Becoming Professional: A Blog

Posts Tagged ‘facebook


Gateway Computers

Last weekend, my computer caught a virus. Thanks to some Gateway computer features and the Cloud, it survived quite handily, back up and running with just about everything in place in less than 24 hours. This is how it all went down so you can learn from my experiences and perhaps protect your computer and avoid a disaster. Let’s start at the beginning…

My computer caught a virus

My sick computer

The computer that got ill, poor baby.

It was a mean one. It pretended to be a Windows anti-virus that dubbed all programs on my computer as “infected” and “unsafe,” preventing me from running any of them. This includes Firefox and my own anti-virus. Once my computer was held hostage, it asked me to scan my computer using this program, whereby from past experience I knew it would say that my computer was hideously compromised and the only way to fix it would be to hand over my credit card information to this fake Windows anti-virus.

I had encountered this virus before, or at least ones like it. Once on a friends computer and a second time on another computer of mine (used only for video watching). In both cases the OS had to be wiped. Unfortunately, this time, the computer was my work computer and main personal computer.

Knowing what I was up against, I immediately transferred my files over to my little netbook. Luckily I don’t have much saved on my computer. Just work documents. No photos, no videos, no music.

If I don’t save my photos, videos, and music on my computer, how do I survive? Obviously I have tons of photos – I am on Facebook. I listen to music – I am a young adult and I do fit some stereotypes. I love watching videos – again, I’m a young adult.

So why aren’t they on my computer?

Look to the clouds.

I host my photos on Facebook. It is the largest photo-sharing website, after all. Actually, most of my photos are shared in my Friends’ profiles. I don’t take many myself.

My music? Saved on Spotify. I love Spotify. I am not a paying member, mostly because I haven’t gotten around to it. But I will. Just wait.

Videos? Do I own DVDs? Not really. I watch movies and TV series on Netflix and Hulu. What DVDs I own are a historic artifact from when you couldn’t get anime without ordering online. Now I just go to Netflix and their ample Japanese animation library.

So when my computer got ill, I at least wasn’t loosing anything. It took me about an hour to transfer all files I couldn’t afford to lose to my netbook using a simple 250MB thumb drive that my father got for free years ago at a conference.

The USB stick. I couldn't have done this without it!

Okay, Gateway gets some credit

And the little netbook that make it possible.

And the little netbook that make it possible.

I don’t have a Windows 7 OS CD. Luckily, however, Gateway has a simple Factory Defaults setting that resets the entire computer to out-of-the-box newness. I just needed to start that and bam! I had a brand new old computer. It’s only a year old, but I didn’t want to buy a new one yet. This was perfect, and, really, it’s what saved my computer.

Once the computer had its amnesia, it forgot all about that virus. No more virus, no more danger. Unfortunately, it also forgot all the programs I had loaded on it over time. But no worries. I hadn’t paid for any of them.

I use Tweetdeck for Twitter, and that’s free. Skype for phone calls with family, and that’s free. I’ve already mentioned Spotify for music, and yes, that’s free, too. I use Chrome and Firefox to surf the net, free and free. I just spent a morning working off my netbook while I downloaded my main computer redownloaded all my favorite programs. Rather simple, actually.

But I don’t ever want this to happen again, to you either

In all, I discovered that my computer had a virus at about 10:30 pm last Sunday and had my computer back up and running with all integral programs by 11:am the next day. I haven’t moved all my files back, but that’s just me being lazy. I have rediscovered my netbook and just like using it more so the urgency to move the files has worn off.

That said, I don’t want this to happen again, so I’m going to do as my father has suggested: start using Virtual Box to surf the net. It’s from Oracle and it is free (like everything else I use, apparently). Basically, it runs a partitioned second OS on your computer that you can use to surf the net. If you download cookies and viruses during your surfing, you can just delete that partition without affecting the rest of your machine. It’s like having a disposable computer within your computer. Neat, huh?


Facebook Like Button

by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

Privacy is a big concern, particularly on Facebook. And for absolutely good reason, too. After all, I’m sure we all have those ex-friends we not only never want to see again, but would like to never see us again, too. Keeping who you want close, close and who you want far away as far away as possible is only natural.

That includes companies. These days there is a barter system going on with our private information. We like a brand’s page and allow them to see our demographics in exchange for potentially fun posts and, even better, free stuff. Sounds like a deal, as long as I’m the one who gets to okay it. This same barter is seen on Amazon, where the site learns what you like and makes, sometimes very astute, recommendations. But only when you’re signed in.

But, what about those cases when you’re not signed in. When you didn’t sign up for something and they’ve scraped your data from your Facebook profile? You didn’t sign up for it. I didn’t sign up for it. How can we avoid this danger?

But, is there really a privacy threat?

