Thursday, December 2, 2010

Facebook and PR

A friend of mine (M.G.) posted a status on Facebook yesterday decrying a new photo viewing interface that Facebook is apparently rolling out.  I haven't seen the new interface yet, and neither have many others.  But we probably will within the next few days.

I think I'll take this opportunity to point out that Facebook could do a much better job on the public relations end of the business.  I joined Facebook in early 2008 (rather late), and from not long after that, Facebook's modifications have regularly led to loud outcries and dissatisfaction on the part of users.  One of the earliest such changes I remember was the streamlining of posts and the elimination of the "Wall" as an independent feature.  I--and presumably many others of the millions who protested--now understand Facebook's reasons for making that change and appreciate that the streamlined format is now used.  But it seems that with more skillful management of public relations, Facebook could have saved itself much of the bad rap that came from that and later changes.

Facebook will probably not have any major loss of users from poorly managed public relations.  As TechCrunch writer Michael Arrington said several weeks ago in a blog post on another Facebook-related topic, many people would be very hesitant to abandon the website:
Facebook is becoming the center of our Internet lives, more so each day. Dissatisfied users really don’t have a choice to leave Facebook any more. Giving up Facebook, for tens of millions of people at least, would be no more palatable than giving up their telephone. That means people can’t really vote with their feet any more.
Facebook might be able to attract much more goodwill on the part of users were it to work hard to persuade them of the need for changes instead of just springing the changes on them with little public announcement.  (And by "public announcement," I mean something more than a post on The Facebook Blog.)  Before Facebook introduced the "New Facebook" (the one you used to find at, it did offer users a preview of the new interface before it eventually forced everyone to adopt it.  This was certainly a good procedure.  But perhaps some of the discontent could have been avoided had Facebook done more to persuade users.

As I am discussing Facebook here today, I should mention a problem I'm having with the site.  I am unable to join certain groups--at least two so far.  When I try to do so, I get the following "Group membership is restricted" message:
Someone who posted in Yahoo! Answers had the same problem more than two years ago was told by one person that he "may be suspended in violation of there [sic] terms and conditions and community guidelines."

Incidentally, both of these groups are public.  As the message does not include a procedure with which one can dispute the restriction, I do not have a solution to this problem.  If you have a solution or if you know someone who has an inside connection to Facebook (or, better yet, if you are Mark Zuckerberg) please let me know.

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flaw in SRJC voting system repaired

Yesterday, in another blog post, "Major flaw in SRJC online voting system?," I pointed out a bug in Santa Rosa Junior College's student election system that permitted people such as me who are not enrolled in any classes to vote.  After posting the blog post and video here, I emailed the president of the Associated Students and the director and assistant director of Student Affairs.  They replied promptly, and had the problem fixed before 9:00 a.m.  Apparently, 83 votes that were made by non-students were cancelled, and the flaw that allowed us to vote was fixed.  Student Affairs Director Robert Ethington said that "Computing Services guarantees that the integrity of the process is intact."  Voting will close on Friday night.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Major flaw in SRJC online voting system?

UPDATE (Thursday, November 18, 2010):  The problem was resolved.  See my post here.

This week, Santa Rosa Junior College, my alma mater, is holding a student election to decide a student center fee referendum.  If passed, the referendum would require that most students be charged a $1 per unit student center fee up to a maximum of $10 per student per academic year.  The fee would be used for expenses related to student centers on the campuses, the new Bertolini Student Center, which opened earlier this year on the main campus, being the most notable such student center.

Elections have been online at SRJC from the time of the main student elections this past spring.  On Monday, the first day of this week's election, I logged into the myCubby student portal (named after the school's mascot, the Bear Cub) online and found that it appeared that the system would allow me to vote even though I am no longer a student at SRJC.  Last night, I installed a video screen capture program on my computer and attempted to go through with the process.  It appears that I was indeed permitted by the system to vote in the election.  As you will see in the video below, I was even shown a "Thank you for voting" dialog box.  It is to be hoped that my vote and any votes like it will not actually be counted.  The voting software should filter out the votes of people who are not registered in any classes; or, better yet, it should not even give the appearance that it is allowing these people to vote.

If adequate software safeguards such as those I have described above are not in place, it is possible that the validity of this week's election will be called into question. It is very possible, however, that the computers are indeed set so that only votes from enrolled students are counted. But there is no way to tell by looking at the website.

I was Vice President of Santa Rosa Campus on the Associated Students Senate from November 2009 until I graduated in May 2010.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unintended consequences

About two weeks ago, when I was at a Safeway here in Berkeley, I saw large signs in the parking lot advertising Mott's apple sauce.  The signs did influence me to buy apple sauce.  But, because of the price or the type that was offered, I bought Tree Top brand.  Nice try, Mott's.  I'm sure Tree Top appreciates the free advertising.  Maybe next time, if you actually offer a better deal in addition to your parking lot ads, I'll actually by your brand.

Incidentally, I don't like apple sauce that says "sweetened."  It has a weird taste.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jeffrey's November 2010 General Election ballot

Hello everyone!  Here are my ballots for today's General Election.  I might write more about specific measures and candidates tonight when I have more time.  For now, I strongly encourage you to vote for Carly Fiorina in the U.S. Senate race.  Fiorina is both a fiscal and social conservative who will be a good replacement for Senator Boxer.  (And make sure you call her "Senator.")  Currently Fiorina is slightly down in the polls, but there is still a possibility that she will win.  Despite the fact that I voted for Steve Poizner in the primary in June, I voted for Meg Whitman in this race for California Governor.  Unfortunately, it does not currently appear that she will win.  But it will depend on turnout.
I voted for Debra Bowen, the incumbent Democratic, for secretary of state.  Her challenger, Damon Dunn, voted for the first time in 2009.  So I think he is unqualified for the job.  I based my state judicial recommendations on those of Eagle Forum.  All of those are likely to pass by large margins, though, since most people have no idea who they are confirming.  If you live in Santa Rosa, I strongly encourage you to vote against Measure P, the new sales tax measure.  And I have no recommendation for Santa Rosa's Measure O.

Click on the photos below to see them in more detail.  Make sure you vote today, and I'll probably write another post later tonight.  Have a great day!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interesting but unfair debate

Yesterday, after attending a "required" general meeting of The Music Connection in 60 Evans, I went over to 10 Evans to see whether or not the debate on Proposition 19 was still in progress.  Proposition 19 will be on the California ballot in the upcoming general election.  If passed, it will make it legal (under state law) for persons over 21 to use marijuana and to possess small quantities of it.  California voters passed another proposition (215) in 1996 that legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.  Marijuana is still banned under federal law.

When I arrived to Room 10, I found that the debate was still in progress.  After a couple minutes, they stopped for a short intermission at which point I took a seat.  The debate was between Dan Rush (apparently a representative of some union), who argued in favor of Prop. 19, and Ron Allen (a black pastor who goes by the title "bishop" and is with a group called the International Faith Based Coalition), who argued against the proposition.  The flyer (of which I have a copy made up of two mismatched pieces I found on the floor--people had torn flyers so that people could use them to write questions for the debaters) states the names of the cosponsors of the debate:
  • Students for a Sensible Drug Policy
  • Students for Liberty
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Cal Democrats
  • College Republicans
Since I am a member of Berkeley College Republicans (BCR), I found out about the debate from the email the club sends out each week.
    Not long into the second half of the debate (which for the most part consisted of the debaters speaking on issues brought up by written questions from members of the audience), I commented on my own Facebook Status: "Is it just me, or are the majority of the slides on the background screen pro-19 slides?"  Throughout most of the exchange, slides played on a screen behind the debaters and moderator.  The slides contained various pieces of information and ideas on various issues related to the legalization of marijuana. Many of the slides displayed the logo of the pro-Prop. 19 campaign in the upper right corner of the screen.  A man stood to the right of the stage near a laptop.  Often when the topic switched, he would find a slide appropriate to the issue.  Sometimes, he scrolled through several slides in an effort to find the right one.  For example, when Bishop Jones talked about the hidden societal costs of marijuana, the man found a slide which stated that the costs are much lower than those of tobacco and alcohol.

    After the debate, I saw Ben Goldblatt talking to the man about the unfairness of the slideshow.  Ben pointed out to the man that someone who is against the proposition could have come up with a whole slideshow of facts that were against the proposition. After Ben left, I talked with the man about it myself.  He was of the position that Bishop Jones was lying during the debate.  The slides which he put up contained "facts" that were supposed to give people correct information.

