Author Archive for Walt Sparling – Page 3

While reviewing an E-News Letter  recently from our Autodesk vendor I came across an interesting link in their featured Blog posts that took me to an Autodesk help site. Here I found a help series labeled “The Hitchhikers Guide to AutoCAD“.  Now if you are new to AutoCAD or have been a long time circle and line jock, but not much on more advanced features, this might be a good spot to start your climb.  This does not by any means have the info to make you an advanced Rock Star AutoCAD user, but if there is one or more areas that you have not ventured in to, like  creating your own Blocks, using Paper Space, using multileaders or Mtext, in lieu of the old Dtext that so many still use, these are straightforward, easy to understand  mini-tutorials on how to so these things.

Below is a basic capture of the home screen and the cool graphic that they use.

Welcome to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AutoCAD—your guide to the basic 42 commands you need to create 2D drawings using modern AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.

This guide is a great place to get started if you just completed your initial training, or to refresh your memory if you only use AutoCAD occasionally. As you can see from the illustration, the 42 commands are grouped together according to types of activity. In addition, these groups are arranged sequentially to follow a typical workflow.

  1. Basics: Review the basic ways to control AutoCAD.
  2. Viewing: Pan and zoom in a drawing, and control the order of overlapping objects.
  3. Geometry: Create basic geometric objects such as lines, circles, and solid-filled areas.
  4. Precision: AutoCAD provides several features to ensure the precision required for your models.
  5. Layers and Properties: Organize your drawing by assigning objects to layers, and by assigning properties such as color and linetype to objects.
  6. Modifying: Perform editing operations such as erase, move, and trim on the objects in a drawing.
  7. Blocks: Insert symbols and details into your drawings from commercial online sources or from your own designs.
  8. Layouts: Display one or more scaled views of your design on a standard-size drawing sheet called a layout.
  9. Notes and Labels: Create notes, labels, bubbles, and callouts. Save and restore style settings by name.
  10. Dimensions: Create several types of dimensions and save dimension settings by name.
  11. Printing: Save and restore the printer settings for each layout. Output a drawing layout to a printer, a plotter, or a file.

Link:  The Hitchhikers Guide to AutoCAD

If you are new to AutoCAD or a casual user, I highly recommend you check this out!

Once you have checked it out and let me know what you think!

WES

One again I find myself motivated by a Blog post by a fellow blogger and AUGI cohort the Kung Fu Drafter (KFD) at KungFuDrafter.com on the topic of Standards or more so what they should be called.  KFD discussed how one should consider changing the more common name of “Standards” to “Best Practices”.  In the post, KFD made some good points about the struggles we face with Standards – like the big one of “those things that your management always tell you that you need but never got around to developing”.  One that he did not mention directly, but inferred is that of the frustration some feel with having to follow standards, especially if they do not like them or had no input to their creation.  In the post, KFD made the statement that:

“…there is almost nothing good that comes of calling your documented processes standards.”

And to this I agree one hundred percent!  I have seen many places where management, business owners or newby CADD managers with a big ego think that they know best on “how” to do something.  Sometimes they are right, but often they are wrong.  As KFD said in his intro – “…there is more than one way to draw a polyline.”

But two statements that I struggled with the most were that “the difference between “standards” and “best practices” is minimal.”  And “A ‘standard’ is a documented process…” I struggled with these because I see them as completely separate things.  My view of ‘Standards’ maybe somewhat limited, but I look at them as a production result or something ‘used’ vs ‘done’ to create a desired result.  We have standards to create something uniform and consistent.  But the processes, techniques, or practices that we use may not be the same.

Standards vs Best Practices

In looking at some definitions of Best Practices on the web I found the following on Wikipedia:

A best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. In addition, a “best” practice can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered. Best practice is considered by some as a business buzzword, used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that multiple organizations can use.

Some consulting firms specialize in the area of Best Practice and offer pre-made ‘templates’ to standardize business process documentation.

And on the BusinessDictionary.com:

A method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark.

The first definition mentions ‘standard’ and ‘standardize’ with the first being about “a way of doing things”, while the second usage discusses “templates to standardize business process documentation” i.e. creating a document that standardise how you do things, both of which would follow KFD’s line of thinking.

