Our Philosophy

The guaranteed followers on twitter game — Block or Ignore?

For the past several months, when it comes to the guaranteed followers on Twitter game, I’ve played along by blocking them all and reporting them to Twitter as spam accounts.

I have no idea whether that’s helping or the bots that are targeting my Twitter accounts know they’ve been blocked and thereby have an algorithm written to have another fake account follow me and repeat the cycle all over again. Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.36.57 AM Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.36.49 AM

The past week or two, I’ve just been ignoring them.

I’m not going to pay to have additional fake Twitter followers just so my account numbers rise.

No, I’ve done well with @DaddyClaxton since 2008 to get it above 13.8 followers and even the @ClaxtonCreative account above 3,500.

Yes, I’ve followed some strategies, like following certain foke and them following back. But I’ve done it honestly, with the truest intentions of being connected to like-minded foke on Twitter.

The @DaddyClaxton Twitter handle largely follows dads, moms, and many of the brands I’ve ever personally worked with or had considerable issues with, like Firehouse Subs. The @ClaxtonCreative Twitter handle has been largely reserved for things associated with the publishing industry, the Internet, and books for iPad, our specialty.

Why on earth would I want to artificially inflate my account following with followers that really aren’t real? Ultimately, that gets me nowhere in the true mission of trying to connect, share like ideas, and grow to something new.

So how do you treat Twitter followers that promise you thousands of followers for $29? Same for Facebook, YouTube and Instagram?

Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, etc, Video Web Commercials Suck

Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, etc, Video Web Commercials Suck

You shouldn't have to watch a commercial to see every new story on a website.

You shouldn’t have to watch a commercial to see every new story on a website.

It’s the latest advertising model–you go to almost any news website and click on a story that has video and a commercial from Google, Chase, AT&T, Geico, a car company, SOMEONE is going to run.

What do I do? One of three things. 1) I stop the video about three or four seconds into it, 2) I want to watch the piece I actually wanted to watch, so I turn off the audio so I don’t hear the spot, 3) I leave the page completely.

And I’m not alone. I’ve polled PR professional colleagues in Dallas about this and the responses were the same.

This model of advertising is NOT working.

No one should have to watch four Chase Bank commercials to view four video stories on CNN.com or Fox News or any news site over and over and over.

And what sense does it make for me to be forced to watch the same spot that’s over saturated on TV, too?

STOP IT!

Advertisers and website managers, this isn’t working. If I could create an automated function that made my browsers go from one page to the next on a site like CNN so your spots would run 24/7 and no one would see them and I’d run up an expensive bill for you, I’d do it in a heartbeat if this would get your attention.  Gosh, maybe that’s the answer and give it away to friends across Facebook so they’d launch it on their systems, too, and then…

This model is NOT working. I am not going to watch your spots like this. And I hope other people won’t either.  No one should have to watch umpteen commercials to get information that should be free across the net, and if sites like CNN are going to go full bore on such tactics, well, I’ve pretty much moved on from CNN as a news source anyways.

 

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I Regularly Block Fake Twitter Followers, @GilGul

I regularly block fake Twitter followers, but not this guy who wrote a column for the LA Times Sunday. Though he claims he did it for experimentation purposes, and I have to give him that, it is good to know how this could help, it’s just plain wrong and a growing problem with Twitter I wish they would get a handle on.

It’s every day when I go on my multiple Twitter accounts and block/report accounts for spam. Most of the time, they’re offers to buy thousands of new followers for just $5. Until I read the LA Times piece, I thought even that was a sham, but it turns out what you’re buying is a bunch of fake accounts all made to look like they’re real. Apparently musicians, politicians, brands and the like use this technique often to give themselves addition credibility on Twitter and thereby across the Net. 
Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 9.46.28 AM

This would be all well and good, until it came time to use Twitter as the communications exchange medium it was designed to be.  Until you wanted to affect or activate your followers and send out a message saying “read this” or we need your help on this “call to action.”  Then you’re just talking to NO ONE.

I wish Twitter was more actively stopping this use of their API and service. Surely there has to be a way to detect this rather than having fokes like myself blocking and reporting for spam each day.

