Happy Birthday Susan Hare – you don’t exist

Facebook just sent me a notification that today is Susan Hare’s birthday. She isn’t real, I created her for some drama project. But she continues and it’s as if she has a life out there without me.

If I could remember the password to her Facebook account maybe I would delete her. But the last time I could recall it, I went in and discovered she had more friends than I do.

Well, okay, more friend requests than I’ve ever had. I wonder now whether I accepted any of them for her. I’ve got this idea now of her friends asking if she’s okay and why she isn’t posting much.

Or maybe she is posting a lot.

Maybe Susan is living the life. Got a brilliant job because her social media isn’t full of embarrassing photos. Met someone.

Maybe she’s far more productive than I am. When I work up the nerve, I’m going to search Amazon to see if she’s got a book out.

This post to you is really just a startled musing about things we create and if I were to try to bend it back to the topic of productivity, I think it would be bending. Contorting. Except, I am really taken with the notion that something I created many years ago is still going on. I can’t remember what I set up the Susan account for but the project is certainly gone yet she lives.

I’m not feeling parental, I’m not.

It’s come to this: firms having practice Twitter meltdowns

Jacobs is the kind of Silicon Valley founder that makes the rest of them look bad. He gets drunk in public, gropes women at the bar, and is having an affair with an unpaid intern. And to top it all off, he’s scheduled to speak at South by Southwest tomorrow — at a panel about women and technology.

Fortunately, Jacobs isn’t real — he’s a simulation organized by a company named Polpeo. Polpeo, a subsidiary of the social media management firm eModeration, specializes in a novel new corporate exercise: the simulated brand crisis. Police officers train for various crises all the time; so do airline pilots. But most corporations don’t — even as the rise of social networks allows bad news about them to spread globally at record speed. More than a quarter of brand-related failures typically go international within an hour on social media, according to Polpeo, and a year after the crisis passes, more than half of companies haven’t recovered their share price.

Protect the brand or die trying: inside a fake social media crisis – Casey Newton, The Verge (20 March 2015)

Read the full piece to see whether you’re convinced this is a real thing. And if it is, maybe it’s a shame because when companies blow up on Twitter you feel they’re showing us their real sides.

Get back on Facebook, Twitter and the rest

I’m not convinced by this. Here’s my take on social media: use it for fun and if anything else happens like work offers, great. If nothing else happens, you still had fun.

Plus, this stuff is fun. There is a reason why so many of us are drawn to it and then find it hard to break the habit and the reason is that is fun. If you haven’t used any social media then it seems daunting, but then the next thing you know you are watching for those Likes on Facebook or those retweets on Twitter.

Different social media networks suit different people and also we change. I lived in Twitter for a long time but now I’m more a Facebook user. No reason. Some people love LinkedIn though the rest of us wonder why.

So use it and don’t feel guilty about it. But writer Julie Schwietert Collazo argues that we should use it more and she gives several reasons. Here’s the one that leaps out the most:

I get work on social

If you’re still skeptical about spending more time on social, consider this: At least $12,000 of my 2014 income can be directly attributed to work I landed via social media contacts. And that work consists of a variety of assignments, from a translating project I got through a Facebook group that netted $8,000 to an $800 article for an in-flight magazine I was able to write after a friend who follows me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram made a referral.

I’ve found that finding work on social networks is relatively simple and doesn’t involve any of the “strategies” that make so many writers want to bail on social media. I follow and engage with editors on Twitter, join professional interests groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, and generally just try to be transparent about my needs to followers and friends on all my platforms.

Spending time on social doesn’t mean you have to constantly “brand” yourself. If you make an effort to tune out some of that digital noise and focus on bring productive, social media won’t seem like a guilty pleasure or a time-suck. My life is enriched just as much by online relationships as it is by those offline. And for that reason, I’ll be spending as much time online in 2015 as I did in 2014.

Why Freelancers Should Spend More Time on Social Media in 2015 – Julie Schwietert Collazo, Contently (26 February 2015)

Read the full piece for more.

Biggest ever book group or what?

I’m not sure. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he’s going to read one book a fortnight and – well, let him explain:

My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.

Thank you to all 50,000 of you in our community who gave me suggestions for different challenges.

Many of you proposed reading challenges. Cynthia Greco suggested I read one book a month that another person chooses — and got 1,900 likes on her suggestion. Rachel Brown, Bill Munns, Marlo Kanipe and others suggested I read the Bible. My friend and colleague Amin Zoufonoun suggested I read and learn everything I can about a new country each week.

I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.


I’m not clear yet whether this means he’ll just let us know what he’s reading or will take suggestions. Or should I say really take suggestions: if 50,000 people tried to tell me what to read, well, I’d pretty quickly tune out the Bible ones but I think that’d still leave dozens of suggestions. A minute. Also, I’m mithered over anyone who says something like “I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books”. I don’t know why.

Read the full piece: it’s Zuckerberg’s blog on Facebook.

Hat tip to Re/code for pointing this out.

I didn’t see your message, sorry

It is handy when you know that someone has seen your email or your text or your update or your anything, but actually it is never handy. You’re a writer, you know they’ve seen it, why aren’t they saying anything?

