What are you about?

It's a simple question really, although one that might be difficult to answer:  What are you about?  What defines you?  What is unique about you?  What makes you who you are?

Jamie asked this question of herself on her blog, which got me thinking about what I'm about.

I'm about Jesus, and I'm about helping others follow him.

I'm about my wife.

I'm about the Church and more specifically my church.

I'm about community.

I'm about cities. I live in DC, and my last three trips have been to Seattle, New York City, and Addis Ababa.

I'm about food. I especially love Chicago pizza, hot dogs and beef sandwiches, and if you grill meat I'll like it.

I'm about leadership, learning to lead myself and others well.

I'm about too much TV.

I'm about receiving grace and trying to get better at giving it.

I'm about reading and writing.

I'm about social media.

I'm about driving.

I'm about generosity.

I'm about being stressed and agitated but trying to change that.

I'm about my friends.

I'm about Sabbath.

I'm about poker.

I'm about competition and winning.

I'm about thinking and challenging and stretching my mind (and yours).

I'm about serving the vulnerable, because that's what Jesus is about.

I'm about integrity.

I'm trying to be about joy and intentionality.

I'm about theology.

I'm becoming about artistic expression and travel.

I used to be about politics.

I'm about exercise (sometimes).

What are you about?  Leave a comment below or better yet, write your own post and link back to mine.  I'll be sure to swing by your blog and check it out.

Photo by Flickr User gfpeck

How to Switch to the New Facebook Timeline Profile


UPDATE: Facebook has officially released Timeline. You can now activate it simply by visiting facebook.com/timeline and clicking "Get Timeline."

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In case you haven't heard by now, Facebook is totally revamping its user profiles. The new profile will basically serve as a life-timeline, allowing you or anyone else to easily flip back through your life chronologically.

Previously, if you wanted to remember some experiences you had in May of 2009, you'd have to go look up your notes from that month, and then find the photo album you had created. I'm not sure how you would even locate your status updates. Now, you just navigate to that month and all of the top content can be found in one spot.

I am pretty excited about the changes. It may actually get me to use Facebook a bit more, something I rarely do now.

The new profiles aren't active just yet, but there's a way to change your profile over early. I've got the instructions below, and I've already switched mine, so you can check it out to see the new features, although some of them might be missing if we're not friends on Facebook.

How to Switch to New Facebook Timeline Profile Instructions

  • Search for "Developer" and navigate to Developer page.
  • Click "Create New App."
  • Create an app. It doesn't matter what you call it.
  • Once on your app's page, click "Open Graph" in the left-hand sidebar.
  • Fill out the two form fields and click "Get Started." Again, it doesn't matter what you call them.
  • When the next page loads, scroll to the bottom and click "Save Changes and Next." Do this again two more times.
  • Navigate to your profile page.
  • Click "Activate new Profile" or whatever that button at the top is.

Thanks to Kyle Reed for alerting me to the video.

What do you think of the new profile?

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Recessions Aren’t Funny

I have a bad habit of starting too many projects. I started another one last night called Recessions Aren’t Funny. Of course, it’s tongue in cheek because the site is full of recession jokes. I’ve still got a lot of work to do on it, but for now you can go vote on your favorite recession jokes.

If you have feedback or ideas about the site, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Of course, as I said, this site is in it’s early stages. I built it in about 3 hours last night, so it’s pretty rough around the edges.

Originally Posted on PoliticLOLz

MailChimp “Evil” Popup/Over Embed Code Doesn’t Set Cookies Properly

This post will probably only interest you if you use MailChimp to send enewsletters.

A few days ago I signed up for a MailChimp account so that I can publish enewsletters for my political humor website, PoliticLOLz. One of the features that they offer is an “evil popup mode.” Basically, the first time you visit a website, a box pops up that encourages you to sign up for the email newsletter. When you close the box, a cookie is set that tells the website that you’ve already visited and seen the box. This way, you won’t be bothered for a year or until you delete your cookies.

However, there is a slight problem with the code. If you’re having trouble with the box popping up more than once, you should change the following line in the code that MailChimp gives you.

Original:
document.cookie = 'MCEvilPopupClosed=yes;expires=' + expires_date.toGMTString();

Fixed:
document.cookie = 'MCEvilPopupClosed=yes;expires=' + expires_date.toGMTString() + ';path=/';

That should fix your problem. You don’t really need to know any more. However, if you’re curious as to how this works, read on.

Basically, when a cookie is set, it is given a particular path that defines the scope of the cookie, (i.e. which pages the cookie affects) and the path defaults to the path of the page being viewed. For example, if you visit http://yoursite.com/games/new, any cookies that are set will have a default path of /games/new, meaning that they will only be used on that page and its subpages (i.e. /games/new/top).

Of course, you can give a cookie a different path when you set it. Thus, by adding “ + ';path=/'” to the code, I am setting the cookie’s path to the site’s root, meaning that it will be used for all pages on the site, not just the page that was visited and any subpages it may have.

I hope this helps you out. Let me know if you run into any issues.

Google Goes Down

UPDATE: And just that fast, it seems to be back up again. Early reports on Twitter indicate that it only went down for Comcast users.

I know this is crazy sounding, but Google has actually gone down. (Twitter users confirm.) I have no idea how long it will stay down. It may actually even be up by the time I publish this post, but I haven’t been able to get to Gmail or google.com. Blogspot seems to be running very slowly, and worst of all, my sites that implement Adsense are loading very slowly. If others are having this problem as well, it could mean there are millions of websites on the Internet that are nearly inaccessible.

