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Just STOP!! Another Rhetorical Cliche

I read an article the other day written by Ellen Petry Leanse about how women write and speak in the business world.  The article infers that we need to change our thinking and speaking habits in order to better succeed.  It dealt specifically with the overuse of the word “just” and that using that word implied passivity and need for permission.

Looking at her article, I decided that her research was not elaborate, anecdotal and very biased.  Men and woman DO write and think differently (really? are we just learning this?) and that’s what makes for many lasting and successful partnerships.  As with the apology studies (Do women apologize more than men? women think differently regarding offensive behavior.  Perhaps they are being diplomatic.  Should one change how one writes?  Or should you use your own style? Here are the two articles, let me know what you think.

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Be Agile or PMP…..

Lots of Buzz in my Project Management classes regarding Agile or Scrum Process, which for this blog we will say comes under the umbrella of Agile.

Should you PMP or Agile?  What’s the difference?  Why should I care?

My recommendation, after researching and speaking with PMPs and CSMs is that if you want the most flexibility, start with your PMP and add-on your CSM.  If you plan to work mostly or only in the software development industry, you may consider the Scrum Master certificate by itself.  Read on for reason behind this conclusion.

Students continually ask “What do interviewers mean by project methodologies?”  And “What does Waterfall or Scrum?¹ have to do with that?”

Scrum Master

Do you really want this title?  It sounds very “Game of Thrones..™”

But wait…Some of you ask, I’ve heard the buzz, but tell me what’s happening.

PMP (Project Management Professional) is a certification leveraging a framework.

CSM (Certified Scrum Master) is a certification leveraging a process.

—-They are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive—-

Let’s break down some common conceptions we know about Project Planning using what we call the Waterfall Approach, vs Agile planning with the Scrum approach.

  • The Waterfall approach emphasizes keeping the initial plan.  We formulate a purpose, set objectives, get sign-offs and create our work packages from the initial plan.
  • The Scrum approach uses adaptive planning, things can change as implementation happens.
  • The Waterfall approach assumes we know everything upfront.
  • The Scrum approach assumes there are things yet to be revealed and is focused on learning throughout the project.
  • The Waterfall approach does not appreciate change and you must initiate change requests with sign-offs.
  • The Scrum approach believes there are benefits to change (given parameters, of course)
  • The Waterfall approach assumes change is bad and can be controlled (usually)
  • The Scrum approach assumes change is normal and can’t be helped.
  • The Waterfall approach assumes the Project Manager is in control.
  • The Scrum approach assumes the Team Leader and individuals are in control.
  • The Waterfall approach uses the Project Manager to work the plan.
  • The Scrum approach allows the Team Leader flexibility to work and re-work the plan as “good” changes appear.
  • The Waterfall approach require the work is executed as dictated by the original plan.
  • The Scrum approach prefers letting the Team execute as they see fit.
  • The Waterfall approach optimizes conformance to schedule and budget.
  • The Scrum approach optimizes business value, time to market and quality.
  • The Waterfall approach is concerned about delivery and time constraints.
  • The Waterfall approach may lead a Project Manager to believe that if we just work the plan, it will be completed according to plan.
  • The Scrum approach may lead people to believe they don’t have to do up-front planning.

I also found Brian Crawford’s bullets on the differences between the two approaches helpful as well.

According to Brian Crawford’s article on his Website,, his opinion is that Agile may also be used for certain non-IT projects.

Personal observation:  Agile/Scrum approach works well when used in software development.  Teams can produce results or work during what’s known as a Sprint.  This is a specific time period (recommended by SCRUM of 30 days, but can vary) in which the team works to accomplish tasks.  The team then reports what it has accomplished to the project owner.  This could work well for software since the end-user or owner may find that they want to make adjustments from the original requirements.  These adjustments can then be made by the team in the next Sprint and reviewed again.


If you were building a road or a bridge, using Sprints may be a bit tricky.  For instance, could you have your team start construction and 30 days later have them change the design of the building at the owner/end-user’s whim?

Perhaps a combination of the two approaches works.   Note that on the Project Management Institute website Scrum Master certification is offered, so again, it doesn’t necessarily mean my way or the highway. (Pun intended)

Thoughts, please!  I would love to hear from more PMPs and CSMs who are hands-on so I can make valid recommendations to my students.


