My second biggest pet peeve is when someone gives you information that BEGS for an explanation or additional information, but they don’t give you the context.
A perfect example:
“Sao Paulo (Brazil), the world’s second-largest city, has a population of just over ten million.”
Okay, maybe I’m just one of those people who needs to hear the other shoe drop . . . but what’s the largest city?
I recently got a letter from my credit card processor. They’re making a change to the Transaction ID field.
Why? Because the current Transaction ID field “was originally developed with a maximum numeric value of 2,147,483,647.”
How do you possibly come up with that number? Especially with that 7 at the end. That number begs to be explained!
If they had simply said 2.1 billion, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.
Consider this: Is your message lost because someone is trying to fill in the blanks?
Notice the difference in how your mind reacts to these two statements:
- Louisiana has the third highest homicide rate in the US.
- Louisiana has the third highest homicide rate in the US, behind the District Of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Notice how that second example fills in a blank? Now, truth be told, it may not matter who is first or second, depending on the conversation you’re having. But if you leaving it hanging out there, the brain has to wonder. When you fill in the blank, the brain can get back to processing the information that does matter.
Just a thought.
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BTW, I did figure out the reason for 2,147,483,647. The 7 had me stumped.
At first I thought it was a limitation based on computer processing numbers (e.g., 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, . . .). But I dismissed that because it is not divisible by two.
Then I filled in the real sequence. For computers, the real sequence starts with zero, so it’s: 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, . . .).
Now that makes it legitimate to have a number rounded very nicely to 2,147,483,648 (take 1 and double it 32 times).
That explains 2,147,483,648. What about 2,147,483,647?
Well, if the first number is 1 and you count them up, the 2,147,483,648th number is 2,147,483,648.
But if the first number is 0, then the 2,147,483,648th number is 2,147,483,647!
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Reading a memo shouldn’t be this hard. It’s the third most difficult memo I’ve ever dealt with!