Instagram sucks, but is a necessary evil in modern times

My Instagram

There’s a thing on Instagram where people follow others, purely with the hope that those they just followed will follow them back… then the buggers unfollow.

Usually when I get a new follow, I’ll jump onto their Instagram feed and check them out. I’ll usually give them a few likes if I like their content and if they are matched followers for following, or have more follows than followers, and I like their content I’ll follow.

If, however, they have tens of thousands of followers and are following few it is rare I’ll follow back; unless they have exceptional content.

It’s an annoying model to work by, the idea that they follow thousands and thousands only to unfollow them, they become “influencers” and declare themselves such in their profiles, in the hope of getting wares from brands, and that has largely worked in the past, but hopefully that time is coming to an end.

For me, on Instagram, at time of posting, I have 760 followers, I’m following 2,436 with just 42 posts. I’ve never been one to care too much about my follower numbers, but I’m hoping to get some more models interested in shooting with us so I need to reach a wider audience to do so.

Cultivating a social media following is hard work. You need to follow, comment and like other people’s work, you need to continually produce material and you need to push it hard. Or you need to do what the others mentioned above do, follow a bunch of people purely so they follow you back, so you can then unfollow them to appear more popular than you are. Ultimately though, it’s a constant battle with the algorithms that manage the social media sites. How to get seen more often when the site is no longer showing content in date order, rather determining by their own rules, how you will appear to others. The only way to beat that is to have more followers and to have more interactions… and the only way to do that is to do the same back. Follow more, interact more, appear more… and that’s just what the sites want, more engagement, more information, and more they can sell on to advertisers for targeting. It’s becoming quite the sorry excuse for a “social” interaction.

Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress

Mark Zuckerberg testifies before congress

A day a lot of people have been waiting for has come. I’m currently watching a Facebook live stream by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Mark Zuckerberg testifying to a joint hearing titled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data”.

Senator Cruz just grilled Mark Zuckerberg on whether Facebook is a political platform (acting as an entity entitled to First Amendment rights) or a safe-harbour (which would allow users to post anything). Mark Zuckerberg replied that Facebook is a platform for ideas. Cruz, not happy with the answer repeated the question two more times then went into a mini-tirad about republican and “conservatives” being oppressed on Facebook. He cited pages that were removed, he specifically referenced them as “Republican”, “Christian”, “Conservative”.

Cruz wanted to know Zuckerberg’s personal knowledge of the 15,000+ safety workers whose job it is to vet content for hate-speech and the like, he wanted to know if Facebook only hires liberal employees who may have a bias towards removing Republican content.

I’m thinking Cruz missed the point as to why this Judiciary Committee was formed… because of the role of Facebook in the election of a Republican President through the use of Facebook user data that was mined by an app developer and used to set up Cambridge Analytica, a company that has been involved in a bunch of misleading activity in a bunch of elections all over the world.

Largely the questioning that I’ve heard, which is only a little bit from the hours during which Mark Zuckerberg testified, seemed largely ignorant about how the system works, indeed how computer systems work. Cruz in particular seemed only interested in getting it on record that he felt his people were being actively oppressed. Cruz cut Mark Zuckerberg off often when he was attempting to answer a question… it seems that the senators are restricted by time and some want to get as much of their views out as quickly as they could, limiting Mark Zuckerberg’s replies.

The data that Facebook uses is largely provided by us, the user. The other data you may not know Facebook is getting is from the way you interact with other data on the site. The pages you like, the photos your friends post that you like. Also when you’re not actually on Facebook, but you’re browsing other websites, if they use something like the Facebook Pixel, which is invisible to the user, then Facebook gets data about what you’re doing on the site you’re visiting. The same with any site that has a Facebook-supplied “Like” button or Facebook-supplied commenting tools.

A senator asked about Facebook’s declaration that you, the user, own your data, but that you, the user, don’t get a cut of the money Facebook makes from selling access to that data. But Mark Zuckerberg did of course remind him that in the TOS, you are agreeing to allow Facebook to use that data without financial compensation.

A question came up about how the users get to control their content usage. And Mark Zuckerberg replied that for each post, of any kind, users get to decide how that data is used. The senator then went further to ask if the user can determine how Facebook uses the data… and Mark Zuckerberg replied that yes, and quoted the Facial Recognition service that would tag you in photo automatically, he replied that “yes, users can say they don’t want Facebook to recognise them in photos”… but he didn’t say that Facebook STILL records that data, they just don’t show it.

The was clearly a push for Facebook to allow a user to see ALL of the data Facebook captures, including the information about you they buy from data brokers and then match to users through their algorithms, but is never shown to the user.

