18th Anniversary of Blogging

Here is my first blog post from 18 years ago, which makes it as old as a legal adult. Wow…

Two Footballs

I got started at a place called Diaryland. A friend, Lacey, had started using it. Back in those days, I was up for trying pretty much anything geeky friends were doing. Blogging was a natural place for me to go.

Diaryland became Pitas and the site there was the first Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric. As other platforms became available, I tried them all:

My activity is far less now than it was back in 2000, but as I understand, most people active back then primarily post on Facebook or Twitter.

MLM mashup with political tribalism

A very conservative friend shared a rant I’ve seen in the past. No big deal. Curiously, though, at the end (under the See More break) was a piece of text not consistent with the rest.

If You Want True Financial Freedom and Not Have to Worry about This Contact Me and I’ll Show You a Way To Be financially FREE in Five Years Private Message Me or Send Me an Email At xxxxxxxx@gmail.com

I did a search on the email and found some interesting things. There are several Facebook pages associated with it. A web site that looks like a cheap Multi-Level Marketing scam. Basically, they claim to have you invest your money in their products (as crowdfunding), you provide the labor of the marketing of the products, and you establish an eCommerce presence to sell the products. Then you make “reverse royalty payments.”

If royalty payments are you the seller paying the intellectual property owner, then reverse royalty payments are supposed to be the IP owner paying you, the crowdfunding investor?

It smelled foul.

Leveraging political tribalism has gotten this particular post 289,770 shares. That aspect is just amazingly brilliant. Hopefully, it just creates enough outrage that people do not actually read it enough to fall for the scam.

Unsticky Likes

Like Stamp 1
Credit: Joy Powers

Of late, I have been featured in some posts that generate many comments on Facebook. Naturally, I like these comments.

So when a new one comes in and old ones I thought I previously liked no longer show them being liked, it was noticeable. Over the past few months, I have seen the behavior over and over.

My primary hunch is that I am just a bad person and did not actually like them as I thought. Human memory is fallible. It is easily feasible that I in seeing them not liked assumed that I would have taken action to like them. The memory of having done so could actually be the recollection of doing so with others conflated to this incident.

Hypothetically, it is possible that I like a post and the action never gets updated in the database without telling me it failed. If the UI is designed to show the like whether or not the database took it, then I could see it liked and when I return later to see it not liked. Maybe because these posts have such a large dataset collected into a single place I more easily notice when this happens. It would be disturbing if we go to all the trouble of responding and others are never getting that feedback.

Facebook Feature Request: Privacy and Tags

This is essentially the issue of the Friends of Friends post. In this case, I am not really interested in expanding the audience.

Say I publish a friends only post. Victor, my friend, makes a comment tagging Roberta, not my friend, and asks a question directed at her. She is not notified about the tag. Nor can she see the comment or post.

Therefore, in my mind, allowing the tag to be done is counterproductive. Facebook should warn Victor that Roberta cannot see it. Ideally it would be ahead of time and prevent it. Less acceptable, but I would be happier is after the fact having a “Roberta cannot see this” notice. (The “Who can see this?” thing is vague and not generally very helpful clarifying exactly who can see it.)

Troll Facebook Button

Sometimes I want to leave a comment but not actually enter the Facebook conversation. For that, I want a “Facebook Troll” comment browser extension.

The idea is that it could allow me to post the comment and automatically turn off notifications for that post.

Pretty sure replies would still notify me.

Ironically enough, the same feature would be useful for engagements, death announcements, marriages, and other posts where I just want to leave a comment but not have to deal with notifications about anyone else leaving a comment. So 90% of use cases could be a “Congrats!” button or a “Sorry for your loss.” button.

Buffer Feature Requests

Dual Window

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ have significantly different character number restrictions than Twitter. Naturally, Twitter limits posts to their notorious 140 characters. LinkedIn allows 700, and Google+ / Facebook allow about five thousand.

I like to post things with a quote from the articles I share that captures what I found most interesting about it. Generally, they fall between 200 to 200 characters. Too long for Twitter, which means I editorialize it to make it fit.

Something amazing about the Pocket tool to share to Buffer is it provides two different textareas. One for Facebook and one for everything else. Brilliant! So much so, that I am tempted to completely change my workflow to push anything I want to share to Pocket just so I can share it with Buffer in a way that makes sense. On Facebook the preview URL appears to Pocket rather than the actual destination which slightly bothers me because I’d prefer the source to get attribution.

Tumblr

It would be nice to be able to share to Tumblr through Buffer. It seems odd that Buffer would support App.net who has been dying for years and will finally be gone in 6 weeks yet not one of the larger social networks?

Friends of Friends

Occasionally friends will see something they like and tag another friend in a comment. In general, I have a privacy level of Friends on my posts. Non-mutual friends are not able to see these tags. I knew about and disliked these options:

  1. Leave it alone. The friend’s friend has no idea the post exists unless someone says something off Facebook.
  2. Tell my friend. Maybe if the friend is technical they get it right away. Otherwise, I may have to spend lots of time explaining privacy.
  3. Make the privacy level Public. Then anyone can see it. I have considered this acceptable a few times because I would not mind it being public so I did change the privacy level. My use of Friends is a safe, conservative default. There are probably things set to Friends that I would not mind being Public, but I have not bothered to make it so.
  4. Friend the tagged person. That seems creepy and weird as a solution to allowing someoto view a post.

I just realized there might be another option. Setting these posts with non-mutual friends tagged in a comment  could be the compromise I need. Changing the privacy level to FoF which would allow their friend to see it while also not making the post public. Given my number of friends, this probably is a giant number of people, but not as bad as public.

A better idea of how many and who are in my Friends of Friends might be nice. The easy way to look at them is a search for “People who I may know.” Getting a count from this is tougher.

I have seen others use a Friends of Friends permission but not often. It is not in the main list of permissions which are Public, Friends, and Only Me. Going into More Options there is Friends Except Acquaintances, Custom, and the giant number of lists I once created when I was more serious about ensuring my posts were targeted to my various friends.1 It turned out Friends of Friends can be used by going into More Options > Custom > and typing in “Share with: These people or lists” the name “Friends of Friends.”

Of course, it also leads to Facebook worrying that I know what I am doing:

Ezra, it looks like someone who isn’t your friend recently liked one of your posts. We want to make sure you know who can see the things you post. To learn more, check out Privacy Basics.

1. The so many lists were difficult to maintain as I would have to seriously consider who should be in which lists and make sure that people were placed in the correct ones. That was hard enough when it was about 300 friends and a couple dozen lists. With almost 900 friends and about 50 groups, it is too complicated to maintain. I’d need to consolidate the lists to make it viable, but I have not been so willing.

Research BEFORE reacting

A friend posted this article on Facebook, Everything wrong with this country happened this morning on my Facebook page, which showed an image with the original erroneous claim. The reactions to it were agreement with the bogus claim. Which was extremely sad because the originator of the claim now refutes it. The whole point of the article seems to be that people seem to have lost the ability to see something, research for themselves the accuracy of the information, and make a decision about it. Instead people see things which evoke a feeling and react to the emotions instead of taking the time to verify. Even when that thing is trying to point out they are falling for stupid things corrected over a decade, but the false version resonates so strongly people perpetuate it because ideology trumps facts.

You need evidence.  You must go back somewhere in our objective world of definable objects and time frames and get EVIDENCE before you have an emotional reaction to something.  Not ONE SINGLE PERSON went and researched.  They had their opinions ready when the manufactured reality presented itself.  They gained more satisfaction from expressing their world view than searching for the truth.  This is the problem we’re having.  This is the core of the problem America is having.  If we just searched for objective truth, if we stopped our anger or our emotions for a singular second we wouldn’t have Iraq wars and Afghanistan wars and we’d have an equitable economic system that brought about prosperity to all.

I think a lot about this kind of thing. Some of my posts:

P.S. Snopes and Google are your friends.

Blog It; Or It Didn’t Happen

This blog is often my external brain. If I find something interesting, then I ought to blog about it. Later, when I need to reference it, then I can find it here.

Failing to write it down can result in spending lots of time trying to reinvent the wheel.

I guess part of the problem is a fracturing of my media creation. Sometimes I tweet it. Sometimes I make a Facebook or Tumblr post. Stuff gets spewed everywhere.

Phone camera and teeshirt selfies

I love Sci-Fi teeshirt
I love Sci-Fi

So I wear lots of geeky teeshirts. Many of these shirts have text on them. Maybe it is just me, but I want the text to be oriented the correct way when I take a photo of it. (You all are smart people, so it is not that I think you would be unable to read it backwards. More likely I do not want to appear cluelessly unobservant about what I am posting.)

Originally I tried to take this photo with Instagram. And then I realized the text was backwards. So I pulled up Facebook and took the same photo. Facebook flipped the backwards photo so that the text was correct. It did a face recognition thing prior to taking the photo.

What mystifies me is that Instagram, the king of cellphone photo sharing does not already do this? And that Facebook who also owns Instagram does. I can rotate the photo to its side or upside down, but not flip it over. Probably I could find another app to do this, but now that I know Facebook takes it correctly maybe I will not bother.

Once Facebook has taken the photo and oriented it, I can then go back and use Instagram to post it. This cumbersome method will bother me until Instagram works out how to correctly take the photos. Kudgy workarounds make me hyper-aware I should seek an alternative.