When looking for a definition of Standards” on Dictionary.com:

  • Something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.
  • An object that is regarded as the usual or most common size or form of its kind
  • A rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment: They tried to establish standards for a new philosophical approach.
  • An average or normal requirement, quality, quantity, level, grade, etc.

And on BusinessDictionary.com:

  • General: Written definition, limit, or rule, approved and monitored for compliance by an authoritative agency or professional or recognized body as a minimum acceptable benchmark.
  • GATT definition: “Technical specifications contained in a document that lays characteristics of a product such as levels of quality, performance, safety, or dimensions. Standards may include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, testing and methods, packaging, or labeling requirements as they apply to a product.”

So, my definitions would be that:

  • Best Practices” are the best known method, technique or proven processes used to achieve an end goal –  a ’standard’.
  • Standards: are usually established by an authority (a rule or principle) or by general consent (defacto standards) as a basis of comparison. Typically used to achieve a specific look, quality, quantity, level, grade, etc. or obtain specific results or create a safer environment.

I think every AEC firm company needs some form of ‘Standards’ but where I look at things a little different from KFD is that rather than setting up the processes as the standards, I believe  a company needs both a set of ‘Standards’ AND a set of ‘Best Practices’.  Things that I would see in a set of Standards include: (Think National CAD Standards)

  • A Standard set of Layers
  • Standard line weights used for the Standard layers
  • Standard Fonts used for standard Company Styles
  • Standard Title Blocks, drawing Blocks, and annotation Symbology

Basically – A standard looking set of documents for your company.

Now, as to how you get there, i.e. what process you use, I can recommend some ways, by doing certain tasks or steps – kinda like best practices. But, if you want to use scripts or layer states to control your layers, or if you use toolbars in lieu of the Ribbons – I don’t care if it achieves the same results.

CADD managers may document steps to get a result, and may be it is a non-flexible result so that a specific process has to be used, but this may be where some good automation get’s setup.  The more arduous things are and the more steps one has to use, the more likely they will find their own way or  shortcut to get a result (like exploding in lieu of redefining blocks).

CADD Managers beware –  by labeling your company “Standards” as “Best Practices”, I believe you are offering up that the desired result is flexible or has ‘elasticity’ not something I would want too many people interpreting on their own.

Standards are something necessary and need to be defined, monitored and controlled while Best Practices can be taught but may vary by individual.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes what some users may choose to use as a process is less than optimal….  Because there are many different ways of doing things, we can teach “Best Practices” and encourage them to be used, but in the end we require  “Standards”.

 Thanks to this thought-provoking post by KFD, I have added  “Best Practices” as a category to this blog and will start updating my existing post’s  categories to reflect it.  And this has also prompted me to put together a post dedicated to some useful business “Best Practices”.
Thanks Curt…
WES

 

In a previous post I listed some videos for AutoCAD 2013 by Brian Benton and Revit MEP 2013 by Simon Whitbread, all published through Infinite Skills. Below are some additional resources that combine Blog articles, Videos and websites. I will update this post as new ones are found. If you have found some useful resources that you would like to share, send them to me and I will get them posted or add them as a comment to this post.

WES

AutoCAD 2013:

Added Resource Link

08-24-2012 Lynn Allen’s AutoCAD 2013 Tips and Tricks Booklet

08-24-2012 Autodesk’s Features Demos/Tutorials

08-24-2012 Lynn Allen’s AutoCAD 2013 – “See What you have been Missing”

Revit MEP:

Added Resource Link

08-24-2012 YouTube – Starting a project in Revit

Note: There are tons of videos on YouTube that show you “how to do something”.
Go to Youtube.com and enter a search for a topic you are interested in.

08-24-2012 Club Revit video on New Revit MEP 2013 features

Upgrading to new software, especially technical software like AutoCAD can be a tough transition.  If you’re a few versions behind, it can be quite daunting and frustrating when dealing with the new tools and interface.  I know of  at least five firms that I work with that are making the leap from older versions of AutoCAD (2005, 2006 and 2008) to the current 2013 version of AutoCAD and two are taking the leap into Revit.

With such big leaps comes big learning curves and unfortunately many will opt to just get it back to how it looked before rather than take on learning the new tools and features that the software offers.  There are productivity gains to be made for those that take the time to learn them and I hope the firms I know and the many others out there that are making similar upgrades try to learn about some of the new tools available.

