Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Technology Lesson: A Tour of Facebook's Message Center

Let's look around your message center in Facebook. Your message center is where you Facebook messages and chats are stored.

To access your messages, click MESSAGES. It's in the LEFT COLUMN next to your newsfeed. It is the second item in that column, under NEWS FEED.

You can also see messages by clicking on the conversation bubble icon at the top RIGHT of your screen. This will provide a preview for your inbox. (You can also view messages sent to your other folder. We'll discuss that folder in a moment.)

If you click a message from this preview it will open as a chat box at the bottom of your screen. That's because...
Chat and message histories are threaded together — you can think of them as one and the same. When you open a conversation, you’ll see a conversation that includes all your messages along with your entire chat history. If you send a chat message to a friend who has turned chat off, the chat message will be sent directly to their message inbox.
The default view in your messages is of your Inbox. You can search for a specific message by typing in the search bar on the top left, above your messages. You can also search by clicking the magnifying glass on the right.

You can view your Other messages by click OTHER, next to INBOX. You can see Archived, Unread, and Spam messages by clicking MORE.

You can start a new message by clicking + NEW MESSAGE in the center of your center. A blank message will appear. Type the name of your friend in the TO field. Your friends and friends of friends will appear as you type. So will previous messages.

You can send a message to anyone on Facebook. You might want to send a message because you are friends with someone but don't have his or her e-mail address. Or you might not be friends but want to contact the person. (To do that, find the person's page and click MESSAGE at the bottom right of his or her cover.)

If you are not friends with the person, the message may be sent to his or her Other box. If you send a message don't hear back, make this assumption. Most people don't check for Other messages. (It also makes you feel better!)

If you're messaging a stranger, Facebook may prompt you to pay the social media giant to ensure that the message is delivered to the inbox. Is that shady or what?! The fee is about $0.99.

If you're not friends with someone, but the person is in a group on a message (say, the message is sent to a group of people, or a Facebook group) or is a friend of a friend it may go to the inbox. Likewise, you may receive a message this way.

Messages are also sent to Other when they are pre-filtered. I think that's pretty rude of Facebook, personally. Whereas an inbox message will prompt Facebook to notify you via e-mail, an Other message will not. Per Facebook:
Your Other folder is where you'll find messages and emails that have been filtered out of your inbox. You can change your filter preference right from your inbox.
To get to your Other folder, click Messages on the left side of the homepage. At the top left of your main messages view, click Other.
I advise that you occasionally check your Other folder. If you're worried about missing out, you can manage your settings:
You can change your filter preferences right from your inbox:
  1. Go to your messages inbox
  2. In the upper-left corner of your messages, click Other
  3. Click Edit Preferences
  4. Select Basic or Strict filtering
  5. Click Save
Messages may end up in Other anyway.

Facebook Lessons

Additional Resources:
Managing Messages, Facebook Help
Sending A Message, Facebook Help
What is the "Other" folder in my inbox?, Facebook help

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vocabulary Lesson: IIRC

Today's lesson is yet another abbreviation I rarely remember: IIRC.

IIRC stands for If I Recall Correctly.

Like many abbreviations (TBH, TL;DR, BTW*), is is an Internet-created abbreviation. You will likely see it in forums and comments at the bottom of articles. In general, this abbreviation saves the typist and commenter time, and also lends an air of casualness to the conversation. It also covers the commenter's bases (albeit weakly) in the event that the person does not actually remember correctly.

*That's to be honest, too long; didn't read, and by the way.

Additional Resources:
IIRC, Urban Dictionary
IIRC, Internet Slang.com

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Technology Lesson: Shoot your video in landscape mode

If the Young People in your life had tried hard to instill the value of shooting photography in landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical), it can be hard to fight the urge not to shoot videos in portrait (vertical) mode.

But you really shouldn't. I'll show you two vertical videos, which will illustrate why you should shoot horizontally.

This video was shot with my iTouch. I didn't turn my device. Now the overall image is "smaller" than it would be if I had turned my iTouch. Unfortunately, those black bars are distracting. Remember that TV screens, laptop monitors, and YouTube videos are oriented to display horizontally. So your camera and cell phone screen should be turned that way, too.