Worse, you’re wrong. They haven’t seen it. They really haven’t seen it. I’ve had this come up with people who tell me they know so-and-so read their email DAYS AGO and so is being rude not replying. Or they NEVER OPENED IT ONCE, same thing. In each case, you don’t know. Maybe they saw the three-line preview on their iPhone and didn’t bother to open the message. Maybe they got eleventy-billion emails that morning and simply didn’t see yours in there.

But none of that matters when the person in question is you. And when the question in question is whether you have read something or you haven’t. You could just let the online world go on its little way, sending out read receipt acknowledgements wherever it may, or you could fight back. Stop it happening.

Lifehacker’s got your back. Read its full feature on how to switch off bleedin’ read receipts in the most popular software around.

Important: new Facebook hack

If it happens to you, this is how it goes. You get a friend request from someone you know – they may even be Facebook friends with you already – and when you accept it, you get a message asking how you are. If you reply to that, you’re now into a long conversation that says it’s about the CFDA. Reportedly that’s the Something Federal Domestic Assistance that offers grants and your friend says they saw your name on a list of people who are being awarded them.

I’ve never heard of this lot but I am applying for various grants to do certain projects and, I’ll put my hand up, I was fooled.

What happens next is that your pal says it’s best if they send you a Facebook link to someone else. I don’t want to name the one I was sent in case that’s another unfortunate soul being used, but when you click to send that person a friend request, they accept and suddenly you’re in a conversation with them too.

That’s where I got out.

Call me slow.

Especially as my friend is a poet and her messages were full of mistakes. I did just reckon she was in a hurry, but still, there are standards and she wouldn’t write like that.

So I’m slow and thick but watch out for it happening to you, okay? I don’t know where the story would’ve ended going but I don’t think the odds are high that we’d like it.

The limits of iOS 8 Extensions so far

You knew this would be the case: Extensions sounded great and they turn out to be mostly pretty very good indeed. But not up there in the greatness that you’d expected.

Previously… Extensions are a new feature for iPhones and iPads that let your apps play nice. You hardly have to know the feature is there but if you have an app that has Extensions, you can use them very easily. So for instance, when I browse to a site in Safari I can now call up my username and password for it from 1Password while still staying in Safari.


These things will change and develop over time as people come to use this service and start talking about what they’re not doing yet. Please count this as my talking about what Extensions are not doing yet yet I’d like them to. Even more than I liked the fact that I just got to say “yet yet” for the first time in my adult life.

I’m a writer. Just nod at me.

So. All this is true and all this works great, but the first disappointment was that 1Password can’t enter credit card details for you. The full Mac app can, the iOS app can, but it can’t do it via an Extension into Safari. This is a big shame for me because I buy a lot online and it would save time.

But the second disappointment is more insiduous. I’m sure that the credit card bit will change – 1Password’s maker Agile Bits said so, for one thing – but I don’t know that this other problem will. So let’s please hear it for The Other Problem with 1Password in Safari Via Extentions.

If you’re on a website, you can tap to have 1Password fill in all your details for you. But you have to be on exactly the right site. I’m struggling to reproduce this problem but I’ve stumbled on it many times. You go to a site, tap to have 1Password log in for you and because there is some difference between the site address you’re on and the site address you saved your login for, 1Password doesn’t work.

I think that’s probably a good idea. Make us wait a second to consider what we’re doing and that will probably mean we make fewer rash logins to pages that aren’t what we think they are.

Only, it doesn’t make us wait a second. It makes us wait forever. The 1Password screen comes up and includes nothing. Nothing whatever.

I would like the option to search my 1Password account for what I need.

I also wish there were a way to use 1Password to log in to apps.

Or stepping away from 1Password, why can’t there be – or when will there be, please – a way to use Extensions to save Facebook invitation details? Facebook would rather you lived in its calendar but I don’t so a tap and a tap and a completed appointment entry would be useful.

Especially this week where – though my fault rather than technology’s – I managed to get a date wrong and arrived 24 hours late.

If only I could blame that on Bendgate or something.

Ello me hearties

Imagine Facebook without the ads. Twitter without the –

– actually, just a quick aside. Have you noticed how visually Twitter has changed? When it was spot at the bar, when I loved Twitter, it was all text, all the time. Now I look at the feed and it’s predominantly images. Feels like a very different service and I’ve now been so quickly and readily drawn back in to it.

Maybe that is why Ello is interesting.

I think this new social media platform sees itself as less a Twitter without ads and more a Facebook without them. Currently it’s very sparse and minimalist and apart from how I could do without all the writing being in Courier, I’m oddly warming to its cold white starkness.

I just don’t know what I’m doing. Right now you have to be invited and I haven’t figured out how or whether I can invite you. So I can’t say come on over, but I can say you should go take a look at its front page and see what you think.

Note that if you type in the URL, it’s “ello.co”. Watch that your browser doesn’t automatically complete that as .com since ello.com is something else altogether.

It’s something else.

When you are on Ello, look me up, would you? I’m on as williamgallagher