Category: opinion

On the value and meaning of LinkedIn endorsements

[UPDATE October 8, 2013] Several LinkedIn contacts share my experience that sometimes “skills” appear in one’s profile out of nowhere. That is, without the account holder adding or approving it. This shouldn’t be happening, . I am trying to get to the bottom of this. Let me know if you’ve had the same experience.

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For me LinkedIn endorsements mean little more than “Hi there, colleague! I am still here, still kicking. How about you? I see you are still doing XYZ. Great!”. Many of my online friends agree. But it looks like some of my LinkedIn contacts think that LinkedIn endorsements are much more than that — that they represent a meaningful measure of something important. Hence this post.

In my personal ranking of social media networks LinkedIn scores a 5 out of 10. In my opinion LinkedIn is a recruiter’s heaven, good for business intelligence, and little else. During my infrequent LinkedIn visits I sometimes endorse some of my contacts for skills listed in their profile. Some endorse me back, many do not (which is fine).

And every once in while a LinkedIn contact would voice displeasure with my endorsement, to my bewilderment. Unhappy that I endorsed you for a skill you “don’t ever intend to use again”? Why is it in your profile then? Upset that I endorsed you too many times? Sorry, mate!

Take it easy, dear friends. LinkedIn is not going to make or break your career. It only did so for its founder. So lighten up, and for “bikes”. Just so I know you are still kicking.

Wunderlist ist wunderbar

First off, this is not a paid post. I must say this because it will probably read like a Wunderlist advertisement, which it is not.

I have been looking for the right to-do-list application since 1994. As technology changed, . But instead of getting better, they gradually got worse and worse. In the last couple of years I have used Google Tasks (a joke) and Trello (overkill). Neither felt right.

And then I discovered .

I have been using Wunderlist for a few days, and I love it. It fits my needs perfectly. It lets me create lists and tasks within lists. It lets me sort tasks by due date (which Trello does not — the main reason I dropped it). Wunderlist is cloud-based, so I can use it to sync tasks between my desktop and my phone. Its interface is elegant. It is a pleasure to use. It is free.*

Wunderlist is made in Berlin, Germany, and has over five million users.

* Wunderlist has a paid version, which I haven’t tried. The free version meets all my needs.

The A.T. Rank of social media networks

This is the annual update of the authoritative A.T. Rank of Social Media Networks. A notable change from last year’s list is the addition of Instagram, which  three months ago and instantly fell in love with.

SERVICE

A.T. RANK

A.T. ACCT STATUS

WHAT’S GOING ON

Twitter

10

Active

Retains last year’s top spot. Still the most valuable network, by far.
Instagram

9

Active

Camera phone photographer’s playground.

8

Active

Surfaces great content from other networks.
Facebook

7

Active

Love it or hate it, but don’t ignore it. This is where everybody hangs out.
LinkedIn

5

Active

Recruiter’s heaven, good for business intelligence and little else. Endorse me for “bikes”.
Pinterest

4

Active

The fastest growing referral network.
Google+

4

Active

Nerds and squares.
Flickr

3

Dormant

The faded dame of social media.
Tumblr

3

Deleted

Acquired by Yahoo! — almost certainly the kiss of death.
MySpace

2

Deleted

Where indie bands’ dreams go to die.
Diaspora*

1

Dormant

The open-source Facebook. There ain’t nobody home.
Findery

1

Dormant

The latest venture of Flickr founder Caterina Fake. Pin notes on a map. Formerly Pinwheel. Nicely done but deserted.
foursquare

0

Deleted

Users populate 4sq’s database for free.
Klout

-1

Deleted

FreeCreditReport.com for dunces.

 

Why I don’t link to The New York Times any more

I don’t link to The New York Times any more because chances are that by following the link my readers will see this screen, with its giant “Subscribe” button. And they won’t see the actual story. Because they don’t subscribe. Good thing the same story is available elsewhere for free. Cough.

Notice the /mobile/wall/smart/ in the URL path in the screenshot? How ironic. There is nothing smart about this. Talk about being penny wise and pound foolish (looking at you, NYT!). Or eating the seed corn. Or hoping to get bought by Steve Ballmer. Ugh!

New York Times paywall screen with giant Subscribe button
New York Times paywall screen with giant Subscribe button

Opera Browser FTW

[UPDATE October 8, 2013] Opera 17 is here, and you should totally and make it your default browser. You’ll thank me later.

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It looks like my quest to find the perfect most-adequate default web browser is over, at least for the time being. It is Opera 15, and you can .

As my readers and friends know, I have been displeased with most mainstream browsers for quite some time. I have used Google Chrome and Firefox extensively. I have tried Safari, Internet Explorer (HA!), Opera 12, and Chromium. My penultimate adventure was with the Yandex Browser.

None of the above fit the bill, for various reasons.

Tired of experimenting, I reluctantly tried the new Opera 15 browser. And it is a winner.

Opera 15 has (almost) everything that I need from my default browser. It is simple and fast. It is built on top of by a . It has mobile and tablet versions (which I have yet to try).

I added my own personal touch to Opera — I disabled all plugins and extensions. This makes the browser even faster, with the added benefit of not showing the most-annoying, Flash-based ads.

