Nick Kroll's Social Media Manners

Nick Kroll, from Best TV Show Ever “The League,” gives Details readers advice on how to not be terrible at social media. Lots of good stuff, but two things he’s dead on about:

If you write LOL in a tweet or status update unironically, I will immediately assume that I am smarter than you are.


Don’t bother going on first dates anymore. Skip right to the second or third date. Why? Because if I have your full name, I will Google you, Facebook you, check you out on Tumblr, read your tweets, and see what your favorite YouTube videos are. The only thing you can learn about people on a first date is how good they are at pretending like they don’t already know everything about you.


The Coffee-WiFi Theorem

Mat Honan is using the coffee shop’s free Wi-Fi, and drops some math to decide whether or not he feels bad:

At a big chain, the profit margin on a single cup of coffee can be pretty high—at Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, it’s estimated to be as much as 95 percent. Starbucks, meanwhile, has a gross profit margin of nearly 60 percent (which takes much more than a cup of coffee or even just the store itself into account). They give you WiFi as a way to keep you in there buying drinks.

While smaller, locally owned cafés (obviously) don’t publish their financials, roughly speaking you can expect a return of about 70 to 80 percent on a cup of coffee or latté. That doesn’t factor in other expenses the shop has, like rent and insurance and payroll. And a high-end cafe with great beans and skilled baristas will, oddly, often earn less overall than the place on the corner with the airpot full of hour-old brew that tastes like santorum. But still. They make money when people buy coffee, or they go out of business.

The conclusion? Drop $15 over the course of the day, and camp out guilt-free. And stench-rich.


Domain Names Don't Matter Anymore

Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter, makes a compelling case against needing a good .com domain to succeed:

There was as time when you knew your friend’s and family member’s phone numbers. There may have been a time when you knew the addresses of people you emailed a lot. And there was a time when I knew how to get across town without using my navigator. Software has taken over these jobs from our brains, because it’s better at it. Domain names are like phone numbers and email addresses—unique identifies that allow computers to disambiguate from the more natural (but likely non-unique) handles our brains like. (Put aside that domain names are actually the human readable system for IP addresses. They’re still computery.)

If you start typing "bob" into the To: field in your email client, it will give you some choices of the Bob’s you’ve emailed before, which is almost always good guess. If it’s wrong, you go look up the address and then probably copy+paste it in without really paying attention to what it is.

A lot of people use Google this same way. The first time how saw how often people got to Yahoo by typing into Google, I was shocked. And as this famous comment thread shows—where thousands of Facebook users showed up to a blog post talking about Facebook logins and got confused because typing "facebook login" into Google was how they got there—Google is how normal people get around the web. This probably wouldn’t be true if Google wasn’t so damn fast. But it is. It’s the auto-complete of the web. Well, one of them…

There are four other reasons here, all of which make sense. And make me wonder why Color paid $350,000 for

Breaking Up in a Facebook World

Getting dumped sucks, but it sucks worse when you have to change your Facebook status, delete a bunch of pictures, see them on your IM list every day, and maybe possibly spend a lot of time convincing yourself not to send that email you drafted. Gizmodo, always the first place to turn for relationship advice, offers some tips for surviving the modern breakup. A big one:

What about tagged pictures online?

Your hard drive isn’t the only repository of painful visual memories. People love tagging couples on Facebook. (Related: Ugh) People love leaving comments like “You two are the cutest!” or “My fave couple!” These may not be the exact scenes you want to expose yourself to right now. Understandable. But unlike deleting all the pictures on your computer untagging pictures on Facebook is a public affair—just like everything else on Facebook. You could just change your privacy settings on individual albums to hide them from everyone but you. But the fact of the matter is that you’d be deleting your own public persona as much as you’re deleting your ex, so you should proceed with a sense of prudence.

LDL: Let's Discuss Live

Virginia Heffernan, at the New York Times, wants to make a new acronym go mainstream. I hate LOL, G2G, OMG (though FOF, Frown on Face, is awesome), but LDL might catch on:

Oh, how times have changed. The idea that e-mail is chiefly a conduit for anger and lies seems almost quaint. After too may careers ruined and personal lives upended by online indiscretions, it should now be crystal clear that there are some things one must never, ever commit to e-mail.

And that’s why some bankers developed “LDL.” “LDL” — which means “let’s discuss live” — is an acronym that surfaced during the S.E.C.’s investigation of Goldman Sachs for its role in the nation’s financial shame spiral. How do the pros use it? Goldman’s Jonathan Egol is the first known master. When a trader named Fabrice Tourre described a mortgage investment in e-mail as “a way to distribute junk that nobody was dumb enough to take first time around,” Egol shot back: “LDL.”

The Wallet Death Watch, Ctd.

Fast Company is doing a fantastic job of following the future of how we pay for stuff, especially the last few days as Square’s ambitious plans have become clear. First,  E.B. Boyd details what Square accidentally stumbled on:

But, Dorsey tells Fast Company, the company was surprised at how many businesses took to it as well, like food carts selling street food and bands selling merchandise at their shows.

“As they started taking more and more payments, they started getting bigger and bigger, as you’d expect them to,” he says. “They were beginning to get more sophisticated about what they needed, and they started asking us for more tools.”

Then Austin Carr headed out into the real world to see whether or not Square’s cool idea actually worked:

To see how the payment system worked, we first purchased an item using the most outmoded system of all: cash. Grabbing the goods, having the clerk ring them on up the register, pulling out a wad of bills, and waiting for change and a receipt took 43 seconds. (Yes, we actually timed it.)

Then it was Square’s turn. We handed the clerk another item, watched as he clicked through the Square app, ran the credit card (this took a few swipes), and then asked how we’d like to get the receipt. After choosing the text message option, I entered my phone number, and waited. Time? About 1 minute and 5 seconds. (The payment is sure to be quicker going forward, as my number is now saved in their system. Plus, there are other benefits of the system besides speed, including having paperless receipts.)

Today, Carr talked to a PayPal spokesperson. PayPal’s been changing how we pay and get paid since before Square was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and as he reports, they’re not worried:

For Nayar, it’s difficult to envision one winner-takes-all technology in the payments industry. On his smartphone, he says, he has myriad payment tools: the PayPal app, Square app, an RFID tag, as well as payment plans through Starbucks and iTunes. “And none of those are even NFC payments,” he adds. “It’s not going to become a habit for consumers unless it’s easier. Sometimes I say, ‘You know what, it’s not that hard to pull out my credit card and swipe.’ I don’t find it particularly onerous.”

Simple Tech Tips That Might Not Be So Obvious

David Pogue’s column this week is a collection of tech tips and tricks that seem obvious to those who know them, but that not everyone might know. My personal favorite, and the one I’m consistently surprised that few people know:

The half-press trick eliminates the frustrating delay when you press a pocket camera’s shutter button. Frame your shot, then half-press the shutter button. The camera beeps when it has locked focus — and that’s the time-consuming part. When pushed the rest of the way down, you snap the picture instantly. No lag.

I’m also proud to say I knew almost all of the tips. One super-useful new one, though:

Sick of how Word automatically creates clickable links, boldface words, indented bulleted or numbered lists and other formatting as you type?

The on/off switches for these features exist, but they’re well hidden. In Word 2010 (Windows), open the File menu; click Options, Proofing, AutoCorrect Options, then AutoFormat Options. On the Mac (Word 2011), open the Tools menu; click AutoCorrect, then AutoFormat As You Type.

Update: 25 more!

How the New York Times Uses Twitter

NYT Public Editor Arthus Brisbane sees how important Twitter is, and how widely (and varyingly) it’s used:

David Carr, media columnist for The Times (who, as of Friday, had notched 12,062 tweets and 304,154 followers), said Twitter frequently puts him ahead of the news curve: “Twitter is my default news feed.”

Patrick LaForge, editor for news presentation (15,708 tweets, 11,859 followers), goes a step further. Other Twitter users “curate” the Web for him, he said in an e-mail message, “which means they find, analyze and comment on useful links that interest me far more quickly than I could ever do for myself. If they link to something that grabs my attention, I will generally look at it or save it for later. I don’t read everything. I dip into Twitter when I have time. The analogy is a cocktail party. You can’t join every conversation, but you drift through the crowd and stop now and then.”

Nicholas Kristof, the Op-Ed columnist (4,242 tweets, 1,036,906 followers), tweeted, blogged and wrote columns inexhaustibly from various hot spots in the Middle East after the revolutions there began. Now, he said, he is planning a possible trip to Mauritania and has used Twitter to query his million-man follower group in search of expertise on the country — with good results.

He has used it also for something that blogs and columns just aren’t appropriate for, he said: publishing a hunch.

How to Take Care of Your Batteries

Finally, finally, finally, someone as legit and Thing-Knowing as Ars Technica writes a story about the best way to use a Lithium Ion battery (which is most rechargeable batteries). Tons of tips, so read the whole thing, but a few key points:

One of the worst things you can do to a Li-ion battery is to run it out completely all the time. Full discharges put a lot of strain on the battery, and it’s much better practice to do shallow discharges to no lower than 20 percent. In a way, this is like people running for exercise— running a few miles a day is fine, but running a marathon every day is generally not sustainable. If your Li-ion powered device is running out of juice on a daily basis, you’re decreasing its overall useful lifespan, and should probably work some charging stations into your day or change your devices’ settings so that it’s not churning through its battery so quickly.

On the other end of the spectrum, keeping a Li-ion battery fully charged is not good for it either. This isn’t because Li-ion batteries can get “overcharged” (something that people used to worry about in The Olden Days of portable computers), but a Li-ion battery that doesn’t get used will suffer from capacity loss, meaning that it won’t be able to hold as much charge and power your gadgets for as long. Extremely shallow discharges of only a couple percent are also not enough to keep a Li-ion battery in practice, so if you’re going to pull the plug, let the battery run down for a little bit.

Another thing that Li-ion batteries hate is heat. This somewhat less of a problem for cell phones, but a big problem for notebooks. Even using a battery at room temperature for a year can bring its capacity down by as much as 20 percent, and the interior of most computers is a mite cozier than than that. So in a unfortunate twist of fate, laptop batteries usually spend the most time in the worst possible state: plugged in at 100 percent charge, running at an elevated temperature.

Running the battery out very quickly by drawing a lot of power at once is another way to cause it a lot of strain. For example, running a graphics-intensive game on a smartphone or a notebook for a couple of hours while unplugged is worse for the battery than depleting it over several hours while e-mailing or Internet-browsing (heat is a factor here, too). Again with the running analogy: it’s probably harder on you to sprint a mile than to jog it.

Maybe the world can finally stop doing this whole “make sure you run it ALL the way out before you charge it, sonny!” thing.