Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for the 'The Wired Mom' Category (151)

[Vlog] Tech on the Go!

It’s Vlog #6 – And this time I’m talking about what I use to stay connected on the go! (Because really, I’m mildly addicted to my phone and spend a lot of time away from outlets)

These are the two items I mention:

HyperJuice Micro – made by HyperShop, http://www.hypershop.com
ChargeCard – http://www.chargecardproject.com

These are my own personal reviews. I bought these items on my own, put them through the ringer in my real life… they get the actual Geek Pirate Mom seal of approval. No compensation here. Just me sharing stuff that I liked.

My children are too much like me!

navi the fairyHey! Listen!

Every day, I share weird anecdotes and comments about the kidlets being geeklings. They really do take after me, in that they love video games, Star Wars, comic book characters (though in their animated adventures), and Ninja Turtles!

But they also get just as obsessed about things as I do. (Whitney get obsessed? Riiiiigggghhhhtttt.)

Which means that last night, as the kidlets brushed their teeth, I answered questions about why Ganondorf wanted the Triforce. Or while I was packing their lunch, I was quizzed about where Navi went after Ocarina of Time ended. On the road to school, the Oldest Kidlet asked me whether or not Link being sent back to his original timeline when he first met Zelda actually stopped Ganondorf at all- since they killed Ganondorf in the future… (which by the way, I’ve always wondered- and given their love of Back to the Future, they were bound to actually think about the whole time travel element)

It’s Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 24/7 in this house. And I’m exhausted.

I don’t imagine it will help if they discover the sketches I made of Nabooru or Malon in my sketchbook. Or that I want to cosplay as Sheik or Link (I’m not sure which- leaning towards Sheik).

At any rate, will someone else answer their questions for me? At least until they’ve picked a new obsession? As much as I love Legend of Zelda, I just need a tiny break from Hyrule.

A Twitter User’s Take on Self Promotion

twitterI’m the first to admit, I’m not a social networking guru. Though really- anyone who calls themselves a guru probably isn’t an actual expert. (I’m not an expert, but if I were, I would never call myself a guru)

What I am is someone who has been on Twitter for 6 years now. Six years! In the last two years I’ve begun to follow a lot of people promoting their own work (writers/musicians/filmmakers, and I’ve noticed that a few have social media habits that make me hit that ‘unfollow’ button and in some cases block them.

Problem #1 – Spam.

This one actually falls into a couple categories. There are people out there who spam their followers. They don’t just do a daily post (or two) to promote their book/site/album, they do it several times during the day. Personally, I understand posting twice during the day- you’re trying to hit the night owls and the ones who use Twitter during the day. It’s just good business. But any more than that, and you’re harassing your fans and friends.

Then there those who spam strangers. This week I had a guy promoting his Kickstarter send me a tweet out of the blue “Please help fund my kickstarter [LINK]“. I looked at his profile, and he sent that exact tweet to at least a hundred people that day. And immediately I decided I wasn’t going to even give it a thought. One of the tricky things about Kickstarters is that you have to already have an engaged audience. Success in crowdfunding relies on you having people who will help get the word out to their friends- not picking people at random. To me, it felt just like getting a robocall. I didn’t block the guy- instead, I pointed out to him that if he’s going to tweet strangers, he might want to rotate through a few different phrasings to avoid his account looking like a bot. He thanked me for the advice, which I didn’t expect.

If you are going to reach out to people do or don’t follow, personalize your tweet. Let them know you think it might be relevant to their interests. Don’t just pick random people.

Oh, and then there are people who spam hashtags. It’s one thing to find a relevant hashtag that gets activity and use it to share your work. Just don’t overdo it. I do the weekly #momchat on Twitter (Tuesdays at 12PM-1PM EST) and monitor the hashtag through the week- it usually gets some interesting parenting links. But right now there’s a PR firm that tweets the same link using #momchat 6 times a day. And it isn’t even a parenting link.

Problem #2 Auto-DMs

I don’t know what idiot decided that Auto-DMs were a great way to market. Sure, it’s a way to get a message to someone, but it sends a message that you don’t want. It tells the people who just decided to follow you that you only see them as a market. You don’t see them as people.

These are the problems that get under my skin. If you use Twitter, what gets your proverbial goat? Share it in the comments, and I’ll update the post to include them!

