BeSmartOnAir #32: Being Evil – or Not

At long, long last it was time – once again – for another brilliant episode of the BeSmartOnAir goodness. The theme was a given, considering what has been bubbling up in the social media madness lately, and the recent earthquake-like piece of European legislation (yes, that four-letter-word) was also definitely begging for some expert comments by the esteemed panel.

The first couple of minutes are most probably completely impossible to make any sense of, especially if you skip the video and go straight to the podcast. We were quite simply overjoyed by being together again and the very special attire sported by the panel members triggered almost constant giggling that just would not stop! Later on, we did get serious though (just kidding).

One thing from the more serious (Dark) side I never got the chance to say, with Tiina and Alastair stepping on me all the time as usual: Facebook – and pretty much all the other main online actors, too – are constantly tracking us, from site to site, everywhere on the web, and changing your user settings really does not change things much. There is an easy fix though; you could go the same route as this Bad Facebook User.

Again, all of this live action is also available in the canned audio-only format – through my superb OnAirWithNiilo podcast (thanks to my ‘pro’ SoundCloud account!) that is easy as pie to subscribe, preferably through the corresponding  iTunes entry. I know it’s hard to believe but you really can get each and every episode automagically to your super smart phone! For completely, absolutely free! You can also choose to listen to the current episode right here:

 

Anyway, I had a whale of a time and I did also totally forget that a running nose and a headache were making my life slightly miserable. Thanks Alastair, Tiina and Jonas – let’s see if we can skip most of the Dark Side stuff next time :)  I still have grand plans for (yes, even more) frequent YouTube + podcast combo action, preferably with you guys included.

Have a great summer now and see you On Air!

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My Google+ F-bomb Woes

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‘Bomb’ graphics by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

UPDATE2: So far, no additional Google+ warnings for me and my public posts seem to go through the machinery as well. Apparently, I’ve stopped violating Google+ policies; it sure gives me a very warm and fuzzy feeling – even though I don’t know just how I pulled it off. Even more strange, there was an earlier Google blog post where they stated that Bit.ly is one of the link shortening alternatives to Goo.gl (that will be discontinued). Go figure.

UPDATE: I got another warning(!) from Google+ so it seems my woes are not done quite yet. After talking to some people ‘in the know’, it seems very unlikely that profanity alone would have automatically triggered the warnings I’ve got. A couple of possible scenarios are spam-flagged Bit.ly links or someone quite simply reporting me to Google, for whatever reason. Still: there seems to be no way for me to find out why I was hit with the warnings, meaning in turn there is no way for me to make amends and make sure I’m not violating the Google+ policies. Hello there, Captain Yossarian!

Guess what – the social network (no, not The Social Network!) called Google+ is still around and it’s not a total ghost town, either. Oh, when I come to think of it, I’d guess the proper expression for G+ would probably be ‘a social layer across all of Google’s services’.  I’ve been using Google+ since the very beginning in 2011 and one of my main reasons is that it’s been kind of a gold mine for me when needing assistance and information about various Google services. During the last couple of years I’ve also been posting publicly quite a bit on G+ (and, full disclosure, auto forwarding my posts through the excellent Friends+Me service to Facebook and Twitter which I hardly ever use separately) – that is, until recently when I dropped a slightly accidental f-bomb that apparently ground my public posts on G+ into a screeching halt.

Let’s go back a bit. To start with, there are some very obvious questions you might be thinking of, as to the background to all this – something along these lines, perhaps:

  • Just exactly what did you do to unleash the wrath of Google?
  • How could you possibly be so stupid – never read the Google Terms and Policies?!
  • So you are in the habit of throwing around f-bombs in your public writing?
  • Google didn’t even shut down your account – what are you whining about?

What did I do? Well, this a perfect illustration of Catch-22 since I really don’t have a clue what I’m guilty of but it seems to me I did a very bad thing: there was profanity in one (1) of my public posts. One word – the Bomb. First one ever, I believe.