The hearing continues as I press publish on this post. I just don’t have time to watch it, I have things to do, and I’m not a US citizen and it seems that the blinkers are firmly on with the senators about their own direct constituents and how Facebook affects them. Some of the senators brought up how Facebook allows users to post or target things which would be deemed as illegal if Facebook themselves posted it and in fact are illegal for the user to target or post. An example raised included a realtor who was targeting ads for a new property development to exclude people of colour and how that was illegal according to the Fair Housing Act… I’m all for Facebook doing what they can, but as a global company they can’t also do the work of the police and judiciary of all the nations of the world and all the sub-locations within those nations, to have them do so would be a massive overreach and would effectively make them an arm of the law. If they had to report that a housing firm was targeting only white folk, would they also have to report people who broke local statutes such as drinking alcohol on a Sunday in a location that doesn’t permit it, which they may determine from a person posting a photo of themselves (or being facially recognised in a photo posted by a friend), drinking alcohol where the photo was created on a Sunday. It seems laughable that the government would want Facebook to do something like that, but then maybe, through the call for oversight, they’re also hoping to get access to Facebook’s systems so THEY can have access to all that data at no cost.

Who knows what will come of the testimony from Mark Zuckerberg, likely not a lot, because as I said, Zuckerberg didn’t get a lot of time to respond to questions and the questions largely seemed ignorant of the system, the technology, or the implications of if Facebook did what they asked them to do, the gaping hole it would leave for that one new role for Facebook to have more power than they ever really wanted (or did they).

Philips Hue and our Home

Philips Hue Lighting System

Just Philips Hued the heck out of our home:

  • Hue Hub,
  • Light Strip,
  • Light Globes x 4, and
  • a Hue Go.

We’ve put the light globes in the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the ensuite, and my room. The Go is in the lounge room, he’s name is Hugo. The Lightstrip is on the back of our bedhead so it pushes the light up the wall.

The light bulbs are just the basic white ones, the Go and light strip are able to change colour, but we’ll likely just keep it white.

Now setting up scenes… apparently it’s not OK to call the scene that turns off the bedroom light and sets the light strip behind our bedhead to 1% as “Sexytime”. 🤪

In addition to scenes, there are automations. We have one kicks off when we come home turning on a few of the lights, just have to fix it up now so it only does so when the lights are needed.

Totally love controlling the house with Siri… now we have them, Philips will likely bring out something new. 🤣

Apple’s “Home” application makes it all so easy. There are a bunch of other items I want. Ceiling fans, garage door opener, blind openers, I want everything automated, but slowly, slowly, the products will get better and more abundant as time goes on.

Apple Home App
Apple Home App showing our devices

Dusty is Awesome

Kobold VR200

Our little robot vacuum cleaner, Dusty, is so cordial, she* says things like:

“Thank you for emptying my dirt bin and cleaning my filter”.

To which I often reply:

“That’s OK, thank you for keeping my floors clean.”

She does and awesome job and I am truly grateful to have her. She’s a Kobold VR200 and having had another one “Pickles”, an LG Roboking, I declare that Dusty is a far superior device.

*Dusty is a she, not because she’s carrying out domestic duties, but because she’s freaking amazing! Pickles, our previous robot vacuum, now lives in the Garage. Pickles is a he, and he was pretty good when we first got him, but started to go a bit crap after a while.

Facebook’s Grandiose Claims

I finally got the Facebook sharing is caring video… but man what a lot of hyperbole…

“Facebook is now a community of 2 billion people, and we’re so glad that you’re part of it. We’ve made you this video to share the good that happens when we all come together.”

Well, highly unlikely, Facebook is a community of 2 billion ACCOUNTS and an account does not a person make.”

I sometimes wonder just how small facebook would be if they ditched all of the bot-created, stalker-created and non-duplicate accounts.

Vineyard Shoot

Winery from on High

A tiny part off the vineyard we went to today. The giant piece of the concrete is a bunker to survive a war… only joking, it’s the new wine cellar they are building. They believe it to be the only one in Australia.

Almost finished, they just need to have the tonnes of soil put back on top of the bunker, then a garden planted, for now, eventually the plan is to build an office on top, but they still need to hire the amish storage sheds fredericksburg va services for that.

Winery from on high

Winery from on high

Winery from on high

Winery from on high

Got me a DJI Ronin

DJI Roni M

Got me a DJI Ronin… I called him Keating… get it… yeah you do. Unless you’re in the US, maybe you won’t get it then.

This is just a quick snap on my iPhone, I almost abandoned Keating when I couldn’t get him to balance my 5D on it. David’s little Sony balanced relatively easy. And we did a couple of runs with it out the back with Bill and his ball.

My despondence was alleviated through persistence and I finally got the balance happening with my camera, but now it’s too dark out, so I shall have to wait until the morrow to have a play with it. I might even ruin the balance I’ve achieved so I can rebalance it again and get the hang of it, after all, I’ll need to be able to balance it in the field as required, and go from photography to videography throughout a day of work.

Video rig almost complete with this SmallHD monitor. Now just need to get the mounts for it to connect it to the Ronin.

Small HD 501

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