Zen Digest

  • What is not there is often more important than what is
  • Ask yourself what is most important

The Whole Picture

Years ago, I believed that to convince people I was smart, I had to add something into every conversation.  Opinions, facts, it didn’t matter, as long as I got in some words, I felt I was doing the right thing.  I’m sure tons of people heard me, but I’m not sure they listened.  In fact, I’m sure the more I talked, the less they listened.

Humans are wired very interestingly.  We are very aware of things that break the normal – a loud crash on an otherwise quiet day, a bright light in the dark – contrast is easy to spot.  We are also extremely good at drowning out “white noise.”  When something becomes common our brain simply filters it out.  Because of this, the information we share is actually less important than the things we choose not to share.

The principal is simple but has huge implications in all manners of business and life.  According to Statista 21% of people abandon an online shopping cart because the process is too long.  Often times your name, or address will be asked twice, or information that is simply not necessary (such as a shipping address when buying a digital product) are collected.  All of this additional information leads to noise that makes for difficult solutions.

Or think about a basic marketing flyer.  Imagine the two following possible flyers for a PTA bake sale:

Flyer 1: “PTA Bake Sale – 10/30 3pm – 4pm in the Auditorium”

Flyer 2: “The PTA is having a Bake Sale on October 30th at 3pm to 4pm in the Auditorium.  Cupcakes, brownies, muffins, and more!  Everything $1 – $5.  All proceeds go towards the PTA’s fundraising campaign to help the senior trip.”

Both are informational, but flyer 1 can be in a large font type, easily visible and the most important details can be remembers – 10/30, 3-4pm, Auditorium.  In Flyer 2, the reader has to figure out what are the key details.  When presented with further information, they need to assess – is it important for me to remember that this is for the senior trip?  Do the prices matter?  The critical goal is to get people to show up.

The silence rule also applies to personal matters.  If we are constantly talking, we risk not actually being heard.  I believe I’ve mentioned to the listen that I’ve often written an email then upon re-reading it realized that I wasn’t really saying something new, or adding value, and simply deleted the email instead of sending.  While it felt weird at first, I honestly think more good has come from me hitting delete than send.  I’ve saved myself time – as in some cases I no longer have to defend an unpopular opinion (especially in a debate which can never be won) and by limiting the times I hit send, I actually increase the value of the content that does get sent.  Think of it like a treat.  If you had to eat your favorite desert for every meal, you’d get tired of it quickly, but by having it occasionally, it remains something you are happy to see put in front of you for consumption.

It is that exact reason that I did not send Zens the past two weeks.  I simply did not feel like I had something of value I could send.  I also hope this provided you value, happiness, and satisfaction.  Have a wonderful day.


Good Time to Update

Zen Digest

  • Now is a good time to update your software
  • Periodic updates can be good
  • Remember to keep devices plugged in while updating

The Whole Picture

Over the last few months there have been two very huge security scares – or better put, security people have learned how to market major issues.  Security flaws are found quite frequently, but they are usually named things like CVE-2014-6287.  Hard to be scared or excited about that.  Either way, the latest two major security issues – Heartbleed and Shell Shock (much catchier names, no) – actually have very large potential implications.  I wrote a post about Heartbleed a few weeks ago.  For the average person, not much needed to be done – it was something for a system administrator to fix.  Shell Shock is completely different.

Shell Shock affects a standard user’s computer.  Anyone running Mac OS, Linux, or Unix.  Normal Windows users are fairly safe – but not completely.  Believe it or not, some devices such as printers, external hard drives, and even internet routers run versions of Linux.

What Does Shell Shock Do?

The vulnerability lets – in certain circumstances – any command be run on your computer.  This could ultimately someone write a virus to do nearly anything on your computer and without your permission (wouldn’t even ask you to install anything).

The good news is that the issue was fixed and updating your software should solve the issue on most devices.  So, while most people see “An update is available” and click “ignore” I highly recommend that you take the time to update, especially if you’re on a Mac.

It’s good to update on a regular basis.

Updates can be a pain, they always pop up in the middle of your work, and require you to restart your computer, etc.  Mark on your calendar once a month to make sure you update your phone and computer.  Big and small security issues are discovered all the time, and updates keep your device safe.  Often hackers/virus writers don’t know about a flaw until it is discovered and fixed but will still write malicious code to take advantage of people who don’t update.