On my DaddyClaxton account, I have more than 13,670 followers. I’ve not paid for a single follower and I’m not about to start. The ClaxtonCreative account is above 3,400 followers and the same fact is true. I’ve earned those followers by seeking out like-mined people, trying to find out what they have to say and share with the world about subjects in which I have a real and valid interest. I don’t have time nor interest in creating a fake situation, one where it appears that I have followers who I do not really have.

There have been many documented times when I’ve gone through my followers and cut them back, too, because they weren’t updating any longer, or because they were fake.  You should do the same. Why sort through noise when you can get to information that’s helpful?

Please, if you have followers on Twitter who are offering you thousands of followers for $5, just do like I do and block them and report them to Twitter. Hopefully, if enough of us do that, it’ll put a stop or dent in the business. If we continue to go in this direction, Twitter is going to become more and more useless to us all.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 9.46.45 AM

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Wordfence Security for WordPress Has Opened My Eyes

Wordfence Security for WordPress Has Opened My Eyes

There’s a lot of noise about Web security these days and one has to wonder how much of it is inflated to sell software and services and how much of it is real. With the release of Glenn Greenwald’s book this month, No Place To Hide, about Edward J. Snowden and national security, the speculation is to be raised even more. Wordfence Alerts

Months ago we wouldn’t have believed how much goes on in trying to attack a website. That was until we began religiously employing the WordPress plugin WORDFENCE to every site we manage.

That has been an eye-opening experience. Even websites for smaller local clients constantly are bombarded by IP addresses, most often in other countries, trying to break into their Admin login and damage the site.

Alerts constantly come in from Wordfence because a bot in Europe has been targeted against a client, this site or DaddyClaxton.com. How it would strategically benefit a group in Europe, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, the Netherlands, or wherever to gain access to these sites is unimagineable, but regardless, the battle goes on nearly 365/7 and it is constant.

We write this in hopes of two things. 1) Raising your awareness that if you’re running a WordPress site and not using Wordfence, you probably should be just so you’re aware of how hard others are trying to get into your site. 2) You’d better have some fairly strong passwords, and you might want to delete the ADMIN login all together and use another person or name as such. It appears most of the bot attacks our clients, and we get, are preprogrammed to use Admin as the user name and if it isn’t even in your WordPress system, you’re already miles ahead of them.

Wordfence can be configured so that you get an email every time someone is locked out from trying to hack into your site. Or, you can choose not to be notified. It also can be set up to send someone a notification for every time someone with admin capabilities accesses your site,  just in case someone nefarious actually does get in, you’ll know it immediately.

It’s a shame this is what has become of the Internet, but it’s also a fact of life, it’s not going to go away. Wordfence. You need it. And if bots are hammering away so hard at minor WordPress sites, think of how many are programmed to get into your Facebook, Twitter and other accounts once they know your email address….

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CNN TO FURLOUGH ‘UNNECESSARY REPORTERS’ UNTIL MH370 IS FOUND

Editor’s Note: Dear Onion, you’re welcome. 

CNN TO FURLOUGH HUNDREDS OF ‘UNNECESSARY REPORTERS’ UNTIL MH370 IS FOUND

(CNN) The president of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, Thursday announced that the global news network will be issuing furloughs to more than 350 employees worldwide until MH370 has been found in order to save the media company thousands in salaries for doing nothing else while a handful of crack reporters, including Erin Burnett, Wolf Blizter, Pamela Brown, and Don Lemon carry out their endless filibuster of BREAKING NEWS coverage about the Malaysian missing plane.Unknown

“We’ve decided that we’re wasting money with all these other folks around and in order to save on the CNN budget, the best thing to do is to just send people home until the plane is found,” Zucker said. “We’re not going to cover another damned thing until we know exactly what happened on Flight MH370.”

Zucker said that the meant cable network was forgoing its exhaustive campaign to promote same-sex marriage in America, Putin’s land grab in Crimea and even President Obama’s trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t’ care what’s going on in Michigan, the Crimea or what Obama’s doing unless the pilots turn out to be in favor of gay marriage, if the Malaysian plane landed in Crimea or the president is releasing the NSA audio of the phone call the pilot made right before takeoff,” Zucker said. “If it doesn’t involve MH370, it’s not news and it’s not going to be on CNN, so anyone not covering this story, well, we just need them to go home until we need them to come back.”

