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I think that we need to have a discussion about news sources…

February 27, 2017, 9:14 AM

Over the course of the last several days, whenever I’ve gone on Facebook, I feel as though I’ve had to play fact-checker a lot more than usual.  Most of the stories that I’ve had to verify and debunk are about Donald Trump, but there have also been a few ones about the toxin-du-jour and other miscellaneous topics.  And having to constantly stay on my game and do the same sort of research over and over again gets tiring.  I started out making this post about the problem:

I feel as though I've had to burst far more bubbles than usual as of late when it comes to people's sharing fake news stories. Please, people, vet your stories before you post, because anyone can start a website and write anything they want and make it look official. I highly recommend Snopes.com for vetting stories. They'll set you straight on the fake ones.

This post got eight likes and one comment, so it didn’t do as well as I would have hoped.  Maybe it’s because I posted it in the middle of the day on a Friday.  But in any case, the bottom line is to think before you share.

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Categories: News, Social media

My life according to Clive and the Cowboys…

August 6, 2016, 5:12 PM

I was going through my Facebook “memories” feed today, and one in particular struck me as amusing.  My sister made a post on this day in 2009, called “My Life According to Disney”.  It was one of those chain posts where you fill in the blanks and then tag fifteen of your friends.  Here were the directions:

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people you like and include me. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think! Repost as “my life according to (band name)”.

She chose Disney.  Technically, “Disney” casts a very wide net, since their body of work is very large and spans multiple generations of authors, artists, composers, etc.  But she made it work.  She also tagged me, encouraging me to do the same.  I commented thusly:

Hahahaha... I responded to your note. You asked for it...

And then I gave a proper response:

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people you like and include me. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think! Repost as “my life according to (band name)”.

Pick your artist: Clive and the Cowboys (yeah, Today’s Special – sue me)

Are you a male or a female: “I am thunder and nothing can happen ’til I bellow and I rumble and wake everybody with my roar…” (A Visit to the Opera)

Describe yourself: “Hocus pocus alimagocus, I can bend, I can stretch, I can see…” (Family)

How do you feel: “Let go of your busy day, let it all just drift away…” (Sleep)

Describe where you currently live: “When I’m at home I just relax, put on slippers, shirt, and slacks, settle down to watch TV, and dunk a donut in my tea.” (Homes)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: “Let’s not get carried away, Sneakamore! Still, I will admit… I’m nasty, I’m not very nice… the heart that’s inside me is as cold as ice…” (Storybooks)

Your favorite form of transportation: “All aboard, the whistle blows, a rumbling starts beneath your toes…” (Trains)

Your best friend is: “When you’re with me, I’m not afraid of anything…” (Flight)

You and your best friends are: “Who’s the one I like to play with? Who’s the one I’ll spend all day with?” (Sharing)

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: “Today’s Special” (main theme)

What is life to you: “We’ve got a store that I explore when the customers aren’t here anymore…” (Sleep)

Your last relationship: “Just give a snap, a clap, and a chuckle any time you feel a bit dismayed…” (Storms)

Your fear: “I love the rain, I love it when it’s raining…” (Storms) coupled with “Riding along the highway, singing a song and going my way…” (Cars)

What is the best advice you can give: “Let your smile shine through in every thing you do… don’t hide that special you…” (Teeth)

How I would like to die: “Without ever leaving, I’ve been everywhere… I’ve been to those lands ’cause you’ve taken me there…” (Memories)

My soul’s present condition: “Blue! Blue! The cow was blue! She jumped high like a kangaroo!” (Dreams)

My motto: “A singin’ yo he ho, sailin’ across the ocean blue, singin’ yo he ho, I’m a comin’ home to you!” (Costumes)

For those who don’t know, “Clive and the Cowboys” is, as far as I can tell, the name of the group of musicians that played the accompaniment for the songs on Today’s Special.  They were referenced in “Sleep” when Sam was talking on the radio, and also in “Records” when Jodie made the record.  On that later occasion, she referred to the group as “Jodie and the Cowboys”.

Some of these responses are obvious, and some not so much.  With the passage of time, I couldn’t tell you why, for the “male or female” question, I quoted Thunder from “The Rainmakers”, other than that Thunder was a male actor.  The “If you could go anywhere” question, I assume I meant the “Land of Make Believe”, because that’s a song that the two villains sung together explaining how evil they were.  “Your last relationship”, I don’t recall why I chose “Snap, Clap, and Chuckle” for it.  I suppose that 2009 me had a rationale for it, but it’s lost on 2016 me.  And then I also apparently didn’t like driving through storms in 2009.  Still not the most fun, especially since larger vehicles slide surprisingly easily in the rain.  You wouldn’t think that a vehicle the size of a bus would slide more than a much smaller car, but they most definitely do.  I also can’t explain what the Blue Cow song has to do with my soul’s present condition.  Maybe I was in a silly mood, and that’s certainly a silly song.

