Do we need another social network?

Tuesday, Google released Google+ to a small group of Beta testers. I said to a friend ‘I’m so glad I’m over that type of stuff … a couple of years ago, I would have been all over the place, looking for an invitation’. This wasn’t entirely true — yesterday … the more I read about it, the more curious I got. It didn’t take long before I had my grappling hooks out, looking for an invitation. Eventually got one from some journalist in NYC, so now … instead of blogging as usual this morning, I checked out Google Plus.

So far, I feel that it has great potential. I just wish it had come earlier, instead of their other sorry attempts at social networking [Wave, Buzz]. This could have been a great thing, but I just don’t see people migrating in droves from Facebook where they have all their friends and games.

One of the things that used to make me feel a little uncomfortable about FB is that I have very different groups of people on my list. I have ‘real-life-people’ … be it family, former co-workers et cetera, people from here in Saint John … and also a large group of ‘online buddies’… people that I’ve met online over the years. Okay — a while back FB introduced ‘groups’, which made it a little easier to post to the different groups but I don’t know that it has really taken off.

In this new Google+ they chose to call it ‘Circles’. You can make up as many different circles as you want. For example, I have a big group now, of people from way back in the heydays of FriendFeed, that I’ve reconnected with. That’s a lot of fun! But as the invitation system starts to work again, I’ll be able to invite my friends and online buddies.

I’m in no way finished exploring this … just wanted to write a few lines about it as I saw the WordPress team’s suggestion for today. I don’t know the answer to the question … ‘need another social network?’ I don’t need anything, but I’m always up for something new, especially when it comes from Google. It’s nicely integrated with my Gmail, so  that I see a discreet number in the top bar, telling me how many new posts there are in ‘my circles’.

«Sparks», is something that one could turn into a filtered news feed. That’s something that I’ve missed in my Twitter stream, where I’m subscribed to a number of news sources.

Like I said … I wouldn’t foresee any greater migration from Facebook, BUT I think there are people who are getting fed up with it, who are beginning to feel it’s getting old … irked by the constant alterations of the privacy settings. For them, this could be a great, new alternative!

For the moment, I can’t invite anyone — I think they got overwhelmed last night, so they shut down the invitation system for a while.

a friend went to nyc

photo: s-o hogberg

A friend of mine in Sweden, just got back home from New York City. He’s 75 years old and doesn’t speak one word of English! I guess he had some sort of hang-up … that he really wanted to see NYC. Not like me … I want to go there too … it’s like the city itself is calling me … no, he wanted to visit some jazz club (Blue Note). His wife didn’t want to go, so he persuaded a niece to travel with him.

At first, I was under the impression that the niece didn’t speak English either. In Sweden, I’d say most people are more or less fluent in English BUT … not people that were born before 1945. That’s just an impression I have … something must have changed with regards to education around that year. My brother was born 1945 and he’s good in English. Turned out that I’d misunderstood and that the niece did speak a little English after all!

Now … I found this to be really brave. Okay, many people travel to different countries without speaking the language but they might either travel in a group or have some kind of arrangements. These guys were on their own. I kept thinking about what it would be like … being in a huge city, not being able to pronounce the simplest word?! How do you order in a restaurant? How do you tell a cab driver where to go? I guess you can point on a map, but still…?!

Nevertheless, they made it back and forth and he’s sent me pictures of the usual stuff … Statue of Liberty and so on … this one here is from the top of Empire State Building, I suspect. Very courageous!

This word … «courageous» leads me to an entirely different subject. «Brave, courageous» are two words that I apparently have not had the full grip of in English. They are used differently compared to my native tongue. I know what they mean, alright … it’s just the usage of them.

To me, those words used to be reserved for firefighters, people who jumped in to stormy seas to save a life … stuff like that — not because of writing a blog about your inner thoughts or taking part in a photo challenge. Now I know, but at first I found it a bit confusing when a person I used to know said that she didn’t have the courage to take part in a photo challenge we were discussing. Languages are funny that way … words can take on a much wider meaning in one language!

