The 10 Worst Things About the Internet

I love the internet, obviously. It is great for a multitude of things, and I make use of it for a multitude of things.  This post is about the stuff that the internet could do without.  Just to be clear, I’m not talking about content in this post.  There will always be content that is objectionable, and for the most part it is up to the user to decide whether to be exposed to that content or not.  This post is about annoyances and things that are largely unavoidable.  All these things make the internet worse regardless of the content you seek. Before the list I should say that advertizing appears on this list multiple times.  I do not have a problem with advertizing.  I have a problem with obtrusive advertizing.  I know that the internet runs on ads.  I know that they are necessary and that they make everything cheap.  I listen to many podcasts with ads and they don't bother me  in the slightest.

Now the list

1.       Trolls – This one is number 1 for good reason.  Trolls ruin every comment thread on the internet.  Trolls are why I never read message boards, or youtube comments, or turn on the mic on X-box live, or, well, read anything popular that allows comments.  This is extra annoying because I am bewildered by why people would act like this.  What enjoyment would anybody get from making other people hate them either by being obnoxious beyond words, or by being so profane that Howard Stern would be embarrassed to listen?

2.       Fragmentation of content – This is a problem that I don’t have any hope will go away any time soon.  If I were a content creator, I would want it seen by as many people as possible.  However, the people who pay the bills want to force us all over the internet to find things.  I am not suggesting that every TV show should be on Hulu.  I am saying that every TV show should be on Hulu, and Netflix, and TV.com, and everywhere.  Then the factor deciding where I watch it would be the quality of the site where I chose to watch it.  Music has almost figured this out.  Pretty much every label can be found on iTunes and on Amazon.  So when I am looking for a song I go to the site I prefer and know it will be there.  Why can’t the makers of other content figure this out?

3.       Every search result that goes to about.com, or ehow, or any site of that type – Those sites are never helpful, they have an obscene amount of ads and they trick you by making you click through.  I wish those types of sites would go away.

4.       Interstitial ads that cover up content.  I never want to wait 30 seconds to read a page. Ever.  It makes me hate the product advertized and makes me never want to come back to the site.  AOL, I’m especially saying this to you and your family of blogs with great content.  Stop it!

5.       Any short video (under 5 minutes) that has a pre-roll ad – Again, I have no problem with ads.  But watching  30 second ad before a 50 second video guarantees I’m never watching one of your videos again.  The worst offender of this rule is failblog, consequentially I have not watched a video from their site in months

6.       Any story that is spread over multiple pages.  This is just a trick to make traffic numbers higher and to make more ads load.  Stick the story all on one page and just space the ads throughout.  Somebody worked hard on writing that story.  Why would the site ensure that nobody ever sees the end of it by hiding it behind 3 page loads?

7.       Any website that plays music automatically.  Auto-playing music is the bane of the interwebs.

8.       Any status update on Facebook ever that includes the phrase “Copy and paste if you agree” (I admit that I copied one of these one time.  It was about dragons and it made me laugh uproariously.  But that is the only one.)

9.       Spam – Everything that can be spammed will be spammed.  What can I say? It’s frustrating and makes the experience all across the web worse

10.   The way so many sites say “this site requires to be linked to Facebook.”  No it doesn’t require linking to facebook.  If it did it would be on facebook.  You just want to advertize to my friends. Facebook has certainly proven repeatedly that it cannot be trusted with all my info so I never want to give it any info from any other site.

Best Web Junk (August 13)

This is an awesome and creative win I'm obviously not a woman, and I don't even know what Ann Taylor is, so I have a hard time getting terribly outraged.  But if the woman on the left in this picture is not acceptable to that company, then nobody on earth should buy their clothes because nobody on earth will look good enough to wear them properly.

I know I say this often, but I love my Android phone.  However, I really enjoyed this list of things that droid does not do.

This is not the typical kind of video I post in Best Web Junk. It's a little more artsy than my usual video game or Star Wars related stuff, but it found it to be really neat[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0HfwkArpvU]

This parody of The Social Network trailer is more like the stuff I usually link to.  It's funny and awesome.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=putQn89TQzc]

Review: HTC Evo

For quite some time I have wanted a smart phone, but I am fundamentally not an Apple fan.  (I truly hate iTunes, and I generally want to have options regarding how I deal with my media.)   So, for a host of reasons, I knew that the iPhone was not the choice for me. I have been wanting an Android phone, and when I heard about the Evo I knew it was the choice for me.  So I admit to a bit of bias before I begin this review.

The Evo is a smart phone built on Android and on the Sprint network, so I will review the hardware first, then my experience with Android, then Sprint.


Size – I know this is the first thing anyone notices about the Evo.  It is about twice as big as the phone I have been carrying for the last 3 years.  So it initially felt large in my hands.  But now that I am used to it, I don’t think about it.  If it were much bigger I would have issues.  But I am a grown man, there’s plenty of room for it in my pocket and I think the large screen helps me hit the right keys when typing.

Speed – It is quick.  I only notice lag in a couple of applications, they all open up quickly though.  I blame the applications rather than the phone.