    I didn't know it at first, but it turns out that the man who operated the PowerPoint show is Mauricio Garzon.  He is the director of the "Yes on Prop. 19" campaign.

    Overall, I enjoyed the part of the debate that I heard.  However, the slideshow thing was very unfair.  So whose fault was this?  Was it Garzon's fault?  I think the organizations that sponsored the debate should have acted to keep the debate fair.  Why didn't BCR or Cal Dems or one of the other campus groups do something to preserve the fairness of the debate.  I believe that in the future, if BCR sponsors an event, it should designate someone to monitor the event to ensure that such things do not happen again.

    Edited: Sunday, October 24, 2010 for punctuation, grammar, formatting, and addition of a parenthetical appositive.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Jeffrey's June 2010 Primary ballot

    Here are photos of my ballot as I filled it out for this election. Click on each of the two photos to view it more closely.

    The race I am most interested in is the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.  I voted for Chuck DeVore, whom I have met and heard speak several times.  Assemblyman DeVore is both a fiscal and social conservative.  And he has demonstrated his values during his 5 years in the state Assembly.  His opponent Tom Campbell does not have the same socially conservative principles that DeVore has.  And although Carly Fiorina claims to be a social and fiscal conservative, she has never been in office and therefore has no record to prove her values.  Also, I believe her record from her time as CEO of Hewlett Packard would prove to be a detriment in a race against Barbara Boxer.  After all, Barbara Boxer has never been put by CNBC in a list of Worst American CEOs of All Time.  I strongly endorse Chuck DeVore for U.S. Senate.  I hope you will join me in voting for him.

    Although I am voting in the Republican primary, there is at least one Democratic race I wish I could vote in.  The race for California Assembly in the 7th District is very contested.  Noreen Evans has termed out and is running for State Senate this year.  Were I registered as a Democrat, I would vote for Lee Pierce in this race.  Although I have voted for Doris Gentry in the Republican primary, and although I plan to support her in November, due to the makeup of this district it is very likely that the winner of the Democratic primary will also win the election.  If you are voting in the Democratic primary in this district, I encourage you to support Mr. Pierce with your vote.

    Finally, I suppose I should explain why I voted for Orly Taitz in the Republican primary for CA Secretary of State.  I will give you an explanation in a blog post later this evening.  Until then, make sure you vote.  And support DeVore.  If you have any questions or comments, post a comment at the bottom of this post.  And if you are wondering how I would vote in any other races, ask me.


    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Mazzia for Judge mailer

    The other day, I received in the mail a large postcard-type mailer from the Chris Mazzia for Judge 2010 campaign. Chris Mazzia is running for the open Office #3 spot in the Sonoma County Superior Court. (No, that was not a hidden ad for OpenOffice, which I do not use anyway.) The other candidate in the race is Jamie Thistlethwaite, who wisely used only her first name in the URL of her campaign site. One side of the mailer pro-Mazzia. The other side is anti-Thistlethwaite. In large letters, it says, "Don't Take Thistlethwaite's Bait" and "Jamie Thistlethwaite is trying to lure your vote." Above is a picture of a fishing lure disguised as a small fish. Below are the words "Her Real Record?" followed by three "Claims" made about Thistlethwaite's campaign and the "Truth."

    The first of these is rather bizarre. It says:
    Claims: She is a "Criminal Law Attorney"
    Truth: She is a Criminal Defense Attorney

    Huh? The last I heard, a criminal law attorney was someone who practices criminal law. And it does seem that a criminal defense attorney practices criminal law. What other type of law would a criminal defense attorney practice?

    It is true that Thistlethwaite did not specify that she is a defense attorney in the title she chose to appear below her name on the ballot. But she also did not in any way misrepresent herself in the title. I have no problem with Chris Mazzia pointing out that his opponent is a defense attorney. She even mentions on her websit that she worked in the Sonoma County Public Defender's office for ten years before going into private law practice. But I do not see why Mazzia needed to imply that she was misrepresenting herself in her ballot title.

    Incidentally, I have been leaning toward voting for Mazzia. So I am not just trying to promote Thistlethwaite's campaign.

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Worried that DeVore wouldn't beat Boxer?

    Following is an edited version of a response I wrote today to someone who is reluctant to support Chuck DeVore in California's Republican U.S. Senate primary out of fear that should he win the primary he wouldn't be able to beat Senator Barbara Boxer.

    . . . I thought I might write a response to your concerns. Take a look at DeVore's polling results against Boxer. Then take a look at the results of Fiorina/Boxer and Campbell/Boxer polls directly above. You will see that DeVore did not do a whole lot worse then the other two candidates did against Boxer.

    I do understand what your concern is, and it is true that there are some moderates who would vote for Campbell but who wouldn't vote for DeVore. And there are probably a few voters who would vote for Fiorina but who wouldn't vote for DeVore. But there are also people who would enthusiastically vote for DeVore but who wouldn't be as excited about Campbell because of his socially liberal positions. And it appears that Fiorina has a bit of baggage from her career at HP that might not work in her favor in a race against Boxer. See this CNBC feature on "The Worst American CEOs of all time." Carly Fiorina makes the list.

    I am voting for DeVore because I believe that he is the best candidate. In addition to being committed to fiscally responsible governance, he is pro-life and has conservative positions on other social issues. He also has a voting record to show how he actually votes on these types of issues. Having never held public office, Fiorina does not have this record. And Campbell does not even claim to be a social conservative.

    But not only do I believe DeVore to be the best candidate, I also believe that he is able to beat Boxer. Most of the polls in the link above were designed by professional statisticians. Statistics is a reliable science, and I think the polls are a pretty accurate representation of how people would have voted on the days the polls were conducted. True, DeVore was not shown to be ahead of Boxer, but neither were either of the other candidates in most of the polls. And in the time between now and November 2, I think DeVore will be able to make up the ground.

    Finally, Chuck DeVore is a charismatic conservative who has a great record and who I believe will excite the conservative base in a way that neither Fiorina nor Campbell would.

    Please give DeVore another thought. I hope you will consider supporting him and giving him your vote.

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Tom McClintock meets George Zimmer

    This is one of two ads that the Chuck Devore campaign will be playing during Monday's (5/24/10) finale of 24. I haven't watched 24, but if you do, make sure you pay attention to the ads. This ad features Representative Tom McClintock. The other ad features Mike Huckabee, McClintock, and Dana Rohrabacher, another member of Congress from California.

    You're gonna like the way DeVore votes. Tom McClintock guarantees it.

    Fiorina implies endorsements from Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, National Tax-Limitation Committee, and Ben Franklin

    As reported on the website of the Sacramento Bee, Carly Fiorina's campaign has sent out a mailer that can be seen as deceptive. At the top, it features a Fiorina vs. Campbell banner with the words "Conservative Leaders Speak Out" below it. Then it shows anti-Campbell quotes from the leaders of two taxpayer associations. This implies that the conservative leaders are speaking out on that Fiorina vs. Campbell race that was mentioned at the top of the mailer. And if they're criticizing Campbell, they're obviously supporting Fiorina, right? Wrong. In fact, both of these associations have endorsed Chuck DeVore, the other candidate in the race. The Bee reports that the two associations are asking Fiorina's campaign to apologize. The leader of one of the associations even accuses her campaign of trademark infringement since the association's logo was used above the quote.
    The other "conservative leader" quoted on the flyer is former Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Unlike the two taxpayer associations, Palin has endorsed Fiorina. Incidentally, many conservatives are unhappy with her choice and think she should have endorsed DeVore.

    Although neither the Bee nor Devore's campaign has yet mentioned it, it is interesting to note that the flyer also includes an image of Benjamin Franklin. Since Franklin has long been dead and has not endorsed anyone in over 200 years, it must be assumed that Fiorina also used his photo without his permission or his endorsement.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Rothmann: Chuck Devore is "the most dangerous Republican"

    It's been a while since I've posted here. In fact, this is my first blog post that is not related to last year's tour of South America. I hope to post more on various topics in the upcoming months.

    Last Tuesday, a week after interviewing CA Assemblyman Chuck Devore on his radio show, San Francisco talk show host John Rothmann described Devore as "the most dangerous Republican." He believes that Devore is a real threat to Democratic victory in California in the upcoming election cycle. I listen to talk radio a lot and was glad to hear this. Below is the clip from the show.