As I put together  training material for our staff, I will also post some of it here, at least on major things that might help others along with their journey.   Some  items I foresee I will post about will be on the interface, customization, menu conversion from older versions, and new tools and tricks.

I am not sure on the suspected release of the 1st service pack for 2013, but I typically don’t recommend making the full move to production usage until it is released.  Each new software has bugs and you don’t want to be the one discovering them on active projects.

Some Training Videos:

Below are three videos that I currently recommend for anyone making the transition to the new AutoCAD or Revit MEP software. These videos are all distributed by the same company (Infinite Skills) but are by a couple different authors.

AutoCAD 2013

The first is AutoCAD 2013 by Brian Benton.  Brian is another old-timer in the CADD community, and is very well known for his technical skills.  Brian is a fellow member and contributor to AUGI, maintains a blog, has written multiple books and has done a variety of training videos.

You can learn more about Brian here.  This video covers the latest version of AutoCAD, version 2013 and is written in such a way that it benefits both the novice AutoCAD user and someone who just needs to get familiar with the new features of 2013 and possibly a refresher for commands you have long since forgotten.  For those that use AutoCAD  LT, he does a version for that as well. – $99.95 / $9.99 for IPAD streaming **

Advanced AutoCAD Techniques

Advanced AutoCAD Techniques The second video, also by Brian Benton is written based on the 2011 version of AutoCAD, but the topics covered are useful in almost any version.  Although I have used many of these techniques and tools myself over the years, the reminder and refresher on some long since forgotten was great and the detail on some that I have never used was very helpful.  This is another good deal to add to your reference library for only – $99.95  / $9.99 for IPAD streaming **

Remember – no matter how long we have been doing things and how much we think we know, we can still learn about tools and techniques that make us more productive by stretching and enhancing our skill sets.  Sometime we just need to re-evaluate how we’ve always done it.

Revit MEP 2013

The third video is on Revit MEP 2013 and is by Simon Whitbread.  I stumbled on this one while searching for MEP training videos for the electrical engineering company I currently work for.  To stay competitive and keep up with the current business trends in our industry, our company is diving into Revit MEP.  Although the company has been doing AutoCAD since its inception over 17 years ago, Revit is another beast entirely.

In order to get up to speed quickly, we are doing a multifaceted approach to training that combines formal classes through our local reseller – (Imaginit), videos and written reference material.   After watching some of the sample videos, this one made the cut and will be added as another training tool in our arsenal.  If you’re getting in to Revit and video training is an option, $99.95 is a very good deal for something you can watch over and over.  With dual screens and headphones, this is a good way to get your feet wet as you follow along.

These are just a few resources I found and as I find new ones I will follow-up.

For those that are making the move, feel free to share your experiences here by posting in the comments section or putting out some questions or issues that you are having.  Remember that you have to register to post and if you are wanting to keep up with future posts via your email, subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter.

WES

** 08-11-12 Note – When I originally wrote this article, I was looking at the Infinite Skills store through their IPAD app and did not put it together that the $9.99 version was IPAD only and the downloadable video was $99.95.  Thank you Brian, for straightening me out.   Sorry for any confusion or inconvenience.  Savings like this for the streaming content make an IPAD even more worth while.

AutoCAD Upgrades

Are you planning on upgrading to AutoCAD 2013?  For users that have older versions of AutoCAD and have not upgraded in a while (versions older than 2010), now would seem like a great time to do so.  Between the discounted pricing and 0% financing you have a great opportunity to get up to current technology levels.

Current upgrade pricing for AutoCAD, which is valid for versions 2010 through 2012 is $1995.  Prior to that would typically require a new purchase at $3995.  But every so often, Autodesk will come up with a special promo to try to bring some of the no-up graders and non-subscription folks back in to the fold.  Now is such a time.  Autodesk’s “It’s time to make the move” promo allows you to upgrade for slightly more than the standard upgrade price of current users. Older versions of AutoCAD (not LT) can be upgraded to AutoCAD 2013 for $2240.  $2240 vs $3995 seems like a pretty good deal – about a 44% discount!

A couple tidbits.

The current Autodesk “It’s time to make the move” promo” expires July 13th.

In looking at the requirements for the promo on the Imaginit site, I saw that Subscription is required, but was assured by our reseller that it was not currently required for this promo.  It was.