App Review: Flickr

Since last month’s Instagram debacle, I decided to review alternative apps. My requirements? There had to be versions for both iPhone and Android. (While my requirement is that it has to be available on both of the main platforms, these reviews are for Android only, since I don’t have access to an iOS device)

I already reviewed EyeEm, a new social platform based out of Berlin for adults. I’ve continued using it- I like the filters and ease of use… though it does attach a location if you have GPS on, and that’s a little annoying.

Next up, the mainstay Flickr. Now, I used to put up all my photos on Flickr and had a pro account for years. Currently, they’re offering free users three months of a Pro account just for installing the mobile app and linking it to your account.

The good:

  • Flickr has a great community, which you can access from your computer and from your phone.
  • You have a lot of privacy settings, and even the ability to post how you want your photos to be shared (via Creative Commons settings, though that’s done on their website, not the app).
  • There are plenty of filters to choose from, and you can post to a wide variety of social networks (FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, Livejournal, and to email).

The bad:

  • The overall design of the app is a little clunky. While the opening screen puts the social stream up front and personal (with comments and contact requests), some of the features are buried. To share a photo in the Android app, you have to click on the camera button, which then asks which camera you want to us. In most apps, this prompt allows you to choose either a camera or to upload from a gallery. It’s only IN the next screen that you can click on an icon that vaguely looks like a stack of pictures to pick the photo you want.
  • When sharing a picture, the app doesn’t automatically pull through your caption for the picture. Instead, you’re prompted to post a secondary “message” to go with your social network posts.
  • If you’re a high volume photographer, you’re going to have to pay for Flickr Pro. With Flickr’s free account, you can upload 300 MB of photos per month, as well as two videos. But you’ll only be able to see the last 200 photos/videos in your photostream. It’s $24.95 for a year of Flickr Pro.

I really wanted this to be a great solution- and I only hope that the app gets some attention now that people have started to leave Instagram. But the price of the Pro account, and the design of the app makes me say that it isn’t an Instagram replacement right now.

If you have an app suggestion, let me know!

App Review: EyeEm

If you’ve read my post about Instagram and their new Terms of Service, I updated it. Just so you don’t have to click to another page, this is the latest:

Instagram blogged about the backlash, admitting they weren’t very clear in the way they wrote it (actually, they said that we just misinterpreted it because legal jargon is so tough). Ads will be coming to Instagram, but they won’t be selling your photos to be used in ads. And they’ve already removed the verbage that made it seem as though they were going to use your pictures and name in ads- very similar to Facebook’s social ads.

While I completely understand that Instagram needs to make money, this “admission” feels more like them simply trying to cover their asses. Because frankly, it isn’t that hard to say that they’re going to roll out ads and allow brands to show that you’ve liked pictures of theirs.

(Of course, they didn’t address the bit where they said they wouldn’t divulge which posts were ads at all- which frankly is a disappointment.)

Turns out I’m not the only one who felt like their ‘clarification’ wasn’t making things better. Pay attention, writers, the words you choose are very important.

Now- when Instagram made their announcement, I decided to evaluate some Instagram alternatives. The only requirements were that they had to be usable for both iOS and Android. (I’m not being compensated for any of this. Just sharing my own search for an Instagram replacement here)

First up, EyeEm. EyeEm is a social photo sharing app and site. Based out of Berlin, it has a pretty straight forward Terms of Use. Unlike Instagram, it’s meant for users 18 and up- since there might be some adult content shared.

There are lots of pretty filters, and a slew of border choices that you can access with a simple swipe of the finger (left and right to choose filters, up and down to choose borders). And unlike Instagram, you can post an entire picture or crop it if you like.

From there, you can tag it with a category for people to find it (or not) and with a location and a status and share it on your favorite social networks (you can post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare).

I haven’t gotten to try out many of the social features- as of right now, only one of my friends from FB and Twitter are using it. (But check out the pictures I’ve posted so far!)

Pros: Easy to use, lots of features- and can post to any of the major sites that you’d want to share with.

Cons: Not much social activity yet.

My verdict: I like this one!

I’m going to give the Flickr app a go next- any other apps you think I should try?

Instagram: What you need to know.

Since was originally posted, there have been developments from the story. I’ve marked the updates down at the bottom.

Not that long ago, Facebook acquired Instagram. They integrated it into Facebook, and the internet rejoiced.

Well, today Instagram began informing users about their updated Terms of Service- mostly to bring them more into line with Facebook’s own ToS.

