Thursday, October 28, 2010

Being stupid with Web 2.0

A buddy of mine is connected with me on LinkedIn.  He's an all-around good guy, and I don't mean to sound like I am directly insulting him, but I am calling him stupid.   This is from his LinkedIn feed as seen in my Google Reader:

Now this guy (let's call him Dave) he's connected in Social Media, so he can have this info scraped to Twitter and wherever else online.  And everyone knows he's going out of town  -- in this example, he was out of town, but the point still remains.   His status shows how often he is out of town, and it is at least twice a month.  Suffice it to say it's not hard to locate his home and such online.

Dave is a family man, with a wife and two young kids.   I had a chat with him about this last month, because in this day and age, it's not really smart or safe to advertise when you're leaving town.  Now Dave's wife is not a shrinking violet, and for all I know can handle a gun better than I can, that's not the point.     The idea, however, of splashing online 'hey, I am leaving home for several days' doesn't strike me as a smart thing to do.

What's you opinion?

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

14 days: Change is coming

I don't have to tell any readers what event of national importance happens in just 14 days.   I have been largely silent on this forum, my humble blog, for quite some time.  But if you have any awareness of current events, and you are an American, you know it is election day in 2 weeks.  A midterm election, but one of greater importance than any midterm in recent years.   I get a front-row seat in my polling-place, as I will again serve in my elected position at precinct.  And unlike Mrs. Obama, I knew long before taking my oath what the laws are regarding campaigning in the polling place!
We were told, 4 years ago, that the Republican majority had to be replaced, to stop the agenda of then President Bush, who had at that time shepherded the nation through a recession that began prior to him taking office, a major attack and fiscal fall-out from September 11, the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, two wars, and yet (again, at that time) the economy was doing well: unemployment  and interest rates low, stock markets high.

True, gas prices were quite high around this point in 4 years ago.  My daily 220 mile round-trip commute felt it.  And I recall Rep. Nancy Peloci campaigning that if Democrats were put in charge, the gas prices of over $3/gal would be reduced to $2/gal or less.   I still wait for that promise.

I still wait for the House swamp to be drained... meanwhile 2 powerful democrat Congresspeople have had their trials delayed until after the election... convenient, don't you think.

But the change had to come 4 years ago.  House and Senate Republicans thought the way to win the hearts and minds of voters on the opposite side of the aisle was to spend a lot like their minority counterparts; not quite as bad, but bad enough to drive many of the supporters to stay away from the polls 4 years ago.   It didn't help that President Bush never vetoed any of the reckless spending bills the GOP controlled Congress sent to him.

But none of this is news.  Anyone who has paid attention, and certainly anyone who has read this blog (or is inclined to read the archives) knows I warned the GOP of their foolish spending ways.   And the results were predicted.

Readers of this blog also know that I have acknowledged the given likelihood of the party in power losing seats in midterm elections... that's a no-brainer.  But this year is different. 

Democrats over reached.  They got greedy.  Not unlike the so-called moderate Republicans who thought they could buy votes by spending the Treasury with every bill they passed, the Democrats never met an earmark they didn't like.  And the TARP, the bailouts, the TARP 2, the Healthcare Bill ... all of these have lined up to be their foes for the upcoming election.

And the people are pissed.   The grassroots effort of the Tea Party will hold their feet to the fire, not just for a day in 2 weeks, but for the foreseeable future.  So the incoming congress members are on notice: fly right, or be replaced.

Now I realize some will take their chances that the Tea Party will dissolve, and will start buying votes again.  And some may actually withstand re-election.  But the majority will face the growing wrath of the electorate.

I am not so pie-in-the-sky optimist to think the results of the election will bring an immediate halt to Obamacare.  But I am hopeful it will delay any further implementation of this horrendous law.  The new Congress may actually pass a bill to repeal it, but we all know President Obama will veto it - he may be a lot of things, but he isn't foolish enough to surrender that easily.  All the Congress is absolutely required to do, in the next year, is to stop all funding of this monstrosity from going forward.  Then pass amendments to chip away at it.  Just as the 1994 Congress practically forced the hand President Clinton to sign Welfare reform, so must the new Congress do with Obamacare.

I said I wasn't pie-in-the-sky optimistic.  I am expecting great losses for the Democrats in 2 weeks, but I am not yet certain the GOP won't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory; look at Delaware.  Christine O'Donnell is hardly any different in her background and experience than Barrack Obama was 4 years ago, yet supporters and members of the GOP are seemingly hard-pressed to support her.   And there's no way anyone can tell me Chris Coons is a better bet for the GOP than Ms. O'Donnell.

