Friday, February 25, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
"Don't think 'cause I'm talking, we're friends"I've written before about controlling the sharing of your information with apps on Facebook (go read it - we'll wait). Today, I want to discuss how to act all friendly with real people on FB while keeping the amount of personal info they see under control. Or more to the point, how to allow some people to see more than others. I leave it to you to then figure out how and upon whom to wield it.
- Sneaker Pimps, 6 Underground
As you may or may not know you can create groups on Facebook and put friends into various groups, and then allow them access to various parts of your profile based on what group they are in. At first I had all sorts of groups - "Friends," "Family," "Coworkers," etc., but that got too unwieldy. Instead, I created one group - "Allowed" (as in "allowed to see my stuff"). I then categorized all my Facebook "friends" based on one simple thought - "Am I comfortable with them seeing my wall posts, comments on other people's walls, photos, etc.?" If "yes," then they're in, if "no," then they're out (and if you are reading this as a wall post on Facebook, you're "in" :). Then I set my privacy settings so that most things are only seen by people in the "Allowed" group, and categorized my friends list accordingly. That's it.
The nice thing is you can then accept all "friend" requests and never have to unfriend anyone (because, as you've noticed, that hurts and can cause friction). To virtually unfriend them without actually unfriending them, you can just hide all their wall posts so you don't see their updates and then move them out of the "Allowed" group so they don't see yours. And as you accept friend requests Facebook asks you if you want to put them in any of your groups as part of the acceptance, so once you've set up the "Allowed" group and categorized everyone, it's easy to keep it up to date moving forward. Perfect.
To help get you moving in the right direction, here are a few screen shots to show what I am talking about:
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I have been experimenting with the five sentences movement in my personal emails (I may try it at work, too). It has been "interesting," and I have failed a few times with full-on rants in a discussion on programming languages with some techie friends (yes, we really argue about such things). What I have found is that it is a worthwhile exercise and an interesting mental discipline and writing approach which, like haiku or Twitter, causes me to focus on what I am writing and how I am expressing myself, and to also have concern for the time people will spend reading it. What I have also concluded is that run-on sentences, like the ones in this five-sentence post, are a lifesaver, and have gained a new appreciation for why the Victorians wrote highly parenthetical sentences that took up a whole page.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
As part of a Christian ethics class I am taking at the MSR, I have finished reading two books and am in the process of reading a third. One of the texts I've finished is Christian Ethics: An Essential Guide by Robin W. Lovin. I enjoyed the book very much, and may quote more from it later (I certainly enjoyed it more than the other I've finished, which may end up being a post as well). Following is a passage on covenants and rules, their difference and their inter-relatedness that I found especially thought-provoking (emphases mine):
Covenantal traditions provide for change, not by setting aside relationships that prove unsatisfactory but by distinguishing between the rules that are central to the covenant and those that are interpretations and applications of the more basic rules to new conditions and changing circumstances. The Jewish people have sustained their covenant over many centuries through rabbinic interpretations that restate Torah as halakah, the commandments that Jews follow in their daily walk where they happen to be living now. Protestant Reformers, who gave new emphasis to covenant and to God's commandments in place of the natural law theories of late medieval Christianity, recognized that alongside the basics of church teaching and Christian living that they tried to discern in Scripture, there were many things that were adiaphora, matters that could be decided in different ways by different Christian groups, each being faithful in its own way to the central truths of Christian faith. Political systems based on the rule of law distinguish between ordinary legislation and the constitutional principles on which that legislation is based.
Life in a covenant community then, does not require that one accept all of its rules just as they are. That expectation may, in fact, be more appropriate to a social contract, where you either agree that the rules are in your best interest or you do not; and if you do not, there is not much reason for you to be there. In a covenant community there is a continuing relationship to others in the covenant, and, in a religious covenant, continuing faithfulness to God, who calls the covenant community into being. Part of life in the covenant is learning what is central to its relationships and what is peripheral, what is the commandment of God that makes the covenant people who they are and what is part of the changing ways that this people have tried to walk in faith in different times and places. It is, in fact, by questioning the rules while remaining faithful to the relationship that we find out what is central to the covenant.
Covenant does not preclude interpretations of ancient rules that help us to understand what they mean in new circumstances. What covenant precludes is an individualistic approach to this interpretative task that examines the rules and decides what to keep and what to discard according to one's own set of values and then acts on those decisions without regard for others. Interpretation in a covenant community always involves a great deal of listening, and the decision to act must involve choices not only about what is right and what is wrong, but also about what course of action will sustain this process of communication for the future. The decision to leave a covenant is not made by deciding to do this thing rather than that. It is made by deciding to not try anymore to understand or persuade.So, questioning is not unfaithfulness, but not communicating is. Something to remember in all our relationships, including our romantic ones as we approach Valentine's Day tomorrow.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
I love music. It is an integral part of me, and always has been. There is a soundtrack to the movie that is my life. But lately I've been thinking about two things with music that bug me.
1) I have a confession. In 99% of all popular songs, I think "the bridge" sucks (I guess more technically I am talking about "the middle eight"). I mean, you're sitting there bopping along to verse-chorus-verse-chorus and suddenly there is this, this thing that happens and the song takes this left turn off into a down-tempo section that leaves you going "WTF? What happened to my song?" And then suddenly we're back into the verse-chorus thing again and riding toward the home stretch. To me, this brings on a depressing case of "groovus interruptus."
Now there are many songs I love with effective changes in the middle, and many songwriters who are adept using the form. The trouble is most tunesmiths are not Lennon nor McCartney, and so their attempts at following "standard form" takes an otherwise good song and grafts a foreign part onto it that just plain sucks. I notice it quite a bit with pop music, and a lot with modern "praise music" at church.
Me? I'm old-fashioned. I'd rather have a crudely structured, fast and furious "three rounds and you're out" punk song with a good riff than a carefully crafted and layered pop song that then has another piece bolted to it, Frankenstein-like, because that's how songs are "supposed to work."
[The following is about church - so if you're not interested you can bail at this point. And I have to be careful because my wife's in the band there, and we've had a few, um, "discussions" around the topic.]
2) Let's see if this has happened to you. You're attending a church service that uses PowerPoint (ugh) to put up the responsive readings and the words to the songs on the expensive LCD screens now marring the once-beautiful sanctuary. The band is playing some new song, and because you're supposed to participate, you're gamely singing along, sorta getting into it, figuring it out as you go, line by line from the slides. And then, right when you think you have it down, there is a line (usually in the chorus) that changes tempo and is either all-really-fast-words-squished-together-breathlessly or else really...bizarre tempo...changes that...throw off the whole...rhythm. And you resentfully stop singing because you don't know what to expect next and can't keep up.
Know what I mean?
Even though I was in choir for three years in school and jazz stage band for one, I don't read music. Not really. But I know enough to be able to discern a quarter note from a whole note and recognize "get ready, we're gonna sing faster in this next part," but there are no such visual cues when singing along to just words on PPT slides. So those songs, the ones that leave you floundering? I can only deduce one thing from the band choosing to play them - you're not supposed to sing along. They're land mines, little bombs meant to make you stop singing and just listen to the band. It's no longer about participation but performance. And that's fine, if that's what they want it to be, but then don't put the words up on the screen - just let the band play the damned song, like when there's a choir-only hymn in a traditional service, and we'll all sit there and listen appreciatively to the music. It's hard enough for most people to even want to sing in church without putting in extra barriers to it, songs with structures guaranteed to make them feel foolish.
Or is it just me?