Category Archives: blog

Goodbye twitterfeed. It’s been real

While checking on my wife’s twitter feed (and lack of blog posting going out today), I see a big banner message saying that twitterfeed.com is shutting its doors on October 31st.

I proceeded to look for other options. It seems like other services that perform similar services start at $9.99/month. Yikes! That’s a bit steep.

So instead, I dug into Jetpack, and configured it’s built in support for posting to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media platforms. With all those setup on my blog and my wife’s, I went ahead and deleted all those feeds.

I guess it makes sense. Never saw them really monetize that service. And it appears many other services that were never successfully monetized are crumbling: Google News Reader, certain electronic newspapers that used to be free are putting up paywalls. I guess these places just can’t survive on ads.

Nevertheless, this will be my first post going out using plain old WordPress tools to distribute things. Thanks twitterfeed!

Use social media; don’t let it use you

I have seen a handful of posts and tweets recently that have summarized my own developing view of where we as people should stand in relation to social media. For starters, we need to recognize that social media is a product for which we are probably NOT the client:

If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold. —blue_beetle

Do you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or anything else? In case you didn’t know, you aren’t the client. The client is the person that pays for it. So what are the consequences?

For years, I have put up with time wasting emails from recruiters sending me ridiculous job opportunities. I have seen past colleagues recommending me for technologies I never really used. It took me at least four years to realize this, but I finally shut down my LinkedIn account. And it wasn’t but a few days later, when I read a compelling article that outlined how GitHub is not a 1:1 match for your CV. I couldn’t help but back that up.

Another revelation in the slippery use of social media came from a long time friend of mine, when he tweeted this:

tweets-with-no-value

My friend Russ had signed up for some freebie service that would automatically track his own twitter usage and generate more content on a weekly basis. It took else to bravely ask him, “are you getting any value out of that?” This inspired Russ to say no, and drop it. To be honest, all those extra tweets annoyed me, but I didn’t feel I had time to pause and ask Russ the same question.

Today’s IoT seems to be all about generating traffic any way possible. We get drawn to the idea of generating more buzz about ourselves, regardless of any value, just so we can get everyone else to say “look at me!” Have you felt like this?

everyone-can-be-super-and-when-everyones-super-no-one-will-beI confess I feel a desire to do it myself. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I saw an article posted by Eberhard: Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy. In summary, we are being fed this message that we are all special and that we should be ambitious as well. A good career is a given. We simply need to choose in what way. Hot top: if everyone is special then no one is special. Sorry, but we aren’t all special. We are all unique and each of us can contribute something to society. But it doesn’t mean we will all be glamorous, have a legion of follows on any social media network, or catch everyone’s eye. Those that expect this and are not actually seeing life shape out this way, are becoming unhappy.

Today’s social media provides this platform where we can constantly publish who and what we are. Only what we put out there is undoubtedly positive, polished, and the best of who we are. We never put out our faults and our mistakes. It creates pressure on our friends, family, and, well, everyone that things are going great. They should feel the same! If something isn’t going great for them, then something must be wrong on their end. What kind of message is that?

I have many colleagues that do different things. One of my buddies travels to conferences all the time. He has a bit of techno glamour because he often gives talks and has built a great network of technical fame and street cred. I have sometimes been jealous of that. But when I stop and think about what I would have to give up to travel like that, I realize that his life is not what I want. (And perhaps, my life is not what he wants!)

I don’t want to miss anything my family is doing. This was strongly justified when I met a particular person at SpringOne this year. It was someone that had been following me on Twitter for a bit. He walked up and greeted me in the coder’s lounge, eager to shake my hand. “It’s so great to finally put a face with the name!” I admit I was startled by this. We talked about technical stuff over lunch. I enjoyed that. I wasn’t the creator of something like Ruby on Rails. I wasn’t the inventor of the Spring Framework. But I was making my own small contributions to the Spring community and other people were recognizing that.

olivergierke_2014-Nov-02I see tweets from colleagues living in Europe. For them, it’s not such a big deal to jump on a train and travel to Prague or Switzerland for some a conference or a meetup. They snap pictures along the way and tweet them. Amazing stuff! I enjoy seeing them posted!

