Cr*p

One bullet short of a full gun (36)

Welcome to the “Don’t know what you got (Till it’s gone)” edition of one bullet short of a full gun.

Hacked. I had not blogged in almost two months, but when I got hacked and the blog was gone for a few hours, I realized how I really miss this blog. Of course, rebuilding everything from scratch presents its own challenges. I’m trying to figure out how to have the new “Add Media” see the old images I uploaded in the previous version of the site… I guess this will keep me busy for a bit.

Family Day. Every family day it’s the same thing. My family either works or goes to school while I stay home. I wonder what I could do today since I’m all by myself…

Wii. A couple of months ago, I moved the Wii to the kids TV room. The kids love it, but now I’m out of a source of entertaintment in the living room… Maybe I’ll finally get that PS3 I’m always talking about. Hey, it’s not like there’s any other family member here to stop me! Any good games I should get?

1,000+. On the other hand, I haven’t read any of your blogs in a long while. I know this because my Google Reader is mocking me with its 1,000+ proudly displayed on top of the page… Maybe I’ll catch-up to what you’ve been doing in the past six months. Did I miss anything important?

Exception. Of course, there’s always an exception to every Cinderella power ballad rule: Sometimes you know exactly what you have, and you can’t wait until it’s gone. Counting the days…

In pure Call of Cthulhu tradition, I’ll keep the last bullet for myself for when the madness finally comes.

Grrrrr-Rrrrr!

Grrrrr-Rrrrr!

Advertisements

I don’t think I’m better than you.

And that’s what makes me better than you.

The person who inspired this post will most likely never see it, so don’t bother asking if this post is about you. This post is about the chain letters that I see making the rounds on Facebook and other social media (Gotta love Twitter for that, 140 characters is not a lot of characters to forward a chain letter), but mainly on Facebook.

This afternoon, I was catching up on some Facebook browsing, I love reading what you guys are doing. Scrolling backwards through my newsfeed, I noticed a post warning me about the “New Facebook Privacy Issues”, and asking me to un-check some option in my settings in order to prevent people from seeing what this other person was publishing on my timeline.

When I see a post like this, I always do the same thing: I reply to the post explaining that this is a hoax, and I add a link to hoaxbuster, snopes, or any other relevant website where more information can be obtained about the hoax in question. That’s it.

I don’t call you stupid.

I don’t make fun of you.

I don’t send you emails full of threats.

I just try to inform you, because I believe that knowledge is power, and I want you to have more power.

I admit that after a couple of those posts from you, or if you email me multiple times to tell me that you know that most chain letters are dumb but that you know for a fact that this one is not a hoax, and that you’d be so grateful if I would just follow the instructions and forward the message to all my contacts, I may lose my temper a little and write a very nasty post on my Facebook timeline along the lines of this one:

Seriously, just look at all that vitriol dripping from that post.

What you fail to understand is that even if this post seems to be about you, it really is about me.

About my strong desire to make people better, stronger, brighter, smarter, and how I seem to be failing miserably at doing this with you. This post is not saying: “You are inferior to me”, it’s saying: “I have a hard time understanding what I’m doing wrong, why am I not getting through to this person?” or more literally: “Why the fuck do I keep trying to do this?”

Normally I get a few funny comments from dear friends and I move on. Until next time.

But this time, you replied to my post:

I’m sorry, Superior being.

Wow.

I try to help you and you think that I’m calling you inferior? I have a hard time understanding why you would think that way – if I’m about to stick a screwdriver in an electric outlet and someone tells me that it’s a bad idea, and sends me references to electricity and wiring a house, my first instinct is to thank that person, not get frustrated and call him names.

I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know everything (but I’m working on it) and I’m always grateful when someone takes the time to teach me something. Especially when it’s done gracefully.

Unless you think that all teachers are all secretly thinking that all their students are inferior.  Remind me what you do for a living again? Oh right. You teach math in a high school. I sure hope that when you grade exams lower than 100% the kids don’t think you’re calling them inferior, and that they didn’t nicknamed you “The Superior Being”. I’m sure that after having to explain twenty times the same thing to the same kid, you never got home, cracked a beer open and vented to your significant other.