The screen – is pretty much beautiful.  Admittedly, I haven’t seen the iPhone 4 yet, but the Evo has the prettiest screen I’ve ever seen on a phone.  When I showed it to my Granny the first thing she said was, “One thing about the phone, you can see it.”

The Camera – It has an 8 mp camera.  In good light it takes pictures at least as good as my Fuji finepix.  Also the shutter lag is almost non-existent after the camera is focused.  It has a good flash and is by far the best phone camera I’ve ever used.

Battery life – I did not expect much from the battery life on this phone, but it is so much worse than I expected.  I would describe it as abysmal.  With wi-fi and GPS turned on it won’t make it through a shift a work. (And I only work 6 hour shifts.)  I love the phone, but a charger is needed at work, in the car, and by the bed.  This phone is an addict for electricity.


Apps – I know the talking point that there are 200,000 apps in the Apple app store and only 20,000 android apps, but I’m satisfied.  I have not paid for any apps yet and there is a wide variety of free ones.  The Facebook app is not great, but I really like seismic for Twitter.  The only thing I can think of that I haven’t found is a tilt-shift app so I can make neat pics. Also as far as I know there is no IMDB app, and their site is not very friendly to super small browsers.

Integration – I love how android integrates with the social networks, and with my gmail contacts.  I did not have to import any settings from my old phone.  No need to move any numbers, because everyone from my Google contact list is available. (as is Facebook.)  Google voice integrates perfectly with android as well.  It’s like a dream how well that works.

Intuitiveness – I am not a n00b with computers. I am sure I am more advanced than the majority of the people who have this phone.  But there are a few things I have not figured out yet.  There are 6 home screens, I don’t know if it is possible to move them around or to delete one.  I would very much like to.  One of the home screens has bookmarks.  I have not figured out how to change any of those.  Otherwise, I find everything easy to do.


Customer service – The only cell phone company I have ever dealt with is AT&T/Cingular.  On a customer service level, Sprint is great compared to them.

Coverage – I know that coverage is unique to your area so I will just say that I am satisfied with the coverage.  It is not good at my house, but they are sending me a femtocell for free, so that should soon be remedied.

Speed – At home I have DSL (1.5 mb/s) Over the 3G network I can’t notice any diference while surfing the web, updating seismic, etc.  There is maybe a bit more latency, but the speed is adequate.  I haven’t used tethering or made any downloads but it seems acceptable.  I watched an episode of prizefight comparing the Evo with the Incredible streaming over 3G and it was perfectly acceptable.

Overall – I love my new phone.  I hope that was a thorough and not too technical review.

Facebook & Privacy *an addendum

Yesterday I posted about my approach to Facebook in light of all the recent uproar over the lack of privacy and Facebook’s seeming desire to make its information more public and make it more difficult to change or understand the privacy settings.  My approach is simple.  I will just assume that every single piece of information on the site is public, just as this blog or Twitter.  (Just for the record, so you will not all think I am incapable of original thought, I wrote the bulk of yesterday’s post before reading this post by Ed Stetzer or hearing yesterday’s TWIT) Facebook?Today is an addendum to that post.  It includes a few thoughts about privacy.  I have noticed over the last few years that there are two distinct ways of looking at privacy.  I have also noticed that the line of demarcation for these two views is somewhere around 1973.  If you were born prior to 1973 you most likely think, “Why would anyone want to share info about themselves?  The world is full of people out to get you and you have to protect yourself.”  If you were born post 1973 you most likely think “Why not share all that info?”

Although I think it is wise to be careful, I’m definitely in the latter category.


Because nobody really wants to stalk me, or you.

And if they do really want to stalk you they will find some way with or without Facebook.  I believe we all have a natural tendency to think people are looking at us all the time.  We are naturally narcissistic.  In reality, only the people who care, will be interested in what you post.  Advertisers want to sell you stuff. (Which is why my Facebook ads are all for fishing and church-functions.)  Otherwise you are only sharing info with friends because strangers don’t care.  43% of identity theft is from people who know the victim, so it’s not like you are protecting yourself by leaving Facebook.  Your uncle is more likely to take out a credit card in your name than a stranger that learned about you from Facebook.

I guess that is really only one thought about privacy and Facebook.  Feel free to tell me in the comments why I am wrong and how dangerous it is.

What do I do about Facebook?

There is an increasing movement of displeasure with Facebook as articles pop up every day lately regarding their terrible privacy policy and the fact that nearly all of your profile information has now been made public in one way or another.  You can read this article, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one.  But the best way to see it is to look at this graph of how public Facebook made info in the old days versus now.

Facebook Comparison

The people who are concerned are right to be concerned.  There is a major problem with any company that wants your information as badly as Facebook wants it being as irresponsible with it as Facebook is.  Also, Facebook has a frightening amount of your information.  They have everything from pictures of that one night in college when you were tripping on shrooms and had a conversation with an imaginary owl, to your child’s kindergarten graduation date.  I am not at all happy about the situation and I am, admittedly, as Facebook addicted as anyone.

