User Engagement

Did you know Facebook tries to get you riled up?

The top goals of every major social media platform include a measure of activity called “engagement”, that is, people interacting with content on the site. The trick is that not only do the adorable pictures of my son get lots of likes and comments, so do all those posts with disagreeable statements that you spend all day arguing about.

Facebook doesn’t care that one left you with a smile and the other left you with a racing heart and bad attitude, it just knows both posts got you to leave a few comments.

I posted a tear-jerker video of a couple celebrating their wedding in isolation that got no reaction. The post I made on election day got a lot of back and forth discussion. Which one do you think Facebook will determine people should see?

Here’s an example listing of the “Why Am I Seeing This Post” info box for a friend’s Facebook post that generated a lot of discussion. Some of the words exchanged were not so friendly but because lots of people engaged with it Facebook keeps putting it in front of me. I’ve been seeing the same old comments on the top of my feed all day long because Facebook knows it can get more engagement if it shows a forceful comment that people are responding to.


Strong opinions are important. The truth is important! Explaining to other people why they’re wrong is a favorite hobby of mine. Many of the things people are talking about today involve life and death and the ability to provide for loved ones. It’s important stuff to get right and we might see those decisions being made with bad information.

But make sure that when you’re exchanging words from your couch because something on Facebook caught your eye, you remember that Facebook wants the discussion to keep going. And going. And going.

And it doesn’t have a sensor to check on your feelings or relationships when the discussion finally flames out.

Colossians 4:5-6

Aviate First

I’ve been thinking about the phrase “Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.” now that Wisconsin looks at the potential of 4 more weeks of altered daily life.

Pilots use this phrase to remind them of their priorities during their journey. A pilot’s most important task is to keep the plane flying, even if they must set the radio down or quit looking at the charts. Nothing else matters if the plane goes down!

Once a troubled plane is flying steady then the pilot can make sure they know where they are. They can then also get back in touch with the passengers and traffic control.

A plane’s navigation and communication are important but they can become distractions during a tricky flight. Getting lost is a hassle but won’t ruin your day in the way that the ground will. You never want your attention so divided by circumstances that you end up crashing.

In the same way, in the midst of these unfamiliar days, there are a lot of distractions pulling at our attention. Our priorities in life won’t be about maps and radios, but make sure you know what (and who) they are. It’s easy to focus on the unimportant things that are loud and in our face…and even easier to forget about the important things that aren’t physically in front of us.

Above all keep your airplane flying safe, friends. There’s a way out of these storm clouds and I’m so excited to see you all in person when we land ♥

Joel 2:24-25

Lenny and the Windows Support Scam

I got a scammy call today from “Martin” from “Windows Technical Support” offering to help with my computer. Martin couldn’t tell me which computer he was calling about, so I transferred him over to my buddy Lenny. Bonus: Lenny’s ducks make an appearance just after the 6 minute mark!
Continue reading “Lenny and the Windows Support Scam”

Coming Soon: Voice Activated Home Automation

I’m still typing this up, but check back soon for an article about using a Raspberry Pi 3, the amazing Home Assistant software, and a few other pieces of hardware and software to build a centralized home automation system. Home Assistant sets you up to run everything on the local network, so that your home automation still works without internet.

Continue reading “Coming Soon: Voice Activated Home Automation”

Let’s Encrypt HTTPS Certificates for OpenVPN AS (Access Server)

To load a new HTTPS certificate for OpenVPN AS (Access Server), you’ll want to use the ./usr/local/openvpn_as/scripts/confdba command. This can be combined with a Let’s Encrypt client to obtain free a HTTPs certificate for the AS web server.

Continue reading “Let’s Encrypt HTTPS Certificates for OpenVPN AS (Access Server)”