All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Talking Privacy – Part Two

A year and a half ago I asked the question Do We Deserve Privacy Online? I took on the issue after reading a news story that basically said privacy is gone and we should get over it.

mozilla privacy cupcakes! DSC_6407.JPG
Roland Tanglao
via Compfight

At the time I had mixed feelings about the issue, and I find myself 18 months later still having mixed feelings about it. I’m taking it on again after reading a post by a guy that called himself Blog Bloke titled Social Media Profiling: Is Our Privacy Under Siege? His gripe is with the new Google+ site and some of the information they’re requiring to participate in the process. In particular, he’s against their rule which says one can’t use avatars, instead saying people have to use pictures of themselves.

For those of you who aren’t going to go check out his post or his blog, Blog Bloke is definitely a throwback to the old days of not trusting anyone; I doubt he’d disagree with this. Privacy is a major thing with him, and he doesn’t want his image out on the internet in any way. This is a right everyone has by the way, and I’m certainly not going to beat him up for that. As a matter of fact, he’s pretty much made his avatar his trademark, and many people know exactly who he is once they see that; kind of like Dennis and his magic DE logo.

Do I understand his position on privacy? Yes. Do I fully support it? Mixed feelings. Do I have things I don’t want to share? Absolutely. Do I use those things that require information I don’t feel like sharing? Nope; I just go on about my business.

Why did I bring that stuff up? If you check his post you’ll see I commented on it and I said there’s no obligation for any of us to participate in social media services whose policies we don’t support; social media is a right, not a privilege. That’s why I don’t play many games on Facebook, and why I’ve downloaded very few apps onto my smartphone, because I don’t feel like giving up some of my information so it can be sold to someone else. His position is that it is pretty much a right and that these companies (Google, Facebook, etc) really don’t have a right to ask us for any of it.

I’ll attempt to make my position clear here and see where you fall into things. He has a blog and gets to set his rules. I have a blog and get to set my rules. We’re both part of social media; so are all of you. I’ve decided on my blog that if I don’t know you already I’m not accepting names I can’t identify; ergo, no keyword names. I could care less if the rest of the world knows you already, until I know you I’m not allowing it. My blog, I pay for it, my policy. I don’t know what his is, and I don’t know what yours is. However, based on responses I’ve received on some of my posts, it seems that a majority of you would support this kind of thing because you can relate to it.

There’s the big boys, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. They all have policies as well. Some of them end up being very invasive, others not so much. There’s absolutely no right any of us have to circumvent those policies. Well, that’s not totally accurate. We do have the right to boycott, fuss, stomp our feet, write about it in our blogs, on and on and on.

But none of them have to change a thing. They’re not obligated to us. They’re paying for it in some way, we’re not. I thought about it over the weekend as I got an invite and took some folks up on joining the Google+ community. Then I thought about following it on my smartphone and it turns out that one of their rules is that if you access the page on your smartphone you must allow them to track you to find out where you are.

I’m somewhat hinky about that type of thing. I already know Google’s tracking me because I have a HTC phone, and it’s their product. I know that even after shutting down the Google location service they somehow know where I am; sigh. However, once you sign up for location tracking on something like Google+ or Facebook, it then starts telling people where you are at the moment you’re writing, and I’m not up for that. So I declined the offer; I’ll have to wait until I’m on a regular computer or laptop and play that way instead. I know, you’re probably thinking “hey, it knows when you’re at home”; that I can handle since my home is also my business.

International Spy Museum Handbook of Practical SpyingÂ

I asked my friend Sunny, one of my younger friends (who really needs to list her blogs somewhere so people can find them all lol) what her thoughts were, and people around her age, on the privacy issue. She said she felt that we’re all being tracked to some degree but if people are at least thinking about what they’re putting out about themselves that they can protect themselves a little bit.

I had to think about that one some because I realize that for the most part the genie is out of the bottle for me. Anyone can find out where I live by looking it up online because it’s also my business address. They can probably find my phone number for the same reason. They can find my picture and pictures of my wife, who has her own website as well. In other words, privacy is totally gone; I didn’t even make the chase interesting.

