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Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Gloves Play

So I finally got my hand on a pair of GlovesPlay controller covers the other day (no pun intended) and let me tell you, it made a ton of difference. Lest you think I shill, I shill with reason, believe you me.
You see, I play XBox. A lot. Particularly Mechassault 2 now that it's here and I can jack others' Mechs to my heart's content. After a few hours of that (or one round of hacking the Balrog to death in LotR: The Third Age...damn does that take a long time), my hands get tired, numb, sore...and my fingers tingle a little. RSI? I hope not. Anyhow, mostly tired. Unconsciously squeezing the living crap out of my controllers makes my hands fatigued to an enormous degree. Enter the GlovesPlay.
The padded undersides make my XBox controller feel a million times better than before. My hand fatigue's gone, and there's not much else I need to worry about. Installation's a snap, just unsnap your breakaway cord, slide it up and strap it on the back as shown here on the left. That strap there makes it snug, like a G-string on a stripper's butt. Sexy. Yeah. It's not to say that it doesn't slide around a little bit while it's on there, but it's not distracting while playing Mechassault 2, Fable, Mortal Kombat: Deception or any other high-intensity game. Even Project Gotham 2. Actually, when used in conjunction with Moto GP, it kind of gives you that motorcycle gearshift feeling a little bit.The suede-esque cover feels good against my skin, too. Wicks the sweat away really well, and even better, MACHINE WASHABLE. I know a lot of you people don't actually have these new fangled "washing machines" but for those of us with things like "washing machines" or even "girlfriends" we actually do wash and the ability to get rid of sweaty palm stench is a plus.Downside, it's best suited for the OEM Controller S. Third party, controllers are possibly going to have some difficulty with it being a little too loose or too tight, Goldilocks stylee. And I only got one. The girlfriend's asking me to buy a few more, and the Gamecube controller covers too. The PS2 Controller cover has been given 10 thumbs up by my PS2 team next door as follows: "Weird at first, but I got used to it, and I liked it enough to keep the damned thing on. Won't play without it now." He's a hard one to keep happy.On top of all that, a GlovesPlay only sets you back about $10 on their site (which is a direct link to WalMart). They're affordable, they feel great and they'll last a while. Actually, they feel even better after you wash them once, like a pair of jeans. Try one, you'll like them.

War is hell, but the money's good.

War is hell, but the money's good.

Mercenaries takes place in a Korea that is in the midst of a fictional quagmire (as opposed to the ACTUAL quagmire.). General Song has overthrown his fathers regime and installed his men into ruling positions within the country. They were fittingly dubbed "The Deck of 52" (Each one of Song's men is represented by a playing card, the rank of the card determines their position within the regime, Song himself is the Ace of Spades.) So now you have 5 factions duking it out in Korea, the North Koreans led by Song, who seek to unify the country, the South Koreans fighting for independance, the Allied Nations trying to stop the war from spreading, and the Russian Mafia who don't really care about who gets what as long as they get to keep running their secret underground... Their secret underground that takes up half a town, is covered in FLASHING PURPLE LIGHTS, and has their logo visible at the top of the building and surrounded by armed guards who shoot at anyone who is not allied with them. Yes, i know. Oh, and the Chinese who are working with the AN but seek to annex the entire goddam country in the process.

You play the standard "one man army" who was sent in from a Mercenary group called ExOps, you do jobs for the factions that will hire you, seeking to claim the 100,000,000 bounty on Songs head. There are 3 Mercs, the American has stamina, the Brit has stealth and the Russian has speed. Other minor story elements come into play, the American understands Korean, the Brit understands Chinese, and the Russian can talk to his fellow ruskies, and has a past with one of the contacts. The game itself has some rather funny moments, especially the Russian Mafia. It tends to keep the tempo up constantly, not really slowing down much. Money you get from missions and capturing face cards can be used to call in airstrikes and various supply drops. airstrikes vary depending on the faction, some are inaccurate, some tend to level a little TOO much of the area, some will have you target a specific object with a laser pointer while others have you use gas grenades to mark an area.