I mean, no doubt Facebook has privacy issues. Otherwise people wouldn’t be complaining left and right. I do not doubt this, and will not argue against it.

But I will point out that it’s incredibly difficult to get at your public data on Facebook by using the legal Open Graph API. I know because I tried to access my own public data  and that of my friends through that API while not signed in. Here’s what I found:

my open graph informationGo ahead and try it on your own account. All you need is your account ID number, which you can find here:

screen capture of my Facebook ID number in my profile's URLThen just type in https://graph.facebook.com/ followed by that number into your browsers URL bar and – tadaa! You can see what is available publicly about you.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care if people know I’m female, speak American English, and thus assume I’m an American female. As far as my name goes, I use a pseudonym online, so have fun!

Notice that even if my privacy settings were to make everything public, they still wouldn’t show up with this public Open Graph API search. That’s because Facebook doesn’t use the word public here the same way that we do. The information displayed above is “public information.” But in order to get at the information I’ve shared with the world on my Facebook Profile, any application developer needs an “access token.”

To get an access token, Facebook’s developer website explains that an app must go through three stages: user authentication, app authorization, app authentication. User authentication is just verifying that the user is who he says he is, same for app authentication. App authorization, however, is that bit where we’re asked to allow the app access to various bits of our data.

Farmville asking for my personal dataSee that bit up at the top, by my profile pic? “Access my basic information” really means “access all the public stuff I’m too silly enough not to set as private on my profile security settings.”

“Public” does not mean “public”

Let’s back up a second. “Public” in the eyes of Facebook app developers is basic demographic information. “Public” in the eyes of you, me, and most consumers is the stuff we set as available for strangers to see on our profiles. Companies and other systematic organizations cannot even see what we allow complete and total strangers to see. At least through this API.

I’m actually a bit reassured by that.

Of course, I’m sure there are work-arounds, particularly for the less than legal. However, at least when it comes to companies trying to spy into my life using the Open Graph API, I can rest assured that it’s a bit more complicated than just searching my name with this tool and that if they want to legally pry into my life, I have to give them permission.

*Note: I am not a Privacy Expert. I just tweedled around with the Open Graph API and this is what I found. As I said, I’m sure that there are other ways to spy on us. I just don’t think this is one of them. So you should always set your privacy settings as high as possible!


people talking

Original by David Boyle on Flickr

What good is technology? Why do we love it and use it? What motivates us to use the new gadgets and websites that come our way?

I may earn the title of Captain Obvious for saying this, but humans are social creatures. We like to talk to each other and compare notes. We compare ourselves to each other and show off. That’s the basic thought at the root of gamification’s leaderboards. I know that whenever I check into foursquare I like to see how I am doing in relation to certain friends in particular.

A woman holding her blackberry

By chellseeyy on Flickr

But it goes deeper than that. The products that are likely to stay with us are the ones that enable our communication. Those that are failing in other ways are surviving in some respects thanks to their ability to work with our social lives. Let’s take the Blackberry as an example. What do the urban youth love about the Blackberry? Is it e-mail? The Internet? The ability to open multiple applications at once? Nope. It’s BBM. Free texting mixed with social network style updates. RIM is even trying to extend their brand by capitalizing on this love for their messaging service. BBM is apparently coming to Android.

Let’s look at Facebook. Why do people stay on it even when many can go on for hours about how much they hate it? For this I’ll turn to one of my favorite YouTube songs: the Facebook Song by Lynnea Malley. One of the lines in the chorus says it all: “Facebook, oh it would be sublime if I could erase you without being disconnected from society.”

But is making it easier to connect with others the key to success in our new digital world? Not necessarily. Though tools and products that make it easier to communicate more naturally are coming into the market (dare I look to Google+ as one such example?), there are other factors to consider.

  • Network advantages certainly come into play. This basically means that as each new person joins a network the value of the network for all the members grows. This in turn makes it more appealing to join. It can be summed up by saying “All my friends are there, so that’s where I’ll be, too.” If all their friends weren’t on BBM, then the urban youth would not be using it.
  • Utility is also important. So what if we can communicate in a natural and organic manner if we can’t use it when we need to? I’m going to poke at Skype here. Though Skype mobile apps and Skype phones are now available, not everyone has one. I don’t. So rather than showing my mother the shoes I am thinking of buying while in the store and talking with her about them, I have to either take a photo and text, avoiding Skype entirely and using an unnatural communication method, or buy them and Skype chat at home where I can try to show the shoes to my mother using my not-so-great web cam. Of course, that’s a comment on the camera technology as well as Skype.
  • Branding and money can also play a part. How else did Google+ get millions of users in only a few months? Of course that doesn’t solve the problem. Money can only “lead the horse to water.” It can’t “make it drink.” Google+ now has to get all those people with accounts to use them.

