Social networks and social media are weird. I'm deleting my Facebook account, but I'm not just deactivating it – I'm going post by post, comment by comment, through my entire 10 year history and deleting each agonizing thing one at a time.

It's insane. I'm insane. And Facebook knew I was insane way before I did.

Something weird happens on modern day social networking applications and websites that I never experienced on previous generation forum type software. I'm sure this phenomenon has a name; I'm sure folks smarter than me knew about what I'm about to describe years and years ago; now that I've recognized it, I'm going to try to outline it here so that I never repeat myself.

I bet older generations had a version of this, too, but I bet it happened in person instead.


So, because applications like Facebook and Twitter are all about me seeing you, and because we've cemented our friendship with a formal request and acknowledgment, and because I choose to follow you, I think I have a relationship with you that I never really had. I see your posts, photos, and updates, and I think "this person wants me to engage with them" when, frankly, that's unlikely to ever be the case.

The reason I know this, is because I can look through every single comment and post on 10 years worth of Facebook content, see that there are people who I frequently respond to, who do not respond back. Ever.

I'm not mad that you don't like or comment. It doesn't bother me. The problem is that algorithmic platforms like Facebook and Twitter DO, and they use the patterns of our relationships (or the anti-patterns of our non-relationships) against us, without telling us exactly how.


For example: I've basically forgotten about 99% of the things I've ever said online, usually instantly after hitting publish, but Facebook will never forget. And they're able to calculate the intersection of times we've had interactions back and forth, over all of our online years, to identify that I like you more than you like me. I literally like your posts and comments more than you like mine, and Facebook has always known this.

It's fine that they know this, I guess. What's not fine is that they don't say that they know this, and that they use that knowledge to manipulate our entire interaction with their platform, by: weighting posts and comments higher or lower so that we are more or less likely to read or engage with them; by showing us ads that might make us feel better or worse based on things our friends bought or sold; by tricking us into thinking that by me saying "congratulations" to you that you'll remember that I'm still back here working towards accomplishing something that maybe you'll congratulate me back for later too. Jesus.

None of this is about privacy settings, or who stole my information, or who gave my information to what advertisers, because I gave it away for free first. The risk was mine to take, and I took it; I have no one to blame but myself, so just like I'm responsible for whatever the online version is of me that Facebook and Twitter and everyone else think you should see, I need to be responsible for taking that power away from them.


Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are our worst friends. They know us at an intimate level, at our best and at our worst, and they use everything we say and do against us…

I want to see what exactly they're using against me, and what they gain from it. Pennies? Dollars? What does it cost them to host my 600 images, and what do they gain from me allowing their advertisers to scan through those images to identify that I own several LEGO sets, an XBOX, have 2 dogs, and so on.

I want control over their narrative. I want to be able to tell them "I don't actually like my XBOX; I only play 1 game, and it's buggy as shit, so it sucks and all that mining that you did was worthless and you're wrong."

I want to be able to say "I'm only friends with this person here because I think declining their request feels unkind, so even though I'd prefer they not have access to everything, and even though I'd prefer to not have to go through the work of blocking them but still somehow being friends, they aren't actually anyone I am friends with."


Obviously you and I are friends; besties, even. I mean, you've made it this far, right? But a lot of other people read something I post, don't get what they expected from me, think that I'm crazy or whatever, and don't engage. Maybe you unfollowed me. Maybe they mute me. I'll never know.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are too much like real life, in all the bad ways that make us insecure, neurotic, and just a bit foolish because it's not even real life or whatever.

Lots of folks online are not my friends, but current generation social platforms are built to show us the best of what we asked to see. I actually do think it feels pretty natural to engage in conversations you find interesting from people you care about, regardless of how much they care about you back.

This is basically how folks like my mother like and repost everything that they see. Yes, it's process addiction. But it's also the best way they have available to them to use the platform everyone they care about is on in a way that enables them to "prove how much they care" a million times a day.

It's super weird, and really unhealthy, but kinda cute, I guess?


