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Happy Memorial Day

Monday,  05/31/10  09:11 AM

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness - thanks!Happy Memorial Day everyone!  Well I guess maybe it's not "happy" if you're memorializing someone close to you; it could be a time of reflection and sadness. 

For many years this day has had a special meaning for me; my father was in the [Dutch] Navy during WWII (served five years and was a Japanese POW for three of them!), and my oldest daughter Nicole was in the Navy for seven years.  She's out now (!) but I *still* think of her and her Naval colleagues on this day, and all those who came before them, protecting our way of life. 

My biggest challenge on Memorial Day is generally turning on the pool heater, and so it will be today, but it's only thanks to them that I don't have much more serious concerns.  Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...  THANKS!

 

setting Facebook privacy

Monday,  05/31/10  09:52 AM

As a public service I have undertaken to understand Facebook's new privacy settings, and to tell you how to set them.  Facebook have recently "simplified" these settings - *ahem* - and it gave me a chance to dig into them a little.  What follows is good advice, but you may find that it's worth what you paid for it :)

First the Golden Rule: assume that anything you post in your Facebook could become public.  If you post pictures or messages or link things that you don't want the whole world to see, you could be in trouble later.  Why?  Because Facebook reserves the right to change their privacy settings at any time.  You might think only your friends can see something today, but that might not be true tomorrow.  So be careful.

Okay, onward.  At the highest level there are now three groups of privacy settings.  When you first click on Privacy Settings, this is the page you see:

This page shows the sharing levels for all the information you post on your Facebook.  Each kind of thing can be shared with Everyone, Friends of Friends, or Friends.  You pick!  To change them, click Customize Settings...  In my case I am only sharing each kind of thing with Friends Only, as shown above.  (If I want something to be public, I post it on my blog :)  Your mileage may vary.  Be especially careful with Friends of Friends; since some of the people with whom you're sharing are not your Friends, you have to assume it is pretty close to Everyone.  Of course, this could be a cool way to meet new Friends, too!

Next, you have Basic Directory Information; when you click on View Settings, this is the page you see:

On this page you set the privacy levels for information displayed about you when people search.  As you can see I have all these set to Everyone.  The setting you are most likely to want to change is "See my friend list"; this has caused some controversy.  You could restrict access to this if you don't want Everyone to know who your friends are...  then again, maybe you don't mind others knowing, your choice.  I'm proud of my Friends :)

Finally there are the settings for Applications and Websites, displayed on this page:

Here you set the privacy levels for Facebook Applications and for third-party websites affiliated with Facebook.  At the top are shown the Applications which you've authorized to use your Facebook information.  I'm using a handful as you can see, but lots of people have tens or even hundreds of these; be careful, because they can use your Facebook information!  A lot of them are fun and some of them are useful, but many of them are useless and some are even dangerous; periodic "gardening" to remove applications you aren't using is a good idea. 

  • I have changed the default setting for Game and Application Activity to Friends Only.  I don't know what Applications might do with my Facebook data, so this seemed safest.  Your mileage may vary... 
  • The link to Info Accessible through your Friends is subtle; this defines what information about you is available to your Friends when they use applications.  I have all of them enabled, but I trust my Friends; I only "friend" someone who is truly a friend.  If you're someone who "friends" everyone you meet, you might want to turn these off.
  • The link to Instant Personalization lets you set whether "partner websites" can use your friend network to personalize your experience.  This has caused a lot of controversy but I've left it on.  For example using my friend network, Pandora can tell me about music my friends like.  Seems like no bad thing.
  • The link to Public Search lets you set whether people can find you with a non-Facebook search engine.  Since the only information available is stuff you've already shared with Everyone, this seems harmless. 

In all of this, remember the Golden Rule.  These are Facebook's settings today, but they could change tomorrow.  In the meantime have fun Facebooking!

 

how and why to stop multitasking

Monday,  05/31/10  10:34 AM

I came across a great article the other day: How (and why) to stop Multitasking, by Peter Bregman.  There is some great advice in here; basically the message is that yeah, you can do ten things at once, but you can't do any of them well.  And the net is that you'll be less happy and less productive than if you focus on one thing at a time. 

multitasking... stop it!Peter did an experiment: "For one week I would do no multitasking and see what happened."  And he discovered six things:

  1. It was delightful
  2. I made significant progress on challenging projects
  3. My stress dropped dramatically
  4. I lost all patience for things I felt were not a good use of my time
  5. I had tremendous patience for things I felt were useful and enjoyable
  6. There was no downside

There you go.  Single-tasking is clearly better.  It is interesting to consider why we multitask, but theory aside concentrating on one task at a time does make you more productive.  So how do you do this?  Well Peter offers some suggestions:

  1. The obvious: The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off.
  2. The less obvious: Use your loss of patience to your advantage.

The first suggestion is similar advice to my famous Tyranny of Email article from 2003 (still by far the most popular thing I've ever posted online).  I find the worst source of multitasking interruptions is email.  Stop reading it!  And the second worst source of multitasking interruptions are blogs.  Stop reading them!  Now :)

The second suggestion is interesting; as Peter notes: "There's nothing like a deadline to keep things moving.  And when things are moving fast, we can't help but focus on them."  This is definitely true for me; I can procrastinate on something infinitely but when it is really due, I do it.  And am astonished at my productivity while doing so!

 
 

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