Tech Wiz, the call for supporting the free press…

One of the things that worries me right now is the reality of professionalism. I do understand that people are scared and that people are frustrated. Here is the interesting reality of the television and the internet. First, READ BOTH SIDES, I am sorry but regardless of position in the United States, EU or any other global entity no one is granted right. The concept of granting right simply means in any argument the person grand “right” always wins because they are right. We, as a nation (in the US) and the EU and others, believe in the rights of all people. Based on that no one is the objective reality. The global media has suffered tremendously in the past year and a half. Horrible things have been said about the media.

But, let’s be clear if there is a true legal ramification to what someone publishes it is either Defamation or Libel. I have yet to see a single Libel suit related to this horrific concept Fake News. I am truly embarrassed every time I hear that term. Yesterday across the US, many newspapers took a stand that was both interesting and valuable.

  1. Newspapers are forced to validate their sources. In this US this is part of the first amendment.
  2. Newspapers can protect the anonymity of their sources (this has been proven in a court of law time and time again).

I read an article;e recently that talked about the reality of news reporting and the difference between commentary and news. First off, a trained professional such as a news reporter, giving their opinion is something their training helps them do. If a news reporter truly gets out of line, says something untrue or completely off base, the news agency apologized and published corrected ignoration. This is part of their “the news agencies” charter with the FCC and other federal agencies. I would like to remind people that it was news agencies that published the Watergate Scandal in the US. Not the government, not a president who was declaring Watergate a witch hunt. It was the news. Trained journalists who were willing to be their lives against the truth.

My grandfather and my father always told me that if you know both sides of an argument you are better able to understand the full impact. You also, in knowing both sides of an argument have sympathy for both sides. In the 1970’s the president of the United States attacked, and issued injunctions against the New York Times and the Washington Post. The injunction was thrown out by the Supreme Court of the United States. That is a fact of law. It is a written document that details the reality of what is and isn’t legal regarding the government and the press. It is ok to disagree with an idea. As Richard Nixon found out in the 1970’s, the free press has rights. I hope we aren’t going to repeat history, but it feels like we are.


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Tech Wiz on use cases and troubleshooting

The Use Case, or what the solution was built to do. It is something that software and solution architects do. They, the solution architect, create a variety of use cases. A use case normally has an action, result and is documented as part of the overall presented solution. I think in the past 30 years I have written more than a 1000 use cases. Many of the use cases I’ve written were focused on building collaboration systems for my customers. The reality of the use case is you cannot predict the behavior of the system when there is variables outside of the norm, For example, if you have ten browser tabs open on your browser and you get unexpected results, open that browser with only one tab and see if the problem goes away.

For example, I once worked with a customer in designing a system around compliance. We met a few times, and then the customer lead and I sat down to build the use cases. We were very careful to take our use cases to as many users and stakeholders as we could. That said there were use cases and scenarios we could not prepare for. One of them was a user connecting from a remote location. This user needed to be able to access the system for reporting in the country they were from. We did not think about the reality of the remote network. We had prepared the system for that user and several like them to be able to connect, search and retrieve the information hey needed. We had not, however, prepared for the reality of the new network. The slowness frustrated users.

No system is perfect. We fixed it by caching the service in EMEA. That was the only way we could get around the performance hit of networks. All of this to remind us, when something doesn’t work right, think about how we are using it. If we are using a web application, how is our setup different than other people’s and in considering that, do we need to make changes on our side? I find that if I consider the how of design, I can normally get around most errors and the way I do that is I try to get my system as close to vanilla as possible. I have a VM on my computer with a completely generic build of Windows 10, and no other things installed. That way I know where the issue is. If that VM cannot connect then the issue isn’t on my side. If that VM can connect but my regular computer can’t I need to figure out what I changed on my regular computer. Sometimes it is as simple as removing variables. Sometimes it is something recently installed. Sometimes, it is really hard to figure out!


Tech Wiz

Tech Wiz trying to make blogging sites better….

