Three Things Thursday – 03/09/2017

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Yes, still using Winter.  We’re expecting snow tomorrow!

Inspired by Nerd in the Brain

BRING THE HAPPY!

Facebook

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I’ve had an on and off again relationship with Facebook through the years.  I decided, after much thought, to sign back up and ONLY create a page to attach to my blog.  I did that, but in the 2 weeks since I had my account re-created, it has been disabled for 10 of the 14 days it’s been created.  I’m back on at this point, but it’s a only a matter of time before they disabled me again for some other random reason.

New Painting

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Another work of art from my wife’s Girls Night group.  It’s in my office, where all the other ones are.  It’s funny she doesn’t think she’s good, but I think it’s actually brilliant.  I certainly can’t do this.

Trump “State Of The Union”

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I streamed the Presidential address on my Roku, and it was ironic that it was FOX News that was streaming the broadcast.  I added the laser beams from Trump’s eyes and added the bubble “FAKE” if you’re wondering.  Just some humor for today.

 TTT Weekly Music Choice

rockondaughterCorsten’s Countdown 505 by Ferry Corsten

Facebook, no more, finally gone

Ever since I deleted my Facebook account, I’ve found that I look at my phone so much less than I used to.  I was never really into Facebook or social media that much, but I did find that I became a lurker.  Someone who read everyone else’s posts but rarely commented or posted anything on my own.  Deleting my account was a multi-step process that shouldn’t have been necessary, that’s a post in of itself.

The time I spent on Facebook, Twitter, etc. was an unknown to me until I finally got rid of them.  It would be the first thing I checked in the morning, thumbed through at random times through the day, spend at least a half hour at bedtime. It’s all time I won’t ever get back and it was time I could have been talking to my wife (but she’s on her phone too).  I’m hoping that not having my nose to the screen will prompt her to not do as much of that when I’m around and willing to talk, with my voice, in real life, no virtual keyboard required.

There are other benefits as well, such as my mobile phone.  I started this morning with 100% as is typical with a nightly charge, but at the end of the day, I still have 72% with moderate to heavy use.  I’ve deleted Facebook, Twitter, and Messenger from my phone.  Seeing the amount of data that Facebook alone used, it was #2 in my most used data list behind the Google store.  I listen to streaming music almost 6-8 hours a day and the data usage for those apps didn’t even break the top 5.  Social media and its “always on” applications are a battery vampire apparently.

I’m still using Twitter, but only for political posts and to follow my third party candiates.  I’d share my handle, but that would remove the anonomity I enjoy on this blog.  As I don’t have the app installed on my mobile, I am forced to read updates only when at a real computer, mostly at lunch or during boring bits in meetings when I’m not sharing my screen.  Social media is a drain on time, productivity, and mobile batteries.  If you’ve been playing with the idea of taking a break or deleting your account, I’d take the jump.  Facebook has a “deactivate” feature where you’re account is put into hibernation but not deleted.  It will give you a trial run to see if deleting is the right thing for you.  Stay tuned for my experience in deleting my Facebook account.

Why I’ve decided to delete my Facebook account

I’ve been on Facebook for almost a decade, signed up around 2008 or so. It was fun at first, reconnecting with all sort of people who were blasts from the past in high school and college. That quickly faded though as I realized that past the idle chit-chat and random posts, I never really had a connection with them from before, so why would I think it would be different through Facebook. Recent events and taking the time to read, understand, and read more about the true nature of the system we’re being forced to live with, I’m seeing things clearer and for how they truly exist. I’m in a better space now based on knowledge and truth and have decided to delete my Facebook account.

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Inspiration for this post: Control perception, control the world by Learning to Speak Politics

Opt-in Default Settings

Lets face it, the social meida world in 2008 was drastically different from the social media world today. We’re in a state of thought where privacy is fleeting and is more of an illusion than of true fact. The settings for privacy on Facebook have changed multiple times in the past decade and not always for the better. Traditionally, as privacy settings have been added and/or updated, they were implemented in our accounts as an “opt-in” feature, or turned on by default. As I’m sure there are people out there that are perfectly fine (I think they’re crazy) with sharing with “Everyone” their entire lives, I am not. I had to review privacy every few weeks to a few months to make sure a sneaky privacy change didn’t creep in and I unknowingly started sharing with everyone. I never appreciated most of the changes Facebook made as it was time-consuming to first figure out what changed and then work to protect myself from the change so that I wasn’t sharing with 1 billion people instead of the 94 friends I currently have.

