I Fail at Social Networking, and so do you…

The internet is a wonderful thing! A wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, and immediate access to our friends and family.  We live in an age where I know so much about my friends lives, that it is easy to spark up conversation if I actually ever meet up with them! This happens to me all the time, I bump into a friend in the grocery store, and ask them how the new car is, or how their trip to Thailand went, or that I liked the new pictures they posted of their perfect kids…

Facebook knows every little detail about you. Google might know things too, but your search history or email contents aren’t posted for all your friends and family to see. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing! lol

We offer up our lives inside our Facebook accounts.But it is not just Facebook. Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Google+, Myspace(joking). But, have you ever noticed that our friends lives are soooo much more interesting and fun than our own. Facebook is kind of depressing for me most of the time. Everyone is posting how great their life is, how they just #boughtthebestthingever…, went on the #tripofalifetime. Again. Look at me!! My life rocks…

This video puts it all into perspective for you my friends…

Feel better? I know I did…

But the web we are all entangled in doesn’t stop with Facebook. The companies that run our favourite sites are fighting a battle for your attention, and in the end, your money. They are in the business of making money, and their sights are set on you…They excel at reminding you that you haven’t tweeted in a while, or that your buddies have been talking about all your favourite hobbies behind your back! You better click the link and get back in the game…

I’ve realized that I have a mutually balanced love and hate for my online life. I love ‘sort of’ keeping up to date with (or at least learning about) what my friends and family are up to. Why? Because I care about people in my life. But most of the time, I am simply too busy to include them in my hectic life. And, honestly with 4 young kids, I get that some of my friends might be ‘just too busy too’…

But, as time passes, I feel bad about being a hermit. What kind of friend am I really if I see people once a year or even less? I like hanging out with friends. I also enjoy shutting down my Facebook account all the time! Then realize that I am as hooked as everyone else with my online persona. However, I forget to use Twitter, realize that I haven’t blogged on here in a very long time, how much I love Reddit but forget about it, that my RSS reader is filling up with tons of cool stuff, that Google+ is neat but no one I know is really active there. I never “succeed” at any social website…

Look at me having fun...
Look at me having fun…

Then I ask myself, why didn’t I post about taking some time off of work, because I couldn’t cope with a tornado of crap that hit me all at once? #nervousbreakdown. That is life, isn’t it? But instead, I took pictures of me mountain biking, and joking that it was my therapist…It kinda was. And kinda is…

That is the key distinction for me. We go on these sites to feel better about our kind of normal, boring lives… I don’t think I’d go on Facebook if all I saw was how hard it was for my friends to pay their bills, that their marriage was on the rocks, that their kids were making them go insane, that they had just lost their jobs. We get that intimate with people in our lives, but not there… So, our online personas aren’t real. They aren’t. To get to know people, we need to accept that we are probably seeing them with rose-coloured glasses, and need to dig deeper. In person.

So, I accept that I fail at social networking , and I can only hope you do too…

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What is IFTTT? For my friends that keep losing their photos…

I’m always surprised to hear from my friends (mostly on Facebook), that they lost all their photos, contacts, data on their phones when they dropped them in the tub, toilet, washing machine…

But then I am reminded that when I mention cloud computing and backups, a lot of them look at me with a blank deer in headlights look. I suppose I understand, as the saying, “store it up in the cloud”, can create some confusion! Recently a relative of mine asked where this cloud was located? In space? It does sound virtual, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have your photo backups located out in space?? Yes. Yes it would…

Boring Building
Source – http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/google-councilbluffs-datace.jpg

Sadly, technology is not quite there, and cloud backups are located in large warehouses like this one. How it all works is much like magic (Sorry, no magic, but epic programmers that are as smart as magicians). Most consumers really don’t need to know too much about how our data gets backed up, as much as we need to trust that it has been!

For anyone that has a digital camera, backing up your photos & videos is an important part of protecting those precious moments with your kids, family, and friends. It only takes one slip up and your slippery iPhone is at the bottom of the lake, together with the now destroyed processor. Good luck retrieving the data on there!

If you have not heard of online storage, today is the day you should learn more about it! I could point you to multiple services, and go through the pros & cons of them all, but I’m just not going to do that…There are just too many! I’d recommend a service that will be big enough to be in business for years…If you spend some time setting up an automated backup (or even manually backing up your data), it is important that they stick around a while! A few that come to mind are Dropbox, Evernote, Box.net, and Google Drive.

