Social media overdose

Of late, I was contemplating upon how I seem to have no time for the things I want to do. While I’m guilty of whiling away time playing games or watching TV, these are things that eat up my time consciously. But, even these activities do not seem to add up to all the time lost doing things I don’t even consider productive. And so, I have begun a hunt to track down those certain activities which are stealing my time.

All this may sound ridiculous – that’s how I felt at the beginning too. I discovered a trend in the way I assimilated/operated on information (mostly restricted to information on the internet). There are many ways in which I obtain information from the vastness of the internet. Many of these are not the direct source of the information but they are aggregates such as Google Reader Feedly, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email newsletters, and the search giant Google itself.

In truth, my predicament is a direct result of the way in which I consumed information from these sources. Through Feedly, I found an effective way to subscribe to a website’s updates via RSS. This is perhaps the least distracting of all my methods. Because, here, I find just the content that I wish to read – no ads*, related articles, or “unwanted” links.

Email newsletters to an extent behave the same way. I receive regular updates from sources that I have subscribed to. And the new Gmail interface definitely helped reduce clutter in my inbox.

Google or any search engine, in general, is an opt-in method of looking for information. I go there only to find something I want to know more about. For instance, my most recent visit to Google was to find a solution to the annoying upgrade problem that Evernote has on windows!

Twitter is where I follow like-minded people and is where I get most of the information related to programming and technology. The good thing about twitter is if you followed the right people, you’ll get curated information that is worthy of reading. Not just the 140-character message, but also the links that are shared there.

Google+ hasn’t probably received the widespread adoption that Google has hoped for, but this has helped me in some way. Google+ is more like twitter. You add people to circles synonymous with following someone on twitter as opposed to adding a friend and being approved – like on Facebook. I mainly follow Android, Google related sources on G+.

And then there’s Facebook. Facebook is an unpaid, overly curious, seductive and yet unconcerned psychiatrist! It’s free. It accepts any bullshit you spew. It mesmerizes you to return to it often. And yet it remains distant to who you really are. In short, it is an extremely glorified shrink!

Unlike
It’s not you, it’s me.

Honestly, I do not have a problem with it. Like I said before, it has more to do with the way I process information than how Facebook is to be perceived – It is probably doing exactly what it was designed to do. And so, much of what can be found on Facebook is more opinionated and less informative. And I’ve had it! Here’s to a hiatus from Facebook – “I’m sorry dear. It’s not you, it’s me.”

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Google Chrome impressive! Download it now!

Google spread its wings into the browser market today with a pretty impressive and promising package – Chrome. The browser being truly fast, redefines speed. With a load of amazing features, it stands up give a tough fight to Firefox and Internet Explorer. Google released a comic strip to introduce the new browser and all its features: Read it here.

Here is the list of its features in a nutshell:

1. Impressively fast; beats Firefox!
2. The architecture looks promising! Read the comic to know more.
3. Flash, Java and JS applications loads very quickly!
4. Each tab runs on a process of its own, and the browser comes with a built-in process manager to view what website is using more system resources! -Truly innovative!
4. Enhances the Firefox-like location bar to suggest searches, URLs from bookmarks and also from top google searches.
5. By default, a new tab shows the top websites visited by the user and also, recent web searches and most-used web searches.
6. Web applications like GMail works quicker. Hotmail is yet to recognize the browser and shows up a warning saying that the browser may be incompatible and proceeds to the classic version – which seems pretty fast as well.

With Google’s entry into the browser market, the war is expected just to get bigger and the competition much more intense! Conclusively, whatever results from this, eventually benefits the consumer. 🙂

Moreover, Google uses Webkit framework for building Chrome and better yet, it is open source; making way for further rapid updates!

Like Ishwar just pointed out: “The days of ‘Google dominates earth’ is not far..” 🙂

WordPress.com — What’s happening?

Up until now, wordpress.com (not .org!) was THE best blogging community out there. I wonder why the people at WordPress.com are trying to undo all the good name that they have amassed after all these years of hard work?

I was always irked by the fact that WP.com introduced many ‘updates’ without any documentation about it. You either have to go to the Support Forums to find out, or search for a post in Matt’s blog, or visit several other official and unofficial WP related blogs. And to think of the fact that many people don’t even know about such things even after years of being with WP.com is very saddening.