Now, that was a parenthesis. Back to NYC! One day, I’ll go there too … now that it’s more within my reach, so to speak. It’s one of my hang-ups … it keeps popping up in my dreams. I even wrote down a dream I had, as a blog post. I have it in my drafts folder and will post it some time soon. I’ve tried to explain to Gerry what this is all about … I’ve written about it before, I think. It’s no particular place there that I desperately want to see … well, the ordinary, touristy stuff … but it’s that I want to … once in my life get to experience the immensity of it all … feel the pulse of it … the pace. When I go … I’ll make sure it’s in late October or so, so that it’s not too hot and I’ll be able to enjoy.

My Father

It’s Father’s Day in North America … like anyone could have missed that, with all the commercials ads about what things we should buy?!

I’m not a huge fan of Fathers/Mothers Day … it’s a personal thing, but if all the businesses can make a buck, I guess that’s alright too. It’s always about money anyway. Those days stir up all kinds of memories, emotions, feelings of guilt in peoples lives — do we really need that?! Can’t we remember and pay tribute to our parents in other ways?!

When I was a kid in school, we all had to make cards for Father’s Day. The thing was, my Father was no longer around … he died when I was two. This was a small school in a rural area, I was the only kid who didn’t have both parents. Those were the days…  the pitiful smiles and the teacher saying «surely you can make a card for your uncle or something?!»

Nevertheless, I’m blogging about my Father today because it’s his birthday. He would have turned 104, had he not died on that fateful September day in 1957. Like I said … I was only two, but I’ve missed him all my life. It’s like I know him without really remembering him.

This pencil drawing, that he made of himself, is one of the two images I have of him. I look at it and I see my own eyes.

wild

This time of year is wonderful! Everything is so lush, green and juicy. Lots of flowers … wild flowers that might look ‘insignificant’ at a glance but are truly gorgeous when you take time out to really look.

Imagine that all this has been buried underneath the cold snow all winter!

I don’t know what this white flower is, but it was growing quite abundantly outside town … near Boars Head Rd. At first, it led my thoughts to a common Spring flower back home … Vitsippa, or Anemone Nemorosa … but this flower is larger than that and the leaves are different.

A white flower in bright sunlight … that’s not the easiest thing to photograph … and it’s still a little overexposed, but it was the best I could do.

It was a fine day yesterday, and today is looking good too, so far. It’s only 8 o’clock in the morning. Got completely side-tracked here, when I found a little speaker icon in the Google search box, that I’d never seen before! Clicked on it, and it said «Speak Now!» I said “hello”, and I was stunned to see the word “hello” appearing in the seach box. This whole internet thing never ceases to amaze me. I tried many words after that, and it all worked great as long as I kept it in English. Tried the name of my hometown several times, but that didn’t fly.

UPDATE: Found the flower –it’s «Canada Anemone».

customize your blog?

The other day, in the WordPress daily topic-blog, they asked what features people might like to see here in WordPress.com. I think that’s great, that they’re interested to hear from their users. They got lots of answers there — as it stands now, 101 comments  — many, many wanted the ability to make adjustments to the theme … i.e. changing colours, adjust width of columns et cetera.

This was five days ago.

Yesterday, they announced their new Custom Design feature! Something that makes it much easier for people who just want to make little adjustments to the looks of their blog … changing fonts for different headlines, for example. For those who know CSS, there’s a real handy little thing where you can preview all your changes before you apply them.

  • Example: I have chosen the theme Twenty Eleven here. The bar underneath the header image is black. I would like to make it another colour, which I could easily do with a few key strokes … with the help of CSS.

I tried it in this new editor and it worked like a breeze.

All this is fine and dandy, had it not been for the fact that it would cost you US$30 per year to use it.

Honestly, I think it would be really neat to be able to make a few changes here, but not neat enough for $30 a year. As much as I love WordPress.com …. I do think thirty bucks is a little pricey for that feature. Were I that eager to make design changes, I’d probably add twenty bucks and go back to self-hosted wordpress.org and get full freedom. But then again … I wouldn’t have been part of the wp.com environment and that was the reason I moved back here.

