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Ad Tracking On Facebook and How To Stop It

So you visit a website, let’s say… a Halloween costume shop because you are looking for the perfect spandex bodysuit to play your favourite super hero. The next time you log in to Facebook, you’re seeing ads down the side of your page and stealthily snuck into your News Feed. These ads are full of spandex body suits. And latex. And worse. You only needed a spidey costume! Your browser has tracked your surfing activity and fed it back to Facebook. Do you feel violated yet?

There is now a way to drastically reduce the number of activity-based ads (also known as behavioral advertising) that you see on Facebook. Since simply turning off your cookies renders Facebook (and many other websites) virtually unusable, the Digital Advertising Alliance gives you a tool to opt out of tracking based advertising. Here’s how you do it:

Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance’s opt-out page at: http://www.aboutads.info/choices/ (Think of this DAA tool as the “Do Not Call” list of the Internet.)

The page will automatically begin scanning the browser you are using for companies that are tracking your activity and reporting it to Facebook to generate ads.

When the scan is complete, you will see a list of companies that have been participating in this on your computer at your expense. Here, you want to check the “Select All” box, then submit your choices at the bottom.

Once complete, you will have a screen that looks like this:

Opt Outs

I have selected the 3rd tab here to show companies that are no longer tracking what I do for advertising (and God only knows what other purposes). As you can see, 118 companies were found in this case to be tracking activity. Of those, one “could not be communicated with.” 96 of these companies had an option to “opt out” of their tracking based advertising. The rest had no available opt-outs. Still, there are now 96 companies that are no longer tracking me for Facebook ads? I’ll take it.

Of course, this will not get rid of all of your Facebook ads – they have to stay afloat somehow and advertising is their primary source of income. However, you can feel a little bit better about your privacy and that in itself is worth a few clicks.

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ISO: Stability

Bear with me as I reflect on some out of the way things here, like the connection between Daytona and God.  I’m still unsure which led me to which, but here I am, borderline homeless in Daytona (defined soon) and wondering why after such fervent prayer, life keeps throwing me one backhand after another just trying to knock me down – which, admittedly, it has a few times in the past five months – and keep me from getting back up.

After losing my job in January 2013 due to the death of the owner of the company and subsequent company closure, I spend the next 8 months looking desperately for work that would pay enough to cover my basic expenses: rent, utilities, transportation, food… I’d taken a couple temp jobs in that time frame because they were all that were offered, but it was still nowhere near enough to cover even rent.  After my tax return had run out, rent of course fell behind.  I had given up numerous comforts (if you can consider a proper diet and asthma/heart medication comforts) in order to start paying a little over each week on my rent to catch up.  By August, I was essentially destitute. Knowing I couldn’t continue to pay rent, I gave my landlord 2 weeks notice and moved in with the man next door for a couple weeks.  That turned out to be a nightmare, as he was an ex felon and was extremely controlling and cruel.  He was also just plain disgusting as a person.  His treatment of me made living there unbearable and so I got out before I got into a situation that I wouldn’t be able to escape.

In September, someone I used to date back in 2010 contacted me from Daytona and offered to let me move in there.  It took a lot of very difficult decision making as this would put me 3 hours away from my daughter of whom I have shared custody.  Seeing her 4 days a week would then mean seeing her only once every 4-8 weeks due to miles, gas, funds, etc.  Without work and without a place to live however, I had to make the decision to relocate to try to get back on my feet.  You may as well have ripped my heart out of my chest and taken my last breath away because that’s what it felt like as I started heading to Daytona without my baby girl.  There was no work, unemployment had run out, my tax return and savings had run out, and I was without shelter.  What else could I do?

I get to Daytona and just as I arrive at the house, I find out the water has been shut off.  Not a good omen.  Ex is scrambling to find the funds and we are out of water for days.  It goes ok after that for a couple months, I learn my way around town but never quite feel welcomed. These people have a completely different set of ethics (or lack thereof) from the way I am.  I find work within a week of arriving, but instead of being helped to get on my feet as was promised, I end up financially supporting a household of seven people, sometimes in full, on bills, food, gas, cigarettes, personal supplies, household supplies… The ex… he makes a decent sum of money, netting far more than I ever have in a month, but spends it all as soon as it comes in. As many times as I asked him to sit down and create a household budget with me, he changed the subject. Soon, the money I was making was running out, leaving me with nothing at the end of the week for having to support everyone but myself.  That’s December, about the time his whole personality changed.  He began to withdraw, to push me away, then one of his own exes came back into his life. He stopped coming to bed, started staying up all night on the phone with her, spent nights out (taking personal supplies that made it obvious it was a planned “sleepover”), and started becoming emotionally abusive. Then mentally abusive, eventually moving into screaming, cussing, threatening and being all out vicious toward me.  At that point, I was scared as I’d been through this before and each time it only escalated. This man was becoming completely unraveled and was getting progressively and rapidly worse.