There are a few things that I know are important to me over the years. Ethics is one of them. Ethics is all about not just how you treat other people but your reaction to that as well. I know that it is important both how you treat people but also how you react to people. I am far from perfect, I know but I do try. Trying is the best we can ever do. All of this comes from my thinking about influencers on blog sites. For example, one of the things you could get from the Admins at Niume if you asked and waited was who impacted your posts the most. I would love to get or see that for Virily. The reason has nothing to do with suddenly no longer following writers. It is more to understand what posts are impacting what people.

I do not interact with users that are abusive. I don’t interact with users that try to avoid the rules. In both of those cases, it is part of my ethical view of the world.

Based on that considering my theme I would love to see the following stats from Virily.

  1. People that read my post and bring other readers with them.
  2. People that read my post and bring the community with them.
  3. People who use punctuation marks (more than 5) in their comments. I want to sort these so I can ignore them.
  4. People who copy and paste comments. (same deal ignore these).

I have roughly an hour in the morning and an hour at lunch. I don’t have a huge amount of time to spend beyond responding to legitimate comments and interacting with authors whose posts I want to read. I do understand that my time is important. I also understand that when I read and comment on somebodies post, I want them to know that I took the time to read the post and comment on the post. It bothers me when I post a heartfelt blog, and the comments are all “nice pictures.” Thanks for that, I will respond to many people when they do that, but it bothers me a little.

I know this is my issue, but it is something important to me.


Tech Wiz

Tech Wiz thinking about influence…

I posted a pre-ride video from the camera on our tandem bike. I won’t post the actual ride for two reasons. One is we are still learning, and second, we crashed. It is kind of funny to watch the crash POV. But my wife said I wasn’t allowed to share the video, and I will honor that. There are some reviews I am trying to publish, but it probably won’t happen as quickly as I would like. I have a lot of things going on and don’t have time to do a full test of the devices in question. I also need to post a couple of Yelp reviews; I guess I am behind in all reviews now. I am still curious about the mover post I made yesterday. The concept of people that when they read or post, they are influencers.

For example, I know there are quite a few authors that I consider the go-to. It, of course, depends wholly on their sphere of influence for me. I continue to think about the post I made yesterday and wanted to expand the concept more. There are people that you want to interact with when they comment on your posts. There are people that it makes a difference to you that they read your posts. But there are also people that drive additional viewers. I talked yesterday about the two types of user impacts. The first being users that bring her users from the site, when they read or comment. The other is those people that bring guest or people that are not currently members of the site. From the site ownership perspective, my gut is that the second is a bigger deal. But I don’t know that for a fact.

The other side of this is the concept of the advertisement on sites. The new stat that many sites focus on is TOP and CT. The first being time on page. The second, CT, being click-throughs.  Based on reading other posts yesterday I wondered if in fact there aren’t different types of influence and influencers that have an impact on what people post. For some bloggers, it is all about audience expansion. Finding that influencer that drives a bigger audience then is the goal. For some people, it is more about being taken seriously. Therefore you want to influence influencers. You get the idea. None of these things can be effectively captured by gathering stats only. You can get the stats to determine the influencers, but the type of influence they aren’t shown in the numbers. As I continue to think about this I wonder, what type of influencer do you want on your blogs?


Tech Wiz

Tech Wiz on blogging site statistics…

One of the stats I would love to see from Virily, and other blogging sites is the Needle movers.  Google, Bing and the other search engines all talk about Search Engine Optimization to improve the positioning of your searches. This is sometimes called SEO. The use of tags, specific words and so on is how you move up or down the search rankings.  There are two types of needle movers on sites like Virily. The first is the “when they comment” other people also read and comment but these are mostly other people from the site. The other is those that bring in guest views. I would love to know who does either one of those. Not having access to the statistics is the issue. Just something to consider as we go forward with the platform!

As the reader base on Virily ebbs and flows, you’ll see the value in knowing that information. There are people who bring viewers with them. There are users that honestly if they don’t or do read your posts there is little to no impact either way.  It is like the reality of cut and pastes comments. At some point, it takes more time to respond to cut and paste comments than it took the person to cut and paste the comments. The same is true of the interesting comments at times, (one word followed by 10, 12or more punctuation marks). Comments are really important to me; I take time to respond to all the genuine comments I get. I do not respond to ones with lots of punctuation marks or ones that are copied and paste.