How long is long enough? That is a good question! Many people feel that we are in a heap of trouble as time goes on, in that we are relying on online digital backup services to stay in business so we can retrieve our data 20 years from now. Seem like a long time in the future? Tell that to your kids or grandkids when they want to see into their past, and ALL your photos are digital, and you didn’t backup the 100+Gb of photos that accumulated in the various services you were using two decades earlier…A photo album seems a bit silly today, but I have pictures 50 years old still that will probably survive another 50 years for my kids. So the moral of the story is to choose your backup service wisely, and make it as mindless and automated as possible…

Now onto how to make your backups simple…ifttt

You need to set it up, and not have to think about it again!

That’s where ifttt.com comes in! It is a site to automate your digital life! It can do so many different things for you, I can’t even begin to describe how helpful it is.

For instance, I get a daily text message with the weather, as well as when it is scheduled to rain tomorrow so I can get kids’ rain gear ready. It backs up all my photos I take with my phone automatically to Dropbox, then in turn, that backup is backed-up to Box, and Evernote. I have it email Craigslist searches for items I’m looking for. I get up to date emails for Reddit posts, I have it forward any public posts I do on Google+ and push it to Twitter, then Facebook. Hell, if I lose my phone, I can email ifttt and it will make my phone ring! Helpful as well as crucial.

Instead of spending an entire post on how to set it up, just go to ifttt.com and set up an account. It is extremely easy to set up, and you won’t be one of those friends that posts on Facebook that they lost all their photos!

Digg Reader is out in the wild!

digg_reader

A few months back Google put the Vulcan Death Grip to their ultra efficient RSS reader known as Google Reader. It was a very sad day for people like me that use an RSS reader to get my chosen world news, up to date podcasts, and any updates on blogs that I follow.

Luckily, there has been an enormous outcry to try and save Google Reader! No, it didn’t help Google change its mind (they promise to add something to Google+ in the future), but one thing that it did was enable all the small competitors to attempt to attract the forlorn GReader users…

They have all been scrambling to come up with the amount of features and streamlined focus that Google had. If you have followed any of this yourself, you’ll already know that sites like Feedly, Press, theoldreader.com, and many many more have been working on creating a permanent RSS alternative. A surprise entrant into the fold was the old site Digg.com.

Digg has been working frantically under an incredibly short time line to try and partially mimic, and partially integrate the Google Reader experience!

So, I was excited that today I finally got my invite to Digg.com/reader! Above is my initial screenshot once all my subscriptions were imported.

I was introduced to a start up screen after clicking my invite code, to an import screen to import my Google Reader subscriptions. I could tell that there are still many little tweaks to come, as my import seemed to hang-up for over an hour. I finally got fed up with patiently waiting to start messing around in there, so I did a page refresh, and I was up and running.

The interface is nice and clean! I really like the look so far. You currently have two choices to read through your feeds. You have List Mode (as above), or Expanded Mode. I always stick to list mode so that’ll do just fine for me thanks…

There are a few things I find lacking…Firstly, I like to sort my content by Oldest First. Currently the only choice is Newest First! I hate that! That means that I may just never get to old blog posts unless I hunt around in my individual RSS feeds. I’m pretty sure they will add this soon, as so many users have asked for it, that it shows up in the FAQs only one day in.

One thing I really hope they fix is that if you find some content you want to share with others on your chosen Social Network, you can only select between Twitter and Facebook. What about the ultra slick Google+????It was one of my favourite ways of sharing content on my Google+ profile. I really hope this gets added soon! Hell, I can share content on my own tiny blog through a link on my site straight to Google+. You’d think Digg would realize they are catering to a huge new Google Reader crowd and would have had that feature added right away!

Overall, I’m happy to see Digg enter the RSS Reader game! I can only see it improving from here. 🙂

 

Only months after blogging about how Google is banning images using a particular gesture (the middle finger), it turns out that the image of my wife on our wedding day is also too hot for Google to handle. I’ve repeatedly uploaded new versions of the same image as a kind of silent protest…

Here are a couple of shots of what I have come across. The first being that the image gets flagged by Google as it does not meet Google’s policies for safe sharing. Guns and violent imagery, lingerie photos, etc are fine on Google by the way.
Image_flagged

I requested a review as I thought that perhaps another Google+ user had flagged my image, and that Google would see the humour in the photo. They reviewed the image. Here’s what I got back…

Image_reviewed

You can see that not only did they reject my review, they have permanently disabled the photo from being shared with anyone.

