College Life-How Sweet It Is!

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One of my college kids called me the other night.  Well actually she text-ed me.  Because that is what kids do today.  When they have a complex question that involves a response that could exceed 100 words, they of course text.   My standard response when this happens…”call me”.

So the phone call shortly arrived.  The whole purpose for this communication involved a certain movie streaming application that her new television came with last summer.  She has been enjoying this application with no charge associated.  She thought Dad had set it up but I had not.  So, all I can figure is there was some type of free introductory period. The freebie had now ended and daughter was hoping that Dad would either provide his log in to this program, or a credit card so this right of college life could continue.

Matters like this are better not to hit me with at 10pm at night.  I understand just enough about business to know that no company has set up a video streaming app that all one person needs to do is share their password with their college student and pretty soon an entire dorm is streaming movies on your account.  I was not entirely sure how the business model worked, and daughter swore she would keep my login secret (I really believe she would do her best to keep it secret), but I was not buying it.  I enjoy the service, we use it at home, and the last thing I wanted was to get our home blocked because my password was also being used at a college campus not exactly in the same location as my home.   I thought maybe there was a usage model that might solve this issue but as my tired head tried to figure out a solution at the company’s website, the solution hit me.

The solution was so obvious frankly I got a little upset at myself for not having immediately thought of this.  Our goal is for our kids to come out of college debt-free.  So, we cover tuition, room and board and books.  Social items are on the kids so they need to work whenever they can to pay for their social and entertainment.  Same program I was on with my parents and I am forever thankful to them for not forcing me into the world of student loans.   I was not handing over my log in information, so this problem was not mine.  Clearly an entertainment issue…this was daughter’s to decide.  Plus in my research I found out the cost of an unlimited plan was less than two grande lattes at Starbucks!  We know how often college kids make that pit stop!  (To daughter’s credit, she called me later and apologized for expecting me to handle this expense-much appreciated.)

Which brings me to the end of the story but I just could not stop thinking about this.  What a world we live in!  For $8 a month, you can have unlimited movies streaming into your college room.  My first memory was that we had a small black and white TV in my college room and we hardly could watch it through the snow on the screen as we strained to pick up stations 75 miles away!  We did buy record albums (kids-ask your parents what they are) and I remember those being about $6 each.  One album with 40 minutes of music, 35 years ago, cost more than the limited plan for the movie streaming application!  If they sold albums today they probably would be $15!  College kids in the 70’s collected record albums like the Harbaugh family collects coaching victories.  Our kids have no idea how great life is for them.

Of course, I sure hope they find some time to study!


Where’s Waldo?

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This is not a post about the popular kid’s activity of finding Waldo among a clutter of illustrations.  It is about the popularity, or lack of, for location based social media.  I am still trying to get my arms around this concept of sharing with “my friends” where I am.  I can see why a retail store would create promotions to encourage shoppers to tell the world they are at a particular store…but not sure why I would want to tell everybody that I am at Dick’s to pick up some new shoes.

Last week my curiosity reached a new level.  I received the following mass circulated email in my inbox:


Facebook launched Facebook Places yesterday. Anyone can find out where you are when you are logged in. It gives the actual address & map location of where you are as you use Facebook.  TO UNDO:go to “Account”, “Account Settings”, “Notifications”, then scroll down to “Places” and uncheck the 2 boxes. Make sure to SAVE changes. For your safety please do this immediately!!!!!!

So, knowing just a little on this topic I realized there was a lot of drama being passed off in this message.  First, I realized that this has to be a mobile phone with GPS application.  Bib Brother has not, to the best of my knowledge, started registering different IP address locations or wireless signals utilized in home networking.  So, like all of these location platforms, Facebook Places is a mobile application and not every cell phone is it going to apply.

So, next to my Facebook account.  The instructions above are correct.  When followed, there are two boxes to uncheck under “Places”

Tags Me At A Place

Comments On My Visits to Places now I see what the concern and fear are about.  This permission appears to say that Facebook is going to automatically track me wherever I go!  No way I want that! 

No way that is what is happening!  Bad choice of words I would say…

Remember, location services allow the user to “check-in” to places.  They don’t provide ongoing satellite tracking to your every move.  Facebook’s permissions language would freak out any parent who is following up on the mass sent email.

I do start to dig deeper into Facebook Places and start to find some things I am not comfortable with.  First, I read somewhere that this new feature will allow your friends to check you into places.   I don’t like the sounds of that at all.  Lets say I am out with some people and in order to be out with some people I had to make up a little white lie to somebody else.  Just sayin’…never really happens.  But lets say that one of my friends decides to tag me at this place and now my other Facebook friends see where I am or was, and I am busted.  I think if I am playing this places game, I want to control everything tagged about my locations.

To change this feature is not so obvious.  In fact it is frustrating what you have to do to find the option. In your Account Settings  Choose Your Privacy Settings and in small print find the link to Customize Settings.  On this page scroll to “Things Others Share” and find Friends can check me in to places.  I was pleased to see this permission has not been defaulted to any choice.  You should make sure on your account also.  I have disabled this feature until I can figure out if there is any benefit.

There is also a feature called “People Here Now”.   This one allows you to be visible to friends and strangers checked in nearby.  It is enabled in your default privacy settings under “Things I Share”.   I am going to leave it enabled for now as it is something I control.  Here is how this looks when using the feature.


My biggest concern is that once you create a place that is checked in it becomes part of Facebook’s public directory of places.  How many teens, using Facebook primarily through their cell phones, will check in from their bedroom and create a listing for their home?  This is the one that bothers me and I will be monitoring this closely to make sure one of my tech wise kids do not forget privacy issues like broadcasting our address all over the Internet.  If you’re curious if a listing has been created for your home or other private place, launch on a GPS-enabled smart phone. Under Places, you’ll be able to see a listing of nearby Facebook locations.

To their credit Facebook has created an entire FAQ on this new Feature.  It is in the Help Center.  I doubt most teens will take the time to read it.  There is a lot of information there.  I am going to keep playing with this feature and will let you know if I can figure out how to use it for commerce beyond the obvious mentioned.  Let me know what you discover also.