EJM Designs Limited Blog

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Twitter Headlines: Library of Congress, Retirement, Divorce, iPhone


I know this semi-regular Wednesday feature declares to report on Twitter Headlines, but the fact is that I don't care that Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan show up in my search every week. No. More. Attention. Go talk to Perez Hilton if you're that interested in their shenanigans or that it's news that there is a lack of shenanigans. Granted, if they showed up in the same article...

Tweeting for Posterity

This is a very interesting article about the collection and analysis of Tweets, noting that in April the Library of Congress announced that it will be obtaining the entire archive of Twitter which, as of now, is already 5 terabytes in <= 140-character slices. What an odd slice of human history / culture / eccentricity. I can't wait to see what the culture crunchers have to say in a couple decades.


While I'm reticent to post any vapid celebrity Twitter information, two huge legends of sports and media have decided to announce their retirement through Twitter: Lance Armstrong and Larry King.

Divorce Court

Looks like the lawyers are getting in on the social media scouring we're all starting to get accustomed to. In divorce cases, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and MySpace (jk - no one uses MySpace anymore) are being used as evidence of intent, flirting, and any other behavior that would be relevant in divorce proceedings. But in a world where prospective and current employers and higher education institutions treat a social media search as common as a background or credit check, can anyone say they're surprised by anything except that it took this long?


It appears that 1) iPhone 4 has some problems and 2) there's a fake Steve Jobs Tweeting about a recall. In other news: I'm writing a blog post and the sun will rise tomorrow morning a little later than it did today.

Technology & Politics: Ur Doin it Wrong

In the past few years, and specifically the past few months, technology and those with public voices have not merged quite as well as some of us who work in tech think they should.

The Recent Past

Let's hit a couple popular examples of what we're talking about:

Series of Tubes

Classic, Senator Ted Stevens of AK:

(this was an official argument against Net Neutrality)


The origin of a meme in how politicians understand tech:

Net Neutrality

Aside from the above joy from Sen. Stevens, we've got more on Net Neutrality. In the last few months the American public has been bombarded by radio talk show hosts that have horribly mishandled the reality of the situation. I keep this blog away from politics as often as possible, but when people are not only misinformed but blatantly lying about how technology affects our lives, I get a little fired up (equal opportunity coming 2 sections down).

For the record, Net Neutrality is what we have. Now. Net Neutrality means that as a user, no matter what ISP you're using, internet access to websites - all websites - is equal. As fast as Google or Ebay or YouTube can send, you can receive (as long as you're not - God forbid! - still using dial-up).

But Telecom companies are trying to push the end of Net Neutrality. What if, for instance, Time Warner Cable changed its policy? What if they said "We're purposefully reducing the speed of all internet data transmission by 25%. BUT, if your company wants to write us a big, fat check, we'll let your traffic come through unimpeded."

So Net Neutrality exists now, Telecom companies want it to go away so they can make more money, and somehow it's being twisted into what I've heard on certain talk radio stations: "Net neutrality is going to be passed in Congress to limit your access to websites and control what you see on the internet." And that's not just getting confused or not understanding; it is a deliberately misleading LIE.

Here's a quick video primer on Net Neutrality:

Net Neutrality is a great example of how people are not just misunderstanding technology, but they're misrepresenting technology to those who haven't had the education or haven't done the research. Again: stating that Net Neutrality is a control mechanism is a LIE. The lack of control is the definition of the "neutrality."

Limbaugh on Adwords

You may have seen my post last month on how Rush Limbaugh was twisting the story of Goldmann Sachs and saying that they were controlling Google by purchasing ads on the words.

This is BS. And as an example of concept, I spent a couple hundred dollars purchasing those words to point to that blog post. And my ads were #1 most of the time.

Google Adwords is a very sophisticated system of bidding on keywords or phrases that are linked to ads you create. Anyone with a credit card can choose words, create ads, and have your ad show up at the top of the sponsored results. It does not mean that someone is "buying Google."

Olbermann on Adwords BP

To keep it even in the political spectrum, Keith Olbermann jumped on the same absurd train as Rush Limbaugh to make the claim a couple weeks ago that BP was purchasing the Google search engine.

No, Keith. They are buying Adwords. And anyone can do it. Check out my note above or hire someone who knows something about social media.

And an even worse betrayal of technology on that segment of Olbermann's Countdown was one of his interviewees stating that when they searched for "oil spill," they saw a bunch of stuff on BP. That man said "BP has purchased the algorithm of Google."

I'll allow a minute for you to stare dumbfounded or stop laughing hysterically.