¹In 2001, 17 pioneers of similar methods met at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah and wrote the Agile Manifesto, a declaration of four values and twelve principles. These values and principles stand in stark contrast to the traditional Project Manager’s Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK). The Agile Manifesto placed a new emphasis on communication and collaboration, functioning software, team self-organization, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities.

SCRUM is NOT an acronym, so don’t drive yourself crazy like I did trying to figure out the meaning.

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The Case for Learning HTML

7 Reasons to Learn HTML

(I could list lots more… but it is a blog)

Hypertext what? CSS Who? Tell me again why it matters to declare a doc type? This is what I hear when I am encouraging professionals to consider taking my HTML class.

What is HTML

The Short Answer

HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is the language used by browsers to display web pages. While it has evolved over the years (created in 1990) and added bells and whistles, the precepts remain.

Can we agree that…

  • Every business benefits from a web presence.
  • You can pay a service or hire web designer to create their site—a wise decision if you have an extensive site, need a shopping cart or advanced data base features.

  • You will need to update your site on a regular basis.

  • Consider also, You may use the intranet for Project Collaboration. If you use Microsoft SharePoint© HTML and CSS come in handy on countless occasions.

7 Reasons to Learn HTML

  1. HTML is Actually Very Easy to Learn.

  2. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s not actually a programming language. It’s more about understanding the syntax, then you can look up the code if you don’t have it memorized! There are a plethora of free resources. (Although I’d rather you take my instructor-led class for the best and most efficient learning!) is the ultimate resource for answers to all your questions and questions you didn’t know you had!

  3. Formatting Makes You Crazy

  4. Using WYSIWYG editors are a great way to start a web page. However, the web page is constructed visually by the editor, not by you. If you want to make changes you often need to go to the code.

    When using a WYSIWYG editor, the web page is constructed by the user in a visual way that’s translated to HTML code by the editor engine. This means that the editor is dictating your formatting, not so much you. A little HTML knowledge will save lots of headaches.

  5. Use Any WYSIWYG Editor

  6. Knowing HTML means you can use almost any editor. Whether it’s the WordPress editor or another free editor from you service provider. Once you understand the basics, you can edit with ease and create well-formed code that leads to good formatting and search results.

  7. Upgrade HTML Skills for Your Career

  8. Hey, it never hurts to build your résumé, and you will be amazed at how much you can use this skill in your personal and professional life. Much of my student’s feedback notes that it’s actually a wonderful confidence boost around co-workers as well as in their personal lives.

  9. You Blog

  10. Bloggers are sometimes limited when customizing the appearance and functionality of their blogs unless they know some HTML and CSS. Without HTML and CSS knowledge, you’re stuck with the basic design and functionality of your blog’s template and formatting.

  11. Ignore the Naysayers

  12. There are many who will tell you not to bother to build your skill-level in this area. I listed them in my first draft (the ones who really irked me) but decided that they have a right to their opinions. Many web designers feel they are the ones that should be in control. Hey, that’s how they make a living.

  13. HTML is Fun

  14. Seriously. It is fun and you can take a one or two day class to get the basics. Learn some CSS while you are at it and your arsenal will be full of good web design tips and tricks.

Learn HTML and CSS

Because it’s…

  • Fairly Easy
  • Saves Time and Money
  • Saves Formatting Aggravation
  • Makes you sound cool
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Forget about it! Ungoogle me, please–“The Right to be Forgotten”

You had a little too much of a good time on that spring break in college, leading to a bad decision resulting in an arrest for disorderly conduct. OR YOU HAD a run-in with the tax man more than a decade ago, resulting in your house going up for auction. Even though these issues have long since been resolved, an online search of your name still shows this information. Ouch! Should the search-engine service be required to take down the link?

That was the question put to the European Court of Justice, the European Union’s highest court. Mario Costeja González had asked Google (Google Spain) not to display links to notices in a newspaper published in 1998 regarding his former tax situation. Dismaying but not surprising to some, the Court asked Google to do as he asked. (Court of Justice of the European Union, 2014)

With its ruling the court confirmed that existing European law already includes something, albeit in a limited form, that privacy advocates and the European Commission have long sought: a digital right to be forgotten. But wait, there’s more! It also said that search-engine operators (in this case Google) do not merely display links to already published personal information. They also process that information and allow profiles of individuals to be compiled. This, the court said, is covered by existing European privacy laws, dating from 1995. It makes no difference, said the judges, that the search engines might do the processing on servers outside Europe. (V. Skouris, 2014)

Unsurprisingly, the decision, which cannot be appealed against, has set off alarms in the internet community. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has said the “right to be forgotten” ruling, which compels Google to remove links requested by consumers, was wrong.

“A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google’s perspective, that’s a balance,” said Schmidt. “Google believes, having looked at the decision which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong.” (Baliga, 2014)

Doomsayers are always the first on opinions, and frankly being one of them at this time, I am a bit wary and alarmed at the ruling as well. As with many laws there are unintended consequences that can follow. How far does the interpretation go? What about websites such as Angie’s list, where consumers rely on others for advice on services and products? I compare it with hiring and firing of employees. Try and ask another person for references regarding former employees. Very few are willing to portray the truth if the employee was less than stellar for fear of a libel suit against them or their company.

Looking closely at the judgment one notes that the court did not establish a broad right for Europeans to be forgotten. The judges did not require the newspaper to take down the notices in question. Google also does not have to stop linking to all personal information, but only to data that are “inadequate, irrelevant…or excessive”(V. Skouris, 2014), and if there is no strong public interest in having easy access to the information in question. Google is permitted to deny a request to take a link down. If denied, then one may be forced to go the way of litigation.

One question–as put to so many laws on the books–arises. Can this law be effectively enforced? This ruling is for search engines bound by European law, not world law. The decision could very well deny people access to information that may be important. When hiring or researching someone in the financial or child-care industry for example, or someone running for public office, one may wish to consider past decisions, to put it mildly. Of course there are already companies (e.g. that specialize in cleaning up your internet presence so while generally helpful, one should already be wary about the integrity of the internet search.

In my opinion (note I used opinion so as not to end up in litigation over my blog) the court’s decision has done a marvelous thing. It has revived the debate on whether the internet should be regulated. The United States includes free-speech protections in the First Amendment (although in the era of Political correctness, one could argue of the eroding rights of free speech, but that’s for another day). Blocking access to even the most damaging information—mug shots, pictures from your college spring break or worse — can prove difficult if not impossible. Online news accounts and their footprints are even tougher to leave behind.

What to do? As my dear Mother was forever reminding me–never put anything in writing (and I will add pictures, tweets, instagrams to her advice—you get the idea) that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Old-fashioned wisdom that holds more truth than ever in this day of show all.

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Senior Adults Wired Up

Connect Our Seniors to the Internet Is Healthy for All

Since email became popular I have touted the benefits of electronic communication to my parents, grandparents and other seniors I know. Heck, who am I kidding? I have to convince many of my contemporaries as well. (Let’s just say that I’m young at heart and leave it there) Anything new meets great resistance by some but I am happy to report that my Father has now changed from berating my kids for not writing letters to him to texting them to see how they are doing. That’s sometimes the only way I can communicate with him lately!

My father-in-law was housebound, but being able to access on line articles and research kept him very much into the world. We gave him an IPAD one Christmas and he happily checked his mail, and shopped online–after numerous tutoring sessions and phone calls of course.

To the point. Older adults are more likely to be living with a chronic disease, so now they can get support on line.

Social media bridges generational gaps. Seniors can participate in and share skills across these generational divides. (Madden, 2010)

Many of you reading this blog may wonder “Isn’t everyone connected.”? Anecdotally, I would say not enough.  Specifically, many of our seniors do not have the skills to access the wealth of the internet and worse, many are afraid.  Stories of fraud and scandals create fear of computers and the internet.

Hurray for the Maryland Department of Aging and Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies who collaboratively produced The Internet Literacy Program. (full disclosure–I may have helped with this program) 🙂 This program is geared to seniors who want to get connected, is offered free of charge at convenient locations.

Check out if you or someone you know would like more information.  Get Wired Up!


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