So, that shit stops now for me. I'm done commenting on stuff. I'm done liking stuff. I mean… I'll like it, but I'm just going to assume that you know I like it because you know I like you, and support you, and want to see you succeed. And if you need validation from me, or miss hanging out, I expect you'll reach out and say so.

I want to double down on work, on real life stuff, and solving bigger harder problems. No more likes or comments. Just work, results, and healthy positive reciprocating caring relationships. Hopefully, that's with you. 💜

In a way, this all feels wrong, which I think is why it's probably right. If less is more, than nothing is most, and silence is golden. Peace, and humptiness forever. 😶

We’re all pretty brilliant folks (especially you, since you’re reading this) and convincing us we could be more-brilliant about stuff isn’t always easy, especially anything that deals with our businesses, relationships, or visions for either or both.

We need evidence. We need proof that if we’re going to change up our strategies or approaches with our money-makers, they will actually work and not be another experiment or “valuable learning experience.” I mean, I like learning new things probably more than most people, but I am not a fan of re’learning something I already thought I knew.

The world is round – I don’t want to learn that it’s not – and CaboPress will teach you how to navigate the WordPress business world regardless of its shape. Here’s how I navigated CaboPress this year.

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Yesterday, the wonderful Doc Pop drew up a cartoon for Torque that made the rounds and got some attention from a few pals and ex-colleagues that work on the Jetpack plugin for WordPress.

Torque Toons: Where’s my Jetpack?

For some reason, this comic bothered me. Well, not the actual comic itself, but my reaction to the comic bothered me, which then further bothered me enough to publish this here.

I noticed right away that the man on the right pretty closely resembles Doc Pop himself, and so it’s safe to assume it’s probably literally him having drawn a reasonable facsimile of himself that he titled “Me.”

On the left are two women having a conversation about a lack of Jetpacks in their lives, and Doc has written them to be relatable, and really… normal.

But… I’m actually worried for Doc.

My recent experience with strangers on Twitter is developing into its own type of PTSD where I’m beginning to censor myself and change my behavior to try and continuously re-prove that inclusion and diversity are important values to me, ones I prioritize.

Then someone says “no they’re not because of that we’re true you’d do this” or “you’d do that” or “I’m offended because you used this word this way.”

And so an innocent comic from a creative acquaintance made me worried that his portrayal of two women as being “not as into tech as he is” would turn out poorly for him in a way that I know he doesn’t actually believe.

This is me having been bullied, and trying to protect someone from attackers that might not ever even exist for him, and so it’s completely irrational to intervene.

I’m not offended, and I know Doc didn’t intentionally draw his comic in a way that’s demeaning towards anyone but maybe himself and what he sees as his own quirky passions, but because I could imagine a very real threat, it became really hard to not interrupt other people’s conversations to say “hey look at this potential threat I’ve identified.”

The interesting thing about this realization, is what I just laid out IS the cycle. It’s exactly the way that the abused become abusers, and the bullied becomes bullies. Someone beats me down, and now I want to prevent others from being beaten down, but that’s impossible unless I become the person who mentions something first, making me the bad guy.

It’s a really complex problem that has me seriously considering giving up engaging on social sites like Twitter and Reddit entirely. I feel like I have an intimate understanding of these types of elements of human interaction (more than most?) and am really growing tired of people assuming that “you need to learn a lesson” or “you can’t possibly understand what I’m going through” when I know that I deeply do, more than most, am more willing and able than most to help, but the offer to help actually will make things worse for everyone somehow.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the comic is offensive because I know Doc didn’t intend for it to be. I don’t think it portrays anyone poorly. I don’t think it’s an issue. But other people might, and other people might be mad at me because I don’t feel how they feel. It’s all behavior that I don’t subscribe to, think is unhealthy, and try to avoid.

But, I wanted to write this out, and didn’t feel comfortable shouting it all over social media.

It just snowed here in southeastern Wisconsin; like there’s a winter storm warning and there’s probably 13 inches of the stuff everywhere.

I haven’t put the winter tires on the BRZ yet, because there hasn’t been any indication or need until there is now, an immediate need – and it’s too late to do it because the car is undrivable in the snow without them.

