Observations Whilst Walking the Dog

Walking the dog several times a day has been a good experience for me. And the walks can range from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather, so both the dog and I get some exercise.

Unlike others I see out and about, I walk the dog with no music in my ears or any other distraction. It’s just me, Bella, the leash, and the neighborhood.

To make the walks more fun, for the both of us, I’ve “trained” Bella that I am willing to sprint after squirrels. Unfortunately, my girlfriend, who walks her in the morning, isn’t too happy with this, as Bella will strain against the leash to get after squirrels. Secretly, I find it very funny.

Squirrels. There are quite a few around the neighborhood, especially in areas where there are a lot of older, nut bearing trees. As I was walking her one day, I realized how little I knew about them. That lead me to borrow a book from Cleveland Public Library on the subject. Fascinating creatures. While the world is full of them, there is a lot we don’t know. But there are some things I learned, like the chattering you hear? Those are squirrels of the same family warning their siblings/parents/etc. of, in my case, a dog. I also called a local nature and science center to inquire about squirrels, specifically why my area has no black squirrels.

Anachronastic trees. An anachronism is a term that defines an adaptation that is chronologically out of place, making its purpose more or less obsolete. A tree with big fruits to attract huge mammals as dispersers of its seeds is anachronistic in a world of relatively small mammals. In other words, plants and trees that are waiting for giant mammals to disperse their seeds. Mammals that haven’t walked the Earth for thousands of years. A great example is the avocado.  Cut one open and marvel at the size of the seed. While humans have discovered that they are delicious, if left to nature, they would be found in only a few places, as the mammal that dispersed its seeds is long dead. How does this relate to walking the dog? Along one route Bella and I take, there is a ginkgo tree. A true “living fossil.” Also, we see a lot of Honey Locust trees. They are extremely popular landscaping trees because they grow fast and their roots do not spread far from the trunk, ruining concrete, pavement, and so on. It’s a tree that has adapted to mammals that are extinct as the fruit is fairly long and has a hard shell. We only see the thornless variety around the neighborhood.

Interested? Here’s a book that will explain more about these amazing trees and plants and the mammals that used to disperse their seeds.

Speaking of anachronastic things, the second fastest land animal, behind the cheetah, is the pronghorn. Why would this mammal still need to be so fast as there is no land predator that can catch them? Their natural predators died out at least 12,000 years ago.

Turkeys. We have about 5-6 turkey’s roaming the neighborhood and we keep well away from them as they are known to very aggressive. I knew that they roosted in trees at night, but I didn’t know how high in the trees they roost (very high). Also, their roosting spot is at the center of their range. So, knowing where they roost, they will range in a 3 to 5 mile circle. The most startling thing to see is them flying. Remember, these birds are not raised on a farm for their meat, they are wild and lean. But watching these very large birds fly is very cool. Just read a book about them that I picked up at the library.

House Numbers. It’s fascinating to me that house numbers can be pretty much anywhere on a house and it varies from house to house. Around the front door: Above, to the right, to the left. They could be on the front door. Someone in the neighborhood painted the numbers to match the color of the front door. That’s not very helpful. They could be on front patio posts, any one of the many posts. Over the garage or to the right of left of the garage door. Or, there’s no numbers on the house. Those houses have the numbers on posts or stones in their front yards. I know that GPS will get you pretty close to your destination, but once you’re in the general area, it’s not easy to determine if you’ve found the right place.

When You’re Away. When you leave your house for an extended period, most people have lights that will automatically go on and off to simulate someone living in the home. Do you know which room rarely, if ever, has lights come on? The kitchen. The most popular room in the house. Just as interesting, there’s never any trash to be picked up on collection day. Finally, in the winter, do you know how I know you’re not home? There are no car tracks in your driveway. Nor are there tracks leading up to and into your garage.

And Then There Were Nearly None

I was not sure.

I watched and read as people I know, IRL,  left Facebook. I watched and read as people I know, again, IRL, deleted tweets. I knew there was something there, but, damn, it is so easy to use Twitter. To use Facebook.

