Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Facebook Privacy Settings - Summary

I've never been someone who cared that much about privacy. I make some attempts to exert control over what gets published on Facebook feeds (e.g., me making a comment on someone's picture does not get published on my news feed but who I just became with does.) Really, my attempt at privacy was never consistent. For a while, I unlisted myself from facebook public searches, and then placed myself back but blocked my photo, and then I decided to show my photo but take away all other info. I mean circumstance changes all the time and the key really is to make informed decisions--though in the past, I never really paid attention.

I remember when FB rolled out their mini feed and home feed and everyone can get stalked...that created a huge disgruntlement among users but I thought the feature was really cool...I mean if you dont want people to know then just don't do it right? Recently Facebook rolled out a huge new privacy change and I finally got around too seeing what new options they have given you and what have been taken away. To be honest, I was a little surprised.

Here is a list of superficial stuff that I think matters for the average joe who's scared their boss might find a pic of them drinking.

  1. There is a list of publicly available information that you cannot hide if you allow your facebook link to show up as a search result (i.e., someone who searches for your name on google might see a link to your limited profile as a search result). This includes your profile pic (you used to be able to hide it) and pages you are a "fan" of (why is that even available to be seen?!). The only way to prevent this information from becoming available publicly is to delist yourself from the search results. If you did not previously hide your friends list , that will also show up in a public search.
  2. You can no longer control what shows up on your mini news feed and wall--although your old settings are still in tact. Remember back in the day when the mini news feed first rolled out and there would be a time stamp next to your activities (e.g., Jan 1 10:15am Lynn is now friends with Adam Kiu)? At the time, you were able to control what gets to be published or not--Don't show timestamp, check; publish relationship status updates, uncheck. All of this is now gone. If you have chosen not to publish photos being tagged of you, you can no longer make it show. If you have chosen to publish them, you cannot make them disappear. On top of that, the news feed also shows that you "liked" something and you can't make it stop.
  3. If you want to hide your friend's list from your profile, you can...sort of. You can have your list of friends not show on your profile page but if you allow yourself to show up in public searches and did not previously hide your friends list, your friends list will still turn up when someone searches about you on google.
  4. You can now block specific person/people from seeing particular status updates. If you want to stop someone from seeing a particular update, before you press the "Share" button, you can click on this little lock icon and block a specific person or a group of people from seeing that message (e.g., if I want to publish a video about Matt Chan that Matt told me not to publish, I can totally do that without Matt knowing.)
There are a couple of other small and big changes and behind the scene application-related privacy issues. The thing with privacy and worrying about third-party apps on facebook, imo, is that if you don't want your private information given to third-party software companies, then don't add third-party developed apps (like Tal) or just don't put any personal information about you on Facebook, hidden or not. Really, anything you put on the Internet can be compromised and be seen by anyone at some point so if you're that worried, just do put it on. It's all about calculated risk and what you value.

I'm pretty sure Facebook will have to change some of these issues soon, as they are still in a transitional period on privacy policies, as well as getting in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has called on the FTC to investigate the changes that it says mislead users and "contradict Facebook’s own representations."), so we'll see if the changes I documented will stay.

Anyway, if you want a more detailed look at what the new privacy transition can do to your

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smell, light, and sound of marketing

I bought a coat yesterday from Hollister and now I feel like justifying how I sold myself out, again. You know, I've been selling myself out a lot since going out with Adam...interesting...

The short version of the story is that I bought the coat because
1. The music at Hollister was not loud
2. The smell at Hollister was surprisingly non-existent
3. I could not see the coat in their lighting, so I had to buy it so I can try it on at home.

Here is the long version.
Adam and I went shopping yesterday (finally!!) and we decided to go to Cambridgeside Galleria, a relatively normal mall, reminiscent of Walden Galleria in Buffalo. Apparently, it's one of the better malls in Boston, though I find the selections lacking; perhaps I'm just missing the familiarity of the stores in Canada, and actually knowing which stores to go when I want a certain type of clothing.

Within the three floors of retail stores, Club Monaco, A&F, and Hollister were lined up side-by-side in the corner of the highest floor, with A&F in the middle. Now, to provide a context of my relationship with A&F and Hollister, let me tell you about my past experiences in these stores.

The first time I walked into an A&F and spent more than 30 seconds in the store was in was in NYC, at their 5th Ave. flagship store that was three or four stories high. I was with Jen and Andrew Ho, and some other people, whom, at this point I cannot remember. The group of us walked in and within a minute, I felt nauseated by the smell and the extremely loud music, and the very dark lighting. I got out of there fast. Andrew Ho trailed out after me after a few minutes and we decided we wanted to leave. However, after waiting outside for a long time, the rest of the group is still not out and none of us had US phones. So we went back in on a hunt that lasted for about 30 minutes. By the time we finally got out, I almost cried. This was about four years ago.

The second time I walked into A&F and stayed for more than 30 seconds was this summer, before I went back to Taiwan. Two years ago, when I went back to TW and gave my cousin some American Eagle clothing, she was disappointed that they were not from A&F. Apparently A&F is a status symbol and there are fakes everywhere in TW. So this time, I decided to get all my friends in TW A&F stuff. I was in there for about 15 minutes in search of the right and not too expensive stuff before I had to leave the premise and take a break for 10 minutes before I went back in for another 15 minutes to finish my purchases.

Yesterday, was my first time at Hollister.

To be fair, I headed for CM first. Funnily, CM smelled like A&F, you know, the smell of that cologne (apparently named "Fierce"), which the employees must spray on the clothes every 30 minutes to a few hours, according to this source and this source, and this source. It surprises me that people actually go and buy this cologne to spray on their own A&F clothing, but that's probably a discussion for another day. Adam and I were cracking up in CM because we felt so sorry for the employees of CM...they totally did not sign up to smell like A&F all day...or did they? Ironically, when we went into the Hollister store, expecting that scent to be stronger, the smell was actually not present AT ALL. (Btw, I just ran a search on the smell in Hollister because for a second there, I realized that I don't actually remember whether Hollister usually has a smell at all since I almost never walk into those stores and I always group the two stores together in my head so I don't actually know which store I'm in when I'm there. The results told me that I was not wrong and Hollister does do the same spray-on cologne deal, but the two stores apparently do not smell the same. Hollister uses the "Social" spray....) . I wonder what happened with the ventilation and management in these stores.

Surprisingly, the music at Hollister was not exceptionally loud either. We had walked in A&F right after CM since I thought if we had to be forced to withstand the smell at CM anyway, we should just go into A&F. We were in there for five minutes (or less), checked out a coat that was on sale but left because I had no interest in buying an A&F item for myself. However, at Hollister, we saw that exact same coat for $20 less. Since there was not loud music and obnoxious scent, I actually stayed in the store and attempted to try it on! (On another note, Guess downstairs on the second floor had a DJ playing VERY loud music. The sales ppl were screaming at each other in order to have a conversation).

So the coats were hanging on a rolling rack and there were different colours...unfortunately, Adam and I could not tell what those colours were. So I took out one of the darker colours and put it on, then attempting to look for a mirror, to no avail. Naively believing that we would be able to find a mirror with better lighting at the fitting room, we took a dark and a light colour coat towards the direction. Outside of the fitting room, we found a full-length mirror, without any lighting AT ALL. What is the point of having a mirror you can't see?!?!?! The fitting room girl came and asked us if we wanted a room, and I asked her if there was lighting in there. She laughed and said yes so we got a room. Well, it turned out that the lighting in there was rather dim still and after walking toward and away from the mirror a few times, we were finally able to see that the dark colourwas brown and the light colour was maybe a beigey colour (it could be white actually, who knows). Adam thought the jacket was nice, I wasn't sure since I can't really tell in the dark, so we decided to buy it so we can take it home and actually see the fit and the style. (so that's their marketing scheme!).

Completing the Sale
Ironically, Adam had to use the restroom when I was lining up to pay. As soon as he left the store, the music got turned on to be extremely loud. The girl at the head of the line was taking a very long time, so by the time Adam came back, i was still in the same position in line. After about 15 minutes, I was finally at the register. But then the girl screws up, and had to do a return and then a payment again. By the time we finally got out of the store, we thought we were in a different world. It was like that scene from Shawshank Redemtion when the dude crawled out of the tunnel into the light, I swear. We went into Banana Republic next and I saw Adam carrying the bag in his arms and realized that the handle had broken and he didn't tell me because he did not want to go back to the store. That made me laugh pretty hard. Anyway, I volunteered to go in myself and switched the bag.

Did I like the coat when I got home, you might ask? Yeah, it was alright, tho i think the fit is a little big. The XS size that the store was sold out of is on the website though, but plus $10 shipping, so we may still have to go back to that store to return the one I got. Sorry Adam!!

Btw, note the blinds at the NYC 5th Ave Flagship store in the first image. Why do they bother having windows?! I wonder if the blinds ever get used...

Adam thinks that the marketing scheme for the A&F chains and subsidiaries work because their clothes actually look nice. I beg to differ, although I have no idea why their marketing scheme works on the mass. Someone enlighten me?