Category Archives: tech geekery

How to remove crap from your Facebook stream

I love Facebook.  I love reading up on the details of people’s daily lives what they’re doing at work, stuff about their kids, even the stupid cute things that that their pets do.  I like how it kind of captures what’s going on in my hometown and among college friends and London friends and my far flung family and how I’ve picked up important personal news through that channel.

And although I do like games,  I don’t like games in Facebook.   I hate Farmville.  I hate Mafia Wars. I hate the fish game, too.  I don’t want to receive invites. I don’t want to receive a gift of two rusty horseshoes or whatever it might be.  And I because I’m a crusty ol’ curmudgeon I don’t even like seeing it in my Facebook activity stream.   But really that’s my problem, not the problem of people who are playing and enjoying these games.  And if Farmville keeps them coming back into Facebook and telling me about their kids, pets and what they had for dinner, then I’m grateful to Farmville – but just keep it out of my sight.

Fortunately, I don’t have to see it. And you can get rid of it, too.  Here’s how.

OK.  First find the offending article.  I’m choosing Sondra’s automatic update of a fortune cookie from the Daily Horoscope app.  And I’d like to say, that this particular app never really annoyed me and Sondra is not an offender in terms of putting a bunch of rubbish content into my stream. But the fact is, I’d just spent a few minutes getting rid of the stuff that really annoys me before I thought of doing this post and this was the first example I could find in my stream which I could get rid of using the same process.  So thanks, Sondra for being an example.  The irony of removing this particular fortune was not unappreciated.

Now, hover your cursor over the top right hand corner of the status update.  An X will appear.  Click it.

You can choose between removing all the status updates from a particular person or just this app.   Note that hiding someone does not mean that you’re unfriending them – just that you’re, well – ignoring them. You’ll never see their boring old drivel ever again.  And they’ll never, ever know.  Ace.  By the way, I’ve only done this to one person.  And it wasn’t you.  No really, not you.  I promise.

Just get rid of the offending app, not your friend.

Now, no more fortune cookies. And this hides ALL instances of this appearing in your time line, no matter which friend has generated them.

A Piece of Internet History

How does a gal from small town in Tennessee end up living in London and working with local government in England? It’s all down to Usenet, of course. And now it’s shutting down.

DURHAM, NC — This week marks the end of an era for one of the earliest pieces of Internet history, which got its start at Duke more than 30 years ago.

On May 20, Duke will shut down its Usenet server, which provides access to a worldwide electronic discussion network of newsgroups started in 1979 by two Duke graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis.

Life’s a funny old thing…You make one tiny decision and forever after you follow a different path in life. For me, joining Usenet discussions was one of those little divergences with a butterfly effect.

I met my husband, when he was a graduate student at Sheffield and I was a grad student at the University of Tennessee via a Usenet forum and Unix email. A quirk of the system meant a response to the forum was sent to my personal email. Online etiquette was touchy then…everyone was sensitive to flaming. I sent him a strongly worded email. We entered correspondence. We met up in person in Wales a few months later.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

The young photographer

Our boy Bill is showing some considerable interest in my cameras.  But given his record of high tech destruction (DVD drives being particularly vulnerable) and sticky fingers on precious lenses, I’m loath to let him get his filthy mitts on my cameras.

Budding photographer

But his birthday is coming up soon.

However, when I’ve looked at kiddie cameras online, I’m shocked by their cheesiness and their low megapixels.  Obviously a camera for a three year old should probably have fixed focus and be rugged, including some minimal water-proofedness.  But reading through the reviews on Amazon, I’m disappointed with all of them and it seems like the chances of getting a randomly good photo is low and the possibilities of a bit of adult intervention through cropping and post-processing would be minimal because the size of the original file is too low. Maybe he wouldn’t care, but I think I would. Maybe I just need to get over it, but I’d quite like to have momentos of the world according to Bill.

I looked at shock proof, water proof cameras but they’re all quite expensive. And although some have dropped into the £150-ish range, that seems a bit high for a third birthday.  I’m really not sure what to do.



What’s this – I’m playing a social networking game called Empire Avenue, partly for fun, and partly – believe it or not – for work.  We’re building a new platform for knowledge sharing and I’m looking at fun online rewards for sharing knowledge.  But I need to include this code to verify my blog, so I can get more in-game currency.  The point of this game, eventually, I believe is to provide a big advertising platform with personalised recommendations.  The point of any game features we bring to the Knoweldge Hub will be to support knowledge transfer among local public services.