The 0% financing is available on all Autodesk software, but only until July 13th or their budget of $7 million in funding runs out – whichever comes first. (FY13-Q2-0-Financing-T&Cs-Finall)

This is an excellent time to look at getting into Revit by upgrading to a Building Design Suite.

Now your mileage may vary depending on the deals your specific vendor offers you.  Currently my data is based on Imaginit, (http://imaginit.com/) and specifically the Tampa office.  If you are interested in benefiting from this offer, maybe give Iris a call at 800-706-1000 x:102.

It’s your move…

Now separately I am curious to know what folks are running out there and would appreciate it if you would please fill out the very quick/short survey below about your current software. Should take you less than a minute.  Adding personal info is optional and will not be shared.

Survey Link:  Take short 5 Question survey

WES

T&T – Email Drafts

As I am cleaning up and finalizing everything in preparation for vacation, I  created a vacation auto-response message at work – for this I used a template and an Outlook rule (Not on Exchange).  Creating this reminded me of some other standard ‘Draft Templates’ I use in Outlook to make my Email life easier and more efficient.

Why do I use Drafts?

I have to send out numerous emails at the end of projects and at the end or beginning of each week and they are the same type and format each time.  The subject lines change and the project names and numbers are different, but the rest of the email is the same.  So I write up one really good, thought out, detailed email with everything I need to cover for the recipient and format it so that the only changes made are the subject line, the attachments and a short detailed summary area when required on Project Report emails.

How is this helpful?

By creating a master draft, every weekly email I send out always has the pertinent data needed, I do not have to create an email each time from memory, waste time typing the same thing over each time or if I can’t remember the last one, open an old one and copy paste the content.  I just open my drafts folder and select “forward” on my specific draft template and change the particulars for this project or report, select who it goes to and hit send.  In fact if you send to the same people all the time, their names can already be included in your drafts TO and CC.  Keep in mind that you write some of these same emails over and over, spending about the same amount of time on each one – stop wasting your time, write it, save a draft, select forward, change the names to protect the innocent and send!

How do I do it?

As I said above I write up one really good, thought out, detailed email with everything I need to cover for the particular topic I am creating the email for.  For project reports, I create standard subject line with text that is meant to be changed that says job# – job name.  I replace these with the actual information prior to sending.

 Note: The nice thing about this is that I can save this email for others to use for their reports or use in my absence for me and I know the same information is being provided each time. (like fill in the blank)

 I include a summary area with changeable title, project name or number, square footage, service size, address, or whatever is applicable.  I format it with italics, bold, underlines, colors etc.. spell and grammar check it, make sure my signature is included (depends how you have Outlook setup for signatures), and save!

When I am ready to send out a report or info email, I open drafts, select the required draft, right-click and select “forward”.  If the TO and CC lines are already filled out, I just modify the “fill in the blank” info and send it.

 Important Note:  Always select forward!!!  If you open the draft and select, send after your changes – You have lost your draft and you need to re-create it.

If in the future, if I need to add additional recipients, change the formatting or add content, I open the draft, make the changes and resave it. Done!

What are examples of good draft templates?

–      Electronic file Transmittals

–      Weekly, Daily, or Monthly Status Reports

–      Permit, utility, or project coordination notices

Why do this?

–      Speed – saves time!

–      Consistency – always the same!

–      Accuracy – nothing forgotten!

–      Green – Recycles your work! : )

Now stop typing the same stuff over and over, type it, draft it, and forward it!

For other good Email habits, make sure you read my Email Etiquette post.

WES

Some people just can’t seem to make the leap to paper space – even though there would be many productivity gains to do so.  As I have been told and heard, we are quite content with how we do things now and see no reason to change.  Many people resist change as they believe it will slow them down or be too hard to learn.  You can usually tell the ones that are natural resistors to changes in AutoCAD software features by the rest of their AutoCAD tools and methods.

–      Older versions of AutoCAD  (2004 – 2010 still very common)
–      Working in Model space only
–      Inserting templates DWGs with blocks and layers rather than using Layer states, automated scripts and DWTs.

Although I prefer to convince those to change their ways and learn something new, sometimes it takes and in-between method to boost their productivity and understanding and so, I offer this productivity tip.

Issue:

Working in model space and using different scales:

A common practice I see is for some firms to draw various plans with different scales, all on one sheet and scale it up or down to make it look right.