I’ve blogged about Facebook’s ToS and Privacy settings before, and one of Facebook’s more controversial features was the roll out of their social ads- which take activities that you make (liking pages, comments, etc) to advertise a service. It didn’t take long before they allowed you to opt-out of it.

Why am I mentioning FB’s social ads?

“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

That’s part of the Instagram ToS. Essentially, they’re rolling out ads, and will be using your photos, data and even the metadata from your photos. And you don’t get any compensation.

Not only will there be ads, but Instagram notes that they probably won’t even be clearly marked as ads. And as of right now, there is no way to opt out from any of this.

This next part of the ToS is even more important:

Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here: http://instagram.com/legal/privacy/.

That’s right. By having your photos on Instagram, you’re agreeing to let them use your photos royalty-free. You can adjust who sees some of your data, but they can use your data how they want.

Wil Wheaton weighed in with how these changes might affect celebrities. I’d already been thinking about the artists I knew who used Instagram to share works in progress, but Wil’s perspective hits a lot of the same issues I saw.

The changes to Instagram’s ToS goes into affect January 16, 2013.

As of right now I’m still on Instagram, but will be deleting my account before then. So for the next couple weeks I’m going to be trying out different camera apps (some with social features, some with just sharing capabilities) to see if there are other alternatives out there that might work.

If you have an Instagram alternative that you like, comment on this post! I can only review Android apps, so keep that in mind. (I’m going to try to find ones that have apps for both iPhone and Android)

Update: 12/18 1:45 pm It would seem that Instagram noticed the backlash on the internet. Mashable reports that they will be having some discussions about the Terms of Service.

Of course, who knows what that means.

Update 2: 12/13 6:45 pm Instagram blogged about the backlash, admitting they weren’t very clear in the way they wrote it (actually, they said that we just misinterpreted it because legal jargon is so tough). Ads will be coming to Instagram, but they won’t be selling your photos to be used in ads. And they’ve already removed the verbage that made it seem as though they were going to use your pictures and name in ads- very similar to Facebook’s social ads.

While I completely understand that Instagram needs to make money, this “admission” feels more like them simply trying to cover their asses. Because frankly, it isn’t that hard to say that they’re going to roll out ads and allow brands to show that you’ve liked pictures of theirs.

(Of course, they didn’t address the bit where they said they wouldn’t divulge which posts were ads at all- which frankly is a disappointment.)

Update 3: 12/20 6:45pm Instagram released another statement, one that’s less snarky than the first. They’ll be rolling back to the original ToS so far as the advertising section is concerned, and will be holding off on the advertising until they can explain fully how it will impact users.

The Wired Mom: Facebook and Privacy

Yet again, on Facebook, there’s a slew of copy/paste statuses claiming to protect your privacy. It seems to happen about once a year, and out of the 300+ people I follow, I wind up seeing a fair amount of these.

This time, this is the post that’s going around:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates

Is it true? NO. Just by searching Snopes.com for Facebook privacy copyright brings up a definitive no.

Essentially, when you signed up for Facebook you agree to their Terms of Service, which includes the assignment of IP and privacy. While Facebook does keep adjusting their terms (and they do! Most sites do, though they typically warn you of it), there’s nothing you can do to to say you don’t approve of the changes after initially accepting their terms. Well, you can always delete your Facebook account.

If you see a copy/paste message pop up on Facebook, please do yourself, your friends and your family a favor before you copy/paste it. Google the text of the message with the word hoax. Odds are, that will lead you to some news posts or a Snopes story indicating whether it’s real or it isn’t. Taking that 5 minutes (at most) is all it takes to save you from spreading misinformation.

And if you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Boromir:

And now I wish I had a Ned Stark “Brace yourself” meme for this, too.

Raising geeklings.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that my kids are pretty geeky. They grew up loving Star Wars. We started them off with the original trilogy only, and then The Phantom Menace after they found the DVD and thought Darth Maul looked “awesome.” And while they love slapstick, they are not Jar Jar fans.

While they’ve only seen bits of episodes, they recognized the TARDIS sticker on my car as being from Doctor Who- and recognize the Tenth Doctor, even though they’ve mostly seen Eleven.

(The only problem we’ve run into is that any space movie seems to be identified as part of the Star Wars universe. But we’re working on that)

I tried to keep them away from the internet when they were younger (I just didn’t want them to be as addicted to computers as I am), but the two of them are both adept at navigating YouTube, surfing through bookmarked videos that we deemed safe. If they have a question and I’m not sure of the answer, the Oldest Kidlet will say, “Can you look it up on the internet?” Seriously. And they’re better at using my Nook than TheBoy is (though in his defense, he hasn’t given it much of a shot). So good, they’ve been teaching members of the family.

