The Effort Required To Refute Vendor Marketing

The amount of energy and effort required to refute vendor marketing content is at least three times what it took to create it.


poop and vendor marketing-900-opt-1

Because people often believe that vendor marketing is true, accurate and honest even when provably one sided, biased and mostly incorrect.

Spontaneous Beer

Having teenaged children means freedom for parents. At least for a few hours so when my wife asked me to go for a walk and then headed directly to the hotel nearby for a beer …. well, Yes.

This hotel is really not anywhere or anything. It’s an eighteenth century mansion house that once was part of a very large estate and converted into a hotel. It was probably built from money made in the mills powered by the streams at the bottom of hill. The area is called “Five Valleys” because five valleys, and their streams, converge on this town. Transport was via canal boat.

photo 2

In summer, the hotel will be covered in greenery, you can see the vines covering the building. The gardens are equally lovely with folly, pond and old oak trees that are gloriously gnarled and majestic.

Guess I will have to go back and get some more photos for you.

PS: It’s not an english pub so the beer itself isn’t worth writing about. But even a bottled Wickwar Station Porter is a very good drink.

Engineers and Managers

There is always a system.

Engineers make the system.

Management works the system.

Which one of these is harder ? Which one of these is more valuable ?

Coffins, Calendars and Tastefully Naked Women

I have no idea why a calendar of semi-naked women and coffins even exists but it sounds like a marketing stunt that EMC would pull.


◎ Comments on My Blogs

Comments on blogs are something of a problem. It seems to boil down to two primary issues: spam and zealots.

Ditching Disqus

Couple of years back I implemented Disqus as a free comments system to handle the spam. Disqus replaces the comments on Worpdress, requires logins, has a central history of all commenters. The history is quite useful, you can look at their other comments to see if the person is a consistent hater/troll and this decide not to respond to the comment.

I’ve stopped using Disqus for two reasons. Speed and Privacy.

In an update this year, Disqus has implemented quasi-malicious user tracking. The updated privacy policy shows that they are now selling your data in bulk. They are also cross-promoting sponsored content in rather dubious ways. Not something I choose to be involved with.

But perhaps the most annoying part of recent changes is the Disqus is SLOW. Page load times are really poor even with delayed load, late fetching and “below the fold”. Since ditching Disqus six months ago, my page ranking and numbers of hits has increased substantially.

For all these reasons, Disqus is not workable. Which is a shame, I liked the social commenting and easy login to other peoples sites.

Troll Storms

About twice a year, I’ll get a “troll storm” where a flood of comments will arrive from a some person who is a committed zealot to their employer, persuasion or perspective. Given that I also tend to the opinionated or strongly committed view, I generally applaud and support this. But there is a line where people need to leave it alone.

Mostly I’m thick-skinned enough to ignore this and generally leave the comments on the post. I will simply delete comments that aren’t acceptable or just too weird. Sometimes I find the comments abusive or upsetting. I am working on many things and handling abusive comments isn’t something that

Wordpress Comments

On returning to using Wordpress comments I found that Akismet has significantly improved and capturing all the spam. In addition, I have disabled comments on posts older than 30 days which has also reduced the noise. I would rather not do this but I’m just not interested in wasting my time administering comments anymore.

I’ve decided that I would prefer to write and share whatever I have to day. And focus what time I have for writing other things instead of moderating comments.

If you want to make a comment on an old post or have an alternative opinion, then write a blog post and post it online somewhere with pingbacks enabled. I will ensure that the pingback is approved and people can find your response or opinion.


Duck Duck Go show impact of "Google Search Bubble"

There are no "regular results" on Google anymore. from DuckDuckGo on Vimeo.

Disable Ad Tracking in iOS 6 (Do Not Track)

How to set Do Not Track on your iPhone:

Settings > General > About > Advertising: you can limit ad tracking by toggling the off/on button.

Uses the new Do Not Track web standard to prevent your privacy being breach.

