The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

TidBits: New Year’s Edition

Comcast, again:

Honestly, their website sucks.  I’m actually finding this more often than not:  Companies will hand the reigns over to some third-party website people who take all the stress of maintaining a reliable website off the hands of the company, and in turn, make things absolutely hellish on customers.

To wit:  I’m trying to pay all my bills (online of course, …I haven’t bought a book of stamps since like, 1996) and when I get to Comcast’s site from clicking the link in the email, it brings me to the log-on screen I’m familiar with.  I pump in my info, and then I’m brought to another log-on on screen.

This log-on screen tells me that I’m logging into ‘My Sign-In’ which will keep me logged into “all of Comcasts other great sites!”, what these are I have no clue, but apparently my log-in information is still the same, so I pump it in AGAIN, and am brought to a screen that tells me “account cannot be access because user has failed to make account secure.”

Ooohkay…. what?

I’ve been an unfortunate subscriber to Comcast for over two years now, and I think they’re giving me a heart attack on purpose.  It seems that any time I alter my service just a little bit, all sorts of wild shit gets fucked up days or even weeks later.  You’d think a company as big as Comcast (they just BOUGHT NBC from General Electric for chrissakes,) would have their shit together enough so where a customer like myself logs in, all their information would be right there in front of them, and not be led about the nose through a maze of log-in screens only to find out that for some reason they don’t have your account information.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to GIVE money to some one or service, and not be able to do so.  I wish I could just not pay it, and be like “fuck you and your website,” but then they’d just shut our shit down.

By the way, from all the button clicking and navigating around that site, there appears to be no way to confirm or “secure” the account, resulting in my having to call them eventually later today.  Great, now I get to spend half an hour later today dealing with some prick on the phone just to give them 150 bucks.

I still don’t understand why I don’t just cancel my account and live without all this bullshit.

Other Movie-Goers:

Last night, in celebration of our one year anniversary, Ang and I went out to the local theatre to see “Sherlock Holmes.”  We never go to the movies, which was puzzling to me until last night.

I forgot about how when you go out to the movies, usually there’s going to be other people there, and these people are usually not very considerate of other movie goers.

I’m one of those types of people who like to get to the theatre a little early, get soda and popcorn, get good seats, and have the conversation while the stupid movie trivia is playing on the screen.  If you haven’t figured out by now from reading all my blogs, I’m sort’ve anal-retentive about shit.  I like to be comfortable long before the movie or even the previews start.

So imagine the bullshit rage I flip into when people show up late, stumbling through the dark after the house lights have dropped and there’s shit on the screen.  Imagine me going for my pistol when those asshole make a a bee-line for the seats directly behind us, and then engage in some stupid conversation.

It started off brilliantly: we arrived ten minutes early, got our snacks out, settled in.  There were only two or three other couples and everyone was spread out.  We had seats on the left hand side, back-middle, where we’d be able to take in the whole screen without being overwhelmed.

Then this family of five came in, two adults three children, all of them yapping.  Nothing had started yet, so it wasn’t a big deal, but they sat directly across the aisle from us.  Aggravation level is at about a 3.

The lights drop, more people shuffle in under the wire, aggravation level rising to 5, like, come on people, get it together.

Then, at the start of the “Iron Man 2” trailer, these three girls show up, late teens, early 20s, and sit DIRECTLY BEHIND US, put their feet up, and start fucking talking about whatever conversation they had started in the parking lot outside.  Aggravation level now around an 8.

We get up and move, making a big deal about it.  I’m wearing a mohawk and skinny jeans, and want to say some shit to these people like a skanky punk would, but I don’t, I just show them my ass as we shuffle out of the seats.  We take seats further down and on the right hand side of the aisle, slightly too close to the screen, so I’m craning my neck up, being bombarded by all the wild shit going on on the screen.  Aggravation level at critical.

In my heart of hearts I wish I had a plank of wood with nails in the end of it to brandish at idiots.  Maybe a cricket bat or something.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: Snowed In Edition

On Friend Requests:

I have this guy I used to be best friends with growing up.  In high school we sadly parted ways.  He went with one crowd and I another – that shit is real elementary, it happens to everyone.

I literally hadn’t heard jackshit from this kid in close to almost ten years, and suddenly, as soon as I turned my Facebook account back on, I get a friend request from him.

I know what you’re thinking, or perhaps even saying to yourself:  “Who cares?”  I care.  That shit fucked me up a few different ways because one, I like to keep my “friends” on Facebook to a minimum; it keeps the News Feed clear of unneccesary crap as well as limits the amount of information about me that gets out there.  The other reason why the friend request was bothersome was because it was nothing more than just the request.  No attached note or message saying “hey what’s up, I’d love to reconnect, we had good times” or anything.  Nothing asking me about what I’m doing now-a-days, just a blank “add me” button to stare at.

I was friends with this guy for like… five or six years.  And by “friends” I mean basically sleeping over at each other’s houses every other night.  We were inseparable, we did everything and went everywhere together.  When he slipped on a patch of ice and broke his ankle as a kid, it was I who ran and got help.  And he couldn’t take two seconds to pound out one sentence to go with his request?

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I have a high expectation for people, or maybe I’m just a prick, but either way he should’ve/could’ve asked how I was doing in the very least.  No, what he was doing was just trying to inflate his Facebook “Friends” numbers and turn around and shit all over my News Feed.  And I ain’t havin’ that.