But I recognize that I have my own beautiful sights here as well. There are many times I’ve taken my family on my father-in-law’s boat to ride on the river through downtown Clarksville. Driving through the hills of Tennessee to Florida has many wonderful sights to take in. And taking your family to Disney World several times a year is something not everyone else can partake of. It takes recognition to appreciate what is in your own backyard and not take it for granted.

It feels as if today’s generation is all about getting on the hip and cool social media networks because that’s what everyone else is doing. The next time you do, stop and ask yourself, “Is this giving me what I want? Is this serving ME. Am I posting things that I enjoy so I can socialize with others, or am I posting things to make myself happier?” If it’s the latter, then you need to guard yourself.

We must all seek happiness through things that resonate with our core values. I have enjoyed writing computer programs since I was a kid. I learned how to push around a “turtle” (aka triangle) on an Apple II when I was a youngster using Logo. That was FUN. And I haven’t stopped doing fun stuff since. Twitter provides the means for me to follow people that post articles, links, and pictures of similar experiences.

But I am now learning how to control my social media involvement. As I wrote at the top, I shutdown LinkedIn because it didn’t help me. A few months ago, I started turning off Tweetbot during the day, because it was absorbing too much time. When I first signed up for Twitter, I started following lots of people. Now, I am starting to unfollow people when I realize they are not providing me any value. Are you sifting through your own social media networks like that?

This is why Facebook is now at the top of my list for deciding, “Is this of value to me?” I uninstalled the app from my iPhone almost a year ago, and I haven’t missed it! I feel close to being able to pull the trigger on closing my whole account. (I want to contact my high school German teacher, and it appears I can find here there. Perhaps we can trade email accounts for correspondence?)

To wrap up things up, I can tell I definitely enjoyed the conclusions of ‘Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy” when the author wrote:

  • Stay wildly ambitious.
  • Stop thinking your special.
  • Ignore everyone else.

Being ambitious is what it takes to be successful. Realizing you might not be famous, special, or widely recognized is okay. Having a handful of very close friends you can truly depend on is more important.

The hardest one, though, is learning to ignore everyone else. Social media networks encourage us to look at everyone else and constantly evaluate and judge ourselves based on everyone else. Knock it off! Social media networks should be used to share, chat, and converse with your friends. It should never be used as a meter stick to develop our own self worth. If you ever find yourself doubting yourself based on what you have seen or read on social media, than double check the authenticity of that.

Goodbye LinkedIn, it’s not me it’s you

I finally did it. I’ve debated for the past four years whether or not to close my LinkedIn account. When I saw an email come out about how you can get ALL your data in a single download, I jumped at the chance. I grabbed all my connections’ contact info, and put it on a private page inside my personal blog. Then I proceeded to dump LinkedIn.

Why?

Starting back in 2009, I wanted to relocate my family to Tennessee. My old company didn’t have offices there, so I started on a hunt to find a new position elsewhere. The first place I turned was all the contacts I had built via LinkedIn. Guess what? Not a single opportunity was raised with my so called network.

Perhaps that’s a bit drastic? Agreed. Which is why I didn’t drop it at the time. I found an interview with one company at the time through a past co-worker. Another interview was yielded through a recruiter I found through other means in the Nashville area. The best opportunity was when I met Keith Donald at the 2008 SpringOne conference. I had to travel to a remote conference to find out his office was five minutes from my own back in Melbourne, Florida.

Any who, a year after handing Keith a resume, he calls me up with a new opening. Suffice it to say, that’s how I found my way into VMware, and now Pivotal.

LinkedIn: 0  Users: 1

Updates to LinkedIn

I can’t remember if this was last year or two years ago. LinkedIn comes out with a new “plugin” to your iPhone. Essentially, it routes ALL your email through their servers just so it can add a bit of metadata about the person emailing you using your connections. The security alarms this threw off in my head were justified by the amount of negative press it generated in the blogger community.

