World’s workforce suffers huge productivity loss due to Google

Earli­er today Google decided to see how much it could influ­ence the eco­nomy and pro­ductiv­ity of first and second world nations by unleash­ing a vir­al online attack against Inter­net-con­nec­ted office work­ers world wide. Ostens­ibly pro­moted as a 30 year anniversary of a clas­sic video game, Google is, in real­ity, bring­ing work­place activ­ity to a crawl.

In Canada, on the Fri­day before a nation­al hol­i­day long week­end, the impact was real­ized when inno­cent office min­ions using Google’s web­site to search for inform­a­tion from the pre­vi­ously-trust-worthy search engine, were instead clev­erly diver­ted  by an insi­di­ous inter­act­ive anim­a­tion based on the ‘80s arcade-game clas­sic Pac Man.

Accord­ing to a report by the Toronto Star:

Cre­ated to cel­eb­rate the 30th anniversary of the cre­ation of the video game icon, the inter­act­ive doodle actu­ally fea­tures all 256 levels from the ori­gin­al mon­ster game hit.

Just how much pro­ductiv­ity will be lost by employ­ers whose work­ers will get way­laid by the new dis­trac­tion on its homepage while doing a search? Wendy Roze­luk, a Google Canada spokes­per­son laughed and respon­ded: “I have no idea.”

At work­places, uni­ver­sit­ies, cube-farms, and com­puter sci­ence labs around the world, the Pac Man theme could be heard any­time someone tried to look some­thing up using the pop­u­lar search engine.

This is get­ting annoy­ing…” said one user, declin­ing to give her name for fear of retri­bu­tion.

But it looks like a reprieve from the Pac Man theme is close at hand. Google will remove the Pac Man Doodle mid-day on Sunday. Until then, per­haps keep the sound turned down on your sys­tem when ‘search­ing’.

Fat lady sings. Winners announced soon.

Thus endith my first blog con­test. And a very cool ride it was.

My good friends at Click­free, a Cana­dian backup tech­no­logy com­pany, agreed to provide the prizes (Click­free Trans­former SE) for a blog con­test chal­len­ging folks to provide there best (or worst I guess) backup hor­ror story.

I’ve received some rather good entries. Check out the com­ments in the ori­gin­al post for the entire list, but here’s a couple of excerpts to give you the idea:

In a multi-developer game devel­op­ment envir­on­ment:

We updated our loc­al SVN repos and tried to work with the new changes that we were all mak­ing (plus unknow­ingly the changes this oth­er guy made)… only the game ended up crash­ing. It worked fine before this latest update and no one was sup­posed to have made any changes that would cause this prob­lem, and yet, here it was, the game was crash­ing. Franticly we looked at all the changes “we” had made for the prob­lem (remem­ber we did not know this guy had checked any­thing in) and argue­ments rose over who was at fault of this issue (oddly no one fingered the par­tic­u­lar pro­gram­mer in ques­tion since we didn’t know he had com­mit­ted any­thing, plus it was 4am and no one was think­ing straight).

Stolen Grad-stu­dent Thes­is data:

I got a frantic call from a grad stu­dent once, say­ing that someone had broken in and stolen his com­puter with all his thes­is data and his 34 fin­ished draft thes­is — two years of data col­lec­tion research and writ­ing gone!

Win­ners?

In the next week or so I’ll be review­ing the entries and noti­fy­ing the win­ners. And yes, there will be a blog post about it. Stay tuned!

Write a comment, win a prize!

I’ve been a fan of Click­free backup sys­tems for a while now. Drop­dead simple and effect­ive for most home usage. Well now the kind folks at Click­free have giv­en me the oppor­tun­ity to share the love, so to speak, in the form of a con­test, my first, in fact.

All the gory details are here, but the con­test is really simple:

To enter:
Take your worst / best backup hor­ror story and write-up a com­ment on the con­test page that describes a data loss hor­ror story that was aver­ted or would have been pre­ven­ted if you had a trusty recent backup. That simple.

But wait, there’s more!

Of course there is. If you’re not the writin’ type, you can still win —
Click­free has cre­ated a spe­cial code to get a 15% dis­count off your order through them. Simply enter Grier10 at the check­out and you’ll have 15% removed from the total.

Remem­ber, don’t com­ment below if you want the com­ment to be con­sidered an Entry — leave your com­ment HERE.

Again, full details on the con­test here, but I’m look­ing for­ward to this. It’s my first con­test, so be gentle with me please 😉

Still wondering why people follow me on Twitter

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts explor­ing the reas­ons why people fol­low me on Twit­ter:

Well a year has passed since I did that basic research, and Twit­ter has been ‘improved’ in the mean­time — revised ReTweet func­tion, Lists, new desktop and mobile applic­a­tion, etc.

So it’s time to ask that ques­tion again. In the last year, I’ve doubled the num­ber of fol­low­ers, but since I did my last bit of research, I’ve not asked them why they fol­low. Time to rec­ti­fy that.

Start­ing tomor­row, I’ll go back to the pro­cess I used to gath­er the first bit of data — a return fol­low and DM to my new fol­low­ers — some­thing like this:

thanks for fol­low­ing me. This is NOT an auto-DM, I’m live :)and track­ing ‘reach’ and was won­der­ing why you ‘fol­low’ me in Twit­ter?”

I’ll let it run for a few months, and come March, I’ll ana­lyse the data again, and con­trast the res­ults with last year’s.

But in the mean­time, if you already fol­low me on Twit­ter, please feel free to send me a DM with your answer to the ques­tion “Why do you fol­low me in Twit­ter?”

How to avoid becoming a Twitter spammer, the easy way

Over the last few weeks I’ve been receiv­ing spam on Twit­ter from trus­ted people I fol­low.

