Saturday, May 26, 2018

Celebrating the 10th birthday of this blog

This blog began ten years ago. Currently there are over 1550 posts and 1.35 million page views. Its use of Google Blogger was inspired by seeing Cleon Cox’s blog for his Job Finders Support Group in Portland, Oregon.  

I had agreed to be the Vice President – Education for The Capitol Club Toastmasters in Boise starting in July. They met at noon on Wednesday, not far from the main Boise Public Library downtown near the river. The Albertson Library at Boise State University was walking distance from the public library. I was learning about public speaking via magazine articles and books from both libraries.

My first post on May 26, 2008 said:

“Welcome to Joyful Public Speaking. This blog will discuss going from fear to joy. It will include tips and hints, links to articles and blogs, and brief reviews of relevant books.”

Quite a few older links I used in my posts now are dead or need to be changed.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Cognitive biases and the frequency illusion

We may think of ourselves as basically rational, but really have a long list of cognitive biases. The list at Wikipedia divides them into three categories (1) decision-making, belief and behavioral biases, (2) social biases, and (3) memory errors and biases. A selected few of them would make a good topic for a speech at a Toastmasters club, or a public speaking class. 

One is confirmation bias:
“the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.”

Watch a recent YouTube video shown above, with a tall geyser that confirms (based on our seeing Hollywood movies) - what should happen when a vehicle hits and breaks a fire hydrant just above sidewalk level. The video was made in Manhattan Beach, California.

But that’s just what happens with a wet barrel hydrant – a type used in Hollywood and other very warm places. It isn’t what happens in colder parts of the U.S. though where dry barrel hydrants are used. There usually will not be any geyer. Another YouTube video shows how dry barrel hydrants are made. The valve mechanism actually is located underground below the frost line. When the hydrant is hit above ground, the long rod which operates that mechanism just detaches.    

Now that I’ve mentioned fire hydrants, you will start seeing them, and have another bias – the frequency illusion:
“The illusion in which a word, a name, or other thing that has recently come to one’s attention suddenly seems to appear with improbable frequency shortly afterwards.”

If you live in a city or town, then fire hydrants really are all around you. But you probably were not paying any attention to them. There are Clow brand hydrants at both ends of the block my house is on. Within walking distance in other housing developments there also are Mueller and Waterous brands.

Over two decades ago I looked at a “traffic hydrant” which was designed so the ground level flange connection would break away rather than the hydrant body. That design used four necked down bolts which unfortunately corroded severely from road salt. When the hydrant valve was opened one day, the bolts failed and the body flew upward like a rocket. On January 25, 2015 I blogged about A simple prop made from PVC water pipe fittings.

This post was inspired by the May 23, 2018 Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic strip about the frequency illusion.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Statistic Brain web site now requires a ~$20 per month subscription. There are better ways to spend your time and money.

The last time I went to the Statistic Brain web site I was surprised to find that they have changed their business model and no longer allow public access. Instead they offer Student Access (for $9.99/month), Standard Access (for $19.99/month), and Business Access (for $99.99/month).

They have a web page on OUR METHODOLOGY (subtitled How Do We Ensure Accurate Data). Based on the oft-quoted example of their (top ten) Fear/Phobia Statistics page, it is NOT how they did their research. What they actually did was create a lie to match a Jerry Seinfeld joke. So, my mental image for them is that of a disreputable saloon, as shown above.   

An early version of that web page archived by the Wayback Machine is shown above. I blogged about it on December 7, 2014 in a post titled Statistic Brain is just a statistical medicine show. A more recent version with those baseless numbers showed up again on May 8, 2018 in a post by Jessica Teteak titled I’ll take death over public speaking at the Rule the Room Public Speaking blog.