Thank you Charlotte

Charlotte Hayes is the project co-ordinator for my work projects.  Yesterday we had a fantastic event London LocalGovCamp (link to my work blog) – the premiere event for those in local government using social media to engage with citizens, communicate messages and help local people do things for themselves. Many people were involved in getting it organised, getting it sponsored, getting it going – but Charlotte played a largely unsung role in the background.  On the day, she played an essential part in making sure that everything ran smoothly – which it did. First to arrive, last to leave.

It just so happens that Charlotte is running in the Brighton Marathon in aid of YouthNet – truly a social media charity.  YouthNet is the UK’s first exclusively online charity. We guide and support young people, enabling them to make educated life choices, participate in society and achieve their ambitions.  Charlotte is already a mentor to young people through the charity, but now she’s raising money, too (as well as probably wearing out a pair or two of trainers).

Charlotte’s JustGiving page is here. It would be great if we could help her in reach her fundraising goal for a great cause that not only helps the kids, but also demonstrates how social media can be used as a tool to support some of our local public service aims.   And using models we’ll all have to embrace more – individuals, communities and networks helping each other.

Councillor blogging

I’ve been working on developing councillor guidance on using social media.

This means I’ve been following lots of councillors on Twitter and looking at lots of councillor blogs.

The best councillor blogs are REALLY dull – unless you happen to live in their area. The blogs should be personal news reflections on their wards. Which means that I couldn’t be stuffed to read what they write. Usually. Unless I happen to live there – see which I find really useful as a resident.

This morning I found Councillor Sara Bedford’s blog and it’s really good. It’s not really a “good” councillor blog though – at least not judging from the most recent posts.

But it is a good blog. I like it. I’ve been lazy in updating my blog links since I moved sites. I’ve got old, long-standing blogging friends that I haven’t linked yet. But here I go, I’m going to add her first.

And…this weekend I’m going to update my blogroll.

Facebook fail

Facebook is a great way of promoting your town’s events.  The State of Tennessee has a great Facebook page to promote tourism.  But this question on my hometown’s Facebook fan page is just a little too Jeff Foxworthy and immediately draws some close to the bone humor.  Was this quite the effect they were hoping for?

Well, it’s Lawrenceburg, so you really never can tell.

(You may be a redneck if you, too, become a fan of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee)

Don't shoot a gift horse in the mouth

I take a lot of pictures and half way decent ones get uploaded to my Flickr account. Sometimes I get requests to use these photos.

It’s tempting to think that I could charge for the use of my pictures. But truthfully, although sometimes I take some great pictures, I’m not consistently good enough and I’m not willing to put in the effort to market my photos. And even if I were, the market for the kind of pictures that I like to take probably isn’t that big.

So when I started to get requests to use my photos from students or non-profit projects, I changed my license to a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license.  And then when I started to get requests from artists who don’t strictly fall under the non-commercial aspect or agencies working on behalf of local government or struggling bands or writers working on niche projects who were never going to pay me – I changed the license on some of my photos to a Creative Commons attribution license*.

Today I got a copy of book in which I have a photo credit.  It’s from a well known factual publisher and they never offered to pay me for it, although I was offered a free copy of the book.  (I was too lame and too paranoid to send them my address – I have my freaky moments).  Cool.

Pay me not for my peony

Today I also turned down the “opportunity” to have one of my photos featured in an online television show about teenage fashion designers  I was approached via my Flickr account and asked if they could use the photo with credit but without compensation – they just wanted to base some design elements off one of my peony pictures.   Fine by me.  Let me know which ones you want and I’ll let you use it.  Unless you want exclusive rights – in which case I’ll have to charge.

I’m sent a two page legal document with herefores and whereas and I have to give them my legal address (remember how I wouldn’t share my address to get a free book?).  Ummm, no.  If you want me to waste my time filling out your form, I really have to charge.  My day rate is not inconsiderable.

I get a buzz out of other people using my pictures.  But I take them because I want to.   I have no love of form filling.  I applied a Creative Commons attribution license to my peony pictures and told them there’s no way I’m filling out the form.

Use them or don’t use them.  I’m all about the gift economy and sharing knowledge and content.  But please, don’t shoot a gift horse in the mouth.

*Images of recognisable people, especially my son – I do not let people use for free.