Monday, December 30, 2013

BEWARE Amazon Kindle App Reader Version 4.30 Update!

Kindle Reading App update failed and cut me off from my books


UPDATE:  This was originally posted 12-17-13...  it's now 12-30-13 and they are still offering the sick version that won't let you log in to do anything.
UPDATE #2, dated 1-19-14: After another try updating the app, I then cleared the app's data under settings and the app behaved as expected!

The rest of the text here is from my first disappointing experience updating my reader app.
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Last night before going to bed, I was going to settle in, read a chapter of the latest book I was reading, then nodded off to sleep.  I noticed that there was an update to my Kindle Reading App, so I applied version 4.30.

BIG MISTAKE.

In the update text, it even warns/says that

"This version requires customers to log in to migrate their collections...

... if you encounter difficulties, please reach out to customer support at...
"

I've never seen a "please reach out to customer support" message before with the app.  Or I've never looked close enough, but it's an important part of the message.  Did they expect some horrible event to possibly happen?  Apparently so.

I went ahead and updated my Kindle Reading App and BOOM, there I was, suddenly...

No books to read,

No books "on device" library,

My device was no longer a registered device,

The "register" option was not working,

and a few other things that were rather entertaining.

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--Up until this point, I've been a strong proponent of the Kindle reading app, but at 1 in the morning, I found it challenging my desire to support the app.

I left messages via their support button,

I left a review of the app on the Google "Play Store" and noticed quite a few users were all having the same experience.  A lot.

Fascinating.

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I hit the "uninstall" button thinking I was going to get rid of the app altogether, but what the did for me was roll me back to the previous version I had on my Droid, but I was still suffering from the damage the update to v4.3 did...  not logged in, no books, etc., etc..

But once I did log in, I was able to re-download the book was reading.  Of course all my personalized settings needed to be reset.

So by 2am, I was good to go... even if I was getting up at 5am for work.

Nice going this time around Amazon!  This was a rather surprising "update," considering how bullet-proof (mostly) this app has been for me.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

I Finally Beat Droid's "Circle Widget" w AccuWeather

Beat Droid's "Circle Widget" w AccuWeather

On my Droid RAZR M I have this Circle Widget that showed me Time, weather and Battery Power Level.

It takes up space and my biggest pet peeve is the horrible inaccuracies of AccuWeather's information that is provided via Droid's circle.

And despite my every effort, I could not find or figure out how to change the source of my weather information.  (All the suggestions I found for changing the service did not work out on my RAZR.)

I had no options but then I hit on an idea.

I deleted the Circles Widget, which made a ton of space on my phone's home page. 

Then I added a 2x2 Weather.com widget and 'Battery Widget' by 'ELVISION' to my desktop to replace the Circles.  Since I already have the time in the upper right corner of my screen, I don't need to add a digital clock.


Talk About Crazy, Early, Holiday Marketing!!!

Was Christmas Marketing Too Early this Year?  Wait till you see what I just saw!!!

So this year is the year that everyone is starting to act like Costco?  Or was this seemingly early Christmas marketing blitz not as abnormal as it seemed?

Remember when Costco used to put out Christmas stuff before October?  This year everyone was getting on board that early marketing scheme when we started seeing Christmas marketing before Halloween was even over with!

On November 12th, 2013 I had made mention on Facebook about the Christmas advertising I was seeing on TV.  Not much longer after that we were all getting pummeled by Christmas ads... way before Thanksgiving.

It seems that the world of advertising and marketing was testing our mettle and how much we could tolerate of early holiday marketing.

It seemed sacrilege to start seeing Christmas so many weeks before Thanksgiving and in a few cases, before Halloween, like in mid-October. (Ikea was selling Christmas trees then)

Before we start yelling about how ads for this holiday are coming earlier and earlier, it seems that marketing for such has always started up this early.  But usually, it's been more sporadic and lesser known business entities.

But as Target (one of the first stores I saw marketing) and other larger named orgs started to hit the airwaves of our TVs, we started taking notice.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Champion Tees from Target - A Disappointing Observation

Target stores and poor quality tee-shirts sold
I used to think that Champion T-shirts were pretty decent tees.  Not top of the line, but decent enough.  But this latest batch that I bought from the 'credit-card-info-leaking' Target Stores seem to be saying otherwise to me right now.

