Social Media: What is it Really – Threat or Menace?

May 30, 2012

And hey, Charley, I think about you
Every time I pass a fillin’ station
On account of all the grease
You used to wear in your hair

I’m a social media skeptic and find it hard to fathom the valuations of the giants in this arena. So, of course, I’m attracted to the disconfirming story. Like the one that Olga Kharif reports on in Bloomberg Business Week, “Lifejacking’: Spammers Hit Social Media.”

How about a guy who sells anti-spam software claiming that 40% of the accounts on the social media titans Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are created by spammers? So says Mark Risher, CEO of Impermium, who knows about a company that has just the right solution for your self-diagnosed problem.

I just wished there’d been some effort to independently source his 40% estimate.

I used to live across the street from a barber shop on Ninth Street, right above a dirty bookstore off Euclid Avenue, and the owner there thought 85% of the men he saw in the street needed a haircut.

As one commenter asked: Can you imagine how many megawatts are wasted every day in server farms all across the world handling all of this social media crap? Why aren’t the climate-commies, green-weenies and Occupy pukes protesting that?

Don’t sugar-coat it, pal. Tell us how you really feel. This is in the grand old comedy tradition created by Steve Allen, who would read particularly incensed letters from the New York Daily News in the 1950s and 1960s. The construction of “climate-commie, green-weenie, Occupy pukes” is just masterful.

If I had written it I would have gone more rhythmically with “greenie-weenies” and that would have been a bridge too far, certainly.

And I still have that record
of Little Anthony & the Imperials
But someone stole my record player
Now how do you like that?

Or, for your consideration, from the site Guyism, the slide show 7 Ways You Didn’t Realize the Internet Was Eating Your Privacy. I think this is info that’s not just for guys.

And let’s not even mention Henry Ford and his 1920 publication, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem. “If fans wish to know the trouble with American baseball, they have it in three words—too much Jew,” wrote Henry Ford on May 22, 1920. I guess he’d like the current line-up better? It’s certainly not dominated by the Sons of Abraham.

I said, let’s not even mention that!






The Commercial Limits of the Internet – “The Facebook Illusion” by Ross Douthat in The New York Times

May 27, 2012

“There were two grand illusions about the American economy in the first decade of the 21st century. One was the idea that housing prices were no longer tethered to normal economic trends, and instead would just keep going up and up. The second was the idea that in the age of Web 2.0, we were well on our way to figuring out how to make lots and lots of money on the Internet. The first idea collapsed along with housing prices and the stock market in 2007 and 2008. But the Web 2.0 illusion survived long enough to cost credulous investors a small fortune last week, in Facebook’s disaster of an initial public offering.”

Of course, I’m not on Facebook and I’m no fan of social media in general, so I’m primed to seek out disconfirming evidence of its success. (And let’s be honest, a company started by a 19 year-old in his Harvard dorm room in 2004 that made a billion dollars a year in 2011 is, by any measure, a success – whatever its future prospects).

For those reasons I tend to fall under the sway of the sort of arguments made by Ross Douthat in The New York Times “The Facebook Illusion.”  Read his piece and see what your take is. It confirms my prejudices so I think it’s clearly correct and expertly reasoned. Obviously, Facebook is Evil. Remember, you read it here first.

I’m also a huge fan of Thorstein Veblen’s seminal work The Theory of the Leisure Class. So I just love stuff like this:

 “. . .leisure is clearly the basis of the Internet. From the lowbrow to the highbrow, LOLcats to Wikipedia, vast amounts of Internet content are created by people with no expectation of remuneration.”


Pictaculous – Free Color Palettes Based on Your Images

May 4, 2012

Here’s a nifty little service brought to you by the fine folks at mailchimp, the free email marketing service. It’s called Pictaculous and it does one thing wonderfully well. You upload an image and it spits back a color palette based on it. I find this sort of thing very useful in the early stages of a design project for limiting my color selections to a range of compatible choices. (It’s also a nice way to jump-start a project you may be stuck on).

Restrictions are file formats of png, gif & jpeg only and a file size of 500k. You can download an Adobe Swatch File (.aco format), view the HTML color codes or see what COLOURlovers suggests. BTW, COLOURlovers is a great site to get color inspiration from. They’ve got  over 2 million user-created palettes to scan through.

Americans and their Social Media: Infographic

April 29, 2012

I remain a skeptic about the true value of Social Media to their many users. Collecting all that personal data about us is quite valuable to the Dark Overlords of the Interwebs – I’m looking at you, Mr. Zuckerburg – and, obviously, governments.

It seems to me that a week doesn’t go by without news of someone losing a job, alienating friends, getting caught for criminal activity, or wrecking a marriage or relationship by ‘over sharing’ on Facebook. It also seems just plain sad that so many people have redefined ‘social’ as typing on their keyboards, instead of actually going out of their homes and interacting in the ‘real world.’

Didn’t the Grateful Dead sum this problem up in their November 1970 release, “Truckin'” ?

