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 3/4 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”