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Original articles from Miranda Miller.
Goodbye, Cruel World
Herein lie the ramblings of Miranda Miller,
Zombie bride, mommy, English language killer.
She gave it a go,
And put on a fair show,
But the time commitment, she couldn’t fill ‘er.

There’s a nice melodramatic headline to kick things off this morning.

Why Facebook’s Explanation for Tracking Logged-Out Users is BS
Nic Cubrilovic proved that Facebook is still tracking user activity, even after users log out, on any website with a Facebook Like button. Shortly after, he got a response from a Facebook engineer, explaining that, “We haven’t done as good a job as we could have to explain our cookie practices.” Still, though, he maintains that Nic somehow misunderstood what it is that Facebook is doing and that his post reaches some “incorrect conclusions” that he hopes to clarify. I hope to clarify here a few disingenuous statements that came out of his response in the hopes that users will think long and hard about what they’re giving away. Facebook has a lot of privacy issues they need to address in a meaningful way, such as the misleading terminology currently used in their Privacy Settings, which suggests in a heading that you are setting your default post settings, when in reality this only applies to posts made outside of a browser.

Facebook is NOT Going to Start Charging You to Use the Site
Can we put this one to rest, already? Since 2009, people have been blindly emailing and reposting dire warnings about Facebook setting up a fee structure or membership charge for users. It’s just not true. Before participating in the spread of hysteria, whether it’s about Facebook, or a kidnapped child (another popular subject of online hoaxes), or Pepsi removing “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, go to Snopes.com and check it out. At the very least, look it up, do some reading, and find out if the latest “copy and paste” email or status update has any merit.

5 Things Facebook Still Won’t Be Able to Do After Today
We’ve heard for weeks that BIG changes are coming to Facebook; Ben Parr promises we, as users, will be shell-shocked, and the competition (ahem, Google+) will look ancient. Facebook will be reborn. I’m betting, though, that even with the social network arms race at fever pitch, none of the following features are coming anytime soon. And that makes me sad. For months, I’ve been waiting and hoping that in addition to tracking my every move as a consumer and trying to predict the next, one of my Big 3 (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) would have developed these abilities.

The New Facebook Layout: See What’s Changed
Facebook is at it again, keeping us on our toes with their ever-changing interface. We were expecting them to announce big changes at the f8 conference, which starts tomorrow. This morning, though, Facebook rolled out new changes and you might be finding it a bit difficult to find what you’re looking for.

Netflix Splits Off DVD Business, Fails Business Planning 101
In July, Netflix announced a price change in the U.S. that seriously ticked off a lot of their users. The cost of streaming and DVDs was, to that point, $9.99 a month and changed to $7.99 for streaming and $7.99 to get out one DVD. Outrage ensued, Netflix scaled back their subscriber forecast, and their stock plummeted. Fast-forward to yesterday, when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced on the company blog that Netflix will split into two separate services; the DVD-by-mail service will now be known as Qwikster. Initial customer reaction was largely negative and skeptical, as demonstrated in these comments on Hastings’ post. Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be a trademark filing for Qwikster, either.

New Facebook Features Roundup
Facebook is testing and rolling out new features at a rapid-fire pace as they try to stave off other social networks, most notably Google+, and remain the top choice for users. Here’s a roundup of the more recent changes. Subscribe to Other Users: You can now subscribe to the public updates of other users, even if they’re not in your friends list. You get to decide whether you will allow people to subscribe to you or not. Mark Zuckerberg used a little trick to convert his Fan Page followers into subscribers.

Take Online Reviews with a Grain of Salt
Online reviews hold a good deal of weight in helping people make purchasing decisions, whether the purchase is completed off or online. Like so many other things in life, though, you can’t believe everything you hear…or read. While there are no studies on exactly how many online reviews are faked, it’s clearly happening. Companies hire out review writers to flood popular services like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Places, and company pages on Facebook with glowing reviews.