I'll let Wired explain why that is:
Videos, unlike photos, are almost universally presented horizontally. There’s a reason for this: It’s how we’re built to view the world. Our vision allows us to see more to the left and right than top and bottom. So when you shoot a video on your smartphone in portrait mode, you’re violating not only the set video standard, but also the laws of nature as they pertain to human sight.
Gizmodo asks, "What would it be like if every time someone gave you a dollar to spend, you spent 33 cents and threw the other 67 cents in the trash? This is like that."

Even worse, the black bars indicate that I have no idea what I'm doing. Amateur hour!

This video is even worse. Because I didn't edit the video and have it rotated, there are no black bars—but the video is unwatchable.

So, before you fire up your phone or digital camera, visualize the finished product, streaming online for your friends and family, or playing on your living room television. Then proceed accordingly, so your finished product is supremely watchable, and able to be enjoyed.

Additional Resources:
That’s Not How You Use That: Shooting Video in Portrait Mode, Wired
Portrait video and other things cameras shouldn't let you do, The Verge
PSA: Please Turn Your Damn Cellphone Sideways When Recording Video, Gizmodo

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Vocabulary Lesson: N.B.

"N.B." is an abbreviated Latin phrase. It stands for nota bene and is commonly used at the end of lengthy blog posts.

Translated, nota bene means note well. In many articles, it serves as an editorial note or "p.s." at the end. From this Zagat FAQ:
In present-day English, it is used to draw the attention of the reader to a certain (side) aspect or detail of the subject on hand, translating it as "pay attention" or "take notice."
This Gothamist article is an example of N.B. in action. You'll see that Gothamist's Dobkin provides a long answer with additional notes at the end.

Additional Information:
Nota bene, Wikipedia
What does N.B. mean?, Zagat Help

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


In today's Technology Lesson, I'll show you how to download an image from Facebook and send it in an e-mail as an attachment. I'll also show you how to post the image to Tumblr, since that's what I did with the image. This lesson is highly specific, but it is also by request.

You see, my particularly adorable niece was spotted in her local meat market Saturday, hauling a five-pound bag of ground beef. The meat market posted her brilliant visage to its Facebook page, precipitating the need for this lesson. It seems unfair to violate her privacy on this blog, especially since there was a rather amusing image on my Facebook feed a few days later.

As for this the title of this blog, I am openly mocking blogs that run their entire economic scheme on clickbait. Upworthy is the biggest offender in my mind, as it often ends its posts with "YOU WON'T BELIEVE" or "YOU'LL FEEL [SOMETHING POSITIVE." (Upworthy also removes the dateline from its posts, which I think is unethical and disingenuous; this method helps make old stories go viral again and again.) This is probably a bad move for someone looking for gainful employment, but now I've squeezed a third lesson into one post!

Let's get started! Turn on your computer. Log in, if necessary. Connect to the Internet, if necessary. Open your browser. (A browser is a program or application you use to surf the web. Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome are examples of browsers.)

Go to www.facebook.com. Log in to your account if necessary.

If you are looking for a specific photograph, search for it. For example, I typed the name of the meat market of the search bar when I was acquiring the photograph of my niece. When I sent my niece an old photo of myself with dyed hair in 2012, I went to my page and clicked on PHOTOS.

In the example I'm providing, I happened upon the image in my newsfeed.

Click the image so it opens in its own "window." Right click the image (using the right button on your mouse, or by holding CONTROL and clicking the image). Click "SAVE IMAGE AS..."

A dialogue box will appear. Before you save, you will need to choose where the image is saved. Your computer may send you to a Downloads folder. You may have previously set where downloads go. On my PC all files go to a TEMP folder unless I direct it otherwise. Find a place where you can find this file again. Then rename the file. I renamed this image "yogabear.jpg." Make sure to include the extension; without ".jpg" you can not send the image.

The first thing I did with this image was upload it to a Tumblr I keep for my niece. Yes, I have a Tumblr for a toddler.

I typed www.tumblr.com into the address bar of my browser, and hit ENTER. I was already logged in, so I went to the RIGHT COLUMN of the screen and picked the blog I wanted to upload the image to. I have an embarrassing number of accounts.

Look, there's a feed of my posts! I clicked PHOTO, as I want to upload an image. A white box dropped down, and I clicked "CHOOSE UP TO TEN PHOTOS" which was in the center of the box.

A box popped up. I went to DOWNLOADS since that's where I saved my image. I selected the image and clicked OPEN.

The image appeared in a Tumblr draft. I provided a rather clever caption, which you can read above. I clicked POST.

Satisfied with my blogging, I went to Gmail. I typed www.gmail.com in the address bar.

I was already signed in. I clicked COMPOSE, which you can see at the top left of the screen. A draft appeared at the bottom right of the screen. I typed a recipient (in this example, I sent the email to myself), and a subject line. Then I clicked on the paperclip at the bottom of the box. If you hover, it will say ATTACH FILES.

A box popped up. As before, it was already in Downloads. Go to the folder where you saved your image if you are not already there. Click on the file and click OPEN.

I then typed a message in the body of the message. If you send an attachment without a message, most email clients will ask if you're sure you want to send an empty message. Don't be rude. Send a message with your attachment!

Again, I think I am pretty clever.

You can see the attachment in the message at the bottom. This is what it looks like in Gmail. It may not look like this in every email client.

When you are satisfied, click SEND.

In review: right-click the image, choose "save image as...", save image, go to your email, open a new message, attach the file, select a recipient, type a subject, type a message, click send.

Now, wasn't that easy?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Technology Lesson: Bitstrips

Bitstrips is a Facebook application. It lets users create customized cartoon characters and publish single-cell cartoons. It also allows you to "Put your friends in hilarious comics where anything can happen."

Unfortuantely, the art and illustration is infuriatingly ugly. Valleywag called Bitstrips "universally hated." As an Old Person, you get a pass on bad Facebook apps. You earned your Oldness and can do whatever you want!

For instructions on how to block Bitstrips (with gifs!), see this lesson from Buzzfeed. Beware: I often see users upload their Bitstrip as an image, which circumvents the app. (Therefore, if I had blocked the app, I'd see it anyway.)

So now you know what all those weird, funny pictures are!

Additional Resources:
How To Block Bitstrips From Your Facebook Timeline, Buzzfeed
Bistrips, Universally Hated Facebook Spam Company, Bags $3 Million, Valleywag

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Technology Lesson: Pinterest's Related Pins

Last fall, Pinterest introduced "related pins," pins picked by Pinterest related to your pins and boards. The idea is that related pins will help users find new content. At this time, users can not opt out of this feature.

Related pins are based on what you have pinned and which websites you've visited recently. (This last feature utilizes cookies, but you can turn it off.) My experience is that the pins are relevant to my interests.

Here is Pinterest's example of relevant pins: "If you’ve been collecting recipes for your big holiday feast, we might show you a related Pin for fool-proof pie crust, or the perfect double-stuffed sweet potato."

However, I do not repin related pins. I also find that there are significantly more related pins than those from the people I am following, making it exacerbating and difficult to find the content I do want. I use Pinterest to save content for later, but that is not what Pinterest wants; Pinterest wants me to use the site more often, making it more profitable to investors. So on Pinterest's side, related pins is helpful for the business and users. Unfortunately, I'm old fashioned. If I wanted strangers on my feed, I'd add them on my own.

Here is how to identify a related pin:

You'll see that under the pin it says "RELATED PIN." This is important to look for if you have a pin from a user you don't recognize and begin to panic.

If you click the "i" you can rate the pin. For example, maybe you have a pin from Buzzfeed called "230 ways to lose weight, you dumb fat ass." (Not real!) And you are a body positive person. So you'd press the "i" for info, and rate the pin. (Pinterest: "A thumbs down will remove the recommendation from the feed and the site will learn more about what you do and don't like.")

It looks like this:

You also get info as to why the pin has been provided. I find this to be very helpful. And, truth be told, this pin is relevant to the content on my feed.

I'm sorry I have no advice on culling related pins. Related pins has been around for a few months, so it's unlikely that Pinterest will end the practice or let its users opt out. (But it would be nice if we could!)

Additional Sources:
Related Pins, Pinterest
Freshening up your home feed with related Pins, Pinterest
Pinterest Introduces Related Pins, Mashable