Things you probably did not know:

1. ‘Invisible’ Ads on Your Blogs

WordPress makes money out of your blogs; forget giving a share of it to you, they don’t even inform you about the ads! If you are wondering that you have never seen ads on your blog, then it happens so that WP.com members do not see ads. And its only other visitors who see them. (http://faq.wordpress.com/2005/12/08/adsense/) Here’s what Matt has to say about this: http://wordpress.com/blog/2006/09/06/on-ads/ (Also read the comments and replies)

I’m really not worried about WP.com using my blog to make money from it. Especially since they host my blog for me and the hosting has been impeccable with absolutely no downtime that I have experienced ever since my time at WP.com. However, I’m a little frustrated and a lot worried, and more disappointed.

Why am I frustrated?
I’m frustrated because, nobody was notified about this properly. Also, like I said, I’m OK with WP.com publishing ads on my page to make a little money, but something isn’t really right here. Why stop users from making money from their blogs when they can do it? Why not at least split the earnings; as it is, its our content that WP.com is capitalizing on. I really am baffled at their policy of not allowing members to have their advertisements on the blogs.

Why am I worried?
We all know that Google Adsense is a contextual advertising system. Which actually means that they serve ads based on the content of our website. This system is inaccurate when trying to find relevant ads for the page. For instance, you may see links to unwanted sites (probably even adult/porn sites), which is not really something I’d want my readers to see. And especially since these ads are not under my control, I can definitely not do anything about it. (I won’t even know if or when such ads are shown — see why I’m frustrated)

Why am I disappointed?
Ads are not something that are really pleasant on a personal blog as mine. I’d keep it clean and not make money out of it at all rather than giving my visitors reasons to believe that I’m trying to make money out of a post which has no niche value attached to it.

2. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

This is a very naive approach by WP.com and I really do not understand what they stand to gain from this. (Interestingly enough, we have a ‘possible announcement’ (Seems like Matt’s not sure if he has to announce it!) about it: http://wordpress.com/blog/2008/04/25/possibly-an-announcement/) And please people at WordPress, if you are listening, please do not list this under WP.com features. ‘Cause its bloody damn not! I’d have rather welcomed this update if it brought up related posts from our own blogs, but having a computer decide how my post could be related to the links that come up is so naive. Blogging for me, is a personal experience. I’m not providing content to the public domain, so I’m pretty against this feature right now.

If you actually read the comments on the ‘possible announcement’, here’s what FireFly said:

When I read about this, I was enthused. What a great way to find new blogs!

But then I saw that my hit statistics were reflecting that a racist, white supremacist blog was linking to me through the autolinks. There seems to be no quality control applied to the autolinks other than keywords. When you’re a woman of colour blogging about racial justice, this means that the feature is actually putting you in danger from people who have their interests set against yours. (In fact, white supremacists have attacked other woc bloggers in the past.)

So because of the irresponsibility of this feature, I have to either turn it off and lose a potentially powerful means of networking with other bloggers, or accept the risk that I might be the target of a racist attack. Catch-22.

There are quite a few woc bloggers who use WordPress who I imagine have similar concerns.

And Matt replied:

Fire Fly, that’s terrible! We’ll be rolling out a feature shortly that allows you to block blogs to protect you against something like this.

Again, shouldn’t the related posts be disabled until you roll out your new feature, Matt?

Robin said:

What happens when I end up with a link to a blog on a topic I can’t stand? We have links on our blogs already. We can control where those links go. I don’t like stuff I’m unfamiliar with showing up in my blog.

Matt’s reply:

Robin, right now you can’t do anything, but shortly we’ll be adding a feature that allows you to filter out certain blogs from showing up.

Matt, it would be awesome if we could actually choose the blogs to allow, rather than choose the ones to disallow.

I have currently turned this feature off. If you would like to do it too, here’s how:
Go to: Dashboard
Click tab labeled: Design
Click on tab labeled: Extras
Click “Hide Related Links”
Save changes.

And by the way, the announcement doesn’t tell you how to disable it!

3. Opt IN or Opt OUT?

I agree that people at WP.com put in a lot of time and effort to build really good features and manage them. However, one thing that I don’t understand is the fact that, whenever a new feature is rolled out, it is by default enabled to all the blogs! WP.com does not consider if there are members who wouldn’t need the features. They enable it for all blogs and give us an option to disable it. (Eg: Possibly related posts!) This is more like making us eat sh** and giving us an option to spit it if we don’t like it.

Wouldn’t it rather be nice if there was an announcement about the feature and instructions on how to enable it?

4. make this blog your-personalized-blog.com for just $15 per year.

One thing I noticed new in my dashboard today was the above statement. It was OK; it was a way of letting people know of the upgrades. But then, each time I visited my dashboard the line just stayed there. Until it forced me to click on the link, and read about the upgrade of domain mapping (which I already had). Why was it shown incessantly, until I clicked on it? Are things being forced upon members at WP.com?

