Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

PowerPoint Rant Costs Colonel His Job

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the truth-will-out dept.

The Military 194

twoallbeefpatties writes "Wired reports that a 61-year-old reservist in Afghanistan was fired from his job as a staff officer after writing a sardonic op-ed criticizing the daily briefings provided by his taskforce, portraying them as little more than a neverending stream of redundant PowerPoint slideshows. This came after attempts to reform the process by giving his superiors a presentation that, of course, included five PowerPoint slides." Maybe he should have presented it as an art project instead of a complaint.

cancel ×

194 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Powerpoint in the military (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399188)

Apparently he's not alone [nytimes.com] in his distaste for powerpoint.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

treeves (963993) | about 4 years ago | (#33399388)

Colonel Tufte [wired.com] certainly agrees.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (5, Informative)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 4 years ago | (#33399394)

Just google, "Powerpoint makes you stupid"

The first that I had heard about this was from a NASA scientist following the Columbia accident. He said that there were too many variables and choices that had to be left out of slides because there was a limit to how much detail could be displayed given (readable) font size and screen resolution

This leads to multiple slides to cover a single topic, and the loss of fresh visual memory as the presentation moves from slide to slide.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/29/AR2005082901444.html [washingtonpost.com]

Re:Powerpoint in the military (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 4 years ago | (#33399464)

Powerpoint also ASSUMES your audience is stupid.

Too stupid to grasp the facts unless presented as bullets.

Powerpoint has the presenter making the notes (on slides) that the audience should have made. Essentially the presentation seems to go directly to notes without bothering to stop in anyone's head along the way.

Cliff notes minus the student.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (2, Interesting)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | about 4 years ago | (#33399540)

The presenters you've seen are doing it wrong. The presenter must put important information on the slides but it is still up to the audience to fill in the gaps with notes. I love the 3 slides/page handout because it comes with a handy note-taking area next to each slide.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33399896)

Indeed, Powerpoint and similar when used correctly are helpful. The problem is that people don't generally know how to use presentation software. Good uses are diagrams relevant to the talk, and a hint as to what the take away is from a section. The problem is that rather than using it as a supplement to the talk, people are essentially putting the entire talk into the Powerpoint and then reading it to the people there. Which is bunk. Personally, I don't use it at all because it's quite a bit easier for me to keep people paying attention if I'm tracking what they're looking like and changing things up as needed.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (2, Interesting)

Gonzo The Gr8 (952908) | about 4 years ago | (#33400182)

I love the 3 slides/page handout because it comes with a handy note-taking area next to each slide.

I hate those things. Unless you are a very concise note taker, there is never enough room for decent notes, and IMHO they make the slide itself way too small. Also, (and I know this is as much the presenter's fault as the format) I HATE when the slides are "made available" electronically by distributing .pdf's of them in that format.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (5, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about 4 years ago | (#33399606)

"Powerpoint also ASSUMES your audience is stupid."

No, god damnit, it doesn't. Power point is a tool designed to be used in presentations. It is NOT AND HAS NEVER BEEN a substitute for presentations. You're SUPPOSED to put your points in bullets because you're there giving the presentation to elaborate upon said bullet points. The audience is not "too stupid" to grasp what you're talking about. However, if you put three paragraphs of text on one slide and talk at the same time then the audience has to decide whether to listen to you or read your slides.

The notes field is there so that you can distribute the presentation to people who weren't there, or to save your audience the time and work of writing down their own notes. This gives you the ability to add information relevant to your presentation that should not be directly discussed. For example, you might simply put an equation and its solution on a slide. You can show your work in the notes for anyone who wants to check this. It also prevents different people from copying down incorrect things. (i.e. your slide says "3.14159" and someone writes down "314159" by mistake.)

If you have found that your audience is "too stupid" to understand your presentations when you read directly off of the slides then the problem is with you, no one else. Not the audience, and most certainly not the tool. Seriously, bitching that power point results in bad presentations is like complaining that a hammer results in injuries when you smack yourself in the head. Power point is absurdly easy to use, the only reason presentations are bad is because people don't take the time to make good ones, and anyone who calls them on this gets the same treatment of the colonel mentioned in the article. Anyone who criticizes bad presentations gets the axe, and people continue to make bad presentations.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (0, Offtopic)

Curate (783077) | about 4 years ago | (#33399798)

You just put three paragraphs of text into one Slashdot post. Do you expect me to read all that? Please summarize into bullet points. Thanks!

