Depositphotos_16266123_l-2015

Family, Thoughts

Becoming a Santa

No Comments 06 December 2016

Found on Facebook. Author unknown.

“In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.

When they are 6 or 7, or whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.

I take them out “for coffee” at the local wherever. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made:
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people’s feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.

You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.

Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? [lead the kid from “cookies” to the good feeling of having done something for someone else]. Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!”

Make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.

We then have the child choose someone they know – a neighbor, usually. The child’s mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it – and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn’t about getting credit, you see. It’s unselfish giving.
My oldest chose the “witch lady” on the corner. She really was horrible – had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She’d yell at them to play quieter, etc – a real pill. He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were. He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. We went to Kmart and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it “merry Christmas from Santa.” After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate. The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper – wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn’t be a Santa.

Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend’s daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son’s face.

When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to – because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.”

Distributing information in a digital world concept - bubble radiating mail envelopes

Computers, Humour, Technology

The SMART Exchange Alias – A Cautionary Tale

No Comments 05 December 2016

Years ago when I was working for SMART Technologies, I noticed something strange during my second week of work as Social Media Specialist that would transform my perception, cause me to look at things from more than one angle and to not always trust process.

Before I explained what I noticed and the impact it had on SMART’s community, I’ll explain the process behind how emails at SMART were created.

The standard email format for new users, based on my experience, is to create an alias that is a combination of the users’ first name initial and their full last name. At SMART, my email alias was RMCLEOD. I think it’s important for an email alias to be memorable to the user, easy to remember for anyone that person does business with and unique amongst the other users of an organization. One of the main problems is when another person with the same first name initial and same last name as a user already in the system is hired. For example, if SMART were to have hired someone named Ruth McLeod, they would have to distinguish her alias perhaps by adding a number (i.e. RMCLEOD1). Something that this process doesn’t account for is the potential formation of new words by combining first name initial with the last name. And why should it right?

Well, the main reason is that an email alias has an impact on perception, professionalism and behind the scenes, the ISP spam server.

For example, someone named Irene Diot would have the alias IDIOT. So, although the system would have no issue creating this alias, you would hope that someone in the IT department or HR would notice this alias and make an adjustment.

With all of this being said, what happened during my second week at SMART was a result of the email alias creation process.

One of my roles was to manage the SMART Exchange, which is a forum for teachers and educators (really anyone in the education realm who uses a SMARTBoard) to share ideas, upload & download lessons plans designed for the SMARTBoard and interact with other users.

However, when I started digging around, I noticed that a large majority of the users’ last login was the same date and time as when their account had been created. This was a big problem because it was showing that user engagement was extremely low. Normally you would expect this from only a small percentage of users so the fact that it was a large majority told me that there was something going on with the SMART Exchange.

What that turned out to be wasn’t anything I could have ever imagined however.

A few days later I was going through some of my emails and happened to look at the headers which provide technical information on the email. I noticed the alias for the SMART Exchange and I immediately knew there was a problem.

smartexchange

 

 

 

If you remember the process behind email aliases, you’ll get where I’m going with this. Although “S Exchange” doesn’t mean much, the alias as it’s read does – “sexchange”.

As you can imagine, when a teacher receives an email from the SMART Exchange confirming their registration from the email address “sexchange@smarttech.com”, the spam filter should pick up “sex” and not allow that email through, which means the teacher would never receive their confirmation email and would therefore not be able to login to the forum. Which is exactly what happened. I won’t go into details of what happened from that point on but suffice it to say that the alias and email address had been in use for more than 1 year.

I share this story as a cautionary tale in two ways.

First, always work through any process that is setup, especially an automated process that will exist across thousands of records and look at what the worst case scenario would be.

Secondly, DON’T require email confirmation or approval when people are trying to join your service. If they register for your service that means they are ENGAGED. Don’t run the risk of losing them by requiring more work on their part – let them to use your service immediately after registering. Use a Captcha or equivalent verification system upon registering. It’s not worth the impact to your service.

arrivalship

Movies, Technology, Thoughts

Must See Movie: Arrival

No Comments 03 December 2016

I hadn’t heard of Arrival until earlier today when my friend asked if I wanted to go see a movie. I quickly checked out the description and it sounded good.

I like not reading reviews or watching trailers before watching a movie. It gives me expectations, knowledge that can take away surprises during the movie and a general idea of where the movie is headed. I like to go in fresh and watch the movie for what it is.

Overall, I really enjoyed Arrival. I found it similar to Interstellar in that it was insightful, inventive and optimistic about time and the future. I like to think that there is more out there than just us on earth. And that we will be capable of doing so much more with technology and possibly even time than we are right now. This movie lends hope to that idea.

But the main message I took away is how important it is that we all work together. No matter what happens with the future, it’s important that nations realize we are all in this together. There is no Ruler of Earth or King of the World. The UN would be the closest thing to it. So I hope that we remain cognizant and when faced with adversity, we come together rather than pulling apart.

Check out the trailer above or just go watch the movie. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


About Rob


Rob "Frisbee Rob" McLeod is a motivational speaker and frisbee ambassador living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He competes in ultimate, disc golf, dog disc and overall flying disc competitions. Rob currently holds 6 Guinness World Records, 10 World Championships and the Canadian Distance Record.

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