Category Archives: Lessons in Life

Why you should never explain your jokes

When I was twenty something I always had a joke to crack. I though it was cool to be the funny guy so I always had something funny to say, especially during conversations I was not a part of (kind of a way to join in you see). It took me some time to realize I was obnoxious and that when people did not get my jokes, trying to explain them what just making things worse. Continue reading

Fair warning to my Facebook friends

Last year I started to grow concerns about my privacy on Facebook. Not because of another change in Facebook privacy settings or a hack of any kind but because I started to realize that the biggest threat to my online privacy are my friends themselves. Continue reading

Image Credits: John Goodridge

PRIVACY: @chassyofcricket by Michell Zappa

Spare me the talk about privacy, they’re all clueless anyway…

With all the talks and posts and whatnot about privacy on the Internet it’s easy for anyone to turn into a privacy control freak.

And I really was starting to freak out myself. After all, a good bunch of my own life is on the Net: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, this blog, all the Google applications and all the other services I use, or I test… But this morning I received a letter, not an e-mail, a paper letter. From Google AdWords. Sent from France. In German!

I guess they just assumed that since I was living in Switzerland I was talking German, like when ebay.com redirects me to ebay.de, but I don’t speak nor read German.

And it reminded me something I learned a long time ago, when I was working for Singularis – a now defunct start-up that was collecting users preferences about TV programs: You can collect as many data as you want, if you don’t know how to use it it’s only worth the cost of the storage.

And the more you have the harder it is.

Image Credits: Michell Zappa

Sévices Après Vente

Dans un monde chaque jour un peu plus numérisé n’oublions pas que ce sont toujours les même vieux trucs qui fonctionnent: si vis pacem, para bellum!

!!Attention!! Ce billet est long et ennuyeux…

Ceux qui me suivent sur Twitter ou Facebook se souviendront qu’en novembre dernier (le vendredi 13 exactement) mon appartement avait été cambriolé pendant que j’étais chez le dentiste (ça fais beaucoup pour un vendredi 13). Parmi les objets qui m’avaient été volés se trouvait mon MacBook Pro, qui est mon seul et unique outil de travail.

J’avais donc rapidement besoin d’une nouvelle machine. Après avoir fait le tour des revendeurs Apple de la région pour découvrir que seules des configurations de base étaient en stock, je me rend, sans grand espoir, à la FNAC de Lausanne.

Je n’achète jamais de matériel électronique de ce prix à la FNAC – en dessous de 200,-CHF le rapport prix/rapidité de l’achat est assez favorable pour que je ne cherche pas plus loin mais au-delà j’ai toujours pu trouver moins cher ailleurs. Mais, ce samedi 14, je découvre avec bonheur que la FNAC possède en stock un MacBook Pro dont la configuration approche de très prés la configuration que je recherche: 15″, 3.06GHZ, 4Go de RAM et un disque dur de 500Go à 7200 tr/mn. Je l’achète donc, pour le prix de 3299,-CHF (moins le rabais adhérents).

Le 29 décembre dernier (un mois et demi plus tard), en allant me coucher, je décide de laisser mon MacBook allumé sur la table du salon afin qu’il puisse participer au réseau BOINC et dédier quelques cycles à la recherche extra-terrestre. Je n’ai pas d’animaux, pas d’enfants et la machine est posée sur un endroit dégagé où la ventilation n’est pas obstruée.

Le lendemain matin, ayant pris mon petit déjeuner, je m’en vais consulter mes e-mails. Étrangement, alors qu’une simple caresse suffit d’habitude, mon Mac ne veut pas se réveiller. Étonné, je vérifie que je ne l’ai pas laissé sans alimentation: non, le cordon est bien là, branché et alimenté, il ne s’agit donc pas d’un épuisement des batteries. De plus, un ronron très léger m’indique que la machine semble toujours être en marche. Je force donc un shutdown en maintenant la touche on/off enfoncée et j’entends distinctement ce petit bruit caractéristique qui signale l’arrêt d’un moteur électrique quelque part dans la machine. Je l’allume de nouveau et là un bruit de moteur se fait également entendre mais à par cela rien, l’écran reste désespérément aveugle. Après une ou deux autres tentatives aussi infructueuses je décide d’amener la machine au SAV de la FNAC.

Continue reading

Jus d’Orange ou citron pressé?

Lemon juicer by Philippe Starck.

Lemon juicer by Philippe Starck.

Hier matin je reçois un appel d’un opérateur d’Orange au sujet de mon abonnement de téléphonie mobile. Je n’ai rien demandé et en plus je suis à Londres (donc ça va me coûter un bras en roaming) mais je reste poli.

La personne, très aimable, me propose de changer mon abonnement (Optima) pour prendre Maxima et me vante les mérites de la tarification, des SMS gratuits, etc.

Problème! Maxima c’est 89 CHF par mois, mais avec mon abonnement actuel je dépasse rarement les 90 CHF. J’en informe donc mon interlocuteur qui, visiblement gêné, me répond qu’il n’a pas accès à mon historique de facturation. Je le remercie donc poliment et mets fin à la conversation.

Non seulement c’est pénible de recevoir des appels non sollicités mais en plus, quand le niveau du marketing tombe aussi bas, on frise le désespoir!

Mon rêve ce serait qu’un jour on m’appelle pour me dire: “Monsieur, nous avons recalculé vos factures des derniers six mois avec notre nouvelle tarification et vous auriez pu économiser 100 CHF. D’ailleurs, si vous changez dès maintenant, nous vous appliquerons ce nouveau tarif rétroactivement”.

Ils devraient lire Seth Godin chez Orange…

Image Credits: Niklas Morberg

Choose Life

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

Mark “Rent-boy” Renton.

English is not the language of the web

On a recent post about Global Languages and Social Media, Chris Brogan wonders whether his israeli friend Yuval should be blogging in English to have a better reach or in Hebrew to have a more involved local community.

Most of his colleagues and friends speak both Hebrew and English (at least!), but here’s the rub: if Yuval blogs in Hebrew, his friends and colleagues will be more engaged. If he blogs in English, he gets a potential larger audience.

Like some other commenters I would advocate for a multi-lingual approach (blog in both languages). Yuval could get an associate writer if blogging in two languages is too much work. If he cannot write in both languages, he should first blog in Hebrew (optionally writing some posts in English) and if he gains momentum eventually switch to full multi-lingualism.

However, what puzzled me most is one of the comments, from Hadassah, who wrote:

if he wants to reach readers outside of Israel, he really needs to blog in English, which I would consider the language of the web.

It reminded me about a mail exchange I had with a friend of mine about localization of his community web site, where he wrote:

I would like to educate a bit this community to talk in English, so I would prefer we do not try [to localize the web site] (translated from French)

He is French speaking, he wants to address an Asian community and he chose English. Fine, never mind the patronizing but how is the community going to react?

Despite statistics telling us that about 2 billion people are English Users in the world and that they represent about 30{5f676304cfd4ae2259631a2f5a3ea815e87ae216a7b910a3d060a7b08502a4b2} of the Internet users, I don’t think that English is the language of the web.

I agree that English is a lingua franca on the Internet, like everywhere else in the world. Some people are using English to communicate with people who do not talk their own language.

I wrote some because even this is limited, Stephanie Booth has some posts and did some talks about that subject and here is what she says:

But doesn’t everybody speak English, more or less? Isn’t it the lingua franca of today that everybody speaks? It isn’t. At least not in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and I’m certain there are many other places in Europe where the situation is similar.

The people who are reasonably comfortable with English around here will most often be those who have taken up higher academic studies, particularly in scientific subjects (”soft” and “hard” science alike).

And I am sure this is the same everywhere around the globe, even worse. I know tech savvy people who took higher academic studies, French and Chinese alike, and lots of them are not comfortable enough to communicate in English. Stephanie even created pompage.net to help French speaking web designers to get access to technical content available in English only.

Most of the people are creating content for their family, their friends or their local community. When someone is talking about French politics, odds are good he will be writing in French, for French people.

And most of those people do not care about people outside their reach. So they do not even need their content to be localized. Somehow, this the long tail.

But if you want to address a larger community would you go English only?

The problem is that today you do not really have a choice, there is no affordable tool or service that would help you localize your content in multiple languages.

You can hire professional translators or have friends do that for you. Or if you are reasonably comfortable with English you can choose to create your content in English.

Some people do the latter, but in the process they miss a large part of their potential community. And we, as potential community members, are missing an awful lot of interesting content because their producers are not reasonably comfortable with English.