It’s not that I can’t afford $30 per year … it’s the principle of it all! I do think that many people are also on a limited budget. I just don’t like paying that amount for something small like that. Five bucks … and I think I’d signed up! With the Sandbox or Toolbox theme you’d get pretty much full freedom here too, and hence; the best of both worlds.

Guess there is no such thing as a free lunch.

things you never knew you wanted to know

It’s 6AM. The first rays of sun is just hitting an apartment complex here, making the otherwise rather ugly building look quite spiffy. I’m up because of this cold or whatever it is. There might be some little improvement but not much. Spent most of the day yesterday in bed. I’m not going to gripe about this here, because it really is just a minor annoyance … it could always be so much worse. Thinking of this … being sick … led my thoughts back to Sweden.

You guys, who read this blog, have probably gotten to know more about this little Scandinavian country, than you’d ever imagined you would. Like I said somewhere in the introduction to this blog … ‘it’s inevitable that there will be posts about Sweden … differences between North American living and there’. Even though I’ve lived here for seven years, it still sits there — I think the fact that I was ‘of a certain age’ when I moved … almost fifty, makes a difference.

Anyway, I started working in 1972. At that time … had I come down with a cold like this, I’d called in sick and stayed at home … in bed … until I felt that I was fit to go back to work. We could call in sick and stay at home for seven days without seeing a Dr. After the seventh day we had to go see one. This wasn’t just once a year or so … it was as many times as you got sick.The rules are somewhat changed now.

This system, I think, helped maintaining our way of dealing with a cold: Stay in bed … rest … perhaps a bath … but most of all: rest. Not many people were inclined to go to work when they were sick … that was also often frowned upon by your co-workers, because they could catch it too. OR, they would think YOU were thinking that you were irreplaceable, but that’s a whole different story.

Hence, there were not many cold medications in the pharmaciy [which, by the way, are totally different from here]. A few cough syrups perhaps and one or two others that I remember.

When you walk in to the section for cold remedies here in the drug store, it’s like a jungle!!! There seem to be several for each little symptom you might have … not only different brands, so you have to ask yourself … do I have cough, sore throat, cold, flu, mucous … the list goes on. I’m sure you can find one tailor made for you if you have the patience.

I’ve tried a few since I came here out of curiosity, thinking that there must be something to them as they are so many and seemingly popular. They certainly do something to ease your symptoms, that’s for sure. Most of them will raise your blood pressure too and that’s perhaps not so good. Cough suppressants, I’m a little wary of.

The section for potato chips and soft drinks in the grocery store is almost like the cold remedies in the drug store! There is nothing else in the grocery store that is so elaborate …. the choice of potato chips is immense! Still, after all these years, when I’m used to the choice of everything, the aisle with potato chips baffles me.

After having said all that … I think I might just crawl back to bed … or take a pill?! LOL

A Day on the Web

In the morning, I feel like I really want to write something here, even though sometimes my mind is blank. This is one of those days. Basically, it’s for myself — I like the idea of being able to go back here in a few years, and read about what we were up to or what I was thinking about.

Last night, I was thinking a great deal about Facebook and The Web in general. Facebook introduced the new profile page to everyone, which caused a great deal of stir … as usual when they change something. Last time I looked at the comments they had received on that post, there were 4,200 and they all said the same thing: ‘it sucks’.

My thoughts started to wander … over the years I’ve been online, how it has changed … the places we go to. There were a few years when I hardly left Yahoo over a day — I had my email and our blogging community there, news, everything. Personally, I was never into MySpace but millions of people were, and that was their main place — I’m sure they were just as upset over changes there as people are now in Facebook.

Now that I can use Facebook as an email address if I wanted to, I guess I could spend my entire, online time there. I notice, however, that many people haven’t even chosen a user-ID for themselves, so that would make it impossible for them to use the email function when they get it.

What if Facebook were to shut down, all of a sudden?! So what? We move on … there will certainly be a successor.