BP is on top of organic searches because they've had years and years to build up relevant content about oil. Simple as that. The Google algorithm is more well protected than the recipe for Coca-Cola or Bush's Baked Beans (argh, save that two-timing talking dog...). Selling "the algorighm of Google" would be akin to selling your own child into slavery. And it's absurd to even suggest such a thing. And if it would ever occur to Google to betray the trust of its dedicated users and fans and "help" someone out, it wouldn't be a pollution-tainted, multi-billion dollar, non-sustainable-energy corporation.

Finally Starbucks is doing Wifi Free

I heard this in passing on a financial radio show last week. The implication was that you always had to pay for Wifi at Starbucks. Actually, if you have one of their rechargeable cards, register it, and have used it in the last 30 days, you get 2 free hours of Wifi every single day.

It wasn't a completely inaccurate statement; you do have to make a purchase in the last 30 days to get the wifi free. However, the inherent ignorance of the statement paired with the speaker's snide commentary made him sound like an uninformed tool. Which, at that moment, he was.

In today's 24-hour media cycle, there are an unfortunate abundance of people who are willing to speak on things that they - and their researchers - know nothing about, especially as it pertains to technology. And they sound silly at best, stupid at most, and lying at worst.

My advice: Hire someone who has a clue; otherwise, you're undermining your own positions. And there are many of us watching. And we will call you out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

MONDAY Videos: Hat Cat, YMCA Classic, Gandalf, Snowboard WIN

Missed the post on Friday, so what better way to start out the week than with those interesting videos?

Kitty + Hat + Cat = Hilarity!

YMCA: Christophers

This one's a few years old, but good all the same.

Gandalf Goes to the World Cup!

And a WIN!

I know we usually focus on FAILs, but this is just too cool.

Have a great week!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Generations & Internets: Collapsing Standards or Just Change?

When I was growing up on usenets and dial-in BBS's, yes there was the birth of the troll, but there was a higher standard of communication. You treated your messages as you might treat a written letter. Now? Not so much. I'm barely into my 30's and I'm feeling what every person before me has felt: the degradation of communication, the irascibility of the younger generation.

For example, take the now-high-ended ideal that someone might spell words correctly in a proper email. Then degrade it with txt-msg'ng language, reduce it to a Facebook pseudo-meme liek [sic] "On 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 I'm going to make the most monumental wish evar" as one of the 500 trite pseudo-groups you now "like" and post the following jpeg I found in my daughter's feed:

were friends

Teaching children to use Photoshop without teaching them art is like teaching someone to fire a rifle without referencing the basics of morality.

You can quote me on that.

(For reference, many "art" classes in schools are now completely computer-based and grammar is not a great focus.)

So how does this saga end? Do we hope that high school and college education (along with our involvement) can properly educate our children - despite social norms - and teach them to maintain standards of communication? Or are we doomed to the fate of Idiocracy?


Any thoughts/feedback would be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Twitter Wednesday: Deplorable!

I was all ready to get back to an old tradition of mine of picking the web headlines clean of Twitter-related headlines and reporting openly to you - and then I saw what was out there. Boo!

My duty is to report, but I'm not even pushing links here the information is so nonsensical and trivial. Really, you're better off - and probably smarter - for NOT having read what is to follow. Okay. Here we go...

Lindsay Lohan has been taking a little time off personally collapsing her celebrity status and found out that she still has some Twitter star power. So she's got that goin' for her. Amanda Bynes announced her 24-year old retirement on Twitter. There's a thin line between barely having acting gigs in the last decade and retirement. It's called unemployment. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev joined Twitter. Huh? Rep. "I'm sorry BP" Joe Barton has a Twitter account. And after apologizing to BP and unapologizing for the apology on Twitter, apparently there was a retraction of the unapology post. Politicians are so good at the technologies (see my upcoming post). Oh, and Kim Kardashian Tweeted "Ewww" about a woman breastfeeding next to her. [Insert vapid celebrity plastic surgery joke here.] And...item! Heidi Montag Accuses Spencer Pratt of Being a Famewhore. Yeah...uh, who? And unsurprisingly, news like the World Cup and that earthquake in Canada that we didn't really quite feel here in Cincinnati is still being disseminated via Twitter.

I warned you that it was mind-numbing. "Huh? What was I reading?" you reply.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Candid: The Loki Keyboard that Bit Me

In Norse Mythology, Loki is the troublemaker, the gadfly, the instigator (in case you needed that reference).


And in day to day reality, I am a fallible tech geek. Some folks who blog - especially those that have a business - hold themselves at a must-be-godlike standard. I understand, however, that occasionally exposing my flaws makes me more human, and we can all do with a little more human in our day to day interactions. It doesn't happen often, so enjoy the story:

Ghost in the Machine

About a month ago, I noticed that I was having some keyboard issues on my workhorse laptop. Specifically, on occasion, when I was trying to do anything from advance between the regular cavalcade of almost a dozen working applications to simply keeping a cursor in a web form, it wasn't working. Things were popping up or shifting fields as though there was a sticking problem in either my ALT or CTRL or TAB keys - or all three.