Example:  A building plan is setup to plot at 1/8″ scale with blown up part plans on the same sheet at 1/4″ and 1/2″ scales.  The most common problem is the most obvious – they are not drawn to scale.  Yes, when plotted they will scale out properly with an architects or engineer’s scale, but while working on it they are not.  I.e. you want to draw an air handler, mill work, or represent a piece of equipment that is 2′-4″ off the south wall and 4′-9″ off the east wall. So how do you place it?  For a 1/4″ scale blow up, you would double the distance for your offsets – so 4′-8″ off the south wall and 8′-18″ or 5′-6″ off the west wall.  The more odd the dimensions, the more math you do and the more chances you have to make mistakes – and trust me – you will make mistakes.

Solution:

This one is pretty easy, but even so, I have made a few assumptions.

The user:

  1. Is familiar with and uses Xrefs and understands clipping.  (If you are not using Xrefs yet, WOW… I do not know what to say – except I am here to help and I charge reasonable rates!) – Seriously – you are missing out on so much productivity – use them!!
  2. Knows basic scaling (i.e. if you are working on a 1/8” drawing and you want to attach a 1/2″ drawing, you scale it up by 4)

Process:

  1. Create a separate DWG file for each of the alternate scaled items.  (YES – if you have a lot of blow-ups you will have a lot of additional drawings, and if that is the case – are you sure you do not want to consider Paper Space?)
  2. Draw each of these to the scale you want represented and using the xref command, attach them to your 1/8″ scale drawing and scale them up appropriately.
  3. When you need to modify the enlarged plan, just select it, right-click and select open xref.  Note: If you choose to edit the xref n place, you will be using the current dimstyle, textstyle, etc. of the 1/8″ drawing and not the enlarged drawing – choose open.

Benefits:

  1. Accuracy – Your drawings are to real scale, not only when scaled on paper, but while your editing them.
  2. Productivity – Multiple people can be working on a sheet – one on the master drawing and others for each of the enlarged details or blow-ups.
If you can’t get over the Paper space hump right now, at least setup your drawings in a way that can be more productive and accurate until you do.

WES

What is Change?

 

Image courtesy of WIKIMEDIA Commons

Starting with this post I am going to discuss the various aspects of change and will be spreading them out over additional posts to keep them from getting too long.  These posts will include the What, the Why, and the How of Change.   I will use some examples in each area to make it a bit more real and not just theoretical.

Starting out – “What is change?” – Depending on who you talk to and their specific experience with change, you may get various answers.  Most will give simple definitions or interpretations of what change ‘means’ (feels) to them.

  • Change sucks
  • Change is hard/difficult
  • Change is disruptive
  • Change is important
  • Change is good
  • Change is necessary
  • Change is progress

Let’s look at some of Dictionary.com’s definition examples:

1.   to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone:  to change one’s name; to change one’s opinion; to change the course of history.

2.   to transform or convert

Whereas people usually define what they feel about change, the dictionary examples above show the verb (action) tense of change.  The feelings about change will typically match up with the actions of change, with each feeling being dependent on how the change was implemented or performed.  In each of our personal and business worlds, change is never as simple as a single action or task, it is a series of steps that we take to achieve a purpose.  Changing how we feel about ourselves or others, changing how we maintain our health and fitness, changing how we treat our clients, employees or co-workers, etc… does not happen in a single action.  Change requires multiple actions and mental exercises with the manner in which you do them typically determining success or failure.  And what this all means, is that ‘Change is a process’.

When you are thinking about making a change with anything you do, whether it be at work or home, the most important thing to understand is that change is not an event or an action – it is a process.  Ok – you may be thinking that this is a simple concept, ‘so what’s the big deal?’  Many individuals and companies still treat change as a task – one that needs little planning – just action.  When change is treated in this manner, no matter what it is – health, finances, bad habits, etc.. without a plan, without really understanding what you are trying to fix, without weighing the  pros and cons of your actions, and without considering the people who will be affected by your actions – it will fail.   After all, most changes are not instigated by a single event or person – they typically happen after experiencing issues, frustrations or complaints over an extended period of time.

Changes typically happen for us when we are fed up with how things are or have been and we just know ‘something has to change!’   Many will see people issues and process inefficiencies as just inconveniences that can be ignored and hope that they will just fix themselves, while others just assume that the work required to change something is not worth the potential results – so why bother?    For some, the concept of a change, even when it is obviously required scares them and they just give up before they even start.  More often than not though these procrastinators and resistors to change will come back to the same conclusion – something has to change!

