19
Oct
2010

It seems that Facebook is becoming the new place for teachers to get pervy on their students, and the New York City Department of Education isn’t going to stand for it.

According to The New York Post, a recent investigation by the DoE led to the dismissal of two full-time teachers and one substitute for inappropriate contact with students.

Chadwin Reynolds (picture removed at request of the photographer, please visit the newspaper article to see it.), a 37-year-old teacher from Fordham High School for the Arts, was dismissed when the investigation found he had friended a half-dozen female students on Facebook.  He left comments such as “this is sexy” under their photos, and had status messages such as “I’m not a gynecologist, but I’ll take a look inside,”  that the students could see.  He also reportedly sent one girl flowers, candy and a teddy bear.  Mr. Reynolds told the newspaper that the charges against him had been thrown out despite a department spokesperson saying he had been released over the scandal.

The second full-time dismissal was 30-year-old Laurie Hirsch, who was formerly a paraprofessional at William C. Bryant High School in Long Island City, Queens.  She was let go in May of this year when she posted an image of her kissing an 18-year-old former student.  The male in the equation admitted to a relationship saying he had had sex with her ten times in her apartment, but both said that nothing had happened while he was still a student.  She was ultimately put on indefinite suspension for using a cellphone to frequently during school hours as the two had racked up 2,700 phone contacts over a six month period.

The substitute teacher that was let go,  Stephen D’Andrilli, friended several female students at the Essex Street Academy, leaving the comments such as that they were beautiful and that their boyfriends didn’t deserve girlfriends as pretty as them.  He was permanently removed from the substitute teacher system.

A fourth teacher was discovered to be giving extra credit to students who friended him on the site, but no action was taken against him.

Some school districts have been outright banning teachers from friending students on the popular social networking site, but New York City has yet to enact any sort of policy in relation to it.  A DoE spokeswoman told the newspaper, “we continually look at ways that our policies may need to evolve to keep pace with technology,” so it seems safe to assume that off the back of this scandal something will be happening.

Luckily it appears that none of these situations went to the physical level with the exception of Ms. Hirsch, and that one appears to have been legal.  Does make you wonder where else this may be happening, however.

Be sure to check out the other teacher sex scandals happening around the country.

24
Dec
2009

cbpodcast

Welcome to another week of the daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of The Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

Steven and I talk (again) about the stupidity of Blippy.  The larger discussion is about how people in social media feel some weird impulse to overshare every aspect of their lives.  It is now being used against them in divorces, siblings are using it to fight with each other (to hysterical results) and in general people feel if you don’t share all of this information, you are somehow a bad social media participant.

Bite us.

(links by Steven)

The absolute stupidest idea to come out of Web 2.0 & Social Media in 2009 – Blippy – The Inquisitr
Law firm claims as many as 20% of modern divorces cite Facebook in filings – The Inquisitr
Brutal: Boy wreaks Facebook revenge on sister [NSFW] – The Inquisitr

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

18
Dec
2009

cbpodcast

Welcome to another week of the daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of The Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

Steven and I take a look at the hair pulling over Facebook privacy, the plan to attack AT&T as led by Fake Steve Jobs and the whole Microsoft/Plurk debacle … in other words a whole load of stuff that annoyed us today. (links by Steven)

Privacy group files FTC complaint against Facebook for new privacy settings – The Inquisitr
Some thoughts on Fake Steve Jobs’ Operation Chokehold & AT&T FUD – The Inquisitr

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

29
Sep
2009

cbslogosmall

Welcome to the fourth week of the daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of the Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

Steven and I go on an Apple run tonight, discussing a ton of Apple related stories, and only went seven minutes over the usual 20 minute run time!  Yay us!  Here are links (thanks, Steven) to all of the things we discussed tonight, as you can see it is a quite a boat load!

Apple 1984 ad, updated for 2009 via Boing Boing (YouTube Video link / doubleTwist)
Apple Granted Patent on iGlasses via Valleywag
iSinglePayer iPhone App Censored by Apple via LambdaJive
A Sense of Entitlement: Tweetie 2 via iPhone Development
European Union threatens to take iPhone off the market via The Next Web
Apple’s move to kill Hackintosher suit denied via The Register

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

28
Sep
2009

cbslogosmall

Welcome to the fourth week of the daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of the Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

Mark and I discuss the controversy over the “Should the President Be Killed?” poll on Facebook that took the blogosphere by storm today.  While we didn’t really have a problem with the actual blogs written about the poll, but the comments people were leaving that suggested this poll was some sort of Secret Service sting, or perhaps a Jewish conspiracy … if you listen closely, you can hear me hitting my forehead on the keyboard through out this episode over the stupidity.

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

11
Sep
2009

cbslogosmall

Welcome to the fourth daily edition of CobWEBs, the flagship podcast of the Cynical Bastards!

For those who don’t remember from the other episodes, this is a new format for the show as we are going to try giving you daily bite sized chunks of our patented brand of cynicism over everything in the tech universe. The show will have a rotating host schedule between Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself. You’ll always get two of us, you just never know which two!