I would do anything from reboot to pound on the ALT key to scream and invoke Thor to take down this Loki in the machine. (Hey, when you're hand-coding and can't get a "<" out to start an anchor tag, things get a little crazy in the room.) I once did a Trojan scour, found one and thought it was all good - for about 30 minutes. And sometimes it worked, sometimes it faded for a time, sometimes it sent me to the Xbox360 demo of Bayonetta to do some virtual killing of demons with gun-shoes.

Yes, this has been going on for a month. I'd done some rudimentary searches for MS bugs on Vista, but only came up with a few minor operational errors that appeared rare. Bad thing was, when I was hard-up for a solution, I couldn't do a decent search because my keyboard didn't work.

Threshold | Epiphany

And this morning it hit a threshold: waking after a restless night, not yet enough coffee in me, the bug came at me with the first touch of the keyboard. I could send an email with the mouse, but couldn't type the contents; the pressing of buttons resulted in the on/of switch that is CTRL+Space, which takes my English letter combinations and translates them into a selectable tooltip for Asian characters. Basically, I could get absolutely nothing done.

I got another cup of coffee, took a few deep breaths, and - suddenly - it struck me. Not any more monumental than any other epiphany as I was holding back hope for disappointment, but there it was:


With my graphics background on a Quantel Paintbox (pen & board), I have much greater preference for a mouse over the horrible touchpad that is on most laptops. About 6 months ago, I clicked-out my first, wired mouse and switched to a wireless Microsoft one I had previously purchased for my wife. It was a simple setup of a USB plug-in to a wireless receiver to accept input from the mouse ...and paired keyboard.

So, what if...? I went to the storage closet about 20 feet behind my desk, opened it up, and found said keyboard - sitting underneath a box of paperwork. I moved the keyboard to a higher shelf with nothing on top of it.

Guess what? No boxy, no pressy, no Loki.

Without pressure on what I thought was a do-nothing keyboard, the problem stopped: I'd been fighting with a keyboard in the closet with a box on it that was resting on the TAB, SHIFT, CTRL, ALT, and Space keys.

So what's the lesson here? Humanity, by definition, is fallible. Tech-savvy people, by definition, are fallible. And no matter how perplexing and unresolvable the problem you face, you may be surprised by the simplicity of the solution. Just pick up the box that's weighing you down.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Some Inspiration From LOST: Define Yourself!

(No, no spoilers folks)

It's been a few weeks since the finale of LOST and I'm still stewing in the philosophical and metaphysical implications of how it all ended, but something came to me today about the overall character plot of the show that gave me inspiration to write this post.

As the plot went, a plane crashes and the survivors of that mess must survive on a mysterious island. For 6 years, we're shepherded (no pun intended) through the lives of these characters. And one of the more subtle themes that emerges is that many of these characters have allowed others and their surroundings in the "normal" world to define them; they have not worked to write that script themselves.

This goes for politics to branding to you and me in our personal lives: Are you writing the story of your life or are you letting everyone else do it as you passively float through? Are you driving your own bus?

If you are, chances are some focus and push and you could be doing it more efficiently. If you're not? Well, get on the stick! It only takes a little introspection to see who's in charge here. Take that charge. Take it seriously. Define yourself!

And if you've got a brand you want to control then work on that too - write that story too. But step one is self. Just like you can't truly love others without loving yourself, you will have little luck putting a business in order if your house is a mess.

Now get out there and have a great week!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Videos: Pakistani Grover, Butter Jesus, Church Biker Fail

Pakistani Grover

This is amazing and worth every second.

"An incredible mash-up from Pakistan. Grover and friends do some shaking to a 'Sufiyan English' song from a 1970s Pakistani film."
h/t to BoingBoing

Big Butter Jesus

And if you've been at all conscious this week and live around Cincinnati (or caught it on various national news programs), Touchdown Jesus, a.k.a. Big Butter Jesus went up in flames when it was struck by lightning Monday evening. Here's Haywood Banks' classic to some video:

Church Biker Fail

And since I know and you know you're here for a decent FAIL, let's keep with the religious theme and give you the church biker:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Graphic FAIL: Tara Medium

Had this image hanging around in my drafts. Unfortunate in that the glimmer makes the "a" read as a "d."

Tara Medium or Tard?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Videos: McDonald's Old Style, Hockey Guys, Pool Jump FAIL

4-year Old McDonald's Burger

I watched Super Size Me and it did not do what this video did for me. I will NEVER touch McDonald's (or much other fast food) ever again. Evar.

Hockey, Guys!

I feel kinda bad for this guy, guys. Guys?

...of course that's not as bad as the legendary Boom Goes The Dynamite!

Pool Jump

And since you're actually here for a serious FAIL, here you go:

Have a great weekend!