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Melissa Hall


Melissa Hall

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I like April Fools posts

I had a class where one of the texts was "How to Lie with Maps" and we worked on making dishonest maps with the idea that we would have a hard time spotting signs of dishonesty if we had not learned how to deceive. Not only did I learn that, I started thinking more critically about maps once I had experience of how maps could hide bad data.

Fake April 1st posts follow the same pattern . They make me think about the things I look at for credibility and evaluate how I decide what information on the internet I accept.

A good example of this type of messing with the authoritative voice is linked below.  Not all pranks are that good.  But all of them mess with the idea that we accept information on the internet as true.

If the internet is going to have a holiday I think that this one is a hell of a good choice.  It highlights an inherent weakness in the system by celebrating it creating intentional failures so we can develop better detection
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Melissa Hall

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I get a lot of email for other people named Melissa Hall trying to confirm accounts I did not sign up for

Usually these things are sent from do not reply emails and often they have no way to report "this is not me"

Often I will send an email to  support. Sometimes this results in nothing sometimes they ask me to do a bunch of stuff like I am the user.

But this one takes the cake.  Someone mistakenly signed up for TurboTax with my email that was sent from a do not reply and had this link telling me that they do not care about my problem, have no process to deal with my problem and that I should just relax and not care that someone else's tax return information is going to show up in my email

I mean seriously?  Who does this?
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And I just used TurboTax ;P. They kept trying to sneak in their TurboTaxPlus for $30, I was super diligent not to agree to it, but they nearly sneaked it past me!  I had to backtrack to figure out where I had agreed to it. Not Cool.
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Melissa Hall

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I don't often share publicly, but this is important.  Read it, share it, it is a good way to be better to each other

Now, I’m not telling what to do (cause, you know, Underpants Rule) but I’m suggesting that if you don’t like it when people attempt to be the boss of your underpants, then trying to be the boss of someone else’s is pretty hypocritical.  I’m fairly certain that “Do unto others exactly what you don’t want them to do to you” is the lead rule or the brick rule or something – at any rate a LOT of steps down from platinum and gold.
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I love Ragen's writing. She used to live here in Austin, and she's even more funny and engaging in person.
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Melissa Hall

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Marjorie Courtenay Latimer was not formally trained, but she brought an important species to the attention of the scientific world when she was sorting though fishermen's bycatch looking for interesting things to put in a museum and saw a coelacanth,a type of fish that was until then known to the scientific community only through fossils.

Picture credit to

NY time Obit

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Melissa Hall

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About trigger warnings and polices about professors and students:

Young people are not asking to be pampered they simply asking others to behave. 

I don't think us older folks were really quite prepared for young people to develop manners. 

However because they live in a big world, a world of arab springs, indeterminate gender, a babble or cultures, people who have suffered and people who are still mostly safe in their little new englad towns they have come up with a set of cultural norms in shared spaces and they expect people, even us ancients, to be polite.

And it surprises us older people because no one taught them that, they just came up with it out of necessity. They had to because as much as people might try to coddle them these are kids who are growing up in a big scary world, not a safe little town. 

Yes, the older generation might not see it because online spaces are not "real" for them, but they are for these young people.  And these kids?  They have figured out how to deal with a global conversation

And when older people encounter a request to respect these norms? They act as if they are dealing with delicate flowers instead of amazing cultural pioneers.  I guess that way it is easy to ignore just how poorly they prepared these young people. Being condescending is way to ignore the fact that despite being older, we are not the experts here.

So yea, rules against not sleeping with professors? They are sort of there to try to stop it, but more importantly they are there to balance the risk. A professor probably has the ability to hurt a young person's entire career if a breakup gets nasty. Rule like this mean the young person has some leverage too making this more of a peer relationship

Which makes objections my older professors feel really creepy- it sounds like they are saying they want to sleep with young people who are powerless to stop them if they become vindictive or possessive.

Trigger warnings?  They are not about the fact that people are weak, they are about the fact that these kids have grown up in a world where you respect readers as well as writers, listeners as well as speakers.  A world where being on stage does not mean that everyone has to or should listen.  

I get you don't get it, but don't assume that they are coming from a place of naivete, I suspect that you will find more and more often that it is older people who are coming from a place that is unsophisticated because your dealt with diversity as something to be sought, these kids have had it all around them and have actually developed tools other than binoculars to deal with it

Let me add this is an experiment in public posting.  If it goes poorly I will lock this and slip it back behind my wall, but keep that in mind if you comment
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+Garnet Griffin yes, my mileage definitely varies regarding what is or isn't good manners.