British Judge Forces Suspected Anonymous Hacktivist Into Anonymity
File this one under, “They just don’t get it.” Prosecutor Russell Tynes asked Judge Caroline Tubb last week to impose stricter bail conditions on four suspected Anonymous hacktivists. They are already banned from accessing Internet Relay Chat networks, but the prosecutor has concerns. Said Tyner, “Anonymous as a group continues to be active."

'Aftershock Survival Summit' Online Video a Must-See
It’s more than a little sensational, with the smooth voiced newsman and use of language designed to strike fear in the hearts of Americans. But then, the economic crisis kicked off by the 2008 mortgage scandal was no trivial matter. Three economists saw it coming and were pooh-poohed by mainstream media.

Facebook Testing Friend List Circles – I Mean Feed Filters
Mashable shared an article with user screenshots of a new feature Facebook is trying on for size: an improved version of their Lists, allowing users to view updates from groups of people and selectively share content of their own. Yes, it’s pretty much the same as Google+ Circles.

Download Apache HTTP Server 2.2.20 to Prevent DoS Attacks
In case you missed it, the Apache Software Foundation and the Apache HTTP Server Project released version 2.2.20 last week to fix a gaping denial of service (DoS) vulnerability discovered in August. The defect allowed hackers to flood Apache servers with hundreds of requests (though not thousands), causing significant CPU and memory usage on the targeted server.

Things I Do When I'm Supposed to be Writing
Bloggers and writers in general struggle, at times, to come up with fresh ideas for content. Every day, I read on and offline for at least an hour; it’s how I start and end my day. Often, the comments on an article or blog post will spark something new, a different take on a popular topic that I hadn’t thought of, that hadn’t been covered to death before. Some days I completely wing it and ask a friend to throw me a title, any title, on the topic I need to write about (this can be pretty fun, actually). Those are the good days. Other days, I sit and fidget in my chair, each moment more excruciating than the last, guzzling coffee, staring at the blank screen and cursing my career choice. So, blogger friends, I hope you didn’t come here looking for inspiration.

Mexican “Twitter Terrorists” Case a Social Media Lesson for All Governments
One of the defendants is accused of tweeting, “My sister-in-law just called me all upset, they just kidnapped five children from the school.” The defendant claimed they saw this elsewhere online and simply repeated it. Why did the person who tweeted this claim they’d received a personal phone call about it instead of saying they’d read it somewhere and linking to it? I have no idea.

5 PITAs You Can Find in Any Online Forum
Oh, how I love forums. I’ve spent a fair bit of time on several that shall remain nameless, and when the useful information and good conversation runs out, you can count on one of these clowns to keep it interesting. First, the brainiac. When I grow up, I want to be the smartest person in the world. Unfortunately, this position has already been filled by at least one person in every Internet forum in existence.

Spamming Google+ In 5 Easy Steps
You might think that I'm advocating spamming. I'm not. The fact is that spammers either are or will soon be doing this. Now you know what you're up against. Take whatever lessons you can from this and apply it to your white hat Google+ strategies and watch who you click “OK” to.

Facebook's Bug Bounty Program Proves Valuable Beyond Expectations
A few weeks ago, Facebook's "white hat" bug discovery program took a big step forward by incentivizing vulnerability reporting by security researchers. Chief security officer Joe Sullivan announced yesterday that they've already paid out $40,000 since the Bug Bounty Program launched July 29. One person has received the maximum $5,000 reward for reporting the most serious of security loopholes. Another has received $7,000 in total for discovering six different bugs and submitting their reports to Facebook. The security team provides test accounts to allow researchers to try to reproduce vulnerabilities and promises not to prosecute, sue, or investigate those who submit reports.

Who Benefits from the Google+ Real Name Policy?
I'm a little creeped out by CEO Eric Schmidt's revelation that Google+ users must use their real names because the social media site was built primarily as an identity service. Schmidt made the comment at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in a Q&A session when asked how Google justifies its real name policy given that real identities could put people at risk.

