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Importance of an Identity

Ok, so recently I made it known for my dislike on the current direction of facebook and not so promptly deleted my account….and then created another account to start anew. With that account running in full public force, I wanted to further explain the reason for the change by not really explaining it.

Facebook, like many of the other social sites, is in the business of making money and staying in business. As a site that is quickly becoming the home for one’s identity on the web, one needs to understand what an identity entails and why it is important.

Now according to a quick google search, an identity is “the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known.”

For my purposes here, I want to split up the explanation and value of an identity into two main components: personal and business.

The business identity is probably the easiest to explain and handle as it is being managed by one’s employer. Essentially, the business identity describes:

  • who you are at your company or place of employment
  • what you can and can’t do
  • who you report to and who reports to you

Now the most important part of this description is item 2. Access is the key that opens the doors for all of the work you are intended to perform, but it can also be the key that refuses to unlock the systems or information that are outside of your acceptable range. If you are writing checks, should you be able to cash them? If you work in the graphics department, do you really need to access the HR or Finance systems? Of course not and there in lies the worth/value of one’s identity at a business. Without valuing that worth, terrible things can happen by preventing you from doing your job or someone attempting the company from being able to do theirs.

In the current world of sharing as much information as possible online, people quickly lose site of how valuable the personal identity can be. The quickest explanation could be provided when discussing identity theft. With just a few basic tidbits of information, an identity can be stolen.

Take a quick second to think about security questions that you are asked in order to verify yourself and all of the passwords you currently have to remember. Got them? Good. Now go look at all of the public information you have provided online via Facebook, Twitter, etc. If I wanted to guess your passwords or security question answers, how long might it take me if armed with a quick look at one’s online profiles? If you are now (hopefully) rushing to remove certain elements of your profile, good for you, but you need to realize that maybe you should not have placed that information there first. This is basically why I made my facebook profile default privacy settings as public because it forces me to rethink anything that I post. If I wouldn’t scream the information from a megaphone, why would I post it online via a website controlled by some 3rd party?

Still doubting any of what I have said about your personal identity? Just quickly use one of the many people search sites out there and be prepared to be scared within the few seconds it takes for the search to return. Now that was for free and even more information can be returned by paying a small fee to retrieve public records.

I guess basically my rant here is to think before you post and protect your identity no matter if it is based in your personal or business life.

Posted under Internet, Other | Tagged as , ,

Our Status is its Complicated

As I write this, I have begun the process of terminating my current Facebook account.  This does not mean that I will be gone forever from the social time waster.  It just means that I am starting anew.

For those that have not been keeping up with twitter posts, the media, or some dude on the street, it seems that the new hip thing to do is complain about Facebook and point the finger the other way. Now I’m not an advocate for Facebook in anyway, but I have tried to hold back in what I have posted to Facebook in an effort to control my privacy.

However, I know that others have not used the same form of caution.  Some have treated the internet as a private conversation between friends when the basic principle of the internet is public.  From the moment you connect to a website, you have already created an open channel between three people (you, the website, and your ISP).  Therefore, I will be creating a new Facebook account and deleting my old one.

Why not leave altogether?  Well, when treated with caution and care, Facebook is a great tool to keep in touch with people.  Notice I didn’t say a great tool to find out what people are up to because that would defeat one of my reasons for creating the new “me.”  Basically, I envision my new facebook account to:

  1. Limit the “who the crap is this person” factor.  When I first joined Facebook I was a simple minded freshman in college.  I just wanted to have as many friends as possible in an effort to seem cooler and more connected.  Now I am a simple minded post graduate who knows that’s just stupid.  I don’t need to accept invites from people I know from someone’s 3rd grade best friend’s dog’s original owner twice removed cousin.  If I don’t know you, I won’t add you.  [Let’s just see how long this one lasts….]
  2. Reduce my use of the social site even further.  Currently, I only login to facebook to make a comment here or there on someone’s status or create a link back to this site.  Why do I even need to go that far?  Why not try to connect on a more personal level via email, phone call, or meet in person?
  3. Contain the amount of personal identity information that is present on the web concerning myself.  With Facebook’s ever growing love of making one’s privates public (yeah, I know how that sounds but its true), I think I need to pull as much off to make a baseline minimum and then decide piece by piece what to add.  If I wouldn’t state where I work by name on my website, why would I do it on Facebook?

