Jul 30, 2015

LinkedIn endorsements are stupid

When LinkedIn launched the concept of Skills Endorsements, a lot of social media professionals, including me, said it was a bad idea and that the concept of public testimonials was more than enough to indicate a user's skills. The argument was that the Endorsements would basically be like Facebook Likes, turn into a popularity contest and would end up hurting LinkedIn in the long run.

While we have not yet gotten to that stage, what percentage of recruiters and head hunters actually pay credence to the number of endorsements listed on a user's profile? I have professional peers, past colleagues and former students often endorsing me, which is great as I've worked with them and their feedback means a lot to me.

However, I've also been receiving endorsements from users, based both in Mauritius and abroad, who have never worked with me and don't know anything about me other than what I've decided to put up on my profile. Do they expect me to reciprocate and endorse them too? The fact is that unless I have personally worked with someone and admire their work, I will never endorse them as it would also reflect badly on me. 

This does even even take into consideration the fact that LinkedIn's endorsements are basically generated and populated by the users. For example, I have been endorsed for both "Social Media" and "Social Media Marketing" when they are the same thing. Or does the "Social Media" one simply mean that I'm good at just maintaining my personal profile on Facebook. But then the endorsement would still be a terrible one as I rarely log into my Facebook account, less alone post anything, and closed my Twitter account several months ago.

Unfortunately, I cannot just turn off the endorsements (LinkedIn does have the option) as this would mean weeding out those that I feel I've deserved from my colleagues and other people I have worked with. The ability to management endorsements and show only those I want is also great but it gets cumbersome after some time and feels more like an option to get me to log in daily.

Which I'm totally not doing!

Jul 28, 2015

Book review: The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark

I blogged before about the Alliance Fran├žaise library membership and was there last week to exchange my books. There's a rather big collection of Mary Higgins Clark books there (in French, obviously) and I reckon I'd give her a try since she's a very popular author. I did read a couple of books by Mary Higgins Clark before but do not remember much about these. Since the books were so conveniently lined up before me, I grabbed two books at random.

One of these was The Lost Years, which I read in 4 days. Yes, I'm that fast of a reader but I have to admit that after reading about 100 pages, I started skipping through some chapters because the book was very badly written, boring and also a huge waste of time I will never get back. I admit I was personally very surprised by how bland the book was. Considering Mary Higgins Clark's reputation, I was expecting something very good and a book that would leave me figuring out who the murderer was until the end.

Lost indeed
However, there's absolutely nothing to like about the book. The text is poorly written with over-explanations of things not relevant to the main plot, the introduction of tons of filler characters (as an example, characters are still being introduced around three-quarter of the book), and a brutal assault on the English text which must have Charles Dickens rolling in his grave. I have not read a book such badly written since Harry Potter - the only difference is that the Potter books are fun while this one is tedious.

Here's an example of a BRILLIANT sentence taken directly from The Lost Years:
"She changed from her skirt and jacket into a cotton sweater, slacks, and sandals, and went back downstairs. She went into the kitchen, made a cup of tea, and carried it into the breakfast room. There she settled into one of the comfortable padded chairs and leaned back with a sigh."

And here's by far the best part of the book:

"It’s been handled by many people over the centuries, but there is a single DNA sample on it that is extraordinary. This unique DNA carries chromosomes with only the traits of a mother, who has to be the Virgin Mary. He had no human father." 

Yes folks, DNA tests have been around since the Virgin Mary era!

At one point, Mary Higgins Clark even introduces some old lady who has nothing better to do than taking herself for a detective and even ends up showing the baffled cops how to do their job just like in real life. But worst of all, the ending is absolutely infuriating with no suspense whatsoever and no shocking surprise to keep the reader on the edge of his seat, which is ironic coming from the so-called "Queen of Suspense".

Funnily enough, the book has a four-star rating on Amazon. I don't know what to believe anymore.

Jul 26, 2015

"50 ans de Yoplait" competition or the story of how my predictive powers turned out awesome

I can do small text too.

Yoplait recently ran a competition in Mauritius where buyers could exchange eight seals from specific yoghurt products for one ticket. The star prize was an all expense paid return flight for two to Paris, and of course this got tons of people who probably never gave yoghurt a single thought before rolling. After all, this is what marketing is all about: attract new customers and sell more, which is done by the insane number of seals required for a single ticket. I am personally a big fan of yoghurt and this did not change anything for me other than having to switch from my favourite yoghurt type (Aloe Vera, which was not part of the branded seals) to my second favourite (fruits and cereals).

I fully expected the announcement of the results to be very low key compared to the marketing of the campaign itself, and turns out my predictive powers are getting better with time. I was browsing the web when I remembered about the contest and decided to verify my tickets just in case I had won. I'm usually not much of a winner at contests, but who knows? A trip to Paris could beckon!

Since I was already online and the web is according to almost everybody the single most important communication channel right now, I figured it would be better to look for the results online instead of in a newspaper for the simple reasons that (1) the results are not going to be in printed newspaper almost two weeks after the draw, (2) I knew they were not in today's papers because I've already read them (3) the Internet is the answer to everything.

The first thing I did was check the Maurilait website. The good thing is that there is a banner on the homepage itself with the winning tickets. The bad news:

  • the banner is really small and unreadable
  • it cannot be clicked to open a larger version (good bye usability!)
  • I am on a tablet and could not even stretch the page to view a larger version on the image 

I looked around on the website but could not find anything else related to the competition results. My next stop was their Facebook page, since you know it's Facebook! Things turned out to be even worse on Facebook. Although the page had been updated after the contest draw date (on June 21 and 22), no mention was made of the competition results. However, the page only talks about Yop, not Yoplait.

I then switched to my laptop, which is great news for my laptop since I never bother using it these days. I figured that I would be able to read the results on Maurilait's homepage on a bigger screen but even then, the characters were too small  and I have really good eyesight in case anybody's wondering. I had basically reached The World's End (yay, free totally unrelated link to this blog post!)  at this point as there was no other way for me to check the result other than phone them and ask them to email them to me. Which I did not think would work since "emails gets lost".

Thankfully, I'm a persistent guy bordering on maniac and thought to myself "Hang on, why don't I just save the banner and zoom in to read the results?" which I did less than one second after I had come up with this brilliant idea. This is where things get weird. The banner itself is actually huge (3,917 by 1,500 pixels) and was just resized through the page's code. In fact, there are so many strange things about the banner I wondered whether I'd just reach the twilight zone:
  • The image is saved as yoplait WEB_940px x 360px.jpg, which made me expect those would be its dimensions on my laptop, BUT
  • The box dimension is actually only 538.547 by 275 pixels, HOWEVER
  • Like I said, the image has been saved with dimensions of 3,917 by 1,500 pixels and weighs in at almost 940kb.
Look! A Twin Peaks reboot!

At this point, my head exploded!

And for those who are looking for the results, which is still this post's focus, here's the original image which you can click on to open a larger version. Yes, apparently, you can do that on the web.

Click me. CLICK ME!!!*
*tested on my Samsung Tab 4

Jul 17, 2015

Fantasy Premier League is up!

It's that time of the year, folks! The new season of Fantasy Premier League is already up, and players can re-register their accounts and renew their leagues and troll their mates on their dedicated forums. There are also a couple of additional bonuses so you can sit back and moan about having a crap team even more.

My team's looking really awesome this season:

I can't wait for half the team to be injured during a single match day!

Jul 1, 2015

Who cares about new leads? Certainly not Emtel!

Choose very carefully.

I had previously written about Emtel's Airbox package and how they were now able to compete with Orange as a fibre optics provider in Mauritius. I signed up for the service on June 19 and was told multiple times that the installation would be done within 5 days as long as I was eligible for the service.

Emtel should seriously rethink their communication strategy as they have so far not even contacted me to inform me that the situation had changed. It turns out that tons of people are interested in the service and that they can no longer commit to the 5-day deadline due to the number of users signing up for the Airbox. They are now taking up to 30 days for the installation according to an article I found in a newspaper.

I would not have minded if Emtel had at least taken the trouble to inform me of this, but apparently this would take too much time to do. Considering I provided them with both my email and mobile number, it is amazing that they could not:

  1. send an email/newsletter to let people know they cannot hold their promise of installing Airbox within 5 days. This would normally be considered spam as I did not sign up for their newsletter, but I think such a situation can be an exception.
  2. or send an SMS. This is even more surprising since they do offer push notification packages as another service, yet cannot do so when engaging with their own customers.
Apparently, in 2015, a post on Facebook is more than enough for these kinds of messages. Why, Emtel, WHY???

The problem with LinkedIn

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