This is ridiculous. There is a serious problem with our current state of social media. Facebook banning breastfeeding pictures, Google banning gestures, Twitter banning GIFs.

They are our moral police. George Orwell was a modern day prophet. 1984 is here.

pakos.me


I stumbled upon an article today about how some bloggers are getting their profiles pulled from Google+ over showing their middle fingers! Really?

I hate censorship. I really do. I truly believe that education is the answer to cure racism,  bigotry, gay bashing, etc…You breed more problems by banning images and conversation. Having said that, what the hell is wrong with flipping the bird? Nothing.

Techcrunch is making the case that people should first change their profile pics to a middle finger gesture. It was easy for me to do, as you may well be aware, I am proud to show off my beautiful bride in my header image. So I changed my Google+ profile too!

What do you think about social media companies banning and censoring content on their own services? There has been huge revolts on Facebook for banning breastfeeding pics. Who makes them…

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It’s my WordPress Anniversary! Who knew?

Today marks a major tech milestone for me, or so my WordPress notifications have told me. It’s my 5th anniversary with WordPress.com! 5 long years!

 

Happy 5-year Anniversary
Happy 5-year Anniversary (Photo credit: kylesteed)

 

That’s longer than I’ve even been on Facebook!

 

 

 

Much like other online services (or even relationships!) we have all tried, time goes by and the appeal wears off.

 

 

 

I’m at a crux regarding my blog. I used to love posting interesting stuff all the time!

 

 

 

Seeing it’s my anniversary, maybe I’ll make more of an effort and try to post more thought provoking posts? No promises here, but I do have one post in the pipe about my experience using Todoist. You should check it out if you are searching for a ‘modern’ to-do list site…

 

 

 

Ta-ta for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging Needs to be Easy. And Google+ makes it that way…

Over the years, I’ve had ebbs and flows of creativity and have ridden the waves of social media much like everyone else. In 2011 I signed up for the Post-a-Day Challenge and managed to do a blog post every day of the year. It was the most successful year for visitors I have had. But, alas, it was not sustainable… Continue reading “Blogging Needs to be Easy. And Google+ makes it that way…”

IFTTT makes your Internet experience incredible! via #wp

 

IFTTT   My RecipesToday I came across the most exciting thing since the Internet came into my life! It is IFTTT! What is IFTTT?

It is a service that automates many of the tasks we are just too lazy to complete, or never thought we could even do! It stands for If This Then That.

Up until today I thought it was a fancy term for automator actions that many Mac users are familiar with, but was only available for computer driven tasks. Little did I know that I am late to the game, and IFTTT is now a website (ifttt.com).

This post is a perfect example of the power of IFTTT. I took this picture in Instagram. Because I added the hashtag #wp, IFTTT has recognized my automated task that I set up, and has posted a blog post to my WordPress.com blog! I’ll probably change the tag, but you get the idea!

Granted, I have come in after the fact and edited this blog post to add in my fleshed out content. But that is not the point here. If I want to take a picture in Instagram now, I have it automatically backup to Evernote and Dropbox too! And if I like it enough, I add a tag and wham, I’ve done a blog post!

The amount of ‘recipes’ available to use are mindblowing!  There are over 750 pages of actions to choose from that people have shared. You can set up your own customized IFTTT tasks, but more than likely one is already pre-saved for you to start using!

I’ve set up automated backups of all my incoming Gmail attachments(pictures, PDFs, Word Docs, etc…), to Dropbox. I’ve set up automated backups of all my blog posts from WordPress to Evernote. Well, actually I’ve played with IFTTT so much today that I think I am going to fall down on the ground laughing at how god damn cool it is!

Not only cool, but the big thing is that the site is extremely easy to use! Once you grant access to IFTTT with a couple of clicks on services like Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, you simply follow the prompts to tell the task what you want to achieve.

Ever kicked yourself for forgetting someone’s birthday? Set up a task to email them on their birthday automatically! You’ll look like a champion! You can even set up automated phone calls in those awkward moments when you wished you could get out of that conversation with your annoying neighbour! Text yourself a quick message with a tag, and IFTTT will phone you. Same goes for setting wake up calls. Set up a time for the call to happen and it does.

I could spend hours talking about all the cool stuff I found today, but do yourself a favour and go create an account at ifttt.com and start making the internet what it was meant to be used for. To make our life easy!

Boom! Did you hear that? That is my mind blowing up from the giddiness!