Month: July 2016

The Internet is People

The world is filled with real people, just like you. I talk to people everyday in all moods. I get the happy people excited to learn. I get the frustrated people who need a little help. I get the pissed off people who want to scream at me because I’m the poor sucker who took their call.

Working in tech support makes you the target of anger and frustration. We listen to a lot of it. We take it and try not to internalize it. We’re people. We’re real. We’re sitting at desks in sterile, soulless rooms taking calls and emails from frustrated customers.

We’re doing our best to help you and be nice about it. We’re real people, just like you. The Internet is full of those real people. They answer phone calls and emails. They read scathing words and insults hurled at them. They wait patiently through the profanity-riddled diatribes that take a 5 minute fix into a 45 minute call like I had yesterday.

We’re all people. It’s hard to remember when it’s a name in a chat box or an anonymous voice across a phone line. We’re the other person at the end of your email.

The video below animates Derek Sivers’ post Real and it’s a good reminder that we’re real people behind the technology.

Slack slash ignore

Rob Malanowski, the internet’s greatest literary platypus brings up a great point about Slack. Now I know their idea is to use it for teams in workplaces. And I’m sure plenty of people do that. However, I use it as a place to hang out with like-minded nerds or all sorts. I also dip my toe into the SupportDriven Slack room which has nearly 1,000 customer support professionals.

Slack is a social tool since I don’t work anywhere that would consider Slack in their business. All Hail SharePoint!

Rob writes in Slack and /ignore:

Slack clearly needs a /ignore command.

One simple command, and everything is back to rainbows and puppy dogs. There are several Slack teams that I visit less and less frequently because they each have one person that I would be happier never hearing from. Without /ignore, I have to opt out of the whole team. That doesn’t seem ideal.

This may not have any place in a workplace team setting but it would be useful to those of us who use it socially.

When they go low, we go high

Michelle Obama’s speech(writer) did a masterful job. I was excited. I was motivated. I was interested and engaged. She ignited a fire and kept it burning all week. She said something I believe set the tone for the entire convention and the party’s message.

“When they go low. We go high.” — Michelle Obama(‘s speech writer)

I won’t try to add anything else but leave these two parts that resonated with me.

How far we’ve come.

I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves — and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters — and all our sons and daughters — now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.

Inaction loses.

So in this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired, or frustrated, or cynical. No, hear me — between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago: We need to knock on every door. We need to get out every vote. We need to pour every last ounce of our passion and our strength and our love for this country into electing Hillary Clinton as President of the United States of America.

NPR has the full text of her speech.

Black Mirror Pokemon Go

Black Mirror is an incredible series of stories about the dark side of technology and culture. They’re marvelously done and available to the US audience through Netflix. We’re getting Season 3 in October.

Patrick H. Willems has created a Pokémon Go video in the style of a Black Mirror episode. And with my current addition to Pokémon Go, it hits two of my favorite things. Enjoy!

Episode 1, The National Anthem hits a little too close for David Cameron. Where the Prime Minister is blackmailed into having to engage in a sex act with a pig in exchange for the release of a princess.

Though my favorite episode is Fifteen Million Merits. The entire series is available on Netflix, and on BBC 4 if you have access to it.

Little girls can grow up to be President

My wife and I watched Bill Clinton’s speech last night at the DNC. We watched on CSPAN (which you can watch free at They carried all of the speeches with none of the commentary. It was refreshing to watch people speak without a commentary track added. I was tired of the Crooked Hillary rhetoric. I was tired of the talk of emails. I was tired of hearing everyone tell me what I should think about Hillary. It was time to hear what her spouse said about her (and what she has to say for herself on Thursday). Bill painted a portrait of his wife as a hard-working, child crusading, relentless agent of change across decades, state and international borders.

In her capacity as litigator and legislator, she has worked for people. She has started programs and organizations which still exist today. Hillary is being painted as a one-dimensional caricature by her opponent. It’s easy to vote and rail against her that way. She’s crooked. She didn’t make perfect choices. She used a private email server.

If you’ve ever worked in and around Government IT, a private server might be a better way to go than the endless parade of contractors running government IT. And even though her email usage is given the spotlight, there are plenty of government workers using Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail/other private email services for their Government email. But they’re not running for President so it’s not brought to light.

Last night, Bill made a pitch for his wife for President. Which alone, is notable. She is the first woman to ever be nominated for President by a major party. She may well be our first female President come November. That’s historic.

My wife offered a perspective I can never have last night. She said how important it was for girls. Girls are told you can do anything. You can be President. Until now, that was a nice fairy tale. But now it could be real. Little girls can grow up to be President.

Bill Clinton’s speech sold Hillary’s legacy with a speech only he could deliver – Vox

The pitch is simple: Bill and Hillary Clinton understand that there are big regions of this country that are suffering from big problems. And while Trump is offering pleasantly easy and pleasantly vague solutions to those problems, you probably know deep in your heart that big problems are harder and more complicated than that. Actually doing the work of fixing them is hard. And Hillary Clinton is ready to do some hard work on them.

After all, it’s what she’s been doing for decades.

A friend asked,

Do the ends justify the means with how the DNC and HRC worked together? Is this how we wanted the young generation to see how it works? Get out, phone bank, work hard, vote, and you to can belong to an organization that favors one candidate over another…. even though it was to be a race?

I don’t want Trump, and if Hillary had gotten the nod without all that has come out, I also wouldn’t have batted an eye. But what precedent has been set for the future?

This was my response.

It was always going to be Hillary. Bernie made a good run but he was an outsider from the get-go. I voted for him in the Primary, but not enough other people did.

If he had the popular vote, he would have won. But he didn’t. It’s disappointing but he didn’t. Instead we’re left with a woman who has also worked for decades to make people’s lives better. Who had championed children’s issues and safety.

Sure, she has some black marks on her record. No one working in the public eye this long doesn’t.

If you don’t believe this goes on behind the scenes of every campaign you’re deluding yourself.

If the RNC’s emails were leaked, I’m sure you’d see the same things, all trying to figure out how to stop Trump. But he had the popular vote.

You can’t say the DNC worked against Sanders and stopped him meanwhile Trump was steamrolling the RNC, GOP and every pundit in the land. He was unstoppable. Not because of collusion or insider knowledge, but because he got the most votes. And in the end, Bernie, as much as I was pulling for him, did not.

In Maryland alone, Clinton won by 251,972 votes.

Young people may have gotten out and organized, but older people still vote and vote more consistently.

If young people want to make their voices heard, they need to get out and vote and vote in huge numbers. The Millennial Generation rivals the Greatest Generation in size.

If they want to have their way, they need to vote. But young people don’t vote as often and as consistently as older people. And when the older people vote, they win.

Same way that large turnouts favor the Democrats where smaller turnouts favor Republicans. Which is why I’m scared that young people and Bernie supporters are threatening not to vote this November. Or vote for a third-party (Stein or Johnson) which is a great protest vote.

But we’ll end up like we did in 2000 with the Democrat vote split and Trump will ride his tidal wave to victory.

And then where will we be? North Carolina has passed some abhorrent legislation. Mike Pence has done the same thing. Including trying to jail same-sex couples for applying for a marriage license.

If you’re mad about Bernie, then show up to the polls and give the Democrats the majority party in Congress. Give Bernie real power to make lasting change by putting him and his party back in charge!

If Hillary wins, don’t think she’s going to leave him behind. She wants to make lives better for people in this country. She’s going to work with him. That’s the person she is. That’s the kind of President she will be. That’s what I am voting for.