So no, making it easier for us to communicate is not the only thing to think about when trying to think up new products for the market, as much as that feature is in demand. What other roadblocks can get in the way? Feel free to add some in the comments.


me and Paul Wycherley

Me and Olympian Paul Wycherley, another speaker

This past week, I spoke at the Huntswood People Learning and Development event about how to use social media professionally. My audience was made up of contractors in the learning and development field, trainers who work with financial services providers. For the most part, though they may have been on LinkedIn, they were not using social media professionally to aid them in their work. That’s where I came in. My job was to introduce them to the benefits of social media. In less than 20 minutes. I obviously couldn’t discuss everything, so I limited my discussion to profiles. And even then I still went over.

The thing is, profiles are not easy, particularly for those who are not avid social media users. After all, even those who do frequently use social media often get limited use out of their social media profiles. There is a lot more to a LinkedIn profile than merely saying your name and work history. Even Twitter can have some potential, even if you do not use the service regularly. As for Facebook, well, I suggested creating a Facebook Page. It’s just too tempting to post a picture from Friday night on Facebook, both for you and your friends. And those privacy settings are confusing. A Facebook Page just makes more sense here.

As far as first speaking gigs go, I think I did pretty well. I was the first guest speaker, and after me was the canapés, also known as dinner, drinks, and mingling. I was flooded with questions and personal stories. Everyone seemed ready to get started and redo their own online profiles, or put them up in the first place. That’s all a speaker can really ask for, isn’t it?

Here is the full presentation. A video should be on its way shortly from Huntswood, so expect that as well.


twitter bird

by shawncampbell on Flickr

How are you reading this blog? Did you find it on Twitter? Perhaps we’re Facebook Friends and you saw it there. Chances are it’s one of these two since Facebook and Twitter provide the majority of the visits to this site. As you also getting your news through Facebook and Twitter?

Twitter has been touted as the RSS Feed replacement on CNet’s Webware and Facebook is encouraging users to use its services as their own personal newswire, according to this article on ReadWriteWeb. Are these good trends?

Social Media Is Filtered

Sure, you could be like Don Reisinger, the author of the Webware article, and follow everyone who follows you on Twitter, but while a broader slice of the world than just those who you are personally interested, it’s still a filter placed by the population. If you don’t follow back everyone who follows you, which I do not, then your Twitter feed is filtered expressly by your choices. This also applies to Facebook. You can Like news organizations on Facebook and get your news that way. You could also Follow them on Twitter, but chances are, you are still getting at least some of your news through your friends. They are sharing articles which you then read.

the great wall of china

by Francisco Diez on Flickr

This filtering is a double-edged sword. It can isolate you. Social filtering is why I do not hear much news out of China. I’m not following anyone who is either in China or Tweets about it. But social filtering also keeps you from being bored with what news does find its way in front of you. You know you’ll like what you see, or at least be interested in the topic. Filtering makes discovering a new topic difficult. After all, even if you are following the actual news outlet, if you are following its Sports section, you still won’t hear much about China.

Social Media Is Easy

At the same time, it also makes getting your news really easy. You just visit the websites you were visiting anyway and the news is pushed out to you. Little, or no, effort on your part. The most you might have to do is go to your “News” List on Facebook to see what the BBC has put out recently. It’s a few clicks and you’re never leaving the party on Facebook. You can still Facebook Chat with your friends.

This is a good thing for society, I think. As well as making news more easily accessible, it makes it easier to discuss it. This encourages debate, both amongst the social media community as a whole and amongst friends.

Social Media Makes It Easy to Miss Things

farm ville opening screne

by tarikgore1 on Flickr

But there are still problems. Let’s assume that you are being very good and following respected news outlets on Twitter and Facebook. It’s real time. As Reisinger said, sometimes the Tweets go up even before the RSS article is released. So you’ll have to be on Facebook and Twitter constantly, or you might miss something. Now, many people are. They can’t stand to be away from Facebook for one second or their Farmville plants might die, but I’m not. I like movies. That’s roughly two hours away from Facebook I spend a day (when I can fit it in). I jog. That’s a half hour a day away from Twitter. My God, the news I’m missing!

I Don’t Use Social Media for My News

google reader snippet

by Search Engine People Blog on Flickr

Of course, I do keep an ear to the ground in social media to pick up on any new trends, but I use a Feed Reader as my main way to catch my news. Reisinger doesn’t like Feed Readers. They aren’t fast enough for him. If you want your news before anyone else has it, then yes, social media is probably more your speed. However when it is important not to miss anything, as with professional information, you might want to use a Feed Reader. If you are okay with missing information occasionally, then social media might be okay for you.