Come January, he’d left me for the third time.  The final time he broke up with me, he did so online without telling me, then told me finally and had the nerve to immediately ask me for gas money. Upon refusing to give it to him because – well – he’d just left me, he threw me out, first with 30 days notice, then with 3 days notice.  I came and went, sleeping where I could but the room he had just haphazardly thrown my few remaining belongings into was unlivable – it is a storage room, full of junk and mold, there is no door, no privacy, no bed, only a bare box spring, and a filthy couch that made me sick to sleep on one night. I felt like an unwanted dog being banished to a filthy kennel, only I think he’d have treated a dog better than he was treating me.

My dad being my angel, he ended up providing a clean, safe place while I looked feverishly for a roommate but Friday will be my last night there.  In the interim, a woman I’ve known for several years and used to work with ended up offering a room to me with her in Sebastian. We talked about it, sorted out the details, and I was to move in with her this coming Saturday, the 8th.  Trusting that my friend was acting honorably, I gave my daughter the good news that I would only be 45 minutes from her now instead of the impossible 3 hours and that I’d get to see her every week like normal again.  She was ecstatic, as was I as we miss each other terribly.  Well I don’t know what happened, but 3 days before I was supposed to move in with her, I noticed she’d deleted me from Facebook.  I called, no answer. I texted, no response. An hour later, I tried to go to her page to message her and it turns out she had blocked me.  There was NO warning or reason as to any of this.  I left her several voice mails yesterday and still no response, so my dearest William sent her a message on my behalf asking her what was going on and still has not heard back. 

Still have no idea why a friend of several years who so happily offered to have me move in with her, saying I’d done so much for her over the years, would – without any warning – delete me from Facebook, block me, refuse to answer her phone, return a text or a voice mail.  Why would someone do that? She knew what I had at stake. She knew I’d already told my daughter that I was moving back to the area, she even offered to come up to Daytona to help me bring some of my things down. The last conversation we had, she gave me the new address and we were making plans for the move this coming Saturday. It was all a go and she said she was happy to help, that I owed her nothing.  I would really love to know what is behind all this, why someone who was always so sweet would out of the blue do this to me.  Does anyone have any insight to offer as to why someone would do that?

So thank God I did not turn in my resignation at work, as I would have had to do had this move gone through.  Something stopped me from doing it, “Just in case.”  I returned to my search for a roommate and happened to call on a listing last night for a room for rent in the area… a little more than I was budgeting, but I will have to work something out if it goes through.  I spoke with the homeowner last night for a solid hour and she was very friendly, an older lady, who really seemed to resonate with me.  In exchange for helping her around the house, she offered to drop the deposit and pay for half the internet that I would be transferring over. I will be meeting with her tonight and am praying to God that everything works out and I can move in Saturday.  At this point, I have no other options so if anyone reading this would please join me in that prayer that I find a place to move into this Saturday, between my faith and your intercession, God can do some amazing things.

The other question bothering me so much is why does God continue to test my faith by allowing me to come into worse and worse situations?  I mean I have lost everything over the past 18 months, including access to my child who is the single most important person in my life.  I’d go as far as to say she IS my life.  Every time I have prayed on this, I have received the same answer:  “I do this to draw you nearer to me.  If you see that I can raise you from nothing, then you will have everything.”  But how much more pain and loss can I take?  I realize God knows my limits, but life has become unbearable far too often, especially in the past five months. In RCIA, they discuss depth of faith often.  It’s so difficult to have faith when all you’re doing is futile even down to your most basic needs being stripped away and the longer it takes to get an answer – or see a miracle – the further that faith sinks.  This becomes a vicious cycle as God detests the lack of faith and puts the person in an even lower situation, pressing the faith to return.  It’s a Catch 22 – how does it stop?  As life – and faith – elude me, I will leave off here, hoping some answers come in the way of a safe place to live with my meeting of this seemingly nice woman tonight.  Thank you for listening, and please – keep me in your prayers.