Now for those thinking to follow in my (and others) footsteps, check out this handy guide.  As I started the process, I even began to rethink joining Facebook again thanks to the message provided to me when I wanted to limit my full name to the site.

Facebook Create Fail
Click above for bigger image

If you don’t want to delete and recreate, then at least check out another handy tool, so that at least you know what is or can be out there related to your identity.

I’ve finished writing, but I haven’t finished migrating to my new facebook account.  Well I guess I know what will be taking up my time later this week.

Posted under Internet | Tagged as ,

Thoughts on Social Media

I’m not sure if it was fate or f8 (pronounced the same) that brought my interest into creating a post pertaining to social media but nevertheless, I’m here and proud of it.

The last few years, the buzz terms in the internet mainstream world have been centered around the aspect of each person on the web interacting socially thanks to new products and services.  We’ve all heard of social media this and that, and I know a few of us are getting sick and tired of it (but not as much as the term iPhone killer).  However, each day it seems that the aspect of the social mediasphere comes out to help or hurt us.

Let’s take a look at is out there (and of course do so in alphabetical order).

Social Media Description/Thoughts
Blippy Use?: NO

It’s a shame that this is the first on our alphabetical journey because when I first describe it to people the reaction explains where most think it is headed. According to the website, Blippy is “a fun and easy way to see and discuss what everyone is buying.” That basically translate to a service that syncs with your credit cards and shares with your friends any and all of the purchases that you are making.

Sure, there are controls to allow one to moderate what purchases are shared, but essentially the concept is over sharing one’s pride in the capitalistic society. I can see why businesses would want people to use the system because there is big money in providing consumers with a close relationship in the items people want to purchase and people they know that purchase it. Think about it. Aren’t you more likely to buy a product that one of your friends as purchased because you have real feedback you can trust on if the money was well spent?

Since this is the latest social media site (started in December of 2009), we will just have to see if it catches on, even though I know I’m just not that interested in it.

Digg Use?: PUSH

Back during my days in college, Digg (that’s D-i-g-g.com) was my premier site for receiving my news of all flavors. I participated in its social aspect by “digging” stories in order to inform the masses of the particular interest in the story. Wait, I’ve gone too far ahead of myself. Back up.

Digg was created by Kevin Rose as a social news website. The basic idea is that the masses now have the power to dictate what stories should be of interest. Everyone’s been there. You go to your favorite news site (CNN, BBC, and yes even FoxNews for some) but the stories that you see presented are not what you find important or interesting. Digg provides you the ability to submit stories from across the web and other users can “digg” the story in order to move it to the front page for more people to see it. The more diggs a story receives, the more popular it is. Each story can also be commented on from Digg as opposed to going to the story’s source.

However, outside of college I just don’t have time to participate in the “digg” process as I once could. I still go to digg, but only to view the first view pages of content or the top diggs of the day. And sometimes, I’m even drawn back to leave a comment here or there just because I can.

Facebook Use?: YES

Wow, where do I begin on this one? Facebook is one of the fastest growing websites out there, but it is also one that I see becoming the most flawed and dangerous.

We all enjoy using Facebook as a way to reconnect and catch up on all of our friends, but how many people really stop to think about all of the information we are providing to it. Its current and potential track record of not giving a crap about the information they are storing or its potential for security issues is shocking. The most recent issue that allowed one to see the personal chats and other information of anyone’s friends was met with a “oops” from the website instead of “we will make sure this never happens again.”

I have many friends that are looking to take down their pages which is their choice. I don’t know if I am going to go that far because I can really connect to so many people so quickly. However, I will be looking to minimize the data that I provide to them in order to protect myself and identity online. Maybe their policies and thoughts on security/privacy will change in the future so that we can all be more comfortable in using a site that started with a great idea.

Foursquare Use?: YES

I originally was against the idea of social media being used to track my movements. Then I changed my mind about the whole thing. Was it the aspect of my new smartphone or just becoming more aware of how something like Foursquare worked? Who knows! At least I do know that Foursquare is just as addicting as it was to play four square with my roommates back in college.

Foursquare allows one to “checkin” to locations while out and about. I was drawn to this application with my recent move to San Francisco, which is a major user of the application. Having more people in my general vicinity using it really pushes me to get out and learn the city’s ins and outs. I also control when I want to “checkin” and I can easily track where I have been as well as what places I want to return for business.

Overall though, the most addicting part of Foursquare is the ability to earn badges. I often feel like I’m a Boy Scout again, except this time I’m more interested. The badges can be humorous or based on the regular tasks one might perform (such as riding the BART). 10 badges and 4 mayorships and I’m craving more and more and more.

Linkedin Use?: MAYBE

Ah yes, Linkedin. For those not in the know, Linkedin is the facebook of the business world. Instead of “private” (yes I know that is a relative term after my comments above), it is “public”. It is almost the aspect of posting your resume and network contacts to others online. Your network of “friends” is your network of colleagues.

I have previously pushed to not join another online system, but my work has encouraged it for recruitment purposes. Maybe it isn’t a terrible idea to join so that I can connect others professionally as opposed to just socially. Anyone else have thoughts here, besides “yeah join”? So far I’d say Linkedin is working out well because any news stories I hear about it are few and far between which means it is either on its way out (which I doubt) or it is doing something right and people don’t have anything to complain about.

Twitter Use?: NO

Here it is. If Facebook is the king of social media, Twitter is the queen or co-king. Since its inception, I have had a hatred for Twitter and its community. I didn’t understand the point of sharing public 144 character messages to the world. Do I really want to know one’s bowel movements cycle? Do I care about the sudden idiotic thoughts that enter one’s mind? I certainly do not.

However, as I become more aware of the service’s capabilities, my feelings towards Twitter are changing. In the best example I can give, recently there was a virus issue that affected many across the US and rendered many computers useless for several hours. In order to find out how widespread the issue was, I turned to a recent update by Google where you can search the real time tweets. That day, I searched for “virus” and saw that the issue was not centered to just me, but many locations across the US (Clemson, Chicago, Kentucky, etc.). I continued following the google search and found that many were leading me to why the error was occurring thanks to McAfee’s screw up in an update. Twitter in this scenario worked perfectly for a global messaging system. Just think of its uses during disasters or other real time tracking (epidemics, political situations, etc.). I’ve also used it to find out updates regarding the Android 2.1 update for my HTC Eris.

Now this does not mean I’m going to go out and join, but at least my mood when I hear other’s make references to it doesn’t result to pure hatred. And I will still wait with anticipation for my twitter based idea to be implemented.

*YES => I am a member of the social club
*NO => I am not a member of the social club
*PUSH => I am a member but the account stays idle
*MAYBE => I am not currently a member but the status of our relationship could change

So what’s next? Well if I had to guess it would follow the movement of turning the tv into the next social revolution. With TV’s moving to integrating internet capabilities, one could interact with other viewers of a TV show in real time and also encourage others to check out a new show or upcoming episode.

Posted under Internet | Tagged as , , , , , , ,

No More Facebook Comments

Four score and many months ago, I attempted to help out in fixing a wordpress plugin that I wanted for my site.  In an effort to reach more people to share my stupidity and no real depth or knowledge, I wanted to utilize Facebook’s notes to pull my blog posts to Facebook and then pull any comments posted there back to my website.

After a few successful tries, I started to slowly realize that something was not quite right with Facebook.  The constant change of the site’s HTML made the plugin become a complete waste after a week of quality use after every fix.  I soon decided to take my last effort and release it back to the wordpress community for them to continue updating if desired.

Since releasing it back to others, I’ve always secretly wanted someone to find a solution.  Well, I’m now here to say I don’t want anyone to fix it.  Instead if people want to post to the facebook population, then just use the status messages and inform friends to exit from facebook for a great read.

Facebook, knowingly and purposefully make these consistent changes to the site’s design in order to deter any developers in coding solutions that will crawl the site for any data that Facebook does not allow one to receive via their APIs.  The reason for this has nothing to do with preventing your identity from being taken away from Facebook for security purposes.  They just want full control so that they can exploit the identity and sell the data for their profit as well as force users to stay within the Facebook walls in order to dictate what the web experience can and will be.

Therefore, until Facebook changes their current stance and opens the API to allow access to specific information externally for enhancing the social interaction outside of Facebook, my limited (and terrible developing) skills will not be used for pushing my traffic into Facebook, but to push Facebook traffic out.

Facebook, you are doing it wrong

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0.38D Facebook Comments

Don’t get your hopes up WordPress users. I have not fixed the Facebook Comments plugin. I’ve received countless comments and emails regarding the plugin so I decided the best I could do for now is to aid the community by passing out more of the work I have performed in order to get this plugin working.

Currently, the plugin pulls back information from Facebook for the Notes comments, but the values stored in the WordPress database are not correct because of the regular expressions used and Facebook’s constant HTML updates.

However, I have added a feature so that you can see what the plugin does return in order to give a way of visually testing the plugin without harming your WordPress database. Hopefully someone else can take a look at the plugin, much like I did originally, and offer a solution. Keep the community updated on changes and fixes and perhaps we can get this plugin going again. If you find fixes, I’ll add them here or update with links to your own site.

Change Log;

  • 0.38D – July 30, 2009 – Let’s term this version as D for Development. It’s far from working that it isn’t good enough for a Beta or Alpha label for now. Utilizing the “Test Import” function one can see what the plugin returns from Facebook.

Update for April 30, 2010: I have decided to end all development and future development related to this plugin. The reasoning for this change can be found here. I have closed the ability to post comments to this post and hope any further comments will be directed at my reasoning post.

Posted under Internet | Tagged as , ,

0.34 Facebook Comments

One of the latest WordPress plugins I have found is one used for Facebook. Facebook Comments will pull comments left on Facebook within the Notes application and import them into one’s WordPress blog. I’ve started using the Notes application lately and found it quite annoying that I could not keep my comments synced up in a single location. Well thanks to this plugin I can.

Except that now it is broken. Facebook Comments relies heavily on regular expressions to find the comments within the HTML of the Facebook page. Whenever the HTML is updated (which seems to happen often lately), a change to the Facebook Comments plugin is needed. The guy that originally wrote the plugin seems to be quite busy and wasn’t able to get around to a fix so I took a quick stab at it. Not only did I fix it (I think), I also added an additional feature that allows one to give a default url for all Facebook comment posters.

I haven’t been able to reach the original creator yet to offer my solution so I’ll post it here until he responds. Please enjoy it and let me know if you find any additional errors in it. I must state that my regular expression skills are nonexistent and I had to do the best that I could with my limited knowledge.

Change Log:

  • 0.36 – March 21 2009 – Due to the latest changes from Facebook, a few changes were needed for the plugin. I’m now posting my 0.36 version that I’ve tested locally. This will remove the extra link Facebook adds when a comment is too long. I did notice a new bug that deals with how Facebook changes links within comments, but that’s a fix for another day and time.
  • 0.35 – March 13 2009 – Due to the latest changes from Facebook, a few changes were needed for the plugin. I’m now posting my 0.35 version that I’ve tested locally.
  • 0.34 – March 01 2009

Update for April 30, 2010: I have decided to end all development and future development related to this plugin. The reasoning for this change can be found here. I have closed the ability to post comments to this post and hope any further comments will be directed at my reasoning post.

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