Here in South Africa we do not have the privilege of unlimited bandwidth like most other netizens in so-called first world countries.
Knowing first hand what it is like to run a small business and, on top of that, knowing what a devastating effect on the bottom line that untrained employees can have on that rapidly dwindling bottom line my eyes and ears are constantly on the look out for places where productive time and money can be saved through the application of a little time and effort.
Naturally being involved in the better, simpler, faster world of the internet I feel that I could be of some small assistance to the NMMU Communications department and, by extension, the ratepayers of fair Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch.
On a daily basis we deal with reams of e-mail and other messages and have to take decisions on whether to read or trash them just to get through our day. The messages that we read are those ones that; come from trusted contacts, are short, to the point and (mostly) do not contain images. I, along with many others I know, do not allow the automatic display of images in my e-mail messages as it cuts into the time I have available in the day and chews up bandwidth that could be productively applied elsewhere.
With reference to a recent message sent to ALL Municipal Employees and others (such as Councillors) on the Municipal Groupwise System:
- First of all the message was in the form of a bitmap file and 2.1 megabytes in size.
- Okay I understand that this is mostly an intranet messaging system so not ALL employees opening the message will consume directly paid for bandwidth. But, let us assume that one thousand people do consume bandwith to read said message – this will cost the municipality around 2 gigabytes (or R100.00) to deliver. Cheaper than printing and posting you will say!
- Crap I say – if the message was sent as a plain text file then that cost of R100.00 would have dropped to a couple of cents.
- On top of that – an image of 2.1 megabytes will take longer to open than a plain text message. Multiply the number of people who open the message with the additional 5 seconds or so required to open the bitmap. Just sucking numbers here, but what about 5 000 recipeints who have another 5 seconds added to their workday – this will add nearly 7 hours of wasted time to an already ‘overworked’ municipal workforce per message).
Alan’s Free NMMM Communications Training Course Starts Here:
- If you absolutely MUST send an image DO NOT send a bitmap file – use one of the more accepted image formats like .jpg, .gif or .png – even .pdf will work.
- Images that are wider than 1 200 pixels are a complete waste of time.
- Don’t rush out and buy an expensive image manipulation programme like Photoshop – use Gimp (www.gimp.org.za) which is free. Of course Gimp has a learning curve – you can put that put to tender!
- Before sending your message ask yourself: “Is it necessary?”, “Will this message improve lives?”, “Is there some other way I can communicate this without spending money?” and “If I received this message would I read it?”
Just to demonstrate what can be done with Gimp I took the original image that was 886 pixels wide and 1 252 pixels high, and scaled it to 600 pixels wide and 848 pixels high. Then I saved it as a .jpg image with a quality level of 85% and the result you see below in an image that is 124 kilobytes in size (5.7% of the original).
One question; “I thought that in order to be gainfully employed at the municipality you HAD to be in possession of a green bar coded ID Book, so I am questioning your need to send this message to the ‘converted’ employees of the Metro.” We will have a little chat about the rest of your message later.
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