 

Unexpected Recognition

This news won’t come as any surprise to my Facebook followers (where this blog has an autofeed) but it is still worth sharing here. A couple weeks ago, motivated by some friends on Twitter, I decided to chase a dream to get involved in social work – officially.

In the past, I used to counsel and mentor runaway youths, then moved on to working with parent-child dynamics and on to battered women. I had gone through the ordination process to become a non-denominational minister to back the services I was providing.  Years of doing this however had left me emotionally drained. It became very hard to remain compassionate while staying emotionally detached from the cases and I had to step away.

In speaking with a friend recently, he pointed out a link to two things I enjoyed: helping others and doing research on just about everything. This led me to start a project called Helping Hands Community Research. The propose of this project is to assist people in finding local resources when they are in need – things like food pantries, clothing, financial assistance, etc. – as these sources are often difficult to locate. Since the inception of HHCR, I’ve gotten numerous requests through the website thanks to friends helping spread the word of it via social media.

What has me excited today is that I got a call from CASTLE, a local family services non-profit, who heard about my project and asked that I meet with them in person to give them more information on it. They said it sounded like something that was in line with what they do and would like to try to fit it in as a part of their family services programs.

This… has blown me away. Never before have I been this recognized for anything I’ve done and this presents a huge opportunity for me to really get involved in community service with other local organizations supporting my cause. I’m just amazed! I meet with CASTLE Friday afternoon and am so excited to be able to discuss the project at length and drum up some support.

In the short run, I do hope this becomes a networking opportunity toward actual paid work as I remain unemployed and looking daily, but in the end, just knowing I have done some good here, created something worth being supported – that just makes me so happy. As always, I am here to serve.

Evo-Creationism (Or “When Good Threads Go Bad”)

So I’m just going to drop this thread straight into this blog post – it’s too entertaining to edit (save for removing some names to protect privacy).  In a nutshell, I watched the videos of the meteorite exploding over Russia this morning and immediately thought of North Korea’s nuclear threats because it literally looked – and sounded – like a bomb going off when the meteor broke up upon atmospheric entry.  So I made a quick quip onto my Facebook wall.  Then a friend of mine – well, an ex-friend now apparently – decided to add his own twist to my words a few responses in and that sparked a huge debate over God vs Science.  Actually, it wasn’t much of a debate.  Once I dug my heels in, he went and un-friended me.  That’s fine.  It was like trying to explain to Schrödinger’s cat directly why it was dead.

North Korea got nothin’ on that Russian meteorite…
Like ·  · Promote · Share
  • GRB Imagine if it landed in YOUR city.
  • Heather Noel It would be a welcome wipe-out.
    6 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Heather Noel I think God just needs to get rid of this world and start over. Again.
    5 hours ago · Like · 1
  • GRB It’s easier to blame a higher being instead of doing ones best to be better people.

    Also, I’m not sure what this discussion is involving into.
  • Heather Noel Well, no blame was mentioned by me so I’m not sure you’re following the discussion.
  • GRB Hey, you’re the one who started to get all apocalyptic here.
  • Heather Noel Wasn’t anything remotely about “blaming a higher power” though.
  • GRB “I think God just needs to get rid of this world and start over. Again.” ?
  • Heather Noel What about it?
  • Heather Noel Do I need to post the story of Noah and the great flood?
  • Heather Noel God got tired of the world, wiped it out and started over. That isn’t “blame,” that’s Bible.
  • Heather Noel Just saying, we could use another clean slate.
  • GRB Yeah, cause, y’know, that happened.
  • Heather Noel Yeah, cause, y’know, there is hard geological evidence that it did.
  • GRB And a man built a giant boat with hundreds of animals inside of it.
  • Heather Noel There are at least 18 occurrences of evidence of either massive flooding and erosion, extremely rapid layering of strata, or direct evidence of a Worldwide Flood. Such evidences are found in numerous places on virtually every Continent. Reference:  http://www.earthage.org/EarthOldorYoung/scientific_evidence_for_a_worldwide_flood.htm And if you want to get into a “discussion” about the translation of time as pertains to Creation vs Science as it pertains here, I offer 2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” and Psalm 90:4 “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”
  • Heather Noel God and Science DO coincide. It’s just that most of us little glorified apes lack the mental capacity to make the comparisons in conjunction with thousands of retranslations of the original works put to scroll in an attempt to try to correlate something we then had no way of understanding to the research that we do have the ability to do now to get a real, scientific understanding of what was written so long ago.
  • Heather Noel So let’s do the math, we have Creationist theory that man (as we know him) was created only 6,000 years ago, yet the Bible gives us a ratio of 1000:1, so if we take that 6000 Creational years time the 1000 represented years there’s 6,000,000 years and what? First human ancestor walks upright: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080320183657.htm  Now let’s take that biblical day:year ratio of 1:1000. Using God’s logic…1=1000. Let’s go out on a limb and say the earth is biblically 10,000 yrs old. That would be 3,650,000 days. 3,650,000 X 1000=3.65 billion years. Pretty darned close to that of which science is presently aware and can measure.

