Posted in complaint department, Open Letters, Real Life, The Internet

Fake FB Warnings and You

Please, dear God, stop copying and pasting false info about FB privacy and/or usage charges. The things they claim aren’t true, and you’re feeding the misinformation machine.

The reason they want you to “put your finger anywhere” and copy and paste the text into a new message is because “sharing” allows FB to remove the original and kill it down to the roots, but new posts won’t be deleted. That’s what the creators want – it’s a kind of game they to see how much traction their silly posts get across the application.

I can try to answer questions about how opt-outs and privacy policies really work, if you have questions. I’m not a legal expert but I am currently the IT Product Owner for a website with millions of users and am currently working on a data privacy project. I know how our preferences work. At my previous job I worked on web projects. I can speak to a lot of the things in these posts.

The only way to opt out of the anything in the user agreement is to stop using the software or website.

If you want to stop getting targeted ads, there are ways to do it, but simply announcing it to your friends isn’t one of them. NEVER click on Accept All for cookies. Set your site-specific preferences. If you did previously go to the website and accepted marketing/advertising cookies, clear your cookies and cache and reject them when asked. Use ad blocking software. Set up your privacy preferences on the websites you use. Configure your browser to reject 3rd party cookies.

If a website says you can’t use it without allowing their non-essential cookies then YOU are the product they are selling to make money. If you live in CT, CA, CO or any other state implementing strict web privacy laws, congrats, they can’t do that any more. You can tell them you won’t allow them to sell your data and if they don’t comply the AG would love to hear about that. Fines can be big, the bad publicity worse.

Read privacy policies and end user agreements BEFORE you agree to them. If you don’t agree, don’t use the site because your agreement is binding. If you change your mind later, delete your photos and your account.

Note: User agreements are broad to allow for changes without needing to update the agreement (which requires users to re-agree). FB has said they don’t use your photos, even though the agreement gives them the right. And they probably won’t, because honestly, most of us aren’t professionals. If you really want to stop that from happening, watermark your photos so they aren’t usable by them or anyone else. I’d be more worried about the people who make all their posts public. Anyone can steal one of your photos. It happens all the time.

FB would not be able to just start to charge people “next week” or any time soon without a whole lot of press and updated user agreements and notifications to users. I’ve seen some fake posts that say “they will just start charging you” and I am no consumer lawyer but I was on a debit card product team and just charging amounts someone’s card without their agreement or permission is fraud.

Despite the above, they have every right to charge, especially as state laws start to restrict their ability to sell your data to advertisers. Chrome is about to start blocking 3rd party cookies across the board, which means FB won’t know that I was on a Subaru website looking at electric cars. So they can’t give their advertisers that info for them to target me for other energy efficiency products. There’s no such thing as free lunch. They can charge, and in return you can decide to either pay or not pay. But if you decide to not pay, they can show you the door. Business is business.

The fact that Meta is a “public company” is a financial designation, meaning it answers to shareholders and anyone can become a shareholder. It isn’t referring to the general public, or even the Government. First Amendment rights don’t apply.

All I ask is that before you re-post anything that told you to copy and paste instead of sharing, think about why. New posts get more visibility than shared posts. Shared posts can be deleted en masse. Check to make sure you’re not feeding the trolls who created the message. And if someone proves to you you’ve posted fake information, just remove it. It’s so much better than leaving it up on the off chance it might be true even though multiple sources have proven it’s not.

And as hard as this is to say, be careful of anything that says “I’ll bet none of my friends will repost this.” A lot of us won’t on principle (it’s like an old school chain letter, and I didn’t reply to those either) and I assume some folks may become hurt when their friends don’t play along. I’m sorry, it’s not about you or addiction or dementia or suicide prevention. It’s about not having their own posts go lower the algorithm. It doesn’t measure how your friends feel about YOU, it’s about not wanting to be a person who spams their friends and family with posts created with the intent to go viral. Please don’t hold it against us when we don’t copy and paste, and we’ll try not to hold it against you when you keep doing it. But I can’t guarantee people won’t mute you.

Posted in Real Life, stuff, The Internet

Animal Crossing and Me: Part 2

Just as I’ve felt about some neighbors everywhere I’ve ever lived, there are some Animal Crossing residents I would prefer up and move off my island.

The residents fall into one of 8 personality types, and whole groups of animals are classified as either “snooty” or “cranky”.  I am not a fan of those, and when a snooty resident tells me she’s moving my response is “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Sometimes a resident will annoy me because I don’t like their catchphrase, or how they refer to me.  I have one resident, Cashmere, who I wanted out because we just didn’t click. Her house was decorated with grandma Laura Ingalls vibe. She seemed to me to be a little old lady, walking around with her purse and glasses on the end of her nose, giving me advice I didn’t ask for. I think what annoyed me the most is constantly telling me anyone staying inside was wasting the day. During this pandemic, when staying inside saves lives, this was unusually grating.

One night I noticed she was in her house, so I went in.  In AC, when a resident in in their house crafting something, they offer you a copy of the recipe so you can make it too. When first I went in I thought, “What kind of item could someone like grandma Cashmere possibly be crafting?”

What I should probably mention for context is that at some point since I started playing, I decided to dedicate one room of my home as a toilet room. Not a bathroom (though it is) but a room full of toilets. At the time I went into Cashmere’s house, I had 7 toilets including a standing toilet, a urinal and a litter box.

Imagine my utter surprise when Cashmere told me she was crafting a gold toilet, and would I like the recipe? A solid gold toilet, the Trump Tower-esque potty of my dreams, a thing I knew existed but didn’t possess.  I had completely misjudged Cashmere, and weirdly (because it’s just a video game) I was embarrassed by it.  That is how Cashmere helped me add a rare toilet to my toilet room, and I suddenly had newfound respect for her.

Ignore the bed in the corner. My house lost ratings points because it didn’t have a bed so I decided this was the perfect spot for it.

Later that night, after all my friends had stopped by to get their own copies of the recipe, I went back into Cashmere’s house to see if she was still crafting. While I stood there she went over to her record player and started to sing along with the music that was playing, something I don’t think I had ever seen before. It was so lovely and sweet that I realized if Cashmere ever tells me she’s thinking of leaving, I’m going to tell her to stay.

Please, everyone, enjoy my new friend Cashmere.

Posted in Real Life, stuff, The Internet

Animal Crossing and Me, Part 1

I have been playing Animal Crossing since  it was first available for the GameCube in 2002. I still have the memory card with my saved game on it, and Animal Crossing (along with Ty the Tasmanian Tiger) is the reason I still have my GameCube.

I have owned every version – Wild World (Nintendo DS), City Folk (Wii) and New Leaf, for which I had to buy a 3DS.  I got my Switch early on and just kept waiting for news of a new Animal Crossing.

My experience playing this version of Animal Crossing is fairly different – not because of changes (and improvements) to the game’s structure/design, which has happened with every release to date, but because online play has changed it completely from my previous experiences, which were very solitary single-player games. Sure, with the 3DS my son and his friend could visit my island, but that only happened when we were all in the same place. The other versions were mostly just me doing chores, paying off my mortgage and running errands for my neighbors. Yes, Bob, I can get you an orange but you are LITERALLY standing under an orange tree. Just reach up and pick one!

What is different about New Horizons? I no longer play the game by myself. A group of fellow JocoCruise-ers created an Animal Crossing FaceBook group and now very day we all check in, and post if there are things of interest happening on our islands. Typical info shared is the going rate for turnips, or the limited purchase item at Nooks. We let each other know when our gates are open for visitors.  I now have dozens of AC friends from my cruise (who I may or may not have ever met on the boat) who I can visit or have visit me.  You need a specific fossil to finish your collection? Just post to the group and someone either stop by to drop it off, or they will mail one to you. Sets and tasks that would have taken me months or years to complete in previous versions of the game are near completion because of the wild volume of co-op play happening in the game. 

While I do worry this new way of playing will burn me out faster than any other version of Animal Crossing because we’ll start to lack specific goals, what I don’t think I’ll burn out on is the community we created. In my case, I am a member of the JocoCruise/AC community, and also a community  of fans of the My Brother, My Brother and Me (MBMBaM) podcast. And other folks belong to other similar communities all over the world. People are throwing weddings, birthday parties and graduations, all online, all simulated in Animal Crossing. The “Graduation Together” TV special shown on all four broadcast networks featured Kumail Nanjiami’s giving an Animal Crossing graduation address.

Even if you can’t afford or choose to not purchase the online option required to play with other humans, you still have 10 animal friends living in your village. Some may be crankier than others, but every single one of them is delighted to talk to you. Even the crankiest residents randomly compliment you, or provide positive and uplifting messages. For anyone who might have a hard time connecting with other people in real life, especially now that we are all forced into a type of solitary confinement,  there is always a resident in the game who is happy to know you, who will mail you letters and gifts, and who will stand with you on the beach while you make wishes on shooting stars.  

Even the most jaded among us needs friends like that right now, and Animal Crossing provides them. 

Posted in complaint department, The Internet

My Web Stats

I was just looking at stats for this blog. The ones built into WordPress only date back to when I started using WordPress. I do have stats that date back to the 90s, or I should said I would if the stat company was still around and I could remember my login. I know I used to get a LOT more traffic when I started out than I do now.

The two things I wanted to share are

  • The most popular page, in the past 2 years is my Love Boat post.
  • The stat tool needs a usability review. The stats by year date back to 1970 and are in ascending order. So I have to scroll EVERY time to see the years that have numbers in them. Were they actually tracking web hits in 1970? Could we jump forward at least 20 years? Or use descending order. OR, if looking at stats for a specific post, limit the timespan to when the post was published.
Posted in coolness, Podcast, stuff, The Internet

Is it time to Podcast Again?

I’m down to zero web hits a day. I learned there was a WordPress setting I’d never noticed that hid my site from search engines, which is kind of the opposite of what I want. I’d like to be the top hit for such classic search terms as

“Not Goonies, the other one” *

“How to cook dinosaur meat” and

“The best Jody in the universe”

I had a video podcast in 2008 that was wiped off the face of the earth when I stopped paying for the account that hosted the files. Apparently. It’s okay, because nobody needed to see me sitting on my bed talking about how many pairs of green pants I owned. [Newsflash: Too many! 2017 update: None at present!]

Maybe that’s a GOOD thing to podcast. Maybe that minutiae (or as we call it around here, “thought pebbles”) is what will help someone choose life. Chose to get up and fight the good fight. Make the donuts. I think anyone reading this because they wanted to know what the other movie was that wasn’t the Goonies (Shit, I don’t know, I didn’t even see that one. Are you thinking of Stand By Me? 12 Angry Men? Little Mermaid?) would also need a podcast by me because clearly I am going to improve your life.

I will have to get on that.

*I swear to God, this came up when I typed “not the goon”** in Google. The results are all about The Goonies. Not the other one.

**It’s complicated