It’s easy to be stupid when you’re a bit tired – not intoxicated, just tired, I promise! – and citing another post. I must also confess: no, I’ve actually never read the Terms and Policies properly all the way through (I wonder if anyone, apart from some lawyers, has ever done that?) but I was definitely aware of the fact that profanity is not a good idea on Google Plus. It’s not a good idea on Facebook either, by the way, and just naked skin(!) – in any shape or form, no matter the context – is definitely widely known to get people in trouble there on the Dark Side. It’s interesting to notice that my tweet with the Bomb is still available on Twitter, by the way, without any reaction from their High Command:

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I repeat: no, I’m not in the habit of throwing Bombs and profanity is extremely rare in my writing, to the extent that I’d say it’s non-existent until proven otherwise :) I don’t think I’ve ever been guilty of hate speech and harassment either but that’s probably, at least partly, in the eye of the beholder (or, perhaps more correctly, in the personal views of the reader).

I’ve still got my Google+ account, that’s right, it’s just the public posting part that has been blocked I believe. Actually, I’m not whining much at all about this: of course Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the other major players in this game can – and do! – shut down a private user account for pretty much any reason they see fit. Most often, the informed consent thing is like a bad joke but, yes, I was totally aware of the fact that profanity on (most) social media platforms is not a smart move in case you’d like to keep using the services in question.

The thing that’s really interesting about my microscopic Google+ kerfuffle is the way it illustrates how these tech giants act: it’s all about algorithms – just like the warning, without any feedback loop, I got from Google after my disastrous mishap: ‘This is a warning, and your access to Google+ should not be currently impacted’ – even though it was. Of course, there is no way (that I can find) to ‘appeal’ decisions like these; with a bit of luck, you might find a web form to report the issue and ask for mercy but I doubt the Google+ AI customer user service is aware of the notion of mercy in the first place.

It will be interesting to see if my G+ ‘publishing ban’ lasts a week, a month, a year or if it might possibly be permanent. And yes, I did find the web form to address my Bomb woes but I doubt my posting through that channel has any effect. I’d guess Google can’t have millions of flesh-and-blood reps just going through the complaints from us mere mortals but, shoot, an additional ‘if-this-then-that’ line of code would be really neat for us first time offenders!

I don’t want to get into yet another extremely tiresome tirade about ‘You-Are-The-Product-blah-blah’ but, especially considering the recent developments involving Facebook – and also those involving Google – it’s an interesting question to ask: what is our data worth? I find it impossible to deliver a good answer, except that it seems to be worth quite a bit more than most of us ever thought possible. Nope, we are definitely not having one of those very rare free lunches here. Hardly even a free snack.

 

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A Bad Facebook User

FacebookThumbs

I have a confession to make: I am a bad Facebook user. At least from the Facebook point of view, because they want me – and you – to stay on the platform as long as possible and click as many ads as possible. The way I use Facebook is pretty much the opposite of all this.

I elaborate a bit since my Facebook use is apparently quite a bit different from how most folks play it. Here is my main Bad User framework:

  • Ads  don’t bother me at all and I never click them –  mainly because I never see them
  • I tend to almost forget the infamous News Feed, simply because I hardly ever check it
  • I do read some posts and even interact a bit within a couple of Facebook groups
  • I do use the Facebook Messenger (Light!) app occasionally
  • Nope, I do not have the main Facebook app installed in my phone and I never will

Let’s dig deeper on the five points above.

The ads are one of the main sources of revenue for Facebook and targeting users in an extremely granular fashion is the cornerstone of the Facebook marketing offerings. Part of this deal is the constant, global tracking of each and every one of the Facebook users from site to site on the web; another part is a kind of a huge scale social profiling called (you need to scroll down a bit)  Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences. I don’t much care for any of this so I block the ads, with some pro help from uBlockOrigin, and also throw a big monkey wrench in the tracking machinery by using PrivacyBadger.

News Feed is all the rage these days, especially since there has recently been some tweaking of the algorithm as a response to the claims that several (bad!) actors have been heavily gaming the system. Well, I mostly ignore the News Feed; I do not consider Facebook a relevant news source and it’s been rare in the past that there has been anything of real value for me in the Feed.

Groups can become tiresome echo chambers but there is also tons of knowledge available and a huge number of experts involved. At its best, Groups is a super cool source of information and a platform for interesting conversations.