LinkedIn Spam Reduction, Group Flooding

I’ve been getting an extraordinary amount of spam from LinkedIn in the last month (started almost immediately after Twitter cut them off, coincidence ? I think not). I took a few minutes to think about what LinkedIn provides me as a service:

  • place for recruiters to find me.
  • place for casual work acquaintances to follow me and for me to follow them.
To date I've never used LinkedIn to locate people or offer someone a job, but it might happen. Might isn't good enough. Really, LinkedIn has very little value and the spam has turned it into an annoyance.

Is there any value in the networking features ? Can’t see any. Mostly

I spent ten minutes going through my LinkedIn settings and was shocked by how data is being leaked about my life from LinkedIn. So here is what I did.

  • prevent invitations to join this or that group (less email)
  • remove all old applications that can access LinkedIn for personal data
  • remove Third Party data linking ( Facebook style).
  • Configured LinkedIn to use HTTPS.
  • Disabled permission to display third party ads (aka sell my data to external company and show me ads with that information).

My View

It's shame that LinkedIn has been reduced to a crappy copy of Facebook. It was a useful and likeable service for professionals a few years back and I enjoyed finding out where work colleagues had moved to, what they were doing etc. Today, it is  a cheap knockoff of Facebook without any of the good bits (note: I don't have a Facebook account - there are no good bits).

LinkedIn was once targeted at professional people and I enjoyed a quality experience.  It was useful & even valuable. Today, it’s heading down the path of chasing page views which has led to a crappy experience. The lessons of Instagram and Pinterest with simple pages and content have been completely lost on their management.

I’ll give some serious thought to deleting my LinkedIn account in the next few months but I’ll hold off for a while to see if these changes have improved my personal experience. Today, I’ve deleted just about all of my Group Memberships, disabled all external applications, enhanced my privacy and security, removed all but the minimum email messages,

Edit: For those who asked, my LinkedIn page is here

LinkedIn Audit

Here is what I did to cut LinkedIn down the minimal a static site. First go to the Settings page (it's not obvious that this where some settings area) Linkedin spam reduction 1

Hit “Groups, Companies, Applications” and disable Group Invitiations

Linkedin spam reduction 2

Next disable that data theft / privacy breach features that are supposed to prevent LinkedIn from selling your personal details. In the privacy controls section I got a shock when I saw all the applications that have been given permission to access my personal data. Time to delete all of these in the

Privacy Controls: Turn on/off data sharing with 3rd party applications

I mean I left Klout enabled in there. The only reason Klout exists is to profile your personal life and sell it to advertisers.

Linkedin spam reduction 3



Third Party Data Theft


Just like Facebook, those LinkedIn buttons that you see on every page capture data about you. Where you have been, what you like. LinkedIn lets you opt out of the data collection when this happens (use should be using Ghostery to block tracking cookies anyway).


Linkedin spam reduction 4


Linkedin spam reduction 5


You want to use my personal information and show ads to me based on that information ? No thanks.

Linkedin spam reduction 6

Cut down Email from LinkedIn

Sending you email is a way for LinkedIn to advertise itself as well as provide you a service. But more than two emails a week is too many. Configure LinkedIn to send the least amount of "LinkedIn Inmail" as you can stand. Linkedin spam reduction 7

and then disable this email screen Linkedin spam reduction 8


And then disable all of the group emails. I did find the group email useful a few years ago, but now they are completely overrun with recruiter spam. There is no signal in the noise.


Linkedin spam reduction 9


Partner Inmail is not the same thing as other email and needs to be explicitly removed. Where “Partners” equals “Advertising”

Linkedin spam reduction 10

Activity Feed

I find the home page in LinkedIn to be very cluttered and can't see any useful information. There is so much "happening" on the page that I can't get anything useful from the data. These settings appear to tone down some of the the clutter.

Does anyone care that you have been looking at their profile ? Linkedin spam reduction 11

Do you want other people (aka recruiters / agencies) to see your connections. Today, I’ve blocked this because of the spam but a year ago it was a valuable way for recruiters to be able to locate work colleagues and consider them for new roles.

Linkedin spam reduction 12

Reducing clutter …. Linkedin spam reduction 13


I have nothing to disclose in this article. My full disclosure statement is here

Response: Social Networks can be Tipped by as Little as 0.8% of their Population | The Central Node

This upcoming paper suggests that people, like me, can influence vast audiences:

Online Social Networks can be Tipped by as Little as 0.8% of their Population | The Central Node: "we were able to process a 1.4 million node sample of the Dutch social network Hyves in under 13 minutes.  Further, we demonstrated that the seed sets in real-world online social networks can be very small.  For instance, in a sample from the Friendster social network, we found a seed set that consisted of only 0.8% of the population.  We validated our algorithm with a set of comprehensive experiments on over 30 real-world social networks."

In short, influencing a very small number of people in a social network creates a herd effect that can have far reaching impact on opinion. This is why I’m scared. I should not be able to sway your opinion. You should be able to think for yourself and make your own decisions.

Problems with Squarespace and Wordpress migration.

Recently tried to migrate my blogs from Wordpress (Self Hosted) to Squarespace and failed to make it work out for me.

The EtherealMind and Packet Pushers websites are burning a LOT of CPU cycles due to HTTP requests and our hosting provider requires even more money to handle the load. (Bandwidth is cheap, but CPU/Memory isn’t - even with a world class CDN in front of the site) Some checks into the logs files are showing that a lot bandwidth is burned by marketing companies and vendors scanning my blog for “sentiment analysis” etc.

My Squarespace experience wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good:

  1. My first import from Wordpress failed because the URL redirection setup failed. My second and third imports failed as well. My fourth import with tech support also failed.

  2. URL Redirects do NOT work because Squarespace enforces dates in the URLs. Which is not cool.

For example, the original URL of my blog was but Squarespace wants to force it to

In my view, the date should not be in the URL. Where the “content” is the name of the of a category. Problem with the category too when you don’t wan’t that there either.

  1. Squarespace does not support DisQus comments - therefore it’s unwise to have a blog that needs comments. Although Squarespace has a comments system, I’m not sure I want to learn another one - that’s why I chose DisQus in the first place.

Disqus supports Squarespace, but Squarespace wants to force you into their ecosystem. Not happy about that.

  1. Squarespace doesn’t import any pages from Wordpress, only posts.

On the bright side, Squarespace does import your graphics/ images inside your posts but they are not available for future use ie. they do not appear in the graphic picker for new posts. Again, not a show stopper.

In the end, I got a refund because these things are all problems. The failed import broke my faith in the product. The lack of flexibility in the URL format meant changing hundreds of blog post links and damaging the SEO standing of the blog.

If I was starting a completely new blog, then Squarespace might be ok. But moving out of SquareSpace to another platform could be a problem because the data is limited to their formats.

So not a bad experience, but not a good one either. The product otherwise looks OK to me. Your mileage may vary.

OpenFlow is both More and Less of a Network

I wrote this in a comment somewhere. I thought it was worth capturing for future consideration.

The OpenFlow controller idea is more of an enhancement or extension to existing networking options than reducing the dependency on switches. While some companies COULD choose to use cheaper and simpler switches and reduce their networks to low function, low value services (such as Facebook, Amazon and Google) most companies will look to enable more advanced features that have never been possible because of a lack of coherent control tools for the network.

Hitler Not Happy With Unified Communications

“Call the Asterisk Guy”

“My Fuhrer, The Consultants says there’s nothing they can do”

I’m crouched over in fits of laughter here.

“I want my voicemails converted to text”

The funniest thing I’ve seen in ages and ages.


Thanks to @tonymurphy30 on twitter for tip.

In search of a biz monkey (why bother?)

In search of a biz monkey (why bother?): "The job of the smart business person isn't to fish in waters where coders are cheap. It's to have enough initiative and vision that the best coders in the world will realize that they'll do better with you than without you.

Business people add value when they make things happen, not when they seek to hire cheap."

(Via Seth's Blog.)

The difference between training and professional development

Accountant: “What happens if we invest in developing our people & they leave?”

Leader: ‘What happens if we don’t invest in our people and they stay?"

The Case _For_ Gun Control Rests

Defecating dog sparks US shootout

Two neighbours in the US state of Mississippi drew weapons and fired at each other as an argument over a defecating dog ran out of control.