MORNING NEWS -- Matthew Baldwin shares a big listing of "tricks of the trade." He was inspired by a children’s birthday clown. “What if you’re dying out there? What if the kids are hating it?” And the clown revealed a fascinating trick of the birthday clown trade: Every year, it seems, there are two or three funny words that invariably crack kids up, and when things are going sour, you can blurt one out and bring the house down. But a clown’s got to keep up to date, because the funny words mysteriously change over time. Where “booger” might have killed in 1998, 2004 demands nothing less than an “underpants.”
Baldwin has noticed an almost identical aspect in the software development trade.
Every year there seems to be a technical whatsit that management recognizes as the sexy-cool new thing but doesn’t really understand. This year, for instance, a programmer can always tack the phrase “and I’m thinking of incorporating some XML functionality” onto a project summary to explain why he’ll need an extra week, account for a missed deadline, or impress a superior. In this respect, the gap between software engineers and birthday clowns is almost negligible.
Wondering if there were more of these, I recently asked readers for their “tricks of the trade,” and was amazed by the response. It seems every profession is rich with clever little occupational secrets. Here are some of the best of what I received.
TECHNO-CULTURE -- The biggest news for the Irish cyberworld today is the return of the bloglectic muse Karlin Lillington. Many were concerned about Karlin's demise. I had attritubuted her silence to a dog event (i.e., a King Charles Spaniel chewing through a computer cable) but Karlin explains how she was simply cut off by a misbehaving modem. She succumbed to a guilt trip when harangued about her darkened blog by cousins at a family reunion. Fair play to them--family pressure renews an important slice of Irish cyberspace.
DUBLIN -- I spent the morning inside Eason's flagship bookshop on Dublin's O'Connell street awaiting the arrival of former President Bill Clinton. A press card got me inside but it meant buying My Life before I got a handshake. Not that they were difficult to get--Clinton works crowds like a grand master in centre ring. He looked 10 years older than the cover of his book. He wore a flourescent green polo shirt and told the shop staff he "loves Dublin." More than 1000 people stood outside next to the silent Luas tracks waiting patiently in light drizzle for the doors to open at 0800. No more than 750 would get their books signed. Eason's staff handed over a book and a receipt for €30 and customers showed the sales receipt to get a numbered card that allowed them to join a queue that snaked around the ground floor. I got #120 and the Tipperary Institute crew held onto #544 and #545. If those at the tail end of the queue had started listening to My Life, they would not have finished the Audible.com offering before entering the bookshop. Audible.com is offering its narrated version free at the moment.
Clinton arrived behind a Dublin Fire Brigade truck that continued with its blue lights flashing towards Parnell Square. The Clinton party swept onto the sidewalk with four black vehicles. The entourage included 14 Secret Service men (the ones I counted with distinctive lapel badges--I couldn't see markings on two blokes peering down from atop an building across the street), two chain-adorned Dublin politicians, 36 photographers, 24 video cameramen, and 31 other journalists carrying minidisc recorders or steno pads. This event felt bigger than Roy Keane's memoir. At least that is what one of the 12 Gardai walking around the building told me outside in Abbey Street.
PR WEB -- Microsoft Press will publish Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullets, bringing to print the most popular online resource for PowerPoint. The book, scheduled for February 2005, will introduce advanced PowerPoint users to innovative communication techniques inspired by Hollywood storyboarding, Greek philosophy and pop culture.
“There is a large audience of smart and savvy PowerPoint users who are eager for new ideas and inspiration,” said Atkinson. “If you’re a manager, director, vice president or CEO, PowerPoint is probably your second language. This book will help you speak it more fluently.” Where other books on the market focus on beginners, "Beyond Bullets" will help intermediate and advanced PowerPoint users to present their ideas clearly and simply.
LN REVIEW -- The Scream is not only Edvard Munch's most famous work, it is also his most stolen. London Review says "a different version of The Scream was purloined in 1994 during the Winter Olympics, and recovered after 3 months. This fact -- that The Scream is forever being stolen -- has added a new layer of meaning to the original." Both public versions of The Scream (known in Norwegian as "Skirk") are painted on cardboard and therefore extremely fragile. Showing a figure on a bridge letting out a barbaric yawp of existential angst, "Skrik" is frequently reproduced and parodied -- a popular beach item is a reproduction of the screamer as an inflatable pillow.
AKMA -- Actually, only a warning--no arrest--was involved when Reverend Akma defiantly sat outside a public library and used the WiFi signal he found there. The policeman's attitude (grounded in urban legend surrounding proper use of wireless data signals) sounds curiously like that encountered by persons of colour who use mobile phones near the arrivals desk of Dublin airport.
DEL ICIO US -- There's a trend unfolding here that helps increase the flow of quality information and if I can latch onto it, I will free up at least 30 minutes on every workday. Consider the evidence. Doc Searls has "bonus links." Danny O'Brien has "quicklinks." James Britt has "random stuff."Jon Udell Udell calls them evidence of information routing. Ben Hammersley puts his daily links into a Delicious URL with a Feedburner hook.