Questions About Skype

After years of fighting the demons of getting a video camera for my computer I finally got one in December. Then, after years of fighting it because I didn’t have a video camera, then months of thinking about it, I finally got Skype. Now that I’ve created an account I want to ask you, the masses, just what the heck I’m supposed to be doing with it.

To date I’m connected to 5 people. I’ve only talked to three of them, but only two of them by video. I’m glad to have talked to the third person, our friend Vernessa because I wouldn’t have known that you could go totally audio without having to do the video thing. That was really important to me because, well, I tend to heat up in the evenings and sometimes during the day and I’ll sit at the computer without a shirt on. Sure, guys can get away with this, but I like to protect as many people as I can from seeing any of this uncovered; yeah, I know, TMI! lol

Anyway, I now have this Skype account; just what am I supposed to do with it? Before I loaded it I kept hearing from all these people who said they had Skype accounts and wondered if I had one so we could talk. Well, all those people seem to have disappeared. I thought it was the growing thing for business, to be able to talk to people and have them see you while interacting with each other; nope, none of that.

What gives? I assume there’s a bit of etiquette and being protective with this thing, but is there also apathy? Am I late to the game?

I mean, do I put my Skype address in my advertising? Do I list it on my websites, or here on this blog? I’ve never seen anyone else do that, but I’d have to admit that it wasn’t something I paid a lot of attention to in the past. And do you just up and call people if you find their number or do you send email first then wait for them to say “okay, hook me up”?

Frankly I’m stumped. Vernessa said she basically stays on most of the time, but Homegirl, truthfully, the only time I’ve ever seen you on when I’ve had the program open was the one time we talked. I’ve got it open as I write this a day before it’ll post and I don’t see anyone I know on. Then again, it’s only 5 people.

This kind of reminds me of the issues I’ve seen with the Hangout feature on G+. It works great, but only if you can find people to talk to. Supposedly you have to set it up way in advance to talk to people. That’s not such a big deal I suppose, and maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to work with Skype as well. I just don’t know.

So, for once, I’m asking questions. How do y’all use Skype? Are you using Skype? And what’s the protocol, if any, for getting the word out without inviting all the crazies to hook up with you?

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Thoughts About Trackbacks

Trackbacks are those links that show up on your blog as comments whenever someone has linked to you in some fashion from their blog. WordPress gives you the option of whether you want to accept trackbacks or not, as well as the option of whether you want to send a trackback to someone else if you link to one of their articles.

by Eero Mäensivu via Flickr

There’s this theory about trackbacks that they add a lot of value to your blog. You’ve probably seen the talk about “one-way” links, which is when someone uses a link to your content without expecting one back from you. If we’re being genuine, most of us will link to source material to help explain or enhance something that’s in our articles from time to time. I often link to another blog when it offers me inspiration, but I will also link to something like CNN if they post an article that makes me think of something to write as well. To a website it’s not quite a trackback, just a link.

The thing about trackbacks is that they’ll show up on the post on your blog that someone has used for their article. It’s flattering in a way because it means that in some way, good or bad, you’ve touched someone, got them thinking, and made them just have to write something.

However, the problem these days is that most trackbacks seem to be spam. I wrote about trackback spam back in March and even shared what I was seeing. For awhile I turned it off through the GASP/Antispybot plugin and felt pretty good about it.

Recently I decided to turn trackbacks on again to see what I might be getting. I did that because I haven’t been seeing any new connections to or about me through the Dashboard – Incoming Links area. What I’m seeing are blogs that I’ve commented on at some point, but no one actually using one of my links in their post. I thought it might be because I’d turned off the trackbacks feature and wanted to see what came up.

Unfortunately it’s all garbage that’s coming. Only one legitimate trackback came through in two weeks, and it was from a blog post from me on one of my other blogs. Frankly that’s not really worth it in my opinion; I could get that same effect just in linking to myself on my own.