So I took the intiative and sent him a message telling him how I felt (by now I had received two of the same request, I had ignored the first one a few days ago) about his seemingly ambivalent approach towards me.  I was a real ball breaker, with the hopes that he won’t bother sending me another request.

Does it make me an asshole, yes.  But at the same time it saves me from two days of awkward conversations that peter out into me inevitably deleting him.  I’m just trying to save myself time and aggravation.

On Televised Violence:

I’ve been keeping half an eye turned towards Mtv’s Jersey Shore (read my review at the IRdC here), and was recently informed by my wife that a female character nicknamed (presumably by her pimp) ‘Snookie’ was physically assaulted at a bar after running her mouth – and it was caught on tape.

Of course I had to watch the footage.

If you haven’t seen the web-only footage (Mtv won’t air it, more on that in a sec), basically the diminutive skank with a love of trucker hats is standing on a bar stool and calling out some asshole who keeps stealing her and her friend’s pre-paid shots of booze.  She goes on a five minute long, insult-laden tirade on this guy, putting her hands in his face and coming within inches of assaulting him first.  The guy has enough and cracks her in the face with a straight punch.  He then (kinda) hustles out of the bar while a small army of guidos (kinda) chase him outside, where he’s met by the local constabulary.

Do I condone what happened to Snookie?  No.  Do I think she kinda asked for it?  …Maybe.

Either way, Mtv had decided that on it’s televised episode, they wouldn’t show the actual punch.  Instead, they black out the screen but give you the audio.  The audio consists of shit-talking abruptly silenced by the sound of a handclap, followed by a chorus of “ooooh”s, followed by a bunch of bleeped out cursing.  The shot comes back in with the assailant in retreat and Snookie on her side, crumpled up like a bumper after a head-on collision.

My beef is this:  Mtv won’t show a random stranger, who happens to be a dude, striking a female he didn’t know, in a public place that served alcohol.  They will however, show a promo for their other ultra-trashy reality television program “Teen Mom” where one of the teen mothers backs her baby’s daddy into a corner and slaps the shit out of him in anger.

And I’m not talking about like, one slap here.  I’m talking about taking this dude (who’s admittedly bigger than her) by the throat, slamming him into a corner, striking his chest multiple times, and then cracking him across his jowls.  Mtv has no problem airing this, let alone using it in the commercial for the next episode.

It’s a double standard.

I think it’s far worse to show domestic violence than just regular, standard violence.  I think it’s also a bad idea to show violence of any kind that’s centered around rearing a child, on a show that’s decidedly marketed towards teenage women, oppose to “Jersey Shore”‘s demographic which is conceivably slightly older in age.

Hey Mtv:  Just because it’s chick-on-dude violence doesn’t mean it’s ok to show it.  Just because the guy’s bigger than the girl doesn’t make it ok either.  That young woman on the show (Amber is her name, I watched a few eps this morning…) is psychologically unbalanced and dangerous.  You have untold amounts of footage of her crying in her car, on the phone, and in public places.  What makes you think it’s ok to air footage of her acting out in violence towards the father of her child?

It’s bad enough that there’s a stigma out there that men can’t be abused by their partners, but please don’t add to it and make it seem like it’s “normal” because it’s not.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of men take physical abuse from their spouses or girl/boyfriends in silence, because they’re afraid no one will understand them.  It’s a real problem.

So next time, how about you run that same stupid PSA text from that episode of “Jersey Shore” over the next episode of “Teen Mom” ?  It’d make up for running those Kid Rock videos back in 2002.

On The Holidays:

I wish Xmas was over with already.  I have all the gifts wrapped, trees up, lights are plugged in and I’m broke.  I’m really broke.

After paying all the bills and getting the last minute items shipped out, my bank account is tapped and it’s still like, ten days before my next paycheck.  I’m thankful that I’m on vacation for the next few weeks, because I’m not even certain that I’d be able to afford to put gas in my truck right now to make the commute.

I’m exaggerating obviously, but money’s tight, and that’s no joke.  The Holidays are rough on people for different reasons; maybe you’re broke, so broke you can’t afford gifts for Xmas, maybe you’re away from family, maybe you’ve lost people this time of year?  For all the joy the tv says that this time of year is supposed to bring, there’s a lot of long faces in the crowd.

It seems too, that The Holidays get longer and longer every year.  And I’m not talking like, they start decorating the stores earlier, I’m talking about how I seem to be ready for them earlier and earlier each year.  This lends itself to me sitting in front of the tv, watching the days tick by.  When I was a kid, this would be because I couldn’t wait for Xmas to get there, because the tree would be surrounded in a wall of wrapped boxes.  As I’m an adult, it’s because I’m just ready for all this shit to be over with – I’m waiting for the day AFTER Xmas, where I can wipe my brow, look at my bank account and sigh in a little relief.

Thank god Google’s been kicking ass in the stock market, that’s all I’m gonna say.

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Smells Like Children, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

350 Million People CAN be wrong….

So I restarted my Facebook account over the weekend, but only out of necessity.  You see, when we moved into our new digs, we neglected to check our cell phones to see what kind of reception we would be getting with the place until after we signed all the paper work and checks, etc.

Turns out, we’re lucky to get one bar, by the windows.  Usually it’s no bars or the dreaded ‘no signal’.  However, both those options are better than “searching….” being displayed, because while ‘searching’ for a signal, your phone traditionally uses more battery power, as it tries to boost it’s internal antenna to grab a signal it thinks is just out of its reach.