Re:Powerpoint in the military (5, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33399892)

o T
o L
o D
o R

Re:Powerpoint in the military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399840)

I disagree. Mod him down.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (5, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 4 years ago | (#33399874)

Seriously, bitching that power point results in bad presentations is like complaining that a hammer results in injuries when you smack yourself in the head.

Brilliant analogy! As a physics prof I've had colleagues express surprise that I use electronic slides at all (I actually use OpenOffice since its maths with OOoLatex is far superior to PowerPoint). However I use them as you describe interspersed with more detailed derivations/examples on the whiteboard and while it took a little trial and error to get the balance between the two right it seems to work very well for me now and the students love have the slides as a framework to annotate.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#33400036)

Brilliant analogy! As a physics prof I've had colleagues express surprise that I use electronic slides at all (I actually use OpenOffice since its maths with OOoLatex is far superior to PowerPoint). However I use them as you describe interspersed with more detailed derivations/examples on the whiteboard and while it took a little trial and error to get the balance between the two right it seems to work very well for me now and the students love have the slides as a framework to annotate.

I'm fairly sure that after one quick experiment with the new technology, if that, they dismissed it as "newfangled technology" with "no discernible purpose in a physics class". Professors are all too willing to dismiss technologies in this fashion, rather than learn how to use them properly to augment their current skillset.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (5, Insightful)

AdamHaun (43173) | about 4 years ago | (#33400144)

No, god damnit, it doesn't. Power point is a tool designed to be used in presentations. It is NOT AND HAS NEVER BEEN a substitute for presentations.

Unfortunately, what PowerPoint slides (and presentations) are being used for is a substitute for every other form of communication. Instead of specs, essays, helpful diagrams, and properly organized data, we have slides, slides, slides, and slides. Usually the slides are explained once in one meeting or conference call and then passed around, giving the illusion that information is written down in a usable form. In reality, if you really want to know what's going on you have to call the author (if they even bother to write their name), wasting your time and theirs.

You're right that PowerPoint doesn't force people to communicate poorly, and poor communication has many causes. But PowerPoint does make poor communication easier, and 80-90% of people are using it wrong. The argument of Tufte et al boils down to this: regardless of whether it's a good tool or a bad tool, PowerPoint is not the *right* tool.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#33399802)

As someone who have given numerous presentations, Power Point can be very useful, but it is simply a visual aid and not intended to "be" the presentation. I always put required detail on handouts, or show whatever program on the projector that I needed to. Many of my power point presentations for a 2 hour meeting were only 5 slides long - I only ever put bullet points on the slide and I NEVER simply read the slides. Like most tools Power Point is abused - if your only tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail, and don't even get me started on people who use Word for layout...

Got the quote wrong (5, Funny)

Frequency Domain (601421) | about 4 years ago | (#33399876)

If Powerpoint is your hammer, everything looks like a thumb.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33399900)

I just cancelled a post on a premonition that I'd read your post saying what i was going to say almost exactly how I'd have said it.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (2, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | about 4 years ago | (#33399996)

Nice set of four bullet points there. All you need is some completely irrelevant clip art and a useless animation and you'll be ready to for the CUA.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 years ago | (#33400316)

Powerpoint also ASSUMES your audience is stupid.

Sometimes they actually ARE stupid. Or rather, don't really care. Judging from the colonel's text, this is one of those times. He says he hasn't done anything for months, and the slides never change, and yet they are all required to be there. Sounds like mandatory mental nap time.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 4 years ago | (#33399590)

...as opposed to repeatedly writing on a blackboard and erasing as you go?

rj

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#33399534)

He displayed testicular fortitude, and he can afford to get fired. I salute him.

Re:Powerpoint in the military (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33399916)

There's guts and then there's stupidity. I'm guessing that as a Colonel, that perhaps he should've known better than to write such a thin as an Op-ed piece. The military is not a democracy and while expressing respect for rank can get one some leeway, certain things are just not to be discussed other than with requisite discretion.

Being fired like this is almost certain to have zero impact on anything going on. Had he opted to more or less keep his mouth shut he could've at least impressed upon his subordinates that they are not to do it themselves.

see power point can cost you your job (1, Redundant)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about 4 years ago | (#33399214)

I see people using power point way too much. Professors/teachers use it too much. Most students just download the power point so they do not have to attend class.