10 Ways to Kill the User Experience for Your Site Visitor
It can be difficult, when you have a clear idea in your head of how you want a website to look and feel, to take a step back and look critically at elements that just don't work for your visitors. It's an important exercise, though; do you really want to alienate a portion of your traffic by not listening to their needs?

Why CNN Shouldn't Give Online Dating Advice
While browsing around Facebook last night, I came across this little gem a friend had linked to: Online dating? Why no one wants you, from CNN. It's actually quite snarky and funny, which I love; I just hate the premise. And who the hell am I to pick on an article by an MTV senior writer and a news editor at Psychology Today?

Facebook Status Updates Now Up To 500 Characters Long
Facebook has just made it even easier for you to share more useless knowledge, happenings, quotes, and trivia with friends! Status updates may now be up to 500 characters in length as opposed to the standard 420. The Better Facebook Blog reported on this on August 8, though only a few users were seeing the lengthened status feature at the time.

Ban 'Following' from Your Small Business Social Media Vocabulary
I don't like the term "following" to describe the people you're trying to connect with on Facebook, Twitter, or your company blog. Other descriptors that don't really sit well with me: "fan base" and "audience."

A Tale of Three Airlines on Twitter: Customer Service Hits and Misses
I had an experience on each leg of my recent trip to San Francisco that left me frustrated and looking for answers. Airlines need to know by now that when this happens, many of us are going to take to our smartphones and either try to reach them on Twitter, or tweet about the experience. First, my departing flight, with whom we will call Airline One, closed an hour and fifteen minutes before departure and I was not allowed to board.

SES San Francisco Day Two: Sessions and Events
Connected Marketing Week continued Wednesday with five tracks at SES, the eec Email Marketing Forum, IAB Multicultural Marketing Forum, and Search Congress. Attendees had access to a number of networking events on Day Two, including Speed Connect, a new and fast-paced structured networking session held at the Moscone Center.

SES San Francisco 2011 Day One: Search and Social Takeaways
The first day of SES opened with Susan Bratton's keynote on Conversion Triggers and continued through five different tracks until late afternoon. Many top industry bloggers and tweeters are here, so the coverage coming out of the sessions is amazing. If you weren't able to make it to San Francisco or sat in on other sessions, here are a few posts to help get you caught up.

SF BART Police Square Off Against Anonymous to Prevent Protest
While in San Francisco for Connected Marketing Week, a friend and I happened upon the BART protest at the Civic Centre station on the way back to our hotel. Hacktivist group Anonymous had urged people to protest BART's decision to shut down cell service last Thursday, in what many feel was a misguided attempt at preventing a demonstration over the July 3 shooting of Charles Blair Hill.

The Evolution of SEO and What It Means for Job Seekers
Browsing through tech and marketing job listings, it seems that more and more companies are moving away from filling specialized positions and seeking some kind of internet god(dess). One job ad I’m looking at right now is for a Social Media/SEO/Blogging Specialist. Can you truly specialize in three different areas? Another is for a Web Developer Intern, who must have skills and/or experience in XHTML, HTML5, Java, CSS3, Facebook app development, Photoshop, PHP, analytics, SEO, and content creation. Is this the online job landscape of the future? It’s overwhelming to browse through these postings.

Connected Marketing Week Kicks Off August 15 in San Francisco
Connected Marketing Week brings together thousands of top brands and agencies to take part in more than 200 sessions and a variety of networking events in and around the Moscone Center. Training starts Monday.

Amazon UK Weapons Sales Spiking
Did I say weapons? I meant "sports and leisure" items. I saw a tweet earlier today referring to a 5000% increase in the sale of baseball bats at Amazon.co.uk and thought, no...that can’t be right. With mass twitstyeria resulting in rumours of escaped tigers roaming London amongst rioters and people praying to Justin Bieber for help, I figured it was another hokey “fact” thrown out there by someone with nothing better to do.