But good point about the use of trigger warnings not necessarily as a "never want to see this" but possibly as a "to look at only when feeling strong enough" kind of label. I have a friend who posts on G+ and uses content notes in exactly that way, suggesting that you only read it when you're feeling up to it.
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Melissa Hall

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E-Mail, Leadership and Power

This is what I see every morning when I check my work email- well not always this, it is often full and every once in a while I fall below 180MB but it is unusual to have that much space available.

My email for work has so little server space that it is essentially broken.  And it isn't like large image files, pdfs or geographic data is going to stop coming to my email.

I am not allowed to have an FTP and no one but the GeoData people would probably use it even if I were allowed.

So at least once and usually a few times a day I go hunting for something to archive off the server so I can send and receive email.  And that is if I am lucky enough to be at my computer- the mail app on my phone?  It just stops working.

Which is all to say I totally understand the stories about Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush running their own email systems.  Government email is often broken.

It is also to explain why I consider it unforgivable and a clear sign that neither should be a leader.

They had a problem with a system everyone that worked for them had to use.  They solved it for themselves and only themselves.  That more than any open records violations is what I consider deeply shameful here.  

Yep I am a huge fan of open records, but that is a standard you hold a good public servant to, in this case both of these people failed a bigger test, that of being a good human being.

When you have a widespread problem that you have the power to solve because of a leadership role and you use that power to only solve your own instance of that problem?  

Not something I consider even remotely ok....

Real leaders solve their own problem last.
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But if the systems put in place by the bureaucracy are not serving the needs of its users, then people will find a way to get their work done another way.

I don't know that it needs to be illegal to set up a home server... I'd rather it be illegal that the systems providers delay or impede the work of their users, either by inefficiency, policy, or malice.
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Melissa Hall

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This is a rare public post from me

Today in a side conversation about floodplain management academic programs, we got on the subject about how the content of education almost doesn't matter.

When I was thinking about going back to school this was something I noticed.  The graduate schools told me about the information I would acquire.  The law programs told me I would think differently.  That seemed far more attractive.

So I kind of tossed together this list of content agnostic skills I would have liked to have developed in my education.  I thought I would share it to hear what you thought of it and what you think I might have missed


Using information
     - How to find relevant information
     - How to validate information
     - How to approach conflicting information
     - How to turn raw data into useful information
Professional Relationships
     -How to be an empowering peer
     -How to be a dependable subordinate
     -How to manage people and projects
     -Communicating progress
     - Dealing with professional conflict
          - How to apologise
          - How to be an effective neutral
     - How to understand the limits of your knowledge 
     - How to deal with not being good at something
     - Doing the work required
     - Making mistakes
     - Being wrong and learning from it
     - Communicating what you have learned, teaching 
     -Figuring out who you need to be listening to
     - Listening for meaning and feeling
     - Listening to how people communicate, to choose how to communicate with them
-Advocating for a cause
     - Public speaking
          -When you are an expert
          -When you are not an expert
          -To audiences with shared traits
          - To diverse audiences
          - Technical material to people who do not have the relevant technical background
          - Answering questions
     -Analyzing an argument
     - Building an Argument
     - Analyzing conflicting arguments
     - Responding constructively to competing arguments
     - Building consensus 
Problem Solving
     - Recognizing when there is a problem
     - Defining (articulating) a problem
     - Analysing the solvability of a problem
     - Solving a problem alone
     - Working with others to solve a problem as peers
     - Working with others to solve a problem as an expert
     - Working with others to solve a problem when you are not the expert
     - Recognizing problems that  are created by solutions

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Way late to this, but wow. This should be part of the basic curriculum for high school seniors and college freshmen. May I reshare it?
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Melissa Hall

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This is very annoying, my new Nexus 7 2 will not connect to my verizion FiOS router, it says it has an authentication problem. It worked fine before the system update.  I am going to try a factory reset but I am very annoy monkey right now.  It will connect to my phone's hotspot so it isn't all wireless just my homes
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Mine magically started working before I resorted to the factory reset, but it did take like 5 to ten minutes before my computer displayed the files on the Nexus. I also suspect the upgrade from 4.2 to 4.3 as some of my applications that were working before the upgrade no longer work. Super lame and annoying.
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Melissa Hall

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Thanks for those who reviewed imagery and a plea for more help at
FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Hall thanks people who have been helping review aerial imagery at
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Melissa Hall

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Help CAP review pictures from Sandy and rank the damage.
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Basic Information
Pithy is not my thing.
Bragging rights
I have largely managed to avoid specializing.