Can we just say no to power point?

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Romancer (19668) | about 4 years ago | (#33399306)

For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information. Even one tiny flaw in a slide can halt a general's thought processes as abruptly as a computer system's blue screen of death.

Sounds like he agrees.

And DAMN, that's gotta hurt. No wonder he's in trouble, he presented the shit outta that. :)

Re:see power point can cost you your job (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about 4 years ago | (#33399392)

I remember reading about this rant (or a very similar rant) awhile ago [slashdot.org] and I was wondering what the repercussions would be.

Unfortunately sometimes you can't just talk one-on-one to everyone and you will have to present information to a large group. Your options for presenting information to a crowd:
--vocal: just talking for an hour, which is popular in many religions, and we all remember what the sermon was about last Sunday, right?
--visual text: just endless paragraphs so they can read along which, as far as I can tell, no one does
--multimedia: pictures, audio and video that attempts to explain in a manner easily digestible, hence Powerpoint

Sorry out of the 3 options I'd have to go with powerpoint presentations. I'm not sure what the Colonel would prefer, but I'm pretty sure there would be a quiet riot if someone walked in and just spoke for an hour or put endless pages of text up on a overhead.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (4, Informative)

Romancer (19668) | about 4 years ago | (#33399442)

I think you're missing the point (pun intended).

He's talking about just relying on powerpoint to give information. To actually have the slideshow mean something without giving it any real information to start with.

Crap in = crap out. (with pretty graphs and moving icons)

He complains that just having a powerpoint presentation every 12 hours is not the same as having an actual breifing and discussion of information. It's not that you couldn't use powerpoint to do it, but that you have to have, as a goal, the need to actually accomplish something besides presenting a slideshow. Presenting the slideshow not a goal in itself as he claims that it is treated. He mentions that the slides don't even change. Now that would be a hell I would try and avoid.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 years ago | (#33400272)

Yeah my workplace is a power point tragic. One time the annual christmas dinner had power point. I noticed recently that power point is now an acceptable format for resumes at many employment agencies.

This is where I get off...

Re:see power point can cost you your job (2, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | about 4 years ago | (#33399444)

Agreed. The content may have been inane, but that's not PowerPoint's fault.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#33399456)

I'm in the military. PowerPoint is used A LOT in the military, and that is because it is an excellent tool for a presenter to use.

A lot of people imagine the worst PowerPoint presenter they've ever had when they rant about PowerPoint being bad... but it's an exceedingly useful tool and this is why it persists today.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#33399612)

MAybe the need a power point cadence song?

Re:see power point can cost you your job (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399632)

I recently got out of the military. Powerpoint is used A LOT in the military because A LOT of the people being briefed are only able to handle highly formatted, repetitive, infovomit.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 years ago | (#33400278)

infovomit.

Great word.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (2, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 4 years ago | (#33399652)

It IS possible for something to just be terrible and still widely used for reasons of pure inertia and arbitrary (likely unintelligent) mandates. Not everything that is popular is also necessarily good.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#33400000)

There is no mandate to use Powerpoint. There was a recent Slashdot article that said Generals "demanded PowerPoint", but really... Giving voice-only presentations is a terrible way to get your audience to absorb the information you are trying to impart on them.

Additionally, for a lot of intelligence briefings, you need charts and maps in order to show hotspots and trends. Unless you think it's easier to update a gigantic real-life map using acrylic overlay (the old way of doing it) and then haul it to briefings to show on a giant easel to the command, you're better off using PowerPoint.

Useless, unneeded briefings are a different topic entirely, and I am not covering that in this post. I am only talking about the usefulness of PowerPoint for a presenter and his/her audience.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (3, Funny)

dsginter (104154) | about 4 years ago | (#33399600)

Unfortunately sometimes you can't just talk one-on-one to everyone and you will have to present information to a large group. Your options for presenting information to a crowd:
--vocal: just talking for an hour, which is popular in many religions, and we all remember what the sermon was about last Sunday, right?
--visual text: just endless paragraphs so they can read along which, as far as I can tell, no one does
--multimedia: pictures, audio and video that attempts to explain in a manner easily digestible, hence Powerpoint

The delicious irony of explaining the situation with what might as well be a powerpoint slide. Nice bullet points. A+++ would buy again.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (5, Interesting)

professionalfurryele (877225) | about 4 years ago | (#33399642)

