IT Toolbox – Online Reputation

Online accounts and contributions to websites over the last 10 or so years that I have been using the internet are absolutely massive when compared to the physical media contributions that I have made. In fact I think I’ve only ever been in a local newspaper once and now I have a blog in which I’ve published over 150 articles and had over 35,000 views and over 15,000 individual viewers.  Having a blog has allowed me to publish my thought’s and opinions about whatever, whenever I want. It’s made them accessible to whoever even types my name into Google. I personally am expanding the internet in a similar to way all the internet giants you can think of like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. The internet is forever expanding and almost every single one of us that uses it or has an account with a website is contributing to that. Below is a list of Websites I a a member of and their particular categories and what I think about each one.

Retail:

  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • Play
  • LOVEFiLM.com

Retail websites are interesting in their way of gathering data about me, everything I buy, everything I look at whilst logged in, will be stored. It is there for them to use an algorithm to show me recommended products based on the data I have provided. I’m helping these websites sell me more.
Ethically, it could be argued that these websites are gathering too much personal data about me and encouraging me to buy things I would not usually want too purchase. On the other hand, it could be argued that by recommending products to me they may actually be helping me find things that could benefit me in day-to-day life.  In terms of online reputation, accounts on websites like Amazon and Play where you can make public wishlists, an employer or somebody looking to find out information about could look too see the types of items I have on my list and see whether I’m a complete odd ball that wouldn’t fit in with their business or whether I’m rather sane and would be a perfect fit in the workplace. A similar thing goes for LOVEFiLM that also has features such as sharing what movie’s you are going to rent with Facebook and Twitter further sharing information about myself with a wider audience. Another way retail websites could effect my reputation is through eBay and the “Feedback feature”. If somebody knew my username for eBay they could look and find out whether I’ve paid on time for products before and whether I’ve sent items in the post that people have paid for. This in my opinion is a fair representation of how you deal with people in a business environment however sometimes people could leave feedback that is out of your control which could tarnish a persons reputation without them having much of a choice.
Another aspect to all retail websites that I am a member of is that they offer reviewing features and rating systems. This allows you to review products and services that these businesses offer and that can help them with many things such a choosing new products and by doing this you are also helping the website grow, a review can warrant a page on most websites which helps increase the chances of showing up in a search engine and making a sale. It is crucial to all retail businesses that search results and search engine optimisation are at their best. Despite helping all these websites grow, despite buying their products and reviewing them, there is nothing in it for me. They benefit from me spending time on their website and what do I get in return. Nothing.

Social:

  • Foursquare
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Social websites are perhaps the most controversial when it comes to the privacy and reputation on the internet. Facebook has had some notorious and infamous legal problems with it’s privacy structure and how it gathers data about the users. I have my FaceBook settings on maximum privacy for everything trying to only show my information and data to people who I have granted access to them by “friending” them. I have heard people tell me that they have seen my Facebook without being a friend of mine though. Also if somebody knows a friend of mine who is willing to show them my Facebook (I don’t doubt I’ve a few in my list of 714 friends), they can see all I’ve put up onto the website, which includes 3400 photographs of me (the majority of which i’m drunk in), statuses from years ago expressing opinions that have completely changed and even lists of the music I’ve listened to recently. All of these can change people’s perception of what I am like. The reality of Facebook is that it should really only be for your very close friends which is why I share a private group on Facebook with the people that I am actually close with and that know everything about me can see. If someone was to meet me and assume that everything that is on my Facebook represents who I am as a person I’m sure they’d be deeply disappointed to find that I’m not always drunk, not always making jokes and that I’ve never actually worked for the fictional company, Aperture Science.

Twitter is a new(ish) phenomenon that I absolutely love. I’ve found twitter to be the perfect tool for getting stuff off my chest, for communicating with friends and just joking around. Just like Facebook though, Twitter is one massive joke. All I use Twitter for is banter with friends, angrily ranting about things that aren’t anywhere near as a bigger problem as I make out and promoting my website. Actually, I also read some celebrities tweets and find out various bits of information in condense messages from people I like.  The truth is, Twitter is awesome, but, like Facebook it doesn’t really represent what I am like as a person and I bet you somewhere in the 5000 odd tweets I’ve done there is some I would regret if people saw them. In fact, if I ever got famous I guarantee most of my Tweets, Facebook pictures and Blog posts would be used against me in one of those tacky magazines or the daily mail. That wouldn’t stop me using it though. I love what Twitter and Facebook have done for me as a person and despite the fact I know that I would be considered too be sharing too much personal information by some, I couldn’t care less. You can find out about me as a real person when I see you in real life, if I don’t see you in real life and your reading my twitter and forming an opinion about me regardless of whether it’s positive or not, I’ve no need to worry. One of the great things about the internet is whenever abuse comes about it can be avoided, you can block just about anyone from any service these days and so long as it doesn’t effect you in real life, it doesn’t matter.

 

If I was too look at my best friend’s Facebook, it has a very similar aspect of seriousness to it as mine. You can take the groups or pages that he has liked for example. They are not things a potential employer would be looking for such as a page on the “Investment Society” he is a member of at his university. They are more along the lines of “That awkward moment when you keep pushing a pull door” and “The tense moment you wait for your penny change at a 99p store”. All in all it depicts him as he is with me, but not how he would be with certain groups of people. If you think about it you wouldn’t behave in the same way you would with your mates on holiday in Ibiza as you would when your in the office at work. This is why having a LinkedIn account and a Facebook account is necessary when you become a working adult. It is also important to be careful who you would accept as a friend on Facebook because they may be looking for information about you for the wrong reasons or too check whether you are a sensible down to earth person which I don’t think is what Facebook is about. It’s about the social aspects of life not the work.

Rest In Peace, Steve Jobs.

As an avid follower of the technology industry, you can imagine the news that Steve Jobs had passed away was not something I was pleased to read. I was infact on my MacBook Pro with my iPhone in my pocket listening to songs on iTunes at the time I read about his death on Twitter.

I have had my gripes about Steve Jobs in the past because of the way Apple is run as a company. Ethically it’s just not perfect. But no company is, no person is and to put that down solely to the CEO of the company is unfair, especially in a corporation the size of Apple. I do have a hell of a lot of respect for this man though. Steve Jobs was an inspirational visionary to all of us that take interst in business and techonlogy. Field’s that Steve excelled in from the very beggining. He was always the business brains of Apple, afterall, it was him that took Steve Wozniak’s computer into a commercially viable product.

Steve Jobs made Apple what it is today, even though he actually got fired from the company he helped start in 1985. His return was one of the greatest things that ever happened to the company and his successes elsewhere include Pixar Animation Studio’s, the creators of several of my favourite films. This man has had a massive impact on millions of peoples lives. Without Steve Jobs the smartphone revoloution would not of happened when it did. Without Steve Jobs Toy Story probably would never of existed, neither would many other of Pixar’s fantastic animations. The Mac would not of gained any market share in the market and the PC would continue to dominate the market with an even higher share than they do now.

People who knew Steve, all sing his praises. Obviously I never had the pleasure of meeting the man but I even respect aspects of his personality, other than the fact he had an extremely autocratic leadership style, Steve Jobs had a “my way” attitude to life. The fact he was hosting conferences that were shown around the world in a pair of scruffy jeans, a black turtle-kneck top and some horrendous trainers says it all. He was also a massive family man and kept his personal life very private and seperate from work, a very good way to live if you ask me.

Unfortunately, Steve Jobs died of Panchreatic Cancer on the 5th of October, this year. There is so much information around about Mr. Jobs and soon enough a biography is being released that has been certified and I will be sure to buy it and read about this fantastic man. Rest in peace Mr. Jobs. You changed the world.

Snowboarding in Britain

snozone

On Wednesday, I went on my first trip of many ran by the Kingston University Snow Sports (KUSS) society. We travelled by bus to Milton Keynes to do 3 hours of snow sports on an actual slope made of actual snow. It’s also in an actual building!

I had heard the hype surround Snow Domes in the past but didn’t really expect much. I imagined a sort of slow and boring slope that’s isn’t very steep. I also thought that the place would just be full of learners doing snow plow trains. When I thought about it like that it seemed like my idea of hell as far as snowboarding is concerned. I did see on Facebook that the snow sports society seemed like a good laugh and decided I was going to sign up and they said about this first trip to the slope in Milton Keynes that was only £15 for transport, gear hire, food and a beer. Sounded like my sort of day out so I signed up instantly!

When I first got there I did my usual situation assessment strategy which involves being incredibly pessimistic and expecting nothing but the worst. I thought I was going to get some dodgey snowboard that has never been waxed and a pair of boots that smelt like a skunk on fire. It turned out the boots weren’t actually too bad and the board wasn’t terrible albeit a bit too heavy for my liking.

Shortly after receiving my cheap and probably abused gear, I made my way to the indoor slope and poma lift to get myself to the top of the slope and do a quick run or two. By the time I was on the lift I was absolutely freezing because I had no gloves (if you go, take gloves with you they cost £16). The first couple of runs were strange and I’m still not sure whether it was the board, the slope or the actual snow. I’m pretty convinced the snow felt a bit weird compared to the usual snowboarding destinations or France/Austria. After a good few runs though, I had my confidence back and was enjoying just going down the slop and playing some tunes. After a while the whole up and down thing go quite boring because the slope was short and I was spending the majority of my time on the life.

I decided that it was necessary to give the rails and freestyle stuff a go so I started trying to grind and whatever which was good fun. I did bail onto my wrists twice by trying to grind a box sideways and didn’t manage to straighten up in time and just landed in a horizontal position and fell back. No banter for that though. Hopefully when I go again my confidence will be a bit better again and I won’t feel bad about making a mug of myself falling over in front of all the other KUSS members.

It’s cool to be able to go and use a real slope in the UK and after a while I got used to what I thought was odd snow at first. It’s not the longest of tracks but you can’t expect a mountain in a building and if the slope was any longer it would just cost so much to run that the costs would then be passed back onto the customer who would then refuse to pay. It was an all round great day and I’ll deffinately be going again!

Uni Life: Kingston upon Thames

Kingston Upon Thames has been my ‘home’ for a month now and I’m starting to get used to my big city lifestyle.

No longer is the most recognisable shop within walking distance a Spar. No longer are the most common things I hear highly pretentious or slightly racist. In fact I now live in one of the most multicultural cities in the world (London not Kingston). Do I love it? Yes of course I do, otherwise I’d probably have moved back to Wales and got on with my small town lifestyle. I’ve always wanted to move to a city or bigger town that actually has loads of people from all different corners of the earth to speak to and learn from. In fact as stupid as it sounds I’ve always my personality and small-town life clash. I think to big to be living in Usk for the rest of my life and really wanted to get out of there and Uni was my best option.

Kingston has some absolutely incredible shopping oppurtunities in the form of Bentalls shopping centre, Bentalls department store, John Lewis and the high street all within seconds of each other. Naturally as a student I haven’t really had a chance to exploit that but it’s nice to know it’s there and if I really need a job over the next few years there’s no shortage of shops to drop my CV into.

One of my favourite things about Kingston has to be the river front. It’s not called Kingston Upon Thames for nothing! There are some awesome little bars and pubs along the river including one of my favourites which is called Gazebo and a ‘Sam Smith Pub’ which supposedly means rather cheap drinks with strange prices like £2.41 for a pint of own brewed lager. On a hot day just having a beer is absolutely amazing! Rowing teams and sailors just cruise up and down the Thames and the atmosphere is relaxed and calming.

Kingston Upon Thames is also a rather known commuter town for people who work in London and that is something I’ve exploited a fair amount since I’ve been here and one of the reasons I actually chose to move to Kingston. In just 25 minutes you can be in Waterloo and then from the underground there you can go just about anywhere in London you please (providing the lines are actually open). It’s also got pretty good public transport in terms of buses, one of which is always going to Ham which for some reason either makes me laugh or hungry.

As far as entertainment goes there is no shortage of clubs in Kingston including the huge Oceana, Hippodrome and Ama-Gi. There all quite cool places but expect to queue because everyone and there mother seems to want to go to these clubs and no matter what day of the week it is they seem to fill out. In terms of ‘non-drinking’ activities there is the Rotunda. a sort of cinema complex with a bowling alley (that’s really cheap!) and a few restaurants, one of which is interestingly called ‘Frangos’ and I’m convinced it’s a fake Nandos!

I haven’t been round the whole of Kingston yet but I do know my way round the bits that matter to me at the moment. I’m sure there is a lot more to see and I’ll come to love it even more over time. It’s not a bad place to live at all and I’m very grateful for being given the chance to live here.