Is RIM's Offer to Help London Police a Token Gesture or Invasion of Privacy?
Yesterday, I tried to find the bright side in the use of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), a platform-wide chat and broadcasting service, in the organization of the London riots. Why? Because I happen to like my BlackBerry and didn’t think was entirely fair that the smartphone came under fire in the UK press for making it easier for rioters to communicate and organize in private. At the time I wrote that post, about 100 people had been arrested and I saw it playing out in one way.

The Silver Lining to the BBM Organization of London Riots
Rioting in London seems to have degenerated from an actual protest of the fatal shooting of local Mark Duggan to opportunistic mass theft and destruction. Though UK press condemned social media networking site Twitter for contributing to the worsening state in Tottenham, Brixton, Enfield, and nearby districts, organization is reported to have actually happened behind the scenes through the private Blackberry Messenger system.

Can You Really Buy Quality Google +1s?
Do you really want to? You knew it was going to happen. Almost immediately after Google Plus launched, websites sprang up offering +1s in packages. The idea is that more +1s can make your site appear more relevant and popular, helping you rank higher in searches. One site even promises your ranking will skyrocket and claims this is perfectly “legal and ethical.” Would Google think so?

Online Reputation Management Tips and Truths
Some businesses steer clear of an online presence altogether, fearing negativity so much that they miss out on the opportunity to leverage the power of social media. The Internet has made marketing more powerful, yet businesses are more vulnerable than ever before. Sticking your head in the sand does nothing to protect you when someone takes their anger or frustration to the Web. Truth: You cannot control what people post, and you cannot stay offline forever.

9 Facebook Friends You Could Do Without
Sometimes, by choice or by circumstance, we find ourselves connected online to people we try hard not to socialize with in real life. It could be a cousin, neighbor, or co-worker...someone you shouldn’t have added in the first place, but felt obligated after the sixth friend request or several reminders in person. It’s possible that you didn’t even realize what a terrible idea it would be to add them.

IncrediMail Acquires World's Most Annoying App, Smilebox
Digital-media company IncrediMail has purchased the downloadable desktop app Smilebox in a deal for $25 million at closing, with up to $15 million more “...if certain milestones and performance based conditions are met.” Smilebox is used to create scrapbooks, greeting cards, slideshows, etc., using your personal photos and videos. Yesterday’s press release touts Smilebox’s loyal following and strong focus on customers’ needs.

5 Content Creation Mistakes That Could Be Killing Your Blog's Traffic
Content is king; we’ve heard it time and again. So why is there still a plethora of crap content not only available online, but sometimes ranking? You don’t want to be a one-shot wonder, ranking high in search (until you’re found out) but losing readers once they realize you really don’t have much to offer in the quality department. Here are five mistakes webmasters make in content creation.

Groupon and Foursquare Partnership Rolling Out Across U.S. and Canada
A new partnership between Groupon, the leader in daily deals, and location-based social network Foursquare was discovered Friday morning by social media news site Mashable.com. The program is live now to Foursquare users in the Chicago area, with the rest of the rollout scheduled over the weekend. By Sunday, Foursquare users across Canada and the U.S. should see Groupon’s daily deals in addition to the offers of Foursquare’s other five partners.

Pwnie Awards 2011: LulzSec, Anonymous, and Sony, Sony, Sony
A hybrid of the Oscars and Razzies for the online security industry, the Pwnie Awards honor the shining achievements and epic failures of security researchers, hackers, and their victims. The list of nominees, released July 25, brings back memories (not good ones, for some) of security headlines from the past year.

Social Media Autoposting Etiquette
Services like TweetDeck and HootSuite make it easy to post the same link or update to several of your social media accounts. "Share" buttons on websites and blogs also allow readers to simultaneously post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other profiles. While these can make life easier for us, it can be annoying to the people who follow us across different platforms if we don’t use common sense and follow a few guidelines. Tip #1: 1. Know your audience on each social media profile.

comScore Launches Social Media Measurement Platform on Facebook
Social Essentials™, the latest product from the digital world measurement experts at comScore, is designed to help pages with over 500,000 Facebook fans quantify brand impressions and incorporate them into the marketing mix. This first release measures fans and friends reached, reports on demographics, and offers competitive intelligence including audience overlap.