The same can be said for my friend Blog Bloke in a way. He’s been around at least 14 years online. We can know where he lives, and we can get his phone number. We know where his business is. The only thing we don’t know is what he really looks like. Does that matter? To him it does; to me it doesn’t. What matters is that we each get to decide just how private we want to be, but we can’t hide. If you want to prove it look up any name and see how much it costs you to get a wealth of information about that person.

By the way, I do have this thing about how some people hide themselves from others. I really don’t like fake commenter names and images, and some of you know my position on news commentary as it appears on news stories in online newspapers. I feel all those people should have to register their names and addresses with the newspaper and should have to use at least their real first name if they have something to say so there’s some type of decorum on those sites. Privacy in that instance isn’t a right; if you feel you have something to say, be an adult about it or keep your stupid thoughts to yourself; yeah, I said it.

Will I take up the privacy cause? No, it’s not my fight; I have other things I think are much more important to my life. I’ll let Blog Bloke & our federal government work on some of those things on my behalf. What I will say, once again, is that you need to protect yourself, your information, and your reputation. Once you’re associated with something in a certain way based on your actions, it’ll be hard to overcome. Be smart in what you do, be honest, and be careful. That’s all I have.

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Why Some People (Like Me) Might Be Hesitant To Follow You On Twitter

Yes, I had to mention Twitter one more time. I could lie and say I’m mentioning it so that it’ll be the 200th time I’ve mentioned it in a post in almost 1,100 posts, though it’s actually true, but if that were the reason I was doing it then it would be a pretty shallow reason.

Why am I talking about this again? Because the speed at which I seem to have people suddenly following me has been picking up lately. Now, I believe a lot of these people that end up following me are only doing it hoping I’ll follow them so they can drop me and think I don’t know about it. Silly rabbits; don’t they know I know about Friend or Follow, which lets me see who’s not following me that I’m following? For that matter, don’t some of the rest of them realize I also know about Twit Cleaner as well?

I like to think I’m a much better judge of the types of folks I follow on Twitter these days. I’m certainly not a snob, but I have my criteria for how I determine who I’m going to follow that suits me fairly well. Of course, everyone should have their own rules, and I’m not going to supplant those rules with my own. Still, I know that some of my rules some folks should look at and say “hey, that makes sense”, while others will say “I can’t believe he said that.”

Who me? Y’all know me better than that. Of course I’m going to say it. Hopefully, I’ll say it in a manner that doesn’t sound like I’m slapping anyone in the face, but I can’t guarantee that. After all, I’ve noticed how few people that have popups on their blogs comment here anymore; can’t be concerned with it because those folks needed to know how irritating they are to the rest of us, and many of you have said the same thing in your comments. Truth hurts sometimes, but if it’s working for you then why should you care what I have to say about it? It’s making you sales, or getting you subscribers; good for you. I just won’t be there.

Anyway, what types of people am I hesitant to follow on Twitter? Or rather, what could those folks be doing that makes me hesitant, which means most of the time I’m probably not going to follow them whether they’re following me or not? And are there reasons why I don’t follow those things across the board? Have I intrigued you a little bit?

One final thing before I get going. Our buddy Val has named me as a recipient of an award she just came up with called the No Rules Blog Award. Some of you are on this list, so I hope you go to check it out. In particular she said she doesn’t always agree with what I have to say but I know my own mind; love that, and how much truer could it be? So, thanking Val for this award, let’s put those words to use and see how prophetic they might be today.

First thing; is that a tiny url that you have as your website or blog site in your profile? I immediately think you’re trying to trick me into going to a site to pop malware or a virus onto my computer. Let me get this straight; you have a blog or website, you want people to visit it, yet you cloak the link? Nope, ain’t happening, and if that’s the case then I’m not following you. I do that because if I follow you anyway and then you put a link out to something that might intrigue me, I’m not as sure of you and your motives, and I’d rather not even entertain the thought; sorry.

