Thursday, February 28, 2013

Facebook Friends

I listed a story last week on NPR concerning Facebook; more specifically the concept of ""Facebook Fatigue". The idea is that people have so many "friends" on Facebook that their newsfeed contains more information than can be reasonably processed. People spend so much time that they finally realize the only way to cope is just to leave Facebook, either temporarily or permanently. This story on NPR was about someone taking a different approach. Instead of deleting herself, the author deleted all of her friends. Thereby having zero newsfeed entries to watch.

Now, I fail to see the point in this. Deleting one's account and deleting all of one's friends has in the end the exact same effect. And it's really, really dumb. It's akin to someone who realizes, 'Woah, I eat too much food. What should I do? I know, I'll just eat NOTHING from now on." Anyone health expert (and anyone who isn't a complete moron) will tell you that literally starving yourself isn't a good idea.

The thing is, deleting everyone or just running away from Facebook is the lazy route. It's saying that yeah I have a problem, but I don't want to take the time to fix it so I'm just going to run away. An admission that one doesn't have the willpower to use this tool without abusing it.

The real fix is to just start using Facebook correctly. That starts by looking up the definition of friend. Merriam-Webster gives several definitions, such as "one attached to another by affection or esteem". My own definition of friend can be shown in the form of two questions:

  1. If John was walking down the street and saw me without me seeing him, would John come over and say hi.
  2. If I saw John walking down the street and saw him without him seeing me, would I come over and say hi. (Be honest!)

Now if the answer to both those questions isn't yes, then John isn't really my friend. He might be an acquaintance, or a classmate, or a co-worker. He's not a friend.

You can set your own definition of friend, the above is just mine. For less friends, go stricter; for more, maybe your definition is a little bit more lax. But when you come up with that definition, you stick with it. The solution to Facebook fatigue if you want to do it right, is to spend some time and go through your friends list. Go through person by person and decide if said person is really a friend by your definition.

Start with the easy stuff, delete anyone that you've never met. Maybe you added them to boost your numbers or because they added you. Either way, they certainly aren't really a friend. Next, start deleting the people you haven't seen in years. Your high school classmates, co-workers at a place you used to work, etc. See where that gets you in numbers. Finally start looking through people that you know currently. Maybe classmates, maybe co-workers. Just because you know someone vaguely doesn't make them a close friend.

One thing that will make this more rewarding is by keeping track of your numbers. Check how many you have before you start, and then check after you are finished. It'll probably feel pretty good looking at that second number and realizing how much unnecessary baggage you no longer have to see every day in your newsfeed. You could even set yourself a goal, or do this over time. Say you have 600 friends. Try to get down to 400, just remove the least connected people. Then wait a while and get used to it. Maybe you'll be okay right there, or maybe you want to go further and try to get to 200. (Even 200 is rather huge, how many people have 200 "real" friends?) Still, take your time. Eventually, you should try to get under 50. Anything under 50 means your Facebook friends list is approaching parity with your real life friends. If you can get there, you'll find yourself with no more Facebook fatigue. (Without having to give up Facebook entirely).

Of course as a side note, you can always change the formula. If you see one person that might not really be a friend but who is maybe useful for some other reason, keep 'em. Nothing is set in stone. Making your life better is the make goal, so if you have to bend the process, bend it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Engineering - 6 Weeks In

I've now had a real engineering job for 6 weeks, and I think I'm starting to settle in. The first few weeks were mostly setting up the field office, buying desks and chairs, getting the tech up and running, setting up the paper trail, etc. The last month though, I've really started to get into things. My job consists primarily to two areas: Technical drawings, and being a conduit for questions (from sub-contractors to the official design engineers. In the past month, I've learned some things.

1.) Affter 4 years to get an engineering degree from Purdue, I know basically nothing about what is done here in the real world. I'd be frustrated except that I've realized that really...

2.) ...Entry level engineers are basically sponges. Or at least, good entry level engineers are. Sponges in that most of the job really is just soaking up knowledge and trying to learn as quickly as possible.

3.) The "Final Version" of a project schedules isn't complete until the project is. (Additionally, MS Project sucks.)

4.) In-company politics do happen, even especially at a small company. (One reason that I'm so low in the hierarchy at this point; I'm almost still an outsider, so I watch rather than participate).

5.) Fairness is a great thing in a boss. Everyone screws up, and I'm certainly no exception. Getting my ass chewed out after I do doesn't really bother me. But getting yelled at for doing what I was instructed to do (or not doing something that I was told not to bother with) gets old real fast. Having a boss that yells only when it's deserved is a treasure.

6.) Never buy a car from Hubler Chevrolet in Rushville. They'll pressure you, they'll lie to you, and they'll try to slip in $2400 in extra cost, hoping you won't read the contract. (Not directly related to the job, but I only bought a car because I have money from the job).

7.) Windows XP sucks.

8.) Computers that run Windows XP and are a decade old suck.

9.) 2013 HP Probooks running Windows 7 are wonderful.

10.) ALWAYS keep phones numbers and business cards.

11.) In the field, lamination is almost a necessity.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Over the summer I started really heavily exercising, and in a period of 4 months went from being able to job for about 30 or 40 seconds to being able to run for over 10 minutes. I lost about 15 lbs, and overall felt better. Then I went back to Purdue and just put it all on hold.

Over the weekend though my girlfriend and I were talking about weight and the physical condition we are both in, and I'm now going to start it back up. This time I'm not just going to be exercising, but also counting/recording calories. For my current weight of 215 lb, 2700 calories/day will let me maintain my weight, and 2000 calories/day will let me lose 1 lb per week.

I've created an Excel sheet where I can put in food items each day and figure out my exact calorie intake. In my free time though I might turn that into a web application instead, to make input and display easier. I'm also going to start weighing myself every morning and putting that on the daily calorie sheet, just for record keeping and to see my progress.

The short term goal is to get under 200 lbs. Long term, I'm shooting for 170 lbs. That'll take a while, but the slower you work it off the more likely it is to stay off.