I also knew, that since those services were free, I was the product that was being tracked, sold, and fed a lot of lies. And it was easy.

No more.

Thanks to vowe, I’ve deleted over 30,000 tweets using Cardigan (it was a recommendation by one of his readers). Because Twitter limits their API to 2500 or 3000 tweets, I paid Cardigan $3.00US (if I remember correctly), to delete 29,900 tweets. Small price to pay to remove my activity from that site. Now, I hover around 100 tweets during any given month.



I’d read all of vowe’s posts about Facebook. It wasn’t until he posted this, about Facebook factcheckers, and reading about their backdoor deals with large companies to grant greater access to its customers data, that I finally decided to do something.

It’s taken some time, I will not lie, to delete things off of Facebook. They do not make it easy, which is probably by design. Almost everything I had on Facebook, from 2009 until 2018, has been deleted. All pictures, posts, tags, birthday greetings, and more. Most of it is now gone. I am still struggling with some items, but in the end, those, too, will be deleted.

It was a sad process. There were posts I wanted to keep, memories that I wanted to relive, photos I wanted to keep sharing. Oh, the photos were easy to keep. Those were downloaded and then uploaded to a cloud service. The memories? Well, I will rely on others to keep sharing those as they pop up in their own Facebook feeds. I have a physical book that will continue to remind of Dash4Dosh. It was bittersweet to delete some cherished posts. But I did it.

I also took vowe’s simple advice and changed my birth year. You know how many of Facebook’s partners want to advertise to a person born in 1918? None.

I will continue to move what remains of my Facebook presence to some other appropriate media, be it cloud, a document, or whatever, until I no longer have any content on that platform. And then my Facebook account will be deleted.

I value my privacy, and yours, too much to continue using a platform that will stop at nothing to know everything about you and then to sell it to the highest bidder, largest corporation, or nation.

CIO: Can IBM redefine the future of email?

I was in the middle of the great email battle between Microsoft and IBM [Disclosure: Microsoft and IBM are clients of the author] in the 1990s and there really wasn’t much competition. Microsoft had Exchange, which had its greatest power in its focus on users. IBM bought Lotus to get Notes, which had stronger administration tools and a far better focus on collaboration, but sucked at email. In the end, Microsoft dominated, massively, and Exchange is the recognized standard for business email.

However, IBM just brought out Verse, its new advanced email offering, and it comes to market with many of the same advantages over Exchange that Exchange had over Notes. But, this is email, and experienced CIOs know that changing email is potentially a career-ending process. In order to succeed with a user-focused product you have to get the users excited about it, which may be a skill IBM no longer has.

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Social Media: I’m Doing it All Wrong

Fame and fortune are just a few mouse clicks away and I easily let it go by me.

Whether they’re getting retweeted by members of One Direction, or liking the Hunger Games Facebook page for a chance to be included in the movie’s credits, today’s teens are directly interacting with pop culture — celebrities, movies, music, and, increasingly, brands — in ways never before possible.

Tweet pictures of yourself at a Lady Gaga concert, and maybe she’ll call you from the stage — a moment sponsored by the cell phone company Virgin Mobile.

Send Beyonce your selfie, and maybe it’ll be included in the Pepsi-sponsored intro to her Super Bowl halftime show.

Do kids think they’re being used to promote these brands? Do they care? Or in a new teenage reality where being Internet famous seems to be just a click or a post away, does the perceived chance to be the next big star make it all worth it?

In Generation Like, an eye-opening follow-up to FRONTLINE’s 2001 documentary The Merchants of Cool, author Douglas Rushkoff returns to the world of youth culture to explore how the perennial teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media — and how big brands are increasingly co-opting young consumers’ digital presences.

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Frontline’s story is fairly amazing; from the amount of information that kids will share to the lengths they will go to have followers and likes. Then to see the parents of those same kids encourage them . . . well, it’s a new world and one where I don’t have to worry about that behavior from my sons.

As one commenter wrote, “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.”