    www.sciencedaily.com

    A shape comparison of the most complete fossil femur (thigh bone) of one of the …See More
  • Heather Noel LOL He actually un-friended me for standing my ground. Weak.
    2 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Heather Noel Sad part is I was defending his scientific viewpoint as well as my own religious viewpoint… oh well. Small minds.
  • BB what a jerk, they expect you to understand their atheistic and scientific beliefs but whoa nelly if you pull the God card lol. i agree hun. i’m a Christian-esque person myself and believe god should start over. if you’re another religion, your god should start over and if you atheist, then the earth needs to start over  just wish we didn’t have to worry about your little girl and my niece.
  • Heather Noel Thing with me is, I pull the God card and the Science card in the same debate and show how they work together and then people REALLY go “whoa!” …Annnnnnnd usually just run away like that. Why are we so afraid of different theories?
  • Heather Noel Oh wait – I remember now: The quest for knowledge is what got Eve in trouble and cursed all of humankind forever.
    Fun Stuff.

Topics Today: The Future Of Print Media

Topics Today: The Future Of Print Media

As my Kindle Fire and I approach our one-year anniversary of being together, I become aware of how dependent on the device I really am and how much it has come to mean in my daily life. I received the Kindle Fire as a birthday present last year and first thought, “Now this is a neat new toy.” Little did I realize how streamlined such a tiny tablet could make my daily routine.

At the bottom of the home screen on my virtual shelves of favorites, my mornings and evenings are lined up for quick access. I check and reply to my e-mail, check my calendar, the weather, local and national news, play a couple rounds of a popular word puzzle game, and finally check my Facebook and Twitter feeds for messages or anything else of importance. Within a few minutes, I have all the information I need to get on with my day. Repeat the same process at night, and then settle in with the next few chapters of whatever book I’m currently reading. During the day, I even use it to take hand-written notes on schedule changes, class and work notes, to-do lists, story or article ideas, etc. After a year of daily use, I still go to bed amazed that all this is at my fingertips, instantly available.

Maybe it is because I grew up in the 70s and 80s accustomed to going out to retrieve the newspaper every morning from the lawn, looking forward to magazines in the mail, reading comics on Sundays and clipping coupons with my mother. The faster technology grows, the harder it seems to be to let go of such deeply rooted habits that formed before such things even existed. Those of us in our 30s and 40s however seem to be finally – slowly – giving in to the conveniences that digital media offers. As we find we have less personal time than in years past and a higher demand for instant information, we are starting to turn away from print media and opt for more advanced tools and resources. So where does the digital domain leave traditional print media? This is a topic of heavy discussion and concern that just keeps getting bigger.

A recent study also entitled “The Future Of Print Media” indicated that From 2007 to 2009 revenue change in newspaper publishing, including advertisement, sales and other sources of income decreased 30 percent in the United States, 21 percent in the United Kingdom, 20 percent in Greece and 10 percent in Germany (Boghani, 2012). This year the New Orleans Times-Picayune cut its newsroom staff practically in half and reduced its service to only three days a week (Carley, 2012). The same fate may loom for other print-run media such as The Recorder and the Orange County Register as well as other small papers across the nation as publishers continue to see interest and sales falling from an audience leaning toward obtaining their news digitally. Newsweek, a weekly paper launched in 1933 by Thomas J. C. Martyn, announced in October that beginning in January 2012 it will transition to all-digital (Boghani, 2012).

While some printed options disappear, others are determined to supplement their lost print revenue with digital revenue. The New York Times and The Washington Post have broadened their reach into the digital world while remaining in print. The Washington Post for example has experimented with the Trove recommendation engine (Ingram, 2012). The Facebook social reader has also become an option for expansion for media companies with the support and ability to explore other avenues to reach their readers.

