Posts tagged ‘Bay Area’


My forced Facebook sabbatical

14.06.2014

It’s been an interesting day with a forced Facebook sabbatical: I can no longer post, comment or like on the site, and it’s been that way since 3 a.m. GMT.
   I’d say I’m a fairly heavy Facebook user. There haven’t been that many days when I haven’t posted since I was sent an invitation by Paul Heck back in 2007, and when I last downloaded all my data, some years back, it was 3 Gbyte worth. It’d easily be double that today.
   So not having access to Facebook any more makes you realize how habitual it has become.
   I find that between bouts of work, I’d look in. I still do that even though I know I can’t interact on the site. I still can read others’ statuses (and send direct messages) but it seems normal to like the odd thing, a function I no longer have. In fact, one friend who I was in touch with expressed that he thought it was odd I had not liked some of his work, because that had become normal as well. It became a way of telling someone you cared.
   What I probably miss most is this: I’d share jokes on the place. Facebook seems to be the medium in which I do that today, instead of email. As I said in a blog post a while back in the wake of Timeline’s launch, it gives instant gratification: you know when you’ve got a favourable reaction. It’s a source of entertainment, too, and much of that came from socializing with silly puns and the like. Good brain exercise as well as providing a bit of levity.
   Being unable to access my own groups is a problem. I’m not sure if I can delete dodgy threads on them presently, but this shows how much I’ve come to use those groups for hobbies—to the point where I quite often learn about things from them. At least one is for work.
   Day one sans Facebook hasn’t been quite enough to alter my habits massively, since I’ve been occupied on other things. But it has made me aware of when I do go on the site and what I actually value on it. And it is to share a good laugh, in lieu of having a pint at a pub.
   It makes you wonder: where is the substitute? It hasn’t been on Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram, which I frequent. They have each evolved into narrow categories: Tumblr for visual stimulation, Twitter for quick comments, Instagram for sharing images and following some hobbies. Weibo has been more cathartic for me, rather than a place I interact. Google Plus is just where I post articles about Google.
   A friend and I Skyped this morning, in the small hours, and concluded again, as people have many times, that the next grand site will offer something so different, and so important to us, that Facebook will be seen as old hat and quaint. It was inevitable, as I repeated my story on how no one could have seen the fall of Altavista as 1998 ticked over. But, right now, if you find yourself Facebookless—and not by choice—it does leave a void in your routine in 2014. Believe me, I didn’t want to admit that.

One unlikely thought crossed my mind: what if it doesn’t come back? What if I found the limits of Facebook? After all, the error messages have all said that the bug is momentary, and to try back in a few minutes. It’s been 12½ hours so far, but Facebook time and real time are usually different things. I’ve been tracking bugs for years on Get Satisfaction, and things take at least half a year to get right at Facebook. For a start, a bug where one could not tag someone by their first name took six months to fix. The bug where New Zealanders could not see their Facebook walls on the 1st of each month took over six months to remedy since the first report (October 1, 2011; the last was April 1, 2012). It took 19 months for Lucire to secure its name on Instagram (well, it took a couple of days once it got to someone who cared—just like Blogger). It took three years for a Facebook page map for That Car Place to be correctly positioned in Upper Hutt and not Hamilton (since Facebook seemed to confuse owner Stephen Hamilton’s surname with his location, even though they were put in to the correct fields).
   This latest bug is particularly difficult because, despite finding pages where I could report it, I can’t post. The bug is that I can’t feed in anything, so what is the point of offering a comment box, when the message won’t “stick” or be sent? It is the equivalent of a giant poster asking, ‘Are you illiterate? If so, please write to …’
   Asking a friend to post on my wall on my behalf is useless, too, since one friend attempted to in the evening and also got an error; while another friend, also wanting to help me out, couldn’t see the wall at all. It plainly wouldn’t load, which is what I find on a cellphone browser like Dolphin.
   Trying to use Facebook to log in to an app does give a slightly different message: there is a link to an explanation on what is happening. This is absent everywhere else. Facebook claims that they are updating a database where my account is. It must be a very special database because I’ve seen fewer than half a dozen Tweets complaining of the same problem today.