I need to have reliable, accurate, and consistent news for my profession, so I don’t rely on Social Media to get my news. There is always the option of a mix, or doing as Reisinger suggests and actually visiting the news outlet’s Twitter feed (or Facebook Page) to catch up on the missed items. I’m too lazy for that.

Feed Readers do have drawbacks. They aren’t very social and they can be a bit confusing. That’s why Mashable posted HOW TO: Get the Most out of Google Reader. Even the RSS icon and sign up process can be confusing. “Fan this Page to get news” is a much simpler call to action. It’s a news version of Amazon’s one-click purchase.

Other News Sources Do Exist

This post does make it seem like there is an either or choice between Feed Readers and Social Media, but there are other choices. How about those old favorites, bookmarks? Actually visiting a news website is one choice. Social magazines like Flipboard that mix social and feed information are another option. Even just Google searching interesting events and topics can yield plenty of useful information.

I just tend to use my Google Reader plus a dose of filtered social media shares. How do you get your news?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Read the rest of this entry »


The First Strike Went to Social Media

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

A little over two months ago I faced a time management challenged: How to stay involved in all the social networks I enjoy and still (OMG!) have a life. It seemed impossible at the time. Every morning, I would get up and look at my social networks, which I would check each day. That meant a good hour and a half or more of social media, engaging on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Brazen Careerist, and, of course, this blog. It was the perfect definition of “Time Suck.”

My Counterstrike

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

So I started my social media counter strike. I decided to touch each social media outlet in a daily rotation. One day LinkedIn, the next Twitter, then the blog, and so forth. It’s worked, to a degree. Because I’m only worrying about one social media outlet a day I am able to dig in and get some real value of out it, like learning from experts on LinkedIn or actually publishing a blog post on a regular basis.

But it hasn’t worked for Twitter. You cannot get any benefit from Twitter through a condensed engagement once a week. It’s just too hard to carry on a conversation. Sure, once a week I can go through my lists and unfollow people I forgot I was following in the first place, but I still was not getting any value out of it.

Phase Two of the Battle – Two Fronts

Two Lines of Tanks

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

Okay, so social media is still kicking my butt in some ways. Twitter remains a problem: how to engage enough without spending my life on it? I know that this is an issue many people have. So I’m experimenting with lists and my News Feed. I’ve already got the lists going, so now I just have to see how to use them appropriately. Maybe it’s just to dip my head in on the conversation occasionally, or maybe it will make in-depth conversations easier. Dunno. We’ll see.

The next thing that’s whooping my rear end is RSS Feeds. If you do not have an RSS Feed Reader, get one. They are gorgeous and enable you to keep up on all the blogs you like without visiting all the websites. But, if you are following a ton of feeds, like I am (58 total right now), it can be hard to keep up. I’m attempting to sort my RSS Feeds into folders and try to attack them piecemeal, but we’ll see how that works. Maybe if I don’t try to read everything each day I’ll be able to keep up. Or maybe if I do that, I’ll fall behind on my news. Again, we’ll see.

The War Continues

Tank pointing at the camera

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

This is not a battle I will easily win. As I master one time management system, some new social media tool or network will come out to entirely mess it up. That’s the way wars go. Besides, you know what happens to the best laid plans once you hit the battlefield.


Image of a players avatar in Farmville

by RJ Bailey on Flickr

I used to play Restaurant City. I used to play a lot. For a while 12 hours a day. Of course I didn’t spend 12 hours sitting in front of my computer on Facebook. School, work, eating, bathing and all that. This is not a post about gamer addiction and hygiene problems.

So wait. How could I play the game 12 hours a day and yet have a life? This is actually more common then you’d think. Players tell a game “build a bridge,” “open my bakery,” “fight that enemy,” “grow a crop.” These actions take time, so while they are going on, the players go off and live their lives. This is part of why the games are “casual.” Players don’t have to constantly be there and devote all their attention to it in order to play. Don’t try this while playing World of Warcraft. You’ll spend the whole time wondering why you’re dead.

But this “casual” is a lie. The games are no less involving and no less addictive. That’s why people will always be there to water their Farmville crops. I once heard it suggested that if Zynga wanted to destroy productivity, they would change the watering cycle to once every 15 minutes. I was always right back on Restaurant City at the right time to get my bonus cash. We get rewarded for keeping our eyes on the clock and thinking about the game throughout the day.

And that’s why “ghost playing” is deceiving. It makes it seem like you can have fun and advance in the game without giving up your life, but, honestly, I prefer World of Warcraft. At least WoW is honest. Facebook games take over your life more subtly.

Our world is becoming game-ified. Games are occupying more of our time, even when we think we’re not playing. How do you think this will affect society? Multitasking is now much more than just what students do while surfing the net in class. It’s a part of work, and now fun.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 56 other followers

Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog (maskedgeek.wordpress.com) and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

%d bloggers like this: