On the topic of “Pictures”

I’m very sorry that Jennifer Lawrence and so many women had their privacy invaded. However, I am very very encouraged by the discussion that it has created this time around.

Previously, I’ve seen in the news how a single woman had pictures leaked and how upset she was, but there was very little sympathy because “why is she taking nude pictures of herself in the first place?” or “Well she’s just did that scene in that movie, what’s the big deal” or “Nudity is no big deal why is she’s making such a fuss?”

All of these arguments fail to address the issue of the woman’s own agency. Does she have control over her own body, her own work, her own accounts? Men aren’t targets like this because men are not treated as objects to be viewed by men on the whim’s of men. Angelina Jolie choses to be in a movie with no clothes on when she wants to be and no sooner. Jennifer should be afforded the same right. And you have no right to see her if she does not chose to do so.

It’s this last point I see debated much more than before, in my opinion. This could be because I’ve crafted my twitter and RSS streams to much more thoughtful sources, but the fact that the sources are out there and pounding away at this point are encouraging.

Jennifer has a lot to think about herself in terms of internet security. So does Apple… but that’s not your problem. Your problem is recognizing that anything that takes Jennifer’s agency away from her is wrong.

Racism and Economics

I’m back with another post, this time about the post-racial society. This comes from another Intelligence Squared podcast debating if we have achieved Martin Luther King’s ideal of an integrated society. After important events like Ferguson it’s important that we all listen to the debate like this.

The debate speaks for itself. I do have one point I want to make. It ties back to my previous post about money buying freedom.

Our laws have been, for the most part, crafted to treat people as equal under the law. This does not however address the feelings in the hearts and minds individual Americans. What’s happening now is that people use existing laws and prejudices to keep others down out of fear and hatred. Stand your ground laws, stop and frisk, welfare reform, etc were meant to address perceived problems but are used disproportionately against minorities.

The people who are being held down are simply asking for freedom, freedom that rich white males already have. Sure, a black man or woman can vote now, but can they get to the polling station safely? Can they get there without being called hateful slurs? Can they take the day off from work to do so? Will they have choices of candidates that represent them? Can they rely on their decision to help them survive and live another day?

When they are asked to be treated more fairly, to ask for more freedom from fear and oppression, those rich white males react out of fear for their own position and think they may lose freedom, so they use their power to hold down others. This is how it circles back to money. Instead of looking to help our fellow man and empower them positively, the white power structure fears change and resists and fights rather than sympathizing. There are numerous individuals who are rich and white and do not fear this and want to listen, but it’s the ones that don’t which hold society at large back and create the friction we continue to experience.

This fear then translates to hatred, a typical response. The hatred then manifests as racism, rationalizing excuses to attack the people asking for a fair shake rather than listening. Then it becomes deeply ingrained and individuals see it in their popular culture, and it gets everywhere. There is a point to be made that it’s not all about skin color, but that’s the end result. We have been trying very hard to fix the issue of money in this country, and it’s fear by those in power to give up their power and share it with everyone so that we can all have a proper taste of freedom.

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User or Customer? Linguistics in the tech age

A while ago, a couple of bloggers sparked an interesting discussion about what the difference between a user and a customer. This discussion lit up the blogosphere and twitterverse about who was right and who was wrong. If I had gone back and looked harder, I would have found if someone had stated this, but frankly, they are both wrong.

Jack Dorsey postedsomething regarding how he feels regarding the use of “user” when referring to people who use their product.  Dave Winer, in typical uppity and yet thoughtful fashion, posted a reply countering this viewpoint.

The whole mess is about when do you call the person at the keyboard a user or a customer, especially when trying to “serve” them.  I think both of these gentleman make good points, but I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.  Jack is making a critique upon geeks from a business perspective, which I think is always a skewed way to look at things, and Dave simply complains that he “imagines Jack Dorsey feels pretty powerful these days, but even now he’s not so powerful that he can change the programming of millions of people with a single blog post” failing to realize business owners the world over have already conquered this ground and this is a rehashing of a tried and true business principle.

In short, it’s the business majors versus the computer science geeks in a linguistics showdown.

Now, being that I’m a tech nerd in a customer service position, I think I see both sides of this story pretty clearly.  What it boils down to is how do you respect people and do the best by them.  Jack’s argument is the business major method; call them customers.  His point is sound in that yes, absolutely, customer sounds a lot better than users in business circles.  As a retailer, a salesrep, or a seller of knick knacks, the people who buy stuff from you are your customers.  In that arena, people like to be called customers. You are establishing that you are selling them something that they want, and you are there to serve them and provide the best experience possible.