We’ve been getting by just on internet alone.  Thankfully having wifi enabled phones allows us to connect to our internet connection at home, so our iPhones aren’t just expensive paper weights that I drop 175 bucks on a month.

The problem becomes when one of us is home and the other is out and about running errands or working.  There’s no way to make a phone call or send a text to the person who’s away because there’s no cell reception.  We found this out relatively quickly on one of our first nights at the new apt when I ran out to the store to get milk, and Ang wanted me to pick up Nilla Wafers and paper towels as well.

Without ‘Push’ notification, email on the iPhone only updates every 15 minutes, meaning I could’ve gone to the store and came back in the amount of time it would’ve taken me to get the message if I wasn’t constantly refreshing my gmail (Apple offers MobileMe, which for a subscription price of 100 bucks a year, you get Push and Cloud features)

There’s the option of getting a traditional landline, an option I’m still giving deep consideration to.  My job somewhat dictates that I be accessible at all hours, and if I don’t have a working phone, it’s an issue.  My company actually provides free (1980s era) cell phones to employees who don’t have or can’t afford a cell phone, they’re that serious.

The problem with a landline is that it’s going to cost an arm and a leg down the line.  Comcast (our cable and internet monopoly provider) offers a deal where if you get cable, internet and a phone line you only pay like 100 bucks a month, oppose to just having cable and internet (like we do) and paying 110-120 bucks a month (like we do).

The rub is that after 6 months, Comcast jacks the price of the service up to 140 clams, leaving you either with the option to get rid of something, or pay out the ass.

I spoke with the installation tech who hooked up our cable and internet at the new apartment about the offer and this is what he said:

Call and speak to a customer service rep,” he suggested while speaking in an Irish brogue.  “They can sometimes set up deals with customers, like extended contacts for a certain price per month, that sort of thing,”

“But, what if I don’t want to pay the corporation, … maybe I’d rather just deal with the man on the street?”  I hinted.  He grinned a gnarled grin that only someone with a knowledge of the British Isles could love and brushed off the obvious attempted bribe.

Sorry, it’s not the same as it used to be, where we could just program the box to give you free HBO or Pay-Per-View, it’s all monitored and regulated by dispatchers now, sorry.  But seriously, give them a call, and see if they’ll work with you.  They’re more inclined to make a deal, because it’s money in their pocket in the long run,” and he has a point.

Though, he did fuck up the install, requiring me to call Comcast later that night from the end of the driveway.  While some phone jockey gave me instructions on rebooting our modem and changing out the signal to our wifi, I had to place my phone in the dirt and run back and forth from our apartment to take the necessary steps in ensuring our computers had proper internet connection.  So what does he know, really?

The next option we briefly explored was using Skype, the Voice Over Internet Protocol service that let’s people video chat for free around the world.

Skype would’ve been a great fix-it option if it weren’t for the fact you need wifi to make it work.  Due to AT&T’s business practices, apps and services like Skype can’t make calls on the infamously bogged down 3G Network.  Calling out from home would be no problem, since there’s wifi there; it would be making calls to home where we’d need to find a hotspot someplace.

I found this out while at work all weekend, where I desperately ran around my office’s property in the dead of night with my phone out in front of me, trying to locate the strongest unlocked wifi signal from the surrounding houses so I could steal some bandwidth and call my wife.

Hint:  If your wireless network is named ‘linksys’, I’m pretty sure it’s being abused by some dude parked out front of your house right now with a laptop full of porn.

So, tired of emailing back and forth, which in this day-n-age without Push Notification is similar to communicating by message in a bottle, Ang suggested I open the dusty crypt that held my old Facebook account, reactivate it, and use the chat on there.

The Facebook iPhone App isn’t bad, and I don’t have a real beef with it.  Its minimalist, like how Facebook used to be, easy to navigate and its chat feature is similar to the iPhone’s SMS/MMS screen.

It was a gut wrenching decision, honestly, because I wanted to leave Facebook behind me.  I’m 28 years old, and in my humble opinion, I’m in the waning years of online social networking.  I use Twitter extensively, because there’s no real bells or whistles to it; I post something that’s on my mind, or post a link to this blog, and let it ride from there.

With Facebook, there’s too much required involvement.  I have to ‘poke’ back everyone that pokes me, even if I don’t want to.  Someone’s bound to send me some virtual gift that I sure as hell don’t want, but will have to comment on, lest I look like a fucking Scrooge.

There are too many people for me to keep in touch with as ‘friends’ only because they’re associated with people I interact with.  I don’t want to get status updates (and subsequently the notifications regarding a status I commented on from people I don’t even know) from the wife of a guy I work with, because she decided to ‘friend’  me after raiding her husband’s friend’s list and wanted to pad her own numbers.

I can’t reject her request, because then I’ll hear about it from the guy:

“Dude, be friends with my wife,” I don’t even know her name!  I just have the unsolicited knowledge that you two like to ‘do it’ doggystyle!

And speaking of  the people I work with,  I’d like to keep most of them at an arm’s reach distance.  I can’t unfriend them, because again, I’ll fucking hear about it in real life.

And that’s really the point: when I got rid of Facebook, the biggest reason of all was to reduce the amount of ridiculous , unnecessary drama that was bleeding into my life.  With anyone with a set of ovaries who posted on my wall, I’d be grilled by my wife and her Spetznas-like interrogation tactics.

Have you ever been waterboarded while trying to make pancakes for breakfast?  It sucks.

