One Month Free

Friday July 6th marks a full month without Facebook. As soon as the second week transpired, I got the notifications of all the other “attached” bits being severed. A good sign that I had held out the full two weeks. Apparently once they “delete” (cough cough) your account, it takes about 90 days to tag your data for removal, and for it being removed1 from their servers.

I have removed the hosts file redirection of facebook.com to localhost. The temptation to go back to it has waned. I have refocused some energy on this blog (and my other greytbros head over and see some fun about our new family addition). Continue reading →

Benefits of leaving Facebook

It has been a week since I began the process of deleting my Facebook account, and I have a couple of observations that I can share:

  1. I do have more time. Yes, when I have a spare moment and grab my phone, I have the muscle memory that tries to load the Facebook app. But, then I go to the NY Times, or Twitter and life goes on
  2. My iPhone 6s battery lasts a lot longer. I knew that Facebook was a battery hog, but seriously, I can get to the end of the day, and still have 40% of my battery remaining. Prior to deleting the app (and messenger, and whatsapp) I was topping up the battery by 1:00PM every day.

I do miss my posse on Facebook, and many/most of them aren’t on Twitter, so I had to say goodbye probably forever, but I haven’t been tempted to cancel the deletion process.

This time, it seems permanent.

The downsides of leaving Facebook

As I mentioned on Friday, I am taking a break from Facebook. I did a little bit of this in mid 2015, and one of the hard lessons learned was how pervasive Facebook is across the web for the SSO (single sign on) convenience. Sigh.

At that time, I was astounded at how many places that Facebook had wormed their way into for validation and authentication. My Strava, Spotify, and others were all tied to my identity on Facebook.

Fortunately, at that time I bit the bullet and did much of the extrication from reliance on the Facebook identity and authentication, so this break isn't quite as bad.

Then this morning, I sat down to do some light (or heavy blogging), and fired up the Pandora app on my iphone to listen to some soothing classical.

You guessed it, the app, even though I am signed in by email/password, was insistent that I "fix" my facebook connection. Finally, after the third try, it realized that indeed I do not have a valid facebook account right now.

Jesus christ monkeyballs, that was a raft of stupidity.

I am sure that as time goes on, I will find more shenanigans to work through.

One thing is sure though, this pervasiveness is leaning me towards fully deleting my Facebook profile.

Taking a break

I am going to step back from the great time suck that is Facebook. Sadly, it it taking too much of my time, and is too addicting. Being on my phone, my ipad, and on the browsers, it is just too damn available, and irresistible.

I will be sad that I am going to miss some epic meme’s and other fun stuff, and I will also miss the hilarity of some of the communities I am a part of. Yet, I still feel the need to take a hiatus.

Staring down another election cycle, the clown car of the GOP candidates, the coming ugliness that I can see in the Democrats, I can say that this is a good time to give it a rest, to improve my blood pressure and stress levels.

I took a short (few week) break in mid 2015, and a 9 month or so break in 2009, but ultimately came back. This time, I might make the break permanent. I plan on redirecting the facebook URL to 127.0.0.1 in the hosts file, so that I can’t have even a moment of weakness and reactivate my account. I will delete it off my iphone and my ipad.

I will miss my friends, those I know IRL, as well as those that I have only known via the magic of social media.

I will remain active on Twitter (@ganders2112 is my handle there), and of course, you can follow/subscribe to my blog, where I will continue to post.

Cheers, au revoir, auf weidershen, さようなら, adios

End of an Era – Passing the Torch

For the last three and a half years, I have had the pleasure of running the Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption web page. I was there at the beginning when Diana Hansen, then acting as the Communications Director, hosted us volunteers in her house, to discuss the public facing image of the brand spanking new organization.

There were 6 or 7 of us in the room, and we were discussing the establishment of our social media presence. I volunteered to begin the creation of the website, and to assist with the other bits and pieces.

I could have not known that it would last almost three and a half years.

On that fateful night, we decided to use an open source CMS, Joomla! as the desire was to have a largely static web page, and to have a system that could be used by the other volunteers to create and edit content (oh, how naive I was), and the other two CMS options, WordPress and Drupal, were either too “blog” like or much much overkill.

So a quick site was created, while in the background, I created the Joomla! site for the long haul solution.

After a lot of hammering and shaping, the site came together, the best that a design by commitee could accomplish, and it went live in early June 2012.

Not too surprising, the Joomla backend interface was a bit daunting for the casual volunteers to work with (I think one volunteer worked on it and did like three whole pages) so I setup front end form tools to allow the entry and maintenance of things like available hounds, membership lists, and the like.

Over the years I got adept at handling the requests for changes in the supposedly static front page (turns out that wasn’t as important as we originally thought).

Life changes

In the interim, I took a new job, moved first to Phoenix, then to San Jose, so I became a lot busier. I still kept up the website, maintaining it, fixing it, and adding/adjusting what was requested by the Communications and board.

However, in late 2014, the version of Joomla! we were using went end of life. The daunting task of migrating to a new version (version 3) and with it, re-doing all the plugins and controls was beyond my ability to achieve.

So, when the email came in late June that the board, working with a new volunteer (who is now the Communications Director,) had been working on a replacement, it was a major relief. I was unsure how much time I could put into a new website, and knowing what I put into the original one, I expected it to be measured in the hundreds of hours, it was a welcome notice.

Sidebar: I think the President was worried that I would be offended, or put off by their side project. The email was a bit cautious, trying not to offend me. Ha! I am in Marketing, I can take a lot of offending.

The last week or so, I have helped with the final touches to the website. The new site is WordPress, which has matured greatly in the last 3 years, and it looks incredible. I see many touches of my original designs, so I know that my trailblazing set a standard.

Friday night, July 3rd, I pulled down the old Joomla! site, archived it for posterity, and moved the new WordPress site to the hosting.

It is up, it is live, and it looks like the new owner is well capable of carrying the torch.

Best of luck!

I’m back from a 3 week break from Facebook

A little over three weeks ago, I deactivated my Facebook account. No particular reason, but not the first time.

However, since my last “vacation” in 2009, a lot has changed, and not being part of the Facebook community was difficult.

There is a frightening number of applications and websites that don’t work well if you are not associated with a Facebook account. Everything seems to want to either connect or authenticate via Facebook. Strava, Spotify, and others seem somewhat “lost” if you are not connected.

My blog, Tralfaz (here, dummy) dropped by at least a third in daily viewings. The irony is that when I look in google analytics for traffic sources, Facebook is almost non-existent in sources, but the trends are clear for traffic. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook does some anonymization to deny Google any leverage from their traffic.)

I have several pages that I admin, and some of them I have a “secondary” account to log in with. It is amazing how lousy the Facebook experience is with < 10 friends.

It took a full week for the first friend to hunt me down. I was a bit surprised it took so long, but since I didn’t do a “rage quit” and announce my deactivation, I guess it is cool that some people missed me enough to try to hunt me down.

The last time I took a break, I lasted 9 months. However, this time, 3 weeks was a struggle. I am disappointed that I folded so fast, but it is a testament to how essential Facebook has become in the last 6 years. It is the principal vehicle that more than casual acquaintances use to keep in touch. It is how I talk to my siblings, and some of my friends there are far closer than any of my IRL friends I have had forever. Powerful and frightening all at the same time.

Quitting Facebook (at least temporarily)

When this goes live, I will have been a full week of not being on Facebook. Last Tuesday, I decided to do a drastic thing, to deactivate my Facebook account.

It isn’t the first time I had done this. Back in 2009, not long after I joined Facebook, I deactivated my profile. That time, I held out 8 months before peer pressure caused me to turn it on.

In the intervening time, it is astounding how much the web now relies on Facebook as an identity verifier, authentication path, and collector of all sorts of personal data.

I had paved the way for this for some time. By adding logins to things like Goodreads, and Strava (among many other sites where it is just easier to connect via Facebook). But it wasn’t easy. There were dozens of places where I linked my identity to Facebook.

Of course, over the last 5 years, I had built quite a cult of personality on Facebook. An outspoken atheist, with a wickedly sardonic sense of humor, I collected like minded friends. It was almost a challenge to see who could post the most outrageous things.

That said, Facebook was taking over more of my life. I probably spent 2 hours a day combing my feed, and looking for new, fun things to post. Checking email? Quickly hop over to FB. Finished a document at work? You guessed it, check Facebook.

Even standing in line for the grill at the cafeteria, using my iPhone to check Facebook.

It was an addiction, as much as coffee or nicotine. More than a habit, it was an obsession. Did my friends “like” the latest snark? What rude douchebag politician said what?

So I deactivated my account. It is sad, Facebook has on the deactivation page a list of some of your top friends, and how they will miss you. Really pouring on the pity-party.

But I didn’t go to the trouble of deleting the profile (I understand that actually deleting the profile requires you to deliver a Kidney and half your liver to Mark Zuckerberg), so I am sure I will go crawling back.

But for now I am on a break.

I am still on Twitter, so please hit me there @ganders2112 if you miss your snark.

Walking Away – A Facebook Group was taking over my life

There is a closed community that I participate in on Facebook that I have been a member of for about 7 months. I was invited to join, and I thought I had found a den of like minded people to share our common goals. It was an amazing and safe place to hang out. Really cool people, sharing really cool things, and very little judgmental attitudes were in the air.

Yes, there were some diversions, and some conflict, heck it is impossible that with > 3,000 members there had to be some differences in opinion.

Yet as the group grew it changed. At about 6,000 members, there was a notable shift in the civility. Some genuine nastiness was creeping in. (for the record, occasionally a true dissenter would get past the selection process, but they usually outed themselves quickly and disappeared)

Now that the membership is well above 9,000, the group has become somewhat toxic. The moderators had to be ever vigilant for banned material being posted. The selfie threads turning into misogyny, and rape references, and a level of nastiness that really appalled me.

All through this process I loved the group. There was an evolving core group of great people, many who have become friends on my profile. We would share amusing pictures, memes and experiences. It was fun. They are great people. I found that about 90% of the time I spent on FB was in that group, and it felt like home.

Almost 100% of my posts and shares were in this group. I am sure my real friends wondered where I had disappeared to.

However, the toxicity of the group (I will admit that the admins were doing an admirable job to try to control the chaos) has made me stop following it, and stop receiving notifications from the group. I just decided to go cold turkey. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a fun meme I posted mocking Justin Bieber generated a shitstorm of hate. If you can’t mock Bieber, then it isn’t worth staying.

Something surprising happened. My news feed became relevant again. I started interacting with my friends, and I feel less like a slave to continue to post to that group.

I am enjoying Facebook more than I had for a while. It is a good thing.

I may not ever go back to that group.

LinkedIn Still Sucks

Who would have thought that my last rant against LinkedIn would be the third most viewed post on my site. Astounding, and by the comments, it seems to have rung a bell with others. (note: this is a repost from my professional blog)

LinkedIn is still crappy, for all the same reasons I wrote about here, but some new suckage has floated to the top. LinkedIn is ostensibly the “Facebook” of the professional world. Many people keep totally different personas on the two sites, for obvious reasons. But where LinkedIn fails is that it really wants to have people visit every day, and spend hours glued to the site so they can monetize your eyeballs.

To try to get people incentivized to visit often (daily or multiple times a day), they have tried to go beyond a business network, and to add things that are really a clumsy fit. These are:

Groups: A nice concept. Have self organizing user communities where like minded people gather to chat, and exchange information. Very analogous to the old computer BBS’s, the Forums that created vibrand communities (like the one I participate in for the S2000 owners club). But on LinkedIn, they seem contrived. I am a member of 4 different AFM communities. Some are open, some are closed, one is for a specific maker. The same situation for Product Marketing. There is a Product Marketing group, a Product Marketing Professionals group, and a 280 Product Marketing group. Again, lots of balkanization. In the outside world, there may be more than one community, but in truth, there is one that “wins” and the rest wither or atrophy.

Forums (part of the groups): There is a reason that some of the best forums on the internet are moderated. The world is full of trolls and folks who just like to take the counter argument just to be “dickish”. Moderation helps keep this to a tolerable level. But none of the LinkedIn groups I frequent appear to be moderated (correction: the APS Physics group does moderate with a heavy hand). I have seen competitors in public pissing matches, escalate a discussion into a full blown PR disaster. You would think that reasonable, rational professionals would be more reserved, but then you would be wrong.

A news feed: When I go to my page, I get bombarded by the trivialities and banalities of my network. I really don’t pay attention to this. Yes, sometimes I will learn that John Smith moved to a new job, but often it is dumb things like a member “liked” something. I get the idea of trying to build your “graph” and to try to gain more eyeball-minutes on your content, but come on.

Trying to grow your network by giving LinkedIn access to your Gmail contacts: This one pisses me off to no end. (and you can repeat this argument for all the other online email services) Everytime I interact with them, they want me to give them the login details for my Gmail account so that they can look for potential people to link to. Uh, not only is this a no, but it is a giant F*CK NO. None of the social media operators have a shred of concern about maintaining privacy, and will gladly sell their mother for more traffic.