Facebook Messenger app – if you can use the ‘light’ version instead of the horribly bloated, standard Messenger – is definitely handy when you need to get in touch with pretty much anyone with an internet connection (you might count out most of the young folks though and definitely the 1.4 billion Chinese). It doesn’t much matter if the person you want to reach belongs to the Google, Apple or Microsoft camp; chances are that you’ll get through anyway.

The main Facebook app is pretty big, sometimes uses tons of bandwidth in the background, adds considerably to the notification spam and might drain the battery of your device. Most probably there is also lots of information gathering going on, on top of everything else, so I sure don’t want to have it in my phone. If I need to check my Facebook account on the phone, I’ll do it by using Firefox which also offers decent privacy protection switched on by default.

That’s it for now from the Bad Facebook User. And hey, feel free to join the not-so-fierce but extremely determined Resistance!

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DViSonAir #33: Ovan där med GDPR

Vad bra det var att Bo Kristoffersson och jag lyckades hitta en lucka i (jul)kalendrarna; det började verkligen dra ihop sig till julfirandet när vi lyckades komma On Air, tillsammans med Kim Nilsson som är magiskt bra på att hålla flera bollar i luften samtidigt! För egen del brukar simultanförmågan tryta väldigt snabbt..

Jamen, GDPR är en av många förkortningar som det gäller att hålla koll på också inom skolan – förutsatt att man arbetar med molntjänster och det gör väl nästan alla i Sveariket i dessa dagar. Bo har varit en av dem som har ordentligt drivit på arbetssättet ‘ovan där’ och Simrishamn blev också 2015 första kommun att uttryckligen få tummen upp av Datainspektionen – då gällde det utbildningsvarianten av Google GSuite.

Såklart är det i allra högsta grad av intresse för teknikjättarna Google och Microsoft att deras tjänster håller måttet när den nya europeiska lagstiftningen – Dataskyddsförordningen (=GDPR) – i maj träder i kraft. Allt är också klart på deras sida men minst lika viktigt ät det att också huvudmännen gör sin hemläxa.

Min podcast som bygger på DViSonAir YouTube-episoder – se iTunes-katalogen: OnAirWithNiilo (passa på och prenumerera så får du alla avsnitt automagiskt till din smarta lur!) – lägger jag ut genom SoundCloud. Naturligtvis går det också utmärkt att lyssna på det här avsnittet direkt här på webben:

Stort tack till både Bo och Kim för en mycket intressant diskussionsstund och nu passar jag på att önska alla en riktigt skön och avkopplande jul. Vi ses On Air!

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BeSmartOnAir #31: Edu Tech Talk

How is it possible that I forgot the most important thing on my (very own) agenda when I had the tech pros Kyle Wilcox, Bjorn Behrendt and Kim Nilsson available On Air?! I did have this great master plan, to get all of my YouTube Live streaming woes – yes, both audio and video related – straightened out right then and there! Yup, my video through the very common Logitech C920 HD Pro still sucks and the audio level is not quite where it should be either, even though I’m using the FetHead preamp plugged into the ATR2100.. Sigh. Hey Kyle, do I really need the 1Gb synchronous connection in order to sport that super crispy video?! I just can’t believe it – there’s something rotten in my rig instead..

Anyway, it was a great chat we had – thanks to Jim Collison who actually got me in touch with Kyle! – and perhaps the fact that my own tech problems just vanished from my thoughts made room for the more interesting stuff. Kyle has built a pretty impressive studio in the Westfield Washington Schools; all the details are available here (thanks Kyle!) and the way those guys run their podcasts and video stuff is really neat. It’s so important that the schools reach out and are transparent about what’s going on; otherwise we really miss the boat completely, considering the way our world functions today (and especially tomorrow).

Still have the idea about an international, live YouTube newscast and podcast combo run by students; shoot, it shouldn’t be impossible even though the stupid time zones do provide a bit of a challenge :) The same thing would also definitely work for the teachers’ PD just as well! One thing I’ll definitely suggest to my principal is to get him On Air, say, on a monthly basis for a quick summary about what’s going on in our school. I’m not aware of any principal on my home turf doing anything even remotely like that; once again, we can be leading the pack around here at the North Pole, Marcus!

As always, all of this goodness is also available in the audio-only format – through my magnificent podcast OnAirWithNiilo (SoundCloud) that is easy as pie to subscribe, preferably through the corresponding  iTunes entry. Just imagine, getting each and every episode automagically to your super smart phone! Of course, you can also listen to this episode right here:

 

Have a great Holiday Season, everyone, and see you On Air!