Zucker said his crack team of Blitzer, Burnett and Lemon have been driving up ratings the past 20 days since the plane went missing.

“Every other potential breaking news story is going into a Black Hole,” Zucker said. “We have spent more covering stories we didn’t report on air than the US government has reported spending in the air covering the search.”

Zucker said he is proud of the endless coverage his network has provided in the month of March.

“It’s been madness. I never knew we had such dedicated reporters who can sit there on set and say the same thing over and over and over and over and over with such limited information and make it sound fresh and new day after day after day after day after day,” Zucker said. “Hell, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say the plane had just crashed yesterday the way Wolf gets on there and talks about pingers and batteries and satellite imagery. This is what journalism is all about—giving the public a fresh insight on the very thing we have reported every day for the past 20 days at the same hour of every day since.”

Zucker said once the plane is found, he will consider bringing many of their staff back to work, but only until the plane is found. Otherwise, he said, there’s no need for them to come to work.

 (In case you are actually that dense, this is all fiction and tongue in cheek satire of how ridiculous the coverage on CNN has become.)

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In Fiction Books, How Do You Know If You Can Trust Your Narrator?

In Fiction Books, How Do You Know If You Can Trust Your Narrator?The Fiction Writer's Handbook

I picked up Shelly Lowenkopf‘s eBook, The Fiction Writer’s Handbook yesterday off BookBub for $.99 and have been glancing through it as it’s designed to be used. It’s not a straight read. But in the “Revision” section a question jumped out at me I have never pondered before and I don’t recall an episode in fiction where it’s been used against those reading the book but the stark question or concept is this:  In a work of fiction, how do you know if you can trust the voice who is narrating the work? 

I’ve done my share of writing over the years, and I consider myself moderately well-read. I don’t read enough, at least in fiction, because mostly my work focuses on non-fiction, educational content, growing businesses, technical writing, etc.  But I do enjoy a good story and stories are at the central point of what I feel is my purpose in life.

So I come to you now with this simple question. When you’re reading a work of fiction, how do you know that the voice/person telling the story actually has it all together?  Do you have it all together?  I don’t.

So if I began telling you a story, what do I have to do to establish to you that I know what I’m talking about?  Even in a work of non-fiction, I assume this still would hold. Yes, I could roll out a litany of my past accomplishments and tell briefly my life story, but what if the author decided to jade them a little, unbeknownst to the narrator?  What if the character, in what wasn’t said in the narration, purposely left off some of the details or skewed them?

Is that a compelling enough of a hook to keep the work going? But if the narrator isn’t able to say “hey, I’m messing with your head here and skewing some of this, so don’t believe everything I tell you,” then where are you as a reader? If you keep reading and then find out later, would that make you angry with the author or is that one of the special dynamics of the work that would make a better story and better experience for you?

It is an interesting literary situation.

So what do you say?

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Back Up Storage–RUN from ZIPCLOUD-Consumer Alert-Do NOT Use Them

Back Up Storage–RUN from ZIPCLOUD-Consumer Alert-Do NOT Use Them

I blame Mac | Life for pushing ZipCloud onto Mac users. I use Dropbox and I’ve tried Bitcasa, too, (GOD, Stay way away from them and do NOT download their app because you cannot get it back off your machine!!!)

The ads for ZipCloud probably were in MacWorld, too, but damn, this is one thing I wish I’d NEVER tried out.

ZipCloud starts off innocent enough. They tell you you can buy into different levels of their services, starting with a basic amount. Then they bombard you with offers to upgrade.

I didn’t like how the service performed. It was cumbersome. I couldn’t figure out really how to use it. ZipCloud does NOT work as smoothly as Dropbox. Little else does. And so I cancelled their services.

Well, that was in October.

I was floored when I kept getting emails from them saying “we haven’t heard from you in awhile.” Well no, I CANCELLED your asses.  When I do that, I don’t plan on you hearing from me and I don’t want to hear from you, either.

But that message came again and again and again.

In this Nov. 10, 2013 email, Jamie Heatherton says it’s been a long time since we last spoke. We haven’t EVER spoken to each other. Hello.

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 9.01.38 AM

In fact, I have no intention of ever speaking to Jamie. I cancelled their service.  It SUCKS.

So, today, I’ve apparently been pushed upstairs to the C-Suite.