What business majors don’t see is that, In some circles, customer is pejorative, especially when someone is just “using” something. When I’m having trouble with something technical, I need help, but I don’t want to feel like I’m being sold too. This is a common feeling amongst geeks, who spend time doing their own research and away from slick, pushy salesreps. Salesreps sell to “customers”, but support helps users. This also applies when who the customer is becomes hazy. I’m a user of Google services, but I’m not their customer. Google’s customers are people who they sell data and ads to. Same with Facebook. This distinction is important so that we all understand where we stand when it comes to free online services. There are even situations where your customer is a large corporation. The employees of the customer are users who need help. They didn’t buy this crazy piece of software, do they want to be called a “customer” of something they didn’t ask for? Finally, being a customer of a good company is a good thing, but being a customer of a bad company, perhaps like Comcast, is not always a good thing. While “comcast customer” is better than “comcast user,” being a customer of Comcast rarely makes one feel good these days.

This doesn’t change how you treat a person. If someone needs help, and your job is to help them, it’s your job to provide outstanding service. Part of that service is to know your audience. Customer, in my experience, most often wins out, especially when dealing with physical goods or services. When it comes to software and online services, know your audience. User might be better if:

1) You are dealing with knowledgable computer geeks, especially those who like free software.
2) If you are dealing with people who you don’t directly sell to and they know it.
3) They are not being sold to and don’t like to be sold to.

Even then, I find how you treat them trumps what you call them.

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Money buys freedom

I was listening recently to an Intelligence Squared debate on one of their podcasts.  This particular debate was about if money can or cannot buy happiness. I was only 10 minutes into the podcast but I realized my position on the topic. Don’t worry, I listened to the entire podcast, but I started writing notes almost immediately.  It’s about time I posted something new to this blog.

My position is that money cannot buy happiness. However it’s important to note what money can do for anyone. Many times in the debate, the side arguing for money buying happiness kept citing poor destitute people as people who find happiness with money.  This is an excellent point, but is flawed logic.  The problem is how money relates to the poor.

The debaters who tried to argue that money cannot buy happiness often cited the rich, who were not always happy.  So why are the poor happy when they get money and the rich not happy when they do?  Simple.  Happiness is not about how much money you have, happiness is about what are you doing with your life and does it make you happy?  The poor can be happy if some money enables them to do something with their lives and entertain themselves.  If a Rich person isn’t doing anything and doesn’t know what to do, no amount of money will necessarily make them happy.

The problem with the rich person isn’t money, it’s that they have let something else control their direction rather than their own heart and mind.  That person will have to do some deep introspection to figure out why they are not happy and change direction.

The problem with the poor person isn’t money, it’s power.  There are ton’s of people who probably make less than the poverty line but they have figured out how to make their lives happy and no one and nothing is holding them back.  If they have power over their lives, they are able to pursue their happiness.

Empowerment is what leads to happiness.  If you have the freedom to do what you want, then you can do it.

Okay so what about money?  Well, money does not always lead to empowerment.  Money empowers the poor person while it traps the rich person. Money is  means to get the things we need to survive, and the things we want to entertain ourselves and meet our goals.  Power comes from many sources.  Money is one source, but so is knowledge, law, natural talent, relationships with friends/family/coworkers, etc.  Therefore you don’t need money to gain happiness, money only sets you on the path by empowering you to find that happiness, and could clear some obstacles.

As an aside, when I said knowledge, many people may point out that “Ignorance is bliss.”  This is true… if you are either supported by a system that gives you freedom or you are totally detached from society and reality that it doesn’t matter what happens to you.  If you are one of those type of people who sits on your butt watching TV, be happy that you are able to move about freely to the store to get potato chips, that the airways are unblocked to allow you to see the shows you want to show, that water is provided to you by the local government, and that police patrol your neighborhood to keep you safe.  That’s freedom.  A mentally handicapped person who feels no pain has a lot of freedom if no one can hurt them.  That’s a very special kind of freedom.

So back to the title of this post.  Money buys freedom, particularly in places where money is important.  Freedom opens you up to the idea for you to find your power.  “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is a powerful phrase.  The founding fathers wanted to give people the opportunity to live and live free enough to pursue what they want.  Money only gives you the first two and even then, it doesn’t always.  Just one factor in a larger equation.  Happiness you find on your own, but only once you have the freedom to do so, and not everyone uses their freedom to do so.  This is why Money does not buy happiness.

Remember this today and every day

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chödrön

I will help you fix your computer

In response to Harry Marks’ post over at Curious Rat, this is for everyone who needs help with these crazy things we call computers.

I cannot guarentee you 100% success, or success on the first try, but I will help you fix your computer to the best of my ability.

I’ll help you set up your wi-fi the first time, and give you instructions on what to do when something goes wrong, but if something does go wrong, understand that I can’t come over at a moment’s notice.

Instructions are annoying, because they are complicated, and sometimes I know a better way to do it.  However if I give you instructions, read them, keep them in a safe place, and try testing them from time to time in order to learn.

You know my phone number, but just know I might not always answer it.

Before you ask me for help, have you Googled possible solutions? Have you tried any of them?  Googling a question/problem is often the best thing to do.  Remember how you used Google to find that recipe or directions for changing the oil?  I promise it’s exactly the same.

Do you own a Mac? Remember you can take it to the genius bar if it’s not too far away.  They are better than almost any support retail outfit.

Do you own a Windows PC?  Don’t trust those people at the store you bought it, they are just incentivized to sell you crap.  If you can’t wait for me, I’ll give you the number of a professional you can pay for.

The dialog box contains text. Read it and select a button based on what it says. Don’t just look at me and ask me which button you should click.  Really, there is no excuse for not reading it.  It may be gibberish, but don’t expect any person to be able to help you if you can’t tell them what the gibberish was.

Please describe the situation as elaborately as possible and use correct terminology.  No matter what medium you use, the more specific you can get with a problem, the quicker things will be.  Otherwise it will just take longer.  If you can’t give me specifics over the phone or in email, you’ll have to wait for me to have time for a visit.

Let me show you how to do this.  Now, here are step by step instructions on how to do what I just said.  I recommend reading them and practicing them when you get a moment.  If you don’t want to do it yourself, I’ll stop by sometime in the next 6 months.

You have virus problems?  Here’s the closest Apple Retailer.  Do not listen to the mainstream tech media about viruses and Macs, they are scaremongering.  If you insist on a PC, here’s my favorite free virus scanner. I’ve set it up to update automatically.  Here are my instructions on how to use it.  What, you can’t access some sites since I visited?  Can you tell me what they are?  No?  Thought not, that’s because I blocked them, they spread viruses, please stop visiting them.

I would love to remote access your system and “just take a look.”  I can usually figure out the problem in just a few minutes if you just show me what the problem is.  But if I don’t have time now, you’ll have to wait.

You say your computer is “slow” but you don’t know why.  I have a complete suite of things I go over to fix that.  My fee is a batch of cookies or a six pack of my favorite beer and it will require a day on the weekend we are both free.  I’ll also tell you why was slow to try to help you in the future.  Try not to install stuff that you don’t know what it is.  Also if your computer is more than 5 years old, I may make it only slightly faster, if at all.

Just because someone has a blog doesn’t mean they know “computer stuff.”  But I know computer stuff, because that is what I do for a living.  So come talk to me.

No one will build you a website for free, not even me.  If you just want to write, here are some free and easy places you can check out that can give you a place for your thoughts.

I don’t know Photoshop, but I can help you install it and find someone who does.

This is Snopes.com. Please consult it before re-posting that tweet/blog article/Facebook status to your own Twitter/blog/Facebook status.

I know some good apps, but it depends on what you are looking for.  Let’s compare phones.

As your friend/husband/son/relation I am always happy to help, because that what we should do, help each other.  The world is a complicated place and we all specialize in certain things so we should cooperate to the best of our ability so we all get stuff done and have fun.  Unfortunately my help has limits.  If you need more professional help that’s available on demand, I suggest contacting a company that can do so.

Our relationship is special.  When I help you, I won’t ask for it, nor will I expect it, but it would be nice to feel the gratitude in any way.  If you wish to show no gratitude, or you think you might take undue advantage of this relationship, I would refer to you back to Harry’s post.

Don’t make things more complicated for yourself than they need to be.   Go at your own pace.  This is the best way to make sure you don’t need me constantly.

If you just need email and web browsing, get an iPad, iPad Mini, or Nexus 7.  Do NOT get a PC or Mac.

If you just need a phone, get an iPhone 4, 4S, 5, or a galaxy S3.  Do NOT get the Android phones that come free with a contract, they fall apart when you sneeze on them.  If you want a challenge, get a Nexus 4.

It is not called a “MAC”, nor an “Apple”. And an iPod touch is not an “iTouch”. That just sounds gross.  Harry is totally right about this.

Unless it’s an emergency, there’s no reason you should be checking your email, responding to a text, or taking a call while we’re talking. It’s rude. And put the phone away at the table.  I understand your urges, really I do.  I fight these same urges every day, but Harry is right about this too.

John Siracusa wisdom from the last Episode of the Hypercritical podcast

“I am the Steve Jobs of this sandwich! I am the person solely in charge of this sandwich, and it’s going to be insanely great”

- episode 100, 97th minute (via siracusasaidso)

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