No Facebook access

   However, I’ve become wary of explanations from big Bay Area websites, since few of them hold true.
   It brings back memories of Vox (no relation to the current site at the same URL) in 2009. Those of you who knew me from blogging there will recall the story: the posting window would take two days to come up for me. (It should take a second.) Six Apart, the then-owners of Vox, kept getting me to look at various things, or blamed my ISP, before I got fed up with the excuses. This went on for months.
   I eventually said, out of frustration: ‘Here is my email and here is my password. Use them at Six Apart headquarters in San Francisco. If you can get that posting window to appear instantly, I will admit it is my problem and shut up.’
   The end result was they couldn’t, either, but it took such a drastic action before I was believed, and I wasn’t some guy who didn’t know “how to internet properly”.
   I’ve seen Google outright lie—as some of you have seen on this blog—and I just wonder about Facebook right now. I’ve probably filed the greatest number of Facebook bugs of anyone at Get Satisfactionsince you can get blocked from Facebook and accused of abuse if you file them at the site itself—to keep a record of just how the site is disintegrating. What it says on the tin and what it does are becoming two very separate things.

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Posted in business, internet, technology, USA | 13 Comments »


Bridging the Rimutaka divide: Wellington needs Wairarapa

26.04.2013

In an interview today, the subject of regional reform and amalgamation came up. There’s quite a good site already seeking feedback on the process, and I’ve taken part in a 2012 forum on the subject as well.
   In 2010, the mood in Wellington, based on those I met in the campaign, seemed to be set against amalgamation. There were some suspicions, and I have to say I was among them: I could not understand how a Herald headline could proclaim it was going ahead when the article beneath simply stated that the Royal Commission had recommended the “super-city” as one of its options.
   But, as John Shewan told me before his retirement from Price Waterhouse Coopers, Auckland has found some real savings through amalgamation, wearing an apolitical accountant’s hat in his analysis.
   In the 2012 forum, the opposition to merger seemed weaker. There were many who were concerned at the loss of representation—we had been taught that flat management structures are more efficient, and this seemed to go against that instinct. However, some felt that amalgamation made sense—but of those, the Wairarapa seemed to be another world, and that maybe we should let them do their own thing.
   I have been wondering about the opposition to the Wairarapa being part of a larger Wellington. I know people there, and they don’t think much of grabbing train ride south to head into town. It’s less of an obstacle to come here than to, say, Napier, which is where some of the people at the 2012 forum felt it had a closer kinship to. In the times I’ve been north of the Rimutaka divide and talked to locals, I can’t say they feel that.
   The concern among those in Wellington might be driven by geography. That’s not an easy road to drive. I’ve seen Shaker Run. And does that mentally stop us from embracing the Wairarapa as readily as we should? Sure, we love those Martinborough wines, but isn’t it such a trek?
   Yet when you look on a map, Lake Ferry, which you can only get to via the Wairarapa, is far closer to us than anywhere else. Good luck telling a foreign visitor—or even an investor—that that’s not part of our region. And when I think of Martinborough and Wellington, I can’t help but draw a parallel with Napa and Sonoma, and San Francisco. It just seems a natural fit when it comes to marketing a region, and that if we’re saying that Wellington loves diversity, then is it so hard to accept a rural component right next door to us?
   But here’s why my thinking is really leaning toward inclusiveness: New Zealand’s industry is still largely primary products-based. People like me can talk all we like about growing our technological and creative sectors, and that is still something to aim for. We still need to do it. However, it won’t happen overnight. Right now, and even for the next generation, we’d be mugs to discount the Wairarapa’s rural base because that’s an important part of our economy. We also need to consider the land out there, too, and help make use of it effectively at a macroeconomic level. If people want reform, and if that includes merging councils, then I think we’d be poorer without the Wairarapa as part of Wellington.
   Our GDP, as it is, isn’t great: in fact, The Dominion Post revealed earlier this week that Wellington city’s GDP is flat. I did predict this in 2010 and said that we needed to nurture businesses properly.
   Is it, then, a change of mindset that we need? We can already see how the Bay Area in California is marketed: there are bridges to take those from the City northward to Napa and Sonoma. We have a less than ideal road and a rail link, both of which are being improved. With more Wellingtonians focusing on the work–life balance and enjoying everything from Toast to the air shows, those old “them and us” attitudes seem to be waning anyway. Maybe it’ll just take a different type of marketing to feel closer to our Wairarapa cousins?
   At the end of the day, it should be up to the people to decide. However, if we are to do so, then we must have all the facts. Right now, I’m not alone with these thoughts: this website outlines even more reasons the Wairarapa should stay with Wellington. And the Palmer report noted last year, ‘We believe Wairarapa to be an important part of the Wellington region and that its future prosperity would be adversely affected were it cut off from the region.’ I’d be happy to host a discussion—either here, on my Facebook group where your thoughts are welcome in refining my mayoral campaign manifesto on this website, or, if schedules allow, offline.

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Posted in branding, business, culture, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | 1 Comment »