chrishansenhome: (Default)
Well, I think that I will need to again take some time off from Facebook and Twitter. As amusing as they can sometimes be, and as good as they are with keeping up with people, they are an enormous time suck. I don't understand how people with jobs actually keep up with them. I certainly don't understand how students, who must study, write papers, go to school, and do all the other things that students do, can keep up with not only FB and Twitter but Instagram, Snapchat, etc. etc. and so on and so forth.

In February, Facebook-Free February kept me away from Facebook, mostly. However, HWMBO being away, I fell ill with the flu (we believe) and that was an even worse suck than Facebook et al. So I had little or no ambition and just sat around. That didn't get anything done.

So I'm going to take June and July off from the same apps: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. I will then force myself to tidy up things and ensure that I have space to function without becoming the third Collier brother.
I'm not going yet, but I'll be gone on June 1st and you won't see me until August 1st. So, if your birthday falls in that time, Happy Birthday! Many happy returns of the day! in advance. And if you need to get in touch, email me. If you don't know my email, be patient. August 1st will only be 61 days away.

And, I stress, there is nothing wrong with your television set, or with me. I desperately need to pay attention to our home and our environment. If I don't, we'll be drowning in things. And I'm hoping desperately that I won't get ill again and waste the entire time I'm away. T-16 days and counting.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
Well, I've not logged in to Facebook or Twitter for 5 days (I think—could be 6 or 4. Time flies when you're having fun!) After the first full day, when I cleaned up one bookcase shelf, I was very lazy, and didn't do any more until this afternoon. No pictures yet, mainly because there are things I've found that will need to be put somewhere else, and they are at the front of the bookshelf. Thus, it still looks untidy.

However, on the plus side, I threw away 5 years of meeting notes and the like, and have cleaned up one Billy-IKEA bookcase shelf as well as one large bookshelf.

But, you ask, how do I feel about not seeing my Facebook friends, or tweets? I feel fine. I don't miss them (or you, if you happen to be one of those I've friended on Facebook). This is not a bad thing, really.

The definition of a time-suck (to me) is something you feel compelled to do but in fact do not have to do—and this something takes up time during which you could do other much more useful things. I do not say that the statuses of friends, or their tweets, are not interesting, or valuable. I do say that they are not necessary to me at the moment. Tidying up my study and my living room are critical.

I am hopeful that everything I need to do will be done by the time the month is over. If not, I'm minded to extend the blackout until it is.

One thing I haven't gotten to grips with is books. I do need to be rid of some books, but I have not yet had the gumption to actually separate those I can do without. In my defense, I think that there are so many things in front of books that it's hard for me to be able to choose which ones should go. I am minded to discard all or almost all my computer books, as nearly all of them are obsolete.

So, I continue. I will post another picture when I've gotten a bit further on.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I have completed one full day of not looking at Facebook and Twitter. I am hoping to last for a month.

The reaction when I put this in my Facebook status was varied. Some friends said "I wish I could do that…I really need to." Others said, "I hope that whatever situation you're in works out OK." Most just wished me well. No one was snarky, and no one hinted that perhaps I might be a bit crazy.

I made my decision the day before, while passing one of my bookcases. I have a shedload of books. I also don't have much filing space. So papers tend to get placed on top of the books in bookcases. Not only papers: other books, computer peripherals, you name it. So my study looks like a cross between the Library of Congress and an electronic recycling center.

As I passed the bookcase, I heard a slithering sound behind me. I turned and saw a pile of papers on the floor. They had indeed slithered out of the bookcase. I swore, gathered them up and put them back in the bookcase, and then had a thought. "If I weren't so involved with the time suck of Facebook and Twitter, I might have time to straighten this room and the living room out."

And Picard said, "Make it so."

I made my excuses on Facebook and Twitter, and logged out of both on my computer, my iPhone, and my iPad. It was easy as pie.

I deleted all my unviewed YouTube videos, but some arrived today that I wanted to watch, so I'm not including YouTube in this. I will be ruthless in deleting videos I don't want to watch.

So now what will I do with the time I'm not spending on Facebook and Twitter, you ask.

I am going to clean up my study, discard books, and make room for the books I have stacked on the floor. I shall tidy up the living room. I may even tidy up the storeroom upstairs.

I did find it hard this evening not to be able to share some things with social media. The Rhodes Bros made a video of their coming-out to their father over the phone. That's not something I'd recommend, but it worked for them. Go watch it. Have tissues handy. I would normally post this in a status on FB. Can't do that.

