Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Herding cats

I'm in the midst of writing an equipment proposal for a bright shiny new toy that will be really, really useful. To a lot of the faculty here. Although I've never written this kind of proposal before I'm not finding the writing terribly difficult - I know enough about the instrument and what we'll do with it to wax lyrical. No, it's not the writing that's getting to me. It's extracting information from my fellow faculty. It's like herding cats.

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Odyssey trying to corral fellow faculty.

All I need from each of them is a biosketch, list of current and pending funding, and a paragraph or two describing the research they would do with the instrument. Is that really so hard?

Apparently it is. To the point that I can now confidently state a new law...

Odyssey's law of equipment proposal writing:

The ability to obtain from a faculty member useful information required for an equipment proposal is inversely proportional to just how useful that piece of equipment would be to that person.

Anyone got a good bullwhip I can borrow?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Odyssey's 3 Rules for Smartphone Use

Female Science Professor recently had a post on why she hates iPhones. Based on some of the comments that resulted from that post I've come to realize that a great many people don't know the correct protocols for smartphone* usage. So here I present:

Odyssey's 3 Rules for Smartphone Use

Rule 1: Thou shalt not just use it, but flaunt it.

We've all seen people engrossed in cellphone conversations at restaurants, ignoring their dining companions. Such behavior is totally unacceptable. Crass. Rude. Except in those cases where an iPhone is in use! In such cases it is acceptable behavior, but only if the user makes it very, very clear to all and sundry that he/she is using an iPhone. The following examples demonstrate incorrect and correct usage:

Incorrect Usages-
(Ranging from bad to absolute worst)

a) Ring, ring!
iPhone owner quickly and unobtrusively retrieves iPhone from pocket, apologizes to dinner companion(s), answers thusly:
"Oh hi. I'm at dinner right now. Can I call you back later? Thanks."
Hangs up, apologizes again while silencing phone and putting it away.

b) Ring, ring!
iPhone owner quickly and unobtrusively retrieves phone from pocket, pushes a button to send the caller into voicemail, silences phone, and quickly pockets the device. Apologizes to dinner companion(s).

c) iPhone owner silences iPhone before entering restaurant.

Correct Usage-
Ring, ring!
Cellphone user smiles knowingly and slowly retrieves iPhone from pocket.
Ring, ring!
Holding iPhone at eye-level owner carefully checks to see who is calling.
Ring, ring!
Keeping iPhone at eye-level, owner glances to make sure people at nearby tables are watching and, maintaining that knowing smile perfected by iPhone owners, carefully taps "Slide to Answer".
With a flourish owner then moves to iPhone to his ear and answers in a loud clear voice:
"Hi Bob, you've reached me on my iPhone. What's up?"

During the loud conversation that follows, the iPhone owner makes sure to mention that he is talking on his iPhone at least twice more, and then ends the call with:
"Well Bob, must run now. I'll talk to you soon on my iPhone. I'm hanging up my iPhone now. God, it's great to have an iPhone! Bye."

Rule 2: Thou shalt use thy Apps. And use them. And use them. And use them.

Why else would you have them? Suggested uses:

a) Use Maps to show everyone exactly where you are. This is good at least once for every location.
b) Use Maps to get directions to your next location, even if it's to the restaurant you're standing outside of.
c) Use the in-built camera to make a visual record of every event, no matter how trivial. And immediately send the photos to everyone on your contact list.
d) Make a Voice Memo of every important thought you have. Remember, they're all important!
e) Check the time in Timbuktu using Clock. While you're there, what time is it in Zurich?
f) Show off the last four Youtube videos you watched. Doesn't matter how good they were.
g) Check your Stocks. Don't own any? Check the ones you wished you did own.
h) What's new at the iTunes store? Or the Apps Store? Gotta keep up to date!
i) Look it up on the internet. Doesn't matter what it is. Look it up! "You're ordering the linguini? Look, here are 2,018 pictures of linguini on my iPhone!" "Did you say 'boorish'? Let me look that up on my iPhone!"

Be sure to hold your iPhone at at least eye-level and talk about it in a loud, clear voice while using your Apps. Make sure you say "iPhone" multiple times with plenty of with extra emphasis. And remember, there's no limit to how many times you do this an hour. The more the better!

Rule 3: Email be thy master.

Email is perhaps the most abused aspect of smartphones. Really, the way people use it is pathetic. One should never, ever write "I'm sending this from my iPhone" in an email. Pitiful!

That's what the signature is for! And frankly, the standard "Sent from my iPhone" signature just isn't good enough. It's way too small. Bump it up!

Sent from my iPhone!

See how much better that is? Gain some eco-friendly bonus points by going big and green!

Sent from my iPhone!

Extra bonus points for going all caps.

And don't forget, with your iPhone you're available to answer emails at all times (make sure you have a piercingly loud incoming email notification!). You're available 24/7! Just send it! There's nothing like a "SENT FROM MY iPHONE!!!!!" at 3:30am!

* Although my rules mention iPhones, by "smartphone" I am referring to all such devices (e.g. Blackberries, Palm Pre's etc.)**.

** "Smart" refers to the device, not the user.***

*** I'm a user. I own an iPhone.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

DIY ideas...

...available here.

I didn't say they were good ideas...