The other day (metric speak for a few months back) I bought a bunch of Champion tees, on trust, and that trust is getting violated in a fast and certain fashion.

A few of the tee-shirts have started tearing open in the arm pit seam intersection after only wearing and washing them for a few times.  That seems way to soon for such wear and tear.

Then there's this weird, icky fitting a few others are starting to do...as if I left them hanging in a closet for a year and my collars and shoulder zones are not falling properly onto my body. Instead, they're getting stiff and standing up in odd spots around my neck, not hanging on my body properly and other annoyances.

They also tend to shrink as soon as they get a chance in the dryer.  And not consistently... they shrink in odd and different spots.
 Wow, and not a good wow.  That's all I have to say right now about Champion and Targets.

On the bright side, so far, my Champion Hoodies are holding up nice and warm.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wordpress "Invalid Post Types" Error - One Fix Found

Wordpress "Invalid Post Types" Fix

For the last few months I've been having problems in my WordPress blog when I select more than one post or more than one tag, and try to accomplish a "Bulk Action" on my selection, I kept getting various errors.  The most common being "Invalid Post Types."

Other errors were messages about bad lines in various modules.

I did a billion searches on the error message and gave a few things a try and then another few ideas, but nothing seemed to work.

I'm usually pretty loathe about the idea of disabling my plugins, but I finally broke down and started the analysis process.  And since I was doing this, I went for broke.

I disable ALL my plugins and tried a multiple post delete action, and it worked.

So it was a plugin!

I then started re-enabling 3 plugins at a time.  (I'm only using 16 plugins.)  And I found the culprit!

Sadly, it was one of my favorite plugins causing the issue, "Simple Tags v 2.32", designed for WP 3.5.

If anyone is on top of their game, you also know that we're up to Wordpress version 3.8!

After disabling Simple Tags and installing YARPP, things got better.

Not only was my issue gone, but my site seemed to start loading a bit faster.  I don't know if the site speed change is related or not.  But I do know that I have no more "Invalid Post Types" errors when I select multiple posts or tags for "Bulk Actions."

Woot!
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Product Recalls for Chromebooks, Children's lamps, Playground Slides and much more

Today's list of recalls include the following brands or products... there are a few that should not be ignored due to fatalities involved.

32” Coby Flat Screen Televisions

Cocktail Glasses

Emergency Reporting System Transmitters

Evolution Mountain Bikes

Google Chromebooks

IKEA Children’s Wall-Mounted Lamps (IMPORTANT)

Red Wing Shoes

Toro Lawn Mowers

Total Care Aerosol Cleaners

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Remember, you should stop using questionable products until you understand the issue and contacted the distributors. 

All recalls can be looked up at  http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/

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Google and HP Recall HP Chromebook 11 Chargers because The computer’s charger can overheat and melt, posing fire and burn hazards.

Contact Google toll-free at (866) 628-1371 or online at http://chromebook.com and click on the Chromebook link at the top of the page and then click on Support for more information.

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IKEA Recalls Children’s Wall-Mounted Lamps Due to Strangulation Hazard; One Child Death Reported.

A 16-month-old child in a crib died after getting entangled in the lamp’s cord.  In a separate incident, a 15-month-old child in a crib became entangled in the lamp’s cord and nearly strangled. In both incidents, which occurred in Europe, the lamp cord was pulled into the crib by the infants, creating a strangulation hazard.

Contact IKEA toll-free at (888) 966-4532 anytime or online at www.ikea-usa.com and click on the Recall link at the top of the page for more information.            

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Solowave Recalls Home Playground Tube Slides with Port Holes because The plastic port hole-type windows in the tube slide can break, posing a laceration hazard to children.

Contact Solowave toll-free at (866) 678-0376 or online at www.solowavedesign.com and click on Important Safety Notice.

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Playtex Recalls Hip Hammock Infant Carriers Due to the buckles on the waist and shoulder straps can crack or break, posing a fall hazard to the child.