That’s the thing about snow, and stuff… by the time you can get something, it’s usually already too late and you don’t need it anymore.

WordPress, to me, is an independent publishing platform. It grants me the right to complete & total autonomy when it’s desireable, but also allows me to group up with others when that makes sense too.

An article from The New York Times puts into a nice perspective why I think WordPress is really important to the future of the web.

Every pirated music video or song posted on YouTube or Facebook robs the creators of income, and YouTube in particular is dominated by unlicensed content. Google’s YouTube has an over 55 percent market share in the streaming audio business and yet provides less than 11 percent of the streaming audio revenues to the content owners and creators. But Facebook, which refuses to enter into any licensing agreement on music or video, is challenging YouTube in the free online video and music world.

And this…

“They are taking all the money,” he noted. “They have algorithms we don’t understand, which are a filter between what we do and how people receive it.”

I don’t think this is anything new – tides will shift, and new technologies will emerge to try and help with distribution of content – but it’s scary to me now that so much of what’s being published funnels out into our enormous world through only a few hoses.

There’s more money in the world changing hands than every in recorded history, and I suppose it’s always been this way – content creators are starving artists and content distributors are benefactors – but the trickle-down distribution of wealth continues to run perpetually dryer vs. wetter.

I think in the WordPress space, companies like Envato are undervalued. Their operating costs are surely not as low as one may think, yet they continue to pay out millions of dollars to digital artists & creators. I think there may be room for more Envato’s to carve out their own niches, and WordPress plugins like Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce are the long-term solutions for people hoping to have a sustainable independent lifestyle.

Users of the Internet in the United States are starting to experience what millions of others in many other nations have dealt with since the widespread deployment of the world-wide web:

Fear.

As the web evolves, an increasing amount of control is being exercised, or at least recognized as an opportunity that maybe wasn’t really achievable until more modern generations of client & server technologies emerged.

Even a simple Tweet becomes a questionable, yet enticing, click…

This is an experience I haven’t really felt – at least not since being a teenager galavanting around AOL chat rooms where literally everything was a risky click – but it is a relatively common way of life for so many already. When there’s so much unchecked information about us out amongst the world, it becomes really easy for someone to create their own narratives based on your search history, browsing history, bookmarks, online chat histories, et al.

I think all most of us can do is continue doing whatever we can to keep the web a free & openly accessible place, and try our best to create safe places to congregate with one-another.

I’ve experienced (and deeply investigated) the same exact trackpad issues on my 2012 retina MacBook Pro that people are now reporting in 2016, and Im going to share my experience with y’all.

Here’s how you replicate this issue on ANY retina Mac since 2012:

  • Put the cursor on any side of the screen
  • Remember where the cursor is on the screen
  • Don’t touch your Mac for at least 5 seconds
  • With any number of fingers, and from any side of the trackpad, try to move the cursor to the opposite side of the screen
  • You will notice a split-second where the cursor jumps
  • The trackpad is listening because the cursor does quickly catch-up

TL;DR – it’s working as it’s designed to work. Some Apple employees will go to great lengths to listen and help; others will say they do not see what you’re seeing & get annoyed with you quickly.


I had these same /exact/ trackpad issues the day I unboxed my maxed out 15″ retina MacBook Pro. Before that, I had a 13″ Air and a Mac Mini which did not exhibit any trackpad delay. I even paired the Magic Trackpad from my Mini to my Pro to rule-out the onboard hardware, and the trackpad issue was persistent across both.

That rMBP had a bevy of other issues. Aside from trackpad delay from day 0, a stick of RAM died, the display was the LG that had severe image retention, the hard drive failed, and eventually a GPU, all of which led to me paying $350 for Apple depot in 2015, and Apple eventually swapping out the top half (screen) and bottom half (main board, internals, including glass trackpad & keyboard.)

I had made so many repair trips, I started fiddling with demo units, and was able to narrow down which exact PCs had this issue. I also travel frequently for work, so I started going into every Apple Store in every city I was in, to check their machines for this problem, and all retina laptops have it – not the Air, Mini, or Pro (even when connected to 4K displays.) Maybe not the iMac, but I don’t remember because I was never interested in purchasing one.

