Random links #11

Written on 14 February 2019, 11:03am

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  1. The misinterpretation of the Mehrabian theory
  2. The four stages of competence
  3. How to avoid death by PowerPoint

There is a theory attributed to Albert Mehrabian according to which the non-verbal communication (NVC) accounts for 93% of the overall communication. In other words, what you say has virtually no importance, while how you say it (the tone and the body language) is almost everything.
Without negating the importance of the NVC, it is quite clear that the Mehrabian theory only applies in limited cases. In fact, the theory itself states that it applies only to communication about feelings or attitudes. This video does a pretty good job to debunk the 7% myth.
That being said, I strongly believe that the delivery can make or break a presentation. Take the same content and have it presented by two random people and you’ll understand what I mean.

The learning circle (or the 4 stages of competence) is a very useful way to visualize the learning process:

The circle of learning. Image from impower.co.uk

Finally, a presentation about how you should do your presentations 🙂 If you only have time to watch one video about improving your presentation skills, it should be this one:

David Phillips has become the leading Swedish figurehead in the art of making presentations

In a nutshell, keep in mind the following simple principles when working on your next slides:

  • use a dark background
  • add a single message per slide
  • use keywords or images, not sentences
  • use size to highlight the important elements
  • don’t use more than 5 objects per slide

That being said, you can deviate from the principles above in case you don’t present your slides on a stage in front of an audience. A slide like the one below could still make sense during a meeting where you brainstorm with other technical colleagues:

Target to your audience: if you’re talking to a bunch of other nerds, a slide like this can make sense and don’t bore anyone to death. But never show this on a stage!

Random links #10

Written on 18 March 2017, 03:25pm

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Something is rotten in the state of Belgium

Written on 1 April 2016, 03:17pm

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A post full of links and frustrations, following the recent attacks in Brussels.

A very good summary of the Belgium’s worst terror misses, mistakes and misunderstandings is in this post: http://www.politico.eu/article/the-dirty-dozen-12-mistakes-that-condemned-brussels-to-terror-attacks-isil/. Then there is the famous rant in the wake of the Paris attacks about how Belgium is a failed state: http://www.politico.eu/article/belgium-failed-state-security-services-molenbeek-terrorism/. They paint a very accurate picture of the Belgian state, but they are coming from the same source, so below there are more links with factual data coming from other sources.

Belgian Authorities Overwhelmed By Terror Investigations: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mitchprothero/belgian-authorities-overwhelmed-by-terror-investigations

Belgium feared tragedy was coming but couldn’t stop it (Kristof Clerix): http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/22/belgium-feared-brussels-attacks-tragedy-but-could-not-stop-it
From the same author, a post written post-Paris attacks: Why are terrorists drawn to Belgium? http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/17/terrorists-belgium-paris-attacks

Wrong man portrait broadcast: http://www.dhnet.be/medias/television/le-petit-journal-devoile-l-erreur-monumentale-du-ministere-de-l-interieur-dans-le-dossier-reda-kriket-56fe67a235708ea2d41cc459

How Fayçal Cheffou is free to go and a suspected terrorist http://www.politico.eu/article/brussels-terror-attacks-faycal-cheffou-both-free-to-go-and-a-suspected-terrorist/
Arrested and freed again because he got into a friend flat by the window: Fayçal Cheffou à nouveau arrêté http://www.dhnet.be/actu/belgique/faycal-cheffou-a-nouveau-arrete-56fc2c2d35708ea2d40fa73f

La sécurité de l’aéroport de Zaventem inquiète http://www.lesoir.be/1167056/article/actualite/belgique/2016-03-30/attentats-bruxelles-securite-l-aeroport-zaventem-inquiete
“Police working at Brussels Airport have published an open letter censuring the security system at Belgium’s national airport. They suggest the 22 March terrorist attack at Zaventem could have been avoided, and also demand more and better guarantees before accepting to restart working at Brussels Airport.” http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/News/1.2616163

Le système de communication Astrid de la police a Ă©tĂ© saturĂ© pendant les attentats. Selon un agent, les services ont dĂ» communiquer via l’application Whatsapp, Ă©crivent le Nieuwsblad et la Gazet van Antwerpen samedi. https://www.rtbf.be/info/dossier/explosions-a-brussels-airport/detail_la-police-a-ete-contrainte-de-communiquer-via-whatsapp-pendant-les-attentats?id=9252980

8 Belges sur 10 redoutent de nouvelles attaques et accusent l’Etat, selon un sondage http://www.rtbf.be/info/dossier/explosions-a-brussels-airport/detail_attentats-de-bruxelles-8-belges-sur-10-redoutent-de-nouvelles-attaques-et-accusent-l-etat-selon-un-sondage?id=9256818

March 2014: “Le Centre de Crise dĂ©veloppe de nouveaux canaux pour alerter la population en cas de catastrophe. Toutefois, les citoyens ne seront pas automatiquement prĂ©venus. L’inscription via le site web be-alert.be est impĂ©rative pour recevoir, le cas Ă©chĂ©ant, un SMS d’avertissement. Il est Ă©galement possible d’opter pour l’e-mail, le message vocal sur un numĂ©ro fixe ou mobile et… le fax.” http://geeko.lesoir.be/2014/03/17/le-centre-de-crise-belge-debute-lenvoi-dalertes-par-sms/
March 2016: Phone networks down. People not receiving any alerts. “Pourquoi BE-Alert n’a-t-il pas fonctionnĂ© ? “J’avais fait inscrire toute ma famille, dont mes parents âgĂ©s et ma sĹ“ur qui souffre d’un handicap. Mardi dernier, jour des attentats Ă  Bruxelles, personne n’a reçu d’alerte. Si, avant de prendre le mĂ©tro, j’avais reçu un SMS me tenant au courant de la menace terroriste, jamais je n’aurais pris le risque d’entrer dans la station de Maelbeek. Je serais restĂ©e Ă  l’abri et n’aurais pas dĂ» compter sur le hasard pour pouvoir ĂŞtre en vie et tĂ©moigner”, s’indigne-t-elle.” http://www.dhnet.be/actu/belgique/pourquoi-be-alert-n-a-t-il-pas-fonctionne-56fdf70635708ea2d41a1e0d

Ok. Where do we go from here? 3 starting points in my opinion (one preventive, two reactive):
1. Strengthen the national security services

The ratio between security services and potential terrorists is therefore roughly of 1:1 — at best. Needless to say, there are not nearly enough people to properly monitor every dangerous individual. Authorities are forced to prioritize and make judgement calls. The likelihood of mistakes multiplies. […] The problem is widely acknowledged, but budgetary restrictions, which were in effect until 2015 due to difficult economic conditions, exacerbated the situation. In this context, and in order to anticipate future threats, the government urgently needs to strengthen its national security services. It’s not a magical solution, but it’s a first step — especially if followed by other measures across the entire counter-terrorism spectrum, notably in terms of prevention.

2. Introduce proper terrorist penalties: life sentence in isolation for terrorist activities, 24/24 monitor for flagged individuals, 24/24 search warrants for suspicion of terrorist activities, etc

3. Up to date CCTV system with high image quality in public places (not like the joke of image in the airport that seems to be taken with a potato)