Contact Playtex at (800) 522-8230 or
online at www.playtexproducts.com and click on Recall for more information. 

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Eight different Retailers Recall 32” Coby Flat Screen Televisions because An electronic component can fail, catch fire and ignite nearby items, posing fire and burn hazards.

IMPORTANT:

The U.S. company is out of business so eight retailers have stepped up to voluntarily recall the televisions.

ABC Warehouse: Toll-free at (855) 510-0070 or www.abcwarehouse.com for more information.

Best Buy: (800) 566-7498 or www.BestBuy.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information.

Fry’s Electronics: Toll-free at (877) 688-7678 or www.frys.com for more information.

h.h. gregg: Toll-free at (888) 723-7385 or www.hhgregg.com for more information.

Nebraska Furniture Mart: (800) 359-1200 or www.nfm.com for more information.          

P.C. Richard & Son: Toll-free at (866) 312-4493 or www.pcrichard.com for more information.

Sears/Kmart: Toll-free at (888) 852-3571 or www.sears.com or www.kmart.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information.

Toys R Us:  (800) 869-7787 or www.toysrusinc.com and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How To Save A Wet USB/Thumb Drive

Saving your wet USB (thumb drive) stick


The other day I washed my jeans and completely forgot that I had a USB stick (thumb drive) in my right-hand side mini-pocket.

Oops.

But having dealt with wet electronics before, I had a good idea what to do to help save or rescue my soaked USB stick, and the data on it.

The answer?  Do Nothing At All!

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What I mean by do nothing is once you've rescued your electronic device from its potential watery grave, do nothing with it.

1- Be patient.

2- Don't plug it in to any device to see if it's OK.

3- Don't get tricky and dry to force dry it.

4- Just. Don't. Use. It. For a few days at least.

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It's been my experience that if you get a piece of electronics wet, the only thing you can do is be very patient and let it dry out.  If no electrical current was coursing through its circuits when it got wet, then all you have to do is make sure it's 100% dry before attempting to use it again.

Think about it.  If it wasn't being used, nothing got wet while it was hot with current.  If you dry it out completely before using it, well, it won't even know it was wet!  Just don't hurry the process.

In my case, I put the drive on a high location in my living room.  (Heat rises.  So it got the benefit of a good drying session over a period of a few days while we were running our heater. {During winter months})

I let it sit for a few days so the heat could help dry out the innards and just letting plain old evaporation also help with the process and do its thing.

And patience is the key ingredient for sure.

And this isn't just good advice for wet USB drives.  Over the years I've inadvertently had various pieces of electronic equipment get soaked and in each case, if it wasn't on when it got wet, letting it dry out thoroughly usually negated any potential damage or loss that the water could do.

Now if it's salt water, that's another matter altogether, since salt water is conductive, corrosive and a little bit more tacky than clean city water.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Filtering Your Facebook Friends or Pages

Facebook - filtering your wall feed from Friends posts


It's bad enough that Facebook chooses to stop showing you updates of folks or pages that you like, depending on your interaction level with those entities, but then there's the flip side of it all.  That being if pages or friends tend to make noise that you might not want to see.  (AKA, political opinions, global warming ignorance, or just plain old, crazy, cranked out updates every hour on the hour, all day long.)

Or have you commented on something and suddenly you are getting all the replies or they replies have gone off-subject... that's an easy fix too.

First,  what can you do if you have friends or pages that spout off about things you don't need to see?

I mean seriously, I can only take so many posts about underwater basket weaving, and posting about it nearly every hour is driving me insane!

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To be honest, it's a pretty easy fix that does not require unfriending anyone.

Basically, it goes like this:

Click on your friend's link, taking you to their own page/account feed/profile.

Hover your mouse over the checked "Friends" tab.

If "Get Notifications" is checked, uncheck that.

If it's not checked, you might have noticed to the right of the "Friends" tab a thing checked saying "Following."  (Yes, that's something new that I didn't know had been introduced... probably forgot whenever it was mentioned.)

Uncheck that.