This final desperate realization that things have to change is many times strong enough to be a catalyst for implementing new ideas or practices.  Sometimes though it comes so late in the game that in desperation, changes get implemented with little thought or planning.  In the business world these situations occur when leaders, managers or business owners realize that something just isn’t right or there are issues that they do not fully understand but know cannot continue.  Exasperated, they decide that “some changes need to be made” and “they need to be made now”.   With little thought and planning they charge in and make blanket changes that they think are going to turn things around!  Typically though, due to their lack of planning and thoughtful consideration they attempt to fix things from ‘their’ viewpoint and this often makes the situation or issue worse than when they started – this is a change failure.

Change fails for two primary reasons, the first is that change is not treated as a process and implemented in a proper manner and the second is people’s natural resistance to change.  This resistance to change usually comes from fear of the unknown or past bad experiences with other change failures.  In my next post I will address change implementation with some examples and in follow-up post I will discuss overcoming resistance to change.

WES

Email Etiquette

 

 

 

 

What is Email Etiquette?

The online Business dictionary defines Business Etiquette as:

Expected behaviors and expectations for individual actions within society, group, or class. Within a place of business, it involves treating coworkers and employer with respect and courtesy in a way that creates a pleasant work environment for everyone.

So for Email, I think it would be the expected behavior that involves treating coworkers, clients, your employer and friends with respect and courtesy when sending email.

Email:

Pretty much everyone in business is affected by email. In office environments people are often sending or receiving emails to communicate needs, requirements, and schedules or it is used to pass other non-email documents back and forth. The key to email is that it is a form of communication and although not verbal, it requires some of the same basic principles of being clear and concise. In many cases, email communication needs even more thought because you do not have the advantage of the non-verbal body language cues you get with face to face communication.

Basics:

Addressing:

When addressing email recipients, be clear on who it is going to and who needs to be copied. There are three typical lines that can be used in an email correspondence, if you do not have these options, either your email program is very limited or they are turned off – typically the later. These three addressing options are “TO”, “CC”, and “BCC”. For those who may not be clear on their use it goes as follows:

TO:

This is for who the email is primarily addressed to. This can be more than one person, but it is typically only a few people. If you are addressing dozens or hundreds of people directly, you may wish to use an email mailing application that personalizes it a bit more than everyone’s name on the “TO” line. There are security and privacy issues that go along with this as well (See “BCC” section). Typically you would be addressing an individual or as said before a few people and then copying others to make sure they are “In the loop”.

Commonly accepted practice:
Anyone on the “TO” line is being directly addressed and comments or questions are being directed to them and they should respond.

This is important if you start asking questions or making comments that appear to need answers. If the email was addresses to everyone directly it would seem everyone needs to respond. The problem comes in when all these people do respond

CC: (Carbon Copy – as in old school carbon paper – get it?)

This line is used to copy other individuals that are not necessarily being directly addressed. Please do NOT use this for Email distribution lists or passing along funnies! (this means you Tom)…

Commonly accepted practice:
Anyone on the “CC” line is being copied for courtesy or information use, so that they know what is happening, what issues are being addressed, etc… but their response is not necessarily required. If you are “CC’d but you are specifically addressed in the body of the email itself, then that changes things and you should respond or act accordingly.

BCC:

This is used to privately copy recipients and if you are distributing to dozens or hundreds of people and are not using a distribution list application or site – PLEASE use this line in lieu of the “CC” line. Why? Security and Privacy are the biggest reasons. If you have not heard of Malware, Spyware, Phishing, or SPAM you are living in a very sheltered world. All of these can originate from Viruses that infect a person’s machine and then harvest email addresses from that user’s email, address book or various other files on the local system. Once it gets these addresses it will send out emails to some or all of these addresses (each program works a little different) with the goal of infecting more systems. If an unprotected user gets one of these emails and downloads the attachment, clicks on a link in the email or sometimes just views it, the infection starts over and keeps spreading.