And then there was my sister’s comment on the post, in response to my original comment on hers:

I guess I did ask for it.

In any case, though, this was a fun exercise, both in writing it at the time, as well as revisiting it now.  Facebook memories can be so much fun to go through.  Unlike a photo album, Facebook memories are like going through an album of our thoughts.  Facebook, without a character limit for posts, allows the space for more explanation of one’s thoughts, and therefore the ability to express the entire idea.  What we were thinking at the time often helps give perspective to what we’re thinking now.  After all, we may not realize it at the time, but we all are constantly growing and changing.  What was important a few years ago is laughable today.  What was considered a dream years ago is now reality.  You know.

I made the mistake of commenting intelligently on a thread populated by very ignorant people…

December 12, 2014, 11:07 AM

…and for that, I am filled with regret.  I thought that perhaps these people would be able to respond to some level of reason.  I was quite wrong on that point.  This time, it was on the “Wilson Memorial Hornets Football” page on Facebook.  I don’t remember how I ended up landing on this page, since I don’t really care about Augusta County high school sports, but somehow, there I was.

For those not familiar, Wilson Memorial High School is located in Fishersville, Virginia.  The school was built at the same time as Stuarts Draft High School, i.e. where I went to high school, and is identical to Stuarts Draft architecturally.  The two schools are traditionally rivals, and play each other every year in football, though now, I believe, as an exhibition game, since the two schools are now in different conferences.

This Facebook page for Wilson football, however, has been a bit controversial.  On December 6, the page’s owner made the following post:

"What a Game!! Faith. Family. Football. We Are... ...WILSON!"

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Here’s a blast from the Internet past…

November 20, 2014, 8:28 PM

So for Throwback Thursday, here’s a little blast from the Internet past: my old AOL Instant Messenger away messages!  Yes, AOL Instant Messenger, otherwise known as AIM, i.e. this:

AIM, circa April 2000

I was recently shuffling some files around on my computer, and found these, which I had preserved as a backup in February 2007, when I moved my computer from the Gateway to the Dell.  I want to say that I used AIM for about fifteen years.  I started using it the summer after I graduated high school, and stopped using it earlier this year, telling the two people that I still talked to primarily via AIM (both in-real-life friends) that I was dropping AIM and for them to use Facebook chat to get a hold of me.

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Categories: JMU, Social media

“A room that big and not a single fire alarm notification appliance?”

June 10, 2014, 1:43 PM

Today on Facebook, a friend of mine posted this picture:

"This is a room full of people that care about your game requests."

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Categories: Fire alarms, Social media

Whose opinions are these now? Fix your brand and we won’t wonder…

January 5, 2014, 6:09 PM

One of the most ridiculous things to come out of social media over the last few years is the Twitter disclaimer.  I’m sure you’ve seen these things before.  They usually look something like this:

Allie Burns, @AllieB: SVP Comms at @CaseFoundation & @Revolution, proud board member @sanergy, food, wine & travel lover, runner, sports fan and social citizen. Tweets are my own.
(I promise I’m not deliberately singling @AllieB out by picking her profile to use as the example.  This is not the only one like this, nor is this the worst offender by any means.)

My understanding is that these things are intended to protect employers from liability if their employees say something untoward, and to say that yes, this is, in fact, a personal account.  My view on this matter is that these things are completely unnecessary, and that too many people use these disclaimers as an excuse to be sloppy about how they brand themselves on the Internet.

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Categories: Social media

Social media and online privacy and…

October 19, 2013, 6:12 PM

Those of you who have seen me online know that I really get into social media.  I do Facebook, I do the Twitter, I do Instagram, and I also do Reddit.  And in doing social media, I’ve noticed a few recurring trends, and it begs discussing…

Tell me this hasn’t happened to you before: you’re going down your news feed, and you see a status from a Facebook friend.  It says something along the lines of this:

I’m cleaning out my friends list, so if you didn’t make the cut, it’s been nice knowing you.

I’m cleaning my Facebook friends.  Let me know if you want to stay.

