, keep a little excitement in our relationship?

No, I won't wear that fuzzy pink number. But you will get tactics.

Now, some of you may know (and most of you probably don't care) that one of my first instantiations on the Web was flashgeek, a site that had one definitive purpose: helping people get Macromedia Flash movies into Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Which, unfortunately, wasn't as easy as it sounds.

See? Tactical.

Oh my, I had grand plans for that site. And while the flashgeek tutorials have become less and less relevant over time, my love for PowerPoint and Flash shows no signs of waning. So let's explore some of those little PowerPoint tactics, shall we? Yes, we shall.

The real problem with PowerPoint

I am of the firm belief that one of the reasons PowerPoint presentations the world over are so eye-splittingly bad is due to one simple fact: PowerPoint makes it easy to do things that shouldn't be easy to do.
  • It shouldn't be easy to collect your thoughts in strands and strands of bullet lists with which you can assault your audience.
  • It shouldn't be easy to sift through gigs and gigs of vile and repulsive clip art -- free clip art, at that -- that helps you "illustrate your point."
  • It shouldn't be easy to apply styles and fonts and designs at your whim.
  • It shouldn't be easy to create drop shadows or three-dimensional objects that don't subscribe to the perspectives or physics of the real world.
But with PowerPoint, you can.

If PowerPoint were like working with Letraset press type, there would be fewer presentations out there, and those that were out there would be a great deal more effective.

But it isn't. It makes things easy.

Well, I want to help you make things a little more, well, un-easy. And in so doing, hopefully, we'll improve your presentations, your outlook, and your popularity. That's not so bad, is it?

Well, stay tuned, then.


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PowerPoint pain points

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June 02, 2006

Chance encounters: A bevy of random search terms that have caused poor, unsuspecting folks to stumble upon hypocritical

Slowly but surely I'm rehydrating. And as I was trying to get my bearings, where else would I turn except my Web logs? I mean, really. How on earth will I know what people have been reading in my absence? If, that is, they have been reading at all.

Well. They have been reading. But, in all likelihood, they haven't been reading about that which they were originally seeking.

Well, some folks are getting to what they want. But, by and large, those folks know that into which they are getting. But some folks, some poor, poor misbegotten and ill-informed folks, stumble upon hypocritical, out of the blue. Just because they were looking for something else.

Yes, yes. It's not pretty. But it does happen. And when it does? Oh my. Hilarity ensues, my friends. Hilarity. Boy could I tell you some stories.

But, until then, here are some of my favorite instances (over the last week) of hypocritical blindsiding the unsuspecting Web searcher like some ill-conceived, Allen Funt-ian creation:
Ah such fun with such relatively useless information. Unless of course, I make use of it, like I just did.


Chance encounters: A bevy of random search terms that have caused poor, unsuspecting folks to stumble upon hypocritical

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hypocritical divider - Yes, I know it's called a 'cartouche,' fancypants

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