As traditional readers age and technology advances, adaptation on the part of both publisher and consumer is the best compromise. Print media publishers must find new ways to reach an audience that increasingly demands digital content and readers will need to come to terms with the inevitable – that technology is progressing and changing the way we live. For younger generations, this transition from print to digital will likely be a non-issue as they have been raised in technologically advanced homes and classrooms. For the older generations, it may be a bit more difficult to acclimate to the new ways we have of getting our information.

References:

Boghani, P. (October 18, 2012). Print Media: Is It Globally Doomed? Retrieved November
11, 2012 from: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49471896/Print_Media_Is_it_Globally_Doomed

Carley, M. (July 3, 2012). The Future Of Print Media. Retrieved November 11, 2012 from:
http://www.recorderonline.com/articles/media-53261-newsroom-half.html

Ingram, M. (April 16, 2012). The Future Of Media: Many Small Pieces, Loosely Joined.
Retrieved November 11, 2012 from:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-16/the-future-of-media-equals-many-small-pieces-loosely-joined

Backing Up Your Facebook Page

Have you ever spent months, or even years, uploading photos and other information to a website only to have it all disappear without warning? Say your account gets hacked, or the website itself crashes or goes out of business. I thought years of my daughter’s baby pictures would be safer backed up to two separate places on the web than on a computer that kept crashing – until both sites went down and all data was scrubbed.

Facebook has a great little feature that most users won’t know about unless they seek it out or ask. Users can download a backup of their information, including posts, photos, videos, messages, contacts… all your information in one convenient little package.

To do this, from your Facebook Profile, click on Account, then Account Settings. Click the Learn More link next to “Download Your Information,” then click the Download button.

You will be given a message that Facebook will send you an e-mail when your download is ready. This can take several hours, depending on how much information you have stored on the site. From there, just follow the instructions in the e-mail and save your file. All your information will be sorted by content type, making it easy to locate anything you’ve posted or uploaded.

With as much information as avid users post on Facebook, this is a very useful function indeed.

Entering The Shallow End

This post comes about after the Internet – this mysterious web that connects virtually every person and everything in the world – claims yet another victim, this time a 22 year old friendship; one that began long before Facebook or MySpace were so much as a thought, even before the practicality of personal computers came to light. It began back in high school between two girls on the road to finding themselves. This road was full of testing twists and turns, hills, valleys, and a few mountains that seemed to appear out of nowhere. It was a road of bonding and rebellion, of pacts and backstabbing, even of forks that strayed from the other side, often for a decade. One thing was certain – it always met back up in the middle.

Now, after all the years behind this road trip, it seems to have come to a screeching halt, twisted violently into irrepairably damaged shards of what it once was. One friend shared her joy, one shared her sadness. And with only two innocent, self-feeling words from the latter, “wouldn’t know,” the bomb was dropped that destroyed the delicate fabric that held together these two paths. Without compassion, the joyful girl without warning turned words to poison as she proceeded to attack the other, her life, her very feelings, dredging up vile phrases which had in fact nothing to do with the originating topic of conversation. It was as if something cracked in that pretty outer shell that she’d erected and out came the deluge of the pure ugliness within. Ah… now *there’s* the real Her. Shame it won’t be missed.

It shocked quite a few people, this sudden turn of attack. However, after 22 years, one does tend to be able to tell within a person what is real within them. This did not come as much of a surprise to the girl who attempted to share herself and came under attack, because this is how she always remembered the attacker – as one never to be trusted. Words of defense were uttered (read: typed), and that was it. More than two decades were simply erased with the clicking of “Delete.” Now, the fallout of such an event will no doubt continue to ripple on for days as news of it continues to pour into her e-mail in-box long after the deed was done. Certainly they don’t realize she can still see the talk behind her back while lurking in the e-shadows watching the comments fly… or, more than likely they do, in some ways, hope that the words do get back to her, if only for their own opinions to be heard as they jump on the Petty Train. But nevermind, she’s already moved on.

This would not likely have happened were these two friends in the same room, and the same two words had been uttered. Perhaps there may have been a glare, or compassion, or a quiet talk. But that’s the charm of the Internet. One may appear as deep as they desire but in reality, they only hold as much depth as the screen on which they write. It takes personal contact to find the true depth within a person. Online, we are but shallow waters in the sea of pixels. The ability to hide behind a screen makes people – pardon my language – pretty shitty – because there is no real recourse, no judgement, no penalty. Pixelife goes on unfettered, safe in the shallow end.

~~~ …and now, for something completely different. ~~~

…enjoy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XREnvJRkif0