Some Things will Never Change – Yet Another Project Scrapped

As some of you may remember I work for the Riverside County SELPA.  It’s an organization that handles Special Ed data for 22 districts in Riverside County, CA.

Twice a year we submit a huge amount of data to the state for state and federal reporting.

Our school districts send letters out to students/parents where the student dropped out or exited last year. The state basically wants to know their education and employment status since they left Special Ed.

We barely get any letters back so this year we thought to allow parents to enter their info online. Fun and simple.

I created a small little static HTML page and jQuery for AJAX calls into a service backed by ASP.NET MVC. It allows the parent to find their student, answer the two questions and it gets saved directly into our data tables that we submit to the state.

I demoed the project last Friday morning to all the Special Ed directors. They loved it. Friday afternoon (literally hours after the demo) we got a message from CDE (California Department of Education) stating they are not collecting this information this year and we don’t need to submit it.

So I worked on another project that got scrapped. At least I got to demo it. 🙂

30+ revisions to your email?

This was an interesting article on

“How to Revise an Email So That People Will Read It”

In it David Silverman puts forth the benefits of revising your emails before sending.  He has some great points and tips like:

“…regardless of the source, the advice is sound: no email should be clicked-to-send without revision.”

“[Tip #] 9. Shorten. Remember the reader struggling to digest your message on the run — a BlackBerry or an iPhone gets about 40 words per screen. What looks short on your desktop monitor is an epic epistle on their mobile device.”

However, he then goes on to say that the number of revisions you make on an email is proportional to the number of people it’s being sent to:

“I’ve found that for your average email, the number of revisions largely depends on the number of recipients. Here’s my experience:

    1 to 5 recipients = 2 to 4 revisions
    5 to 10 recipients = 8 to 12 revisions
    Company-wide or to Executive Committee = 30 to 50 revisions


Occasionally a good idea just gets way too extreme.  I am not sure what motivated David Silverman to think this is a good idea and I doubt he follows this rule himself.  This is his experience?  Did he revise his blog post 30+ times because I’m sure he expects more than 10 people to read it.  How does he get anything done?

I think most corporate people who email daily can use most of these ideas in just one draft or a couple of revisions. I usually revise all my emails once before sending. However, I think the number of revisions is directly proportional to the importance and complexity of the email, not just the number of people receiving it.

If I am sending an email to our project managers (30+) but it is a quick note about a new item on the agenda I’ll give it a once over and send it on its way. If it is an email to my director that gives an assessment of our vendor’s latest performance I’ll give it a few revisions prior to sending out.

I think 8+ revisions is just wasteful. I have too much to attend to to spend this kind of time on a single email. If you can’t get an email right in the first few revisions there is something more inherently wrong than your ability to revise. Chances are you should be splitting your email into several to focus on the key topics individually. If it really is a "corporate" type email that requires several authors and revisions most likely it would be better developed as a professional document with proper headers, footers and branding and sent as an official PDF attached to a simple email. You know, what they did before email. 🙂

When I have a microphone is it a mic or a mike?

Hah, this one has plagued me for years.  Not anything serious but it’s bugged me every time I have write something in past tense.  For instance, “I miced the stage.”  That just looks weird.

So, today I finally did a search on mic versus mike and I found this great article from Sam Bayer:

A little heavy on the academic side if you’re not into that but it’s a great detailed explanation of his vote for mike.  I have to agree with most everything Sam says.  So, I guess to save my sanity when usine mike as a verb I’ll be using m-i-k-e. 🙂