Tag: facebook

Facebook Distraction Leads to Action

Part of the reason I don’t sleep well is that I have a tendency to pick up my phone to check something–tomorrow’s weather, blog comments, whatever–and then get distracted by something else. Most often it’s Facebook’s video feature. I’ll tap it and see some video of bloopers from Seinfeld, or a Graham Norton interview. After that, I just keep scrolling. Videos of trucks getting stuck in underpasses. Videos of kids pranking their parents. Some bloopers from The Office. A video of Rainn Wilson grilling Billie Eilish on Office trivia. Twice in the last week, I’ve found myself scrolling for more than two hours doing this. (Once, until 3 am!) It is absurd, and I finally took action to prevent this from happening in the future.

I ordered an alarm clock (this one, if you are interested) for my nightstand. My idea was that from now on, I was going to leave my phone plugged in on my desk in the office. If I wanted to know what time it was, I could look at the alarm clock. If I needed an alarm to wake me (I almost never do) I have one.

my new alarm clock on my nightstand

I tried this for the first time on Monday night. It took a little planning. That’s because I often use my phone to listen to an audio book before I go to sleep. I didn’t want the phone in my room because of the distractions, but I still wanted to listen to my audio book. What I did, therefore, was download the audio book to my Kindle Oasis. I don’t mind having the Kindle on my nightstand. There are no distractions there except for the thousand or so books I have. At least, there are no silly video distractions. I could lay in bed listening to my book, and when I was ready to go to sleep, set the book aside.

A couple of times I woke, and was tempted to reach for my phone to see what time it was, and maybe check to see if there were any new blog comments, or emails. But the phone wasn’t there, and that delighted me. I’d just have to wait until morning.

One drawback to this is that I often follow along on my Kindle when listening to an audio book–especially a nonfiction book. I thought I could do that on my Kindle Oasis, but apparently, it is either-or. I can listen, but can’t follow along. Or I can read, but I can’t listen. What I did then, was when I came to a passage I wanted to highlight, I’d pause the audio, switch to reading mode, highlight, and then switch back to audio. It’s not elegant, but it works.

As a precaution, I bought two of these alarm clocks. Sometimes, if it is too hot in our room, and if the Littlest Miss crawls into our bed in the middle of the night, I will go downstairs to the guest room to sleep. It is about 12 degrees cooler down there, and that doesn’t count the body heat that the Littlest Miss can put off. In that past, I’d take my phone with me and use the move as an opportunity to take a quick look at email–which would lead inevitably to videos of people falling into swimming pools. Now, have the same alarm clock in the guest room, and my phone stays in my office.

I seem to recall trying this once before, years ago. It wasn’t particularly successful then, seeing as how I’ve bringing my phone into my room at night for as long as I can remember now. So it will be interesting to see how well I can make this work in the long run. The other thing will be to see if my sleep improves at all because of this. I think that will take some time before I can make a call one way or the other. Stay tuned.

P.S.: Hopefully, you didn’t wake up in the middle of the night and pick up your phone to read this post. I’d hate to be the one responsible for keeping anyone else awake.

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Passive-Aggressive Facebook Posts

Certain Facebook posts try my patience more than others. In particular is a class of passive-aggressive posts that remind me of the now old-fashioned chain letters that used to sweep through email inboxes. If you are on Facebook at all, I’m sure you’ll recognize these.

There are two types of these passive-aggressive posts. The first usually begin like this:

I know most of my friends won’t share this, but…

You’ve seen these posts. They attempt to bully their way into getting shares by, what? Making people feel guilty because you have no intention of sharing the post? I’ve got to say that I’ve never felt guilty for not sharing a post.

This kind of post most reminds me of the old email chain letters that command you to forward the message to 10 friends and you’ll have good luck. On the other hand, if you ignore the message, you will be sucked into a sinkhole before sunset.

There is another type of passive-aggressive post that I see frequently. These turn up more in ads for puzzles and games and usually begin by saying something like:

Only people with 160 IQ can solve this puzzle.

There is, of course, absolutely no evidence whatsoever for these claims. What makes them successful is that people find they can solve them rather easily and therefore assume their IQ must be 160. Forget the fact that IQ measures a problem solving ability specific to IQ tests. It seems patently silly that these posts make the claims that they do. This is what I like to think of as the “I dare you to try my product” type of advertising.

When I think about the things that want to make me give up on Facebook, these passive-aggressive posts are at the top of the list. But these proliferate because they are successful at breaking out of all of the noise.

It recently occurred to me that I get the same feeling browsing Facebook that I had while wandering through the strip in Gatlinburg, Tennessee a few years ago. It’s just a mess of competing novelties that no longer have anything to do with its original purpose.

Look, I’m sure most of you won’t share this post and get the word out of just how awful these passive-aggressive Facebook posts are. I figure that it takes someone with an IQ measured at least 165 to take such a brave course of action.

A few thoughts on the “new” Facebook

I figured I’d give the latest changes to Facebook a day of use before I commented on them. When I saw the changes early yesterday, they didn’t seem so bad. My biggest problem was trying to understand how they worked. I’m a fairly tech-savvy guy and I don’t think it took me too long. I even posted a comment somewhere saying that I didn’t think the changes were all that bad. (There were lots of people complaining yesterday.) However, as the day wore on, the changes started to irritate me, then annoy me, and finally, I grew to dislike them. There are a number of reasons for this, several of which are based on my own experience as a software developer:

  • My screen is way too cluttered. Compare the new look of Facebook with the new look of Google apps like Gmail, Docs, Google+, etc. The latter looks much less cluttered, the screen more clear and readable. This is important because you can only take in so much information at once. Everything else becomes distraction.
  • The definitions are too ambiguous. What is a “top story?” If you select the pull-down menu next to a post you’ll get several options. One option is to show all posts by the user. Another option is to show “most” posts (see image below). What does it mean to show “most” posts? What makes a post “important?” How do you know which posts will be shown and which posts won’t be shown? It is way too ambiguous for me.Facebook Menu.PNG
  • The “Ticker” is too distracting. I do like that I can make updates or see photos directly from the Ticker, but I still find it too distracting.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any kind of rollout communication strategy. Google has gotten particularly good at making its users aware of upcoming changes and how those changes will be rolled out. They often make blog posts describing their new features and changes and explaining why they have made the change. With Facebook, the change just appears unannounced without anything more than a few popups to explain what’s going on. Furthermore, with Google, you usually have the opportunity to preview changes before they go into effect, and sometimes, you can keep the old look and feel even after the changes take place. Not so, Facebook.

The truth is, for me, that I don’t use Facebook nearly as much as I used to. Sure, my blog posts get relayed there. My tweets get relayed there, but I only check Facebook a few times a day. Most of my social networking time is spent in Twitter. These recent changes from Facebook, along with the changes they introduced for friends lists makes it seem like they got caught with their pants down when Google+ came out and are now working desperately to catch up.

Facebook game requests

For reasons I am not clear on, I have received a flood of game requests for the various games that are played in the Facebook world. To save potential game requesters a little bit of time in the future (and to quote President Obama): “Let me be clear…”

I don’t do Facebook games.

Please don’t take this personally. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s not that the game isn’t clever or has some kind lack of socially redeeming value. It’s not even that the time I’d spent playing the game wouldn’t be of some value. I don’t play Facebook games for the same reason I no longer watch TV (for the most part): I’m too busy with other things: family, work, and writing.

But then again, I must admit, I don’t really have a desire to play these games. I know very little about farms, and I don’t need a game to tell me that I’d be a terrible farmer. I have a fairly decent vocabulary and don’t need a game to reinforce that. (Reading and writing do this for me already.) I love games like Ultima IV and Ultima V, but I don’t think these games are available on Facebook and even if they were, I couldn’t risk playing them because I am weak and would become too easily addicted. I don’t enjoy pyramid games where I have to go recruiting other people to help me with a task. I do this enough in my day job.

The bottom line is that family, writing and work are my priorities and these fill my day from beginning to end. In order to play games on Facebook I’d have to sacrifice one of these three things and the fact is that these are too important to me to sacrifice.

So I humbly request that you save your postage and leave me off your Facebook game requests. If you think there is something I’d really like or absolutely must see, send me a message about it. But even then, odds are I just don’t have the time.

Thanks for thinking of me. It is appreciated, but folks, my dance card is full.

Facebook/Twitter integration FAIL: a quick fix?

Yesterday my integration between Twitter and Facebook broke once again. This morning, rather than go through the elaborate steps I worked out last time, the IT guy in me rebelled and decided to experiment. Here’s a simply fix that I tried (in intuition) and in this case, it worked for me:

  1. Go to Facebook
  2. Go to Apps
  3. Click on Twitter
  4. Under Apps Permissions UNCHECK Facebook Profile
  5. When the litte spinner stops spinning, RECHECK Facebook Profile

That’s it. Once I did that it jogged loose whatever was wrong with the integration and when I tweeted 20 seconds later, it showed up on Facebook instantly.

If you are running into integration trouble, I’d give this a try first.

Twitter-to-Facebook integration FAIL

Over the last few days, a lot of people have been experiencing a major FAIL relaying tweets from Twitter to Facebook. I experienced this annoying failure as well, and here are the steps I took to fix it two days ago:

From Facebook

  1. Go to Apps -> Twitter
  2. Disconnect the app (click the “Want to disconnect…?” link toward the top of the app screen)
  3. When prompted to confirm, click OK
  4. Logout of Facebook: Account -> Logout

From Twitter

  1. Settings -> Connections
  2. Under Twitter for Facebook, click Revoke Access
  3. Sign out of Twitter

From Facebook

  1. Sign in
  2. Go to Apps -> Twitter
  3. Sign into the app (Twitter username/password)
  4. Click Allow
  5. App permissions -> Check Facebook Profile (be sure to wait for the spinner next to the check box stop spinning)
    • If you get a popup here, follow the instructions. I didn’t get a popup box every time I did this

From Twitter

  1. Sign in
  2. At this points, Tweets should go to Facebook

Note: this worked for me when I followed these steps a few days ago. The integration seems to be messed up again this morning, but it looks like it has to do with issues on the Twitter side. I’ve been getting some timeouts even accessing the Twitter site, so issues today may be different from what was going on a few days ago.

I don’t do Facebook games

Since the number of requests that I receive to participate in various Facebook games seems to be going up, I thought I’d take a brief moment to make my position of Facebook games unequivocally clear:

I don’t do Facebook games.

This is nothing personal. But if you were to take a look at my schedule, you’d have a better idea why: I have a fulltime day job. I get home from work in the evenings, spend time with the family and then when they go to bed, I begin my night job, as a professional science fiction writer. Where there are small stretches of free time, I read. I no longer have time to watch TV or see a movie, let alone spend hours playing games in Facebook.

So, if you are inviting people to join your Mafia War, or your Social Empire, or your barn-raising in Farmville, do me a small favor and leave me off the list. It would be most appreciated.

Meme for a Friday morning: 44 odd things

(Posted via LiveJournal)

44 ODD Things about you! If you opened this, FILL IT OUT! Learn 44 things about your friends, and let them learn 44 things about you! Tag the person that sent it plus others.

  1. Do you like blue cheese? I’m indifferent.
  2. Have you ever been drunk? Yes
  3. Do you own a gun? No
  4. What flavor of Kool Aid was your favorite? I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid (sorry, couldn’t resist).
  5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? No
  6. What do you think of hot dogs? The ones you get in Central Park are the best
  7. Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas
  8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Orange juice
  9. Can you do push ups? Yes.  Currently 60 when I do upper body workouts
  10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring, which is also my only piece of jewelry
  11. Favorite hobby? Reading (I would have said writing, but since I get paid to do this now, I consider it more an avocation and less a hobby)
  12. Do you have A.D.D.? No
  13. What’s your favorite shoe? The right one
  14. Middle name? Todd
  15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? (1) 12 minutes to lunch; (2) long list of things to do this weekend; (3) come on, come up with  a third one already.
  16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Water, Caffeine-free Coke, Chocolate Milk
  17. Current worry? Will I get all of this work done in time?
  18. Current hate right now? Nothing comes to mind
  19. What do you wish for in the coming year?  A healthy baby boy!
  20. How did you bring in the New Year? Hung out with friends
  21. Where would you like to go? To meetings of the Futurians in the late 1930s.
  22. Three people who will complete this? Eric, Kelly, Ryane
  23. Do you own slippers? Yes
  24. What color shirt are you wearing right now? Blue
  25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Don’t know if I’ve ever slept on them
  26. Can you whistle? Yes
  27. Favorite color? Some shade of green
  28. Would you be a pirate? No
  29. What songs do you sing in the shower? Many, although more often than not, "You Gotta Start off Each Day with a Song", Jimmy Durante style.
  30. Favorite girl’s Name? No particular favorite
  31. Favorite boy’s name? Jamie
  32. What’s in your pocket right now? Left pocket, my "wallet".  Right pocket, my iPhone
  33. Last thing that made you laugh? Something I read
  34. Best bed sheets as a child? I don’t know what this means.
  35. Worst injury you’ve ever had as a child?  Stitches in my head from getting a rock tossed at me
  36. What are your plans for the future? (1) to raise a happy, healthy family; (2) to become a well-known science fiction writer; (3) to retire someday so that I can write full time.
  37. Do you walk around the house naked? No
  38. Who is your loudest friend? Andy
  39. How many dogs do you have? None
  40. Does someone have a crush on you?  My wife might
  41. What is your favorite book?  Fiction: Forward the Foundation; Non-fiction: In Memory Yet Green/In Joy Still Felt.  Really, there are too many to choose from.  The best I can do is point you here.
  42. What is your favorite candy? Necco Wafers
  43. Favorite Sports Team? New York Yankees
  44. What song do you want played at your funeral? "I Love To Laugh" (Marry Poppins edition)