This is commonly spread when someone decides to CC all their friends on a joke or a small business or organization CCs all the members or potential customers, etc and one of those people is infected with one of the above. The BCC options strips the email address so that each recipient only sees that they received and email from someone and all the other recipients addresses are not available. As far as Privacy, maybe I do not want others knowing I am on your Email distribution list or maybe I do not want others that are CC’d to now add me to their mass marketing campaign. Yes some people will take all those addresses and use them for their own purpose – Which I will be doing one time to a large organization who does this repeatedly, even after I expressed the above concerns. It appears the only way to get off their “CC” broadcast is to quit the organization – so I did. So all their group members will get a free copy of this article. : )

If you are one of these offenders and you want to change your ways, there are options besides just putting everyone in the BCC line that will make your emails look a bit more professional. Try these links:

Creating a distribution list: (then BCC that list)

http://email.about.com/od/outlooktips/qt/Distribution_List_Outlook.htm

Send to Undisclosed Recipients:

http://email.about.com/od/outlooktips/qt/et_undisclosed.htm

Still lost? Drop me a line – I’ll try to help.

Subject Line:

What is this email about? Blank subject lines are really annoying – did the sender not know what the email was about? Emails are not texts – they have a subject! Efficient users use the Subject line for sorting, searching and filing. Users that do not have a preview pane showing up (A Virus precaution) will get nothing under the subject line – should I open it / is it a real Email? Although this is annoying on a personal email basis – for business professionals – well it is unprofessional!

Importance:

If you select the “important” option for all your emails, which it seems a lot of people tend to do, (because everything they do is important!) it is a lot like crying wolf. Someone looking over your shoulder might go – “Hey that email has that ‘Important’ symbol next to it – You better see what it is”. Nah – I’ll get to it later – they always use that – no matter what they send – if it is ‘that’ important they will call. Don’t get me wrong – I look at these on an individual basis, and if it is a new person or someone who rarely uses it – I will look at it right away – otherwise – it will wait in line just like the rest of the non-important emails.

Presentation/Punctuation:

How many times do I need to read the email to get what it means? This does not really take a lot, just start by using periods and commas. It’s not important that you put two spaces after a period in a sentence or whether you use a comma after the last item and before the ‘and’ in list of items, but using a period when a sentence ends and a comma where you would normally pause in a conversation would be a great start. Oh – and maybe some capitalization or – lack of. WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT ME?! (Caps lock is a toggle…)

If you are sending email as part of your work/business, please use spell check. An occasional misspell is understandable, but consistent spelling mistakes and horrible grammar in an email from a supposed professional is just sad in today’s world. In Outlook and Gmail it is an automatic feature – just turn it on and leave it.

Signature:

Who are you, and how do I contact you if I have questions – other than a reply? How about a name, company and phone number as a minimum? So when bdguy34@aol.com sends me a blank subject line email with no signature, marked as “important” stating:

WE ARE HAVING A ISUE WITH FILE CAN U PLEASE CALL AND FIX.

Well, I just wanna….

;

Reply All:

If you are on the “TO” line and sometimes on the “CC” line, you may wish to do or even be asked to Reply. when this happens – do a “Reply All” so that everyone has the benefit of your response – the others may need to hear what you have to say. And, if you don’t want everyone to “Reply All” as your emails states – do NOT “CC” everyone – because what other benefit is there to everyone seeing everyone else’s email?

Key Take-aways:

  • When addressing email recipients in business, be clear on who it is going to (TO:) and who needs to be copied (CC:).
  • When sending to a bunch of Friends – use the “BCC” line.
  • When sending to a Mail-list group – use the “BCC” line or other bulk-mail option – NOT “CC”.
  • Enter a Subject
  • Do NOT indicate ALL your Emails as “Important” – the more you do it, the less important your emails become.
  • Spell and Grammar check if your email program supports it – if not, do it in Word and copy/paste.
  • Don’t type in ALL CAPS
  • Indicated more in your signature than your first name

WES

Expectations

We all have them and we function a certain way because of them, but we don’t always appreciate the value we receive when they are met.  As I was driving to work this am I saw a simple act of courtesy, something that happens somewhere every day of every week.  The problem that I saw was that the act appeared to be expected but not appreciated.  So many people go through life with the misunderstanding that people will meet our expectations and if they don’t it is the other person’s fault.  Too often these same people do not provide positive reinforcement for the acts that they expect, and this is where I believe the problem lies.