ZipCloud SUCKS

ZipCloud SUCKS

Guess what, I won’t be taking advantage of their extended Cyber Monday offer, either. ZipCloud Sucks. Their service SUCKs. Their Customer Service Sucks.  Their push marketing Sucks. ZipCloud SUCKS.

So I also ask Mac | Life and MacWorld to more carefully look at what they’re endorsing. ZipCloud has been a major pain in the ass and it hasn’t gone away yet.

And finally, today, it’s time to apply RULES to them in Mail.  Why? Because ZipCloud sucks.

I don’t like to sound off on a company like this, not on our business site, but ZipCloud should have stopped with their BS MONTHS ago and they have continued.

When I went in and cancelled their account, they didn’t even understand that. Instead I got this first email:

Cancel ZipCloud Email 1

Cancel ZipCloud Email 1

 

And then, after I sent them the above email, CLEARLY saying to cancel my service and issue me a refund, the next day I got an email that said this:

Do NOT use ZipCloud. They SUCK.

Do NOT use ZipCloud. They SUCK.

 

And the emails continue…..

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Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

Things We’re Hoping For In iBooks Author 3.0

On Oct. 22, Tuesday of next week, fellow Auburn graduate Tim Cook is slated to take the stage to reveal all that’s new with Apple and as usual, that is primarily going to focus on new iPads, MacBook Pros, the Mac Pro and the new OS X version called Mavericks. What he also likely will do is include a reference to books for iPad and iBooks Author, but those announcements and presentations often seem like he’s either got to get to the rest room or his car is double parked out on the street and he has to leave.  Sadly, we truly wish Apple was going to place more of a priority on books for iPad as they truly are the way of the future and the best digital learning tool available for kids of all ages in existence.

So in Tuesday’s announcement, we’re hoping for some announcements about improvements to the free software that can be used to make books for iPad.  Ultimately, we’d like to see these three things in iBooks Author 3.0.

1. Ability to change the background color in images v. galleries-Presently, when one loads a photo image into a book for iPad and sets it so that it can be tapped and expanded to the 2048 x 1536 pixel range of the screen, depending on how large the image is, it is going to display on a white background. Apple has said over the phone that this is largely done because images can be .pdfs and they think those display better against a white background, but in a world where not everything is that simple, we really wish they’d add one more button or tick box to change this presentation feature. We have a client right now who is insistent that images in his work should appear on a black background and the only way to try to trick iBooks Author into doing that is to make all images one-image galleries, and well, that’s not working out real well because the software also names the images as galleries when there’s really only one image.

2. Ability to leave social note thread discussions within a book-Social discussions within a group project are the way of the future. Already Apple has added “share” functionality within books for iPad, but we think it should be expanded so that teachers, authors, and classmates can all leave live notes right there in a group discussion in context to the pages where they’re happening. This would open an entirely wider array of functionality and effectiveness in discussions.

3. Ability to read books for iPad on any mobile device, not just on Mavericks Macs and iPads-Think Quicktime here. It works on any computer platform. That’s what’s needed for books for iPad that presently only work on the iPad or iPad mini. At the announcement, Apple is going to say that these books for iPad now will work in the new desktop operating system Mavericks, but what is really needed is a common platform that will make them available on a Kindle, Nook, Nexus 7, Surface, PC, ANYTHING.  The 3D imagery, the interactive widgets, all of the stuff that sets books for iPad apart from the horrifically limited functionality of EPUB 2.0.1 and EPUB 3.0 need to be made available in a Quicktime-type of widget/app that can be loaded onto these other platforms. Apple would significantly expand its revenue base for the sale of these books and capture a greater share of the book market.  It makes absolutely no sense at all to keep this as an Apple-limited product.

Will any of this come about Tuesday? We can only hope.  And Tim Cook, when you talk about books for iPad and iBooks Author, please, slow down a bit. All the other stuff is cool, but there are those of us out here in the wilderness who are forging a path to the future with these great tools and we think they deserve a lot more time and attention.

EDITORS NOTE: Last Friday in San Antonio, I gave a presentation about books for iPad that you can download for free and see some of the cool 3D images, puzzles, interactive timelines, and tools I reference above. If you need these made for your own classes, schools, or companies, please give me a call today at 214-364-7240.  A copy of my presentation is available for download from a public link on Dropbox.