Second thing; did you mention in your profile that you’re a Christian, or Muslim, or any other religion? Do you also have a religious quote in your profile? Unless I met you elsewhere I’m probably not following you. I have nothing against people’s religions, but I do have a problem with people throwing it in my face, being an ultimate non-believer. If you feel your religion is that important then it probably means you’re going to be proselytizing, and frankly, I’m not the one you really want to deal with; trust me on that one. If it comes my way I’m going to be out to destroy your feelings; I hate being pushed that much. Therefore, I’d rather avoid the possibility as much as possible. Oh yeah, I’ve looked through many of your previous posts as well, so I’ve probably found your pattern if it’s there.

And, while I’m at it, I may not follow you if you feel it’s important enough to put a political affiliation in your profile as well. I’m definitely not following you if your stated opinion is against mine; that’s not even up for debate. But it’s possible I might not follow you even if you agree with me in general. I hate getting caught up in debates about things, and I’m really not overly radical for the most part. I support cleaning up the environment but I don’t support getting rid of cars, only growing organic, and saving every animal on the planet, no matter the reason, over humans; sorry about that. As with the religion thing, I’ve looked through some of your posts; if it looks like you want to pick fights with the other side, and you have those cursed hashtags that I avoid like the plague in your missives, I’m probably not following, just for my peace of mind.

Third thing; is every other word out of your mouth a curse word? I’m not a prude; I have a couple of folks I follow who throw out some fairly bad language every once in awhile. But it’s not a consistent thing, thank goodness, because it’s unnecessary. I don’t want all that in my stream, where other people following me might see that sort of nonsense. I don’t want to start talking to you and then have a lot of that coming back my way as your response, whether we’re in agreement or not. So, if I don’t follow you, I don’t have to worry about it.

Fourth thing; that picture! At least you don’t have the egg anymore, but what the hey?!?!? If your image is freaking me out every time I see it in my stream you’ve got to go. This has more to do than dealing with pictures of bugs (I hate bugs!). I keep wondering how some people have decided to select the images that represent them. Sure, if it’s your personal account and you only want to talk to your friends then fine. But if you want to talk to the masses, or have the masses see what you have to say and really care about it, pick an adult picture. Heck, even if it’s a picture of your kids, at least it says that you might be someone worth following.

We needed something
nice here

Fifth thing; I’m going in a different direction here. I didn’t want to repeat myself from some of the previous things I’ve written talking about Twitter folks that I’m hesitant to deal with or things I don’t like all that much, so instead of writing a fifth thing I’m just going to link to those posts instead. Cheap way out; heck, we’re already over 1,100 words! Here we go:

Why I Don’t Want To Follow Some Twitter Folks

10 Things Not To Do On Twitter

You’re Not A Social Media Expert If On Twitter You…

This last one I’m sharing not because it highlights any gripes I have, but because Sire loved the first video and I like keeping him happy when I can: How Do You Twitter?

Yeah, I’m done; as the velociraptor on The Critic once said: “Perhaps I’ve said too much.” Nah; said what I felt needed to be said. Still, I’m betting I could have gone further; what makes you hesitant to follow certain people on Twitter?

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Getting People To “Like”, “Retweet”, or +1 Your Blog; The Truth

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts being written that purport to tell us how to get people to “like” our page to Facebook, encourage them to retweet our content to Twitter, or the new thing, to +1 our sites or blog posts for Google. All well and all except for one thing; once again it’s garbage.

via Flickr

Okay, that’s not quite fair, so let me say it another way. It’s repetitive, boring, and kind of untrue. If you look at it like I do, what you’re getting from people is the same thing you got from them when they said they were going to tell you how to get more comments on your blog posts, or how they were going to teach you how to drive more visitors to your blog.

What are the ideas? In a nutshell: write great content, write posts that ask questions people can respond to, make sure your style is conversational, write about things you know something about, check your spelling and grammar, on and on and on.

In a way it’s probably not fair to bust on people writing this stuff but someone has to call it for what it is; a major waste of time. I ask you, if you’re checking these posts out like I’ve been doing, are you seeing anything new? Truthfully, is there anything new to offer?