Boom!  There ya go, no more crazy updates.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

SIRIUS XM Christmas Music Channel List - 2013

SIRIUS XM Christmas Music Channel List for 2013

If you need your Christmas/holiday music fix and you have SIRIUS XM radio, you're in luck, to the tune of several options this year!!!

Last year, as far as I knew, there was only 1 channel.  Maybe there was more, but once I landed on the channel, I stopped looking.  But this year, I discovered that there was more than one channel that is full-time Christmas music.

Each channel seems to have its own flare, so to speak.  My quick auditory test suggested that Channel 17 had the best, basic holiday music/songs that we have all come to enjoy.

But hey, to each his own and there's obviously something for everyone!

This list is straight from the SIRIUS XM website, please take note of the dates that these channels are available for doing their holiday music duties.

-Bruce



Ch. 4:  Holiday Traditions   | Nov 12 – Dec 31  Online Ch. 751

Ch 17:  Holly                       | Nov 12 - Dec 31  Online Ch. 752

Ch 49 : Holiday Soul           | Dec 10 - Dec 26  Online Ch. 755

Ch 58:  Country Christmas   | Dec 3 - Dec 26   Online Ch. 754

Ch 75:  Holiday Pops         | Dec 3 - Dec 26   Online Ch. 753

Ch 111: Radio Hanukkah   | Nov 27 - Dec 5   Online Ch. 751

Ch 501: Navidad                | Dec 3 - Jan 7    Online Ch. 756

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http://www.siriusxm.com/holiday

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Preventing Christmas Time Car Thefts

Preventing automobile break ins


I have a piece from a local news source talking about how people turned up in force to help out a crime victim who had lost $1,500 worth of Christmas presents because some a-hole broke into his car and stole the stuff destined for kids with cancer and other folks in need.

Sure, I hope karma finds the dude and has her way with him.  He should get double karma credit for it being a holiday crime.

But aside from the obvious, I have to wonder if the automotive break-in could have been avoided?

Sure, if an evil-doer is focused on breaking into cars, he'll do it.  But these cretins don't like to draw attention to themselves.  They don't like spending too much time in the same spot.  And I'm willing to guess that they don't like breaking into a car if they don't know what they are after.

Example:

I used to live at the Avalon Silicon Valley Apts, located at the intersection of Lawrence and the 101 in Sunnyvale, CA.  It's a nice enough place, but it had its issues.  Almost every week a car in my section of the garage was broken into.  (I could not attest for any other section.)  The cars to the immediate left and the immediate right of mine were all broken into.

Me?  I draped a "sun protecting" towel over my dashboard, hiding my gear, and had draped stuff over anything that might sit in my vehicle's seats or moved stuff to under my seat.  There was never anything to see inside my vehicle.

Another example is how a friend of mine had his car window broken out and the burglar took a bag full of dirty baby clothes.

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So from what I've seen, it's what they can see that they'll take.

At this point, are you guessing where I'm going with this?

Yes... the age old adage of do not leave things in plain site in your car.  Toss a coat or sweatshirt over things, or better yet, leave stuff in your trunk.  (The coat or sweatshirt might be something the evil-doer might be looking for.)

If you leave iPods, ipads and other iThings laying around on your car seats, you are only inviting someone to liberate those things (and the files on them) from your possession.

It's your call.  But I know I like making the call and keeping folks out of and away from my s*!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

FACEBOOK Feed Resetting My Filters

Just a quick FYI on your Facebook feeds.



Of late, Facebook has been modifying their feed filters once again to provide the best possible experience for their users. (That's tech speak for making the platform as desirable as possible to their advertisers.  [Which is necessary for the platform to remain free for our use.])

But I noticed that a few of my friends were grumbling about their broken feeds.  Then I noticed a few things odd about my own feeds.  There were weird posts that were sometimes days old, showing up in my feed.

That's when I revisited my "SORT:xxxxx" function in my FB feed.  Monday morning I had noticed that my sorting was set to "Top Stories." But I didn't think much of it, being as how they (the powers that be at Facebook) were reportedly mucking with their feed algorithms.  (You know,... the algo that stops putting updates in your feed from Liked pages and friends if you don't interact with them in a sufficient fashion.)