But wanting to be able to at least text with my wife meant more to me than dealing with Facebook and the bullshit associated with it.  Fuck it, I thought, who cares?

Within 24 hours I was back to checking my News Feed every twenty minutes.

Fuck you Facebook.  Fuck you.

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, People I Love, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 2 Comments

My Life Without Facebook

If you follow me on Twitter you might have read a post recently that read something like “I just dragged my #FB account into the middle of a dusty street, put a snub nose revolver against its head, and pulled the trigger.”  That would signify me getting rid of Facebook from my life.

It had been a long road I had walked to get to that decision, and it didn’t come lightly.  The factors for me kicking that account over the side were many: it took too much of my time, privacy concerns with posted content, and more importantly the trouble Facebook seemed to get me into.

My wife and I used to get into so many arguments on Facebook over stupid shit like “what did you mean by that posting?” if one of us posted something on another’s wall (a public forum that anyone can read, in case you’re one of the few who have no clue who Facebook works).  It’s not worth the hassle.

Plus, early on at my job I took some heat for some things posted on my Facebook page.  Apparently, my boss at the time didn’t have enough to do, so he decided to snoop through people’s online accounts (this was admittedly before I realized I could set security settings and block anonymous access).  He found some pictures and content he didn’t agree with and made it a workplace issue.  While I disagree with his intrusion, it’s my own fault for putting stuff out there I don’t want certain people to come across.

Plus, Facebook’s interface was becoming more and more bogged down.  I wrote an article a while back about the bloated corpse that is Facebook, and little has changed since.  When I tried to upload my photos from my wife and I’s honeymoon in Niagara Falls, Facebook took the load (maybe 50-something pics) but then turned around and told me there was a failure of some sort.

I knew it wasn’t on my end, because FB has done this to me in the past on many occasions.  But that was the last straw; I was through dealing with this corporate ballsack and it’s creepy cyberstalking.

I posted a status at about 11am telling people I was going to smoke my FB account by 1600, and if they wanted to stay in touch, follow me on Twitter.  I reposted the same status a few more times during the day, and at 1603, after getting my wedding pictures and a few other choice pics off of Facebook, I nuked the account.

For those of you who never got rid of a social networking account, there’s an awkward Q&A that follows.  When I tossed my Myspace profile into the garbage can in 2007 there was a series of little questions you could answer yes and no to, such as “were you overwhelmed by the amount of mail you got regarding your Myspace account?” and “Did you ever fear that your content was being sold?”  Facebook was no different, even adding little explanations to attempt to assuage your fears.  When I selected “Privacy Concerns (I had more than one reason but FB only allows for one option to be picked)” a little window popped up plaintively giving some tired excuse about how FB’s new Terms of Service does blah blah blah to ensure your privacy online.  That’s great for FB, but what about some other dickbag who can hack in and take whatever information they want?  Not that I keep anything so sacred on my old FB page but still.  It’s a case of too little too late.

Besides, I’m older than FB’s targeted demographic now.  FB caters more towards the 17-24 year old market, where kids can share their interests via “fan-ing” a particular page.  Like Reeboks?  There’s a fan page for it.  How about Sharks?  Yup, check it out.

I was primarily using FB to help promote this blog, but when I really thought about it, FB promotions were futile.  I had a total of 40-something friends, half of which already followed me on Twitter, the other half weren’t really interested in my articles anyway.  It was just more work to post updates to both FB AND Twitter, and have them be different.  And due to Twitter’s minimalist design, I can be a little more free about who I promote to, oppose to having to individually edit myself based on whomever’s reading my FB posts.

In the end, it just made more sense to get rid of FB.

However, some weren’t pleased with my departure.

“How the hell can I stalk you now!” Lamented my wife.  “How will I know when some random bitch posts something on your wall?!”

However, in the last 24 hours since I left FB I feel freer, life seems a little less complicated.  Sure I have knee jerk reactions to checking out what’s going on with people, as I wait in a queue for the ATM, but that’s fading rather quickly.  No, the freedom’s totally worth it.

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 1 Comment

@Recant: Tweet?

@Recant:  Tweet?

A while back I posted an article where I pretty much took a match and a can of gas to Twitter.  For those of you who somehow still haven’t heard of Twitter, it’s the “microblogging” website that allows it’s users to post “status updates” in 140 character increments that are broadcast around the web to all those who mindlessly “follow” you.  In turn, you “follow” other people’s “tweets” – what it’s called when you “Twitter” but no one calls it “Twittering” because that just sounds like something a gay would do.

I’ve been largely conflicted as of late about Twitter.  Initially I was a huge naysayer of the service mainly because I had no real need for it; I updated my status regularly on my Facebook page which in essence is the same thing that Twitter does, so I saw no need to be redundant, even though you can link the two together.

But then one night, Ang and I had a friend over for drinking and bullshitting around the living room and the subject of Twitter came up.  I, being two beers in, loudly and quickly made my opinions known that Twitter was crap, that it was “simple blogging” or something to that affect, as from Twitter we get the lovely term “Microblogging” as seen above.

My argument was that Twitter makes blogging easy, so easy in fact, that my mom can do it, not that she does, thank god.  My stance was largely based around the fact that I work my ass off to maintain my blog, put out fresh article ideas, and try to promote the shit out of my site.  Twitter pretty much opened the door even wider for Civilian Journalism – a market with an expanding waist line and no foreseeable over-saturation point in sight.