For this episode, Steven and I take a look at what is happening with Facebook now that they have purchased FriendFeed, and are they really running scared of Twitter?

Push the big green button and have a listen in!

25
Aug
2009

classmatesClassmates.com can burn in Hell for all I care at this point.

You are sure to have seen their ads all over websites over the years.  They always depict some lousy yearbook photos with some tag line such as “He married who?!?”  You know the ones.

Well, two years ago, on July 8, 2007, I decided to sign-up for a gold membership with the site which would give you some extra features.  It cost $59 for two years, and seemed a decent deal since a one year membership was $36.  Now, mind you, this was before Facebook really took off and became the way it seems all old school friends meet up, so this really didn’t seem all that crazy.

Well, after just a few months of belonging to the site, Facebook exploded in popularity, and I totally forgot about my Classmates account, not even bothering to log in to it for a year or more.  Of course, I was quickly reminded of my membership on July 8th of this year.

I logged in to my PayPal account and saw that Classmates had authorized a charge of $59 to my account.  For those of you unfamiliar with how credit cards work, an authorization means they have ear marked the funds to be taken, but they have not actually been removed yet.  If the charge is not completed with in so many days (it varies) the funds are released back to your account.

Now, the interesting thing about this whole situation is that I had originally paid with my PayPal debit card, and not just from my account.  My card expired in May of this year and I had been issued a new one with an expiration date of 2011.  I was quite puzzled how they charged my card as my card had expired and I had not updated my information with them.

I went to their website and tried to initiate an online chat with them to see what was going on, but the chat wouldn’t start, so I decided to try to call them.  My hunt for a phone number took some time (it’s 425-917-5005 if anyone ever needs it), but I finally found it.  I called them and to say the girl who “helped” me was surly would be an understatement.

Basically I told her that I had no interest in renewing my account with them and that I would like them to release the funds backs to me.  She told me in no uncertain terms that there are no refunds and that I had agreed to auto renewal when I signed up.  She would turn off the feature for me so that “this wouldn’t happen again”, but that for this year I was out of luck.  I informed her she needed to speak to a manager about this or I would put the charge in to contention and I wasn’t sure they really wanted me to share this little story with the Internet.  (Yes, I used social media as a weapon, get over it.)

classmates operatorShe was unmoved, and we ended our call.

I called PayPal, and they couldn’t have been nicer about the whole thing, but they said there really wasn’t much they could do about it as I had been warned at sign-up of there being auto-renewal.  I was still bothered by the fact that they had changed my expiration date without my permission, but it seems they are allowed to do that.

So, I figured I would give Classmates one more shot, and I gave them a call.  I got a different operator, and this gentleman seemed a tad more sympathetic, but all he said that could be done was either knock me down to a $36 one-year membership, or refund my entire $59… for a $9.95 service fee.

They wanted me to pay for a refund?  Yeah, that wasn’t happening.  I told him that he could tell his bosses that I hoped they enjoyed all of the advertising their $59 had just bought them and hung up.

I’ve waited until now to write this as I hoped I would calm down somewhat about the whole situation, but I really haven’t.  I’m still as angry as I was on July 8th.  Yes, I was warned of auto-renewal, but let me just say as someone who has taken credit cards in his own business for 23 years, I would never change someone’s expiration date without their express permission.  That is in extremely poor taste in my opinion.

This does speak to a common problem online, though, and that is the entire auto-renewal process.  I have always felt that these programs should be an “opt-in” situation as opposed to the “opt-out” as they tend to be.  This means that when it is opt-out that I have to go and manually change a setting that basically says “I do not want this.”  When it is this type of set-up, you get the type of situation that I just encountered.  Opt-in means that I would have to go and tell the site that I wanted to participate, and that would remove a lot of the trouble like what I encountered.

There is of course a reason that websites prefer the opt-out model, and you just read why that is.  With opt-out they can hopefully get you to pay for another month before you notice the situation, and most people will go “Oh well, lesson learned,” and leave it alone for that month.  This tactic is distasteful at best, and one that should be stopped.

I’ve learned my lesson, hopefully it won’t happen to me again, but what about all of the other unsuspecting people out there on the Web?  This practice needs to be ended, and the Web needs to move to a totally opt-in style of billing.  Will it happen?  Doubtful until there is enough consumer pressure placed on these companies.

As for Classmates, I am sure they are feeling the burn of Facebook becoming the main spot for old classmates to find one another, so it’s doubtful they will be needed as a tool for much longer, but until then, if you join, make sure you opt-out out of the auto-renewal billing.

14
May
2009

Cynical Bastards LogoCobWEBs episode 3 is in the can!

This week Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself took on a lot of subjects, although I was bit quieter than usual as I had just dealt with multiple tornadoes and had a computer on the fritz, but I chimed in a few times.

- What is up with Dell and their new “women’s site”, Della?  And why is there no outrage over this stupidity?

- Steve Gillmore is on another bender about the newest shiny thing to get his attention, and in the course of discussing this we invented a new verb.

- Michael Arrington from TechCrunch doesn’t want to shake your hand anymore… that’s okay, Michael, we never wanted to shake yours to be begin with.

- Of course we discussed Twitter.  I think there is a law that we must always discuss Twitter.  This week it was about them removing the @replies.

- Is Friendfeed turning into a high school lunch room filled with cliques?

- Could Facebook eventually become meaningful to the social media folks?

- NEWSPAPERS ARE DEAD!… oh… wait… nope, not quite dead yet… hit them again!

And, as usual, I make a joke about Canada, and we feel satisfied after a good Gillmoring.

Oh, one last thing, thanks to Michael Sean Wright (@nicefishfilms on Twitter) for our amazing new intro!

7
May
2009

Cynical Bastards LogoCobWEBs episode 2 is in the can!

This week Steven Hodson, Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins and myself took on a lot of subjects, and we weren’t kind to any of them. It’s like we’re some sort of cynical bastards or sumthin’… oh… wait…

- The Kindle DX doesn’t excite us.

- Steve Gillmore is on another bender about the newest shiny thing to get his attention, and in the course of discussing this we invented a new verb.

- Why RSS readers are broken.

- Apple buying TwitterFacebook buying Twitter… why we think Microsoft should buy Twitter.

- Or maybe CNN is buying Twitter?  Someone just buy Twitter so we can stop thinking about it!

- YouTube has turned into the mafia.

I think there was more, but we were going so fast, who knows.  I know I slaughtered pronouncing some words.  All-in-all a really fun episode to record, and I hope you have at least half as much fun listening to it.

13
Feb
2009

Scattercast is now in its 30s, and not feeling as young as it once did.

- Raccoon War 2009 continues… I hate that thing.

- 7:15 AM is just too early for humans to be awake.

- Dollhouse needs early help.

- TrueScoop on Facebook kinda creeps me out.

- My 4th anniversary of everyday blogging is coming up… what do you want to see?

- Some random ramblings about Battlestar Galactica.

Here’s

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for those who wish to download it, subscribe to Scattercast via iTunes.

19
Jul
2008

A year and a day ago I wrote about how some bloggers had the idea that messaging on Facebook would replace email.

Yeah… anyone seen this happen yet?

As I have become more immersed then ever in the world of working on the Web, I have become even more convicned that thisis never going to happen.  This isn’t to say that something won’t eventually replace email, but it certainly isn’t going to be something like Facebook messaging.

When I was at the SummerMash Seattle last weekend, only one person asked to friend me on Facebook, and that was only because he had a computer right there he could do it with.  It is far too complicated to give someone your Facebook address as opposed to me saying “seanpaune@such and such”.  If you remember my name, you remember my address essentially.

You also don’t see anyone making a native way to gain access to your Facebook messages on your phone and other mobile devices.  Yes, there is now a Facebook application for you to use on the iPhone and iPod Touch, but that still isn’t as easy a concept as email.  If anything, I think services like Twitter are replacing the one line emails I thought Facebook might replace, and if anything, my Facebook traffic has declined in the past year.  Even more so than anything online, text messages seem to be being used more and more.  While I was in Seattle, I sent and received more texts in 2 days than I usually do in a month, and when not texting, I was getting messages on GTalk.  Even crazier?  People who usually don’t talk to me on the phone actually called me.

Total Facebook messages received while I was gone?  None.

While I do think the nature of communication is changing, moving to Facebook is about the last place I see it going.  It is still an enclosed system that takes too much work to access to be used as an effective messaging system for busy people.  So, one year on, I would have to call this concept even crazier than I did a year ago.

18
Jul
2007

Portions of the blogosphere are buzzing with the prospect of a move away from traditional email services, to a more enclosed messaging system like the one Facebook offers.

Jeremiah Owyang, a web strategist from the Bay Area, did a recent write-up on the possibility of Facebook messaging being an email replacement. He notes two other bloggers saying the same, and they all sing the praises of the beauty of Facebook being the next killer system of communication.

They are correct on the lack of spam, but that is about where their correctness ends.

It is quite possible that Facebook could replace the one-line emails we all receive from friends, but that is probably where it will end. The corporate world will never embrace such a system, and unless you can get big business behind a technology push, it never has more hope than becoming a niche product.

They all tout the fact it is a closed system, and while tha’s nice, it also has some severe drawbacks. Are you going to tell a potential client or employer, “Yes, you can reach me, but first you need to login to Facebook… oh, you don’t have an account? Okay, well first you need to create one, and then…”. No, this scenario will never happen.

Email, for all its follies and faults, is still going to be around for a long time to come just due to it’s prominence and ease of use. It is far to easy to tell someone to reach me at myname@myemployer.com, then tell them they have to go login to a third party system that they don’t personally have any security control over.

Go, enjoy your Facebook messaging. Remember this though; it isn’t not the second coming, but instead, just another new toy you will grow bored with when the next shiny new thing comes along.