Change is coming.  And even if the GOP doesn't win in as huge numbers as is widely predicted, the fact remains those winners will be held to their promises.   If they do not truly reform government, the same people that put them into office will replace them.  The inspiration crossing the country now isn't limited to one party, it's a revolution of voters who will no longer put up with unaccountable spending and attacks on our liberties.

As the Bard sang

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

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Keeping tabs on kids gaming with PiggyBack

I am not a Mafia Wars kind of guy (if you knew my multisyllabic Italian last name, you'd undesrtand).   For a brief time I was involved with Parking Wars but it got boring (also too much like real life).    And Farmville?  please.

But that's me!   And I never said I was typical!

But these games and plenty of others are used and played by Facebook users everyday, especially by kids.  Social apps likes Whyville and Planet Cazmo are attracting kids to their worlds with their flashy colors and sounds, all geared to kids.   As a parent I first tried Facebook as a way to keep up with what my kids would likely get involved with, so I could at least be familiar with the environment.  But how do I keep up with all of the new game sites and social nets that are coming around?

Piggyback by Media Chaperone have partnered with several kid-friendly sites to offer a common user interface for reporting on your child's usage, from time spent online to their accomplishments in the games, so as a parent you can see what their doing.   Parents can use Facebook credits as a single payment system for all of the games the kids play. So virtual currencies, subscriptions, etc, all get managed by the parent using Facebook credits through a single site.  

Maybe I am getting old (maybe??) but I don't have the time to create my own accounts on the plethora of sites that are out there, from Webkinz to Nick to Woozworld, having a one-stop portal that shows what my kids are doing (and for how long!) is an easy sell to me!   And here's the kicker:  Piggyback is free!   An additional perk: Piggyback will alert parents when there are security or behavior issues that might pop up, as in user X asked Johnny for his password.

Any tools that make keeping my kids safe (and harmlessly monitor how long they're playing online) is a benefit in my book, and I am glad to see Piggyback is partnering with so many sites to help me keep tabs at a safe distance.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Condolences for near-total strangers

I had an odd experience involving an old buddy... and to call him a buddy is perhaps a stretch.

On Saturday a friend-of-a-friend reached out to me, or rather, the wife-of-a-friend-of-a-friend reached out to me, on the occasion of the passing of her mother-in-law.  Now some background information is in order:  I met the guy (K) through a guy whom became what I consider my best friend (J).   Now J and I hung out together and did a lot of crazy stuff -- back in the day.  And on more than a few of these adventures, K was there.  K & J are probably best friends, as I know through J they still see each other with regularity (a big help here is that they live nearby each other).   J was famous for his New Year's Eve parties, and those would account for some 90% of the time I saw K and the gal who would later become his wife (C).   Again, that was back in the day.

So I knew K & C, but it's not like we were ever close, nor have we remained even that remotely close over the years.   I believe the last time I spoke to either K or C had to be, more or less, the last time I saw them, and that's over 20 years ago.  The e-mail C sent last week was the first of any communication - verbal, written, or electronic - in all that time.  I cannot, in good faith, confirm whether they were invited to my wedding, so it's possible it's closer to 25 years since we've last spoken.

So to get an e-mail relating the passing of K's mother - whom I never met! - after 2 decades is quite startling.  What am I to do?  Emily Post, et al, suggests sending e-mail condolences is rude, but am I really going to drop everything for a guy who I haven't spoken to forever?  C included information that the mother's funeral will be this week coming -- in Florida.   What am I supposed to do with that information?

When my friend J's parents died (separated by 3 or 4 years), I was unable to attend either service due to severe, personal issues I was going through.  But as we stay in touch a few times each year by phone and e-mail,  a few long-form phone calls where I could recount the very fond memories of his parents was the very least I could do on his behalf.  But truth be told, because of the various pressures and realities of life, I haven't seen J in nearly 18 years!  And I call him my best friend!

So I am left with sending by e-mail condolences to a near-stranger, on the passing of his mother - whom I've never met.   After all: is asking for a current mailing address to mail a proper condolence card appropriate when there's been no communication all this time?    And as we were never really close back then, do I really have a need/want/desire/obligated to be so forward/inviting now?

There are people I know through my blogging, whom I've never met, but for whom I hold more concern and interest in their lives (and their parents, for example) than I do for K.  Case in point: someone I know online has related the details of the surgery this person's mother went through.  I never met the person, and certainly wouldn't know the mother if I tripped over her, but I was checking for updates to see how her surgery and recovery were proceeding.  But I have come to know the person over the last few years, so I can understand the concern for the person's mother, and the stress of the situation.

I am at a loss in this area where this guy K is concerned.

I do not think I am callous, but I just cannot see what  I am supposed to do for a person who has become all but a stranger to me.

What say you?

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