Which brought up my wife’s point:  During our discussion, it came to light that she had a Twitter account (I was actually shocked and maybe a little pissed), which she says she created in light of the political protests in Iran regarding the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The Iranian Government pretty much shut down cell phones and internet access across the country, but a few people were able to “Tweet” what was happening at ground zero, which made for invaluable journalism.

I had to admit that she had a point, that Twitter, in that case at least, served a purpose, oppose to allowing Ashton Kutcher to post pictures of Demi Moore in granny panties.

So fast forward a few weeks and with Twitter all over the news, everyone talking about the service, a million fucking Apps for the iPhone related to Twitter, it kind of dawned on me that I was fighting against the tide.

I could easily stay the course I am now and just try to ignore the inevitable; I could be the technology resistant North Korea of sorts and try to keep myself in the dark regarding Twitter’s presence in the world, or I could make it work for me.

I regularly will post a weekly update of this blog on my Facebook page complete with a primer, a picture I found on the web that somewhat ties together my general thesis, a funny caption, and tag all of my friends who I think might be interested in the article.  I try to keep it as non-intrusive/abrasive as possible by not establishing a link to the article but rather just writing out the web address telling people they can “read more” at my site.

But these little “notes” only reach maybe twenty people because of the security settings I have in place on my Facebook page (see also: Fort Knox).  So of the 20 people I ‘tag’ in the note, maybe two or three will wander over to my site and glance over the whole article.

By the way, these notes on Facebook are the only real advertising I can do for my site, aside from handing out flyers to people on the street.

With Twitter I can potentially raise my readership exponentially, as I use it as a catalyst for my own brand of advertising.  In the same sense that I blogsurf and leave a few thoughtful comments on some random guy’s blog (which tends to prove futile half the time because … well I’ll get into that in a minute) I can do the same on Twitter by “following” people and getting them to “follow” me in turn.  I can post links directly to freshly written articles and keep updates hot and fresh from my phone throughout the day without feeling like too big of a douche bag for flooding my friend’s News Feeds on Facebook.  With my Facebook only being about 40 people in size, I could grow my Twitter account to ten times the size, and see ten times the readership with little cost to any real friendships I have.

(We)B-logging (remember when it was still called that, circa like, 2000?) is becoming somewhat of a lost art on the internet anyway, as everyone a few years ago jumped on the bandwagon and soon the internet was a flood with people thinking they were special enough to post a few pictures of their cat and write a few half hearted articles in relation.  Soon they’d lose interest and move on to some other fad.  Now the tubes are messy with discarded blogs which lay in the middle of the road like a splattered squirrel.

In relation to blogsurfing, the waves, you could say, have died down to nothing.

Twitter seems to be the next logical step in order for me to get my name (and this site) out there.  I hate to admit when I’m wrong, and I hate to succumb to a fad so trendy, but to survive is to adapt.

You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/BADorg

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is our love affair with Facebook over?

If you’re like me, which half of my readers are, socially, you’re tethered to the social networking site like some sort of umbilical chord to the outside word.  You’re literally given information about the people you know and the things you like through what is called a “feed”, an ever rolling, self updating ticker that keeps you abreast of everything from your friend’s status updates to free Wendy’s coupons.

However, is it time we say good bye?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought because I, like roughly over two hundred million people world wide, use Facebook constantly.  And by “constantly” I mean since I started writing this article, some 150 words in, I’ve checked my Facebook twice.  It’s similar to drug addiction where in our culture we need to be kept aware of everything going on around us, like we’re a herd of Impalas on some Serengeti plain, and we just heard a twig snap three hundred yards to our left.

Our lust for information, especially easily digestible information in the form of side or top scrolling text is a product of 9/11 actually.  Shortly after the terrorist attacks every major news network started rolling out updates on happenings as they were happening.  The moment some Taliban asshole was getting a JDAM stuffed down his throat, Americans were being made aware.

Then we got Social Networking Sites.

First there was Friendster, which I know absolutely nothing about.  From Friendster we got Myspace and Facebook.  Myspace was cool for about two years, or until enough people got tired of their so-called friends’ .gif laden pages crashing their computers every time they logged on.  The mass exodus landed everyone at Facebook which appealed to people because of its minimalist (see also “impossible to customize with html scripting”) design.  It also had a slightly more professional appeal as young hip business types were supplanting their resumes with links to their actual Facebooks.

This soon became problematic as potential employers were seeing tagged photos of prospective employees doing keg stands and body shots during a weekend trip back to their alma mater.

So as Myspace has atrophied Facebook has gorged itself to the point of self collapse (the following is going to get a little technical, so if you don’t have a Facebook page or have no idea what one is, just, skip to the next blog or something, I dunno).

Have you recently become infuriated with how difficult it is to find anything on Facebook?  Take a second, right now, and try to find pictures of yourself, that you yourself have uploaded, and see how many clicks to different pages it takes you before you get to where you want to be?

I’ll even break it down for you:

If you’re like me, you keep your Facebook on the “home” page so you get the scrolling news feed.  From there, you’re going to have to click on your profile’s page, because if you click on “photos” from your home screen you’re going to be brought to a screen that contains all your friend’s photo albums, not any of yours.  So once you’ve gotten to your actual profile page, then click “photos” and you’ll see your own albums.

That’s entirely too much work for the second or third most visited website, in order to get to my own property.

Also, the “recent news” side bar is anything but recent.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it as well, as information will pop up on it that has very little to do with whatever I have going on in my tight little network of friends.  Oh, I see that a friend of mine apparently “likes” Tide.  Ok… or, here’s one random photo of a friend of mine tagged from someone I don’t know.

The point I’m trying to make is that Facebook needs to take some responsibility with it’s content, ie, make it a little more user friendly.  In the past year, Facebook has rolled out with a few less than welcomed site and policy updates which have spurred a lot of groups or online petitions, which have gone mostly unnoticed.

The site needs to be streamlined and have controls put into the user’s hands.  How hard would it be to create some sort of filter where I could chose what news enters my feed and how often a “recent news” item sorts itself through my page?  How about a one-click option to see the stuff I’ve posted, whether it’s photos, notes, posts, links, etc?

How about simply allowing me to sort my inbox messages?  That’s only been around since email first went mainstream, about twenty years ago now.

It almost seems that Facebook has grown lethargic under it’s own gross weight.

But like any relationship that seems almost too stable, the jilted half is only waiting for a chance for something better, sleeker, newer to come along.  This is what happened with Myspace and could potentially happen to Facebook, should some other Social Networking site be developed.

If Facebook wants to hold on to its share of internet browsing traffic, it has to clean itself up.  It needs to peel itself off of the proverbial couch, get the Dorito crumbs off of it’s chin, change it’s shirt, and get some sunlight on itself if it wants us to still find it attractive.

Once it manages to get a hold of its main site, then maybe someone over there can get a hold of the mobile site and do a total overhaul over there.  Facebook’s mobile application, whether you’re using it for your Blackberry or iPhone, is terrible, anyway you slice it.  I won’t go into how god-awful and laughably backwards it is, just take for granted that for a company as big as Facebook, you’d almost expect a little more.

I mean, at least Microsoft is TRYING.

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, The Great Indoors | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social Networking OPSEC

From the Miltionary:

OPSEC:  Abbrv. for Operational Security.  Keeping the details or specifics of a mission secret as to not give away vital information to an enemy or undesirable group or person.

From the Jimtionary:

OPSEC:  Abbrv. for Operational Security. Not allowing everyone to know everything about you, until you’re dead and someone writes your biography.

The idea of the social networking site, such as Facebook, or if you’re a 15 year old girl, Myspace, caters to everyone’s inner attention whore.  At its very root, it’s an outlet for self promotion, whether it’s for the individual or a product or conglomerate.  One of the bigger downsides, however, is with pouring out so much promotional information, it can turn around and hurt you.

Obviously I’m not a corporation or product; I’m not a jug of Tide with Bleach, nor McDonalds.  I’m just a regular guy with a Facebook page that I use to keep in touch with a very small circle of people that 90% of which I know or at least have met, in person.

My problem is that when I do hang out with these people in the real world, oppose to the digital one, I’m not the same person.  That’s not to say I ‘m not the person in the picture or am lying about the stuff on the page but the key difference is the amount of information I’m putting out there.

Take for instance this party I went to at the beginning of the summer.  I had a good time and talked to a lot of people about different things.  However the things I spoke about at that party would never in a million years appear on my Facebook page or even this blog.  That’s because when I’m speaking with people in person, face to face, I have a certain degree of “spin control” on what I say or how I say it.

Ever hear how sarcasm translates poorly into text?  Information works closely along those lines.

If I put something into words, you the reader can take it in various ways depending on how you perceive me.  Or how you’re feeling emotionally; however you want it is how you’re going to get it – you get the idea.  Even if I’m talking to you on the phone, slight inflections in my voice can dictate how you receive the information I’m giving you.

But when you talk to someone face to face, you can use your entire body to convey a message.  Getting behind your message in such a way typically will lead to clear(er) understanding for whom is receiving that information.

Not so much on Facebook.

I can’t get into particulars, because it would somewhat defeat the purpose of this article’s main idea, but understand that I confided in some people certain information pertaining to my work and private life.  If you go on my Facebook page itself (which is set to very private), you’ll see where it is I work, and even pictures I’ve taken or had taken of me there.  It’s no big secret to the people who have access to my Facebook page what I do.

But, similar to this blog, I try to keep my activities at work, or relating to my work, to a minimum.  So imagine my aghast when someone posted a comment on my page relating to some personal issues in my life and work.  Things I didn’t really want announced to the public, even if that “public” was a select grouping of people I know professionally and personally.

I didn’t know about the breach in Social Networking (SN) OPSEC until I got a text from my wife stating that so-and-so let the cat out of the bag pertaining to some going-ons around my work.  I was pissed and immediately checked my Facebook page and saw the offense.  I quickly added a comment to try to soften the blow of the potentially hazardous leak of information.

Of course a buddy of mine who used to serve in the US Army picked up on it right away and commented in the same thread.

I understand that part of it’s my fault for offering such information out to people to begin with, especially information that probably shouldn’t be shared.  But again, when you figure you have control of that information when you release it you don’t think of how it can be used against you.

I guess you don’t really ever have control of any information, yours or others, ever.

So, within 24 hours (actually closer to two) I posted a status update which resulted in someone else putting some somewhat personal information about me into a comment thread.  Again, can’t go into the details, but it’s like, come on dude, seriously?  Like, how much harder can you blow a brother’s spot up?

Not everyone knows the same information about me that you do, and conversely, you don’t know everything that someone else already knows.  My wife is probably the one person who knows the most about me, only because we’re attached at the hip and she’s my resilient sounding board.

Regardless, I spoke with the offending individuals separately in private email messages explaining how I didn’t want that information shared.  Both were very understanding and apologetic, recoiling for their offenses, one so much as crying about it.  Like a little girl.