That’s all for now. I guess wordpress found me in a bad mood today. I vented a lot of frustration at the Support Forums, and also created this post! I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings. I really love wordpress. And I’m just unhappy with the way things are being handled here right now. Hope things turn out to become better.

Update:

More WP bloggers disappointed with the recent update:

Google Talk Secrets!

Google TalkGoogle Talk. Try it!

In a few words, Google Talk, rather Gtalk, is an amazingly simple tool which acts as an Instant Messenger, PC-to-PC phone, File sharing software, which also provides you with real-time email (GMail) updates and also, scrapbook updates for Orkut users.

90% of the people who already use Gtalk are not aware of all its hidden secrets! Below is a list of a few I compiled. I recently found a website, CustomizeTalk, which is dedicated to Gtalk users. It provides a lot of information to customize, and control Gtalk overall behavior; from start-up to its looks!

One very interesting feature is the simultaneous logging in of multiple accounts. Here is how you do it:

1. Create a shortcut for Gtalk on your desktop. (Or any preferred location of your choice)

2. Right-Click on the shortcut and click on Properties. (Or select the shortcut and press Alt+Enter) This should bring up the properties for the shortcut.

3. In the target field, add /nomutex. And click OK.

4. Use the shortcut to start Gtalk. Now you can run multiple Gtalk instances all with different accounts.

For more such interesting tips: http://www.customizetalk.com/index.php?page=tips

I’m also using a chat theme I happened to like on the website. Its called G3.

Click here to download it. (You’ll also find alternative forms of the same theme too.) Here’s a preview:

G3

Two Interesting news clips..

How to Lose Control Over Your Computer After Watching Porn

OK, so you’re watching porn. Nobody blames you for that but you might become a porn hater after visiting one of the websites described in the following lines. Yes, I know, it may sound impossible for many of you but read this: a pornographic website can seriously damage users’ computers and steal their money. How? It’s simple. It seems like some adult websites are inviting the consumers to a three-days trial to access the material published on the website. The only requirement is the software provided by the service which must be downloaded and installed on the computer. No problem until this point, no infection, no threat.

After the free trial, the disaster begins. According to Seth Purdy of McAfee, the software installed on the system requires the user to subscribe for an additional 90 days period for a price of approximately $80. Since some of the consumers might refuse to do so, they are attacked with numerous popups asking for subscription. No problem, you might say, I close them and that’s it. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but that’s not possible. The popups remain on top of other windows and can’t be resized, closed or moved.

The interesting fact is that the danger raised by the popups is even mentioned in the Terms of Conditions displayed on the website but avoided by most consumers since they are not opened before the download is started.

“If You choose to ignore the payment reminders and do not pay the Membership Fee, You hereby understand and acknowledge that the prompt reminders may become more frequent and that You may lose the ability to use Your computer until You have submitted payment. The payment reminders will be active while your computer is online or offline,” one paragraph reads according to the McAfee official.

Want Porn? Install Google Pack!

Let’s suppose you’re browsing a website and you see an invitation to view a free porn clip (naughty but let’s admit it, it happens…). What are you doing? You click on it and try to load the movie. But what if an error pops-up and tells you that a proper codec was not found and you’re advised to install Google Pack? So, what do you want to do now? You install Google Pack because you want to view the pornographic clip. Sex sells, no matter whether it attracts you directly or through Google Pack. That’s right, Google Pack is only a way to bring money to the owner of the page who discovered a simple, smart and malicious way to earn money.

Alex Eckelberry wrote on the Sunbelt Blog that some website owners are inviting consumers to download Google Pack in order to view a porn movie. In case you don’t know, webmasters can easily earn money by implementing Google products referrals into their pages and, once a user installs a software, the publisher receives a certain amount of money. But the Mountain View company strictly prohibits this kind of trick to attract users and the websites should be banned very soon.

“In this case, one can assume it pays as well or better to push this legitimate application as it is to push malware (I’m sure that these folks would be pushing malware if the money was there, as it’s all about money). Intriguing that Google’s high affiliate commissions are in competition with malware,” the Sunbelt official wrote.

Sure, installing Google Pack is pretty useful because it contains numerous software solutions such as Google Earth, Norton Security Scan, Google Desktop, Adobe Reader, Skype, StarOffice and many other utilities. But from inviting users to download Google Pack because it’s useful to luring them to download it for watching a porn movie there is Google’s terms which strictly prohibit these kinds of activities.

“Google has been contacted about this rogue affiliate and I expect the affiliate will be down very rapidly — Google’s responses on these matters are very rapid,” Alex Eckelberry added.

Courtesy: Softpedia