Genocide at an affordable price.
The game structure is rather like a GTA game, you can move freely around Korea as you please, doing missions for the various factions as well as side missions you find along the way. Jobs may decrease your faction standing among one or more factions while raising them among others. Having a good standing with a faction allows you to call in airstrikes and supply/vehicle drops. A bad standing gets you shot at. Missions range from capturing vehicles to defending locations (GTASA didn't have stationary RPG emplacements to fight off invaders) to finding and calling in airstrikes on Artrillery emplacements. Also like GTA, the country is full of vehicles, both air and ground, which can be stolen, or hijacked (including some fun action-hijack animations, but I won't spoil those) These elements, taken from the obvious inspiration, help flesh out the 'mercenary' aspect of the game, you don't really owe allegiance to anyone, you have complete freedom of your actions. Problems crop up when you steal an enemy vehicle, friendly forces will fire at you until you get close enough so they can recognize you from the windows, this, while realistic, is fucking annoying. There's a mission early on where the Russians ask you to steal a supply van for them, since it's a North Korean van, the russians guards shoot at you as you approach the base until they go "Oh, it's just you.".

The main point of the game is to capture the Deck of 52, as you complete missions, factions will give you intel on the locations of the cards. Most can be taken at any time (Some are mission-activated, like the aces and maybe some face cards.), but it's nice to know where the hell they are first, as sometimes you might kill a guy before he has been identified as a card, and the AN only pays half the bounty for a dead body. An identified card is marked as such, once identified you can either take out his men, subdue him, and call in an AN chopper for retrieval (You can only designate an LZ using smoke grenades at a flat, large location. So sometimes a card will have to be transported first. You can pick up and load cards into vehicles.). However if you're sloppy and the card dies, you need to take a photograph of the body for verification. I love this, and it's fun to try and take them alive, but as I said, sometimes you might just be carpet-bombing a North Korean outpost without realizing the 5 of Clubs is sitting inside playing pong, which means it's always helpful to have as much intel as possible before going in to a fight. Intel is organized in your PDA, in the form of e-mails from various factions and ExOps, and a map that marks off mission locations and other important details.

I love the uh....sound of Napalm in the morning.
The music changes situationally, when there's a lot of action the screen, the music picks up, when you're just cruising the countryside in a stolen truck, the music is pretty much nonexistant. But it's there. The soldiers speak in varying languages, they'll speak their own language to eachother, but if they can speak english, they'll use it when speaking to you. (If your character understands the language of someone, you'll see subtitles at the bottom of the screen.) The dialogue is pretty funny, some factions have better dialogue than others. The russians are especially hilarious.

Apple corps

Apple corps

Missed this last week -- not enough time. Apple is having trouble keeping up with demand for the Mac Mini. Big surprise? Not around here. If you want one of these little (tiny?) computers, give Apple the extra $100 to double the disk size and increase the processor speed a bit. The Mac Mini isn't the right choice if you're a video or graphics pro, but it's a great way to find out what makes Apple tick.

Speaking of small stuff, there are reports that Apple will soon ship a larger Ipod Mini. Seagate is reported to be the supplier for 1-inch drives with a 5GB capacity. Until now, Apple has used Hitachi's 1-inch drives, but Hitachi's limit is currently 4GB. Hitachi is working on larger capacity drives and hopes to ship 8GM and 10GB 1-inch drives by the end of 2005.

That's news in its own right: can you imagine a 10GB drive that's an INCH wide and about the thickness of three credit cards? If you're old enough to remember 10MB disk drives the size of washing machines, this might be a bit difficult to comprehend.

Sources say the next generation Ipod Mini will be silver (like the PowerBook). And speaking of PowerBooks -- there's a chance that Apple will ship a G5 PowerBook later this year. That should be a real lap warmer. The G4 PowerBooks get too hot to be held on the lap, so one has to wonder what will happen when there's a G5 processor in there!

Where all the children are above average
If you're familiar with Garrison Keillor, you know that all the children in Lake Woebegone are above average. If you've ever spoken with a bad driver who caused a wreck, you've probably been told it was "the other guy's fault." Should we be surprised by research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that says 92% of Internet users feel they are confident about their ability to use search engines even though only 38% are able to tell the difference between paid and unpaid results and less than 20% of search engine users can always tell which results are paid and which are not?

Actually, I am a bit surprised. It makes me wonder how many people who listen to WTVN are unable to tell the difference between the drivel Joe and I put forth and the advertisements people pay to have played ... how many people can tell the difference between "Entertainment Tonight" and a commercial for Buddy's Carpet (well, OK, maybe that's a bit of a stretch) ... or how many people can tell the difference between an editorial in the Dispatch, news coverage, and ads.

This week I received a forwarded message from a highly intelligent professional who fell for a hoax that's been around the Internet since the mid 1990s. It's one that could easily have been checked and debunked with a 30-second trip to the Urban Legends website.

The lesson? Caution. Don't assume that just because it appeared on a website that it's true. Don't assume that just because someone you consider to be intelligent sent something to you that it's true. There's a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there. If the nation is to survive, we need more skeptics.

