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20141010 Of mice and good decisions. And a very stupid conference sales person.

Nigel Morris-Cotterill

Sometimes we find that we have made superb decisions because, when we have to make similar decisions, it turns out that we assess all the latest data and do the same as before.

For example, my PC was slowing down. It's a big, fast beast of a thing with lots of the clever stuff people use for playing games, doing graphic design or composing / editing music. True, I use mine for bits of graphics but nothing clever, and for editing sound files sometimes, also nothing clever. Mostly I have this monster because I have so many things open and working at the same time. Right now, I have two communications packages, two e-mail programs, a spreadsheet, several word processor documents, four browser windows each with at least three tabs open, a website design program and a web coding program. I also have a couple of text editors open, one with six tabs but I'm only using two of them. Oh, and I'm playing music, too. For all these reasons, it has a shed-load of memory.

Often I scream at my PC to go faster. Usually, it ignores me and heaves its way through the heavy workload like a contestant struggling not to drop his weights before the line in a strongman competition. But in recent days, it's become lethargic, slowing down until I not only shouted at it but kept issuing the same instructions again and again. It was driving me mad. Even local files were taking an age to load. Web pages were arriving sometime around four days after I called them. Well, that's not true but it's how it felt. I've been there before: it's a memory leak. Somewhere, something is eating the computer's memory so that it doesn't have enough space to do its job. A thought hit me: what if the slow mouse response was not a symptom but the cause?

It turns out that my lovely, very comfortable three year old mouse which has been kept clean on the outside (they don't work if their bottom is dirty) had been quietly absorbing sweat and other stuff through the holes around the buttons and it was clogged up inside. Off I went to buy a new one. I spent what felt like half-a-lifetime checking out the literally hundreds of mouses (it doesn't seem right to call them "mice" does it?") on display in the enormous computer shop near my flat. It's an important decision - it's a major tool of my trade and the one thing that prevents me getting arthritis and RSI in my hand.

Amazingly, the one I decided fits best is the same make and has the same outer shell as the one I'm tossing away.

While I was in the shop, I decided that my PC speakers, now some 8 years old, were starting to crackle and I might as well use the trip to replace them, too. I looked at perhaps 50 sets, listened to perhaps a dozen. Which did I find the most pleasing? The same model as I bought all those years ago.

So the lesson I have for you today, typing this on my newly energised PC (cost GBP7) and playing music more clearly than earlier (cost GBP35) is that well made decisions stand the test of time, even if things change. Of course, we have to review things to make sure they are working as intended. But sometimes all that's needed is a little updating not a major shift in policy.

Talking of policy, I've had an e-mail from an extraordinarily stupid conference company. It seems their policy to attract business is to lie. They write "Dear Nigel, Thank you for your recent enquiry and interest in the forthcoming xxxxxx Summit that will be taking place in Central London, November 25^th & 26^th 2014, I am delighted that you are able to attend. " And yes, the email does have carats in it and the dates for a UK event are in US format and there is a comma before the I. But stupid as those things are, they are not the really stupid thing. I've not made any indication that I'm going to the event. I don't go to such events. Apparently "some of the world's leading brands and organisations" will be presenting. I've already lost interest. I've been lied to and now the message implies I'm going to be sold to. And then I'm told I'll be able to "benchmark with my peers." Yawn. The only way I found out that they issue free tickets was because I noticed that as I scrolled down to find out if the name looked like the kind of name scammers make up. It wasn't. But I'm still not going.

Where I am going, incidentally, is to the Asian Banker thing in early November. Check it out. It's got a proper programme, no sales pitches and I'm the closing speaker. And they didn't lie to me to get me to read their invitation to join them.

It's a busy time: I'll be in Singapore on the 30th, then off to Bangkok on the 4th (for a seminar based on the book - make your bookings now), then to the UK, then back from the UK to Singapore for the Asian Banker event on 13/14 November, then back to the UK for seminars and a few days with my family, then onto Dublin, then Dubai then Bahrain, all for seminars.

And all of this is in addition to writing a paper (more of a short book, really) on detecting and deterring crime on the internet - and who really profits from that crime. The answers will surprise many.

© 2014 Nigel Morris-Cotterill
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