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Today I delivered my Project 3 Speech of Toastmaster and it was well appreciated. Again the main source of the speech is here. At the same time, I feel the time is coming that I have to begin writing my speeches of my own soon. Till then, let me manage as there are too many things in my kitty now.

The Objectives of the Project 3 Speech were:

The third Toastmasters speech project stresses the importance of clearly identifying your target objective, and then maintaining precise focus to achieve it. The basic aims for this speech project revolve around being focused and precise:

  • Determine your general purpose.
  • Focus in on your specific purpose.
  • Ensure that the entire speech maintains focus on your objective.

The Easy Part: Get to the Point

The first task is to get to the point. Before we generate an outline or our first draft, we need to make sure to know our purpose precisely. Make sure we can state it in a single simple sentence.

The Harder Part: Stay Focused On the Point

The much harder part — and the part that many speakers struggle badly with — is staying focused on the point.

No speaker intends to stray from their purpose; rather, it happens quite accidentally. Somewhere between getting to the point and writing the first draft, a collection of off topic elements are inserted into the speech.

  • It might be an off-topic opening anecdote which is “too good not to share”.
  • It might be some jaw-dropping statistics that are only remotely related to the topic.
  • It might be the latest whiz-bang effect in PowerPoint that is glitzy, but content-empty.

Find these extraneous elements, and eliminate them while editing our speech. Every element of our speech must reinforce our purpose. Each time we edit our speech, our goal should be to sharpen the focus.

Did you know that if you’re being forced to withdraw money from ATM at gunpoint, you can inform the police by entering your pin in reverse?
Or that Coca-cola logo is a secret message directed against a particular religion and the blasphemous message is clear if you hold the logo in front of a mirror?
And of-course, you know that Bill Gates is sharing his fortune and you can be a beneficiary if you choose to forward a certain mail?

All of these seemingly unrelated examples are: appealing, interesting and informative; But the biggest connection is: Source of all of these are chain-emails and at the same time each of them is incorrect.

Ms. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and Dear Guests,
My speech today is to urge you to break-the-chain:: to stop being part of chain-emails.
Well, not all chain-mails are bad. My grudge is against the mails that seek to lure or threaten the recipient into forcefully continuing the chain: the ones, which are meant to spread hatred, superstitions, misinformation or simply to continue the chain. Yes, I’ve even seen a chain saying: let’s see how far it can get; just add your name to the list and forward it to your friends. Can it get any dumber than this??

At this juncture, many of you may be feeling what harm an innocuous forwarded mail can do even if it’s factually incorrect? This is what many of my friends argue. But believe me it’s more dangerous than it looks.

To start with, it can make you look like an idiot. Sample this: I got an email from one of my juniors asking me to forward it to 10 guys and then press F6 five times. The mail claimed that after this, the name of my Secret admirer will appear on the screen. Such garbage coming from a software engineer!! I stopped reading his mails after that.

Many of us, who normally do not forward unsolicited mails, often give in to the emotional appeals and consider our job to the society done after forwarding such mails. I believe that most of us must have at some time received a mail regarding Red-Cross donating a cent for a cancer-struck child or for some 9/11 victim. What we don’t realize is the fact that we’re in fact causing more harm to the reputation and work of such organizations by forwarding unverified information about them. And then, they need to spend hundreds of man-hours for refuting the contents of the mail.

Coming to more serious effects:
Remember: often the original context of the mail is often lost in a chain and if some legal issue crops up and the mail is traced back to you, then you can be considered the author of that mail. Are you prepared to take that risk? Let us take a fictional scenario of Mr X, working for Microsoft, India, who gets a hoax-mail regarding a new virus attacking Windows XP. Mr. X forwards it to some of his friends thinking what’s wrong with being cautious. His friends forward it claiming “This comes from one of friends, who is working for Microsoft.” It won’t take more than two-three steps of the chain for that to become “This comes from officially from Microsoft” Very soon, MS is contacted for verification and when they trace the mail to their own employee, do you think it’s going to be easy for Mr X. I’ve read about employees losing their jobs on similar grounds.
Things can get worse for people who fall for such imaginary ideas. Think what can happen if you try the ATM trick and the tech-savvy robber gets to know that you were actually trying to inform the police.

Now that I believe I have managed to convince you against the dangers that this menace poses, here are some ideas to counter it.
The minimum we can do is not to be the source of any such message. A 2-minute search can reveal its falsehood. There’re sites like Break-the-chain and Hoax-slayer dedicated to the cause and they’ll give you scientific reasons why the particular message is hoax. But don’t stop at just ignoring the mail. If you’re able to establish the fakeness of the mail, do attack the source. Reply to the sender, mention the links and request him to write a damage control mail to recipients of this mail as well as the person from whom he got the mail. I know this may create a kind of reverse-chain, but this surely is worth it.
Further if you really like to forward something, ask yourself if you’re ready to be identified as the original source of message. Such simple steps and you’ve done your bit against this menace.

Dear Toastmasters, the e-mail is one of the best things to have happened to mankind in the field of communication. Let’s be responsible users and not abuse this great communication tool. We just need to use some common sense and follow some simple steps to Break-the-chain every time we encounter one!!!

PS: I was awarded the “Best Speaker” of the session for this speech.

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Very recently, I bought a laptop, which had limited version of Microsoft Office Suite 2007. Every time, I opened some MS Office application, it used to ask me to enter or buy a licence key for it. If I opt for Cancel, it used to tell me that you have some x amount of runs left before the trail version expires and I must buy a license.

But luckily, I got the workaround for it. It’s simple and makes the Office suite 2007 available for unlimited use. Just follow the below instructions and you are done:

1. Go to C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\OFFICE12\Office Setup Controller\Proof.en

2. Open the Proof.XML file.

3. Replace the word “AlreadyInstalled” with “NeverInstalled”.

And you are ready to use the suite for unlimited use.

I found out this tweak over a website while I was looking around for some cause for it, though as a Software Developer, I always believe to every software, there are certain files which govern their use and if one can control their usability, then he/she can control the software.

Microsoft, look for this cause and try to fix it. This is a serious flaw in your code or at least, in the licensing software policy, which needs to be fixed asap to stop piracy.

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