The problem is that Powerpoint, like Word, defaults to making it very easy for the user to do stupid things or does stupid things by default.
Changing the font size on a slide should be difficult because you should very rarely if ever do it. Fitting more than 4 bullet points on a slide should be hard because you should very rarely if ever do it. There shouldn't be any templates that let you put half a billion graphs and a picture on one slide. Backgrounds shouldn't be complicated and busy by default. There shouldn't be default colour schemes that make Egyptian Hieroglyphs easy to read or reminds people of the good old days of green on black monitors.
Transitions shouldn't be something one picks out of a line up, they should be something you look up how to do because you have a good reason. Unless you are trying to emulate the wipes from Star Wars then you have no good reason to go wiping slides from left to right distracting your entire audience. The default font for body text on a slide should be big enough that it is not only easy to read but also makes it impossible to write an essay on the slide.
Most people are crap at giving Powerpoint presentations but can you really blame them? It's a piece of shit that just cant compete with something like Beamer for sensible defaults. It practically begs you to do 500 slides filled with wipes, animations, walls of text, half a billion shitty Excel graphs with crappy hard to understand axes, stupid colour schemes, shitty backgrounds and walls of text and then rush through the presentation like your morning coffee was laced with methamphetamine.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

kiwimate (458274) | about 4 years ago | (#33400122)

Most people are crap at giving Powerpoint presentations but can you really blame them?

Yes, quite easily, in much the same way as I can blame "sysadmins" who routinely give people admin access to a server because they don't know how to set up access properly. That may be the easiest way out if you don't know what you're doing; if you take a little time to understand the tool you're using, it's just as quick and easy to do it properly.

It practically begs you to do 500 slides filled with wipes blah blah blah TLDR

I can see why you think Powerpoint and Word make it easy to do stupid things by default. Your post is a turgid ramble with no coherent structure. If you can't write a few basic paragraphs that succinctly and clearly describe your position when using a bare bones text entry screen, then having powerful tools will simply allow you to present a more powerfully messed up turgid ramble.

They're tools. If a user rushes head first into any tool and starts pressing buttons or typing commands without understanding how to properly use the tool, then...well...garbage in, garbage out. It's the equivalent of RTFM.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33400324)

Gotta say, that's the first time I've seen anyone complain about a Microsoft product because it's too easy for people to use.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (3, Interesting)

Gaffod (939100) | about 4 years ago | (#33399646)

I do not understand this whole thing. The slide [msn.com] touted in your link as the epitome of what is wrong with PowerPoint slides (what does a complicated diagram have to do with presentations?) looks very useful. It illustrates many relationships between the many elements involved, and illustrates how ANSF, for example, has no effect on the economy or infrastructure or vice versa.

Admittedly there is too much information in it, it should be split in 2 for showing institution interactions and concepts, and strength of relation should be shown by line thickness.

I routinely deal with very similar charts for biochemistry and intracellular signaling. They are a godsend for those times when you get lost and forget which element does what, and with complicated systems I get lost every 5 minutes.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#33400028)

I think a lot of people are missing the point of the slide. While I am not the creator, I'm certain the intent was not for the slide to be used. Rather, it's probably a slide meant to be briefly shown to the audience while a presenter says, "Take a look at how complicated the decision-making process is. What seems like a small decision or action has wide-reaching implications that are difficult to predict in advance, to say the least."

I doubt this slide was meant to be useful for longer than the ten seconds it takes to make that point to the audience. There is nobody looking for meaningful connections in the slide, and nobody is using it for actual mission planning.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Gaffod (939100) | about 4 years ago | (#33400070)

Some nodes are too abstract for practical mission planning use, as I have said splitting abstract and practical elements into separate graphs for theorizing and planning would be better.

I do not think its best use is to illustrate the simple point. I would expect that colonels are able to believe their general when he says "the situation is complicated", rather than demanding evidence like wisecracking schoolchildren.

Note how a different kind of arrow is used to show delayed effect. That kind of detail is pointless for a 10-second snapshot.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#33400230)

There are already checklists for mission planning.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Gaffod (939100) | about 4 years ago | (#33400254)

A relation map does not simply duplicate a checklist's functionality. I do not think you have been able to follow the discussion.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#33400328)

I guarantee mission planning steps take into account the relation map you reference through means of checklist, especially higher-level mission planning.

Think about it this way... if you use the relation map, you still have to do things one step at a time, anyway.

