Footprints Online

I’ve been troubled and conflicted for a while about how our privacy is threatened and how by using so many apps and services online, I’m giving away what might be private information to 3rd parties to then use or re-sell. I wrote about this last May when I wrote about Post Privacy.

Tech optimists used to wax poetic about how the internet was going to make us a smarter, more erudite, more empathetic global community. But in 2018, it’s become clear that we’re in the middle of a communication breakdown, and that nobody has a good answer for how to properly engage with the things we once posted online, however dumb or horrible.¹

There has been a recent wave of articles about online privacy and several make very good points or point to tools that help you erase or reduce your online footprint.

At this particular moment in time, a lot of people seem to be interested in making that a reality — or at least in trying to completely cover up their tracks. Signal, a text and phone-call encryption app that comes with a recommendation from Edward Snowden, recorded a 400 percent jump in downloads after the election. And while landlords, colleges and potential employers have examined the social-media presence of applicants for years, there are signs that this kind of scrutiny is close to getting much more invasive

I’ve decided to take some of these steps myself and last week I deleted all my Twitter posts since the beginning of time. Over, 11,000 tweets gone. Using one of the online tools that does the deletion for me, I deleted all my past tweets. After completing this effort, with some gut wrenching I must confess, I came across the article, “Your Old Tweets Give Away More Location Data Than You Think” in Wired that reports on a study where it can be determined where you live by looking at your twitter history.

And I also took down my very first blog. I didn’t delete the blog, but I made it private. That hurt. I really loved what I had written there over many, many years.

I still have this blog (and here I’m writing away) and I have my prior professional blog about IT which I’ve still left up but I’m not posting there much anymore. I might take it down at some point too.

I can’t figure out what to do with Facebook. I’m tired of their security breakdowns, their misuse of data, and their insights about us. But it is the only way we connect with some of our friends and family so I don’t have a good plan there yet. I’ve almost stopped posting anything and I don’t check it much these day. I’ve deleted it from my phone.

Have you taken any steps like these? Any learnings?

Footnotes:

¹ Winkie, Luke. “The Depressing Truth About Deleting Your Online History.” Medium.com, Medium, 11 Jan. 2019, medium.com/s/thenewnew/the-depressing-truth-about-deleting-your-online-history-92f26d24f907.

² Ohlheiser, Abby. “Erasing Yourself from the Internet Is Nearly Impossible. But Here’s How You Can Try.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 10 Feb. 2017, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/02/10/erasing-yourself-from-the-internet-is-nearly-impossible-but-heres-how-you-can-try/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.58de8e1326f4.

Subscriptions

A week ago I got to wondering how many services, products, systems, tools or apps I’ve subscribed to over the months and years. My guess was perhaps 5 or 6, but I wasn’t sure. As of right now, I’ve documented 36 things I’ve subscribed or pay for on a regular basis where a draft if made against my bank account or credit cards. Gym membership, Adobe tools, Amazon Prime, Apple Music, several apps, several news services, etc. And I’ve become convinced there are more to come. Some of these show up every 12 months and one even renews in 24 months. I’m still in discovery mode to remember and think of those that I’ve not yet tracked.

Related, I’ve noticed that some subscription services send you reminders a few days before renewal, but some don’t. Shame on those who don’t and seem to just be hoping that you’ve forgotten and they can charge you again.

You might consider doing such a review yourself.

Related, if you are aren’t already doing this, you should setup your credit cards to notify you via a push of every transaction as it happens.

iPhone Configuration Ideas

I found the best post I’ve ever seen on how to best setup your iPhone to minimize distractions and promote mindfulness and productivity on the device instead of time wasting. I thought I was fairly good at this but this article suggested a lot of ideas I had not considered and just working through the recommendations was a powerful reminder of how to better use my iPhone instead of it using me. If you’ve not done a cleanup on your iPhone for a long time or if you need help with this, I suggest you work through these recommendations at How to Configure Your iPhone to Work for You, Not Against You.

New iPhone Camera

I bought the new iPhone. I generally skip versions so i jumped from the 7 to the Xs skipping the 8 and X generations. I will freely acknowledge that I didn’t NEED a new phone; I just wanted the new phone. I really wanted the new camera.

You can read several better reviews of the new cameras on other sites like this and this.

I’m not a photographer, but I take a lot of pictures, if that makes any sense at all. I took the following picture at a table in the 116 Farmstead Market & Table a few days ago.

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And here is a ‘Portrait’ model picture of the flower and vase.

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Wow. The detail, color and clarity are stunning and this is a camera phone.  Portrait mode blurs the background and the difference in the two pictures is obvious.

I’ve been amazed with the quality of the pictures and I’m just getting started with it.

I’ve read that we are going to be disappointed in our early camera phone pictures in a few years and I know exactly what that means. Those early flip phone pictures saved are nearly useless now. Even pictures from just a few years back are not very good. Here is one from 1996 when we used to live in Singapore.singapore

I wonder how these current pictures will age? If you are using your camera phone to capture moments with the kids or using it for business reasons, I can recommend this generation of Phones and their cameras and the iPhone Xs in particular.

Note that the camera system on the Xs and the Xs Max are identical which is a change from the X generation. Read Apple’s version of the new cameras here.

I don’t really want to write such an endorsement, but I’ve been stunned by the quality of the pictures on this camera.

A Few Interesting Items

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A really great article about connecting with others can be found at How to Become Insanely Well-Connected. Consider:

  • Being a good listener is about two things: 1) Demonstrating that you’ve heard exactly what was said by the other person, and 2) encouraging them to continue.

  • I’ll often start that conversation saying, ‘I’m wrong all the time and I very well may be here.’ Acknowledging your own fallibility and human imperfection can go a long way toward making yourself relatable.

  • End every meeting or conversation with the feeling and optimism you’d like to have at the start of your next conversation with the person. “Assume you’re going to run into everyone again — it usually happens either by plan or happenstance,” says Fralic. “There are no closed connections. The world is too small.” When you do meet again, you want the person to think, ‘Oh great, it’s so-and-so!’

The Brightest People Do 9 Things That Really Stand Out, Says a Harvard Prof has a few brilliant, summarized things to consider. I love these points from the list:

  • When confronted with a new situation they ask questions that efficiently get to the heart of the unaddressed issues.

  • It is not uncommon for a very smart person to see deeply into a problem and say things that indicate such depth, even when they are not widely understood, and their insight only becomes apparent long after the fact.

  • Smart people are a constant source of surprises — in their ideas, in their wordplay, in their questions, or in some other way. Whatever fuels their smarts cannot be corralled, and leads to unpredictable moments (at least to mere mortals).

  • There is always something about an intelligent person that you cannot quite put your finger on. It is just out of reach, and it makes them inscrutable.

An interesting article about averages and how we are always comparing ourselves to others. Read “What Are You Hiding?” which has this wonderful line which we’d be good to embrace,

If you are lucky, you figure out you are not average, love that part of yourself and find people who will also love you for it.

I’ve read three other posts this past week that have caused me to really pause and think, but I’m not ready to post them yet. Perhaps sometime later. Maybe. One was about intolerance and anti-intellectual thinking and two were about male dominance over females in society and the effects and issues. Both need further processing by me.

Please share back with me if you find a thought-provoking article that meant something to you.

The Workplace and Simplification

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A friend shared a great TEDx Talk with me recently about the workplace and simplification and about asking the right questions.

I quit my job as CIO over a year for several reasons that I won’t go into here. Since then, I’ve thought about lessons learned and perhaps, things I might have done differently at different times in the role.

I think this talk gets to the heart of it. An organization must prioritize simplification, removing bureaucracy, be nimble and fast and create a culture where asking and answering hard questions is the way things are done. Seems like more could have been done on this front.

I really did love the people I worked with there and recently had a chance to see some of my colleagues for a visit. It was a great time.

 

A Suggestion for Purchase?

Monday I told a friend that I should get some chocolate chip cookie dough to cook at home. My wife is gone, I just ran a marathon, I deserve some freshly baked, hot chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday when using the Walmart Grocery app to order a few things for pickup, the top suggested item for me was Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I have never ordered such from Walmart and never searched for such. What an amazing coincidence? How is this possible? Options:

1) Using big data analytics, Walmart decided they should suggest cookies to me based on subtle hints and data gathered over time from web browsing, purchase history, zip code, time of day and what car I drive.

2) My mobile phone was with me when I made the comment about cookies on Monday. The microphone was being monitored by some cloud engine tied to Walmart and the request was turned into a suggestion next time I used the Walmart app.

3) Random chance suggested cookies out of the millions of options in the Walmart catalog.

4) Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie is one of the most shopped for items that Walmart fulfills so they suggested it to me.

Disturbing at the least.  Thoughts?