RIM to Cut 2,000 Jobs Worldwide
BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Limited announced this morning a plan to eliminate about 2000 positions. RIM will lose 11% of their workforce as part of a “cost optimization program” designed to eliminate redundancies and reallocate resources within the struggling organization. RIM shareholders have become increasingly disgruntled in recent months, as the company’s share of the smartphone market fell 4.2 percentage points for the quarter ending in May.

Voicemail Hacking Simple with Poor Security Settings
As Rupert Murdoch's News International phone hacking scandal continues to grow in seriousness and scope, cell phone users need to ask themselves if they've become an easy target for this low-level hack by choosing convenience over security. In the U.S., UK, and Canada, cell phone voicemail options allow users to bypass the password requirement when calling in to check messages from their own phone. In Canada, this setting is secure by default; the user must choose to change voicemail options.

5 Facebook Page Settings You Should Check
Facebook Pages have changed a lot for the better in the past year; the ability for administrators to use Facebook as a page, moving around the site and interacting with other Pages, for example, is a great feature rolled out earlier this year. With the frequent changes and updated features, is your Page doing everything it’s capable of? Here are a few settings you can look into.

Test Driving the New Social Media Aggregator MultiMi
Zbang and AVG have partnered to offer a new social media aggregator that pre-checks links shared between users for an additional measure of security. I downloaded and installed the desktop app this morning to see how it compares as far as features and usability to HootSuite, TweetDeck, and other similar apps. I got off to a rough start.

Success in an Emergency via Social Media and Texting
The University of Texas at Austin’s emergency communication and notification plan, including text messages and social media updates on Facebook and Twitter, “worked well,” as police searched for gunman Colton Tooley in the September 2010 shooting. It was the first time the university had used social media to issue emergency alerts as part of an emergency warning system revamped after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. A recently released after-action report notes components of a plan implemented quickly and efficiently.

Facebook Adds Recommendations to Place Pages — Will Google+?
Facebook has added a “Recommend This Place” box to place pages, allowing users to leave comments that about a business or other organization that appears on their profile, on the place’s page, and in the newsfeeds of friends. Once a fan of a page writes the review, they are given the option of choosing the visibility settings.

Is Microsoft Joining the Social Search Scene?
As Google+ is just getting off the ground, rumors are flying that Microsoft might be planning to give them a run for their money in social search. Fusible.com reported yesterday that they discovered by chance that what appears to be a social-search engine landing page at socl.com is owned by Microsoft.

How to Set Up Company Social Media Accounts So You Don’t Get Burned
Ensuring personal access and the ability to assign or remove others as administrators on your company’s social media accounts is critical for company owners or managers. You may be outsourcing the setup or management of your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or other social media accounts, or you might be handling it in-house. Either way, it’s important to maintain control over each account.

TechCrunch Redesign: It's Okay, Guys
When I meandered over to TechCrunch this morning and saw the site redesign they’ve been working on since last fall, I first had to go looking around to see if it might be some kind of hoax. Where is the clean, easy-to-navigate, magazine-style layout? And what in God’s name did Pacman vomit up on the screen in place of a logo?

Is 'Inside' a Social Media Choose-Your-Own Adventure Film?
Do you remember the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books of the mid-'80s? Little Sally comes to a fork in the road; should she go left into the forest, or right towards town? Turn to page 36. Oh no! Night is falling in the forest. Go back to page 18 and try again. I loved those books. And that was exactly what popped into my mind as I read the press release for Inside, a film collaboration between Intel and Toshiba, touted as “a blockbuster-caliber production."

Google+ Invite Stoppage: Overwhelmed, or a Clever Marketing Ploy?
Since the launch of Google+, we’ve seen periods of open invites to increase the user base alternating with longer spans when limited or no invitations are allowed. Consequently, much whining and begging for invites has been heard around the Web and on other social media sites like Facebook.


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