Five Huge Software Blunders

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In his latest book, Mike Song teaches you how to use software and technology in the most effective ways possible to minimize your labor and time while maximizing quality and results. All of his tips and instructions have been tested multiple times to make sure they work.

Of course, not everyone has been that lucky with software and tech, and here are just five of the biggest software blunders in recent history:

1. The Most Expensive Hyphen In Software History
One of the earliest software fails occurred in 1962 with NASA’s Mariner 1 spacecraft on route to Venus. Before it even left the Earth’s atmosphere, ground control, while trying to correct a steering problem, activated the self-destruct button. Rumour has it that there was an errant hyphen in the software program that caused the problem. Whatever caused it, Mariner 1 self-destructed and ended up throwing $134 million in today’s money into the fire (literally).

2. The Monumental Windows 98 Fail
This goes down as probably one of the most embarrassing on record because Microsoft founder Bill Gates was the person being shown the demonstration (along with hundreds of others in the audience) at Comdex '98, a national computer conference. As Microsoft marketing guru Chris Capossela was showing to the audience how to connect drivers for a scanner utilising Windows 98, the dreaded  Blue Screen Of Death appeared. (The Blue Screen of Death is non-recoverable and thus the system crashed.) To his credit, Gates rolled along with it all and even cracked a joke.

3. The Y2K Bug that Wasn't
This will go down as the biggest software malfunction that never was because it was fueled entirely by human hysteria. A perceived inability by computers to recognize the year 2000 as a new century had people worrying how payrolls wouldn’t be met, files would get lost in the ether of date confusion and planes falling out of the sky as the clock struck midnight on January 31, 1999. Millions were spent trying to fix the problem, and eventually it was solved. The fix that cost so many millions? Expanding two digit years to four digit years in programs, files and databases. Five minutes, in most cases, to update.

4. Windows...Again.
Introduced in 2006, Windows Genuine Advantage was never a popular initiative with Microsoft's customers. All it did was help Microsoft root out software piracy. In that task, it was as vigilant as, well, an overenthusiastic vigilante. In  late-August 2007, it found piracy everywhere it looked -- even among thousands of legitimate Windows customers. But it got worse: on Friday, Aug. 24, someone on the WGA team accidentally installed bug-filled update on the main servers. So for 19 hours, the server flagged thousands of WGA clients across the globe as illegal, told tens of thousands of Windows XP customers  they were running pirated software and remotely turned off features on tens of thousands more Windows Vista users.

5. Black Monday: Software Blamed for Human Error
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Black Monday (1987), Wall Street's greatest ever loss in a single day, was all the fault of bugs in the computer models.

Except that it wasn't.

Program trading was relatively new and harder to understand back then, and people with diminished pension funds were anxious to find a scapegoat they could really lay the blame on. It was easier to point to a faulty program than to understand overvaluation, lack of liquidity, international disputes about exchange rates, and the market's notoriously bipolar psychology. Of course, program trading did contribute to the precipitous fall of American markets, but the trading programs just did as they were instructed. The fact that they sold as the financial markets collapsed around them wasn't a bug, it was a feature -- just not a well-thought-out one.


Five "Ideal" Manager Traits That Are Myths

Henry Mintzberg is considered to be one of the top living business and management thinkers.

Henry lists below the five traits that popular business literature posits as the ideal qualities to get from it, and then explains why they are unrealistic:

Ideal Trait Myth #1: You Can Become a Leader. Not always so. If you have leadership capabilities, they are already in your soul. No book or course will make you into a leader.

Ideal Trait Myth #2: You Can Become a Planner. As a manager, mostly you have to react to what happens in front of you. Let the planners plan -- but they can plan operations, not strategies.

Ideal Trait Myth #3. You Can Adapt the Right Leadership Style to Suit Your Situation.
Not really. You are not a chameleon. It would be better to just be in a job suited to your own style.

Ideal Trait Myth #4: You Can Use the Latest Tools to Manage Your Organization. Be careful. A tool isn't something you can use in place of a brain. Pick and understand your tools carefully -- not just what's the flavor of the month.

Ideal Trait Myth #5: You Can Read Books Like Managing to Become a Better Manager. That's true! But do you have the time? As a manager, you’re a busy person. That’s why you can read just the boldface sentences in this book and get the gist of it.

Any other ideal traits that need debunking, or do you want to challenge any of the ones listed above? Chime in below.


Five Ways You Can Tell When Someone Is Lying to You at Work

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Carol Kinsey Goman's latest book addresses the subject of lying in the workplace and how we can detect it and what to do about it.

Spotting deception begins with observing a person’s baseline behavior under relaxed or generally stress-free conditions so that you can detect meaningful deviations. One of the strategies that experienced interviewers use is to ask a series of simple questions while observing how the person behaves when there is no reason to lie. Then, when the more difficult issues get addressed, the interviewer can stay alert for sudden changes in behavior that may indicate deception around key points.

We're never quite sure when we are being lied to at work, but here are five ways that it does happen so that you know to look for them.*

1. Watch for stress signals

For the vast majority of the individuals you work with, the act of lying triggers a heightened stress response. Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rates all increase.

