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Rumination on medications March 26, 2016

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag, Miscellaneous.
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meds_rxAs consumers, big pharma ensures we have a wealth of choices to control/manage/cure a litany of ailments. I started a list of the treatment names available and the count to date is at 37. That is a big number from just one media source (television).

The high amount of ads on TV confirms there is a big market here. The ads are high quality and claim to treat a variety of maladies. Each medication uses a unique name to eliminate confusion by the consumer. Ah, sure. The names are totally random and are not indicative of the condition and use almost every letter from A to Z. I have not found a medication that starts with D, K, Q, S, U or V. That’s 6 out of 26. I expect some company will notice and will remedy that to use one or more those letters.

Side effects are mentioned at warp speed as the audio is sped up to get through the lengthy list on how a medication *may* affect you. Thoughts of suicide, vomiting and behavior changes and more might be worse than the treated condition itself. The combinations of medications can be as bad or worse. The ‘disclaimer’ to talk to your doctor seem redundant. How else would you get the medication if you didn’t talk a doctor?

The ads I have seen in prime time cover a gamut  – allergies, diabetes, sexual performance, depression, asthma and on and on. They are on a regular rotation on both cable and major networks.

In sports, a HOF football coach once said “You are what your record says you are.” In gastronomy, the adage is “You are what you eat”.

Does the same logic apply for medication? That is, does the medication(s) you take reflect who you are? Take that as a rhetorical question along with 2 aspirin/ibuprofen and call me in the morning.

Ruminations on Data Security January 24, 2016

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag.
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One of the least expected emails is one dealing with security. The subject may be “We’ve been hacked” or “Major Security Breach” or some other variation of data panic. Not good for you, your staff, anyone. Your initial reaction says a lot about how secure you feel your data is. How confident are with your security practices? The level of security can be achieved across multiple forms – network, data, application, password. Whichever area of security, the basics remain. Be vigilant. Follow best practices. Think Snowden or SONY Pictures.

security-breachSecurity is similar to insurance. A nuisance to maintain, update and adhere to at times. But, when a threat or intrusion occurs, you will be glad that you have it. There are different levels to use for individual and for business up to the enterprise level. For personal use, a password manager makes sense and provides some peace of mind that you have done something to ensure your information and data is safe.

Free versions are available : LastPass, Dashlane, KeePassX and StickyPassword. Some of these keep both mobile and desktop apps in sync and some are easier to use than others. Check the list and a quick Password Manager Options here.


Avoid that email about a breach by using the tools that are available. If you are using one of those mentioned above, what are the pros or cons? Or, if you are using something else, what is it and why are you using it? Comments invited on this or other posts.

Ruminations of the 2014 Season December 24, 2014

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag.
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It’s the holiday season and I, like everyone, am busy with year end events. I want to wish everyone a happy and joyous holiday season. We have much to be thankful for and the future looks bright with the promise of both things known and unknown.


Merry Christmas

May we continue to stay connected and enjoy each others’ company, whether in real time or virtual. Cheers and happy holidays. See you in 2015!

Keep getting Smarter November 28, 2014

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag.
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A fundamental challenge in every job is communications. Getting your audience in sync with your message is fundamental to communicating effectively.  In previous posts, I have talked about using a closed loop approach, the value in feedback and how numbers improve decision making.

BayesSegue to how the concept of feedback or closed loop is used with mathematics. Specifically with probability and ratios. There is a method to better understand probability outcomes that includes current and prior knowledge. Formally known as Bayes’ Rule (aka, Bayes’ Theorem or Bayes’ Law), it provides a way to numerically express how a degree of belief should rationally change to account for evidence of that belief. It gets complicated but basically, it involves prior and posterior probability.

The posterior probability is the Bayesian inference.  The value in using Bayes’ Rule is starting with a prediction, getting results and then improving the prediction based on those results. What I find interesting is it provides a way to get smarter about something in the future and uses a ‘closed loop’ to do it. The intent is to keep getting smarter based on what you know and what you learn.

Improved insight or knowledge may not require using Bayes’s Rule, and whatever form is used for communications, it is important to accurately state what you know and reserve the right to be smarter in the future.

Ruminations on work life balance August 22, 2014

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Behavior, Grab Bag.
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Labor Day is right around the corner as we approach the end of another vacation season.  Taking time off is an important part of the balance between work and play. Going on vacation is beneficial for multiple reasons and mental health is a primary one. Companies like to proclaim how important employees are and that having paid time off (aka, vacation) is a benefit they  (sometimes grudgingly) provide. We all look forward to the annual summer sojourn to a familiar place. Or, the thrill in going to new places while taking time off.

So I find it interesting the strong reaction people have when the media reports our elected officials have vacation plans. Not only plans, but, actually going on a trip for vacation. The shock, the disappoint from people when a state senator, city mayor or even the president takes a few days to recharge.

summer_vacation-5188Why are we surprised by this? Do we really expect politicians to work all the time? Of course not. However, there is perhaps an unrealistic expectation that a politician will stay at work during a crisis or when there are lots of events that may require their attention.

Consider the furor from two recent events. One involved NYC Mayor, Bill DeBlasio. He and his family planned a trip to Italy.  The timing of this trip upset many residents who use mass transit. The nerve of him planning to leave the country while there is the threat of a transit strike. He should be at work!

A second event involved the POTUS. Aka, the President of the United States. Critics state he should not go on vacation while there are issues in Ukraine, Middle East and Ferguson, Missouri. He needs to be in the oval office. Taking vacation now is in poor taste, shows bad judgement.

Hold on. Everyone likes to go on  vacation. We eagerly look forward to taking time off. Studies clearly show the benefit in maintaining a work balance with life outside the office. This applies to everyone regardless of their job. Also, our elected leaders are never really out of touch with current events. Not anymore. They may not be in the office yet staying connected has never been easier. Politicians, like the rest of us, can and often do, work remotely.

Taking a few days off is not so dire. Consider a vacation from 1927 with then President Calvin Coolidge. He and his wife spent three months in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Three months!  Taking that amount of time off today is unthinkable. How times change.

Great leaders can, and should, delegate effectively. When done well, we do not notice a difference. How many times has a co-worker post poned vacation plans to stay at work? Was it really necessary? I say, enjoy your planned vacation and let our leaders do the same.

By the way, how was your summer vacation? Do anything exciting?

Enjoy the long Labor Day weekend and the time off. Comments always invited!

Rambling on reaching 4 year blog milestone March 16, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag, Social Media, Trends.
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Coming up this month is a personal milestone for my blog. The milestone is my blog birthday. It has been four years since my initial rambling. Or, what that a rumination? Either way, like most new bloggers, I posted frequently in the beginning. Now I have settled into a consistent rhythm and learned a lot about myself, blogging and visitor feedback.

Happy Birthday

As is typical with this type of milestone, I am a little reflective. I am grateful and very appreciative that WordPress provides this platform. Also, I must give a shout out to my regular followers. Thank You all for subscribing. Reading a few of the early posts, it all seems so simple now. I have enjoyed blogging about a lot of different topics. I will ruminate on those topics again and keep an eye for new topics to ramble about.

In terms of traffic, 2012 has been my best year. In fact, for a while last year, I was getting a boatload of traffic. Much more than ever before. That soon ended about mid-summer and my traffic metrics have returned to the mean, so to speak. From all the posts, I hope to have communicated some insights and learnings that resonate. You can browse the archive as it is listed in the lower right.

Topics of interest that I expect to ruminate further on  include big data and cloud computing. New topics will be found to ramble on about naturellement. I look forward to learning and posting about them in due course. Until then, I will celebrate the milestone.

Thanks for visiting and leave a comment or two.


Addendum – Quick update that after I wrote this post, WordPress sent ….



that makes it official. 😉

Rambling on Solving Problems – Puzzle vs. Mystery February 13, 2012

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Behavior, Grab Bag.
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Information workers are used to solving problems. Approaches can vary to determine a viable solution and can be bound by many constraints. Resources, budget, timing are among typical real world constraints. I read an column from the author and New Yorker columnist, Malcolm Gladwell, that talks about problem solving. Essentially, they can be thought of either one of two possible types : a puzzle or a mystery.

The article was published by the New Yorker in 2007 and is titled ‘Open Secrets‘ covers multiple topics. The article is part of a collection included in the book “What the Dog Saw” and talks about the Enron financial debacle, hunting for Saddam Hussein, analyzing Nazi propaganda and techniques for cancer diagnosis. As an information worker, what caught my attention the most was the distinction between a puzzle and a mystery.

As Gladwell states it, the difference between a puzzle and mystery are shown below along with my comments.

Puzzles are “transmitter-dependent”; they turn on what we are told.

For each puzzle, the information source controls what (and, how) we are told. Completing the puzzle is possible if we are given accurate and sufficient information. The information source may withhold data that can inhibit solving the problem.

Mysteries are “receiver dependent”; they turn on the skills of the listener…

The skills you (and, others) bring to solving the problem then determine if you can devise a solution. All the information is provided but you must be able to logically, sensibly decipher it.  There is a related issue withe the amount of data provided here. Gladwell argues that we can become saturated with data; too much data is a bad thing. 

There is also a  danger for information workers here with the scenario of analysis-paralysis.  Looking at so much information that we got lost in what is important vs. trivial and inhibits progressing to a solution.

I have read all of Gladwell’s books. His insights help me think outside the box. As an information worker, I will look for ways to assess if I am dealing with a mystery of a puzzle. I think I prefer mysteries; I know I don’t enjoy puzzles.

If you can assess what problem type you have, it may drive your approach to a solution accordingly. Part of the assessment then will include things like :

  1. Do you have enough information?
  2. How do you know?
  3. Is your data source credible?
  4. Do I have the correct skill(s) for this problem?
  5. What resource(s) are available to assist me?

I hope my ramblings lead you to insights on problem solving.

Is this a puzzle or a mystery to you? Comments invited!

Ramblings on Super Bowl Ads – My top 5 February 7, 2012

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag, Trends.
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The Super Bowl game was enjoyable for many reasons. As a admitted Giants fan, one of the best reasons was that my team won. Another reason is the commercials are something to look forward to. It is well known that the Super Bowl has a lot of viewers (100M+ for this year). To take advantage of this large captive audience, advertisers step up their game and showcase some of their best, riskiest and most creative commercials.

Here are my top 5 shown during the game :

Acura NSX Transactions with Jerry Seinfeld. What lengths some people go to for a car and to have the first one.

Doritos Sling Baby – Shows that good guys win and easily overcome a bully. Score one for baby and GrandMa.

Chevy Silverado 2012 – So this truck can survive anything, and apparently, so can Twinkies. What also surprised me was the direct mention (as a dis) of a major domestic competitor.

Cars.com and the ‘neck’ – Get those keys and Go! Now that’s funny. Some much for being cool and rational when buying a car. I laughed the most at this one. We all have had that irrational, go-for-it inner voice at some point.
M&M ‘Just My Shell’ – Oh, that kind of party. Once again shows what happens when you assume.

Advertising Age has captured all the ads via this link. You can watch my favorites and yours after the jump.

February 7, 2012

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag, Trends.
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During the recent (and, tremendous) SuperBowl, there was a lot of social media activity. Here is a good post from my friend and fellow Giants fan (and, Jersey alum) that summarizes topics discussed online – a record number of tweets among them. Note – I was unplugged during the game also.

Arthur Catalanello Consulting

Did you watch Super Bowl XLVI?  As a fan of the New York Giants, I was certainly glued to the television until the very last play.  The game set records not only for television viewership, but for social media activity as well.

Being in the marketing industry, I’ve always paid close attention to the advertising during the game.  As social media integration and proliferation continues to increase, it was interesting to see how it changed the advertising this year.  The biggest change I noticed was how many of the ads were “leaked” in advance.  This helped generate buzz and social media conversations ahead of, during, and after the game.  But, the big question is, did it work?

According to analysis reported in Advertising Age, here are the top 10 according to the quantity of social media comments generated:

Super Bowl XLVI Top Commercials by Social Media Comments

My personal observation is that most of the pre-event social media buzz on Super…

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Football Ruminations – Ready for the big game? February 3, 2012

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag.
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The biggest game in the NFL season is set for this Sunday. Who’s ready for championship football?  This Super Bowl (46 and counting) is a re-match between the two teams that played for the championship 4 years ago. In SB XLII (42), the surprise winner was the underdog New York Giants. The result of that game was an amazing upset of the previously un-beaten New England Patriots. I found a recent article from the New York Times that reflects on that game and talks about the difference between destiny and opportunity. The win by the Giants ended the Patriots bid to become only the 2nd team in football history to go unbeaten the entire season. That feat is still solely owned by the 1972 Miami Dolphins team.

One of the best part of being a fan is seeing your team play for, and win, the championship game. As a lifelong Giants fan, I am naturally biased for the Giants to win on Sunday.

This year, the Giants are once again the underdog, by 3 points. The team relishes their underdog role even though they beat the Patrios in the initial SuperBowl meeting four years ago. They also came from behind to beat the Patriots in the regular season this year. As professionals, they realize those games are in the past and they are focused on Sunday.

The hype media machine has been running for the last two weeks. Traditional media has provided the back story from every angle imaginable for the game. Social Media enables fans and non-fans to review and add to the hype. The hype will continue leading up to, and, during the game. The hype continues next week with  post-game analysis from pundits and fans as well.

I  hope they talk about destiny and opportunity again. And, how the Giants fulfilled theirs and took advantage of the opportunity they earned and found a way to overcome adversity and beat the Patriots again.

To answer my own question, Yes, I am ready for the game. I expect the Giants are ready also.

Go Giants!!!