 

 

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Don’t Use WD Unlocker on a Mac with Mountain Lion

Don’t Use WD Unlocker on a Mac with Mountain Lion

Error message trying to start Aperture with on a drive with WD Unlocker

Error message trying to start Aperture with on a drive with WD Unlocker

When I bought my 2 TB Western Digital external hard drive a few months back it came with a new feature that made a lot of sense–WD Unlocker, which allowed me to password protect the drive in case I ever left it somewhere or someone stole it.

Well, what I didn’t know is that when hard drives on a Mac go to sleep, they shut off the password protection on the external drive and until you go through the password process again, it does not work. And, I’ve been getting these -50 error messages from my Mac ever since. A call to Apple Care recommended resetting the Power Saving features of my Mac back to the factory settings, but I am here and then step away from the Mac all day long and the factory settings really aren’t acceptable.

Worse still, is that my 800 GB Aperture Library is on this one drive, too.  And once it goes to sleep, and you try restarting Aperture, chances are high you’re going to get an error message. (See above.)

I’m sorry, but this really isn’t acceptable, either on the part of WD or Apple.  To their credit, Apple tried to help me fix this. I’ve searched Google a couple times about WD Unlocker and there’s just not that much out there.

So here’s the solution I’m adopting. Right now, I’m two hours into what said was a four-hour transfer–even using a USB 3.0 connector and sending it to a G-Drive running thru Thunderbolt, it’s still taking five to six hours to transfer the 800 GBs.

When that process is complete, I’m going to reformat the external drive and start over.  This is taking far too much time to do, but in the long run, it’s going to save me a ton of time. Getting to the back of an iMac every time my machine goes to sleep has become a royal pain, not to mention an unnecessary one.

WD, you need to work out with Apple to resolve this.  The whole thing with Aperture has been more than I should have had to deal with and I count this as your fault.

There also doesn’t appear to be anyway to simply turn the PWD thing off. Your instructions for that are not easy to understand.

So if you’re out there and wondering should you install WD Unlocker on your external drive, my recommendation is don’t, unless you have tons of time to waste and like -50 error messages.

(The second image is what I get now when I try to delete a file off the drive.)  And this message is presenting even after I’ve gone thru and unlocked the hard drive once again.

 

-50 error message on a Mac because of WD Unlocker

-50 error message on a Mac because of WD Unlockerth

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Apple please fix iBooks Author full screen image background settings

Apple please fix iBooks Author full screen image background settings

 iBooks Author full-screen image white BG

Per Apple, at present, one can’t change the white background that displays on a full-screen png in iBooks Author.

Our Bach book client we are working with in iBooks Author has a legitimate beef with Apple and in our research, we can’t find a workable solution.

If one sets a photo to open full-screen in a book for iPad made with iBooks Author 2.0 the image presents on a screen with a white background.

If you set two photos, .PNGs, in a gallery and then open them full-screen, they present on a screen with a black background.

In the design of a book for iPad, not every book needs to go into a gallery, but in our book on Bach, which is going to be one of the most in depth pieces of work on J.S. Bach, it’s annoying to see the images against the white when they would clearly stand out better against the black.

I thought about putting all images on a screen that’s 2048 x 1536 and on a black BG and then using the Alpha to remove the black in the initial image, but that takes away the black in full-screen as well.  Not a solution.

The only other option would be to put every photo into a “gallery” setting and just not add the thumbnails on images that are not multiple .PNGs, but that seems like it’d get wonky and it’d seem that a gallery, by definition, would consist of two or more images.

In iBooks Author gallery images display with a black background on full-screen, but even this setting can't be changed.

In iBooks Author gallery images display with a black background on full-screen, but even this setting can’t be changed.

Apple, Please Fix This

A search of the message boards and a call to Apple Support has revealed that indeed, at this writing on July 24, 2013, there is no way to change a setting in the Inspector panel to remedy this.

Audio Page Specific

The other major complaint we are having as we build this vast work of Bach is that a reader can’t tap on the MP4 files we’re embedding and turn the page.  Audio and video files are page specific, so a reader listening to the music and reading can only read the page they’re on and hear what they’re wanting to listen to….

 

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