A push I needed

Like so many, when I logged into Twitter yesterday, I received this message.

It was a little unusual and my first thought was that the scammers were trying a different tactic to try and steal my credentials.

I try to remember to set up two-factor authentication wherever possible. In a nutshell, it puts an added level of security to any account. Instead of a login and password, it adds the extra step of giving approval for access by making you do something on another device. The original and simplest way is to have the system send you a text message with a code and you end up filling that in to prove that you are you.

Twitter wants to move that to their paid accounts only.

Twitter actually offers three ways to use two-factor authentication.

Of course, the Twitter world was on fire with this move and the concept was trending. Other than trying to get people to pay for Twitter Blue to continue to use the text message feature, I’m guessing that even Twitter has to pay for text messages and it’s a cost cutting move. (my guess, not based on anything legit)

I already had a couple of Authenticator applications installed on my phone and have used them for other services; I just hadn’t done the same thing with Twitter. Some of the suggestions that I’ve read indicated that it provides a more secure environment than a text message. I kind of believe that given how easy people seem to be able to spoof phone numbers and call me.

Switching Twitter over was a piece of cake. I just unchecked the text message and moved to the authenticator application. That had to be set up which was as simple as Twitter displaying me a QR Code and I scanned it with my authenticator application. Unlike regular two-factor authentication with a text message, you do need to move quickly because the code rotates to another one if you drag your heals. I give thanks to taking Business Machines in Grade 10 and how I can quickly use the numeric keypad on this computer.

And that’s it. There are plenty of how-tos on YouTube if you need to see it in action.

I personally use the Google Authenticator. But, that’s not the only game in town. A complete list is available here.

It seems bizarre that I’m here confessing in open that I hadn’t moved my two-factor authentication a long time ago but here I am.

I would encourage everyone to consider two-factor authentication in all your online applications. Better safe than sorry.


Blue check marks

My first read this morning came from CTV News and was about the ongoing Twitter soap opera.


I can’t believe that the “blue checkmark” is such an issue.

First of all, it’s not a blue check mark. It’s actually a white checkmark on a blue badge or a black checkmark on a white badge if you use dark or dim display mode like I do.

I can remember when it came out and I was somewhat impressed with the purpose.

I figured that it was something that Twitter was doing on its end to promote certain types of accounts. For me, I guess I was kind of interested in authentic news organizations. I’m OK with CTV, CBC, GlobalTV, etc. But there are lots of others so I could see the purpose.

Then, it started to change. There were some people who felt they fell into this category and applied for the checkmark as a way to promote themselves. I have a few people on my timeline with the checkmark and it’s just a stream of self-promotion things. My first thought was to unfollow but I just mute these accounts and periodically go over and see if there is anything new. For some of them, it’s just more attention-grabbing content.

I like to think that I’m smart enough to know whether a message coming from an account is legitimate or whether it’s a spoofed account. A quick look at the profile or the history of messages is all that it takes. I’ve always figured that you should be who you are and it does come through in Social Media.

One of the things that I always enjoyed about Twitter was that it seemed to be a level playing field with each of us contributing what we felt we could. Not so – that silly little checkmark seems to have created a two-tiered playing field in some people’s eyes. Quite frankly, if you have to use Social Media to blow your own horn instead of trying to make things better, I have no time for you.

My recommendation to those/him that would aspire to make Twitter a better place is to go ahead and charge a substantial user fee for that checkmark. If a user is a legitimate news or political organization, they have ways to write it off as an expense. If it’s just a climber that wants to spam us and use it as a mark of credibility in their eyes, then they need to pay for that privilege.

Find your niche and work to make Twitter a better learning space instead.

Just like starting over

A couple of songs appropriately describe my current feelings about opening my Mastodon account.

Probably a better way to explain it would be there are different things on. I checked out the #Education hashtag which would best describe my interests and found little there to interest me and certainly nothing about Ontario Education. That’s not the worst of things; we could always change that if we get the right people there.

My Twitter account has been around since 2007 and I’ve followed some of the greatest educators in the world – Ontario Educators – but not in my timeline. They’re all stored in 10 Twitter lists. It’s where I head on Thursdays to create #FollowFriday posts. Twitter has always been my serious side and is where I go to learn about education and monitor trends.

My other big social media account would be on Facebook where I follow educators but also interesting people and, while I do look for the good educational stuff, I’m also looking for some entertainment. Facebook certainly provides that. Just yesterday, I read a very impassioned post from a friend of mine who indicated on Facebook that he was shutting down his Twitter account. I often wonder about that. Does that make your userid available to someone who wants to claim it and perhaps impersonate you? My inclination would be to go to Twitter and download all my content (it takes a while so be prepared) and then delete my content and leave one message with a forwarding address. That way, it’s still there and not available for anyone else to snag.

The real dilemma for me is moving what I’ve spent so much time cultivating to somewhere else and not losing value. I can’t help but think that this is absolutely impossible. So, maybe it’s time to do another bit of thinking about any potential move.

John Lennon said it …

Right now, on Mastodon, I feel like it’s 2007 all over again. I know that the magic can happen but it doesn’t magically happen. It comes as a result of hard work and effort. How can I make that happen for me? I need a vision; at present, I don’t have a realistic one.

I’d be interested in your thoughts about potential moves. What are your plans?

A new Twitter in the works?

You can’t get by without reading or seeing reports from Twitter as Elon Musk takes over.

When I first saw the video, I thought that he was bringing his favourite monitor to his new office. Then, I watched the rest of the video and I didn’t get it. But that’s OK; I suspect that there will be a lot of things that I don’t get coming up in the next while.

These days, I’m finding Twitter less and less useful for my purposes. I’m not alone.

Exclusive: Twitter is losing its most active users, internal documents show

I was going to take a guess but Twitter has it on record so I just looked at my join date.

I know exactly where I was when I joined. I was in a workshop led by Will Richardson who was talking about the importance of connections and statements like “together we’re smarter” had me convinced. I bought into the concept and joined immediately. It required a lot of work to make it happen and be of real value but, in the end, it was the best professional learning that I’d ever done for myself.

I haven’t regretted doing so but, like the author above, I’ve noticed that it’s less helpful these days.

Back in the day, we would have

  • hashtags for everything
  • Tweetups at conferences
  • FollowFridays
  • Pictures of food (OK, it wasn’t always professional)
  • Twitter lists and sharing of those lists
  • and probably a lot more if I continue to reminisce

Things are certainly different these days. I still maintain the FollowFriday thing and people seem to appreciate the connections. I think anyway. I still get pumped when it generates a new follower and the first thing I check is whether or not they have a blog and are from Ontario because I love to follow them.

It’s always been worth it to me. I truly do love to read blog posts, particularly about education. I find them to be truer and more authentic that news releases or articles written because some reporter has a deadline to meet. But most of all, I’m impressed when someone’s writing teaches me something new or leads me to find out more about things.

These days, I’m seeing more dead or dying Twitter accounts and abandoned Blogs than ever.

I don’t think that it’s necessarily that people have abandoned platforms but I get the sense that people are more scrollers on social media than in the past. In the past, there was value and worth by creating something or being supportive by sharing the works of someone else. It was a Personal Learning Network at its best.

Now, my timelines seems to be full of Wordle results or memes retweeted from somewhere else.

Musk claims that he wants to take us back to the concept of the town square where people gather to chat. Earlier in the summer, we walked the “Square” in Goderich (it really isn’t a square) on a Saturday and Sunday morning when the markets were set up. People had their own tables and were so welcoming to talk about what they were selling and some even recommended a fellow vendor when we asked for something they didn’t have. It was exhilarating to take do it.

There really was a sense of wanting to help each other out. It reminds me of the good old days of Twitter.

Can Musk take us back to that?

Hoping to get better

My apologies in advance to English and Language teachers. I hated your class in school! I did well enough, I guess, I took three Mathematics, three Science, and an English kicker in Grade 13. Yes, I know, I’m old. I wasn’t interested in English but it was a fallback in case I stumbled in any of the other classes.

I was the kid, when you assigned a writing assignment like an essay, whose hand immediately shot up “How long does it have to be?” If you said “three pages”, you’d get three pages and not one word more. I ended up typing my essays because I learned that you could move the left and right margins in just a bit so that there were less words and yet it still looked the same.

I had no intention of being an author so I couldn’t see a great deal of value in it. It was an attitude that lasted until my first year at university in a computer science class of about 100 students when we were told that only 30% of us would become professional programmers. The rest wouldn’t be written off; there are all kinds of jobs in the computer industry other than programming and being able to write would help if we got a job writing manuals or documentation. Hmmm, or become a teacher?

I took those words to heart and started to get very serious about writing to support my love of mathematics or programming where I could. As a teacher, I ensured that there were marks for documenting computer solutions in addition to being able to code that solution.

And, I started to blog. It was intermittent and experimental on a number of platforms until I got to this place. For the longest time now, I do follow the advice of Mrs. Ball and write something everyday, even if it’s not graded. So, here we are today.

I’m a sucker I guess for online tutorials but I like to think that they and a daily writing habit have made me a better writer. I actually use some of the strategies that I was taught years ago but never really took seriously. I’ll never be a great writer like my friend David Garlick but I hope that I get better with my habits.

Speaking of David, a Twitter message went flying by on my timeline last night that caught my eye. He had retweeted this.

I actually knew that! The Cookie Monster reference would have come after my time but we talked about this somewhere a long time ago. Now, I already follow David but I decided to follow Mr. Gallagher as well.

And then, “Wait! Grammarly has a blog?”

Indeed it does! It more than that annoying English teacher that looks over my shoulder pointing out every little mistake that I make. I know, things do get through but I look forward to reading the blog posts and get better.

I could throw in that typical teacher comment about being lifelong … but I’ll resist. I’m looking forward to getting better at this little hobby.

Once again, it shows the value of following smart people like David. They can lead you to ever smarter and more useful learning. And that’s why I do it.