Most of the cats that you meet on the street speak of true love,
Most of the time they’re sitting and cryin’ at home.
One of these days you know they better get goin’
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Then again, I think most television is an absolute waste of time and – Good Lord! – we Americans seem to spend a third of our lives watching TV. Here’s an infographic that details American usage of Social Media platforms. I’m appalled but your reaction may be different. . .

Click on image for larger size.

How to Bleach Images in Photoshop from Mac|Life

April 21, 2012

The bleached out color effect is a popular one these days and you may have wondered exactly how this is achieved. This tutorial on the “bleach bypass process” by Rob Lawton from the Mac|Life website shows you how to do it in clear, easy to follow steps.

I’ve been a subscriber to their print magazine since it was called MacAddict and was the first American Mac-centric publication to include a CD-ROM with each issue back in 1996.

The editorial tone is far less fannish and insular these days and more accurately reflects the broad appeal of Apple products to the audience beyond the fanboys. They used to have an inane stick-figure mascot named Max and their reviews used to rate software and products from “Blech” to “Freakin’ Awesome.”

At that time it always seemed to me a mash-up of skate-board kulture and computing. Adults would hide their copies behind an issue of the more mainstream and respectable MacWorld (where New York Times tech columnsit David Pogue got his start).

Today no one needs to hide their copies of Mac|Life; it’s been one of the most successful re-brandings of a print publication in this new century, IMO.

WordPress Stats Infographic from Yoast

April 20, 2012

Click image for larger size.

Facebook is Evil: 5 Binding Terms of Service That Should Give You Pause

April 20, 2012

If you know me, and you probably don’t, I think Facebook is evil, as I’ve said before. Any group, online or off, with close to a billion members is one I want to avoid on the Groucho principal:  “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

I was once told that because I wasn’t on Facebook I didn’t exist. This person couldn’t understand my elation at that thought.

She did not grasp that people are only tolerable in strictly limited numbers. As my close personal friend Jean-Paul Sartre is always reminding me,  “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” (I won’t translate, someday you’ll understand). Get a group of them together and what do you have? A mob. And mobs are capable of  the most vicious things imaginable. Except when they gather together for a Zombie Walk. Then they are just swell.

Here’s an article from Business Pundit that lists 5 sections of the Facebook terms of service that should give you pause.

1.) Facebook retains the right to use your content however they see fit, forever.

2.) Facebook tracks you based on where you log in, even after you’ve logged off.

3.) Facebook’s arbitration statement insures that they will never be held liable for any damages you may suffer from their service.

4.) Facebook sells your address, your email, your cell phone number and all other information it collects to third-party developers, external websites and advertisers.

5.) Finally, like most TOS or EULA’s (end user license agreements) Facebook can change their Terms of Service any time without notifying you.

So go ahead. Give your digital life over to Mark Zuckerberg. You can trust him with your intimate relationships, your marriage, your career, your future job prospects, your friends, your family and your reputation. He’d never do anything that might cause you the slightest difficulty. After all, his only concern is making money off you. And when did that ever go horribly, horribly wrong?



Facebook: You Are Not Its Customer, You Are Its Product

February 5, 2012

Now it’s not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It’s about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable. – Lori Andrews

Orwell’s Big Brother is here and instead of coercing you to reveal everything about yourself you do it willingly, eagerly. So you can share pictures and music and private thoughts and brand choices. And play FarmVille and Words with Friends. Good for Zynga and Mark Zuckerberg. But good for you? Didn’t we have ways to do all those things before Facebook, even before the Internet?

I am not on Facebook though I make my living with my software skills and use my Mac every day.

I know people who are afraid of online predators and concerned about online bullying that allow their adolescent children to have Facebook accounts (all their friends are on Facebook, they say). I know people who rail against big government and telemarketers who complain of Facebook “withdrawal” when they can’t access their accounts multiple times during the day.

One of the heaviest Facebook users I know explains that it’s easier to deal with her friends and family via Facebook, instead of say, actually visiting or interacting with them. (I’m sure that’s true). I have had people tell me that I don’t really “exist” because I don’t have a Facebook account “like everyone else.”  These are folks who have never read Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay.

For some reasons to be concerned about Facebook (and social networks in general) I highly recommend this article in the New York TimesFacebook Is Using You  by Lori Andrews, author of  I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy.


The WordPress Journey: Infographic

January 12, 2012

Obviously, I’m a fan of WordPress for content management and as a modular way of creating websites with advanced functionality. Here’s an infographic that gives on overview of WordPress’ development. . .click on image for larger size.

Great Mac Software Bundles – at Great Prices for a Limited Time

December 15, 2011

MacUpdate is offering a bundle of 12 applications, including the essential repair utility Tech Tool Pro 6. A total retail value of  $741 for only $49.99 (a 94% discount, saving you $691). As of this writing you’ve got 6 days to take advantage of this offer.

BundleHunt is also offering 12 applications for $49.99, (95% off a full retail of $1,100). Six are design-oriented and six are general Mac apps. Included are 14 e-books, listed below:

Productive Mac is offering 8 apps for $39.99; you’ve got four days to grab this one. The apps are Fantastical, BusyCal, Home Inventory, Notebook, Default Folder X, LaunchBar, Cashculator and Tags.


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