Goodies to Go (tm)
February 23, 2000-- Newsletter #68

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
February 23, 2000--Newsletter #68
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Greetings Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Have you been tipped off to, yet? It's a site that offers to alter the background of your browser. I mean the background of the browser - up there where the BACK, FORWARD, etc., buttons are. It looks pretty neat, but you make the decision to make the change or not.

Did you hear...

U.S. Representative Christopher Cox, (Republican-California), and Senator Ron Wyden, (Democrat -Oregon) are thinking about entering a bill that will force adult sites to identify themselves by having the word "adult" in their URL. The new addresses could look something like That's a pretty good idea actually. It can be done simply without changing the domain and then easily caught by protection software. I like this.

Film Director Tim Burton (Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Batman, Beetlejuice) has gone decidedly high tech. He has agreed to produce a series of short films in Shock format for Those will be cool, no doubt. He follows on the heels of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park who have already done some work in Shockwave.

The alphabet soup of code names continues. The World Wide Web Consortium has gone forward with a plan to combine HTML and XML into XHTML. Really. XML is going to be the wave of the Internet future and rather than have two separate languages, HTML 4.0 is being made part of XML and called XHTML. It's actually a smart move as now single browsers will have the DTD required to run both under the same umbrella. Don't fret - you can still code just like you always did. It'll work just fine.

Now onto today's topic...

I teach public speaking as part of my professor job. It's a great class. You really see students come alive.

One of the topics we hit hard is how to anticipate, field, and answer questions from the audience. Most of the time, audience members are polite and ask questions that deal with the topic you're speaking on, but every now and again, you get someone who is using your speech as a time to vent. He or she is going to stand up and yell and get in their say no matter what you do. Do you know how to field this type of person?

Let them have their say.

Never get into an argument with someone who doesn't care to argue. The concept of allowing the person to vent is that they usually will paint themselves into a corner and end up looking the fool for their rude behavior.

I watched President Clinton do this beautifully at one of his speeches. A young man stood up and went ballistic. President Clinton stopped the Secret Service from grabbing the guy and allowed him to rant for a full minute. When he was done, the audience saw him as rude and I'm sure he skipped twice before coming to a stop outside the door.

You may not have noticed this yet, but there is now an equal to that guy popping up on the Web. There's even a term for it - "cyberventing".

One of the original sites, allows people to rant and rave about their boss and post it for all the world to see.

There is also and and Each is set up to be forum where people can come and vent their frustrations and have their say.

It's the adult version of "nyah, nyah, nyah nyah nyah".

I say that because, in reality, this kind of venting may make someone feel better, but it's an unfair fight. The venting person is out there alone. No one is there to dispute what he or she says, and if there's anger - it's my belief that the venting party just might stretch the truth a bit. (Gee...ya' think?)

These sites that offer a forum for venting are making money in a Jerry Springer mode. People come to read the latest unabashed rant. As far as I see, the sites were not so much interested in changing what is happening, they're just a place to stand and complain. The statements have no ring past the end of the last word.

And in all honesty, do you like hanging around the guy at the office who does nothing but complain?

Many companies are following the ignore-and-it-will-go-away format, WalMart for instance. I think that's the best method myself.

I think that if WalMart went after the little cyberventing site, they'd be seen as a big bully and that could do more harm than good. Besides...maybe there's a hint of truth to what is being said, hmmm?

You may already be thinking that cyberventing is one thing, but it was only a matter of time before someone seeks to do harm through a bold-faced lie. A cyberventer accused some members of HealthSouth Corp of some nasty stuff that just wasn't true. The venters were tracked down and sued for defamation of character, as well they should have been.

In another case, K-Mart went after a vent site requesting they take down the BigK logo. They did and K-Mart has paid them little attention since.

Cyberventing is not just reserved for employees of large corporations either. From small to large, pretty much any boss is up for ridicule. The sites mentioned above are allowing posts from all walks of life and people are coming to read.

I'd like to say I think this is a good release, but I see it more like writing something nasty about the boss on the bathroom wall...and not signing your name. I still believe that if you have a problem with the boss, you go and talk to him or her. If your boss is fully overbearing, you go onto another job. Both my wife and I have left positions because the boss set standards so high that goals were unattainable and not meeting those goals brought down a firestorm. We believe the money isn't as importance as our happiness.

Working for a horrible person is bad enough. If you then take that anger and vent it on the Web, you simply spread it around. In addition, you really haven't released it from yourself. Sure, you've gotten upset, yelled for the world to see, but nothing has changed. The boss will still be there Monday morning.

Mom was right. You don't talk about someone behind his or her back. You wouldn't want it if you were the boss. I don't like what these sites represent or what they offer. Others are finding entertainment in your pain. That's not healthy.

The sites will go on, no doubt. Many will post. Many will read. People will giggle behind a boss's back thanks to a post, but nothing gets done. The wheels spin and the boss never gets the message he or she's not being helpful.

Life's too short to surround yourself with hatred and anger. Put effort behind finding happiness rather than looking for a forum to vent anger.


That's that. Thanks again for reading. Be happy.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: The longest one word place name found in the U.S. Postal directory is "Charlottesville". There's one in Virginia and one in Indiana.

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