Oops, my bad.

But here’s the good part. You know those privacy settings you wanted me to change so my friends wouldn’t see what you post? I did you one better. You never have to worry about my friends seeing what you post on Facebook. I won’t see what you post either. That’s what the unfriend button is for.

If you somehow manage to find this post, let me leave you with this one final information.

This is one of my favorite non-fiction book ever. I highly recommend it if you ever want to truly understand why we’re not Facebook friends anymore.

Spoiler Alert: It’s because you’re an asshole.

See? I’m really not better than you.

 

Protip: Use BCC when emailing 473 people

My son’s school decided to go green and stop sending us paper notifications through the kids’ backpacks.

That’s awesome, unless you put all 473 email adresses in the CC field. Sure, it’s not that bad when you read the email on GMail through a regular browser:

Notice how 469 of those email addresses are somewhat hidden from you? Meaning that with just one click, I could have access to 472 new friends. Friends that I can send funny LOLCATS or motivational 7Mb PowerPoint files. Worst, there’s now potentially 472 friends that can send me funny LOLCATS and motivational 7Mb PowerPoint files.

Luckily, I didn’t use my main GMail address. Unfortunately, I first opened this email on my iPhone. Can you guess what it looks like when you open an email addressed to 473 people? It looks like this:

Actual emails, blurred because I’m a nice man. 
Fun Facts: It took me 3 minutes to do the 49 screen captures needed, and about 25 minutes to Photoshop all the pictures in one giant 16397px long strip. Even at the lowest quality setting, this image still weighs 600K.

So to summarize:

  1. Avoid the CC Field when emailing to more than 10 people.
  2. Scrolling on an iPhone is a pain in the ass.
  3. The pain that I’ll go through to prove a point is just ridiculous.
  4. This is by far the longest post I’ve ever written, although this one came pretty close.
  5. This is not the dumbest post I’ve ever written. Not even close. 😉

Enemy at the Gates

The opening scenes of the movie Enemy At The Gates features a sequence in which the main character arrives at the docks on Stalingrad in late 1942, and is promptly queued up in front of a truck, in which Commissars are issuing rifles and ammunition to the conscripts.

The catch is, that only every other soldier is getting a rifle. The Commissars are usually saying something like “One man gets the rifle, the next man gets some bullets. The second man follows the man with the rifle, and when he is shot, picks up the rifle and carries on fighting!”

That’s exactly how I feel at work right now.

Hopefully I won’t get shot. But if I am, I hope someone will carry on fighting.

I drink for a reason*

*This post has nothing to do with the book by that same title, I drink for a reason, written by David Cross – The extremely funny analrapist Tobias Fünke from Arrested Development. But you really should buy this book. Funny as Hell.

I love that show. Bring it back.

This post is about tech support. Let me present to you the life cycle of a support request.

Initial contact – 00:00 hours in the cycle

Client: “HI. I have an issue fix it NOW. THIS REQUESSSST IS URGEN! NOW FIX IT.!”

Initial reply – 00:02 hours in the cycle

Tech Support: “Hello. I need more details in order to help you. Can you provide me with (list of items to provide). Sincerely, Me.”

Follow up – 24:00 hours in the cycle

Tech Support: “Hello. You opened help request #12345 yesterday. I am waiting for (list of items to provide). If this issue has been resolved through other channels, please let us know and I’ll close this help request. All the best, Me.”

Follow-up – 48:00 hours in the cycle

Tech Support: “Hello. You opened help request #12345 48 hours ago. I am still waiting for (list of items to provide), and am not able to help you without that information. Please contact me by phone at your earliest convenience to resolve this matter. If your issue has been resolved through other channels, please let me know and I’ll close this help request. My direct phone number is (gives phone number). All the best, Me.”

Follow-up – 168:00 in the cycle

Tech Support: “Hello. This is the third follow-up on case #12345. Your help request has been pending for 7 days. If I don’t hear back from you within 24 hours, I will close the incident. (Lists all contact information). Best, Me.”