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New Political Humor Site

I recently started a political humor website at http://politiclolz.com, and I could use your help.

To be successful, I need visitors. To get visitors, I need to tell people about the site, but more importantly, I need those people to tell people. If you’d be willing to help, I would be most appreciative. You can do any or all of the following, and they should only take a few minutes.

  1. Share the site with your friends by posting it on Facebook and/or Twitter.
  2. Become a fan of PoliticLOLz on Facebook.
  3. If you know a reporter/blogger/social media personality that might be interested in the site, either let them know about it or pass their information on to me.
  4. Post a link to and/or review http://politiclolz.com on your blog/website. It would be even better if you use either of these titles for the link: “Funny Pictures of Obama” or “Funny Pictures, Political Cartoons.
  5. Sign up for a StumbleUpon account and do a review of the site there. I’m hoping to get the site featured on their home page.
  6. Finally, visit the site! And if you want, flex your funny muscle by captioning some pictures. Bookmarking the site and subscribing to the RSS feed are much appreciated as well.

Thanks so much for taking the time to lend a hand!

Why Facebook Could Beat Twitter…

(Warning: If you’re not a social media geek, this post will probably bore you.)

3. because they just acquired FriendFeed, which at least one avid user says has better real-time search functionality than Twitter.

2. because their user base is roughly 10x the size and they’ve just enabled Twitter-like features, such as real-time search and public sharing.

And the number one reason Facebook could beat Twitter…

1. because as I write this Twitter is down again.

You Could Win $1,000

So, I’ve run a couple of contests before where you could win an iPod Shuffle, but now I’m stepping it up. I’m still offering a Shuffle as a potential prize, but there are two other potential prizes: a new Kindle and a cool grand. Yes, that’s $1,000 US.

Here’s the deal. The contest starts on Friday, April 24 and ends at 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 30. If, by the end of the contest, @ObamaNews gets 175k followers, one lucky follower will win a Shuffle. If @ObamaNews gets 250k followers, I’ll replace the Shuffle with one of a new Kindle. However, if @ObamaNews hits 300k followers, then I’ll replace the Kindle with $1,000.

How do you enter? Just follow @ObamaNews on Twitter. To help us cross the follower thresholds, be sure to tell your friends! Assuming the threshold is crossed, the winner will be randomly selected using TwitRand.

You do have to be a real person to win (i.e. not Starbucks or some other corporation), and you’ve got to reside in the U.S. Sorry, I don’t want to run afoul of any international laws! You’ll also be responsible for any taxes or fees or whatever.

By accepting the prize the winner agrees to let me use his or her name and likeness. This means you’ll probably get some free publicity and more Twitter followers.

Good Luck!

Google Loses Trademark/Search Case, Amazon Changes Affiliate Program

If you’re not a techie or intellectual property attorney, I suggest you stop reading now.

Yesterday, TechCrunch reported on Google’s loss in litigation dealing with sponsored search. In short, the question is whether or not it is illegal to use a search for a trademarked term to trigger the display of a competitor’s ad. For example, if I search for “McDonald’s store locations,” Google and Burger King know that I’m interested in fast food and could display a Burger King ad next to the search results. The courts are trying to decide if this violates McDonald’s trademark.

The decision yesterday doesn’t actually decide the case, but the appellate court did remand the case back to the lower court with orders to reconsider its initial verdict. While from a legal standpoint nothing has changed, it seems that the fallout from the decision has already begun. Early this morning I received the following e-mail from Amazon Associates:

Dear Amazon Associate:

We’re writing to let you know about a change to the Amazon Associates Program. After careful review of how we are investing our advertising resources, we have made the decision to no longer pay referral fees to Associates who send users to www.amazon.com, www.amazon.ca, or www.endless.com through keyword bidding and other paid search on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines, and their extended search networks. If you’re not sure if this change affects you, please visit this page for FAQs.

As of May 1, 2009, Associates will not be paid referral fees for paid search traffic. Also, in connection with this change, as of May 1, 2009, Amazon will no longer make data feeds available to Associates for the purpose of sending users to the Amazon websites in the US or Canada via paid search.

This change applies only to the Associates programs in North America. If you are conducting paid search activities in connection with one of Amazon’s Associates Programs outside of the US and Canada, please refer to the applicable country’s Associates Program Operating Agreement for relevant terms and conditions.

We appreciate your continued support and participation in this advertising Program. If you have questions or concerns, please write to us by using the Contact Us form available on Associates Central.
Sincerely,

The Amazon Associates Program

In other words, Amazon is no longer paying associates for purchases made when the affiliate sends the purchaser to Amazon via a search ad on Google (or another search engine). While I suppose it could just be coincidence that Amazon made this change today, it’s not much of a leap to attribute it to the court decision.

My take? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with placing a competitor’s ad next to a keyword search for a trademark. As long as the ad isn’t misleading (i.e. it doesn’t say “Check out McDonald’s” and then send the user to Burger King’s site), I don’t see any problem with it. I don’t think having a trademark should mean that no one can ever use the trademarked term without your express consent. It should mean that I can’t sell my goods under your name or use a term/logo similar to yours with the intent to trick consumers. Of course, that’s just my lay opinion of what should be, not any sort of legal analysis.

Win an iPod Shuffle – Try 2

Alright, my last iPod Shuffle give away failed to actually lead to a give away. So here it goes again. If @ObamaNews gets 100,000 followers by midnight on Easter, I’ll give away a 2nd Gen Shuffle. All of the other fine print from the last contest still applies. Good luck, and don’t forget to tell your friends!