I find these messages amazingly annoying.  Especially when, without fail, people make a zillion replies beneath that say something to the tune of, “Don’t delete me!” followed by reassurances from the original poster that certain people are “safe” from their defriending spree.  I personally think it says something about a person’s self-esteem when they feel that they need to post such a self-centered message and then watch people glom onto them like that.  It reminds me of the way that Chuck E. Cheese distributes free tickets to kids during the live shows.  There, Chuck just grabs up a handful of tickets in his hands (paws?) and throws them up in the air in the direction of the audience.  The kids then all then rush the character to grab as many free tickets as they can get their hands on.  It seems a bit demeaning for the kids who rush the character going after free tickets, and this seems on the same level, with a little bit of groveling involved on top of it all.  In any case, it’s a message I could definitely live without.

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Categories: Social media

Best grammar lesson ever…

February 6, 2013, 10:26 PM

Sometimes, the best lessons in life are subtle and just sort of fall out of the sky.  This is one of them.  And also remember a few very important rules of the Internet:

  • The rules of proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation still apply on the Internet.
  • There is no privacy on social media, no matter how much you think otherwise.
  • The Internet does not forgive, nor does it forget.  Once you put it out there, it is out there for everyone to see, and it’s out there forever.
  • The average Internet user is not required or otherwise obligated in any way to protect your identity if you say something stupid online.
  • It is not a violation of anyone’s privacy to circulate a message posted in a public venue.

That said, you are probably starting to realize one thing: someone is about to get nailed for something that they posted on social media.

You are about to find out why it’s best to use the language the way the rest of us learned how to use it.  However, while you may certainly be creative in your ideas and in the ways that you express them, those of us with a healthy respect for the proper usage of the English language request that you please not exercise your creative tendencies when it comes to grammar and spelling.

The incident in question happened on Facebook.  It was in response to a public post on the Power Rangers Facebook page.  The original post had something to do with Power Rangers Megaforce, and really isn’t too germane to what I’m talking about.  I made a comment about the original discussion (I know way too much about Power Rangers, by the way).  And then someone else made a post.  And it was a real doozy.

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Well, if being civil makes me a Metro apologist…

May 7, 2012, 11:27 PM

So apparently, my being civil and reasonable on the Twitter when it comes to all matters Metro makes me a Metro apologist. Go figure.

Today, you see, I finally decided that enough was enough when it came to certain “transit advocates” on the Twitter, and unfollowed them. Specifically, I unfollowed @MedievalMetro and @unsuckdcmetro. In both of these cases, there may actually be a point somewhere. But that point is lost in all of the other stuff that they post that is somewhat off message. In MedievalMetro’s case, I think that their main thrust is safety and maintenance concerns. However, they come off as ridiculing Metro, rather than making a point. For example, this tweet, discussing a staircase that was barricaded:

#WMATA even struggles with stairs. #maintenance Columbia Heights. http://twitgoo.com/5ppwz5

That particular one was enough for me to challenge them on it:

@MedievalMetro Without any other context, I can't make any judgment based on this photo. What's your point? #wmata

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When writing Metro’s customer service, remember: be polite, be specific, and keep it to the point.

October 3, 2011, 6:31 PM

So many people complain on the Twitter about having a bad time contacting Metro’s customer service. Take this exchange from earlier today between @jb_martin and myself, for example:

#WMATA‘s cust srvc dept needs a complete sandblasting from top to bottom…a child could handle complaints better than they could.
October 3 10:23 AM by @jb_martin

@jb_martin @FixWMATA WMATA customer service gives good service as long as you are polite, specific, and to the point. Doing that? #wmata
October 3 10:45 AM by @SchuminWeb

@SchuminWeb do you happen to have the coordinates for the gateway to the parallel universe you’re obviously referring to? @FixWMATA
October 3 12:08 PM by @jb_martin

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who has nice things to say about Metro’s customer service department. But if I have a concern that I need addressed, I am polite, specific, and to the point. I do not provide my personal opinion about what I may or may not consider the value and importance of what I am bringing to their attention. Obviously, if I am still thinking about it when I get to a real computer and go to Metro’s comment form to send Metro a note, it is assumed that it is important to me. However, while I make no explicit value judgments, I will try to give an educated guess as to what I believe the problem might be if I can.

