Face-less

Anti-FB TweetIt has been nearly 6 months since I deactivated my Facebook account, I think it is safe to say that I’ve “quit.” There have been some real-life benefits and consequences, along with a handful of questions and awkward explanations.

Why

I had been thinking about it for a while and one day decided to just do it. Facebook is an attention machine above all else and provided very little benefit or pleasure to my life. A soapbox for people to overshare their opinions and beliefs on religion/politics, brag about some place they went or something they bought, and post pictures of their children doing things that I don’t find as cute as they do. Don’t twist this around in your head and blow it out of proportion, either. It’s not that I don’t care about the things going on in the world or hate my friends and their children.

  • Facebook is far from the best place to obtain news or discuss issues – it’s one of the worst.
  • I don’t care about the fact that somebody I kind of know bought a new car. Good for them, it’s nice car, but it doesn’t matter to me.
  • Scrolling through album after album of baby pictures isn’t fun, nor interesting to me.

Also, I’m somewhat sensitive with my information and don’t particularly like the fact that everything I do is collected and shared with advertisers and government agencies. Do I have anything to hide? No, but I don’t expect to have a reasonable amount of privacy as long as I own a Facebook account and willingly provide this information. People have this illusion that what they do and say on Facebook is private and it’s not. At least with twitter and my website I know what I post is public and people are going to see it – and I treat it as such.

“Did you delete me off Facebook?”

Seriously couldn’t tell you how many times I have answered this question. Probably half of the people I have regular contact with outside of Facebook have accused me of deleting them. Sometimes it is hesitant, sometimes it is defensive or kind of angry. Once I explain that it’s nothing personal everything is fine, but there are a good number of people I’ve had no contact with that are probably pissed off at me. Now that I’ve learned all this, I regret not posting a “here’s how you can stay in touch with me” kind of post as a warning, but it has been 6 months and I can’t go back and do it now.

I don’t miss it

I traded in a few hundred shallow friendships for time. I use that time to do things that I enjoy. I browse websites with interesting content, websites where actual discussion is possible, and have real conversations with friends. I can ask them how they are doing, they’ll say more than “good, you?” and we might even have a thoughtful or difficult discussion about life. It’s much more satisfying than the shallow experience Facebook provides.

Facebook isn’t the only way to stay in touch with people, nor is it the best way. I appreciate when people reach out to me a lot more than checking my profile every few months or giving me a ‘like.’ If you are upset because you think that I deleted you or just happened to google me and read this post, go ahead and send me an email, I’d love to catch up. You could even send me a picture of your baby and I will actually look at it and maybe even enjoy it. Like I said, it’s nothing personal – much like the Facebook experience.

Why I deleted my Foursquare account

While hesitant at first, I eventually signed up for a Foursquare account and from that moment began “checking in” everytime I went somewhere. The longer I used the service, the more frustrated I became and today I decided that I had enough.

Foursquare in an Ideal World

Foursquare is a fun service that encourages you to get out and “do more.” You can see where all of your friends are at and get tips about local businesses.

The Reality of Foursquare

  1. Most of your friends don’t use it.
  2. Everytime you go somewhere, you will immediately pull out your phone and spend a minimum of 1 minute checking in – if you are lucky.
  3. The database of venues allows for all users to create venues, but a significantly smaller amount of users to make changes. What tends to happen is some idiot creates the venue with no information or creates a bunch of duplicates. In order to get anything fixed, you have to post on some bullshit forum thread and wait. Sometimes they fix it, sometimes they don’t. Whether or not your “suggestion” based on the knowledge you have as a local becomes reality is dependent solely on the opinion of some e-peen stroking “power user” that knows absolutely nothing about where you live. I’ve checked-in over 1000 times to some stupid number of different venues, hold 16 mayorships that each contain perfectly formatted information – yet I am powerless over my own city.
  4. Most of the time your smartphone application can’t determine where you are at. It’s pathetic when I am standing inside of a store and spend 5 minutes refreshing my phone so I can check in.
  5. Oh, guess what… the venue you want to check in to doesn’t exist – have fun sitting in the parking lot punching in the address from your receipt. <sarcasm>You could just create the venue with no information at all or duplicate it, hell – everybody else in your city is doing it</sarcasm>.
  6. Recently Foursquare rolled out anti-cheat checks that simply compare your smartphone’s determined distance from the venue to an acceptable variance based on how spread out previous check ins have been. This would be great if it worked correctly, but it doesn’t. End result of spending 5 minutes checking in is a message telling me that my phone thinks I’m too far away and I don’t get points or credit towards mayorship. <sarcasm>Awesome</sarcasm>.
  7. Foursquare servers become overloaded at lunch time every single day. It has been this way for months and they have done nothing to solve increasing scalability issues.
  8. Even if you aren’t the kind of user to put your home on there or accept friendships from strangers, do you really trust a service with information about where you are located at any given time? I don’t.

The gist of it is that I am tired of having to dick around on my phone every time I go somewhere and using a service shouldn’t be frustrating. I shouldn’t be spending more than a few seconds using a service like this or distracting myself while driving in order to win “nerd points IRL.” On top of that, it’s 2010 – there are digital directories of businesses that Foursquare should be using to populate their venue database. It would be far more accurate and less frustrating than the current half-assed system they have now.

The best part about Foursquare is that it was easy to delete my account. I feel sorry for myself that I wasted so much time and allowed myself to be completely distracted by an obligation to check in every time I went somewhere.

Android Apps

I’ve been on Android for 2 or 3 weeks now, overall I like it.  Here are some apps that I recommend…

Of course there are others that I use, but chose to leave out because they aren’t good and just convenient. I’m sure there are other exceptional apps that I haven’t found yet, let me know if you have one.

Advanced Task Killer

See what system bloat is eating memory, close apps that you are no longer using. Can be done manually with the app, a 1 click widget or set to run on a timer. Free version will suffice for most.

Alchemy

Game, mix elements and see what it makes.. time killer.

Converter

My pick for a units converter, basic and advanced options.

DoubleTwist

The default music player is okay.. but this one is better, plus the desktop app is really easy to adjust from (because it mocks) iTunes/iPhone

Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Youtube

Covers social media.. get the official apps, don’t bother with any of that integrated garbage built in to your phone’s UI. Also, the twitter app is good – don’t understand why somebody would use anything else at this point. All of these work pretty well, though facebook opens my browser for some basic functionality – complete fail.

FxCamera

It’s a camera with Fx, interested? Check it out for yourself.

Google Sky Map

Any kind of nerd that wants to see stars will love this.

Google Voice

If you aren’t using Google Voice yet, please let me know why not.

Instant Buttons

Funny little app with internet memes and ebaums world sound clips.

ixMAT Scanner

Turns your camera into a barcode scanner, supports DataMatrix and QR too.

Meebo IM

Any IM service, one app – simple and easy.

PixelChaos

WarioWare wannabe.

RemoteDroid

Turns your phone into a trackpad and keyboard for any machine on your network. Uses Java. Great for my media center PC.

SNesoid ($)

SNES Emulator , seems to work pretty well on my phone. Recommended for RPG games, other games – hesitant based on your phone/controls.

Speed Test

speedtest.net on your phone.

Spirit level Plus

I wouldn’t do any construction with it, but if I am hanging a picture this will do.

Tasker ($)

Powerful automation software, may be difficult for someone without logic/programming background to use. There are a lot of pre-made profiles on their wiki though. Well worth the cost.

TeslaLED

Flashlight, has morse code and strobe functions.

Uninstaller

A better way to remove unwanted apps.

Wifi Analyzer

If you are on the go often (and like to steal wireless) or just want to see a lot of information about nearby wireless networks, this is nice. Helps you to select the best channel for your network.

I hate forms

Web forms are great at 1 thing – requiring and guiding a user to fill in necessary information in the proper format and making sure it is routed to the proper person. With that said, I hate when I see a form on a personal website. Forms are not great for general contact, the type of contact that is typically made from a personal website. If I just want to say Hi, what’s up – I don’t want to fill out a form and I shouldn’t have to track down or guess the Email it goes to either. – It should be right there.

For those trying to hide their Email address, for whatever reason – loosen up or use a fake address that forwards to your actual account. Don’t trouble your users with a pointless form. Forms are also a sorry excuse for spam prevention – but luckily this is something that can be fixed. Sorry, I don’t have a way to make sure people include meaningful information when they contact you by Email

Tricking a bot

When a bot scans the Internet for Email addresses to spam, primarily it’s poorly programmed to find the @ character and report back everything before and after until a space character is found – most commonly an address, which can then be sold, spammed, etc. Luckily a few HTML escape characters are enough to fool most of these bots – preventing the need for stupid forms and using cheesy tactics like -at-.

What is an escape character? Essentially a reference to an ASCII value. When used in HTML, the browser/OS will (magically) turn it into the character it represents when rendering the page. Since rendering pages is extremely inefficient for a bot scanning the Internet, most of the time escape characters will evade detection. Here is an example:

  • Bot: &#064; = &#064;
    The bot will read it as &#064; – how it is seen in your code, no conversion takes place
  • User: &#064; = @
    When the page is rendered, the user will see the intended character due to the conversion

It’s worth noting that some of the ASCII values are OS specific, therefore won’t validate, but in terms of characters not matching up correctly, I think the days of having to worry about that are long gone – as what I’ve tested works fine. Also, spam is a minor issue today compared to years ago, considering even a bad spam filter catches most spam by searching for messages (No, I’m not kidding) containing these few words:

  • Rx
  • prescription
  • r0lex
  • drugs
  • viagra
  • pfizer
  • cialis
  • kin
  • lottery
  • casino

Lastly, if you need a list of escape character codes, try google. Now get rid of those impractical forms, please.