That being said, people need to think before posting on anyone’s, mine or otherwise, SN page.  Do you really want to air out their dirty laundry?  And just because you think something’s common knowledge (especially something related to a medical condition) don’t go talking about it in an open forum.  Would you want someone with a bullhorn letting all your friends and family know about your private life?

Do this:  Next time you’re about to click “post” ask yourself “if this were me, would I want someone posting this on my page?”

August 1, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Future In The Palms Of Your Hands

Do you remember being a child and watching television shows like “The Jetsons” and uh.. I dunno, “Lost In Space” or any other Sci-Fi shit?  You wished that you had your own Wookie and light saber if you were a nerd or Tricorder if you were a bigger nerd.

All that technology at those people’s fingertips, in a galaxy far, far away.

No more.

I just picked up the iPhone 3GS, and the ads you see on television are honestly no lie.  There is an App(lication, a third party DLC that ranges from calorie counters to animated guns) for everything, all at the tips of your fingers.

Literally.

When the iPhone first rolled out like, three years ago, I scoffed at the hordes of nerds who waited in multiple hours-long lines that stretched for city blocks as far as the eyes could see.  I even blogged about people being trend whores, who had to race out and get the newest, latest thing.

And while I still feel that those who would take off days (plural) off from work to sit in a lawn chair on some Manhattan sidewalk to wait to spend 300 dollars on a new gadget, the new iPhone makes me a big fucking hypocrite.

For the last year and a half I’ve had the pleasure of having a Blackberry Curve 8830, a hand set that was a touch bulky and a lot slower, but was a good instrument to teach me the ways of navigating the internet (or whatever the hell you’d call the “internet” on a Blackberry) while simultaneously answering phone calls and text messages.  It also gave me pause to think that now, I was literally reachable at all hours, at any given time, and that privacy was forever diminished to the period of time when I would actually shut the damn thing off, which was never.

But my Curve was a lumbering ox pulling a hay wagon compared to the Lamborghini that is the iPhone 3GS.  Hell, according to Apple’s website, the “S” stands for “Speed.”

But the iPhone isn’t exactly perfect – at least for someone coming from the world of Blackberry, who’s used to pressing on buttons to type, oppose to touching a screen.

I had heard stories that the iPhone’s touch screen required some getting used to, especially for those of us who were used to the tiny blackberry-seed-esque keys found on Blackberry phones (hence the name).  The typing isn’t that bad, but I notice I have nearly 50% spelling errors as I try to type one handed, as my thick clumsy thumb will hit between two “keys” at once.

Texting while driving?  Forget it.
However, Apple’s software is intuitive enough to recognize potential spelling hazards and will often auto-correct on the fly without you really even noticing.  For instance, while sending a text to Ang, I literally typed “I dound a new one” or something to that effect.  The auto-correct changed “dound” to “found” because it was the most logical word that would replace a nonsense word like ‘dound” according to the sentence’s context.

Though I’ve seen the auto-correct overstep it’s boundaries and correct a word that I meant to type, often acting like an overzealous-yet-polite butler waiting in the background for his master to make some sort of boorish statement at his own dinner party and vomit all over himself at the table.

With the new 3.0 OS software, Apple added the long-awaited cut-and-paste feature, which to me is a tad less intuitive so far in the last few days.  I’ve been confounded as to moving the cursor from the end of a type sentence to the middle of a sentence to correct a spelling mistake that auto-correct failed to correct itself.  In the process of this, I’ll tap the sentence and get prompted as to whether or not I wanted to cut, copy or paste the selection, when all I want to do is delete one too many spaces between words or correct a punctuation.

If the auto-correct is a dedicated butler, the cut-copy-paste feature is your overactive nephew.

Another thing I’m getting used to is the fact that I don’t get email and text message alerts as fast as I’d like, or at all for the matter until I adjusted how often my phone would go and check the digital mailbox (the default was set to “manual” meaning I had to go in on my own if I wanted to see if I had mail.).

My one other criticism is that the battery life is less than expected.  Even at the end of it’s service to me, my old Blackberry would be able to go at least two or even three days without a visit to the wall charger.  Since picking up my iPhone on Monday, I’ve charged it three times, and it’s Wednesday as I’m writing this.  In it’s defense however, it was once that I really felt that it needed to be charged, whereas the other two times I found the battery to be half empty.

But for the few detractors (the battery life and tying being the biggest so far) I’m in love with this fucking gadget.  The picture and video quality (see below) rival, if not surpass our Nikon point-and-shoot digital camera.  When I’m at home, it automatically sync’s with our wireless network, so I get twice as fast surfing speeds as I do on the lackluster AT&T 3G network.  The new internal compass makes my truck’s GPS almost inadequate, if I could figure out a way to mount my phone to my windshield.

I had a chance to sit down briefly with a friend of my wife’s who works in the tech field and has experienced the evolution of the iPhone from it’s infancy to the latest, newest model.

Over a few beers and a glass or two of wine I asked him what his favorite aspect of the new 3GS was, to which he replied:  “Oh, the digital compass by far, only because now you have turn-by-turn navigation,” which is awesome to behold.  The other day while looking for a dry cleaners closer to home than the one I used to go to all the time, I simply did a Google Map search from my phone’s desktop of “dry cleaners, _______, MA” and found one in somewhat close proximity.  I simply touched the “directions to” button, followed by “use current location” as a start point, and I was literally watching myself, on this tiny screen, maneuvering through town in real time.

I then asked the lanky hipster if the next generation of iPhones could improve on anything, what would it be?

“Blow jobs,” he said without hesitation, meaning that the only thing that could make this gadget any better is if it started fellating it’s customer, which I admit, wouldn’t be that bad of an upgrade next time around, Mr. Jobs.

All an’ all my interviewee was beyond impressed with the latest version of the device, and had the same hang ups as I did, especially regarding the tactlessness of the cut-and-paste, but encouraging in regards to typing.

“You’ll get it, it takes time,” he said as he finished his first Hoegaarden.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , | 2 Comments

Please Weigh In…

So I’m thinking of making my own page, with my own new web address for this blog.  So in essence, I’m thinking of moving again, and making everyone change around their blogrolls.  Again.

I need help however.  I’m dicking around with Apple’s iWeb programme and I can’t really make heads or tails out of it.  So if there’s anyone out there that knows how to navigate around either that programme or making my own independent site… lemme know.

Thanks, and keep a look out for the newly updated Blogging Affairs Desk site soon.


May 14, 2009 Posted by | Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors | , , | 3 Comments

The Hobo On The Corner of 59th St Had a Sandwich Board Sign That Read: @ Everyone: THE END IS NEAR!!

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Twitter, the micro-blogging site that keeps the kids tapping on their keyboards and smart phones while you try to have a civilized dinner for once.  Twitter is the fastest growing web-application-based program on the internet as of the time I write this article (Sunday evening), meaning that by the time I post it sometime tomorrow afternoon people will be pretty much over it.

If you’re part of that 2/3rds collective that still has no clue what Twitter is, but frustratingly keep hearing about it in every news media outlet, let me explain it to you:  You get to update your friends and “followers” with “tweets” or 140-character-or-less posts on the Twitter site.  When you post one of these “micro-blogs” everyone who has been following you will be notified of the update telling them that you’re waiting for your laundry to finish up in the dryer, or doing other fascinating things in your mundane life.

I don’t Twitter; I see no need to Tweet the banal ins and outs of my day-to-day life because I already do this for the most part on my Facebook page.  This brings me to my next point, which is Twitter is essentially a status update for people without a Facebook page, or want to update their going-ons without all the hassle of setting up some ridiculous social networking site-page.

My other gripe with Twitter is that it’s a flashy “of the moment” kind of fad that I can see Dave Navarro commenting on in the next “I Love the 00s” episode.  At 140 characters, is there enough room to really get the point across that you’re out of bread or that the line at DMV is too long?

I did hear a report recently that a heart surgeon tweeted one of his open heart surgeries.  Awesome… as I’m lying on my back with my chest open and heart in a stainless steel dish next to me, the surgeon is busy bending over his keyboard instead of my slowly cooling body.

Oprah is now Tweeting too.  Great, so now my mom can be more thoroughly brainwashed.

Twitter is a lazy way to get attention and be inundated with ridiculous advertisements should you decide to “follow” a particular commercial brand or product.  My comrade in blogging arms, Hokie recently wrote about his falling out with a local brewery that he had been following on Twitter, after the company tracked him down and DEMANDED he follow them.  What came were a bunch of lame ads.

In a culture where we digitally record our favorite television shows just so we can fast forward over the commercials, we are now volunteering to be bombarded with ads from our favorite places to shop.

And maybe that’s just the ticket that companies and advertisers alike have been looking for.  Commercials On Demand.  Instead of making viewers of whatever sit through three and a half minutes of ads that we don’t care about (local used auto dealers, heavy flow maxi pads) we could curtail what ads we are subjected to by just clicking on the brands that we favor the most.

I have done this on my Facebook page, where I have become a “fan” of different brands, stores, etc, and I receive regular “status updates” from these pages which are, in fact, basically ads.  I found this to be very irksome at first, however I’ve grown to accept it.  I clicked on those items and to be associated with them, I pay the price:  which is being bombarded by daily updates from fucking Banana Republic and Outback Steak House.

But back to the topic at hand:  I hate Twitter, and I feel like its one more step in the direction of the Fall of Man.  Text messaging has crippled civilization, socked the art of conversation in the mouth, and kicked polite etiquette down a set of stairs.  How soul crushingly annoying is it to be with another human being in the same space, an in mid conversation, the faint sound of a buzzing cuts through the air, they stop mid-sentence to dig into their pocket, and return a text message on the fly.

I’m just as guilty as the next guy, because I do the same thing.  I resent my dependency on connectivity to everyone at all times, and my inner Luddite dies a little more when I follow through with ignoring of my wife, therapist, co-worker, mom, whoever  for a few seconds to send a babble of short words or phrases through the air via cellular stream.  I need to work on this; but like I said, since about the age of 16 I’ve been addicted to being connected.

This week, starting on Monday is “Digital Detox” Week, which is leading up to Earth Day next Sunday I think.  I’m not sure on those dates, and my caseworker, …er… fact checker is out of the office for some goddamn reason, but it’s a week where we can unplug ourselves from technology in order to reconnect with a life less complicated.  As granola as it sounds, it wouldn’t be the worst idea for certain people to try to get back to a life before Blackberrys, high speed internet downloads, online poker tournaments and “sexting” your high school-aged next door neighbor.

…Wait, what am I saying?  You know how many hits to my site I’d lose?!  Jesus!

Anyway, forget I said anything….

April 20, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, The Great Indoors | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment