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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Personal Post (PP) about MD (Meidcal Doctor) systolic pressure

When I decided to restart this blog I had to make a decision as to whether I'd allow it or not to be personal. Obviously my personal life, readings and opinions will inform the take I put on articles I talk about, but would I directly talk about my life ? What if I want to whinge about the guy I work with that can't make decent coffee without putting me in fear for the safety of my coffee machine ?
I could keep it anonymous but that's kind of blown out of the water since it's called cornescast.
We've had a bereavement in the family, and I want to make this blog related to technology and not a personal counselling / whining / ranting platform. I'm not going to talk about the past 48 hours directly but rather the experience it's given me. Not the person who died or how upset I was, it's all kinda a given. Needless to say I'd never actually watched a person die. There was a protocol that demanded my presence today at the bedside, twice I acknowledged my want to leave and go away from this problem, it wasn’t nice seeing life ebb away, although I’m glad I was there at the end but I don’t know why, and certainly don’t know whether I’d do it again.
Of the varying devices and monitors hooked up the primary focus was one CRT that represented, heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and saturation levels. These each had a trace and numerical data, you don’t need to be a physician to know as the numbers go down so does TTL.
Where am I going with this ? Well I could have a discussion about the fact that the system looked java’esque (cheers ajf) and whether that's appropriate but I’d rather do some more research into that one, other than a cursory lecture I attended into RTJ; as part of a real time course.
I think though I’m going to discuss the amount or jargon we use. As a member of a club, an elite group we can say phrases like “Pipelining”, “Stack trace” and “RTJ”, “TLA” etc. and expect those we use them at to understand them and have a conversational flow incorporating these phrases without missing a beat. Unless we’re using them to make people go away by scaring them – which I never do honest… and NEVER to my boss. I remember a scene from Good morning Vietnam (sorry rwad) in which Robin Williams delivers a short monologue consisting of every military acronym, “Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P. shouldn't we keep the P.C. on the Q.T. 'cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could become a M.I.A. and then we'd all be put out on K.P.” Sportsmen do it, “Rowing bow side, catch a crab, feather, love, off side”. When does it become ok to use them indiscriminately ? I heard a program on Radio 4 last week about why legalese is all still in Latin ? Some lawyers argue it’s because the Latin conveys in the truest sense every nuance of the words. That’s why we pay them so much they spend x years learning what they all mean and how to use them to win or case. Computing is similar I walk into a meeting and I must prove I know what I’m talking about in some sense this can be done in verbal jousting. Similar in principal to playing Mornington crescent from the outside it sounds like you’re talking in depth about a serious and fundamental piece of theory whereas sometimes it’s all complete rubbish. This is fine if incorporated into a game, like MC, or if you are in an environment where truly everyone knows what you mean. However it can too easily be allowed to slip into a situation whereby nobody would like to be the first to admit they don’t know why the “Pole is on the left side of the map and has an even number of zeros”. A level of abstraction is created and this then propagates outwards and we forget that at some point we might need to break through them all and say it in plain English. So when I asked a medical professional what the two blood pressure numbers mean, rather than answering “Well the top number is the systolic pressure and the number underneath is the diastolic measurement.” I’d get something along the lines of “The upper number is the pressure of the blood against the artery walls when the heart contracts the lower number is the pressure against the artery walls when the heart relaxes between beats”. Enough of the rant, what do I propose, what is my answer ? Consider thy audience. Just as the likes of presentation Zen say, consider to whom you are speaking. If the people you are with understand what a pipeline cache burst is, a term I am reliably informed one of my associates came out with the other day, then that’s fine. If you are pitching to your client or non technical manager then don’t use it. Never try to show how much you know by throwing words around. Don’t try to win arguments by using terms that are superfluous. You don’t win, you just let the person know you’re panicking and trying to scare then. Explain in language they understand. That is the mark of intelligence; know when to be technical and when to be ‘normal’. Look at the most persuasive people you know, the natural leaders, they can judge this balance well. They are persuasive speakers because they tailor their speech to the people to whom they’re speaking. I hope this article is aimed at an audience and I hope I write to that audience well… all 4 of them !


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