GPG-signed messages would break. The possibility for MITM attacks was there. And pay note: this predated the discover of NSA snooping major companies.

LinkedIn: 0  Users: 2

A few months ago, I saw the ultimate thing. Someone had screen captured a headline from LinkedIn’s own website which read more or less, “You don’t like recruiters? We don’t either.”

Are you KIDDING me? LinkedIn, you make your money on upselling accounts so that recruiters have more access. This told me that LinkedIn would do anything to keep to come to their site. And in the meantime, the only emails I am getting are from recruiters. No friends, no colleagues, nobody. The people that wish to contact me either email me directly, buzz me on twitter, or reach me through another channel NO ONE Is using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn: 0  Users: 3

Anybody using endorsements today? I know. What a joke. This year, I have received several endorsements from past co-workers of my old job for subversion the CM tool. From people that don’t write software. A tool I did NOT use when I worked there. I tool I haven’t used for four years.

I get endorsements on Rational ClearCase. A tool I haven’t seen for just as long. Anytime i go to their website, I’m always seeing, “Will you endorse so-and-so for abc?” No NO NO!!!! Endorsements have no value.

Bottom line

  • Endorsements haven’t earned me a dime of value
  • Reviews from past co-workers and colleagues hasn’t earned me a dime of value
  • Security policies from LinkedIn are absurd

I have better control over my personal brand using this website. I can post links to what I think is important. I move things to the top of the sidebar based on relevance. Right now, Learning Spring Boot is at the top. Two months ago, I had SpringOne 2014 at the top. Two months before that, my updated keys due to heartbleed.

And I am in control of this data. No one is spamming me. Recruiters aren’t hassling me. The place where I can build real relationships is through twitter, my responses to questions on stackoverflow, and meeting people face-to-face at the Nashville JUG. Why do anything else?

If you’re still reading, then feel free to raise me on twitter. You’ll find the link on the sidebar.

Goodbye LinkedIn. It’s not me it’s you.

Scripting does the trick!

Last night I finally googled around and found http://python-wordpress-xmlrpc.readthedocs.org/en/latest/. This library uses WordPress’s XML-RPC API hook to let you connect, fetch content, and make edits. It was fabulous!

Having migrated from Blogger, I still had a huge number of links that were pointed at Picasaweb, where I have images stored. I had wanted to somehow update all my old blog posts and point them at the images I pulled down from Picasaweb and uploaded here.

This library was perfect. Their intro docs show you the basics of how to get started. It wasn’t long before I figured out how to scan every post, look for particular patterns I wanted to clean up, and then replace them properly. For example, my blog used to be greg-turnquist.blogspot.com. Several of my posts were still linked as such. Blogger kindly would forward uses hitting those links, and I left sufficient settings behind so they would keep getting redirected here. But to finally erase that old domain from all cross posted blog entries was perfect.

The other thing that I need to wrap up is how I still have some blog entries that hyperlink to the old label system of blogger (/search/labels/foobar). In WordPress, I use /category/foobar, so I need to scan for them all and make updates. I also need to replace things like real%20estate with real-estate.

The library even had the ability to pull down information on every image uploaded to this site. I naturally checked the name of each image here and on Blogger, and they all have the same root filename. I just needed to update the link and URI path.

To top things off, as usual, I dug up Python’s formidable re library. I always have to pull up the reference docs. Something about regular expressions always requires me to reboot my brain on using it. I am quite skilled and have been writing regular expressions since I learned PERL probably twenty years ago. But to really sink your teeth into a problem, write the correct pattern, and extract the groups through their API…well, let’s just say it doesn’t stick to me quite like certain other things. No doubt, this site helped me craft the pattern I needed.

After all was said and done, I finally pulled the trigger and issued a handful of edits. In no time, I had updated both this blog and my financial one, ensuring that I was now using local images.