Peter VS Technology

Did you know that I hate technology?

I suppose that I should explain.

I don’t hate technology all the time, but there are times when it is very difficult to feel anything more than bemusement about it. In support of this conclusion, I present a recent “interface” which I was barely able to endure.

Betty and Peter say, “Oh look, Dear! There on the horizon …a concert we’d both like to attend!”

I saw that there was a concert on the horizon which both Betty and I would like to attend. I got onto the venue’s website and commenced my transaction. Suddenly a pop up errrr, popped up! It was a timer, counting down from 10 minutes. 10 minutes is a relatively long time and I was on my phone and simply wanted to select 2 seats and input the credit card number and delivery information. Lots of time, ehhh, Loyal Reader? Ahh, but what’s this? The venue wanted me to set up an account. That meant creating a password, with all of its vagaries. So off I went to get a pen and a piece of paper,  , all the while thinking of a suitable “candidate”. And when I had created the password, it would impose some difficulties on me as far as accessing my email account or my phone messages in the most likely event that I needed to help recovering my password to access this account, an account of dubious value, in my opinion. Of course, the counter kept counting down, and I felt that the situation was a curious meld of the final jeopardy music and every B movie timebomb scene I had ever seen. Let’s see, do I cut the blue wire or the green wire?

So I entered my email address, in a hurry, of course, as time was flying past. When I attempted to confirm my email address, the website almost gleefully informed me that my email address was invalid. I glared at my phone in impotent rage, but the message didn’t change. In disgust I abandoned my foray into the world of ticket buying. As I pointed out on my Facebook page, I wanted to buy 2 tickets, not host the venue staff at Christmas for a few years. 

Anyway, I will see what the future holds in that regard.

On a happier note, I am still revelling in the improvement to my vision following my cataract surgeries. Total cost out of pocket? Less than $200. That includes parking, prescriptions, preliminary and follow up appointments and….the surgeries themselves. I have a new lease on life, and am taking full advantage of it. It is especially interesting being able to read the superimposed script on different ads, especially car ads. You see a car racing along the road, but the “caption”, in tiny letters, as an aside, says that the model illustrated is NOT available in North America. How about the scene showing a car gleefully splashing through a creek, while at the bottom of the screen we are informed that driving through a creek may be illegal in some jurisdictions! My choice for the most hilariously unintentionally funny caption has got to be the one which narrates a scene showing the vehicle being shilled driving on a crowded road, a la “rush hour” while below is posted the pious admonition “Professional Driver, Closed Course, Do Not Attempt”. Not often I am speechless, Loyal Reader, but…….

I am now going to wrap up this week by addressing another thing which I find extremely annoying, Facebook groups. Oh, not all such groups, as many are sources of excellent information, I hasten to say. Others, however, tend to  “lose their focus”, to varying degrees, and in extreme cases become little more than a “flea market” for tshirts, retail gift cards and porn.

I am thinking of one such group right now, but I am not going to name it because I don’t want to give it any publicity. I still visit the group in question, but do so to report the frequent pornographic videos which are posted on this particular group, a group which is publicly accessible, by the way. (In fact, I got notice that 3 of these videos had been removed as a result of my reports as I worked on this column.) Sadly, this barrage of electronic junk mail has made the group almost completely useless for its original purpose. 

You are probably wondering how a group can go “off the rails” so very badly. Here are some of my thoughts on avoiding the issue, based partly on my personal experience administering several different Facebook groups.

It is important to keep the group focused on the subject it was created to discuss. You can generally see the parameters of the group by reading the “pinned post”. As much as possible, make yourself familiar with them. If someone posts an irrelevant message, report it to the administrators, who have the power to deal with the situation in any way they see fit, up to and including deleting and banning the offending member. As an administrator, I have had to take such drastic steps myself, on occasion. (It’s not very pleasant to have to do that, but it is paramount to ensuring that the group is successful.)

As a member of the group, do realize that the administrators have lives outside of “the Intertoobz” and rely heavily on the members advising them about posts which are irrelevant, distracting or confusing. Don’t be afraid to report these posts. If a group degenerates into an unholy mess, people who have a lot of information to contribute will simply refuse to do so, will refuse to share their knowledge with the group as a whole, so we all have a stake in keeping the group running smoothly.

As an administrator, I am always dismayed to see a post about an unrelated topic, which is invariably prefaced by the statement “I know that this isn’t what the group is about, but I think it’s cool!” As an administrator, I take administrative action and ban the offending member to the “gloomy region”. As a private member, I will suggest that the individual create their own “special” group. I will even suggest group titles, for example “Insipid collective of people inspired by uninspiring aircraft”. It is a free service that I provide with pleasure  ūüėČ .

Another thing that annoys me is when someone posts that they are leaving a group because of the post traffic. There is always someone else who will post something along the lines of “It’s not an airport, you don’t have to announce your departure”. There are then the usual people who post a laughing reaction at this original and witty riposte. My personal view is that the member who posted that they were leaving was pointing out a problem that they perceived which was affecting the group as a whole. Rather than excoriating them, steps should be taken to correct any issues which may exist.

Here are some examples of posts which can have a detrimental impact on the efficient operation of a group, based on my Master’s Degree attained from the Facebook School Of Hard Knocks. It should be noted that when someone posts, you can see some of their background by “clicking” on their name.

“We are removing inactive members from this group today! Say yes!” By clicking on their name, you can see that they are a new member of the group.

You can then attempt to see their personal profile, although often they have “locked” it. They have as much authority to remove group members as I do to play goal for the Montreal Canadiens. What they want to do is actually sell you a tshirt, or a mug, or just mine your data.

“We are blessing someone before midnight!” Again, just an attempt to extract your data. Pay it no heed, Loyal Reader.

When you report the post to the administrator, they can remove the post and the member, if necessary. In the case of tshirt sales pitches, there is always the possibility of a scam, so you can help the group function better by making them aware of this problem. 

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of Facebook groups are very useful as sources of information, both written and visual. Sadly however, vigilance is required when navigating the site, because there are some mean people out there. 

On a final note for this week, I had popped onto a “pro CONvoy” page and noticed a post advertising a “hoodie” for sale, with the promise that (unspecified) proceeds from each sale would be donated to (unspecified) “truckers”. There was the cut and paste ad, and the poster had added outside that frame that he had never been “…so proud to be a Canadian…”. He even added a couple of Canadian flags. Except that when you clicked on his name and then went to his personal profile, the truth came out. He actually wasn’t a Canadian, he was an overseas resident flogging overpriced clothes under false pretenses. I nearly reported the post to the site administrators as spam and a scam, something which would have a negative impact on the page, but I thought better of it, smiled and logged off.

And speaking of technology, my “smarterthanIphone” is (gleefully?) telling me that my battery is fading.

See you soon 


A confirmed Cat person, Peter dabbled with being a water boy, a paper boy and an altar boy before finally settling on a career with the Canadian federal government.  Once, in his youth, he ate a Dutch  oven full of mashed potatoes to win a 5 cent bet with his beloved sister Mary‚Äôs boyfriend. (Of course he was much younger and a nickel went a lot farther!))

He has retired to palatial ‚ÄúChez Montreuil‚ÄĚ, which he shares with his little buddy CoCo the Fashionable. He is blessed to have the beautiful Betty in his life. He is not only a plastic aircraft modeller, but a proud ‚Äúrivet counter‚ÄĚ. Military aviation and live music are among other interests of his, and he tries to get out to as many shows as he can. He will be here for your enlightenment whenever the stars align. Profile photo courtesy of Pat Blythe, caricature courtesy of Peter Mossman.

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