 

 

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DViSonAir #34: Annie Bergh om Erasmus+

Det var allt tur att jag råkade chatta med vännen Anders Wahlén när han nyligen besökte Dublin under några dagar och ‘jobbskuggade’ – jamen, genom Erasmus+ förstås – en rektorskollega där. Förutom att det alltid är lika trevligt att prata med Anders så lovade han också att sätta mig i kontakt med Malmös Erasmus+ proffs #1; något jag tyckte lät riktigt bra. Ännu bättre blev det när det visade sig att proffset är Annie Bergh som jag har haft nöjet att träffa många gånger under åren i eTwinning-EU-skolsamarbetssvängen!

Vi hade en supertrevlig och – i synnerhet för mig – en mycket informativ pratstund, med fokus främst på Key Action 1 inom Erasmus+ programmet; detta handlar om EU-stöd till finansiering av kvalificerad kompetensutveckling för pedagoger och skolledare i Europa. I vanlig ordning är ansökningsförfarandet ganska så omfattande men så är också möjligheterna att delta i internationella kurser, konferenser eller kanske jobba tillsammans med kollegor i något europeiskt land.

Min audio-only podcast som bygger på DViSonAir – se iTunes-katalogen: OnAirWithNiilo (passa på och prenumerera så får du alla avsnitt automagiskt till din smarta lur!) – lägger jag ut genom SoundCloud. Naturligtvis går det också utmärkt att lyssna på det här avsnittet direkt här på webben:

 

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DViSonAir Intervju: Elina Sundqvist


Jag är ingen YouTube-stjärna, kommer aldrig bli det och är i allra högsta grad tillfreds med sakernas tillstånd (det verkar vara en grymt tuff bransch, att vara stjärna på YouTube). Sammanlagt har jag kanske gjort ett knappt hundratal YouTube Live Hangouts-grejor; det har nästan alltid varit magiskt kul och utan undantag extremt lärorikt för mig – troligen den bästa kompetensutvecklingen jag har någonsin varit med om. Såklart är det ett härligt bonus ifall någon annan också gillar det jag gör men jag erkänner: mina motiv i det här sammanhanget är ganska så egoistiska :)

Denna intervju med Elina Sundqvist är det bästa jag gjort, alla kategorier. Med ‘bästa’ menar jag definitivt inte teknisk briljans (usch, jag lyckas alltid trassla till det) eller att jag möjligen lyckades undvika säga ‘liksom’ i varenda mening. Nej, jag avser det faktum att jag fick på tråden en entusiastisk ung kvinna – tillika Tuna-elev från 9b anno 2009 och hängiven Tunabladet-medarbetare! – som har med all önskvärd tydlighet visat att med en hel del jävlar anamma, noggrann planering och mängder med hårt arbete går det att ta sig nästan vart som helst. Exempelvis från Luleå till UCLA i Los Angeles, efter en journalistutbildning i Sverige och avstickare bland annat till Fiji och Sri Lanka. Lite medfödd begåvning är förstås inte heller i vägen, medges!

Att Elina lyckas så suveränt bra med sina planer i livet förvånar mig egentligen inte särskilt mycket – snacka om extrem målmedvetenhet redan i unga år! – men det gör mig verkligen alldeles varm inombords. Med stor sannolikhet kommer hon också framöver nå sina högt uppsatta mål med råge och då kommer jag väldigt gärna lite då och då pejla stämningarna, oavsett var hon råkar befinna sig på denna jord. I dessa tider när #MeToo har fullständigt krossat illusionen av jämställdhet i samhället är det alldeles underbart med kvinnor som vågar ta plats och kräver det mest naturliga: se mig som den människa jag är.

Min audio-only podcast som bygger på DViSonAir – se iTunes-katalogen: OnAirWithNiilo (passa på och prenumerera så får du alla avsnitt automagiskt till din smarta lur!) – lägger jag ut genom SoundCloud. Naturligtvis går det också utmärkt att lyssna på det här avsnittet direkt här på webben:

Posted in DViSonAir, Tunaskolan | Leave a comment