It's a funny feeling to know that there is all this stuff out there that you aren't looking at now and to which you can't contribute. When I was a kid I was into listening to shortwave radio stations and far-away medium-wave (AM) stations. I was transfixed by the thought that the electrons from all these stations were continuously around me, passing above, below and through me.

I feel that at the moment Facebook and Twitter are fizzing away, above, below, around, and through me with statuses, cat pictures, dog videos, and lists of 25 things you can do while standing on your head. I'm missing all that. As I had a meeting this noon I didn't even make a start on the study. But tomorrow, I can. And all these electrons will be whizzing around and I won't miss a damned thing.

I'll post updates here at the end of my workdays. Just not on FB or Twitter.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
As many of you know, I've been out of work for 2-1/2 years now. Luckily, due to the generosity, forbearance, and tolerance of HWMBO, I have continued to be fed, watered, housed, and loved over this amount of time. However, during that time my online involvement has become more and more of a distraction.

Consider. Most days I get up at 7, make breakfast for HWMBO and me for 7:45 am, and then see him off to work around 8:30am. I then start looking at email, which takes an inordinate amount of time most days. Even evaluating an email and almost instantly deleting it takes time. Around 10 or so I start reading Live Journal blogs, and when I've caught up with them I read Facebook. This takes me through to lunch. I haven't included IMing with various friends here and far away. I often do this while I'm reading other things.

In the afternoon, I'll continue to catch up with arriving emails, do some memorisation for my Masonic duties, have a coffee break, and then go to the supermarket to shop for dinner.

I cook, then wait for HWMBO to return from work. We have dinner, then I return to the computer and catch up with everything until bedtime. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

There are occasional changes to this routine—I go shopping further afield for various things, or go out to sit in a park somewhere and be with people, or have a coffee at a coffee shop rather than in my kitchen. However, my routine doesn't vary much at all. I have a large number of New Scientist magazines and Church Times newspapers which are waiting to be read. I get a new one each week, add it to the bottom of the pile, and try to read some of the one on top. I have books that I want to read. In fact, I would even like to WRITE one eventually. But this routine of mine conspires to frustrate any interactions other than online ones and any activities other than reading tweets, FB statuses, and blog entries.

So I've decided that I have to pare down my online activities to as much as I can do in two hours in the morning. This will involve:
  • Removing one of my Twitter accounts, only leaving the one devoted to professional activities;
  • Filtering my Facebook feed to remove some people and feeds out of which I don't get a lot of food for thought;
  • Paring down the blogs I read with a filter so that I only see things that I know will interest me from people who I like.
I will try not to unfriend anyone, but use filters intelligently so that I can dip into items that I haven't read when I have some time.

This whole situation, of course, is not unique to me. I've had three Facebook friends disappear from FB in the last month or so. Other Live Journal friends disappear from blogging for months or even years at a time. I have generally neglected Twitter in the past couple of months and don't believe I'll lose a lot by just disappearing from there for a while.

I will Tweet once a day for the next several days just to alert people that I shall be disappearing from there and referring them to this blog entry. I won't be mentioning it on Facebook; I will just apply the filters so that what I read is cut down to a manageable size. And my filter on Live Journal will take away items that I just look at occasionally and pass by. Real bloggers and interesting people will still be in my filter and get read and comments filed.

All this brings into question the concept of "friend" as it relates to our online presences. I think that this concept was first attached to blogging. The idea was that no one in their right mind would be interested in reading a blog from someone whom they did not know personally, so obviously someone who follows your blog would be a real friend.

Of course, the first bloggers didn't realise that a blog, besides its value in telling your real friends what you thought and what you were up to, would also be a vehicle for writing essays about life, the universe, and everything. The blog thus became a literary device, and people whom you had never met would want to read your blogs. Other blogs became compendia of news stories or opinions on certain specific topics, and the personal aspect of a blog was lost in favour of an impersonal voice broadcasting to anyone who wanted to listen.

Then Facebook and Twitter, among other social media sites, appropriated the word "friend" to mean "this person who wants to keep up with what I'm saying but whom I may never have met". Now I have hundreds of online friends around the world, few of whom I've ever met, but all of whom Facebook, Twitter, and Live Journal call my "friends".

Sometimes these days I have to qualify the word "friend" as "meatspace friend" as that is the best way to define what a real-life friend is without devaluing the relationships I have with people online.

As to what I'll be doing instead of Tweeting and posting statuses in Facebook, who knows? Perhaps the time is ripe to write that book I've been thinking about.

Over and (partially) out!
chrishansenhome: (Default)
This article in Towleroad summarises the situation beautifully. Stephen Fry made a remark that was taken to denigrate women, but that he contended was a misquotation of a humourous aside. When a tweetstorm greeted him, he quits Twitter—a little short of a year after he first quit, in November 2009.