To relieve stress and anxiety, liars may use pacifying gestures (rubbing their hands together, bouncing their heels, fidgeting with jewelry, etc.) But our first response to stress (before we ready ourselves to fight or flee) is to freeze. So also pay attention if your usually animated colleague suddenly stops gesturing, has a forced or frozen smile, and locks her ankles.

2. Look at their eyes

The biggest myth around deception is that liars can’t look you in the eyes. In fact, some don’t (especially small children), but polished liars may actually give too much eye contact.

There are two eye signals that are more accurate signs of dishonesty: 1) Pupils dilate when someone is lying, and 2) Blink rates change – slowing down while someone constructs and tells the lie, and then speeding up (sometimes as much as eight times) afterward.

3. Count to four

Nonverbal cues to all kinds of unconscious giveaways tend to occur in clusters – a group of movements, postures and actions that collectively point to a particular state of mind.

This is crucially true of dishonesty, where one specific cluster of nonverbal signals has been proven statistically to accompany dishonesty. These are: hand touching, face touching, crossed arms, and leaning away. According to research conducted at Northeastern University, if you see these “Telltale Four” being displayed together, watch out!

4. Listen – really listen -- to what people tell you

Because of the mental effort it takes to tell a bald-faced lie (and because it is so stressful), many people prefer to avoid the truth with selective wording. Notice how the responses below never really answer the questions.

Question: Did you take the computer from the supply room?
Answer: Do I look like the kind of person who would take a computer?

Question: Did you leave your last place of employment on good terms?
Answer: I left to pursue other opportunities.

5. Stay alert for "undercover" emotions

Smiles are often used as a polite response and to cover up other emotions, but these faked smiles involve the mouth only. Unless someone is expressing genuine pleasure or happiness, it’s hard to produce a real smile – the kind that crinkles the corners of the eyes and lights up the entire face.

There is another way that real emotions emerge, regardless of the effort to suppress them. When someone conceals any strong emotion, chances are his face will expose that information in a split-second burst called a “micro expression.” Difficult to spot because of it happens so quickly, but that instantaneous flash of fear, anger, dismay, joy, etc. is a valid indicator of someone’s genuine emotional state.

* Please remember that none of these verbal or nonverbal cues are absolute proof of lying. (Truthful people can show signs of stress, have a naturally high blink rate, or give round-about answers. And both the liar and truth-teller may exhibit fear -- one of being discovered, the other of not being believed.) Nevertheless, these signals are strong indicators of heightened anxiety, possible deception, or “hot spots” -- areas that you should investigate further.


Five Ways We Lie to Ourselves and Get Ourselves "Stuck."

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Terry Hawkins' new book talks about how difficult it is for us to make changes in our life and how we often resolve to remain in a "pit of despair" than make our lives better and climb out of the pit.

Sometimes we're not even aware of the lies we tell ourselves so that we can have an excuse to not change. Terry reveals just five of these lies below:

Lie #1: A pre-set and repetitive pattern of supposedly hopeful thinking can inspire or bring about change.
Why it’s a lie: We keep ourselves stuck because we become addicted to telling the "this too shall pass" story - the one that makes us feel sad, frustrated, pitiful but hopes, in vain, for improvement. We do this because it is easier to hope passively than take action, and self-pity is an ugly form of comfort. We keep thinking things must get better but don’t admit that they won’t until we think differently.

Lie #2: When others are always the problem, be vocal and let them know by complaining.
Why it’s a lie:  Have you ever noticed that there are some people who continually complain about the same things even with different people and places, always thinking that the problem is not them but everything else. They change their job, their partner, where they live, what they do - but end up complaining about the same things again. We lie and tell ourselves that others are the problem when in fact, we are.

Lie #3: Things that cause shame and guilt are best kept to oneself.
Why it’s a lie: There was a woman who held a secret about her past for almost her entire life because she thought it shameful. This experience happened to her, yet (as many of us do), she blamed herself. When she “came out” about her experiences to those she loved and shared the tragic secrets of her past, she created meaning for her behaviors and attitudes. Everyone understood why she was the way she was. You owe your loved ones the truth because the truth sets everyone free.

Lie #4: Pain should be avoided.
Why it’s a lie: Pain is a necessary part of life. When we try to numb our emotional pain, we don't give ourselves the opportunity to face the core issues at the heart of our pain. Learn to “do pain well" instead of avoiding it because it will not magically disappear. Know that you have all the resources you need to walk through your pain to come out the other side. We like to numb our pain through blame, accusation, medication, anger, pity, or drama – all forms of lying to ourselves. Pain is one of our greatest guides - pay attention to the wisdom that it offers along with the discomfort.

Lie #5: Don’t compare situations and emotions.
Why it's a lie: The only reason we know what feels right is because we know what doesn’t: someone who has never felt happy wouldn’t know what unhappiness feels like. Life would not be what it is without the opportunity for comparisons, and it is these comparisons that give us the spirit and urge for a new vantage point. It is not the total absence of pain that brings a joyous life, but the knowledge to know pain and so appreciate its dissipation from life. Comparison is a necessary gauge or measure of where we are going and how we are doing.