But today I noticed the same thing in my personal feed, where content that should be showing up in my feed wasn't.  I did a double check, and sure enough, my sorting function had resorted back to "Top Stories," despite my fixing it yesterday.

It's almost annoying enough that items in my feed leap to the front when someone comments on them, but you do have to keep an eye on those basic settings when FB gets to updating the inside of their software engine.

The moral of the story is to keep abreast of your account settings on a monthly (weekly if you're concerned enough) basis to make sure that your Facebook experience is the exact experience you are expecting to have.
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Monday, December 9, 2013

And App Makers Wonder Why We Don't Trust Them!

“Brightest Flashlight Free.” has been selling users data

The FTC settled a case last week with an Android-based popular flashlight app, “Brightest Flashlight Free.” Turns out that they've been stealing (strong word, but I'm embellishing my emotional reaction here) users data and selling it to their advertisers.

I always wonder (and hate) when I install an app and it wants to have access to all kinds of information on my smartphone.  Information that it really doesn't need.  I get needing access to the phone call mode, and some simpler options, but my location?  (Ha, I run with my GPS turned off, so they only get so much info out of me.  ((like nearby networks)) )

And yet, it's what they do.  And I bet very few folks read the warnings while clicking on all those acceptance buttons!

The app is a very opular Android app by GoldenShores Technologies, LLC, that has had almost 100 million users, called Brightest Flashlight Free.  (Remember, free is an illusion.  Though sometimes, if you ignore the fine print on some apps, it does feel like it's free!)

Turns out that GOLDENSHORES TECHNOLOGIES as been collecting personal data including location and device ID's and sharing that information with their advertisers.  Even if the users choose to opt out of that part of the app's function.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Facebook, Twitter, Google: Millions of Passwords Leaked - Should You Worry?

Passwords lost to Malware...  Be proactive and secure


According to an NBC report, million of passwords have found their way into the wild, exposing those Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts to who knows what.

The passwords were not lost by the organizations themselves, but rather, they were discovered on computers that had malware intrusions.

But if you're one of those that might be in trouble, well, you might best think about changing your password.

It was also noted in the quick piece that people use STUPID passwords like '123456' and other such brilliantly devised protection schemes.

Hey, if you don't have a single valuable thing on your computer, then by all means, go for it and use easy passwords.  But if you've accessed your bank account or any other sensitive account from your computer, you might want to reconsider.

And picking passwords... aside from the all the hoopla about what to do and not to do, keep it simple and just pick something THAT ISN'T OBVIOUSLY RELATED TO YOU.

But that's me.

I have a database of passwords and I NEVER use the same password for any two accounts.

Yes, that's a pain in the *!!, but if I take my best protective measures, I can at least feel I've done something to thwart these butt sniffing evil-doers.

So how did these passwords get snagged from infected machines?

Easy... malware.
That's crap you pick up when you install useless things from untrusted sources.  (Can we say shareware?  I knew you could!) 

Surprisingly one can snag malware when they aren't paying attention to a reputable software install.

You'd be surprised how much crap is attached to regular software packages.  When I install Adobe stuff, McAfee malware* is usually attached.  The other day I had to install PhotoScape and damn, there's a lot of content that tries to install itself before the actual software does.

RECALLS: Baby Rattles, Blenders, A/C Adaptors, Stools, Lamps and More

Recalls of note today include

Baby Rattles,
Blenders,
Children’s Sitting Stools,
Hanging Pendant Lamps
Mini Bikes,
Motion-Activated Outdoor Lights,
power A/C Adaptors,
Sno-Cone Machines, and
a wearable blanket for infants,

As with any recall of any kind, if you suspect you own the troublesome product, stop using it immediately and follow through on check things out.

Better safe than sorry... right?

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Manhattan Group Recalls Baby Rattles Due to Choking Hazard

The Manhattan Toy® Quixel™ baby rattles have been reported as breaking, and small pieces resultant from the break, could be choking hazards.

Remedy: Refund

For a refund, call Manhattan Group at (800) 541-1345, or go online at www.manhattantoy.com and click on RECALLS at the bottom of the home page for more information.

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Baja Motorsports Recalls Mini Bikes Due to Fall, Crash Hazard

Um... hmm...