Constant offers to go to premium (paid) access: This one really infuriates me to no end. I must get 2 – 3 offers for a free month of Premium (just give them a credit card to charge when the free period is done.) I looked up the plans, and the cheapest one, “Business” is a whopping $19.95 a month, IF you buy a year worth at a time. The business Plus is $39.95 a month, and the executive level is $74.95 a month. FFS, what on earth can be worth $900 a year to me?  Oh, so I can connect with and message people who aren’t in my network without having to go through a common connection. Sorry, that is just worth about $0.0003 a month to me. I can understand those who are seeking employment might benefit, but I doubt they will buy a year at a time. And recruiters? No brainer. In fact they should charge $500.00 a month for recruiters. That would weed out the crappy ones pretty quick. I don’t mind paying for things that provide value, but I can’t imagine LinkedIn being worth more than about tree fiddy

Summary

LinkedIn is a pretty good way to remain in contact with all the people you come across. But their business model (and valuation) is dependent upon increasing the time that users spend on the site. So they are turning to the Facebook playbook to create reasons for people to visit unprompted, and to spend more time browsing. Their stumbling at the offering of endorsed product advertising (Getting sued for unautorized use of images and user details for adverising is a huge breach of trust) is just one of their ill advised efforts to monetize the service.

But, the value that they offer me, the professional who drops in when I get a connection invite, or when a notification catches my eye, is not on the social network functionality. I am never going to spend hours a week glued to LinkedIn.

Lastly, they need to do something to increase the coherence of the recruiters who use their site. LinkedIn is a valuable asset to that business, but it does give way to laziness, and that leads to us, the talent, being bombarded with bullshit job offers. Fix that, or become as irrelevant as Monster.com has become. Perhaps they should make it cost $500 a month or more for recruiters.

2 Comments

My problems with LinkedIn

linkedin-logoI am getting social media swamped.  But there is one trend that I am sure that I am not alone in is the in your face nature that LinkedIn has become since going public.  I have been a member of Linkedin for a long time, and it has been a good place to collect my professional connections.  But, it is not a place that I go to daily, weekly, or even once a month.  The truth is that for me it is not a major motivator in my professional career. But lately, the noise from LinkedIn has become intolerable.  I blame the pressures of becoming a public company and the incessant drive to derive money from its users. But, come on…

First, as a user, and in my past searches for new positions, I have never once thought to look to LinkedIn.  I know that there are job postings there, and that some people are successful in using it to hunt for jobs, but, truth be told I rely on my reputation, and the relationships I have with a few select recruiters who I have worked with in the past (on both sides, as a candidate and to seek a candidate). LinkedIn has disrupted this, but, to me, not for the better.  I get a lot of queries for positions that it should be clear to a 3rd grade level reader that I am not really suitable for, or that my qualifications don’t fit. It is almost like it has made recruiters stupid, and turned them into spamming telemarketers.  I have stopped responding to the most ludicrous ones.

Second, what started as a nice idea, the “recommendations” feature has become rife with abuse.  How often do you get a query from a past colleague seeking recommendations?  You can decline, but most people just cave in and write one. Usually glowing with flowery praise for someone who is about as intelligent and worthy as a potted plant. When I do go hunting around, I often read the recommendations for former colleagues that I didn’t write, and I have seen a lot of lipstick applied to the proverbial pig. Yikes.  I would never rely on the recommendations of a candidate that are on linked in.  For the record. I have NEVER asked for a recommendation.  The ones on my profile are genuine from people who wouldn’t pull punches.

Lastly, they have started this thing called “endorsements”.  You see 4 of your connections with what seems like a match for their skills, and are asked to endorse them.  I have received literally hundreds of them. The problem is that most of the people doing the endorsement wouldn’t know how good I am at “Product Management” or “Marketing”.  My interactions with them were either for different reasons, or completely unrelated to what they have endorsed me for. Criminy, I got endorsed for “Microsoft Office”. Seriously, WTF is up with that?

Naturally, this is all to help them generate more page views, and more advertising, thus leading HR and Recruiters to continue to pony up for the access to this huge pool of talent. But to me, LinkedIn remains a fairly static view of me and my career. Regardless of how often they offer me a free month of “Premium” I will never take it, because to me there can’t be enough value for me to pay for it. Monetizing your “product” is important, but just like if Facebook started charging the users for the service, it would whither and die, so will LinkedIn.  Continue to make it the professional network, but realize that some/many of your enhancements are making the service far less valuable for my time. There is nothing LinkedIn can do to get my visit frequency to daily.

(I originally wrote this for my professional blog, but thought I should share it here as well)