1 good reason to use Facebook

Many of us enjoy sharing those special moments on Facebook … an overseas adventure, an incredible meal, a horrible deed undertaken by your child, appreciation of a loved one, the cat spinning around on an automatic vacuum cleaner, or a divine new recipe featuring acai, kale and quinoa.  But have you considered how it could be used for something more?

My mother suffers from dementia.  For the last few years, she’s lived in a high care home in New Zealand.  I get over there to visit her 3-4 times each year and with each visit, she’s lost a little more of her memory and personality.  There’s very little memory left now but you can still occasionally trigger a little spark when looking at photos, or talking to her about some little thing from the past.

For example, because one can never be sure if she remembers you, my dad asked her recently “hello, what’s my name?”   “Goodness” Mum replies “you really should know that by now …”.

There are times when I’d love to have all her memories in one place – all the special things that meant something to her, read her dry witty comments, look at photos that gave her pleasure, explore examples of her beautiful knitting, crochet, embroidery and ceramics. Mostly I’d just love to find out what made her tick because, over the years, I’ve forgotten.  Or I never knew.

While most of the time I’m grateful that Facebook didn’t exist during my young years (dread to think what seriously embarrassing stuff I’d have posted), there’s many times when I wish the internet, digital cameras and Facebook had been around when I was 14, 21, 30 years old.

Why is this?  Because over the years, and after one particularly scarring relationship, I’ve forgotten who I was way back when.  And because of that relationship, I have very little left to show for it in the way of photos and memorabilia. It’d be really interesting to look back and get a view of what I was thinking, what was I interested in, what did I do with my time, what did I look like, who were my friends and what made them tick, and on what planet was my brain at any given moment?

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This lack of memories got me thinking.  Actually … worrying mostly.  What if I get dementia? Why can’t I remember what I did yesterday?  Do I have it already?

Even if I do all the things the “experts” say to prevent this poxy disease, I suspect that if my mother copped it, and her mother copped it, then there’s a good likelihood I’ll cop it too.

SO, WHAT ELSE?

These days I use Facebook for something different.  It’s become my “future proofing” – a memory album for the future, in case dementia starts tearing away and destroying the pathways to memories in my brain.

I take comfort that should I end up in high care in the far flung future, my ol’ chap will be able to display my Facebook feed on an iPad 127 and share memories of things I’ve posted. He’ll probably get a surprise too, because not being a Facebook user and indeed slagging it at every opportunity, he doesn’t know the half of what I’ve posted on there.

So instead of denigrating Facebook or seeing it as a skitefest by your friends, perhaps try seeing it as an opportunity to stack away those memories for the future.

Why not show everyone your personality, express what matters to you (including religion and politics), post lots of cat videos, and ensure there’s heaps of photos and anecdotes about your parents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and friends.

Sure beats having nothing to show at the end of it all!

When comments turn into spam

Most comments left on my blog look a lot like spam.  Why are people bothering to do this?  What possible benefit could there be?

I’m not an expert at anything technical.  I know a bit of HTML, can find my way around any Content Management System, and can talk fairly legibly about accessibility on the web.

But aargh, I’m strictly amateur when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), editing CSS, altering templates or making sure everything’s set up beautifully and working like a flowing stream on every browser known to mankind.

And one thing I was definitely not good at was working out who’s being sincere when comments were left on my blog.  It took a bit of messing around to realise I needed to check the email and web addresses for each comment … and that “bigpenis@babes.com” might be spam.

WHAT ARE THEY WRITING?

These spammers do write some very nice stuff though.  Much of it is most flattering – they’ve obviously worked out what gets a reply or will be published.

Here’s some examples for your quiet enjoyment.  Note these are mostly coming from skincare or porn sites at this stage.

(1) Dodgy Islamic website (Google can’t translate this one!)
Can I simply say what a comfort to find somebody that truly understands what they are talking about on the net. You actually understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people need to check this out and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you are not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

(2) A limp dick website (as I like to call them) …
This post is genuinely a faѕtidious one (as) it helps new viewers, who are wishing in favoг of blogging.

(3) Another different limp dick website …
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(4) Yet another limp dick site …
I blog ԛuite often and I seriously thank you for your content. This grеat article hаs truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

(5) And another limp dick …
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(6) Skincare site …
Wonderful items from you, man. I have keep in mind your stuff prior to and you are just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you’ve got right here, certainly like what you’re stating and the best way in which you assert it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a great web site.

(7) And another skincare site …
I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.

WHY SPAM?

Fortunately WordPress has spam filters which catch this stuff and allow you to approve it if it’s actually genuine.  The trouble is you have to spend time trawling through to work out what really is genuine. And most of it is completely wasting your time.

Spammer evolution - worm to cockroach to spammerI’m trying to work out what the point of these is, other than inflating my ego.  Are these people:

(a) completely stupid morons
(b) breaking the law
(c) thinking I’ll approve their comment and my readers will click their dodgy link and buy something
(d) thinking I’ll email them back so they’ve got my email address
(e) nasty parasites?

It turns out they’re all these things, but the one thing in common is they’re making money from it. How much I do not know.  However I found a rather good pdf at Antispam Hong Kong which goes into some detail about this topic.

In essence, spammers earn money by sending rubbish emails and comments to:
* sell their product
* gather e-mail addresses
* get you to join an affiliate program

So these morons are sending comments to blogs to get you to reply and voila, they have your email address.

How is this done?  Techies suspect that web robots (bots) detect you have a WordPress blog, and therefore know the fields in the form used for submitting comments.  Then they proceed to blast you with cr*p.

I’m only small fry at the moment, but given the dodgy companies I’m getting comments from, I figure it’s only bots who’d bother wasting time doing this. Anyone with half a brain wouldn’t bother.

So I’m off to figure out how to stop these as much as possible.  My gawd spammers, you really know how to waste people’s time.  I sincerely hope all your fingers fall off.