I bring this up because I remember some time last year talking to someone who felt that you honored other people by allowing them to have a trackback in your comments back to your blog. I said I wasn’t sure it was worth this new spam that comes, even if most of it goes to the spam filter. I think I’m going the route of totally eliminating it once more, and then hoping the incoming links module will show me if someone ends up talking about me. After all, I think when people do include links to your content that it’s an honor most of the time.

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You Probably Aren’t Going To Meet Her

Last week I was in Las Vegas at a health care finance conference. I had a pretty good time, first time in many years I have to say. I also noticed something pretty wild that helps me with the premise of what I have to say today.

by Jemingway via Flickr

If you’re on either Twitter or Facebook, you’re going to see a lot of images of some very good looking people. The overwhelming majority are pretty women, but sometimes it’s a good looking guy (I suppose; I don’t notice the guys that often). They’re extremely good looking, to the point of perfection sometimes. They just look too good to be true.

Before my trip to Vegas I’d have said you just don’t see that many outstanding looking women in one place anywhere. That’s been pretty much true for my life. Not that I haven’t seen a lot of nice looking women, but rarely in one place, and certainly not in quantity.

That is, until I was at the Wynn. For 3 1/2 days I kept seeing some of the most outstanding women I’d ever seen in person. And most of them were wearing little black dresses, shorter than the ones in the image above. There’s a different walk from women wearing stuff like that. It’s confident and quick, with short strides, and you never see any of them slouching over. Then again, with 3 to 5 inch heels, I’m not sure if one can even slouch.

You know something else about the experience? You weren’t going to meet them. They weren’t there to talk to me or most of the people I saw. That is, unless you were one of three things.

One, you got into one of the big, expensive dance clubs that seemed to be open most of the day, definitely into the night (4AM, which for me was 7 AM; I didn’t sleep well). I was informed that many of the ladies are actually hired to go into the clubs to talk to some of the men that show up along; of all things!

Two, you were already part of their inner circle, because many of them already had their arms around or hooked up with some other young man, every once in awhile an older man. I have no idea whether the relationships were legit or not, just that they weren’t alone.

Or three, you happened to bump into them, which happened accidentally a couple of times because, well, I’ve noticed pretty people seem to think it’s everyone else’s job to get out of their way, and for the most part I do, but when I get irked after awhile I’ll just stop and let people walk into me, and since I wasn’t moving they pretty much have to apologize since I certainly didn’t walk into them. I’m pretty nice, but I have my limits as well.

I relate this to what I see online. For the most part we don’t know any of the women in the avatars. On Twitter, most of them are fake; that is, the women aren’t fake but the picture isn’t of the person whose Twitter account it is. Kind of like on blogs where you get the picture of a very pretty woman yet the writer’s name is John. Heck, every once in awhile the person isn’t even trying and has the image of a famous actress saying it’s them; please!

It’s things like this that make us not trust people, something I’ve talked about lately as you know. It reminds me of online dating, where I hear that people will put up pictures that are supposed to represent them, but it’s either a picture of someone else or a picture of them when they were 18 and they’re now 45. I remember knowing someone who put up a picture of himself on Facebook some years back from when he was in his 20’s and I called him out on it because he was closer to 60. Of course, that was before the days when people started randomizing their images and thus sometimes would put up pictures of themselves at a much younger age.

I’ve been to some blogs lately where the owner has said that if someone leaves a comment and doesn’t have an avatar, they’re going to remove the comment, no matter how good it is. I’ve decided that criteria doesn’t work for me because I know some people are faking their avatars, some are using logos, and some folks use cartoon images to represent them. So, personally I don’t care about the avatars as much, especially since I have it set so that nothing worse than PG will show up here.

