Category Archives: Personal

When is being #108,067 considered an “early adopter”?

I recently received a great email from Reid Hoffman- Founder of Linked In.  Ok, granted it was a form letter, but it was nice none the less.
It said that I was number 108,067 in joining Linked In, and that is quite a milestone considering that LI just passed 100MM members.

It’s interesting as I’ve watched the social networking landscape change over time.  I recall being in Chicago in 1998 when a friend of mine- John Stoiber- had the idea for relationship based site.  Of course no one listened to him (primarily I believe because he was in Chicago, and not the Valley).

I recall as well (with a bit of personal disdain), being at Stanford speaking on a panel.  There was also someone speaking as well- some “kid” named Mark Zuckerberg.  Espousing on about something called “TheFacebook”.
Of course, I thought that was nothing more than really taking the Harvard Freshman handout and putting it online.  That surely wouldn’t work.

Not that a new network wasn’t needed, as it clearly was.  There was a massive pent up frustration in MySpace, and it just wasn’t working.

I had at the time something called 6Bacon (6 degrees of separation; 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon), anyway you get the idea.  This platform had multi-friend buckets, online geo-targeting and maps, channel ability, and all sorts of functionality (some of which still don’t exist to this day).

Alas, I picked the wrong team to help execute on that, and the company never gained traction.

Now, I read about Quora, Path, and the newly funded Color.com (by the way, congratulation Peter), and I find myself thinking….here we go again.

There is indeed a need for something that replaces Facebook- and it again “CLEARLY” can be done and beaten.

By the time your parents and grand parents are now in FaceBook and you face the dilemma to accept them or not, it’s time for a new cool factor platform.

Hmmmm, I wonder what’s next?

Can facebook be beaten at it’s own game?

The movie is out, and the debate has begun.

Is Mark Zuckerberg a rebel visionary with an unwavering focus on the future who did what he needed to do to be successful (as the younger generation viewed him after the movie), or a tragic figure who lost himself and his soul, as well as his only friend, on the way to world dominance (as the older generation saw him).

Is Facebook really the end all, beat all juggernaut that some people think it is?

Well, I for one, would claim absolutely not.

Can it be beaten?  Is there a bigger better mouse trap out there?

Always.

I question where the “revolution” will start.

Or is it a rebellion?

I’ve long contended Facebook “does not work”.

When I make that claim people look at me as if I’m crazy.

The argument is easy, and more so around what facebook isn’t, than what it is.
Let’s begin with the younger generation.  This was the group that lead into MySpace.  FB started with the .edu mandate to join, again as a focus on the younger generation.

What is happening how?  There is a pent up desire for kids to leave.  You can just hear them starting to scream…..this isn’t your same old facebook anymore.  Why?
When your teacher, and employer are on your social network, it’s bad enough.  However, the moral dilemma that occurs when you get your “friend request” from your MOM!!!  Or Grandmother.  Or Aunt…

Well, that’s almost too much for the cool crowd to handle.

Yes, that starts to make FB “uncool”, which means the tastemakers, mavens, and trendsters are looking for the next cool place to be.

On the business side- well where should I start?

I stopped using facebook very much (well, actually I never started), because it’s a non-functioning mess.
Why?  Here is a list of reasons I think FB doesn’t work well for a business side.

1-      They STEAL your contacts.  Yes, that’s right steal.  How?  If you try to use the friend finder function with your outlook contacts, FB will take “ALL “ of your contacts and email an invitation to them.  That’s right- ALL!   To complicate matters, FB continues to send this “invitation” out from you inviting everyone to join.  This is friends, family, employer’s, girlfriends, wives, ex’s, yes…everyone!  Can you stop this?  NOPE!  There is no functioning way to stop the invitations.

2-      No way to email your friends?  Yes, you can post to a wall, and that information gets lost in a jumbled mess.  So, you’re all excited you have a few thousand friends- can you email them?  Nope!

3-      So, you can’t email all your friends, and all your friends are invited in.  Can you “export” your friends?  Can you export the email of “your” supposed contacts?  NOPE!  FB OWNS!! Your contacts.  Yes, you can have 5,000 friends.  How do you get the email out?  One contact at a time.  And you think they are your friends?  Yes, you’ve bought into the FB Kool-Aid.

4-      The email client SUCKS!  I have people who constantly want to email me in facebook?  Why?   The email gets lost in the 50-80 email invitation, announcement, evites, etc. that I get per day.  You can’t effectively search, sort, file, or organize the email.  Why in the world would you ever use FB for email?

5-      Luckily this is gone—but for the longest time if I got hit with one more octopus, kissed by a sheep, or asked to water some stupid persons plant…well, I would have started my own mafia war against the people sending me the stupid crap.

6-      Friend map?  Business map?  I think they may be fixing this with their location services, but why in the heck have I not been able to just click on a map and see all of my friends or associates and see where they are?

7-      Like button?  This one is killing me!  Just because I click like on something doesn’t mean I want every post, comment, and dribble related to that person.  If I click on like, the EVERY response and EVERY person that replies to that post, ends up in a notification to me.  I just wanted to say  I like something- not that I now want the puke of information associated with it.  Any way to turn that feature off?  Nope!

8-      Simple functionality of getting out of a group?  NOPE.  For some reason I’m part of about 80 groups.  I’m still not sure how I ended up in them, but I’m there.  So, in an effort to clean that up, I tried to remove myself from the group.  Has anyone else tried that?

9-      Fake profiles and fan pages.  Yep, that’s right.  If you become a bigger and bigger name- whether it’s a tech titan or entertainer- there is no way to stop fake profiles or fan sites.  So, even if you are “really” in FB with a fan page, there is no assurance that yours will be the only one with your name.  Want to talk about damage control issues?  It’s only a matter of time till someone creates a fake fan page for a celebrity, gets thousands of friends, and then does or posts something nefarious as a way to destroy that person.

10-   Friend buckets?  Yes, you can finally organize your friends in lists.  However you still can’t email that “list” or group, or export it, or put a friend in multiple lists, so there is really no way to organize FB as a communication tool.

11-   Everything, posted to everyone, every time.  Again, this is back to control of information.  Every time you accept a friend, like something, or make a post- you’re entire friend list is notified.  As much as FB talks about privacy controls, this is one area they have still never addressed.  Why is the important?  Well in Ken’s case (as an example and to see if anyone is really still reading my own dribble at this point), let’s say Ken Rutkowski likes….Glee!!  (which he does actually).  If he “likes” Glee on the facebook page- does he really want his entire network to be notified of that?  I would argue quite possibly not.

12-   Filtered friend posts?  Again, this one may be finally fixed, but I’m not sure.  To have the ability to “pick” the feeds or posts you want from only certain friends, would certainly help make the puke post page more relevant from a business sense.

13-   Organized content?  Yes, you can create photo albums.  And you can upload video.  And you can post comments.  BUT…can you organize ALL of that together for easy reference?  Of course not!  What do I mean?  Simple example- Let’s say you are on a panel at a great event.  You have some cool pictures from the event, and the panel and the party.  You have a couple of video clips of you speaking.  And you wrote some brilliant posts that show amazing insight.  Where does all of that reside on FB?  In a solid, jumbled, and unconnected mess.  Wouldn’t it make sense to be able to create a “channel” where ALL of the content with that activity is aggregated together?  You could have a family channel, a business channel, a speaking channel, etc.

14-   Controlled access to your channel?  From #13 above, if you had a family channel- where you had family photos, etc.  Would you want your entire network to have access to that?  NO!  You should be able to control who can access what content.

15-   Friends, Family, and Business.  Are they all the same?  Would you want the same information shared with each?  I would say not.  So, in the end, you may end up with TWO FB profiles.  One that is only family, and one that is more public or for business.  You end up trying to manage two profiles.  However, my guess is most of us here are early adopters, so we joined FB early.  That means our friends are one big coalesced mess.  If I wanted to create a private and family profile at this point, it would be almost impossible.  I could go through and select and email a notice to the friends I want to move over.  So, yes, I’m stuck.

Anyway, I don’t want to go on and on…as I do have work to get done.  If any of you have made it this far down…then you’ve wasted enough time too.  Get back to work.

And ps- Playing and posting in Facebook is not work.

The Food Police? Where does it stop?

There is a movement afoot (of course in the basket of Liberalism called San Fransisco), to regulate fast food locations that sells toys in the meals (ala Happy Meals and McDonalds).

Here is a link to the article- http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2010-08-13-kidsmeals13_ST_N.htm

I find it interesting that the study conclude the kids like the toys better than the food.  Thus, the food and the establishment become the target?

Huh?  Let’s force the fast food company to provide “better” nutritional value in the meals?

I’m just curious why it is the responsibility of the location, and NOT the parent?  It’s not the kid who drives to Mcdonalds, orders a Happy Meal, and Pays for it.  Is it?

No, it’s the Parents!

If the parents wanted something more nutritional, they would cook at home.  Go to wholefoods.  Order a salad.
No, the parents order for the kids because it’s “easy”.
It’s the same parent who has the “choice” to choose any of the food items on the menu.
Yes, let’s see…..”Umm…I’ll take the #1 Happy Meal with the bunless veggie burger and apple slices for my child, and can I have the um….#4 Double value big mac, make it super large, and what the heck throw in an apple pie so I won’t feel guilty forcing my kid to eat apple slices!”

Once again, it’s an attack and effort to “control” and regulate the problem, as opposed to realizing it’s the “source” (read Parents), who are the real problem.
Where is this world headed?

The use of Social Networking Tools

In an attempt to expand my online universe, I decided to upload a contact file into Facebook and use the friend finder.  After MANY unsuccessful attempt to just “upload” the file, I was finally successful.

A quick tip for anyone trying-

1- your file has to be a CSV

2- it can only contain the email field

3- it can’t be over 5,000 records.

This last point was painfully relevant as my database contains about 9,500 names.

After finally getting that figured out, the upload was complete.

The next step….selecting the “friends” I wanted to invite.

Unfortunately, here comes the vagrancies of a social network.  It is their job to GROW!!!  Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are on a mission to have more people.

Thus, while trying to judiciously select the friend to invite, facebook notified me of my great “success”.

What was that success?  It has now sent out an invitation to EVERYONE in my contact list.

Not very clear or concise on how to invite friends.  And I believe it is done intentionally and insidiously.

So, for anyone who received my invite, and either wishes to decline, or doesn’t remember meeting me- I apologize and understand.

I’m now staring at a screen for LinkedIn think- what to do next?  I surely hope it is a more clear path to selection.

Another example of a poorly run Government Program

I am constantly confounded by the way Government runs and handles programs.  While this is not a partisan attack of one administration or another, it is certainly an attach of the current one creating the process.

The current housing market is a “prime” (pun intended) example of just such.

The process of rewriting or reworking a mortgage for a home owner is onerous, confusing, and shrouded in mystery.

I can attest to that, as I have tried in vain to get some resemblance of help on my house in Chicago.  The company I have currently- American Home Mortgage, is in receivership.

That means not only can they not attempt a modification, they have- according to the Obama scorecard- helped exactly ZERO homeowners.

Yes, there is indeed a problem.

The following article does a good job of outlining the issues and challenges.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35062033/ns/business-mortgage_mess//

Take a look at the following paragraph for the steps in sequence.  I especially like the use of the word “simple” in the first sentence.  If it were so simple, why is nothing getting done?

“Saving a home from foreclosure can be as simple as rewriting a costly, high-rate subprime loan to prevailing mortgage market rates. If that doesn’t bring the payment to within roughly 31 percent of a homeowners’ monthly income, HAMP guidelines require mortgage servicers to follow a step-by-step process to cut mortgage payments further. First, they can write down the interest rate to as low as 2 percent and then stretch the term of the loan to 40 years. If that doesn’t work, lenders can cut the amount of principal owed.”

My suggestion is to turn the entire program UPSIDE DOWN!

That doesn’t mean throw it out, it means start from the bottom.
If the government would “force” the mortgage companies to rewrite all the current mortgages at “current” market value, you would be able to take a fresh approach.

For instance- if a house was worth $900,000, and is now only worth $600,000- take the write down and create a new mortgage at that amount, and into a fixed interest vehicle

The lender could then look at the new payment amount and quickly determine if the current homeowner could afford the property.

Under the current program, the loan is modified at the current amount owed- which in the end, really gives little incentive to paying on a property.
The Government’s solution?  Let’s give the lender $4K in a bounty to try to rework a loan?  Funny?
What a disaster.

Why not find a why to really help the homeowner in a way that makes sense for them.

Is that going to happen?  No, it seems the Governments next big solution to this problem is……..to give more disclosure of the guidlines…that in and of themselves aren’t working.

Ahhhh, you have to love big Government.

Interview with Ady Gil of Sea Shepherd and Whale Wars

So, I had a chance to sit down with Ady Gil and talk a little bit about his boat and what happened.  If you’re not aware, the vessel Ady Gil was cut in half by a Japanese “research”  whaling ship.  I say “research” as it’s amazing what the Japanese do to get away with whale hunting- which is illegal.

The current claim is they are researching the affect of harpoon grenades on Whale blubber.  Of course, the only way to study that is to shoot the whale, kill it, and then bring it on board for “research”.

The reality show Whale Wars has been highlighting this.  If you want to see the videos of the actual ship being rammed, go to www.seashepherd.org, www.Ady.com, or YouTube “Ady Gil”.

The videos are really amazing.  If you want to donate to their cause for getting another ship, that is available as well.

I’ve posted the interview with Ady on Facebook.

Political Battle at hand

Ok, nothing like jumping straight in with controversy.  If you’re not aware, there is a special election coming up for the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy.

Interesting if you are tracking such items.  If  Scott Brown the Republican wins, it will dramatically change the balance of power in the Senate, and perhaps the course of history for the United States.

My friend Dennis Hayes (created the Modem- “Hayes Compatible”- if you’ve heard of that).  He sent a note out imploring people to follow and get out to vote.

I’ve copied his note below.  Regardless of your political affiliation, this is something indeed worth tracking.

From Dennis Hayes-

“Dear Friends,

Please forward this message to all of your friends that live in Massachusetts.

I don’t care whether you are a Democrat, Independent or Republican, I hope you will go and take everyone you know to vote next week for Scott Brown so there is a chance to stop the Train Wreck in Congress with the socialists in control of the government and reset the health care reform so we can solve the problems and get something that will actually work. I can only hope that you and the people in Massachusetts are as angry and frustrated with the crap being rushed through Congress, without transparency or bipartisan input, that is not solving any of the problems that it is supposed to and spending trillions more that the government cannot afford. I believe we need Health insurance reform but everything about the current bill in Congress is a travesty and wrong for all of us. Brown is refreshing as a person from Massachusetts; on health care, trials of terrorists and independent thinking I have to give him an A+. Good luck, we are counting on all of you to bring some real change and sanity back to Congress.

The rest of the country needs you to take action and be real Patriots.”