Actually, there is, although most of us hesitate to do it. That one thing, which I’ve done every once in awhile, is to just come out and ask someone to “like” or “retweet” or “+1” your blog post. Why would you do this, and how should you do it?

You do it because most of us are blind to these things. Just like most of us become blind to Adsense after awhile, and more and more of us start becoming blind to ads on someone’s blogs, we tend to become blind to the buttons that allow us to highlight posts we might like. Some of the buttons people have near their posts are small and easy to overlook after awhile. For my blog, just recently have I started getting more of my posts retweeted by through that bit Topsy button you see at the top right of my posts; that’s not a bad feeling.

That’s why you would do it. But it doesn’t do you much good if you start adding it to the end of every post either. At a certain point your regular visitors will become blind to that as well, and then it becomes a worthless phrase for you. This means that if you’re going to do it, at least from my perspective, you should do it on posts you absolutely know are premium posts. How will you know? If you don’t know when you’ve written a premium post then no one else will either.

Of course, to some of us it seems kind of self serving to ask people to do these things for us, which probably explains why I’ve rarely done it. If I was going to do it I can easily point to the few posts that I believe deserve being better known. And it’s that reason, that I know it’s “few” as opposed to “all”, that I believe it’s feasible to ask for it for certain posts that you really feel are special.

Let me ask you; have you seen many people advocating what I’ve just mentioned? Is it something unique to some of you? That’s all I’m saying; some of these folks need to try to give us something new every once in awhile, step up their game. What say you?

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Upgrading To WordPress 3.2; What You Need To Know

Yesterday was a mess. It was so much of a mess that I needed to write this post so that no one else will go through what I did. Well, they will if they don’t read this post, but maybe I can help some. And yes, I’m talking about WordPress 3.2.

First, this one seemed to come pretty fast since I’m thinking it was only a few weeks ago that we upgraded to 3.1.4, and it was in May that we upgraded to 3.1.3. However, in reality it was a year ago that we moved to 3.0, and I remember that because I had to go through some gesticulations to get my blogs and websites up to PHP 5.0 so it would accept 3.0; ah, the things we remember.

Yesterday morning I saw the message about upgrading to 3.2, and I ignored it because I had other things to do. I figured that I would get to it later in the day, and I did after I’d written a few blog posts I decided to use the automatic upgrade thing that we all have, yet found that it only worked on two of my four blogs; what the hey?

Obviously I had to go research it, because I was getting this error message saying I had run out of memory. That didn’t make sense, but what did make sense is that the two blogs that wouldn’t automatically upgrade were using the same theme, though I’ve modified them so they don’t look the same. And the error message highlighted the same line, so I knew it had to be related to the theme.

What I found didn’t mention the theme, but it did say that anyone that was having the out of memory error message had to load 3.2 manually. That’s not so hard to do, and they always give the same instructions for doing it. However, most of the time I don’t follow the full instructions.

What I’ve always done is just download the new version, then load the software for both the wp-admin and wp-includes over what’s already there. That’s always worked in the past, and then for wp-content I specifically go in and load each new file instead of doing the same thing because that holds all your other stuff, such as pictures, plugins, etc. The entire thing took me 7 minutes total for both blogs; by the way, other than doing the automatic upgrade, any time you’re upgrading your WordPress software always disable your plugins and load them back when you’re done.

Anyway, when I went in to test things a lot of things wouldn’t work. I couldn’t respond to comments. I couldn’t do anything with my plugins. And the admin panel didn’t look right; not like the other two blogs.

This meant I actually had to go through the step by step process of deleting all the files from the two files I mentioned and reload it. With my FTP program, I can’t delete any folders that have files in them; the same thing probably happens to you. So, this process takes awhile, making sure I delete each file within a folder, then deleting these folders one by one and backing back out until I can eventually delete the main folders. I had to do that for both blogs, and reload everything.

At that point you’d think I was done, right? Not quite. One blog came back immediately, and I was a happy guy. The other blog, my business blog; nope. I couldn’t do anything with another new post I was writing. That is, I couldn’t add tags or a category, and I couldn’t post date anything; what the hey? And on that blog I also still couldn’t respond to comments; ugh.

I decided to go through the steps again of deleting everything then reloading the files. I ended up doing it 3 times; nothing. Then something hit me, and I opened another browser and tested things there. What do you know; it was working on another browser.

At this point it seemed that the trick was to empty the cache on the browser I always use, Firefox. I did that, went into the admin panel, and everything was working perfectly. Man, I wish I’d thought to do that up front because I might have had it right after all. Why it didn’t affect both blogs I don’t know, but everything is all right with the world once more.

Also, my research mentioned that there was some extra stuff in 3.2 which also needed more resources, which is why it might not have worked for everyone, but from this point on all other updates should work just fine. I guess we’ll see about that. Anyway, you’ve now been informed and updated and I hope if you have to go the manual route you’ll learn something from this post.

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The 2nd Half Of The Year; How Am I Doing On My Goals?

Yup, the short break I’ve been taking is finally over. My wife left town last Thursday morning but she spent Wednesday night at a friend’s house. She’s still out of town, not coming back until Saturday, but since I’ve basically rested until, well, yesterday I figured it was time to get back to my regular schedule, of sorts. And I figure it’s a good time to see how I’ve done on my goals for this year, which I posted and talked about at the end of December.

To save some time, in case you don’t want to go back and check out that entire post, let’s see what my goals were for 2011:

1. Earn $5,000 on the internet overall.

2. Earn $500 on this blog.

3. Get this blog up to around 50,000 on Alexa.

4. Write at least two pillar articles.

5. Increase my influence through this blog towards helping other business goals long term.

How have I done? Actually, I haven’t done bad I have to say.

For #1, I’ve actually earned around $2,300 in the first half of the year. However, I’ve had a couple of affiliates not pay me so that means I’ve probably actually banked closer to $2,000. That’s still not bad, as it means I’ve probably already tied my best year of making money online and I still have half a year to go. Most of it has been made through Adsense on my medical billing site, but I’ve also had advertisers on my finance blog and my anti-smoking site.

For #2, well, I had a feeling that one might be a pipe dream anyway. Adsense took away my right to earn anything through them on this blog, although I pretty much made nothing from them in the years I had it here anyway. Since I stopped adding products with every post I took away my opportunity to make money that way. I have made a couple of product sales of my products, but I’m not sure if they were made by people coming from the links here or not so I’m not giving it any credit. So, that might be a pipe dream goal since there’s few things I market only here that I’d know for sure were responsible for sales.

For #3, I was cruising along for awhile there when Google put its Panda update through and my Alexa ranking started to tank. Right now I’m hovering around that 100,000 magic mark again, so my actual goal will be to get to at least 90,000 by year’s end at this point.

For #4, I actually wrote a pillar post, my two-part series on Better Blogging. I’m actually probably going to turn that bad boy into a small book, adding other things I’ve written to truly flesh it out, though I’m not sure when that’ll come as I have another project to work on first. At this juncture I’m not sure what other topic deserves to be a pillar post, but I really enjoyed writing that one. It’s too bad that it didn’t get the attention I feel it deserved, but that’s how it goes sometime. If the guy who inspired me to write it is correct, by this time next year it could be one of the most popular posts ever on this blog; we’ll see.

For #5, I realize that it’s not really a measurable goal so I can only think about what I’ve written and what I’ve done to see if I’ve at least taken a shot at it. And I think I have actually done it. Though I’ve yet to get a speaking engagement or any other work out of it, I’ve made a small difference in a few posts. I’ve talked about race already more this year than I have in the past, and a couple of those posts ended up being well read and shared. A couple of these posts have been shared on Facebook and got a pretty good response as well. And if I believe Post Rank I’ve had some posts do really well this year. Did they make a difference in someone’s life? Only others can really answer that one, but I know I’ve done my part.

So I still have a ways to go for some of these goals, I’m on the right track for others, and I still have half a year to tackle it all. It should be a very interesting second half of the year; I appreciate everyone who sees where it all ends. For those of you who planned some, how are you doing with your goals so far?

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