Now there is no one who admires Stephen Fry more than I do. An accomplished actor, humourist, technophile, author—so many superlatives and such a shedload of great work would normally ensure him a place in the untouchable pantheon that is online life these days. And yet, and yet…he is what I refer to as a serial quitter.

I'm sure you all know at least one serial quitter. They are people who get very enthusiastic about something—a group, an activity, a club, whatever. Then, after some slight (mostly imagined) to their person, or perhaps just something that they do not completely agree with, they quit the group, activity, club, whatever.

Oftentimes they rescind their resignation within hours or days of making it. Equally, often the group begs them to return, saying that, in effect, they didn't mean it (pssst: they actually DID mean it…). Then the serial quitter unquits, until the next time.

I think that the serial quitter is looking for love and reinforcement from the groups they join and then quit. But that is not what Twitter is for. Twitter may serve as a vehicle for love for some celebrities: that's why they flock there, get their accounts verified, and wait for the lurve to come flowing in. But, social networks are for communication between people. When you have nearly one million followers, communication is really only one way. The lurve comes flowing in, but nothing comes flowing back except Tweets (possibly written by the celebrity's communications flack) not addressed to particular people but to the universe in general.

The Fryster's main mistake was to actually read some of his timeline. His second mistake was to be indiscreet about, for example, movie sets he was working on. Leave the indiscretions to Wikileaks, Stephen. And, when you return (after all, you can't really resign from Twitter, you can only take a hiatus) take it from me: send all the Tweets addressed to you or about you straight to DEV_NULL, and get a communications flack to vet everything you Tweet before it goes out into the Intarwebz. Oh, and don't read reviews either. Just sit back and let the lurve wash over you.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I was responding to a LinkedIn connection request when I ended up on my home page. LinkedIn will tell you how many people have looked at your profile in the last umpty-ump days and lists in general who they were. So, I idly clicked on that link, and discovered that it's quite likely that my ex-bf, who now lives in Melbourne, Australia, has been peeking at my LinkedIn profile.

This doesn't bother me that much, as I've looked at his, and found him in various other places on the 'net (such as Facebook). It's amazing how he has mostly disappeared from the 'net since 1997. The one picture I've seen of him is either very unflattering or he's enjoying his pavlovas a bit too much.

A twat on Twitter (Twait?) whom I followed because he looked mildly interesting and was followed by some other tweeters I read sent me back a very rude message saying that I should unfollow him or he'd block me and delete me. I was somewhat annoyed. I regularly block people who follow me who are spammers or who tweet too much drivel, and I assume that others who find my tweets annoying or uninteresting will do the same to me. So, twat, why didn't you just block me? I'll be sending London Stabbie across the pond after you if you don't shape up. Rudeness online isn't becoming, not in the least.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I happened to tweet to someone (hi, @jonk!) that Herb Caen always used to refer to San Francisco as "The City", and people who call it "Frisco" are probably from Los Angeles.

…Well, today I got the following message from Twitter:

Herb Caen (HerbCaen) is now following your tweets on Twitter.

…Herb Caen died in 1997, aged 80.

…I hate bots.

…but I followed "him" anyway.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I have already separated my Twitter into two accounts, one for professional use (@cphtest) and one for personal use (@chrishansenhome). This has worked moderately, and I use TweetDeck for the former and twhirl for the latter.

So now my observation is on tweeters, rather than Twitter. I had to unfollow and block someone yesterday because she was tweeting perhaps every five minutes or so. That doesn't sound too bad: the BBC tweets more often than that. What is maddening is that she tweeted "facts" that were dodgy and trite sayings apropos of nothing.

The tweet that annoyed me was (paraphrasing): "The Canadian $2 bill shows the American flag flying over Parliament." I found this rather incredible, and a few minutes with Snopes discovered (with pictorial evidence) that the claim was false. I tweeted her directly with the link to snopes and a suggestion that she might want to retract it. No answer.

Then the stream of tweets with old hackneyed sayings started. I had had enough by this time and unfollowed and banned her.

My point? If you're going to tweet, for God's sake, tweet something that people might want to hear, don't tweet every 5 minutes with things that people have either already heard or aren't interested in, and if you're tweeting interesting facts, make sure that the facts are verifiable.

Otherwise, Twitter is a good way of keeping up with friends, talking in a lighthearted way about what's happening to you and around you, and getting early tips on news about which you might want to find out more. It is not a form of Internet masturbation for your own pleasure.

Just sayin'.