Oh, by the way, have you heard -- they took "gullible" out of the dictionary!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal Skills

Being able to persuade and influence becomes a test of skill - skill in interpersonal communications. Going hat in hand, begging or throwing yourself at a colleague's mercy with a request is not a powerful or very effective option. On the other hand, making demands and bullying your way can be costly as well.

Teamwork is the key to accomplishing goals and individuals must use a variety of skills to manage and resolve the differences that routinely occur in the workplace.

This workshop is designed to allow participants to practice achieving win/win outcomes in "real time" situations by using the skills of: receiving and giving feedback, effective interpersonal communication, value propositions, influencing without authority, persuading and influencing (selling) and using the theory of exchange in negotiation.

At the conclusion of this persuading, influencing and negotiating workshop participants will be able to:
Use a five step convincing process.
Be politically savvy in building coalitions and support for ideas.
Use refocusing techniques to "think on your feet" in argumentative situations.
Use Socratic type questions to offer alternatives and determine motivational triggers.
Recognize when the resistance is a "shark" attack and how to neutralize the attack.
Acquire information on the exchange "currency" of other people based on: needs, goals, objectives and aspirations.
Apply one of three exchange processes to gain support and commitment.
Know when to persuade based on needs and when to negotiate via exchange.
Maintain a good relationship.

Working with a limited number of customers, i.e. automotive OEM.
Advising or consulting with franchisees.
Where long term relationships are important.
Interdepartmental agreements.
Matrix organization project commitments.

Sales Negotiation Tools

At the conclusion of this sales negotiating skills workshop personnel will be able to:

  1. Know how and when to use three exchange theory concepts.
  2. Utilize behavioral style analysis tools strategically and tactically during a negotiation.
  3. Identify and deal with 18 traditional negotiation tactics and tricks.
  4. Use plus-minus refocusing techniques to "think on your feet" and disarm argumentative positions.
  5. Use Socratic questions and listening skills skills to acquire information on the needs, wants, positions and interests of the customer.
  6. Respond where it is a "blame" game or irrational conflict.
  7. Understand and identify power positions and how to increase power.
  8. Craft a strategy to enhance the relationship after the exchange.
  9. Structure the sales negotiation process to know what tradeoffs are reasonable and when to walk-away from a deal.
  10. Describe how they practiced these negotiating tools during a customized role-play exercise.
Maintain and grow marketshare is today's mantra. And sales negotiation with various buying types: purchasing specialists, buyers, commodity managers, technical managers, design engineers, release engineers etc. is difficult. They are savvy, educated and know the tactics and gambits of negotiation. Their concept of negotiation is to commoditize the product or service. The supplier sales negotiating challenge is to differentiate and show the value-added benefits. Effective sales negotiating skills requires preparation, customer insight, creativity, ability to "think on your feet", courage, persistence and emotional control. Our sales negotiation process is designed for the business to business negotiation environment where long term relationships are important. The negotiation process uses value propositions and refocusing techniques to alter the buyer's perceptions. The process uses exchange theory concepts to maintain the relationship, minimize concessions and protect margins.

Cross Selling Skills

Cross Selling Skills

Top Line Growth by Selling to Existing Customers
As business people focused on organic growth, a recent marketing study reported that sources of profit breakdown as follows:
60% from existing customers.
30% from targeted new or prospective customers.
10% from business marketing in general.

We have all heard the adage, "the easiest place to make your next sale is where you just made a sale." Add on sales, when done naturally and within the context of the call, creates a true win/win outcome. The CSR or customer contact person gets the quick rush of success, the company gets a high ROI cross sale and the customer is satified with the value added relationship. In a true partnership understanding, customers expect add on or cross selling from representatives when it will meet their needs. Resistance sometimes is experienced when the cross or add on sale is attempted using a script or doesnot match a buying motive of the client. The challenge for client contact personnel is to quickly qualify the client and match a cross or add on product or service that will meet the client's needs. Effective "thinking on their feet" displayed by many successful cross selling professionals is a learned skill through preparation and practice. Keep in mind that a key factor in successful cross selling is a compensation or recognition plan that rewards the desired behavior. In many cases customer contact people will not make the effort if they don't understand what is in it for them to make the effective cross sell proposition.

At the conclusion of this cross selling skills workshop participants will be able to:
Relate to the compelling factors of successful cross selling or add on selling.
Understand motivational needs of customer segments.
Solve customer service issues before asking cross selling qualification questions.
Ask effective, on-target qualifying questions.
Listen well and speak slowly.
Quickly match a need with a cross sell or add on sell product or service.
Present a value proposition based on customer needs.
Refocus resistance to a cross sell or add on sell gently but with persistance.

Establish a Culture of Outstanding Customer Satisfaction
Customer service is all about attitude and communications. Service providers, for the most part, understand what is considered good customer service. In many cases other factors are putting stress on providing good customer service. These stress factors include:

Systemic processes and procedures
Technical limitations
Organizational culture
Relationship with the supervisor/manager
Before embarking on a comprehensive customer service training initiative, evaluate poor customer service causes rather than symptoms. Benchmarking current customer service satisfaction levels is an important step in establishing what areas need to be addressed.

At the conclusion of this customer service skills workshop participants will be able to:
Use behaviors that match those of the customer and avoid stress creating behaviors.
Describe what people remember in a customer service relationship.
Use appropriate telephone and active listening techniques.
Apply a quick fix - risk analysis and the "unintended" consequence.
Craft solutions that satisfy the customer and the organization.
Frame "no" in a way that gives direction.
Clarify the service agreement "contract" with the customer.
Understand internal and external customer stress.
Use techniques to refocus irrational conflict behavior.


Does your organization experience these challenges?
A team leader has important work to do; he/she needs results and the freedom to do the job but are not authorized to give orders to peers or colleagues whose cooperation is needed.
The Unit VP has asked an employee to direct a project team of contractors that all seem to have their own agendas.
The customer's project managers and engineers assigned to your sourcing program seem to want to make it as difficult as possible; with little cooperation and constant changing of priorities.
The field representative must convince, rather than direct, the franchisee to implement the new program.
In today's business environment you need to quickly persuade others to agree on a course of action that gets results. An effective deal maker knows that differences must be resolved fast and close to the action. Many times one party just hammers for pricing concessions while the other party strives to differentiate through value added solutions.

In addition, it seems that the internal struggle is more difficult than differences with customers because we feel that internal colleagues have the same goals and objectives as we do yet don't always readily understand and apply our suggestions. Therefore the ability to persuade and influence others is key to meeting the organization's objectives.



Root Cause Analysis to Fix the Problem Cause not the Symptom
Whether your employees work in a machine shop, a testing facility, an assembly shop, or another technical environment, a problem in your operation equals downtime and that can easily equal a loss of revenue! One minute of downtime can mean thousands of dollars in lost revenues. A good troubleshooter is able to ask knowledgeable sources focused questions so he or she can arrive at the "root cause." Troubleshooters need a disciplined process to deal with technical problems and insure that they will not reoccur.
In the Troubleshooting workshop participants learn a five-step approach to problem solving. They will identify and solve classic problems and problems that begin on the first day of implementation or production. (start up problems) We customize our workshop so that participants understand exactly how the process works in their environment. Cases and examples are unique to your product or process. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to apply the process to a current technical problem.

At the conclusion of the Troubleshooting Workshop, participants will be able to:

Clearly define a problem.
Utilize a five-step approach to solving a problem.
Ask systematic, specific, open questions to gather data.
Demonstrate greater skill in the use of "open, probing" questions
Analyze data to determine cause.
Verify their analysis before taking action
Solve 'start up' problems.
Apply the process to a case problem.
Apply the process to an existing work related problem.
Eliminate reoccurring problems.
Reduce the costs associated with process/product problems.
Improve teamwork by using a common process.
Avoid costly mistakes/solutions.
Improve their personal productivity as troubleshooters.

Consultative Sales Skills
Lockout Competition and Delight the Client with Strategic Partner Skills
Consultative sales skills can be used when a relationship has been established and there is a degree of mutual need. A consultative selling approach permits the sales executive to partner with the client in a consultative manner to solve problems and introduce innovative win/win solutions and applications. Effective consultative sales training focuses on enhancing the relationship by leveraging the credibility gained by the supplier through successful performance. A basic principle and foundation of consultative selling is to treat the client as a prospect by not taking the relationship for granted. Using the consultative sales approach makes it much easier to cost justify the proposition. Understanding and using Exchange Theory skills is an important element in maintaining the relationship.

At the conclusion of this consultative sales skills workshop participants will be able to:
Formulate communication strategies based on behavior style tendencies.
Use the Calibration Value Analysis process to identify business issues.
Guide the client to discovery using the Socratic questioning system.
Maintain relationship skills with entertaining and other non-business events.
Establish and nurture an inside advocate.
Employ the Theory of Exchange to maintain the relationship.
Establish executive bridging to lockout competition.
Use customer intelligence to proactively present solutions to problems.

Effective Problem Solving

Effective Problem Solving 

An unresolved problem can significantly affect customer retention, scrap, unnecessary overtime, or a host of other essential indicators. The ability to resolve a problem at its root is the heart of an efficient and productive business environment. Good problem skills are not innate. When a problem occurs, the overwhelming desire is to "jump to cause." An understanding of why things go wrong in your organization requires a gathering and analysis of information before a "fix" is put in place. Organizations are stronger and produce better quality products and services when employees have this disciplined approach toward problem solving.
At the end of the Problem Solving Workshop participants will be able to:
Properly identify a problem.
Probe the right sources for relevant information.
Use tools and techniques to analyze information.
Use the "five whys" to discover root cause.
Support the "fix" through a logical verification technique.
In addition, participants will experience:

Greater clarity of thought when analyzing a problem.
The power of a systematic investigative procedure.
The elimination of reoccurring problems.
The reduction of costs associated with unresolved process/product problems.
An improvement in teamwork by using a common process.

Enhance Decision Making Capabilities Through a Comprehensive Process
Whether it's a single department or an entire organization, a company's success is based on the quality of the decisions it makes. Should we expand the business, purchase new equipment, hire part-time personnel, or reorganize the department? The outcome of good decision-making will be reflected in the retention of customers, the decrease in scrap, the reduction in employee turnover or a number of other significant bottom line issues. Good decision-making is not innate, nor does it improve with position or power. A good decision is the direct result of knowing your criteria for success, the scope of your choices and the inherent risk of each alternative. Given the importance of good decision making, it makes sense to have a process in place that the organization understands and uses to insure that decisions are successful.
At the end of the Decision Making Workshop participants will be able to:

Involve the "right people" in a decision to insure its successful implementation.
Identify the criteria for a successful decision.
Verbalize the scope and the constraints of a decision.
Identify the likely risks and the probability of these risks occurring.
Make decisions that have positive outcomes.
In addition, participants will experience:

Greater confidence in the decisions they make.
The value of a systematic process.
An improvement in their ability to support and explain the decisions they make.
Greater credibility when presenting the rationale for a decision or a recommendation.
An improvement in teamwork by using a common process that promotes the inclusion of all stakeholders.

Garage products

Garage products

It has been said that pop culture is a barometer of the times. TV shows about custom choppers, monster garages and American ingenuity are all the rage. People care increasingly more about aesthetics and the personalization of the things they buy and the space they live in.

With that said, garages are no longer places for just storing items, as evident by the wide selection of top Diamond Life garage products available at JNK Products™. Choose from Diamond Life parking spots, pegboards, WallWare trimmings, shelves, peg strips, shelving and much more, and give your garage the custom look that you so desire.

Whether you’re looking for diamond plate garage storage cabinets or something else, you’ll certainly enjoy the revamped style and smooth look these products give to your garage. In addition to making parking easier, the DiamondParkingSpot features a bright metallic finish that will make your garage floor stand out even more. Add the cool touch of some DiamondWallWare trimming and quickly watch your garage walls take on a three-dimensional look and feel. Store your tools with a much more unique approach with the DiamondPegStrip, DiamondPegBoard and DiamondShelf and enjoy your garage’s more modern look.

Furniture for the Office

 Furniture for the Office

If you're looking for efficient and flexible furniture and office solutions  suitable for any home or business office space, you've come to the right place!

there  is  online resource for all types of office furniture products, including the latest in high-quality furniture trends from the Bush Office Furniture Company. Whether you're looking for one or two pieces of office furniture, or need to furnish an entire office space, we have a tremendous selection of Bush office furniture to meet your needs at prices you can afford!

Furniture has established a highly respected reputation throughout the furniture industry as a leading manufacturer of top-quality office furniture and accessories. Versatile configuration possibilities enable you to customize any work space to fit you needs, and Bush Furniture quality means that your entire office will continue to function and look great for years to come.

Furniture offers a wide variety of office furniture configurations for any size office. From large and small desks to Pro panels, book shelves, conference tables and various office furniture accessories, your office will look spectacular in no time at all with these furniture pieces from Bush Industries! We also offer the exclusive Saratoga executive office furniture from Bush Furniture, which will add class and elegance to any office space.

Purchasing your Bush office furniture from JNK Products not only guarantees you top-quality furniture products, but also a superior level of customer service and support from our experienced professional team here at JNK.