Before I go on, let me explain.  As I was driving to work I saw a women intending to turn across traffic to a side street.  A few things that noticed were that she turned in to the turning lane at an angle not direct – her tail end was still partly blocking the traffic lane, she did not use a signal light and had her cell phone in one hand and her other hand on the steering wheel.  The car in front of me stopped and then after a few cars went by someone in the adjacent lane stopped to let her cross.  Once all the cars stopped, she continued across without so much of a nod, wave or smile – just kept talking and driving.

What I noticed in that time was the expectations.  The woman expected everyone to stop because she was turning, she expected people would just go around her because she did not pull fully in to the turn lane, she expected to not have to inconvenience herself by using a signal, or acknowledging the people who accommodated her.  This lack of consideration, acknowledgement/appreciation happens to be one of my pet peeves.  Anytime someone does something for others that goes un-acknowledged or appreciated, I believe it reinforces their expectations of what is normal.  Yes, this woman probably had other things on her mind, but how hard is it to smile or a mouth “Thank You” to the ones that let her cross, use her signal or not block the traffic lanes?  You need to be conscious of the people and world around you.

Now not everyone would agree with this and many will tell you that you cannot change other people and what you need to do is change your own perception of the situation.  They will continue that if you do not, you will accomplish nothing but to drive yourself crazy and those around you – because the other person has no idea that they just affected you the way they did.  Well, I disagree.  There was a time that I believed in this and struggled to follow that example – and in some situations I still do.  After all, we must give some credit to others, for it is hard for us to know or even guess at the motivations behind another’s actions.  It is the persistent expectations that become the problem.

In theory the forgive and forget concept sounds good, but in practice it is much more complicated.  When people’s expectations are continually met, they get it ingrained that is how it “should” be and act out in defense when they are not.  So if I expected something (consideration for others) why should it matter that the woman had her own expectations?  This is where the type of expectations and the responses are important.

It is very easy to expect that people will act a certain way, sometimes these expectations are cultural, sometimes they are gender based and sometimes they are based on our geographical location.  A handshake as a greeting in one culture may be considered rude in another, in New York City changing lanes without a signal maybe considered normal – if not practical to keep from getting blocked and having a woman slapping a guy out for being crude maybe considered un-lady like, yet in some places it would be considered perfectly natural.  This to say that we need to be careful of getting too comfortable with our expectations.  New Yorkers that come to Florida may want to think twice about cutting off a couple good old boys in a jacked up 4×4 because they plan to change lanes – the outcome may not be what they expected.

When so many people go through life with the misunderstanding that people will continue to meet their expectations yet do not provide positive reinforcement for these acts they minimize the chance that they will continue to happen.  So if we cannot change other people and we should not always let it slide, what can we do to make things better?  Start with thinking about your own expectations.  When your expectations are met, acknowledge that it is appreciated and when they are not (assuming they are realistic), you may need to let the other party know this.  This is especially important in personal and work relationships.  If you are not doing this, it’s time to consider changing your ways.

It seems that our society has gotten really bad about setting high expectations for what we want, but setting a low priority on acknowledging the acts that meet them.  Rudeness and inconsideration for someone else’s time and money have become increasingly common at all ages, but especially in today’s younger “ME” generations.  For children and teens these days it is considered normal to be loud and disrespectful and many parents and authority figures expect and accept this as normal behavior.  As long as this continues, these children’s and youth’s expectations will not change.  In a personal or business relationship if you continue to meet other’s expectations to try to keep them happy but do not receive some form of recognition, appreciation or equal treatment your creating a norm that may eventually be hard to reverse.

On the practical side, yelling at another driver for not using their signal or not giving an acknowledging wave for letting them in your lane may not be the smartest thing and may even prove dangerous, but your personal and business relationships are areas that you can work on.  Now, all of this is not meant to say that you need a reward or a pat on the back for everything you do or say, it’s about not promoting unhealthy expectations in yourself and others.  Some have an uncanny ability to forgive and forget or so it appears, but many times they are just stewing inside, until some day they burst.

As far as expectations on articles, I know it has been a while since I have done a post, life has just been crazy lately with other responsibilities and writing tasks.  I have a couple of articles coming up in AUGI World this summer, with the first coming in May on the hiring process and the second in July on how to keep those you hired.   I’ll let you know once they are published.  If you missed the last article I did for AUGI World that discussed the “Domino Effect” of Training, you can find it here:

http://www.augi.com/library/the-domino-effect

See you next post where I’ll dive in to what “change” is.

WES