In the beginning of Facebook … I signed up 2005 … I didn’t like the idea that I had to/was supposed to state my real name. This was before the times when everything was supposed to be so public. People still had screen names. I’m still not really comfortable with it, even though I appreciate that that is the whole concept of Facebook — otherwise no one would be able to find you. Somehow I feel that I’ve allowed myself to be dragged into all this just because everyone else and his dog is there. I honestly don’t care if they were to shut down tomorrow.

Now … I don’t think they will do that just yet.

How much do you trust all these big web companies like Google and Facebook with your stuff? Google could go away too … you never know. Even though it’s a verb LOL. Lately, there has been a lot of talk about having everything in «the cloud» … to have everything stored online. That’s very cool and convenient most of the time and I’m such an insignificant person so I won’t have to worry about being subpoenaed by some authority. It’s easy to get a little paranoid every now and then, though.

There are times when I think perhaps it was better to use a desktop client for my email and only use my server’s address.

Here’s a guy who won’t have to worry about ANY of this stuff. I’m not worrying either … these are just thoughts.

Internet 1997 ~ At Home!

Rockwood Park today

As I wrote in previous post on this subject; to buy a computer of my own was out of reach. I continued my early morning chats, plus the weekends. It’s hard to imagine now, that I actually walked to my work place early Saturday or Sunday mornings [or both] to go online. Because of the time difference I had to be there rather early. 7AM meant 1AM EST so basically I met the ones on PST. The ones on the east coast had gone to bed.

It was still 1997 — May, I think — when my work place finally decided that they needed to upgrade the computers. All the new ones arrived with Win95 on them, and I could take one of the old ones home!!! Yay!  The same afternoon as I had it in my apartment, I went down to Telia — the major phone/internet provider in Sweden — to buy a, what they called, Internet package. That was an easy procedure, until I saw that the installation files were on a CD. My computer didn’t have a CD drive … only floppy. Went back to Telia … they were still open … and told them I needed to change to floppies. No dice! Had to wait almost a week for them to arrive. Those were long days, I tell you!

Wigeon today

Finally they arrived, I had taken some time off, so I had a few days to play with this. Got hooked up in no time and the feeling was unbelievable! I could surf, drink coffee and smoke — all at the same time! In my own home! Got an email address with Telia. It was really long and cumbersome — it was like they told you exactly how it should be formatted: firstname.lastname @ nameofcity.telia . se  Shortly afterwards they changed so that you could make up a shorter one.

One of the first things I did was installing Icq. That download took about an hour. I had dial-up and paid per minute! Don’t remember seeing any progress bar — just those files flying from the earth to a folder … endlessly, and every minute meant more money for Telia. I became one of their best customer 🙂 — they gave me a free, cordless phone one year and a caller-ID.

If my memory serves me right, I think I’d been clever enough to install Netscape before I took it home. My favorite hang-out, WBS, didn’t work very well with Internet Explorer, but with Netscape it scrolled automatically. We had an IT-guy at work, who I think, installed it for me. He suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome — so he stated publicly — he was really … anti-social, to put it mildly, but somehow I got along with him.

To keep this on track, and not get totally lost down memory lane … the first nights I stayed up really late! Even chatted with random people on Icq, but WBS was my main place. I had many, new friends now! Apart from Angharod and Tipman that I mentioned in previous post, there was now also Liam Seamroige, Cemoor, LadyB45, Stargazer, Ivan, LadyHawk, Glenstal, MikieinGA, BostonBelle, Jace, Fleurkat … oh my, the list could go on and on… The first six people here are actually on Facebook now, seven if I include myself.

Liam Seamroige is now my hubby! How about that?! 🙂 That’s a whole different story — there’s lots more to come!

I put in a couple of pictures, just to break it up a little 🙂

Internet — January 1997

…and the Internet nostalgia continues. This is part II.

I’d landed at a site called WBS. Webchat Broadcast Server. Bear in mind I was totally clueless about everything internet related. I had to sign up! Was extremely hesitant because I had to state an email address and the only one I had was my work address. It was too tempting though, so I got brave and went through with the sign-up procedure. Got the confirmation right away and that was my life’s first email!