What are some better ways to spend your time and money than a subscription to Statistic Brain? First, visit your friendly local public library and get a card. Ask the librarian about how to use their database collection. Second, visit your nearest state university library and see what options they have for visiting residents. You may be able to get an inexpensive card. I discussed using university libraries in a pair of blog posts. One from August 7, 2017 is titled Spotting fake news and finding reliable information for speeches. Another from February 24, 2015 is titled How to do a better job of speech research than the average Toastmaster (by using your friendly local public and state university libraries). Third, if you graduated from a university, look at the web site for their library. They may even have remote database access for alumni, like Brown University does.

The image of a saloon was modified from one at the Library of Congress.  

Monday, May 21, 2018

PowerPoint slides for displaying financial analysis & data

Dave Paradi recently announced a new section of his Think Outside the Slide website titled FinancialViz: Presenting Financial Data and Analysis Visually. It shows a total of 40 examples for nine different situations:

Trend over time (5)

Compare to a standard (4)

Comparing values (9)

Contribution of segments (7)

Rank (3)

Portion of a total (2)

Group of text points (5)

Process/sequence (2)

Timeline (3)

For example, under Rank Dave discusses The correct use of a pie chart.

An image of a Phrenological Chart was adapted from one found at the Library of Congress.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

More nightlight technology - default settings and doohickeys

This week we finally replaced the 2002 Philips 20” analog CRT TV in our master bedroom which we had been using with a digital converter box. The new set is a 49” 4K UHD HDR Roku smart TV (a TCL 49S403). I fastened the wall mount to a stud on the wall with a pair of lag screws, and hung up the TV. Then I read the 16-page quick-start guide it came with and set it up. It said that the large white Status Light LED below the center of the screen (shown above):
“glows when the TV is in standby, flashes when the TV is busy, flashes once with each button press of the remote control.”

But we didn’t either need or want a bright, always-on nightlight in our bedroom. On December 7, 2017 I blogged about The joy and frustration of modern nightlight technology, and discussed how we had instead bought a pair of motion-sensing nightlights.

I went to the TCL web site and downloaded their detailed 150-page User Guide as a .pdf file. Buried back on Page 92 it said:

Standby LED On/Off

Normally the status LED on the front of your TV is lit whenever the TV is in standby mode. If you prefer the status LED to not be lit in standby mode, you can turn it off. To do so, from the Home screen, navigate to Settings > System > Power > Standby LED and then select Off.”  

I went through the menu steps, and shut that offending Standby LED off. Their jargon is fairly obscure. That Standby LED really just is one mode for the Status Light LED. It’s a doohickey:

“an object or device whose name you do not know or have forgotten.”

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A door past the Vanity Fair magazine paywall

On May 9, 2018 Jane Genova blogged about Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair – Can It Survive a Paywall? She linked to an article from April 27, 2018 at What’s New in Publishing titled Vanity Fair launches digital paywall as part of wider Conde Nast strategy.

Jane ignorantly claimed:
“Frugal readers still determined to have a free ride can scan the Vanity Fair's headlines, then find similar content with a similar tone somewhere on the internet.” 

But that’s not necessary. A frugal reader will get out his library card, type the number into the login box for databases at his friendly local public library, and read (or download .pdf files) of articles in databases such as MasterFILE Premier from EBSCOhost. I discussed this in a blog post on December 27, 2017 titled How to build a bad presentation –describe a problem but not a good solution.

The image about being ignorant was adapted from one from 1938 by the Federal Art Project at the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2-Minute Talk Tips – an excellent podcast from Bill Monroe in Seattle

A few days ago I was searching on Google about brief presentations, and found the 2-Minute Talk Tips web site, which is subtitled Become a better presenter in two minutes a week. Currently there are 60 podcast episodes. Each begins with a two-minute tip and then continues with a longer discussion (the bottom or bummock of the iceberg).

For example, Episode 26 is titled Bring Candy and Read Storytelling with Data. The longer part is a review of that book, which I blogged about on March 28, 2016 in a post titled A brief book review of Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic.

The iceberg image came from Openclipart.