Feb. 13th, 2010 08:39 am
chrishansenhome: (Default)
You may have noted that each day my tweets are posted to my blog, for posterity's sake, I suppose. I follow lots of people, some of whom are "business" types (mostly software testing types), and the rest of whom run the gamut from rather suggestive to very proper.

One of the software testing people unfollowed me yesterday, and while I do not confuse online "friends" with meatspace friends, I would like this person to be able to read any tweets I share about software testing (had some today with @shrinik, whom I met for a drink last week and who is a very perceptive software tester and testing guru). I believe that the unfollow resulted from some tweets I shared yesterday that were aimed at the "rather suggestive" portion of those who follow me. I have not, however, confirmed this.

So, my question to you all is this: does anyone know of a Windows Twitter client that can cope with showing two Twitter accounts simultaneously? I use twhirl at the moment. This would allow me to separate my business Tweets from my personal Tweets—thus simultaneously avoiding shocking my business Twitter followers and boring my personal Twitter followers.

Yes, I realise I could put one in my browser and use twhirl for the other, and if that is the only solution I accept it. However, I cannot believe that no one else has faced this same difficulty and come up with a neat solution to it.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
This outfit followed me on Twitter, and when I went to check out their Twitter feed, I was confronted with this.

I think you will agree: this background picture is the stuff of nightmares.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
Those of you who are Tweeters or who keep up with those who Tweet will be aware of yesterday's little spat between Stephen Fry, the celebrated actor, blogger, nerd, and Tweeter, and another Tweeter, who called his tweets "boring".

Fry then suddenly bade farewell to Twitter, saying that there was "Too much aggression and unkindness around." This touched off a firestorm of indignation among many of Fry's 900,000+ followers, who implored him not to leave, heaped opprobrium on the other Tweeter, and generally roiled the placid waters in which Twitter's Fail Whale often swims.

The other Tweeter apologised, Fry apologised for his reaction (which was possibly due to his bipolar disorder), and the shitstorm died down.

I am not a celebrity, nor do I play one on TV. This little incident demonstrates the dangers of Twitter and blogging in general for celebrities. Fry has cut down dramatically on the amount of his Tweeting, and I'll bet a cookie that this incident will cut it down even more. But when he was Tweeting dozens of times per day, and garnering many followers, he got himself a reputation. His followers came to expect witty Wildean aperçus, interesting tidbits of technical lore, and various observations about Fry's day and the things he gets up to. When the number of tweets from Fry fell, the ones that were left might have seemed a bit pedestrian compared to his more voluminous previous output. Thus, boring.

Observation No. 1: Tweeters and bloggers are under no obligation to entertain, amuse, inform, or titillate readers. If something you're reading is boring, refrain from making that observation—just go on and read something else.

Observation No. 2: Celebrity Tweeters and bloggers are especially under no obligation mentioned in Observation No. 1. Before the Age of Blogging and Tweeting arrived in the late 1990's, people's only usual contact with celebrities was on the stage, screen, TV, or radio, and in the newspapers. Some few may have asked for an autograph, or entered into correspondence for various reasons. But most people never communicated with celebrities. Now, if a well-known person blogs or Tweets they are communicating instantly with perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, and anyone can talk back by producing an @-reply. Within a few years it was possible to see the well-known and famous walking with feet of clay, putting their trousers on one foot at a time, and being as ordinary as you or I. This is not normally a good thing for the famous.

Case in point: the Queen's breakfast tray has recently been shown in the newspapers. It's old, the cups and other containers are chipped, and it could be found in almost any of our homes across Britain. The usual opinions about the Queen's eating habits include references to gold flatware, crystal goblets, and bone china. Discovering that the Queen scoops her muesli out of Tupperware containers removes some of the mystique.

Now, imagine if the Queen were to begin Tweeting…

HMtheQ: The footman has just turned his back on us while leaving the room. We r not amused. What do u think? #rude

HMtheQ: We and Chazza beside ourselves with worry; Harry has turned up drunk saying that Chelsy is expecting. Pics at 11.

HMtheQ: Muesli for our brekker STALE! Heads will roll! #TowerofLondon

HMtheQ: It's Tues & we have 2 see that awful Scot Gordon Brown AGAIN. If he brags about his prudence 1 mor time we'll put im in the stocks—MUAHAHAHAHA!

@HMtheQ: UrMaj, all u do iz complain! Ur loyl subjects r fed-up with ur boring tweets. Shut ur piehole, Lizzy!

@HMtheQ: Y don't u stop ur moaning and go back 2 Krautland with Phil the Greek; we want a real English K & Q: King Beckham the 1st & Queen Vicky!

Hm. Her Majesty's royal mystique would be pretty well in tatters by the time she picked herself off the Persian rug.

Stephen Fry would be well-advised to limit his tweeting and consider carefully before pressing ENTER.

Observation No. 3: In common with almost all social networking tools Twitterers who are following other Twitterers are said to have "friends". The abuse of the term "friend" for what is almost always a casual, sometimes imaginary, relationship has confused millions of computer users. I have lots of social networking friends. I have only met a fraction of them. A larger, but still fractional, portion I have corresponded with. So are these and everyone else on my "Friends" list actual "Friends"?

Confusing online "Friends" with real, live friends is a fatal mistake. Friends are people who hold you when you have been bereaved, who visit you in the hospital when you're sick and whom you visit when they're sick. Friends are people who mutually can finish each other's sentences and laugh about it. Friends are people whom you'd give your housekeys to if you needed someone to water your plants while you're away. Friends are people you can tell about your first love, your most recent love, the love you're planning to have when the current one is through. Friends are people who help you move out of your former lover's flat. Friends are, well, FRIENDS!

When someone de-"friends" you it is not a tragedy unless you are meatspace friends with that person and they are de-"friending" you because you are no longer FRIENDS. When you de-"friend" someone you have never met, with whom you have hardly ever interacted, and with whom you have little or nothing in common, it is not the end of the world and you should not hesitate one picosecond.

Final Observation: If one is a celebrity, and one wants to Tweet, one should hand the Twitter account over to one's publicist, who is probably (not certainly) much better at handling such idle chatter than one is.

Note to my LJ and other friends: I do not mean to denigrate the relationship we have on Live Journal or elsewhere. I read everything, comment on whatever I think is worth commenting on, and want to keep up with your lives, Tweets, and blogs as much as I can. If we ever meet in person, I would be honoured to develop a meatspace friendship with most if not all of you. Until then, our online friendship is precious to me and, I hope to you, but isn't a personal friendship until it's validated. Thanks for all the online fun we've shared!
chrishansenhome: (Default)
While I was at the Deanery Synod meeting yesterday evening, apparently some kid in Colorado was suspected of climbing into a homemade hot-air balloon and sailing quite a ways. When the balloon came down, no sign of the boy. He was later found hiding in the attic of his home. His dad denied it was a publicity stunt for some reality TV show his family is participating in.

(P.S. Balloon Boy is Eurasian and in about 15 years will be quite handsome as long as he doesn't pull too many stunts like this.)

The interesting thing is that #balloonboy was the top trending topic on Twitter when I sat down at the computer upon returning home from the meeting. However, by looking at the Tweets being tweeted with that hashtag, I was no wiser here in the UK about (1) what was going on, (2) where it was happening, or (3) where to get further information. There was no substance, just comments and exclamations.

It certainly brought home to me that fact that in the cyberverse the US throws its weight around out of all proportion to its population vis-a-vis the rest of the world. All the Tweeters assumed that all other Tweeters were seeing the live coverage on their TVs everywhere in the galaxy so no background was needed. Perhaps in the US such background was redundant. However, as far as I am aware, even the BBC didn't have anything on their news page until most of the story was known.

What is the moral of the story? Do Tweeters and other members of the great cyberverse-of-teh-Now need to provide background to everything they Tweet? Was it my responsibility to look around and find out who Balloon Boy was and what was going on? Or should I just filter out mentally all the dreck and garbage that crosses my screen if I'm not immediately interested in it or there's no apparent background information readily available?

I'm confused.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
This morning the UK-Twitterverse was asking for tweets praising our contact with/experience of the NHS and hash them under the title #WeLoveTheNHS. So, I tweeted thusly:

I had a heart attack & got angioplasty & a stent within an hour. I'm originally from US but the NHS is (a good reason) I stay in (the) UK #welovethe NHS

(Note: This happened in 2006, 3-1/2 years ago).

Now, my Facebook page picks up all my tweets. From a friend (a real meat-life friend, not just an Internet friend), I got this Facebook response:

You just shocked me, Chris H! I thought you'd had a heart attack *today* (and a miraculous recovery and reappearance on the internets).

A bit later another friend (real meat-life friend again) said that he thought the same thing.

This is a case of "context-slip", in that the context I originally tweeted to did not exist in Facebook, where the tweet was replicated.

What to do? As a soc.motsseur always says, "Context, context, context". However, there is no good way to provide the context here.

Has anyone else had this problem with messages to one social network replicated without context on another?

Enquiring minds want to know!
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I think it's because I'm Twittering more.

I will ponder this.

Meanwhile, read the Daily Tweets and mentally expand them into a whole blog post.

Or not.

Suit yourselves.

I will try to blog more.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
...there haven't been any updates since this morning and others are also complaining.

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