Re:see power point can cost you your job (1)

shog9 (154858) | about 4 years ago | (#33399658)

Wait... So my choices are:

1) a poor public speaker
2) a poor public speaker (with subtitles)
3) a poor public speaker (with pictures and sound effects)

Shucks... Those all suck. But...

With #1, you can do your best to focus. Take notes, use a recorder or memorization tricks... You'll probably miss some portions, and misunderstand others, but with a bit of luck you'll manage to come away with the gist of it.

With #2, you can try to get a copy of the presentation and just read it later, so even though your time has been wasted at least you can still get the information. If you can print out a copy before hand, you can take notes in the margins, or just use the time to read it, thus avoiding some of the waste and potentially allowing you to ask questions.

With #3, you're screwed. There's no verbatim print-out, and now you have flashing images and sounds to compete for your attention span.

A good presenter uses the tools available - whether software, whiteboard, or merely his own voice - to complement the material he's trying to communicate. A bad presenter takes the same tools and distracts himself and his audience. The problem isn't powerpoint - it's thinking that sprinkling powerpoint on a dull, dense presentation magically makes communication happen, expecting that the same folk who couldn't manage to streamline their verbal communication will somehow manage to extract the key points when faced with a dizzying array of new tools for amplifying and emphasizing whatever garbage is fed into them...

Did they fire him... (1)

bl4nk (607569) | about 4 years ago | (#33399216)

... via PowerPoint?

powerpoint rangers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399248)

powerpoint rangers we were warned years ago about this. whats wrong with ascii text?

His commanding officer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399266)

Or, as Sellin put it, “endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information.”

I bet his commanding officer fired him at the special power-point presentation that they gave to help him grasp the meaning of the word "cognitive".

Re:His commanding officer... (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 4 years ago | (#33399490)

nope the commanding officers rarely attended the meetings forcing instead mid level managers (colonel's) to do nothing but actually attend endless meetings.

In another article I read there are some 1800 LT colonels, and 700 actual troop commanding jobs for them in the british army. that is just asking for trouble.

Re:His commanding officer... (2, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 4 years ago | (#33399566)

In another article I read there are some 1800 LT colonels, and 700 actual troop commanding jobs for them in the british army. that is just asking for trouble.

You got your numbers wrong. One of these lieutenant colonels is supposed to command 700 troops. The number was that there are about 100 times that many in the British army, so 100 LT colonels would be needed. Out of 1800. Not 700, but 100.

Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (3, Insightful)

Sepodati (746220) | about 4 years ago | (#33399294)

He should have kept his rant to PowerPoint instead of basically saying he was a part of a worthless organization. You should expect to get fired in any industry when you say that to your boss or the media.

-John

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (5, Interesting)

Walter White (1573805) | about 4 years ago | (#33399482)

[...] You should expect to get fired in any industry when you say that to your boss or the media.

Who else here thinks that is exactly what he wanted. He's a Ph.D., stuck in the reserves in a sinecure job in Afghanistan. He just wants to go home.

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399532)

No, he gives a shit, and took a stab at making the system better, and by stab I mean a career destroying rant, and not just his. Kudos.

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#33399640)

Why do you think he will go home?

haha, I just though of Colonial Clink and general hofstedder(?).

General: "Clink If you disturb me one more time, I will send you to the front!"

Clink: "Yes General hofstedder"

Hogan: "I'll go bang your hot secretary now."

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 4 years ago | (#33400030)

Please, be specific.

Hofstaeder always threatened to send Klink to the Russian front.

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (4, Funny)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | about 4 years ago | (#33399512)

Not only that, he specifically called out his own position as having too many and himself as unproductive. I think any of us would get fired if we went to our boss and said: "We have WAY too many software engineers, I can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting one! And I should know, I've got nothing but time to swing dead cats around the office because I haven't been productive in TWO full months! And let me tell you, their no fucking good once you hit a software engineer with one cause the tail breaks right off. You see? I mean look at this fucking thing, what am I supposed to do with a dead cat without it's fucking TAIL?! HOW am I supposed to SWING this thing now, HUH?! Tell me that BOSS man!?!?!"

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (5, Funny)

WallaceAndGromit (910755) | about 4 years ago | (#33399756)

The legs.

There, I've increased your productivity by a factor of 5!

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#33399626)

".... basically saying he was a part of a worthless organization."