Let’s face it though, unless something truly drastic happens, like maybe, Facebook begins selling your info directly to the mob, you are not going to leave.  I am probably not going to leave.  Honestly, I don’t know how it could get much worse than it is now.  Although, if I had children I would be very strongly considering making them close their account.  The thing that allows Facebook to be so cavalier with your information is the same reason you are probably not going to leave.  Everyone is on it.  In reality it has nearly killed the need for high school reunions.  There are people that I have lost track of for years that now I know how to contact easily.

So here’s the question.  If I am concerned about Facebook’s use of my information, but not planning to leave, what am I going to do about it?  In short, I’ll treat every piece of information on there as if it were completely public.  All my pictures, all my contact info, all my likes, and all of the links I post I will assume that everyone on the internet can see them, especially advertisers.  In short I will treat Facebook as if it were twitter.

I have always known that whatever I posted on twitter could be seen by everyone.  That doesn’t mean I have never tweeted anything that I should probably have kept to myself, but that knowledge helps me moderate myself.  And that is how I will treat Facebook in the future.

Tomorrow I have a few thoughts about the loss of privacy.

Using twitter for church

Monday I am speaking to the NSRBA minster's meeting.  I have been attending those meetings for 4 years, but usually keep my mouth shut.  I finally feel like I have something to contribute so I asked to speak.  I am speaking about technology and how churches can use the internet, and other technology to enhance and simplify their ministries.   One of the technologies I plan to speak about is Twitter.  I know that some of my readers are tired of hearing me talk about it, but I want to run my thoughts by my blog before I talk about it at the minster's meting.  I would appreciate your feedback. This is a wordle of 200 recent tweets

It is my belief that for most people in a church, the pastor is a bit of an unknown.  This phenomenon has two causes.  One is that people view the pastor as some sort of superman, not at all like them, with the same struggles and sins.  The other is that in many churches the pastor changes so often that the people don't get a chance to know him.  This goes both ways, because many pastors change churches often enough that they don't develop deep friendships within the church body.

What does this have to do with Twitter?  I believe that Twitter is a great tool for fellowship  (or community, if you prefer cool-church language;.)  Why is Twitter great for fellowship?  Because it allows people to see into your life, combine it with a camera phone and it enhances this.

One of the great things about Twtter is that you can keep up with a multitude of people at once and it takes almost no effort on your part.  For example, I have a  friend whom I haven't seen in almost 3 years, that I follow on twitter and I feel like I know as much about what goes on with him now as I did when we were riding to school together once a week.

If you are on Facebook you understand the power of the status update to keep you informed about people.  Twitter is like the status report on steroids.

I follow about 50 people and I have absolutely no trouble keeping up with that number.  I'm sure that somewhere around 200 people the ability to feel like you have a grip on everybody fails, but with some sort of client and just reading regularly it is easy to keep up with many people.

Recently, our church has even created a Twitter page.  It contains announcements, web links and prayer requests.  A very different use than a personal feed but still valid.

If you just want to test out Twitter and are not sure you are ready to commit and begin doing so yourself, you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed of any account.

Do you find Twitter to be a useful tool for fellowship?

Why I Observe Lent

You don't have to know much about me at all to know that I am not a Catholic. I am an ordained Southern Baptist Minster, but for the last few years I have been in the practice of observing Lent. For the benefit of my uninformed protestant readers, Lent is a 40 day fast leading up to ressurrection day.  (Remember my ban on the word Easter?)  Actually according to this wikipedia article it is 46 days.  Why is it 40 days?  Because it recalls the 40 days of fasting that Jesus endured in the desert prior to his temptation.

As a protestant, I observe Lent  because, for the most part, western Christians have abandoned the fast all together.  I fast periodically from food for a day, but not with regularity, and Lent is the only prolonged fast I participate in.  I do not believe that it earns me more of God's favor, or that more grace comes to me as I participate in the fast.  But I do believe that it is worth the effort.

Many people have written well on the spiritual discipline of fasting, (I particularly reccommend Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and The Spirit of the Disciplines) so I won't waste your time here.  I will say however, that I use the time and pain that occurs in in a fast to remind me to pray and to meditate on God.  For example, if I am fasting for revival I use the hunger pains as a reminder to ask God to bring revival to my life and to my church.

In the case of a prolonged fast like Lent, I use the desire to participate in the forbidden activity as a reminder that suffering is a part of the Christian life.  This is made more important because of the fact that I live in the US, where we have true religious freedom.

I have narrowed down my Lenten choices to 3.

  1. Give up Facebook - Mostly because of Scrabble, and lately the geography challenge, I have a mild addiction to Facebook.  This would not be easy for me
  2. Give up sugar - I will still allow myself a Mello Yello each day, but otherwise, no sugar.  This means no pancakes at the Baptist Men's breakfast, no fruity Pebbles, no ice cream, etc.  This also would not be easy for me
  3. Commit to ride my exercise bike every day - This one is pretty self explanatory.  My only real problem with this option is that it is not a fast.  I certainly will not be able to read my Bible as I ride, and it therefore unlikely to bring me closer to God and His will for me.

Which do you think I should do?

[polldaddy poll=1396425]

This year Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent) is February 25th.  I'm putting up this poll for your input before fat Tuesday so I can gorge on sugar or Facebook or non exercise tomorrow.