Clogging the Phone With Notes in Picture Form

Sure, technology is changing but have you thought about how it’s changing how you get things done?

I can’t be the only person doing this.

It started with me in the shed.  I had a weedeater back there that needs some serious repairs.  It may end up in the bin but at least the idea is in my head that it needs attention.

Going back there, I saw a couple projects that were being used as homes for Lizards and Geckos.  There were about eleventy-seven little jelly bean sized white eggs in various levels of development from intact and growing to shattered shells telling me I needed to get back there with the Shop Vac.

I went back inside to work on the doorbell project. It wasn’t really going Ding Dong any longer, it was going more like Ding Slap.  We were going to replace it but needed to see what was going on up there.  I was convinced it was 1960s era gear so it would be easy to find.  I was right, it all was shoved in a hole in the wall and hidden behind one remaining screw.  The rubber grommet fell away when I picked up the thing and hit my dog on the foot when it bounced off the floor.  Tiny little fossilized rubber things.  He didn’t even notice the tiny tap.

I decided to sit down, start the computer and look at the pictures.  There was a project there that needed tending to…

I had a Linux computer that had a boot message that told me that I had broke the … oh never mind, it’s been fixed, I don’t get the message on that computer any longer.  In fact I can now see the network, find windows computers, access their hard drives, and print from the machine.  That’s all very basic and very easy to do in windows, but in Linux it means you edit files and add arcane comments to it, then reboot.

Luckily the computer reboots in under 30 seconds.

Working on those projects, I went through the camera memory.  I have a honey-do list in the picture memory and I can’t be the only person doing this.

Really, I can’t.

There were pictures of the weedeater, the boot screen of the computer, the inside of another computer along with the bluetooth card that is about the size of the top of a bamboo chopstick.

Amazing how small they’re getting these days.  Back in my day, it had hundreds of vacuum tubes and took up a room, but the computer it would have hooked up to wasn’t invented yet so they had to wait.

Some day, Precious, you will be mine.

It’s easier.  My handwriting isn’t that great.  I’m not that patient.  I forgot the paper and pen.

Yeah all of that.  Boils down to “Hey this is easy, cool!”.

Laziness has met modern life and it requires computer hardware that would have been considered a “mainframe” “Back in the day”.

It isn’t so much that we’re lazy, it’s that electronics have gotten fast enough and common enough, and frankly, cheap enough to be everywhere.

We’re just on the beginning of this.  There’s a thought that there will come a day when your refrigerator will contact Your Favorite Supermarket and order a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and a dozen eggs for you.  You will be able to choose when this arrives, or whether you want to pick that up at a friendly counter at the front of the store where you can chat with Mr Drucker about whether you heard the latest gossip from over in Crabwell Corners.

All this will be caused because a credit card board was installed in your fridge that talks to the internet to do the work for you.  Called the “Internet of Things” you had better have a better set up in the house than you do now.

I say that because we are running into that problem here already and my fridge and the rest of the appliances are thankfully, dumb.

The TV, the internet radios (three different types), and all the computers already have overtaxed things.  Back in the day when we all got started doing this broadband internet stuff, a small router would connect to your computer, probably a 486 or a Pentium (one), and that would be it.  Now, everyone has their own computer, their phone will talk to the wifi router to make calls, and the music will still play.

Need a bigger pipe for all those sprinklers spraying internet all over your house, will you?

If you don’t you will.

Now I Know Why People Store Passwords On Post-its Under The Keyboard

I have a video.  In retrospect it isn’t all that much.  About a minute of my dog romping in the back yard.

I got it off the video camera, reformatted it to the correct size.  HD Video used to be a special thing, but now… even a cheap phone will do better video than we used to get back in the square box days of TV.

Not too long ago, and yeah, get off my lawn.

I grabbed a picture of my dog, and my neighbor’s dog Ellie.

Both were a lead-in.  I have done this sort of thing before, professionally.   I may be a bit rusty, but editing video is something I have done since the mid 1990s both professionally and as a hobby. 

I have taken video that I have shot, as well as video created from broadcast sources, and I even made a giant Powerpoint project that I converted to video.  Yeah, you know the one that runs behind the stage to annoy, er advertise companies at a street party?  I did that.

I managed to get the short video, three transitions, four titles, a comment frame, and more, put together and in the right format for the web.

Time to log into youtube.  Oops.  Where’s that password?

Wait, the washer was beeping.  It needs to go on another spin cycle anyway.

Back to … where was I?

Postman arrived… I can ignore that for a little bit.   Let me tweak the titles again, I’m not too happy how things show up in motion.  I’m getting a blur.

Time to render the video again.  Crash.

Windows is demanding a reboot, I can postpone that.

Bring the project back up again.  I think I need to find a better piece of software to do that task, I’m running something from 2003 still.  At least it’s not like writing a novel in an extinct word processor and on DOS.

Once I get this render done and uploaded, I’ll look into Cinelerra and Ubuntu Studio again.  I have enough Linux machines around me that that shouldn’t be a problem.

More distractions, this time the fifth recruiter in the last hour.  Sure, you’re from New Jersey.  Right, and I’m living on the Moon…

Ahh, render is done, now back to that old youtube account I have… Ramblingmoose.   What was that password again? 

Fail.  No such luck.  Should have written that thing on the bottom of a Post-it and stuck it on my desk somewhere.  It’s not in the emergency file either.

Oh well.   Time to drop back five and kick.   Write about the experience, curse at Google with my best might, and put up the original video of Rack licking peanut butter out of the Kong.  

*sigh*

Wow, that was only a month after I got him? Long time ago…

If Facebook is a Bad Way To Rate People, What Do You Do About It?

Standing out at 6AM walking the dog, some days you just end up having a conversation that stops you and makes you think.  I was talking with one of my Dog Friends about various issues and he asked me how do I handle Facebook.  He knows that I do social media for a number of small organizations and what did he think about it for hiring.   I told him that it’s not the best thing to rely on, but it can be one tool, even if it is imperfect.

If you are looking through job boards, you see some pretty strange requests.

Applicant must friend (specific name of C Suite Employee).
or worse
Applicant must present Facebook sign-on credentials upon interview.

First thing first… skip that ad.  It’s a sign that that particular organization may not be too aware of the current trends.

Second, if a company demands that you give them your sign on information, it’s a sure sign that they don’t realize the importance of computer security. 

Since most people have layers of sign-ons where they repeat passwords, or worse, use the same place everywhere, that’s a bad idea.   If person goes in, gives HR their sign-on for Facebook, then their Amazon account gets hacked and they end up paying for all sorts of identity theft and fraudulent purchases, the company is liable for all expenses – especially if the thief is connected to the company no matter how tenuous that connection is.

But since “we all” have a Facebook account, is it a valid indicator of how well someone would work out in a company?  Studies say that it is a “weak indicator”. 

Most people will blindly click “like” on a picture that flies by if they are amused by it or it touches them in some way.  The assumption is that you have a preference toward the product when you’re really just being supportive of the poster.

It will be an accurate indicator if someone is somewhat out of control.  Posting lewd pictures, violent videos, or drug use most likely will show that someone might need some counseling.   Get back to me after you work out your issues with those things and we’ll talk.   You will be skipped over, I know I’d do that myself.

For someone in a technical field, poor writing skills are a definite problem.  I’ve been given what was intended to be programming specifications for a major upgrade to a program that I have had to throw away because the systems analyst was using circular references, sentence fragments, and missing bullet points. 

Much easier to go directly to the internal client and ask what they really want.  Besides, it got me away from the desk and a really cool person to work with…

But the mastery of technical writing is beyond some people and that shows up quickly in a text medium like Facebook.  It may not be germane to the position, but it will easily show if someone is writing long missives that get lost somewhere in the wilderness. 

Ok, I’ll admit that I tend to write prose and Hemingway is not my own writing style.  I’m Not Terse.

The bottom line is that these same HR people are being asked about their hires after they get in.  Six months after you start a job, you’re on your way.  That is if you make it past that sixth month review.  HR is being asked how did your opinions fit with their performance.  What they’re finding is that “Facebook Profiles were no better at prognostication than more traditional predictors”.

No better or worse than the old school “Lets Talk”.

So what do you take away from this if you’re out there looking for work and busting your hump?

If you have questionable material, look in the mirror.  Why is it really there?  Do you really need a picture of yourself standing in front of a Confederate Battle Flag with a rifle?  What does that say about your future anyway, you’re planning on running a plantation in South Carolina?  Not very likely.

Got a love for the herb?  Pot leaves everywhere?  You’re not a good candidate for the C Suite either.  You probably should move to Colorado and set up that legal dispensary if you can stay sober long enough.

Most people simply aren’t that “out there”.  They don’t proclaim their love of the edge so much simply because it’s way too much effort.  Society prefers the middle of the road and those people from the edge get nudged back into being more “normal” anyway, in many ways. 

I’d personally wager it simply doesn’t belong let alone having that sort of thing on Facebook.

But if it is you, remember you’re being watched.   Whether you can do the job or not won’t matter if you get a skittish HR person minding the gate.  Whether or not it really is a good predictor it won’t matter because you won’t get in the door.

Why it is a problem is that wonderful thing we call a “Herd Mentality”.  You’ve excluded what you consider the “nuts” but you end up looking at people who are just like you.  Since people who write more put themselves out more, those people who tend to will be more likely to be excluded.  In the US, the study found, those people tend to be Women, Black, and Hispanic.  So therefore the assumption is that diversity will be lowered and you’ll end up with a white male in the position.

Great if you’re a white male, but not so great if you are a latina or black woman who happens to be better at whatever the position is for.

So the solution is to self-audit what you post, and periodically go into your Facebook preferences and delete old posting’s audiences.  You can limit the posting’s visibility by going into the Facebook Settings, Privacy tab, and under “Who can see my stuff?” select “Limit Old Postings”.

What that does is to go through all your “old stuff” and limit the view to only your friends.   It doesn’t delete the material, it simply makes it so their friends can’t see them.

Or simply delete your Facebook profile.  If you don’t do social media professionally like I do, it may be your best bet.

I Can’t Be The Only One Who Gave Up On The 6 O’Clock News

If a bobblehead makes noise on the TV and it isn’t watched, does it still make a sound?

When I was asked about an accident that happened about a mile away, a car apparently ended up inside of a Miami Subs restaurant last night, I admitted I didn’t have a clue.

We heard sirens in the distance and I just didn’t realize what was going on.

I did look online about this particular story and couldn’t find it which was probably for the best.  

Thinking about it though, it did drive a point.  I stopped watching TV news years ago.  Fire, Murder, Corruption, Theft, Weather, Sports, and Chirpy Close all crammed into 22 minutes plus 8 minutes of Commercials and other “important” stuff all dumbed down to a Least Common Denominator level of intelligence to entertain, and not necessarily inform.

It got too easy to find news online, to skim the headings and read those things that mattered – to me.   With a little effort you could find a way to drop in your email box any story you want, targeted to what you are actually interested in.  Something called an RSS Feed from your favorite news website takes a lot of that targeting and makes it easy.  Frankly, the amount of information that you get from that “Rich Site Summary” is generally more than your favorite bobble head will give you on some of the longer ongoing stories.

I simply find the RSS Link and save that as a bookmark.  It reads in Firefox or other browser and allows me the option to read deeper or skip with minimal effort.  Not as shiny and flashy, but functional and fast.

I already do that, and while it could be too easy to miss something because you’ve pigeon holed yourself by reading only those stories that are interesting to you, it’s a lot more effective.   The serendipity of stumbling across a story that may be out of your normal scope is a wonderful thing, but a bit ineffective use of time.

TV has long become either the First or Second Screen in most people’s lives.  First World Problems aside, I’m lost without a laptop when I’m watching a show.  Easy enough to look up a reference.   Since I always watch TV on a digital recorder, I skip through commercials, pause at random points, and surf while doing other things. 

Broadcast news isn’t one of those habits I picked up again.  Easy enough to reduce a news program on TV to less than 15 minutes.   Sports is irrelevant to me as well as other specific stories.  For that matter, a DVR would be required for news so I could skip through the fluff pieces and thinly veiled commercials that pass for information.

I tried it after I moved here to South Florida.  I had accidentally recorded the hour of news broadcast and found myself watching one story.  It was forgettable, but before long they moved onto some detailed explanation of the opening of a business in another county and my thumb started hitting the skip button.  I also found myself screaming at the TV in frustration because it wasn’t really all that “Fair and Balanced” local news, it was pretty painfully tilted to their one closed way of thinking.

Independent news went out with the Fairness Doctrine and isn’t coming back soon since it isn’t profitable.

I did turn on RSS on this blog.  I know a few people do read it that way since the statistics I see show it.  I guess I’m “Eating My Own Dogfood” by following a philosophy that I tend to live by myself. 

Most major news organizations allow you to read their news that way. 

NPR has a large collection of RSS Feeds.
BBC does as well although you will have to use a separate feed for each topic.
NASA lets you get caught up on their field of Space Exploration in depth if you require.
MSNBC has them on their various pages as well.

And the local papers have them available.

It all makes it a lot easier to get the news you need and not be force-fed by someone else’s interests.

Superman Arrested

I’m still chuckling a juvenile little chuckle about this story.

Sometimes the BBC comes through, especially in their Just The Facts presentation of things.

You see, there is this guy.  Grew up in Indonesia, lives in Singapore.

Apparently the guy’s parents are a bit “playful” with names.   His story was viral a while back, originally reported on Gizmodo.  Yep, you know him as Superman.  Or really “Batman bin Superman”.

Strictly speaking, that “bin” is “Son Of” so it’s Batman, Son of Superman. 

Technically that doesn’t conform to the whole Marvel Universe or who ever owns the trademark.  Not that trademarks are that important in some parts of the world.

It’s not actually “Superman” but “Suparman” according to the Singapore authorities.   Apparently someone who may not speak English can’t exactly spell it, so we’ll forgive them. 

Anyway, our little chum, sorry, that’s Robin… Anyway, Our Friend Batman decided to get sticky fingers and steal some cash from a store. 

That wasn’t enough, he did it again.  Same store.  

Criminals always return to the scene of a crime?

He also pleaded guilty to Heroin consumption, so not only is he a bad criminal, he’s into drugs which is bad.

Mmmkay?  Drugs are bad, Mmmkay.

I guess that having Internet Fame isn’t the same as real fame.  You generally don’t have money to back it up.

Mmmkay.

So I guess the moral of the story is not to name your children after a superhero unless you want people to watch them.  They may just knock over a store.

Twice.

Silly Superman.  Crime is bad.

Dealing with Facebook Annoyances Using Adblock Plus

Audience is either Firefox Users or Chrome Users.

Facebook is the website you love to hate.

Teens are leaving it, adults can be addicted as a time sink, marketers think they can buy the world’s information at a song.

You can tame the beast some. 

Lately Facebook has made some changes to the way they present information.  It’s all about getting you to opt into more things – you know, to “Like” them.   That helps them build a profile about you.   Since you tend to give up that information freely, it’s pretty valuable.

But lately it got to be a bit much.  Since I manage a number of websites, and a number of social media presences online, I have to be on Facebook – all day.

First thing is you really need a good ad blocker.   The reason is that those ad services may be entertaining but they are watching what you do everywhere.  You may not have a problem with it, but I do.

I went to Firefox years ago and installed an adblocker.  The latest iteration of it is called “Adblock Edge”.  It will block both intrusive and non-intrusive advertising.   The distinction between that and “Adblock Plus” is that Adblock Plus has been paid by Google and perhaps others to not block their text ads.  That raises the question of what else are they not telling you.  Supposedly Adblock Plus is making the decision as to whether something is acceptable, and I’m not comfortable with that.

  • Simple, get Adblock Edge instead.  Adblock Edge will allow you, once you learn how to use the thing, to block any advert as well as things like frames and those reprehensible “Fancybox” and “Lightbox” things that seem to float over a web page.

I’ll let you look into that whole learning process.   It’s best that you look into it yourself, but the default settings on Adblock Edge are pretty good to begin with.  The simplest explanation is that you can right click on an ad, Select “Adblock Plus: Block Image” and tailor what you see.

The next step is to import something into Adblock Edge that works with Facebook itself.   There’s a big long list of things that they added that annoy me, as well as clutter their interface.  Frankly I don’t have time for most of it, but a long list of that stuff can be found in this article. 

Those annoyances are the “You May Like” or the “You May Know” genre of items.  They got to the point where they were more than half of what I would see on Facebook.   So when I saw the article, I followed the simple instructions:

  • First Surf this page.  It gives you a graphical representation of things you don’t want to see.

  • Second, select the link you want.  I selected the Block All in the first column but that may be a bit too much.  You can see the graphic and select the one you want by clicking on the green “+ add” button.

  • Third, add the rules to your Adblocker.  When you click on the “+ add” button, it will pop up the Adblock dialogue box for “Add Adblock Plus Filter Subscription”.  Click on the button to “Add Subscription”.

You’re done.  Facebook will be less cluttered – until they break that by changing things.

You can always hide those people or businesses by unfriending or unliking them, but that is a bit of a Nuclear Option.   This keeps the friends but loses the “chaff”.

It just got too hectic, so thankfully Technology came to the rescue.

The Giraffe Riddle, A Spoiler, and a Hoax

I will put the spoiler at the bottom in case you’re curious…

We have all seen it by now, or at least those of us who have Facebook up and running.   The riddle is asked, you answer, and if you get it wrong you’re supposed to change your picture to a giraffe for three days.

Ok, all in good fun, but No, even if I HAD gotten it wrong, I wouldn’t do the picture thing.   I’m tall enough as it is, and a little better looking than a giraffe.

Just a little.

Now, the hoax that is going around is some misinformation.  There used to be bugs in Windows that would allow a picture file (.JPG) to hold a virus in it.  Not any more, that’s been fixed.  You can pass messages stuffed in pictures in the background labels in the picture, you can pass the location of the place the picture was taken, and other random information.   That is part of the “EXIF” Header, and perfectly safe.  In fact there are programs that take advantage of it.  The process is called “Steganography” and sounds like a tyrannosaurus mated with a Polaroid camera and had a picture as a baby.  

You can read the whole story about the hoax on this link to a handy security blog site.

Now, the spoiler.

I read the riddle and immediately thought of the answer.  Followed by the typical “Oh gees how could they miss it?”.   Yeah and I was good at Trivial Pursuit too.  Everyone who was got a little smug collecting those plastic cheese wedges but hey, it’s all in good fun.

The answer?   Follow this link to CNN.   Gotcha!