Closing the incident – 192:00 in the cycle

Tech Support: “I am closing incident #12345. I have been without any reply from you for 8 days, I will assume this issue has been solved by other channels. If this issue has been resolved, simply ignore this message. If you are still experiencing the issue described in the original request, simply reply to this email including the requested information in my initial reply. Have a nice day, Me.”

Client wakes up – 192:01 hours in the cycle

Client: “You CLOse this? Why???? Problem not fix! Crappy service! Fix problem NOW! NOOOOW! I,m getting beind in my education Bcause of U!”

Here we go again – 192:02 hours in the cycle

Tech Support: “Hello. I need more details in order to help you. Can you provide me with (list of items to provide). Sincerely, Me.”

Hit send, bang head on desk, pour drink, repeat.

+++++

Show of hands: who thinks I’m kidding?

Lie to me

Let’s say you would happen to be browsing Facebook one night and saw this thumbnail of a picture posted on someone’s wall:

In itself, posting a graphic on your wall is not a big deal. But let’s say – hypothetically – that you then happen to read the caption of the graphic, and it read:

Hand drawn – all rights reserved. Do not copy.

Then you clicked on the picture and saw that once it’s been embiggified, there’s a not-so-subtle watermark on it.

Of course because I can Google shit, my first thought was “bullshit!”. I’m willing to bet it was your first thought too. Unless you thought that it’s a hand drawn watermark?

But being the nice friendly Canadian I am – balanced by the huge skeptic that I am – I had to say something, but something relatively polite and mild. So I wrote this comment under the “hand drawing” that went like this:

“Hey! What graphic program did you use to create this drawing?”

This reply came less than a minute later:

It’s not from a program, it’s done by hand.

So I just let it go. I figured that who cares if that person likes to pretend that she drew a picture by hand when she really just applied a filter. What difference does it make to me? No skin off my back, right?

Wrong.

It turns out that I have a fairly obsessive-compulsive thing going on, and I’m not really able to let go of things. It didn’t help that over the following weeks, that person kept posting all kinds of new “hand drawings” that were clearly done with the help of a computer program. I became literally obsessed by those “drawings”.

I also have a background in social sciences, which unfortunately means that I really really want to help people – even the ones that don’t want to be helped.

So I did what I do best. I asked questions until I got something that could put my mind at ease. My goal was not to catch the person in a lie – even though that would’ve probably been much more gratifying in the end – but to make that person realize why I thought she was using a computer, and ultimately make her realize that people were seeing through her game. I thought that if I could at least get her to admit that I wasn’t crazy for saying her “drawings” looked like photoshop filters applied on pictures, I would call it a day and move on.

You already know that’s not going to happen, right?

For a few weeks, whenever a new “drawing” was posted, I would ask questions about it in the Facebook comment section. How long did this take you to do? What medium did you use? Would you document the work in progress? How did you scan the drawing to your computer? I took it one step further and started commenting on other stuff she posted. When she posted lyrics of a song, I commented that I too loved that signer. I tracked down movie dialogue and literary quotes she posted as her own and commented on how much I enjoyed that movie or book.

Basically, all my comments said: “I’m watching you. I know what you are doing. You may be fooling hundreds of people, but not me!”. There was also a little of “Please stop being an idiot, people know we’re related”.

Finally after 9 “drawings” and a few posts, I received this private inbox message:

Just to be clear on the hand drawings: I do use a Wacom stylus to do them. In 2005, my right middle finger was broken in 5 places so I can’t hold a regular pencil anymore. The only photoshopped part is the watermark, and that’s done to protect my work. Since I use a stylus, they are really hand made drawings.

I immediately stopped posting on the person’s wall, and sent her a polite but frank email about the “drawings”. Basically I asked her point blank to send me the .psd file of one of her “drawings”. I got this:

Maybe for the next drawings. I never keep the electronic files as they take too much space on my computer. You’re funny, it’s like you’re the drawing inspector! LOL!

I told her that I wasn’t, but that I did work with Photoshop and computers in general for the last twenty years or so, and that I was pretty sure that I could recognize a filter when I saw one. I told her that I didn’t mind if her thrill was to apply filters to pictures, but that being told that it was a hand drawing bugged me a little (but apparently not her hundreds of Facebook Friends, who only had good comments to make on her talent). I also included this graphic in my reply, telling her I took 5 minutes of my lunch break to make it.