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Categories: Social media, WMATA

This is why the next-to-last station will show no trains on the inbound display screen, and why no trains on screen is often acceptable…

May 31, 2011, 9:45 PM

So I was perusing the Twitter this morning, and came upon this tweet by FixWMATA:

Inbound PID at Eisenhower during “Peak of the Peak” morning rush. #wmata http://twitpic.com/5500rj
May 31 7:34 AM

FixWMATA's image of the Eisenhower Avenue PIDS
Photo: FixWMATA

What you are looking at is purported to be the PIDS screen on the inbound side of Eisenhower Avenue station.  Other details in the photo seem to confirm this. The concern being raised here is that the PIDS screen is blank.

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So the question remains… could William Shatner run Metro better than the current Metro management?

September 22, 2010, 8:56 PM

Right around 5:00, I got an Email titled, “Dude! You made Slate!!!!” I followed the link in the message, and found an article on the online magazine Slate by Justin Peters called “$#*! @SenJeffMerkley Says“.

The gist of the article was to take tweets that people posted on the Twitter and use them as the basis for primetime television show concepts. Creative writing at its finest. The second one used my Twitter feed, of all things, and here’s what they said:

The @SchuminWeb Files
Office manager. Transit enthusiast. World-class detective. Ben Schumin is the man to call when something’s amiss with your D.C.-area morning commute. In this fall’s hottest new suspense drama, the plodding, methodical Schumin will tackle unsolved mysteries (“No underground cell service from Glenmont station to halfway to Wheaton. What’s wrong? #wmata”), investigate horrible crimes (“@FixWMATA Who do you think the thieves are? #wmata”), maintain the peace (“A kid is screaming on the train. Get this little noisemaker OFF MY TRAIN! #wmata”), and generally remain alert (“Note to self: Get off at Metro Center this morning. #wmata”). Co-starring William Shatner as X, the villainous head of the mysterious “#wmata” organization.

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Categories: Netculture, Social media, WMATA

So how would you integrate Twitter into Schumin Web?

March 17, 2010, 9:39 PM

As you may have seen on a recent site update, I have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. I envision using Twitter as kind of a mini-Journal. In other words, stuff that’s not enough for a full Journal entry, but certainly worth a mention. And with the site redesign going on, now is a good time to do this kind of work, rather than shoehorn it in later.

So far, I’ve come up with a footer link for the page. It takes the existing Facebook page link that’s been at the bottom of every page since October and makes it more prominent and pairs it with the new Twitter link. Thus under the row of links with updates, contact, privacy, etc., there will be a new line that says, “Follow The Schumin Web on Facebook and Twitter”, with “Facebook” and “Twitter” in their own logos. Facebook will still be used the same as it always has, consisting mainly of Journal entries and the like. Then Twitter will be like a mini-Journal. Of course, I first have to get into the habit of actually using the Twitter.

So now the question becomes, how do you integrate Twitter into Schumin Web? Considering I envision Twitter as something of a mini-Journal, I was thinking of putting a box of some sort for the Twitter feed there, possibly in the vicinity of the menu.

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Sometimes I don’t know why I bother…

January 20, 2010, 10:47 PM

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother. I try to get a little discourse going on a political issue with a known hostile crowd on Facebook, and their arguments become so nonsensical that it finally becomes pointless to continue. But then again, it’s also kinda fun. Most recently, it started with this as someone’s status message:

[Name] is lifting up prayers that this healthcare bill DOES NOT PASS

Okay, so we’ve got an opinion. They want to see the healthcare bill fail. So let’s dig in:

Ben Schumin Why don’t you want to see it pass?

So I’ve started the discussion. Why don’t they want to see it pass? Personally, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t get what I really want out of this health care thing (single-payer for all), but it’s still better than nothing, as it outlaws a number of the health insurance industry’s dirty tricks, like denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and recission of coverage. We can then build on this later to ultimately end up where we really ought to be down the road.

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So what ever happened to the DNA evidence?

July 8, 2009, 8:45 PM

For the past four days, I’ve been having a little fun with my Facebook friends. I’ve been posting status messages with the phrase “DNA evidence” in it without any explanation, and seeing what kind of responses I get. I chose “DNA evidence” as a phrase as a tribute to the use of DNA evidence as a running joke in six consecutive Strong Bad Emails on Homestar Runner. Then it was all explained in the cartoon DNA Evidence.

All together, I posted four “DNA evidence” status messages:

Ben Schumin is going to have that DNA evidence on the desk by nine!

Ben Schumin is not going to make the 51 bus tonight. The DNA evidence pointed to it.

Ben Schumin wonders what happened to the DNA evidence.

Ben Schumin *sigh*… DNA evidence.

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