It’s not that they’ve all been over­come by the need to mon­et­ize their Twit­ter accounts (there, I said mon­et­ize in a blog post, I’m doomed), rather, they’ve fallen vic­tim to diabol­ic­ally-craf­ted account phish­ing schemes and their Twit­ter accounts are now com­prom­ised.

There’re two parts to this sub­ject, which logic­ally means that I’ll deal with it in two posts:

Part One — How to avoid becom­ing a Twit­ter spam­mer
To keep from becom­ing an unwit­ting vic­tim of Twit­ter scam­mers hijack­ing your Twit­ter account for their own nefar­i­ous pur­poses, there’s really only a few simple things to remem­ber:

Trust
Only give your Twit­ter pass­word and account name to people or ser­vices you trust — treat it like your email or bank account.

And Veri­fy
Veri­fy that the Twit­ter login page is actu­ally asso­ci­ated with the Twit­ter domain, and not a numbered IP address or some oth­er domain name. It should always be http://twitter.com or https://twitter.com. As long as the domain name is OK, you should be fine.

A high-tech solu­tion
Don’t use your Twit­ter name or Pass­word to sign up for ‘free offers’ or per­son­al­ity tests. Instead, open a new tab on your browser, log in to Twit­ter the nor­mal way — this sets up a secure ses­sion. Now that you’ve estab­lished a ses­sion with Twit­ter, go back to the pre­vi­ous tab with the twit­ter ser­vice show­ing you the pass­word requester. Refresh that page, and you will likely see a OAu­th login, like this one.

OAu­th is a more secure way to give a third-party access to your Twit­ter account, without reveal­ing your pass­word.

But don’t rely on tech­no­logy alone, no pro­cess if fool proof — even OAu­th.

Con­sider the first two points and always weigh the risk. Ask your­self the ques­tion, “is it really import­ant for me to give them my Twit­ter login, take that per­son­al­ity test, and poten­tially spam my friends and fol­low­ers — put­ting my repu­ta­tion at risk?”

How to automatically post your Facebook status to Twitter

Well it looks like Face­book and Twit­ter are now play­ing nice. If you’re logged into Face­book, this page will walk you through the pro­cess of hook­ing things up so that your Face­book updates will go out to your Twit­ter feed. Select what you want, and pro­tect the rest. I’m going to leave this post as it is, but the link above is really the one you should use to make this hap­pen.

I’m in the midst of fig­ur­ing out a bet­ter way to auto­mat­ic­ally build a list of ‘tweets’ and have them sched­uled through­out the day. My cur­rent sys­tem is a bit broken.

A friend pinged me on Face­book say­ing that he was look­ing for some­thing else, an app that would post your Face­book status to Twit­ter. I thought check­ing this out would be easy, but giv­en the changes Face­book has been through over the last while the res­ult­ing solu­tion is a mashup, not an app.

Yes, it’s pos­sible, not pretty, but pos­sible. Here’s how to do it. Some of this inform­a­tion was gleaned from Tech­LifeWeb and JeffSandquist.com (thanks!).

  1. In FB, go to your Inbox > Noti­fic­a­tions page
  2. At the bot­tom of the right column, there’s the link for the Noti­fic­a­tions feed… right click on it and copy the link (or hit prop­er­ties and copy the URL that shows up in the new win­dow)
  3. To test that it works, paste that URL into your browser and hit enter. (You’ll see your noti­fic­a­tions feed show up)
  4. In that URL, change ONLY the por­tion that stays “notifications.php” to “status.php” and hit enter.
  5. The res­ult­ing page ‘should’ be your Face­book Status RSS Feed. Here’s mine for an example.
  6. Copy your entire URL to a text doc­u­ment and save it. You’ll need it later.
  7. Get a Twitterfeed.com account. Twit­ter­feed lets you har­vest your RSS feed at a set fre­quency and pub­lish your feed to a Twit­ter account.
  8. Cre­ate a new Twit­ter­feed using the long Face­book URL you saved earli­er, set your pub­lish fre­quency, and you’re done.

Cur­rently Twit­ter­feed is hav­ing some con­sist­ency issues — some, but not all of my feeds are being pub­lished cor­rectly. They are aware of the issues and are work­ing to fix them.

How to view PDF and other files on your iPhone and iPod Touch

This art­icle was ori­gin­ally writ­ten in April 2009. A few new apps have appeared since then, but one, GoodRead­er is now my daily go-to PDF read­er right now. I touch on a few of the new apps here, includ­ing GoodRead­er, but you’ll be back on this page if you want to check out Stanza — a great eBook read­er.


I have to read a lot of fic­tion in the next few months. A lot of Sci­ence Fic­tion to be pre­cice, and it’s so I can cast an informed bal­lot to help select the best of the genre at this year’s World Sci­ence Fic­tion con­ven­tion (World­Con).

As a mem­ber of World­Con, a pack­et con­tain­ing this year’s nom­in­ees arrived in my inbox earli­er this week. Lots of PDF, RTF, DOC and TXT files, for many diverse cat­egor­ies includ­ing best Nov­el, Novella, etc. Not small files by any stretch.

So, to avoid cull­ing a small forest by print­ing it all out, I decided to try and read them on my iPod Touch. In the past I’ve enjoyed read­ing on my pre­vi­ous port­able device, the Palm T|X, so figured that I should give it a try on the Touch. And that got me won­der­ing, is there an iPhone or iPod Touch app to read pdfs? I’m happy to say the answer is yes, but.

The dilemma, how to get just under 200mb of data on to this little suck­er. Well, I solved it, two ways. Here’s how: Con­tin­ue read­ing “How to view PDF and oth­er files on your iPhone and iPod Touch”