You can make this bigger. You know you want to.

I concluded my email by saying: “Clearly, you can see where I’m coming from, right?”

Her reply came quickly.

I totally understand how you could be mistaken. Don’t you think that if I post them to Facebook saying they’re hand-drawn, it’s because I’m proud of having succeeded in making these? What would I have to gain by telling people I’m doing these by hand if I’m not?

It took me a good half hour just to think about what I was going to answer, or really if I was even bother to answer. In the end I went with a really long reply, that I will not post here. But basically, I offered these thoughts:

  • Maybe it’s just something that started innocently by posting one filtered picture to your drawings folder. Then you started receiving positive feedback on your talent, so you didn’t want to disappoint your fans and basically painted yourself in a corner.
  • Maybe you simply like the attention.

I then offered that this whole questioning thing had next to nothing to do with her, and all to do with me. You see, I question everything, so why not question that? However, I’m always willing to be proven wrong. So in the spirit of friendship and family, I offered to make the three and a half drive to her place with a nice bottle of wine and watch her draw for an hour or two.

I even offered to blog about how great of an artist she was, and promised to publicly apologize on her Facebook wall if she could prove me wrong.

When 24 hours passed without a reply, I figured the matter was settled. I had called her bluff and she couldn’t answer. Case closed, moving on. I refrained from any and all comments on her new “drawings” when she posted them. I had tried to help, and had failed. No sense beating a photoshopped picture of a dead horse.

See, I can totally joke about this. I even made the following images on my lunch break and had a good chuckle about it. They are some of her “drawings” overlaid on graphics I found on-line.

Well, that kept me busy for about 7 minutes.

Now flash-forward to yesterday night. I see this post in my Facebook timeline:

To all you guys who “sag” your pants and show your butt and underwear …did you know it originated in prison? It was a signal to the other MEN that you are “available”. So if you wanna keep going around looking like you’re “available” for another dude to “tap that” then keep thinking you’re cool while I think you look like a Fool!!! BTW it’s called – PBS (Prison B*tch Syndrome).LOL Pass this on to the droopy pants that you know.

Can you guess this is from the same person? So I did what I always do when I see people pass on false information or chain letters. I posted a comment basically saying “don’t post crap!” and linked to snopes.com.

That comment got deleted in less than a minute. Thinking that maybe Facebook didn’t like the included link – I had linked to a specific article – I commented again. Deleted in less than a minute once more. That made me suspicious… Sure enough, I discovered that all the comments I ever made on any posts on that person’s wall had been deleted. I could sort of understand that, saving face and all. But surely this comment was something different… Why delete it?

So I reposted my comment on my wall, tagging that person in the comment.

“For those of you who didn’t have the chance to see my comment on (person’s name)’s wall before it got deleted…”

That comment was “liked” in less than 10 seconds by that person. Interesting. Thinking that it really was a link problem – I mean why would someone delete a comment from their wall and then instantly like the same comment on my wall – I made my way to her wall to leave a simple comment without any link and was greeted with this gem of a post:

What if I post that I have blonde hair, blue skin and live in a mushroom? Would you call me out on this too? What difference does it make to you? If you don’t agree with what I post, just hang up and go to the next caller. If you’re looking for an excuse to come to my house with wine, you should be mature enough to just come over without having to make up a whole story to justify doing it.

I am now convinced this person truly believes the reality she constructs. I mean seriously, how do you go from a polite version of “I think you’re a fucking liar” to “I’m looking for an excuse to go visit you”? You that I saw last time about 12 years ago for 5 minutes when I dropped off some clothes for your kids at your place. You that in those 5 minutes, asked me for 100$ and a television set.

Delusional.

The worst part of this is that I now realize that some people are just beyond any kind of help. And honestly, isn’t this the saddest thing you’ve ever heard? I know it’s number two on my all-time list.

Because really, nothing can be sadder than learning that I’m related to La Schtroumpfette.