Yesterday, the Oldest Kidlet was using an art program on the Nook and came over to me. “Mom, I want to send you an email with my picture, but it won’t let me.”

I looked, and since I hadn’t set up my email in my Nook yet, there was nothing to connect with. Instead I showed him how to use DropBox to send me the picture. That’s right, my son now knows about DropBox and finds it amazing. “So it saves it somewhere like the internet and if we have this program, then any of the computers and Nooks with it can get my picture?”

There you have it. Seven years old and he gets the concept of storing things in the cloud.

(He does have an email address. Both boys do. As soon as I knew their names, I got Gmail addresses for them with their full names, and after the Little Kidlet was born I set up Twitter handles for the both of them.)

So yes, my boys are geeklings. Pretty soon I’ll be introducing video games to them (if you can think of any really good DS or 3DS titles, I’d appreciate it) and helping them email family members. How on earth is time moving this quickly?

Superfan or Bot?

Every day I look at my site analytics. I use pMetrics in addition to Google Analytics, because pMetrics gives me live data. (I’m not paid by them, but I really like what I get to see)

When you log in, it gives you an overview of how many people had visited your site, as well as their “actions” – refreshes, clicks to other pages. Obviously a high number means more engagement. Usually it’s about 1-1 1/2 times the number of visitors. Yesterday it was at 900+ actions. WAY over the norm.

When I clicked through, I found out that aside from the usual amount of views- it was all from one IP address over the span of TWO hours.

I figured that was the end of it. But when I logged in this morning, same deal. Same IP. So I blocked it.

How did I know it wasn’t someone REALLY into my website? They only viewed one page. Over and over.

See? That is just crazy. Near as I can guess, they were just refreshing the same image search constantly. I don’t know what the purpose of that is- but man. That’s just some crazy bot-like behavior.

I thought I’d share it because it was weird, but if you have a blog/site that you run, this is why checking your stats once a day is important (and why live analytics are really helpful). Not that numbers lead to validation or anything- but you can see if someone is looking at your site an unhealthy amount and possibly eating up all your bandwidth.

Really, Facebook?

As I’ve said here many times, one of the things that frustrates me to no end is Facebook’s policy of changing your settings without telling you. They’ve done it many times already (I tend to do a check of my settings around the first of the month, even though I don’t really post much of anything there anymore). And they’ve done it again.

Facebook is putting your facebook email address on your profile/timeline. I know, Facebook has email? Sort of. Facebook has assigned everyone an email address based on their username, and if someone emails it, it will go into your message inbox.

Of course, their messages aren’t really great for email. One, they’re all threaded by who sent the message, so it makes it hard to find any particular message other than the most recent. So if you were looking for something your sister said, you’d have to look through EVERY message she’s sent you. Also, you can’t back them up.

Back to the real issue- Facebook’s settings now list your facebook email on your profile/timeline, even if you had it set so that it wouldn’t show your email. Where you’ll go to fix it depends on whether or not you’re using Timeline.

For people using the older profile, go to your profile page, and where it lists your personal information at the top, click on Edit Profile. Then, from the menu on the left, select Contact Information. Your email addresses will be listed at the top. You can adjust who can see your email addresses (the closest you can come to opting out is by setting it to “Only Me”) and next to it you can pick whether or not it will list it on your profile/timeline.

If you have Timeline, click on the Update Info button. Scroll down to the Contact Info box and click on Edit. Then you can adjust who can see your email addresses, and set whether or not you want to list them on your timeline.

For me, it’s frustrating that Facebook continues to change settings. If their IPO has proved anything, it’s that they aren’t as in demand as they think. Most people I know didn’t buy their stock because they remember the dotcom bubble bursting. They’ve seen websites come and go- remember when everyone had AOL? Now they’re struggling to stay relevant!

They like to think that they’re what people can’t do without, but all it takes is one website to give people what they want, and they’ll leave. That’s what happened to Myspace and Friendster. People left ICQ for AIM, then AIM for texting. It’s only a matter of time before one of two scenarios happens- either FB crosses a line with privacy that people are uncomfortable with, or someone creates a new site that makes you opt-in when they release new features.

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