My main point overall is that if you get to thinking that maybe someone is worth following only because you see their image, without trying to check anything else about them, you’re going to be disappointed. The marketers or whatever you want to call them are hoping to trick you, to get you to follow them so they can market to you or have you in their clutches. Don’t get caught up in the game; you’ll hate yourself for it later on. Instead, hope to meet someone as attractive in person as I did while I was there. Yeah, I’m married and I wasn’t chasing, but it never hurts anyone’s feelings to have a picture with a nice looking person. Just don’t believe the hype. 🙂

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Facebook Subscribe; Yea Or Nay?

by now most of you that are on Facebook have probably seen your version of the image you see in this post asking you if you want to allow people to subscribe to things you have to say there or not. It’s kind of a strange thing because I’m trying to figure out why anyone would want to subscribe to the different things some of us have to say. But it turned out to be a bigger issue than I initially thought.

One of the major issues I’ve always had when it comes to Facebook is that little news stream they have there. You basically always had two options. The first option was Facebook automatically making the determination as to what it considered newsworthy from all of the people you’re connected with and giving you that stuff from the newest of the oldest. The second option was your being able to click telling it you wanted everything that anyone you followed posted on Facebook, once again from the newest to the oldest.

Neither option has ever been all that good. I don’t think anybody ever liked the fact that Facebook was going to try to tell them what was news for people they were connected with. At the same time the other option might never allow you to see certain posts and certain people if you happen not to be on Facebook at the same time. Because I keep such strange hours I missed a lot of things that people I knew were saying. A couple of times what was really news wasn’t ever shared with me and if some people hadn’t been paying attention to other things I said I’d never found out about it; that just doesn’t cut it.

So Facebook came up with the subscribe thing. What it allows people to do is go through their list and decide who they want to make sure they see whatever it is they have to post. That means if you’re following 500 people but you really only want to see what 15 of them have to say you can select those 15 without anybody else knowing that you’re not following them as closely. Also, those 15 people don’t know that you’re following them unless you tell them. The problem with that is that now Facebook is open it up so that a person can follow anybody they see fit the following without that person knowing they’re being followed.

For most of us that’s not going to pose a problem, but for some people it is. For instance, how many women are suddenly going to be followed by stalkers who don’t have to go through the game of asking someone to “friend” them, thus giving them the option to block somebody? Facebook doesn’t take this into consideration; instead, what they’re trying to do is get around the limit that they created of how many people someone is allowed to have as a friend with this new option of being able to follow a stream and comment on it. This means that it will be easier for some of these people to follow celebrities, who probably created Facebook accounts only to communicate with their friends, and now suddenly has to worry once again about what they say on Facebook because they never know who’s listening.

Frankly that’s scary. Personally I don’t see this going to affect me that much, but I don’t always bring these things up because I’m worried about how they’re going to affect me. Still, I wonder if I’m being selfish to those friends of mine who want to keep up with me and block some of the noise of all these other people they’re connected with that they don’t know us well. It’s a double edged sword of the little modicum of control that one has with their Facebook account. While I would love to have my friends have the ability to add me to their list, I love the had the ability to know who’s following me and us block certain people if I needed to do so. It’s possible that there, but I haven’t read anywhere that it’s an option.

Luckily, Facebook hasn’t made me have to make a decision yet. So every time I pop on to Facebook I immediately see the image you see above. I get ignored for a while, but I know based on history that at some point I’m going to have to make a decision or they’re going to make it for me, and we both know the decision they’re going to make. But I’m just not sure which direction I want to go yet.

For those of you that are on Facebook, since it makes no sense to ask someone who’s not on Facebook their opinion, what do you think? What have you done? I’d really like to know, and thanks upfront for your response.

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What Makes People Change?

I have a story to tell. Back in 1993, I heard that a big blizzard was coming to the area. Instead of staying in my apartment I decided to go out of town to my parents house to ride out the storm. I got there just as the snow started to pick up, and by the time it was done where they lived there were 34 inches of extra snow on the ground.