Connect 2014: MailNext-Screenshots and Thoughts

During the OGS at Connect 2014, IBM demonstrated the next iteration of, what can be described as, the next release of Notes. It’s called “MailNext.” While the OGS gave a fairly good overview of the interface, it was when I took the time to visit the Design Studio UX Lab that I received a much better view of MailNext.

The “home” page:



The pictures below the search bar are of people who you are interacting via e-mail. The floating numbers show you the number of messages from that individual. At a glance, you see everything you need for the day.



I think that one of the better features is in the lower right. There, it tells you who owes you something. For example, if you assigned a “To Do” or a task. Better, it also shows you that you are waiting for a reply from someone, where you asked for something. I think that this is a great tool for managing your peers and managers.

Looking at the interface, if you click on someone at the top of the screen, it pops up mini menus of things you can do with that person:



Some of the little pop up menu items are mail, calendar, chat, share.


As you have selected the individual, you see the interface change to be person (or “context”) sensitive. In the above screen shot, you see that you get a “what’s new” view, where you can view mail, mail threads from that person or that include that person. On the right, is a “team view,” where that person is included in some sort of project with you.

And, in the upper right, you see that you still haven’t read 26 messages in your Inbox.

Finally, in what could be described as your traditional Inbox view, potential enhancements include in-line attachment preview, an option to share content with a Connections Community, and “powerful search.”



Initial thoughts: While I spent quite some time with a developer in the lab, I was getting the feeling that this interface isn’t totally fleshed out. IBM has some ideas on what they want it to do, however they were very curious as to what I thought some of the icons should mean/do. For example, if I were to hover over a person’s image, and get the mini menus, I expected that if I click on the envelope, a new message would be created, populated with that person’s e-mail address. Or, see all mail that I received from that person.

There were more questions from the developer along those lines: “What do you think <x> should do?” “What do you think <x> represents?” “What are your expectations of <x>?”

And, I discovered that only certain parts of the interface work. Click on something, like “Compose,” and nothing happens. That’s one way to make sure everyone that demo’s the software, from the OGS demo, to the breakout sessions, to the Design Lab, communicates the same message. It also showed my naivete toward demos; I thought it was a fully functional demo.

Next, I didn’t get the feeling that proposed delivery dates for MailNext will be met. To me, there is still a lot of work to be done. And there wasn’t any mention of what needs to be done to the back-end Domino server (other than upgrading it).

Finally, if most/all of your users are running the IBM Notes client, you better start thinking about the ramifications of most/all of your users running mail in a browser.

What do you think of MailNext and what you saw/heard at Connect (or on one of the streamed videos?)


Color Schemes: Customizing Connections

The other day, we were talking about customizing Connections with our own color scheme. One of the team members recommended “Hot Dog Stand” as the scheme. Who among you remember the “so bad it’s good” color scheme from, ahem, Windows 3.1?



After much laughter, we went with something a little more up-to-date:




Doesn’t quite have the snap of Hot Dog Stand, does it?

“We should just call it #lame”

Hashtags. Twitter started the craze, then other sites followed. What has happened in the meantime is that they have become overused. To the point of comedy. Just look at a few tweets these days, hashtag orgasms are what some people are enjoying.

Alas, however, when companies or candidates use hashtags for the sake of using hashtags, the results are, at best, ineffective. At worst, they can backfire embarrassingly.

This month, JPMorgan Chase scrapped an attempt to engage Twitter users with the hashtag “#askJPM” after sarcastic and off-topic responses poured in. This brings to mind similar #fails by McDonald’s and BlackBerry, in which poorly conceived marketing strategies quickly inspired users across the Internet to lampoon their products and services.

Candidates, businesses and advertising firms that wish to boost their online presence or that of their clients can do two things to improve their approaches to social media.

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If you are feeling down, perhaps a little blue, take a moment to search Twitter for the #askJPM hashtag. I promise you will feel much better.

A little overuse of the hashtag?



And one of the biggest lies in the universe, too: “Tweets are my own.” Not with those hashtags, buddy. You are bought and paid for by your employer as are “your” tweets.

For the love of all things holy, stop with the hashtag madness.

Thanks for the image, Darren.