Now … I had to chose a user name for myself, or “handle”, as it was called. Typed in Hadassah. That was my cat’s name. Thought I was rather clever and was almost in disbelief when it said «user name is already taken»! Got some numbers after my name. Okay … that was alright. Then I had to fill in ‘gender’. I didn’t know what that word meant, so I had to run upstairs and get the dictionary! 🙂

When I was finished with all this, it was time for me to start working — this took place early in the morning — but I managed to get to the huge list of ‘chat rooms’… all countries you could ever dream of, age groups, special interest groups … and more.

I clicked on Ireland. There were not too many people there, but there were a few and they were all in the States. I said «Hello». Almost immediately several «Hello Hadassah!» appeared on my screen! I was extatic! They answered me!!!

Today I’m not sure about who they all were that very first time, but Angharod was there and Tipman. Went back downstairs at lunch — I was forever hooked! — but then only one person was there … in the ‘Irish Room’. This was strange because this person … I even remember the name … I never met again after this lunch. He was extremely kind and helpful … explained so many things to me about the workings of the chat. He was from Helena, MT.

Now I started to go to work really early in the morning … for two reasons: I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my newly won friends AND the earlier I was there, the more earlier it was in the States, needless to say. There was six hours time difference between Sweden and the east coast. I even went to my workplace on Saturday and Sunday mornings!

I noticed that most of the people there had little pictures beside their handles. I wanted one too! They were not necessarily pictures of themselves … one had a sunflower, for example. Started to ask around how to achieve this. Someone told me to find a picture and just copy the URL. I didn’t know how to find a picture, didn’t know what a URL was and even if I had known I wouldn’t have known how to copy it.

Somehow I managed to find a duck … my favorite bird … and got the URL in the right box. I never forget the feeling when it showed up on the screen! Here is the very duck! I’ve saved it for sentimental reasons 🙂 Imagine that! After all these years and many computers, I still have that bird!

This became a routine of mine and I quickly got to know these people in the WBS Irish Room. I wanted more time and I wanted to learn so much more. Read about something called Icq that many of them talked about. Didn’t really get what it was but it sounded like so much fun. Couldn’t download anything on my work computer though. To buy a computer to have at home was way beyond my financial limits at the time.

In order for this post to end, and not turn it into a novel, I’ll continue later … This whole thing changed my life forever so I want to write it down.

Internet ~ December 1996

My first internet search was «santa». We had just been hooked up to the Internet at work. We were all clueless. A co-worker and I decided to try it. We saw an icon that said “Internet Explorer”, so we figured that must be it.

We were taken to the search engine Alta Vista … a box that said «SEARCH», so, as it was just before Christmas I typed in Santa. The first hit was some huge, animated Santa and we were in total awe!

That’s how I started my internet experience … at work, on our lunch break. The computer was a .386 and the only one that was hooked up, was placed in a conference room in the basement. The operating system was Windows 3.something … Here’s a reminder in case you’ve forgotten what it looked like: LINK

This doesn’t sound like much, but I was sort of hooked anyway. I’d heard the word ‘chat’ being mentioned with regards to the Internet, but I didn’t know how it was done or how to get a hold of it.

During the holidays that year, I read an article about chatting in one of the Swedish evening papers, and they even gave a link — I didn’t know it was a link then — to a Swedish chat server. I carefully jotted it down … made really sure that I got the http:// right.

As soon as I was back at work, I tried it! One thing I also remember about all this is how carefully I typed — like I was afraid of destroying the damned thing.. I don’t know. Either way, I was taken to a Swedish chat and there were lots of people in there, maybe because it was lunch. You could even see at which company they were … it said the company name beside their handles, Alfa Laval, Atlas Copco, ABB and so on…

I guess I said “hallå”. They were friendly enough and I wanted to know how to get in touch with people in other countries as I figured I saw enough Swedes in my daily life. One guy answered «look at the links to your left». Well … as I still didn’t know what a link was, I had that explained to me also, and then I bravely clicked on ‘foreign links’ [or some such in Swedish].

Landed at WBS … Worldchat Broadcasting System, but that will be another post…