I ended up buying an 11″ Air as my daily machine to replace my lemon of a 15″ rMBP, and it was a flawless workhorse. [I now use a 12″ MacBook, and it had a rough start to life, but is now also very great (even with the cursor delay.)]

Anyways, after back-to-back trips to Apple depot for top & bottom replacements, my old laptop was now comprised of only new-to-me hardware & still exhibited the exact same trackpad delay even on the El Capitan installation screen (I checked before I left the store.)

I chucked at the (very nice) Apple employee, and told him they could keep the stupid thing – I didn’t want it anymore & I already had an Air to use. He gave me the number to Apple corporate, and I gave up – I never called, because I was the only person annoyed by this, and it  issue was much bigger than me.

So… rather than fix the issue, Apple introduces a mouse-jiggle animation to find a lost cursor instead.


The problem is palm rejection. It was originally an option in System Preferences, but Apple decided you’d never want this off, so they force-activited it & removed it for us. Here’s how it works:

  • You move the cursor to do something, and stop for a few seconds
  • Apple averages the time between input transitions to be about 5 seconds (if you haven’t moved the mouse again, it’s unlikely you’re going to soon.)
  • In software, macOS feathers the edges of the trackpad that are listening for input, to cancel out the tiny palm nudges you are bound to make on a laptop
  • If you start from the center and move outwards, the trackpad works perfectly
  • If you start from the edge and move inwards, the trackpad appears broken and glitchy
    Bigger trackpads and external displays exacerbate the was a User perceives this glitchiness

My conclusions:

  • There is no cure for everyone for this problem, because everyone uses the trackpad differently, and everyone perceives the delay differently
  • All modern retina Mac devices have this issue, but many people never notice it. Even when you show it to them, they are able to tolerate it & work around it.
  • It’s plausible there’s an old bug in the accidental palm rejection software, since this is retina only. Maybe the calculation between trackpad-size to display DPI is off, causing the larger 15″ tbMBP to make this more obvious?
  • If there’s a terminal command to turn off palm rejection entirely (or to tune its sensitivity) I never bothered with it. Maybe the old setting is still in there somewhere and users can disable it.
  • Why it isn’t disabled when using a Bluetooth Magic Trackpad seems like a bug to me, but I never filed a report to Apple aside from the numerous in-store visits and what-not.

 


Hopefully Apple is able to debug this further for an improved UX. As display technology improves and more people move towards externals for production, the delay becomes more noticeable to more professionals with high expectations on expensive hardware.

If anyone has questions, I’ll try to reply when I see them. If anyone from Apple wants to chime in, that’d be pretty neat too. ❤️

Do you remember The Berenstain Bears?

Do you, like millions of others, misremember them as the Berenstein Bears? I remember reading about this years ago, and now the web has caught up – people are freaking out about glitches in the Matrix, alternate realities, and other malarkey.

Brace for impact…

It’s always been “Berenstain”.

I very vividly remember my 2nd grade teacher “correcting” my saying “stain” in front of the entire class. I used to read books to the class, repeatedly, every week. The Pokey Little Puppy, The Monster at the End of This Book, and a bunch of other favorites that my mom used to read to me.

The Berenstain Bears was one of them.

This phenomena was created by adults without appreciation for detail, who propagated one mispronunciation to impressionable young minds. It’s the same as everyone playing Monopoly incorrectly for decades.

Human minds naturally trust ubiquity & do not reprocess solved problems.

The lesson? People all around you accidentally influence your perceptions, in ways that have seemingly invisible yet long-lasting effects.

Concepts like discrimination, racism, classism, ageism, and so on, are ideas handed down to us by the people that came before us.

You can continue believing what your memories have convinced you over-time as real, or you can accept reality as it presents itself today, tomorrow, and everyday thereafter.

There are no super heroes or villains. No aliens. No ghosts. No time travel. And definitely, without question, no Berenstein Bears. 🐻