I have one nit to pick with Opera — the browser does not allow the user to select a default opening page. Instead, on launch it defaults to “where you left off”, which is not always appropriate. I am sure the Opera team is working on giving users the choice of where to start a new browsing session.

All in all, Opera 15 is an excellent browser, and I’m glad I found it.

[UPDATE August 19, 2013] In a comment to this post Opera developer odinho writes:

We have implemented startup options in the current Developer Stream release of Opera. That is the version which will become Opera 17.

Great news, and great to see that Opera employees are listening and communicating. One more reason to choose Opera.

[UPDATE August 27, 2013] Opera 16 for Windows was released today. I am a fan. Download it .

[UPDATE August 28, 2013] My friend reports that a number of developer extensions for Chrome also work on Opera. See his comments in .

Android 4.3 “improvements”

[UPDATE October 14, 2013] Android still allows itself to be taken down by Snapchat. This began on August 5, 2013 with the release of Android 4.3, and continues to this day. Just how secure is Android?

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[UPDATE October 9, 2013] Snapchat points the finger at Google, says a bug in the Nexus 4 Android 4.3 operating system — an issue out of Snapchat’s control — is to blame for the device crashes and reboots.

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[UPDATE September 13, 2013] Snapchat still crashes the phone, after 3 Snapchat updates and one Android update. Phone vibrates for about ten seconds, like it’s in the throes of death. Then reboots. Why is it so easy to crash the phone?

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As a proud owner of The Google Phone (a.k.a. Nexus 4), I was excited about the release of Android 4.3 (codename “occam”), and promptly installed it. So far I have seen the following “improvements”:

  • Snapchat crashes and reboots the device (as described and discussed in )
  • Some Instagram filters have adopted a weird green hue, as seen in the image below [UPDATE August 8, 2013] Instagram relased an update this morning, and the green hue is gone
  • No other damage so far
  • [UPDATE August 23, 2013] Three (three!!!) Snapchat updates after the release of Andriod 4.3, and the crashes seem to have disappeared. I applaud Snapchat, but keep wondering why Google/Android hasn’t taken any action. It seems to me that now Snapchat knows how to crash Android but chooses not to. Android watches idly and passively.
  • [UPDATE August 24, 2013] Snapchat crashed and rebooted the phone.
  • [UPDATE August 27, 2013] Android 4.3 updated itself to 4.3. Weird numbering sequence, but whatever. As long as the device stops crashing and rebooting, I’m cool. Snapchat hasn’t crashed since the 4.3 to 4.3 update, but I haven’t used it much. Unconfirmed reports from another Nexus 4 user indicate that the crashes still occur, although less frequently. Same user reports that friend with iPhone 4 also complains about Snapchat crashing their phone.

Now before you say that Snapchat and Instagram are silly and don’t I have anything better to do, let me say that this is not about Snapchat or Instagram or any application per se. I am bewildered that an advanced OS like Android would allow a previously-installed application to repeatedly crash the device following an OS upgrade. No matter what the cause of the crash, it’s not the app’s fault.

Clover at Starbucks

My friend Justin convinced me to give the new a shot. Clover is not yet available in all Starbucks stores, but the  has it.

I liked the coffee, but I doubt I could tell the difference in a double-blind test. The brewing process, however, is a spectacle to behold. Below is a 15-second video of the Clover machine being worked by my favorite barista, Clarissa.

How to respond to graffiti

I give you two ways to respond to graffiti, both found on the twitters. You can either hire someone to remove the graffiti (left), or you can ironically embrace them and ironically turn them into an ironical piece of art. Ironically, of course. Or maybe sarcastically (right).

Two ways to respond to graffiti
Two ways to respond to graffiti

Here is a full transcript of the bathroom graffiti label:

Anonymous

Lincoln, NE. 1996

I Lack Creativity, 2011

sharpie on drywall: 35 x 48 cm

In an attempt to abandon aesthetics, I Lack Creativity by Anonymous showcases an antiquated hieroglyph that has remained unchanged since the late 70s. Here, Anon makes a fascinating plea to retard human evolution and remind us what it may have been like to use a public restroom in 1983.

Image sources: ;

Bartoli winning Wimbledon lesser news than Djokovic, Murray making the final

Is women’s tennis less popular than men’s tennis? This seems to be the case, at least by one measure — Google News rankings.

A couple of hours after Marion Bartoli from France won her first Wimbledon (and her first-ever slam tournament), the news of the event ranked lower in Google News than the previous day’s news about the upcoming Wimbledon Men’s final between Novak Djokovic from Serbia and Andy Murray from the United Kingdom.

How does Google News rank news stories?

 (Search Engine Land)

In this case the publication is the same (USA TODAY), as are the topic and geography. Bartoli’s story’s freshness could not offset the influence of the other deciding factor — user clicks.

See below screenshots of this morning’s Google News sports section on web and mobile.

Bartoli Djokovic Murray Wimbledon final news web
Bartoli Djokovic Murray Wimbledon final news web
Bartoli Djokovic Murray Wimbledon final news mobile
Bartoli Djokovic Murray Wimbledon final news mobile