How Do You Word?

Language Mixup

Language Mixup

My oh my, isn’t language wonderful! My first language is NOT English but I have managed to work up some basic business English. Necessary for work and such.

But occasionally I have to write in my home language of Afrikaans. So here I am frantically clickety-clackety away trying to get rid of the red wiggly underlines in my Word document. Seems like between the Spell checker and Autocorrect they consume about 100% of my smart new i5 Lenovo laptop, wrestling control from each other to proof read my obviously senseless typing.

Been on this case for a while … there seems to be no ( =NO ) way the problem can be fixed easily. You either have English and everything happens in English, from your screen prompts and tick boxes and Help and everything, or it is in another (Afrikaans or Spanish or French) language. You can not simply say: By using this .DOT template I can spell check this document.

OK. Fine.

What MS says, officially, is that you can install a language pack (done that) and then you can select a particular piece of text, and spell check it against that language. So you create the document in English, then select all text, then spell check. It works very well.

OK. Fine. So far.

Except for one teensy-weensy-small muck-up: Auto-correct. In order for Word not to screw up your Afrikaans document, you have to TURN OFF AUTOCORRECT across your system, completely. Yeah, that’s right. And when you want to create an English document later and you want that functionality, you must remember to turn it back on. and off. and on. again. etc.

Crazy. And stupid.

So here are just some examples of how stupidly my Afrikaans input gets changed by Word before presenting it to my spell checker … In the blink of an eye

  • “advies” is automatically corrected to “advise” and “lief” to “life” (not too bad)
  • “dat ons” becomes “da tons”, weird, “ons” is “on” and “dat ek” becomes “date k”
  • “probleem” to “problem” is understandable but “persoon” is not a “person”
  • “ons nog” makes for a funny “on snog” but “kan aan” to “kana an” isn’t

So those are just a few of the cryptic funnies I have to deal with when I use Microsoft. There MUST be a better way …


What Follows The B-Boomers?



I was doing some research on teaching and distance learning when the obvious question came up: How do adults learn? Compared to lets say 20 years ago, are they learning in different ways now? Do they master different skill sets?

The answer was an eye opener. My first real shock was to learn that the previous generation (at least up to 1980) was called the Boomers, but the youngsters applying for jobs today are called Gamers. They grew up with Windows and game consoles. They don’t do e-mail or radio programs or billboard ads. However they play games, lots of it. They are impatient and want their stuff when they want it, not when it might appear on TV interspersed with advertising. The Guardian published this article “How Teenagers Consume Media: the report that shook the City” and it is compelling reading, besides having shaken the Bank off its high chairs. Provocative new data show that video games have created a new generation of employees and executives – bigger than the baby boom – that will dramatically transform the workplace.

So, how do the youngsters learn? What will work for them? What can we as greybeards offer to help the transfer of knowledge?

For one thing they were born with one finger on a keyboard and a mobile phone stuck to their ears, so they will expect their learning to be carried over those media paths. The Australians did some research at the University of Wollongong and it shows clearly that mobile technologies can open new ways of teaching and learning.

And while we as Boomers were fascinated by the invention of new technologies, Pedagogy will overtake Technology as the main focus of todays learners. Most of them have never known a time without games and they accept that technology can do everything that they want.

Boomers grew up with weekly or monthly newspapers, chalk-and-talk classrooms and fixed line telephones. I suppose Virtual Classrooms and virtual learning tools will soon be as free as e-mails, social networking, social bookmarking, file sharing, chatting, wikis, blogging, Skype or uploading videos.

Perhaps it is time to make room for Gamers in my classrooms.

Jazz Up Your Business



The best performers are the jazz types who move with ease in the different sectors of the economy.” So says Vuyo Jack in his article “Why business is like producing a musical show” (IOL 2/10/2011).

He recalls an anecdote from his music production, where he depends on variously skilled players to come together and play a piece of music. A band in music terms, a team in project management terminology. Now, Leons Second Rule Of Painful Projects states that things should be written down, and so he dutifully sits down and writes the sheet music. Makes sense, right? The idea is that all the musicians will be “on the same page”.

Except for one small problem: Some of the musicians could not read music. So, he had to reduce his performance to only two songs that the musicians could remember.

It made me think back on The Great Professionalism Debate where we discussed the issue of competence and whether you need to be certified to deliver excellent work. In the case of Vuyo above, the musicians were excellent performers (he says “the bassist had only a rudimentary understanding of musical theory but had the uncanny ability to make the bass walk like a pro”). However, they were unusable to him because he could not shape their work to deliver the outcome here desired.

On the two extremes of the scale there are the guys with an ear for music but no theory to back it up, and the guys who can play perfectly if they have sheet music but their sound is soulless. In between he puts the jazz musicians, who are able to draw from both sides. They have sufficient theory to put standards together, but they also have sufficient experience to improvise when needed. Vuyo says we need more of these “jazz musicians” in our economy, people who can move with ease between the different sectors and meet the demands of various customers.

My question still stands: How much, exactly, formal qualifications do you need? Do you need a highly theoretical analyst with many qualifications, or do you need a hard worker who can do the work but is unable to understand and respond to variances.

Rugby and Projects

Rugby and Projects

Rugby and Projects

What, you may ask, does Rugby have to do with Projects. So did I, until I read the article by Baron Christopher Hanson on RugbyRugby (linked here).

The article is called “How the Culture of Rugby Parlays Into Business, Workplace and Hiring Character” Seems like rugby is not just a simple ball sport. Seems like it builds character, or maybe its the other way around: The character that you develop while playing the sport is going to help you in your career.

He mentions a couple of things that is important in rugby: It builds diversity. You need a team. You need to wear many hats. All those good things we teach when we talk projects.

Maybe he has a point, what do you think?