The problem is that where my parents live, as well as where I live, we already had at least 3 to 5 feet of snow on the ground. Since I was at my parents house, we had to deal with the fact that the driveway had totally filled up with snow about four feet high, which meant my car was totally covered. As a matter of fact the entire driveway was so high that there was no way we could have gotten out to the street if an emergency had happened. This was definitely problematic.

Still, Dad and I had to try. So we went out there with our shovels and we started digging. After three hours we actually made a path that allowed us to make it to the street, but it was so thin that it really couldn’t do us much good. We knew there was no way we were ever going to be able to dig out all that snow on our own. We also knew we didn’t have many options.

But something great happened. The guy across the street from my dad looked over, saw the problem we were having, and came over with one of those super heavy duty snowplows. It took him about an hour, but he was able to clear the entire driveway of snow except for around my car, which Dad and I took care of. We were very thankful that he did that for us, and that was the day we met Doug.

Doug and his family were very nice to us, and we tried to be nice to them. His daughter Mackenzie became a fan of my dad, and he would always talk to her when he saw her outside. Whenever I would visit Doug would pop over and say a few words to me, but I never really got to know him all that well. However, the day my dad passed away, as he was being driven to the hospital in the ambulance, Doug came over and put his arms around me as I cried for the first time since I was nine years old. The next day he said that he would always look out for my mother and make sure that she would be fine.

A couple years later Doug’s life changed. His mother passed away, he got divorced from his wife, and she and his daughter moved away and we’ve never seen them again. I noticed some changes in him as well even though I didn’t see them all that often. I don’t think one ever forgets what it looks like when someone may be doing certain types of drugs, and even though it’d been years since I’d seen it in someone, I knew it was there.

Then at some point some people moved into his house, and I would see these children sitting out on the front step or playing in the driveway. I didn’t get to meet any of them until the day we buried my grandmother, when I had to go over to their house to pick up some flowers that have been delivered to our house, but nobody had been home and they had been left at his house. On that day I met his new wife and one of her three children, and he seemed very happy.

Last Wednesday I went to visit my mother, and after I parked in the driveway something said to me that I should go over and talk to Doug. I still had a bad feeling about things and I wasn’t sure why. But I decided it wasn’t my place to intrude so I didn’t go. Sometimes you just can’t act on the Spidey senses if you know what I mean.

Friday night I got a call from my mother saying that there were a lot of police cars and a couple of ambulances across the street at Doug’s house. She didn’t have any idea what was going on, and she hadn’t seen anybody including the children, but it reminded her of when they took my grandmother to the emergency room.

My mother is not necessarily the nosy type, so she wasn’t about to go outside to find out what was going on. But the next day we found out. Based on the information we have, Doug’s new wife had been stabbed to death and he was charged with second-degree murder. I don’t know if the children saw anything, but at least the children were safe. When I saw his picture in the newspaper I was sad; how had things gone so wrong in this man’s life?

I wonder about the types of things that make people change so drastically. When I met him he seemed to have a very good life. His house was brand new just like my parents house. His daughter at the time was maybe two years old, and his wife was very attractive. He had a very good job as well; it was one of those jobs where if he hit his yearly quota early he could take the rest of the year off, and he had done that for a few years in a row. He seemed to be the nicest guy, always in control if a little crazy.

But strange as it seems, most of us change in some fashion as time goes on. We have certain life events that we end up taking new clues from and altering our perceptions in some way. I know that I’m more sensitive to things both personal and in the world since my dad passed away. I’ll also cry from time to time if something hits me a certain way, and for someone who went 34 years between crying that’s somewhat irksome.

But I’ve retained my integrity, and in some ways I’m less forgiving than I used to be when people violate my three principal mores of loyalty, honesty, and trustworthiness. I like to think that the changes I’ve allowed to be made in my life have not impeded the way I try to treat people. Unfortunately, even though there’s still a trial to come, I know I can’t say the same thing for Doug.

Sometimes relatively good people do bad things that are just unforgivable. In this instance there are three children who don’t have a mother and will have to find their way on their own in life. How do these things happen?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell