Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Facebook Dos and Don'ts - Privacy

Do understand the importance of privacy on Facebook. It amazes me how many users I see with wide-open privacy settings. This means that anyone, friend or not, can look at anything they’ve posted on Facebook. Potential bad guys can learn a great deal about these users and potentially steal their identity. Think about all the “secret questions” on all those bank and credit card websites. How many of those answers are somewhere on your Facebook page?
PRO TIP: The answer to the privacy question is NOT “Oh damn, I’m never using Facebook again!” The answer is “Use the privacy tools on Facebook and lock down your information so only friends can see it.”
Do use the Privacy Checkup on Facebook. This is important and very easy. Click on the Lock icon near the top right of the timeline page. Then click on Privacy Checkup.
  • Posts – Who do you want to see your next post? Select Friends. Click Next.
  • Apps – If you’re like most people, there are tons of games and other apps that you no longer use. Edit who sees each one and delete any you don't want anymore. When you’re done, click Next.
  • Profile – This shows your personal information and allows you to decide who sees each item. For safety’s sake, I recommend that you set each item to either Friends or Only Me (which means no one can see the information but you). Never use “Friends of Friends” or “Public.” Click Finish Up, then click Close.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Before You Unfriend Someone

Don’t. Do. It.

Unfriending someone on Facebook is the most passive-aggressive way possible to tell them to go to hell. It's sneaky and rude and hurtful.

What Happens
If you choose to unfriend someone, they will not be notified (that's the sneaky part). You'll be removed from that person's friends list. Your posts will no longer appear in their Facebook news feed, and their posts will no longer appear in yours. 

Scenario #1 – The Real Life Spat

This could be somebody from your child's school, or work, or your carpool, or anyone you frequently see in real life. This person is just annoying for whatever reason. Maybe they said something that you thought was rude and thoughtless and you’d prefer to never speak to them again. Let’s call them “Uncool Person.” So you want to unfriend them.

This is not a good idea. Why not?

  • Unfriending is sneaky. “Uncool Person” probably won’t realize what happened right away. However, they’ll realize what you did when they become aware that they’re not seeing your posts.  
  • It's also very hurtful, especially if "Uncool Person" had no idea that you were mad at them. Realizing they've been unfriended is not a good way to find out.
  • It will cause problems down the road. Remember, you’re going to see “Uncool Person” in real life. It’s going to be awkward when you see them and they know that you behaved like a vindictive 8th grader.
  • Who knows, you may patch things up. It would be a lot easier to move forward if you don't have this situation to recover from. 

Use Your Words
Okay, this isn't specifically Facebook advice. But honestly, if you have a problem with someone, communicate with them. If you're not comfortable with face-to-face conversation, send them a letter, an email, a text. Anything is better than simply snubbing them when you see them and then unfriending them on Facebook. It might even give them a chance to apologize for or explain the behavior you have a problem with, thereby patching up what you thought was a lost relationship. 

Unfollow Instead
Instead of unfriending “Uncool Person,” unfollow them. If you unfollow them, you won't see anything that "Uncool Person" posts, but your name will still appear on their friends list. There will be no evidence of a Facebook snub. Life will be a lot more comfortable for all concerned, and hurt feelings will be avoided. 

There are several ways to unfollow someone. Here is one easy way to do it.

    Go to the person’s Profile Page. This is simple to do:
    • If there’s a post from them in your news feed, just click on their name.
    • Otherwise, search for their name using the search bar at the top of your news feed. Click on their name.

        At the top of their Profile Page, click Following. Select Unfollow.

        Control Who Sees Your Posts
        Remember that once you unfollow “Uncool Person,” they will still be able to see your posts. If it’s important to you that “Uncool Person” not be able to see what you post, add them to your Restricted friends list. You can take them off your Restricted list at any time.
        1. Go to the person’s Profile page as described above.
        2. Click on Friends, then Add to Another List
        3. Click Restricted

        Scenario #2 - Those Annoying Posts

        Sometimes, people just love Facebook too much. Maybe they post ten times a day about nonsense. Maybe they post about a subject that doesn't interest you or even offends you. These might be people you don't even know in real life. Or if you do know them, their Facebook persona may be just a bit over the top. Let's call this person "Oversharer." Sounds like a good time to unfriend somebody, right? Probably not. Unfriending is just not a good idea. Why hurt someone's feelings when unfollowing is so easy? 

        Should You Use Your Words?
        Is this another time to confront "Oversharer" with words -- like I advised in Scenario #1? Absolutely not. "Oversharer" is most likely perfectly happy with their online presence. They would probably have hurt feelings if you complained about their daily pictures of pink unicorns, but they probably aren't going to stop posting them. 

        Unfollow Instead
        If it's a case of "too much all the time," unfollow them. Refer to "Unfollow Instead" above for the how-to. Remember, you won't see anything they post.

        Hide Certain Pages
        Sometimes unfollowing someone is too extreme. Maybe you really like "Oversharer" and enjoy most of their posts. But they just post a lot of things from the XYZ Organization, and you don't want to see those posts. Here's a simple example. I get a kick out of a Facebook page called Purple Clover. I frequently like and sometimes share their jokes and funny sayings. If you don't want to see the Purple Clover content that I share, do this:
        1. Select the down arrow ("menu button") next to one of my Purple Clover posts. 
        2. Click on "Hide all from Purple Clover."
        3. You won't see any posts from Purple Clover, no matter who shared it.
        Repeat as often as necessary with as many posts from me (or anyone else) as you see fit. I have personally used this technique many times for many different types of pages. It takes a bit of effort, but pretty soon your news feed will look the way you want it to look. 

        Get to Know the Drop-Down Menu
        Every Post in your news feed has a little down arrow to the right of the first line. If you click on that, you'll get a wonderful context-sensitive menu. 

        The first item in the menu is usually Hide Post with the caption "See fewer posts like this." Click on Hide Post, and that particular post will go away. Facebook promises it will show you fewer posts like this one. 

        The second item depends upon where the post came from. If it's a person or group you're following, it will say Unfollow (person or group's name). Click on this and it does just that - you've unfollowed that person or group. 

        There may or may not be a Hide all from .. item depending whether the post was shared or original. If it was shared, you'll see Hide all from (name of the person or group it was shared from). If you click this, you won't see any content from that person or group. 

        There is a Report Post menu item for every post. Use this with caution. It's only for obvious spam, over-the-top inappropriate language, etc.

        Here's another gem that is mostly overlooked: Save post. Click on this and Facebook will save a bookmark to this post for you. Where does it go, you might ask. "Saved" appears on the left side of the screen in the desktop version of Facebook. In the smartphone versions of Facebook, go to the menu, click on Favorites, look for "Saved." All the items you saved will be there. 

        Pro tip: Instead of sharing recipes, save them! 

        Have you ever commented on a post and then been deluged with notifications? Aaagh, make it stop! Go back to the post you commented on, drop down the menu, and you'll see Turn off notifications for this post. Click there, and the only notifications you'll receive will be if someone actually comments on your comment, not every single comment on the entire post.

        Scenario #3 - The End of an Intimate Relationship

        After a breakup, the last thing anyone wants is to see their ex – let’s call him or her “Unpleasant Breakup” -- on Facebook posting about his or her great weekend with their new love. So, unfriend “Unpleasant Breakup,” right? Not so fast. Down the road a bit, just maybe it’s possible that you and “Unpleasant Breakup” will be on speaking terms. If you unfriend now, and you want to be friends later, you’ll have to send “Unpleasant Breakup” a friend request. That could be very awkward. 

        Unfollow Instead
        If you unfollow "Unpleasant Breakup," you won't see their posts in your News Feed, but you'll still be friends with them. See "Unfollow Instead" above for how-to.

        Control Who Sees Your Posts
        If you unfollow "Unpleasant Breakup," they can still see your posts. If it’s important to you that “Unpleasant Breakup” not be able to see what you post, add them to your Restricted friends list. You can remove them from this list any time. See "Control Who Sees Your Posts" above for the how-to. 

          Facebook Memories
          Facebook suggests “On This Day” memories of various people you’re friends with. This can be fun and interesting -- or downright painful if that person is an ex. Fortunately, it’s simple to stop that from happening. This step will have no effect on what the other person sees; it's only for your benefit.

          1. Go to facebook.com/onthisday
          2. Click Preferences (located in the upper right)
          3. Click Edit (next to People)
          4. Enter the names of the people you don’t want to see memories with
          5. Click save
          Facebook Help is Your Friend
          If you haven’t used Facebook Help, you’re missing out. Get there one of two ways:
          1. Go to www.facebook.com/help, or
          2. Click on the downward arrow in the upper-right corner of the page. Select Help from the menu.

          Saturday, February 27, 2016

          Where Did All This Clutter Come From?

          I have suddenly realized that I am surrounded by clutter in every part of my life.

          There are piles and stacks of paper in my home office. There are bags and bags of extra hangers in the spare bedroom. The linen closet is so crammed with stuff that I literally can't find anything in there. When I wash the sheets or the towels, I have to put them on the floor or or another convenient surface because the linen closet doesn't have a single place to put them.

          Is there a 12-step program for clutter addicts? A horderholics group? I took the first step: I realized that this clutter situation had become unmanageable.  I purchased the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

          It's a deceptively simple book and concept. All the other articles, books, and web pages I have seen on the subject of home organization always stress that the first thing you must do is PURGE. Get rid of unnecessary things. Then, the conventional wisdom goes, ORGANIZE. Get some cute baskets and labels, line all your things up in neat little rows, and you will be CURED.

          Nope. Nope, and Nope. I've tried that approach, over and over again, and I've failed every time. I always thought that there was something wrong with me. It turns out that the conventional wisdom (PURGE, ORGANIZE, you're DONE) is wrong. I can say that with certainty because I've tested it (repeatedly).

          Mari Kondo's method (the KonMari method for short) is much more spiritual. The Konmari method teaches us that our possessions must "spark joy." I think this means that instead of getting rid of items we do not want, we keep only the items that we do want.

          Wednesday, May 26, 2010

          The National

          The National are a Brooklyn-based indie rock band formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1999. Thmb band's lyrics are written and sung by Matt Berninger in a distinctive baritone. The rest of the band is composed of two pairs of brothers: Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf. Aaron plays guitar, bass and piano, Bryce plays guitar, Scott plays bass and guitar, and Bryan is the drummer. Padma Newsome, from sister band Clogs, often contributes strings, keyboards, and other arrangements and instrumental flourishes. The band's influences range from Bruce Springsteen to Joy Division.

          Tuesday, May 25, 2010

          A Summary of LOST

          Plane crashes on an island.
          People survive.
          People fight, scheme, love, and bond.
          Weird stuff happens.

          Eventually, the people all die.
          The people meet up after death.
          The end.

          As sad as I am that it's over, I loved the ending of LOST. There are so many unanswered questions such as "What happened to Walt?" and so on. My reaction to those questions is, "Who cares?"

          In the end, the entire series was all about the people and the bonds they formed. All the hurrying around, criss-crossing the island and atom bombs were vehicles for the survivors to get to know each other and for the audience to get to know them.

          "What about the Dharma Initiative?" people complain. "Was Charles Widmore good or evil?" Don't care. Unlike Star Wars -- even with Hurley's countless references to the Jedi saga -- Lost wasn't about the epic battle between Good and Evil. When all is said and done, six seasons later, this was all about characters and redemption and about love.

          The series was full of characters with father issues, so it is quite appropriate that Jack's father, Christian, is the one who explained it all in the final scene:

          Yeah, I'm real. You're real.
          Everything that ever happened to you is real.
          All those people in the church - they're real too.
          Jack asks: They're all - they're all dead?
          Everyone dies sometime, kiddo.
          Some of them before you, some of them long after you ...
          But why are they all here now?
          Well, there is no "now" here.
          Where are we, Dad?
          This is the place you all made together so you could all find one another. The most important part of your life was the time you spent with these people. That's why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you.

          I found it perfect that Jack was the last one to this spiritual "party," the endless fixer, the one who always had to be the leader. His final lesson, even in death, was that he needed others, and that they needed him.

          Friday, May 21, 2010

          Iron Man Drinking Game

          The weekend is here! Not just any weekend either, but the one before Memorial Day. Unless you're taking the entire week off and going somewhere fantastic, there's not that much going on. You have to make your own entertainment.

          We're here to help. How about watching a Big Summer Movie?

          It doesn't get any bigger or summerier than Iron Man 2. There are more villains, more beautiful women, and more dilemmas for Tony Stark to face in this one. Is it a better movie than the original Iron Man? No way. But it's more entertaining, louder, and funnier that the original, so it's all good.

          One thing that made me laugh out loud -- other than Robert Downey Jr.'s quick wit -- was the sequel's direct and obvious references to the first movie. If you've seen the first movie more than once (okay, I admit it, I have), these callbacks are really fun to watch for.

          Drinking Game

          So get a copy of Iron Man on DVD or BlueRay and pop it into the appropriate player. Or head to the multiplex and get in line for Iron Man 2. Take a drink of your frosty beverage (or take a sip of your $6.00 soda at the multiplex) if you spot any of the following occurrences.

          Every one of these things happens in BOTH movies. 

          Tony says "I know exactly what I'm doing" and then something goes wrong.

          An adversary refers to Tony as a "little prick."

          Tony does significant damage to his house and is completely unconcerned.

          After a big event, a beautiful woman with questionable motives waits by Tony's car.

          Tony and Pepper share a very romantic moment on a moonlit rooftop.

          Tony trash-talks his robots, threatening to do something bad to them.

          Tony builds something:
          • scientifically impossible
          • important to his future survival
          • while wearing a black undershirt
          • in captivity
          • under extreme pressure.

          Come to think of it, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 are kind of the same movie.

          If you can think of things that happen in BOTH movies that I haven't posted, add them in the comments.

          Sunday, January 20, 2008

          The Great Debaters

          Starring and directed by Denzel Washington, "The Great Debaters" is based on the true story of an underdog debate team from a small, black college that wins a national championship in the segregated 1930's.
          The debate team is from tiny Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. The debate coach is Melvin Tolson (Washington), who demands the highest performance from his students. Tolson is something of an enigma. He has a secret life as a political organizer; he is trying to unionize the poor whites and blacks. This has major plot ramifications, even though he keeps his political views out of the classroom and the debates themselves.
          Each of the debates we see in the movie are on social justice themes. The first major engagement Wiley College had against an "Anglo Saxon" college was on the subject of "Civil Disobedience," for example. The Wiley debaters always got the desirable position; they never had to debate in favor of something distasteful. It would have been interesting to see them forced to take the difficult position "Resolved: Civil Disobedience is Immoral."
          The emotional climax of the film comes when the team is on a road trip to a debate and they come upon a lynch mob. As black people in the south in the 1930's, every day life for them was full of racism, but this event changed each of them. Each of the debates that followed this horrible scene drew on it, in ways both subtle and sledge-hammerlike.
          On one level, the movie is your basic "sports movie" about a team that overcomes great adversity with a great coach and goes on to beat the big bad team to win the big championship. I'm not a fan of those movies because they're so predictable. This movie has that basic plot, but it's only the coathanger upon which the important stuff hangs. "The Great Debaters" is really about how education and self-respect are the keys to defeating racism and discrimination.
          My only negative on this movie is that it was a bit overly long and a little preachy.