Latest contract letter

I was happy to see my latest renewal letter from Woodbury for the next academic year.

Garrett Renewal Ap 2012

In looking back at the last several years, I feel that I’ve been focusing too much on service.  While I have had several publications, most are in the area of assessment (not my primary interest!).

I’ve been work on PowerPoint research, but have had difficulty getting the right conference to showcase it.  Using an automated analysis approach has yielded what I think are some good results, but it doesn’t fall neatly into the IS community mainstream.

For next year, my priority is going to be to turn the my PowerPoint research into several journal articles.  I’m hopeful that this summer will result in a number of useful datasets that can be converted into some good findings.  Already, I’ve been able to download and partially process around 20,000 PowerPoint files, and I’m hopeful that with a few weeks of work, that I’ll be able to do some basic statistical analysis.

To 2012-2013!

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Cars, Marketing, and IT

Below is my second presentation at the Carl Benz Academy.  Thanks to Doug Garrett at Garrett Engineers, Inc. for providing some research data.
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Customer Relationship Management Presentation

Below is my presentation for the Carl Benz Academy session on May 20, 2012.
View more PowerPoint from Nathan Garrett
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Ski Jump Girl

A 4th grade girl working up courage to go down a ski jump.

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The importance of backups

BoingBoing recently posted a link to a horrifying video documenting an incident where the Pixar Toy Story team almost lost a year’s worth of work.

It’s a good reminder of what criteria your back process should fulfill:

  1. What happens when your computer crashes?  The simplest approach is to buy a 100$ external hard drive.  If you use a Mac, then setting up TimeMachine is incredibly easy.  If you use a PC, I recommend CrashPlan.  If you don’t have many pictures, a large flash drive is probably good enough.
  2. What happens when your house burns down or you get burglarized?  Generally, a good approach to getting an off-site backup is to purchase a second external hard drive and leave it at your parent’s house, friend’s apartment, or in a drawer at work.  This is manual, but if you can remember to swap out your hard drives every 6 months or so, you won’t loose to much data.
  3. What happens when one or both disks fail?  This may sound improbable, but I’ve consulted for companies that had 3 redundant backup systems fail.  The safest way to be safe is to make sure that your computers (your home computer and your laptop) are syncing data back and forth.  Using a program like DropBox or Google Drive is a generally safe alternative.  You can also setup Crashplan to sync computers together.

For businesses, or people with a large investment in digital assets, it’s best to also get an cloud backup system.  I’ve used Crashplan ok before, but one of my parents had a bad experience with Mozy.

At the very minimum get an external disk.  Hard drive always fail eventually, and you don’t want to lose your pictures, documents, or videos when your disk bites the dust.

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Zombie Game

A former student of mine has launched a Zombie game for the iPad.  A trailer to her game is below.

 

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Why multi-level marketing schemes are bad

My wife ran across this article on multiple-level-marketing businesses that shows why they tend to explode in nasty ways (or just leave “distributors” with enough inventory to clean their car for the next 15 years).

“Let me tell you about an incredible ground-level business opportunity,” and you are invited to a house or to lunch for “a discussion.” Funny enough, you feel sick in your gut that there is some hidden agenda or deception. “Probably a multi-level marketing (MLM) organization,” you think. Suppose it is? Should you trust your instincts? Is there anything wrong with MLM?
 
This article will analyze four problem areas with MLM. Specifically, it will focus on problems of I) Market Saturation, II) Pyramid Structure, III) Morality and Ethics, and IV) Relationship Issues associated with MLMs. Thus, you can properly assess your “instincts.”

http://www.vandruff.com/mlm.html

I have a warning light going on anytime someone pitches an “opportunity.”  There’s a basic law of business that says  returns = risk + safe rate of return.

The safest way to use your money is to buy a T-Bill or put the money into a savings account.  Anything that pays out at a higher rate does so because it involves risk.  If you (or the seller) don’t see a downside, it just means you haven’t found it yet.

Whenever someone pitches an idea with a higher rate of return, you should be looking for the risk (e.g., the angle)

  • You can buy a $500,000 home by just paying the monthly interest!  (What are the odds of the housing market collapsing? What if the loan payments go up?)
  • You can earn money from home doing social media for our product!  (If the product is that great, why don’t you hire a full-time sales team with more experience, higher skills, and that are much easier for a business to manage?)
  • Everyone needs cleaning products! All you have to do is by at least $50 a month and them to your friends!  (Do I really use 50$ a month? If we all sign up as distributors, who will we sell to?  Why don’t they sell this in stores if it is so great?)

Products that rely upon friends as a distribution channel are especially suspicious.  Anything where the reward is significant, and you can’t see a downside, should set off an internal alarm. The person selling to you may truly believe in their product, and think it’s a great opportunity for you.  But, that doesn’t make it safe — it means they’re just as much a sucker as you.

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Recent publication

Joan Marques and I just had our article published by the Journal of Education for Business (Volume 87, Issue 4, 2012).  It’s not my normal line of research, but Joan and I have been working on assessment for Woodbury, and thought that we were doing interesting work enough to publish.  The paper discusses the positive and constructive way we implemented our assurance of learning (AoL) program.

Implementing Mission-Driven Assurance of Learning: Improving Performance Through Constructive Collaboration.  DOI:10.1080/08832323.2011.593588

Joan Marques & Nathan Garrett

Assurance of Learning (AoL) practices can be implemented in a variety of ways, as long as they are geared toward business schools’ missions and curricula. The authors first address the purpose of implementing AoL, and briefly evaluate the ongoing debate about the pros and cons of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’s policies regarding AoL procedures in business schools. The authors then report how a small-sized, private business school implemented the AoL process in its bachelor of business administration program in a manner that satisfies accreditation requirements without losing its institutional or disciplinary distinctiveness. The authors end with lessons learned about how an assessment program can satisfy accountability needs while still encouraging flexibility and innovation.
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Babbage Difference Engine

I was planning on creating a video with some images of when I visited the Difference Engine in the San Francisco Computer History Museum, but found that someone has beaten me to it.

This is a fascinatingly complex piece of work.  It’s no wonder why Babbage couldn’t build it in his lifetime.

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PowerPoint is a tool

Is PowerPoint a neutral tool or a negative influence on presentations? Authors like Tufte have called it many things, but one response is below.

This makes some good points about slides being a tool that can be used well or poorly, but is a bit simplistic. PowerPoint software has an impact on how people present. As the saying going, “the medium is the message.” Authors who say that PowerPoint has crippled our ability to speak have forgotten the ability of truly bad presenters to put an audience to sleep in any decade.
So what do we do? Presenters like Duarte and Reynolds have suggested that presenters should plan a presentation first, and only at the end put together their slides. Does using PowerPoint as a drafting tool reduces quality?
I don’t think so. I find using PowerPoint as a drafting tool, as opposed to index cards, a Word document, or a lined paper pad, to be a great way to get started. My first goal is always to get something down on the page; I hate the empty screen.
The major problem I think people have is that they don’t spend enough time revising. Most of writing is re-writing. Most of presenting preparation is thinking, changing, and cutting.
The most helpful advice that I’ve found for students is that they need to figure out the following:
  1. What is the goal of the presentation? Don’t use the word “describe…” A good thesis argues for something, has a point of view, and asks the audience to change their mind about something.
  2. What is the goal of each slide? Each slide should have a single thought. Just as a paragraph should be about one thing, each slide should be able to reduce to a single sentence. A good best practice is to state the topic in the title. Rather than saying “Office product description,” write “Microsoft’s Aging Cash Cow.”
Presentation gurus shouldn’t tell people to avoid writing their presentations in PowerPoint. That’s like telling a student not to start writing their paper in Word. Instead, we need to focus on helping them move quickly into a revision stage.
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