Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Morning with my Wife, a Random old Lady, and my Haircut

Today was one of those days in my life that I’m certain my biographers will struggle with in the future.  It all started yesterday when my wife and I were discussing my pending haircut.  As you know if you pay too close of attention to my life, I get my haircut every 2 weeks.  Heather wanted me to get something different done as she thought my hair was thinning too much on the top and was starting to look like a comb over.

I asked her what she wanted me to have done so I could tell the lady who cuts my hair.  To me a haircut is more function over fashion but I wanted to do my best to please my wife.  As Heather explained what she wanted, I started to get that deer-in-the-headlights look in my eyes and Heather opted to come with me instead of relying on me to get it right.  She knows me too well.

Before my haircut this morning, I had to record a few radio commercials.  Back in the mid-1990’s I worked for a group of radio stations in Lafayette, IN.  While we were dating sometimes, Heather would come in to the studios and bring me dinner and such.  Every once in a while I still voice some commercials so this morning we stopped by.  It was fun to take a stroll down memory lane with my wife.  She was able to see how the station has changed over the past decade and we were able to remember all the spots where we used to smooch during long songs and commercial breaks.  Maybe someday I'll posts some of my old demo reels.

After the recording session (I did it in 1 take thank you very much) we headed off to get my haircut.  I knew things were going to be different when we walked in to balloons and birthday cake.  One of the ladies who cuts hair was celebrating her birthday.  I sat down in the chair and Heather started to explain how she wanted my hair cut in order to try to cover my thinning top. 

As she started to cut my hair the older lady in the chair next to me, let’s call her Louise, was checking out how much hair I did or did not have.  Everyone, Louise, Heather, and the lady that cuts my hair agreed that my hair was thinning and it was getting harder and harder to hide.  At first I thought Louise was out to support my wife’s goal of getting my haircut to hide the balding but then she came over and started running her fingers through my thinning hair.  I called out, “Heather, there is a strange lady running her hands through my hair!”  By the time it was over everyone there had touched my head as if I was some sort of good luck charm.  Everyone was laughing, I can only assume at me and not with me.

Then the other lady who cuts hair their came over to indeed confirm that my hair was thinning.  Again, being a function over fashion kinda guy I told Heather we should just buzz it all nice and short – something my wife has not been in favor of.  This is when Louise changed teams and started helping me out.  She walked over to Heather and said, “Honey, grow up.  There’s nothing up there and getting it cut shorter will be better.  Just deal with it.”  This was the final push Heather needed.  She finally agreed that my hair should be cut shorter so Heather, Louise, and the lady that actually cuts my hair agreed on the current length in a goal to not create a comb over but also to not totally buzz my head, as accordingly to Heather, my scalp is ugly.

So the next time you see me, please note that while my hair is shorter and more to my liking it was not totally my choice, but rather my new best friend, Louise.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Fame has Reached a New Level - as an Astronaut

Recently I had an experience with Twitter that could be either amusing, terrifying, confusing or all the above.  I haven’t decided where I land but I have decided to share this experience, for good or for bad.  At the very least, I hope the perpetrators get a good laugh out of it.

A few weeks ago I checked into a hotel in Bothell, WA, a suburb just north of Seattle.  I’ve stayed at this hotel many times before and checked in not thinking anything special about this time.

I got to my room around 10:45pm and shortly after at 10:55pm the phone in my room started to ring.  I figured it was someone in my traveling party calling so I picked it up.

A young voice on the other end asks if I was “Jonathan Smith.”  I said yes.  He then asked, “Are you an astronaut?”  I found that an interesting question as I recently spoke to an elementary school of K-6 grade students about space and some of my NASA experiences and I often found myself reminding them that I am not an astronaut.

I responded that I was not an astronaut.  The young man then asked why I had a NASA logo on my Twitter picture.  I explained that it was called a Twibbon and that anyone could get one.  He again asked if I was an astronaut and I said no.  Then there was 10 seconds of nothing although I could hear a little scuffling.  Then the voice told me I could hang up now.  I said nothing and 10 seconds later, he hung up.

I called down to the front desk and asked if they had caller ID available for incoming calls.  I was told they didn’t and when I explained what happened the desk agent told me that they had asked for me as if they knew me.  That made sense if they were looking at my Twitter profile, which is public after all.

I told the desk agent that it was either a prank call or some kids who were trying to talk to an actual astronaut and were sorely disappointed when I answered the phone.  The hotel manager then got involved and they placed a block on outside calls to my room by placing my on their VIP list.

Unfortunately, for my young friends I was not able to make their night, however they made mine as I had finally arrived and my fame required the hotel to treat me like an A-lister.  I'm posting this from yet another hotel so who knows what this stay will hold. Should I warn the front desk now?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

TweetDeck’s #EpicFail

Yesterday TweetDeck announced that they are forgetting their humble beginnings and screwing over most of their users by dropping support for all mobile apps and dropping support for Facebook.

Instead of reading the rest of this rant if you use the Adobe Air app for TweetDeck or still use TweetDeck on your iPhone or iPad you may want to start looking for a new option.  You only have until May to find something else as the apps will disappear and stop working around that time.

TweetDeck came on the scene and actually made Twitter useful back in 2008 and 2009.  Its integration of Facebook originally allowed users to post the same thing to post social networking sites without having to enter things twice.  Then later editions allowed you to see your responses and feedback on both social networks from a single place.  Today’s announcement sends TweetDeck back to 2009 as it drops Facebook support and limits Twitter interaction strictly to a desktop.

Even the way they announced it was a bit insulting:

“In many ways, doubling down on the TweetDeck web experience and discontinuing our app support is a reflection of where our TweetDeck power-users are going.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices.  This trend coincides with an increased investment in Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android –– adding photo filters and other editing capabilities, revamping user profiles and enhancing search.  That said, we know this applies to most of our users –– not all of them.  And for those of you who are inconvenienced by this shift, our sincere apologies.”

So they are saying that since they think we use Twitter on our mobile devices and TweetDeck on our computers that we don’t need TweetDeck for our mobile devices.  Well, duh.  The fact that they haven’t updated TweetDeck for any mobile platform in over a year kinda already said that.  Plus this comparing TweetDeck to the Twitter apps isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison.  Twitter only works with Twitter while TweetDeck works, at least for now, with both Twitter and Facebook.

They also say:

“We’ll also discontinue support for our Facebook integration.”

What?  That’s it?  You are abandoning one of the key features that make you what you are and all you give it is eight words?  The primary reason I use TweetDeck on my desktop is because it can post to both Twitter and Facebook and because TweetDeck posts to Facebook directly as opposed to going through the Facebook API there aren’t any rate limits imposed, like what HootSuite struggled with.  You can read more about that here. 

Because of the limits Facebook imposes on HootSuite, I’ve used TweetDeck on my desktops and laptops and HootSuite on my iDevices.  That has worked well but now it appears I’ve got to go back to HootSuite and then when I get limited go back to posting directly to each social network.  It appears TweetDeck wants to be like Google + and not play nice with anyone.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.  In 2011 when Twitter bought TweetDeck, I figured the days of Facebook integration were numbered.  I also can’t say I’m totally surprised they are dropping the mobile apps instead of updating them for Twitter API v1.1.  Twitter has made no secret of the fact that they want to limit API access and close the ecosystem so you have to get access to Twitter only through them.  The fact that they bought TweetDeck at least keeps that platform alive but everyone else is going to be subject to huge rate limits.

In addition, since being acquired by Twitter, TweetDeck has slowly dropped of connections to other social networks like Foursquare, MySpace, and LinkedIn, to name a few.

I predict that in the near feature all the social networks will be islands not connected to each other at all.  Perhaps Google + has it right after all and instead of technology making our lives easier and saving us time we will all be investing more time in updated our social networks separately.  That or one of the big three will die a slow death as folks eventually get bored trying to update them individually.

I recently bought a Microsoft Surface tablet and was excited that I had a tablet that could run TweetDeck.  That excitement has been short lived as I’ m back to looking for an app that works across platforms and isn’t subject to rate limiting from Twitter or Facebook. 

Way to go technology!  Thanks for helping us take one-step forward and two steps back.  Seems before too long we won’t be able to post anything to Twitter unless we are standing on our heads, rubbing our bellies and jumping up and down when we do it.