Category Archives: Technology

11 Years Ago Today

Eleven years ago today on Dec. 5, 1998 I started blogging. Last year I celebrated the one-decade milestone by releasing the first book I ever wrote: Mike, The Cat. Seems worth pointing to again. Check it out.

It’s always fun reminiscing about the years I’ve put into this blog. It’s kind of crazy to think about how long it’s been going. It’s changed quite a bit throughout the years, from incoherent to self-involved to whatever it is now. Though from the very beginning I started doing this for me. So if you don’t like it, too bad.

That’s probably the best part about blogging. If you have the right motivation, it can last 11 years. And counting.

And clearly this isn’t going to be one of those top 5 posts, so go ahead and check out Mike, The Cat. It at least has pictures.

Twitter Tip: Context in Responses

Here’s a quick Twitter tip for you: Give context in your @replies and DMs.

“Yeah, that’s so true,” means nothing to me. I have no idea what you’re responding to. You could be reacting to any of the 8.4 tweets I post in an average day. Or you could be responding to something I said three days ago. How am I supposed to know?

It’s especially awkward when someone challenges or insults me. Sorry man, but I don’t know what you’re getting offended about unless you give me a little context. And I can’t give you a source on “that” unless you tell me what “that” is.

This lack of context for conversations is probably one of the biggest downsides to Twitter’s setup (which is saying a lot—this is a minor complaint) and it’s a definite area where Facebook is far superior.

(This is a fine example of when a 140-character limit would have produced a better result.)

Update: A few folks have pointed out that the thread of an @reply conversation is something Twitter is set up to follow. It’s just not immediately obvious. On the Twitter site, the tiny, grayed out text below an @reply will include a link back to the relevant tweet, assuming someone clicked on the ‘reply’ button in the first place. Most Twitter apps pick up on this and deploy the feature in some manner (though again, it’s not always obvious).

Good info to know, making me look kind of dumb.

Of course it still helps to give context in your response. Without context you have to assume someone knows about these features and assume that they used the ‘reply’ button. Sometimes just appending your “LOL” with a “Funky Chicken:” makes all the difference.

Now That’s Funny: Christian Chirp

The Christian Alternative To TwitterIf you haven’t heard about it yet, Christian Chirp is a new Christian alternative to Twitter.

In and of itself, that’s funny. I’ll let you revel in it.

Now go look at the site. It’s down right now because of a massive attack (screenshot). Must be the persecution of the last days.

No seriously. That’s what founder James L. Paris blamed the attack on. That’s funny.

The mustachioed Paris has a Twitter account. And a financial advice site called Christian Money.

That’s funny, too.

Then there’s Christian author and humorist Matthew Paul Turner who discovered Christian Chirp and went from incredulous to curious to #1 chirper to deleted in less than 24 hours.

That’s funny. If you like Turner’s irreverent take on faith, you’ll love his skewering of Joel Osteen.

Then Michael Hyatt, CEO of the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson made a comment about Chirper being a Christian ghetto, prompting multiple responses from Paris.

Christian media “mogul” cat fight. That’s kind of funny.

Paris’ best insult? Pointing out Hyatt’s publishing history, which includes a trio of Y2K survival books (one is a novel!).

OK, no disrespect to Hyatt, but that’s hilarious.

When it gets less funny is this blog post, the Truth about James L. Paris and Christian Chirp, alleging that he lied about being banned from Twitter (part of the ethos of Christian Chirp), that he censors Chirp content and that he was indicted for securities fraud. The comments get even uglier as Paris himself shows up to argue the charges.

Oh, Christians. And we wonder why people think we’re so weird (I mean persecuted). Musician and rabble-rouser Justin McRoberts has a good take on Christian Chirp. It’s not ha-ha funny, but it’s good.

Craigslist Tip: Be Helpful

Craigslist is one of the incredible success stories of the web. And they do it by thumbing their nose at conventional wisdom. They don’t care about stunning design, complicated systems or making more money. Craigslist is all about functionality. If you haven’t read Wired‘s August 2009 story on Craigslist it’s worth a look behind the veil at one of the web’s weirder successes.

As great a techno wonder as Craigslist is, I hate using it. Why? It’s nothing wrong with the site, it’s the people. Sadly people are often the downfall to many of technology’s innovations. Every time I post something on Craigslist I get countless e-mails with stupid questions, drawn out conversations that don’t go anywhere and time and time again I’m left hanging.

So here’s a tip to improve your Craigslist experience: Be helpful.

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Oh No! My Mom’s on Facebook

Tonight it finally happened. My mom joined Facebook. And friended me.

I’ve been friended by my mother. Now I know how everyone feels.

Once the initial shock faded I approved that friend request and heartily (and somewhat jokingly) welcomed my mother into the world of Facebook.

The idea of children being embarrassed of their parents online is kind of funny. I get it. I think what’s behind all of it is the false sense of privacy that we have online. We have this sense that somehow certain people aren’t seeing what we’re saying online, that this is our own unique space. The problem with that is that it’s just not true. No matter how protected you think you are, whatever you do or say online is public knowledge. You have no expectation of privacy (or you shouldn’t).
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UnSummit: Private vs. Public

On Saturday I went to the UnSummit in Minneapolis, a kind of counter-conference. It was on a Saturday. It was free. It involved more conversation than declaration (kind of like Idea Camp). I wanted to summarize some of what I learned before it slipped into the ether.

One of the big topics of the day was the separation between private and public. One of the sessions specifically addressed this issue, but other sessions kept coming back to it. It’s kind of ironic that it kept coming up because it’s an issue I’ve dealt with a lot recently. I blogged on this a while back and determined that nothing is secret. As Seth Godin said, “Always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

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The Crusades Were a Bad Idea: Let’s Not Do It Again

Update: I’ve been Snoped. Ouch. It appears the stats in this video are of questionable accuracy. They’re not denied outright, but there are significant questions. Despite all the rhetoric (my own included), perhaps the real question this post should raise is how should we respond to news of the growing population of a different faith? I’d contend that the negative overtones of this video aren’t helpful. End update.

I saw what I consider to be a bat-crazy video today. Take a look and tell me what you think:

Continue reading The Crusades Were a Bad Idea: Let’s Not Do It Again

Ethiopia Twitter is a Go

OK, never mind yesterday’s post. Looks like I will get to be a techno-geek while we’re in Ethiopia picking up our son. At least a little bit.

A friend has stepped forward and offered to pay for my Twittering. They shelled out for four updates a day for our 10 day trip (each international text message is 50 cents), and then some. How cool is that?

So when I’m thousands of miles away you can know almost immediately when my son spits up on me for the first time. Seriously though, we’ve had so many friends supporting us in so many ways, it will be fun to share this experience with you as it happens, a little bit at a time. Of course that assumes I can work the 9-button keypad fast enough to send four messages a day (I’ve used my cell phone exactly one other time to send Twitter updates).

I didn’t ask anyone to do this, I wasn’t expecting it and I’m pretty humbled.

Follow me on Twitter for the whole Ethiopia experience.

Testing E-mail Posting

We’re furiously trying to get ready for our trip to Ethiopia next week. While I’m quite the tech-addict in my day-to-day life, I’m not a very good techie when I travel. I didn’t get a cell phone until 2006 and while I bring my laptop when I travel, I use it primarily for watching movies on the plane.

For our trip to Ethiopia I think I’ll be even less of a techie. Our laptop has no battery life left, so it’s useless on the plane (plus I’m not sure 3 hours of movie for 18 hours of flying justifies the extra baggage). My iPod battery is also toast, so it’s useless (though I think Abby’s may be good). On the plus side, we are delivering a laptop to the care center, so we might be able to use it en route. Which might work out really nice. Something tells me we won’t have time to watch movies on the flight home.

Continue reading Testing E-mail Posting

Nothing is a Secret

There are no secrets in the Internet age. Everything you’ve ever done can come to the glaring light of day.

That can either be a blessing or a curse.

Marketing guru Seth Godin describes a friend who googled the applicants for a housekeeping job, and those Google results made nixing applicants easy. Pictures of binge-drinking, your police shoplifting record or a blog post about how you’ll quit this menial job as soon as you can aren’t encouraging to potential employers.

Of course not showing up in Google at all (unless you’re cursed with a common name) can be just as worrisome.

And if you’re an employer, imagine the potential harm in not Googling. That quick search could reveal that your perspective rock star employee was fired from their last job for indescretions, a detail they carefully evaded in the interview. Oops.

Godin sums up the solution:

“Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”