Strawman.

he said no such thing. He said they were using power point incorrectly.

It's not saying you part of a worthless organization if you correct they way someone is using their weapon, or correct them when they don't file document correctly. This is no different.

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33399956)

There's right ways to do that and wrong ways to do that. The military is not a democracy if your CO doesn't agree or isn't interested in listening you don't have much say in what happens. The military isn't really known for tolerating insubordination. In fact they have entire facilities and commands filled with people that thought they were smarter than the folks higher up the chain. Generally they are places which are quite unpleasant and in parts of the world which are even less desirable than combat zones. The last thing you want to do is go public with something like this, whatever the outcome you can be pretty sure that you're not going to be occupying the same position for too much longer after that.

Re:Should have kept his rant to PowerPoint (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33400208)

are you stupid or just a retard ? go read the fucking article.

Power Corrupts... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399314)

...Power point corrupts absolutely

Re:Power Corrupts... (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#33399542)

Re:Power Corrupts... (2, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33399824)

Had to click through a few things to actually see it:

http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/04/us_marine_corps_general_powerpoint_makes_us_stupid.html [techflash.com]

and the original NYT piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com]

both include some brilliant shit, and absolutely nail some of the things I've noticed about what PPT does to your information organization

PowerPoint sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399372)

Seriously, PowerPoint just plain sucks. Compare the best you can do with Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote.

PowerPoint presentations are barely anything more than those transparency slides I had while I attended high school and college while Keynote presentations look professional enough to be used for public, commercial presentation. Apple's CEO even use Keynote too for his presentations.

Off-topic? Not really. People are just fed up watching all those crappy PowerPoint slideshows that look like something from 1990. Like it or not, style accounts for something when you try to show information.

Re:PowerPoint sucks (4, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | about 4 years ago | (#33399568)

Seriously, PowerPoint just plain sucks.
I disagree. I think Powerpoint, like all of Microsoft's products, does an excellent job of making someone who is not very good at a task, look at least competent. Microsoft seems utterly devoted to form over function. If it were not for Microsoft products, 90% of people in the computer industry today would be exposed for the incompetent boobs that they are.

Re:PowerPoint sucks (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33399994)

So, that's your backwards way of agreeing? Perhaps if people are incompetent boobs, it might be nice to know for sure so that we can get them the hell out of here.

Re:PowerPoint sucks (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399598)

Keynote may be better, but it'll have limited use as long as it only runs on toy computers.

Re:PowerPoint sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33400006)

Funny, most games are available only on Windows.

Re:PowerPoint sucks (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33400060)

What's wrong with transparencies? Or for that matter a damn blackboard?

Powerpoint in the military (1)

rnturn (11092) | about 4 years ago | (#33399378)

Wasn't there an article on Slashdot some years ago about how the Pentagon was trying to reduce the use of PowerPoint in briefings because of the lack of information content and how they were fostering poor communications? For some reason the phrase "PowerPoint Rangers" sticks in my mind from the article. Apparently, the higher ups in the Pentagon were unsuccessful in their attempts to stave off the use of the software. This guy must have had to sit through one too many PowerPoint presentation with unnecessary animated bullet points -- with the ever-popular Yellow text on a DarkBlue background, of course.

Excellent rant (2)

confused one (671304) | about 4 years ago | (#33399382)

That was good. Not surprised he was fired; but, it was definitely good.

Good idea..Rant about being unproductive (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | about 4 years ago | (#33399418)

I'm not sure claiming you've done absolutely nothing productive for two months is a good idea if you don't want to get fired. Nor is insulting powerpoint. If you think insulting your Commander in Chief in front of the press while in uniform is a bad idea because of HIS sway over the military you surely don't want to even CONSIDER %$#@$ing with powerpoint. Have fun watching 500 slide Army technical presentations with 40 pages of text per slide for the rest of your tour in Leavenworth.

Somebody should have told this to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399434)

Klinger...he'd have ruined a lot fewer dresses.

He should be happy (0, Troll)

Simonetta (207550) | about 4 years ago | (#33399514)

He should be happy to be fired. If he's 61 then what the hell is he doing in Afghanistan? If he isn't a terrorist in training, scoring heroin, or actively engaged in killing people because they wear rags on their heads and cut the noses off little girls, then he has no business being there.

  And if he's 61 then he's old enough to understand this and he shouldn't be bullshitting himself and everyone else pretending that there is any reason for him to be there.