The other stats I would love to see from Virily would be the actual user count per day. I know for many posts there are often 100 or so people that read the posts within five days. I have, however, noticed that lately there are posts that seem to stay active (gaining readers) for 5 or more days. I would love to know where or what social media drives the most readers. All of these are future state dreams for the platform; I wouldn’t ask for that information until the platform itself was stable. There are always bugs in deploying software. Web platforms in and of themselves are very complex. Complexity isn’t bad, and when you consider the stats that Virily captures makes things even more complex. As the platform continues to mature,I am going to ask for more states. For now, I am happy just wondering.


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Tech Wiz on a great blog tool!

Today’s tech column is a dual-purpose column. First, to wander the Family History project stuff, secondly to shout out to great technology. One of the things I have done in the past few years is backup my blog posts to WordPress. By backup, I take the post from Virily, and before that Niume, and two, three or four days (depending on how many posts I am working on) I post that to WordPress. Every 5 or 6 months I thin backup the WordPress posts using a very cool technology Blog2Print. I have used Blog2print starting in 2014, and I’ve created 9 or 10 pdf files so far. I have also used the tool to create hardcover books for specific sets or series of blogs (I wrote a number after my father died. I wrote 25 for my 25th wedding anniversary).

It is nice to be able to share the blogs I write in the family history project as a single file.  Blog2print offers hardcover and digital-only pdf versions of your blog. The process works like this. You connect to their site (Blog2print) and select the “get started” button. When you sign up for your first book, they give you a discount, and if you create your account, they will also send you coupons roughly once a quarter. Normally to generate a book from your blog posts (WordPress and blogger and a few others it will not pull photos from Virily or others like Virily). The normal cost for an [f file is around 6 to 7 dollars after the discount. If you pay full price, it is only 8.95 or so, not a huge amount of money.

Once you pay, the tool builds your book and depending what you selected you either get a physical book in the mail in a couple of weeks or a link to a PDF file. The PDF files are “yours” because you own both the online content and the created PDF. You a do with that as you wish. Normally I share the books with my family, so they have it. Now, I don’t always do my technical blogs (this one), but I do from time to time.

It is fun for me to use the tool. I know that it doesn’t take long, I can generate a book in roughly 20 minutes. Since I publish every day, my books run between 300 and 350 pages. You are limited by the number of images per share, but I tend to only share one picture on my WordPress posts now. Overall this is an incredibly useful tool for all bloggers to use!


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Tech more on AR and helpdesk stuff

I used to print labels all the time. I don’t as often now, but I still have my Dymo label maker. I also have a photo printer,  that like the label maker I have but don’t use anywhere near as often as I used to use. I probably, in the best sense of cleaning out my office, start getting rid of those devices. It is something I have been trying to do. The same is true for the various arguments in the AR/VR world. I have three of the headsets today. I suspect when I get to the final use case state, I will probably get rid of one if not two of them. It is a part of the sloughing of my technology skin that I do from time to time. Yes, I realize that making a snakeskin reference will make some people uncomfortable.

During the 30 years of my IT career, I have had many different roles. I’ve been part of development teams and have built products. I have been part of a huge company-wide initiative to make things better. I ran an email system back in the days before internet mail took off. I integrated some technologies into our mail system. I also worked on a helpdesk for two years. Working on the helpdesk taught me the most important thing about technical problems. If someone tries to help you, accept that help. People that are willing to help you are rare. That said the interesting reality of helping people is most people are extremely hard to deal with. Read my post on helpdesk life, or Gary’s post as well (there is a link in my helpdesk post).

The other thing that is hard to convey to people is the critical nature of memory. When you have a problem, and someone helps you fix the problem, remember the fix. Try all the variations of the fix, if you have another problem. The more you can help yourself, the faster the person helping you can get to where you need to be. Honestly, the reality of solving technical problems is a huge area where AR is going to be useful. AR headsets allow you to see what you are trying to fix, at the same time seeing how it is supposed to look like. A map of all the parts, and a map of the part numbers. That ability allows you to solve problems faster. The hardest thing for techs, help desk professionals, and other support professionals is knowing what is deployed versus what things were designed to look like.


Tech Wiz

(link to the poll)