Despite the obvious, the actual hazard here is that the front fork can come off, posing a separate fall hazard other than the obvious!

They've had 13 reported incidents.

Call Baja Inc., toll-free at (888) 863-2252 or go online at www.bajamotorsports.com and click on Safety Information.

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Snoopy Sno-Cone Machines Recalled by LaRose Industries Due to Risk of Mouth Injury

Turns out some rivets inside the machine can come out and you'd eat it before you know it.

{For repairs, LaRose Industries toll-free # (855) 345-4593, email recall@laroseindustries or see them online at www.laroseindustries.com which takes consumers to the Cra-Z-Art website.  click on the Recall tab}

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Calphalon Recalls Blenders Due to Injury Hazard

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An Idea For A Better Google BOOKMARKS Experience

Suggestion for adminstering Google Bookmarks

Anyone who has seen or touched the internet has encountered Google. Most likely with their search engine.  But others may have found themselves using their multiple different services that they've provided over the years.

Some Google apps have served their purpose and are being pulled from service.  Some are still up, but questionably ill-supported, while others have never promised anything, but are there for the use.

One of those "there for the usage" apps is Google Bookmarks.

It's just there.  It's useful if you want to quick-mark a website to go back to later, but as time goes on, your collective of bookmarks grows at a crazy rate.

But there's no decent way to filter and prune the list of links.  If you want to start deleting them, you have a few base options and most of them are tedious and slow:

Delete All

Or

Delete one at a time, paging through and selecting each one on each page.

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There are plusses and minuses to both processes.

DELETE ALL

Deleting everything is quick and painless.  But are you sure that's what you want to do?  Were there links in there that maybe, you wanted to keep?

My take is that if you bookmarked something and never went back, then it's probably a moot thing and deleting all isn't a bad thing.

And by what I mean by "never went back," is that if it's over a few weeks old, then you've probably moved on from whatever reason you had to stash it.

Smiting them all is a fresh start.

I've smite all my bookmarks a few times and I don't think I've missed anything.

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DELETE ONE AT A TIME

I Hate The New Facebook Popups

New Facebook Popups.... I'm not fond of them

Facebook is about getting people to link and click.  The more the merrier, as it makes the advertisers on Facebook happier.  With that premise in mind Facebook has to come up with methods (or tricks if you will) to get that linking to happen.  And all the while, try to filter out the clutter that might block money worthy advertiser posts.

Most people don't care.  They're little fleshy link-clickers... mindlessly following the interesting things that get in their face, forgetting where or what they were originally doing.  But some folks do take notice of their online life and would rather have control of it.  (Am I off on that mark?)

As far as advertisers go....

The below image are samples of what my feed shows me... from ads geared towards my age, my region and even my likes (that Star Trek Enterprise ad is a total lie... there was no destroyed ship at the other end of that link.  Anywhere!)  And seriously, Ryan Reynolds looking like that?  LOL.

(see more after the break)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Menlo Park's ACE HARDWARE Ruins Christmas

For those of you who live in our around Menlo Park, CA, you have probably seen or even visited the Ace Hardware in downtown.

Last year they took over an extra section of the building they're in and presented a wonderful little Christmas store section full of neat trinkets and decorations and what not.  To be honest, I wish I had taken a picture of it.  The aisles were very originally designed and the place had the feel of something fun.  Something special. I liked going in there.  It was unique, inventive and creative.

This year, it's a completely different beast.

This year, they've added the stock shelving units that they have in their regular store, lined them up just like the regular part of the store and that extra neat atmosphere we had in the store last year is completely gone.  Now it's just another sterile retail space.

It's stark, in comparison to the neat setting they had last year.  Now, it's just another resource to buy things and I have no compulsion to go in there.  (Last year, I went in almost every weekend, and ended up buying a few things I might normally have not bought.  This year... no worries there. 

I'm bummed.  My guess is that having that extra section last year might have worked well enough to motivate them to do it again, but this time, they're doing it with maximum profit in mind.

I get that.  It's a business.  But this year, that's all it is now, just a business.

It was fun while it lasted last year.
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