It was in the news (if you can call it that now) that Facebook in the past had changed settings and defaulted them to “opt-in” which I think now has changed. The change is that they now notify you of pending changes and offer you the chance to “opt-out” of the change prior to it being implemented. The true problem here is that regardless of whether you share with Everyone or just Friends, Facebook has access to your entire profile all the time. Pictures, friends, groups, pages, etc. They hold this data on you for purposes of squeezing out as much monetization from ads as they can. As several countries have brought Facebook to court over privacy, and even had their service blocked in some cases, should be a reminder that they’re not in it for us. A social network without people being social and sharing everything doesn’t hold a lot of appeal. A quick Bing or Google search will bring up hundreds of articles on how Facebook has filtered and manipulated what is shared, the most recent example being related to Bernie Sanders.

Filtered Feeds

For years I had my settings set to show me the most recent stories by default. Sometime in the last few years, Facebook decided that the most recent stories are crap and instead thought that I deserved their news feed. Their news feed was based on some algorithm based on what I posted, who I followed/commented on regularly, and rarely showed me anything that wasn’t at least a few hours to a few days old. Logging on, the first thing I did was immediately change that from “News Stories” to “Most Recent” before even looking at anything. I’m not the only one that thought this was crap, but they have refused to allow the settings to be changed to a default of anything other than “News Stories”. Facebook, it seems, is now in bed with CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, and others to push their agenda of filtered news and show only what they think we should see. They consistently spin a narrative where they are in control and use tactics that force a suggested theory on the conclusions we eventually make. I fell into that trap for years and have finally broken free and I urge everyone I talk to, do some independent research to discover it for themselves. I’m not so naive to think that I can alter someones opinion just on my own conjecture. Yes, I’m looking at you Trump supporters out there. Open eyes are what the elite fear most in us non-elite common folk. The truth is there, but it has to be discovered on your own time and effort.

Our world has become so filtered at this point that no one remembers what it’s like to not have it filtered. See the Jeff Daniels video I posted from his performance in News Room if you don’t believe me. Fiction is often a silent protest of the so-called truth.

It’s about money now

A free service that isn’t free. Try as hard as you can to debate this, there are too many examples to contradict that in fact, the service costs something. It costs you the surrender of your personal details. Email, Name, location, mobile number, friends, etc. It has become almost impossible to create an account that doesn’t demand these details so aggressively that you’re forced to surrender them just to make the reminders go away. Facebook doesn’t need to know I went to a certain high school or college, the friends I’m still in touch with already know. They also don’t need to know what groups I’m interested in outside of Facebook, but they poke and prod that out of you as well. Facebook is trading as of this post at $125.60/share, how can a “free” service be worth money unless their Ad network is raking in the money for both Facebook and their advertisers? My personal data is being used to fuel the money-making engine that is targeted advertising. “Suggested posts” are littered in my feed from pages that I don’t remember liking and accidentally clicking on them yields a click-through that ends up getting everyone but me paid some money. I’ve had a hard time getting past the feeling that I’m being used and exploited for my personal data.

Personal ads that matched recent non-Facebook searches

In the last year or so, I started seeing ads in the right margin that weren’t related to Facebook likes or posts, but related to searches I had made outside of Facebook. Thinking that was a bit odd, I searched for specific items that I had never done in the past a few times each day for a week. Sure enough, I started seeing ads related to those search terms while in Facebook. It would appear, through my unscientific research, that Facebook was reading search cookies on my laptop using Google on the Chrome browser. These search cookies were used to display ads to me while logged into Facebook in an attempt to get me to click-through. I’m sure Facebook has some Terms of Service where data from affiliate systems (like Google or Chrome) can be shared with Facebook for the purposes of displaying relevant information to me. Unfortunately the Terms of Service would require 1-2 hours to completely read through with the assumption that I wouldn’t need to look anything up. I loathe ads of any type and is the reason I run an Ad-blocker. An ad-blocker that interestingly doesn’t block the Facebook ads.

Is “free” truly “free”?

Ask yourself what is being surrendered when you use a “free” service? In the case of Facebook, they attempt to force their idea of what you want to see in your feed and use your data to personalize the service in order to maximize their revenue. I downloaded my data set from Facebook, a 29MB zip file, that took me all of 5 minutes to discover that it wasn’t all my data. A deleted profile in fact, is not deleted, rather the value for the “Data Deleted” flag is changed from “No” to “Yes”. What happened to my right to be forgotten?

Three Things Thursday – 09/08/2016

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Inspired by Nerd in the Brain

Bring the happy!

Facebook Memories

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My wife posted a picture from her memory feed the other day that I had forgotten about.  This is my daughter dressed up in a Dinosaur costume that she wore around the house until the thing fell apart one year.  She is 4 in this picture I think.  This one picture totally made my day yesterday!  I’m still opposed to Facebook and what it stands for, but if I don’t end up deleting my account, I’ll decrease my Friends list to just immediate family and close friends (all people I see regularly in real life).

Upcycling

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We had an old dresser in the garage that I had desperately wanted to throw away.  My wife refused and said she wanted to make something she saw on Pinterest.  I hounded her for weeks until she finally got around to doing it because if I didn’t, I’d be posting about it this time next year about the dresser that wasn’t thrown away.  As you can see, she did an awesome job turning it into a backpack nook and shoe repository (so I’m not tripping over them when I walk in).  Good example of an upcycle.

Powerhouse Project Manager

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Before, in all its tan and wood chair rail glory.  Note that the room where you’de expect chair rail to be, the Dining Room, is strangely absent of chair rail.
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After (ignore the Dining Room)

Again, my wife, the powerhouse she is, has transformed our Living Room in our new house.  It was absolutely horrible when we first moved in (before) and now is something that I enjoy walking into every day (after).  I was done with tan/brown/red/orange color schemes and wanted to go with more of a white/grey/blue color scheme.  The walls are light grey and the back wall is a dark blue.  A blue as close to the Dr. Who TARDIS blue that I could find at Lowes.  I think it was a good choice.  We still have the Dining Room (background) and the Kitchen to complete.

You’ve been unfriended

I just got a nasty-gram email from someone who I had been “friends” with on Facebook and chose to unfriend for various reasons. We were never really anything more than acquaintances at best and it was years ago. This “friend” was a leftover of my initial creation of a Facebook account where you connected with every damn person they recommended to you because it was “cool” to have connected with someone you had lost contact with in real life. Well, in most cases, the real life reason you lost contact with them, regardless of who it was that initiated it, will always creep into your Facebook life. It’s like a big fat smack on the back of your head reminding you WHY they were no longer in your life.

This email I received, was quite negative and accusatory with various perceived reasons as to why I had unfriended them instead of reaching out first. Did you hear that? I just rolled my eyes. The stones they had for assuming that my Facebook friendship with them was sacred and my unfriending them was a GodFather level disrespectful click of a button. I read the entire email to the end, all the while getting more and more angry at their blatant self-centeredness. As if my life is now less meaningful without me seeing the multiple posts every day of really ignorant viewpoints on some really touchy topics in the news lately. The act that caused me to unfriend them was a clearly misinformed response to a post I made in support of a third-party candidate for President where they implied that I was un-American for choosing to not vote Republican or Democrat. Feel free to laugh in surprise, I just did.

My relationship with social media has been consistently tepid. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are all mechanisms that remove the physical contact from socialization. Two people can sit next to each other texting on some random service without actually saying a word or making any eye contact with each other. We have relationships with the screen, using eye contact and our voices is now out of style apparently. Studies have been conducted that show our brains operate in a completely different pattern when texting then they do when physically interacting with another person. Here are just a few of the articles I’ve read after doing a quick search on Google:

Texting May Require Young Brains
Is Texting Changing Our Brains?
The Truth About Texting and Talking While Driving
Texting while driving might derail your brain’s ‘autopilot’ (Video)

All of this is related to the explosion of social media. An entirely new dynamic has been created where we’re as offended by someone unfriending or unfollowing us online as we are if they were to slap us for saying something inappropriate. I’m more of an “if I can say it to your face, I can say it on social media”. I value intelligence and thoughtful conversation with other people and I respect that you can have a different opinion than my own. What I will not respect is a misguided or negative comment that is based ONLY on what has been obtained from social media. The comment made to my post about a third-party candidate was quickly researched with a simple Internet search and they were obviously misinformed on their the point they made. Several responses after their comment proved my point.

In the end, after much thought, I chose to respond to their email with this reply:

I’m sorry you feel this way, however I value my time and choose to spend it with/on intelligent people who can respect my point of view even if it differs from their own. There was nothing constructive about your implication that I’m un-American for deciding that neither Democrat or Republican represents my point of view or stand on the issues facing our country. In exercising my right to choose my candidate through my constitutional right to vote, I’m very much an American, regardless of that candidate being a third-party. I pity your narrow view of the world and the fact that you have been lured into the brainwashing our current leaders have been perpetuating for decades. I’ve had my eyes opened and a third party candidate is our best chance of fixing what is currently a game of the rich and elite. This wasn’t the sole reason I unfriended you, this was only the most recent act that caused me to evaluate why we were friends on Facebook.

In fact, this has caused me to evaluate all my current Facebook friends and a clean up is well overdue at this point. Facebook is the only account I actively use on social media by the way. Fleeting moments with Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and the like quickly lost my interest.

To be social or not to be social? That is the question.

I get asked a lot about my social media habits being in the Information Security field.  Generally, they revolve around security and privacy and what I do to keep things protected in a world that seemingly gets hacked all the time.  I see social media as more of a bother than something useful, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a Facebook or LinkedIn account.  I’ve even given Google+ and Twitter a spin just to realize they were a tremendous waste of time.  Being the private person that I am, social media presents a complicated problem that after several years still is not completely understood.

Facebook

Everyone knows what it is.  Even my Mom has a Facebook [FB] account.  No, I’m not friends with my Mom.  Before you tell me that isn’t a nice thing to do, let me explain first.  I see Facebook as an extension of my circle of personal friends (more acquaintances) only in a digital form.  There isn’t a single person on my friends list that I have not at least got to

Yes, its a real phone!
Yes, its a real phone!

know in person first.  I’ve had a FB account for almost 8 years and only have 89 friends to my name.  I don’t see family fitting into my social life much in the way that you don’t take your Mom or sibling on a date with your wife.  Therefore, I don’t have any family members listed in my friends listing.  I use email and this old school concept called “talking on the phone” because texting infuriates me (that’s another post topic for another day).

FB, for its intent and purpose, is a good model for sharing with people that you normally wouldn’t have contact with except on rare occasions.  One of my friends from high school lives in California and I haven’t seen him in person for about 5 years, but we stay in regular contact via FB.  The problem with FB, especially for younger people, is that it allows a pervasive anti-social behavior pattern to develop.  I’m sure you’ve seen the family out to dinner at a local diner, all with their phones in front of their faces, not talking to each other.  Further observation reveals that the children of the group are in fact texting each other while sitting next to each other.  Personally I see this as disturbing and an ominous trend of the current generation not being able to socialize without an electronic device.

LinkedIn

I call this service the Facebook for Business [FBB] as it is catered to the business person to socialize and advertise themselves online to prospective employers and colleagues.  FBB is actually quite useful for my purposes as it provides the work-personal segregation that I fiercely support.  In fact, I would not be moving into a new job on Oct 1st if it weren’t for FBB as the recruiter found my profile and solicited me for the position.

I’ve supported people getting onto LinkedIn countless times in the past several years as I see its value clearly.  The more you detail your work history, obtain recommendations and advertise your accomplishments the easier it is for potential employers and recruiters to find your profile.  FBB requires a finesse to achieve a balance between base and high level detail so that you’re standing out in the crowd.  The fact there isn’t a ridiculous reliance on the social aspect FBB doesn’t have the same issues that FB has.

Social Balance

At the end of the day, you’re going to use social media so that it fits into your life style.  My life style doesn’t support FB, but does support FBB.  Others would see FBB as a waste of time and just another social media account to cultivate and keep up to date.  My use of FB is out of the necessity of keeping in touch with people that hold value in my life; it is NOT a replacement for physical socialization with family and local friends.  I find it to be a necessary evil that I utilize sparingly.  FBB on the other hand, is something that I log onto every day, tweak consistently and ensure is as precise as possible.  For every 9 solicitations from “linked in sharks” there is 1 solid lead that actually pans out to a real offer.  In my case, I was given that real offer.

Tread lightly into social media as it is the largest human experiment in history where no one knows anything about the conclusion.