  So, yeah, dude, come home and get a life.

Re:He should be happy (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 4 years ago | (#33399610)

The military is a very large organization, and like any large organization, it has lots of people who are involved in running the organization rather than actually doing whatever the organization actually does. Based on my own service, I'd wholeheartedly agree that we need a lot fewer staff officers and a lot more boots on the ground, but pretending that the military -- or even that portion of the military deployed to the theater of operations -- is ever going to consist solely of people who are actively engaged in killing the enemy is just silly. An army without a command structure isn't an army at all, it's an armed mob.

Re:He should be happy (5, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 4 years ago | (#33399638)

Replying to myself to clarify: I'm not arguing with Colonel Sellin's point at all; he's absolutely right, and the service could use a lot more officers like him. I was replying only to Simonetta's comment that "If he isn't ... actively engaged in killing people ... then he has no business being there," which shows complete ignorance of how the military functions.

Re:He should be happy (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | about 4 years ago | (#33399656)

he's prepping for his $250K dollar a year contractor job in Afghanistan when he retires, of course - now he can start sooner !

Re:He should be happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399678)

I'm no expert, but if you get fired from the military I don't think you don't get all of those nice retirement benefits anymore . Must really suck when you're 61.

Re:He should be happy (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33399760)

If he's 61, he's lived through a few world-class military-political fuckups and knows better than you do about what happens when you let the terrorists run around unabated, and that the only way to prevent that is to put someone in harm's way, and if the pussies behind the keyboards won't do it, then you have to do it yourself.

You can thank him when he gets home. I hope he decks you.

Re:He should be happy (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#33399774)

Unlike you, some people take their responsibilities seriously. There was a problem, he tried to get it fixed. Kept trying until he went off on a rant.

Also, There are a lot of support roles that need to be filled. I'm not sure how you think logistics and strategy is done.

Re:He should be happy (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 years ago | (#33399978)

> If he's 61 then what the hell is he doing in Afghanistan? If he isn't a terrorist in training, scoring heroin, or actively engaged in killing people because they wear rags on their heads and cut the noses off little girls, then he has no business being there.

Right, because anyone over this "magic age" of 61 doesn't deserve the right to serve their country over seas...

> So, yeah, dude, come home and get a life.

And all those years of experience you have of being older than him justifies that your opinion of how he should live his life over his own personal preference is what again?

Quite being a dick. At least he had the balls to say how to make things better.

let's put it in perspective (-1, Troll)

Alien Being (18488) | about 4 years ago | (#33399522)

Roughly 2 trillion American tax dollars spent killing tens of thousands of innocents in an attempt to clobber a single fanatic who committed a crime that could have been easily prevented for a few million dollars in high tech padlocks.

The fact that they sacked this guy is a good indication that he disagrees with the above facts. Powerpoint? Every U.S. citizen should be required to watch the Wikileaks footage on OmniMax with Sensurround.

Proper US governance would put and end to NYC, DC, and LA. Think about it.

Re:let's put it in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399736)

I agree, we should drop a few nukes on taliban areas and go home. way cheaper than actually staying there.

Re:let's put it in perspective (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33399786)

The Taliban are inveigled into civilian populations throughout Afghanistan and half if not all of Pakistan.

If we were simply to nuke those areas we'd get about a 0.01% ratio of bad guys to collateral damage. Then the rest of the world would rightfully come after us.

So no. When that idea was presented (probably milliseconds after 9/11, probably by GW Bush), it was rejected as more expensive than just nuking ourselves.

It's at this point you should expect someone to tell you to grow the fuck up. And if you didn't expect that, then you're even farther behind than I thought.

Re:let's put it in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33400108)

Inveigled? Vocabulary fail. Try again.

Re:let's put it in perspective (1, Offtopic)

DirePickle (796986) | about 4 years ago | (#33399742)

What?

Re:let's put it in perspective (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33399766)

Thank you for reminding us all that no matter how much real information exists, some people will still totally miss the point.

Fitting two-word reply to this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399608)

Farewell, cunt.

He wrote many columns, not just about PowerPoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399628)

If you read TFA, you would learn that he wrote many columns about many things [upi.com] , not just PowerPoint.

Also, do we want our Colonels on the payroll of UPI owners, the Unification Church [wikipedia.org] , which is run by Sun Myung Moon? I guess we might say, who better? After all, Moon is coronated with the "Crown of Peace" and "is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent [wikipedia.org] " Did I mention his reincarnated son [wikipedia.org] ?

Ripping on UPI and Moon might seem OT, but you might think twice about anyone who associates with them (I'm looking at you Breitbart).

Also in this place... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33399730)

I noticed, as of late, a growing lack of tolerance for minor forms of art -- like humour and jokes, for instance.

A Lamborghini Dump Truck (2, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 4 years ago | (#33399780)

Our military is being wasted as an occupying army.

In a war (a real war) the dumbass powerpointers would have their sorry asses shuttled out of the way. In Afghanistan, they're running the show. That's a sign just how messed up it is over there.

Re:A Lamborghini Dump Truck (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33399868)

They run the show in every war. The thing about Afghanistan is that it's not a war so much as an attempt to start an economy and a cultural revolution while policing random thugs.

Which means the people at the rear don't have anything of substance to work on, and are engaged in continually statusing each other on the things they put in place years ago hoping to accomplish the mission they knew was a marathon of cyclic behaviors, not a race to beat the Rooskies to Berlin.

It sounds like they could combine the information flows and reduce the HQ by a significant number. But unless the person on top of them does that for them, they're going to continue the status quo, making only incremental improvements, because those show up as just as many bullets on their promotion packets.

Hopefully either Petraeus or POTUS will jump into the circle and make some changes.

Re:A Lamborghini Dump Truck (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | about 4 years ago | (#33400294)

Had PPT existed in WWII, they would have used it, too. The same problems existed then. Read Catch-22, Heller satirizes a lot of the same sorts of issues with bureaucracy in the military from 50 years ago.

I'm A PowerPoint Heretic (1)

hedgemage (934558) | about 4 years ago | (#33399854)

I'm a blue-collar guy who is currently enrolled in a part-time MBA program that is designed for working adults, and the rest of them are white collar. Whenever the courses require PowerPoint, the slides flow freely and in dizzying density and volume.
I, on the other hand, gave the best presentation of my life without a single slide, and even when I need to use them, I limit myself to 3-5 slides. Working on team projects, I often need to talk down my colleagues who think that more slides = better presentation. One guy had 13 slides for a four minute presentation, other times people are trying to cram spreadsheets into slides and expecting the audience to be able to pick out some kind of useful information.
If it were up to me, I'd always do it without the slides. Once I master public speaking that way, I'll maybe consider using PowerPoint.

Re:I'm A PowerPoint Heretic (1)

Lifyre (960576) | about 4 years ago | (#33399982)

Amen, I'm military, a grad student, and I've taken public speaking classes. Power Point is a great presentation tool, however it is so easy to abuse that most people don't know how to use it. The rule of thumb we were given in my speaking class was you should have no more than 1 slide per minute of presentation. It should be used as a summary of your talking points and for posting facts so accurate notes can be taken.

I actually use it quite extensively for click by click how-to's teaching said officers how to open outlook and reply to emails...

Obligatory... (2, Informative)

humphrm (18130) | about 4 years ago | (#33400078)

... Damian Conway Presentation Akido plug... if you've never caught one of his talks, you must. There isn't much info on the web, because he never releases the presentation slides (the slides should back up the speaker, not replace him/her) and only a few people have written reviews of his talk (here's one [canspice.org] .

The one thing about Damian, he practices what he preaches. In his other talks about Perl, he follows his own rules. The slides are a tool, not the focal point. You really want to listen to what he says, and the presentation screen adds some spice, but doesn't distract the listener from *him*.

Power Point takes the fall again for meetings (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 4 years ago | (#33400086)

Didn't ring true to me when I first heard it, and still doesn't now. Presentation software is only a tool, and a symptom of the real problem whatever that is. Why not bash overhead projectors, or similar displays? Or the custom of presenting slide slows? How about picking on chalk or dry erase boards? The real problem is doing a bad job of giving a lecture or holding a meeting. Meetings are frequently fingered, justifiably, as badly done and a waste of time.

I'm in the USAF... (4, Interesting)

Jeian (409916) | about 4 years ago | (#33400352)

... at least once a month, I get an e-mail informing me that there's a commander's call, or some such event.

It never actually says this in the e-mail body, though. The actual date, time, and location, is in a single-slide Powerpoint file, attached to the e-mail.

Powerpoint isn't the problem, people's over-reliance on it is the problem.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>