LinkedIn is a Virus

So today this happened:


And I feel like I should explain how this went down, because the event and the aftermath have been interesting.

It started when I was responding to a friend asking me to connect on LinkedIn, via the automated emails. I get about 4-5 a week and I usually ignore 90% of them since I don’t recognize the name of the person asking me, but this one was different. I clicked the “connect” button in the HTML email, and got a page saying we were connected and by the way, do you want to import your address book to find more people?

I’d known the person that asked me to connect for about 8 years, so I figured I should try their Gmail connection tool to see who else I’ve known for years that I’ve missed. I clicked a button, it started importing, then it gave me a page showing six people with check boxes by each (everyone auto-checked) with a button to send an invite. I didn’t recognize 5 of the 6 people so I unchecked those, and hit the big connect button, not knowing that it was auto-selecting 1,138 other names I had to scroll down to see. I realized this mistake soon after clicking, and closed my browser tab hoping that would halt the process.

It didn’t.

The aftermath has been annoying, fun, interesting, and illuminating. Responses started coming back in at the rate of about 10-12 per minute for the first 15 minutes. A few people wrote personal notes back, which was nice. Two people called me, both people I barely exchanged email with for business reasons years ago.

After they started slowing down, I began reading them all and realized a few things:

  • There are a lot of social media manager type jobs
  • A heck of a lot of people work at Facebook now
  • Gmail treats subject lines as duplicates on first names and the clear winner of most responed-to LinkedIn requests are from other people named Matt and Matthew. There must be a reason for this.
  • People work at a lot of weird startups I’ve never heard of
  • It emailed every person I’ve ever interacted with over Gmail, I got one response from someone that works at a trucking company, probably because I fixed a typo of theirs on MetaFilter years ago

It’s unfortunate that LinkedIn works the way it does and that this happened, most people that responded to me with messages thought I was making a concerted gesture and trying to reconnect, and/or about to look for a job. I think of business contacts as a pretty serious thing, I don’t hand out business cards readily unless I really want to be called up by someone, and yet, LinkedIn just pushed out connections to over a thousand people on my behalf without me knowing what it was really doing.

Separate but not equal

Mobile Twitter ( as opposed to bugs I wish were fixed:

1. Protected profiles give this confusing error shown above.

2. You can't favorite anyone's posts.

3. You can't block someone from their profile.

4. No link to begin a direct message on people's profiles.

This is broken too: Threadless shopping cart logins

Threadless is my favorite place to buy t-shirts, period (this includes any offline stores). I’ve bought dozens and dozens of them and I even subscribed to the shirt of the month club for a year, but every time I make the mistake of throwing a few shirts in my virtual cart and then remembering to login afterwards, I lose all my previous selections. I buy shirts there every couple months and in between each visit I often forget about this bug in the long lost hopes someone fixes it. When I got hit with it for the millionth time tonight, I took a few quick screen captures to demonstrate the problem.

Here is video of the shopping cart failure

The first 30 second bit is me adding a shirt to my cart, continuing to shop, then logging in and trying to check out, but my cart turns up empty. Not good.

The second shorter bit is after I add a shirt to my cart, go to check out, then remember I should login to grab my saved address/credit card/etc info, but as you can see it clears out the cart. Oftentimes I lose 15 minutes of shopping time picking out just the right shirts in my size because the cart clears out every time upon login. Then I have to try and remember all the designs I liked and put them back in the cart (often I just quit and shop the next time they send me a ‘new releases’ email)

Threadless, I love you guys to death but I’ve encountered this bug for about two years and would love love love it if you fixed it with some cookie/session storage of shirt selections so I don’t lose my cart upon login

(why login? if you don’t login, it basically creates a new threadless account with your exact same details and there was a time I was subscribed to their mailing list three times under different “accounts”).

update: by the power of greyskull, this has been fixed!

Amazon blows for video games

I’ve bought a handful of video games this year and my local Gamestop seems to have trouble getting new games on release day (“sorry, UPS didn’t show up yet, maybe tomorrow”) and for the popular games, they insist on pre-ordering with a deposit. Since Gamestop was a hassle, I started ordering stuff on Amazon instead, usually a month or so before big games came out.

For the most part, it’s worked well except items ship on their release date instead of arrive. I know a lot of games are done and in boxes, ready to ship weeks ahead of release dates and it sure would be nice if Amazon could ship them a day or two before release date so they show up on time. I know that’s a minor problem, but it’s tough waiting 24 hours when everyone online is talking about a game that’s available down the street at a store.

Lately though, Amazon has been a big problem with popular games. I’ve had a couple games delayed by 1 week and 2 weeks respectively and Amazon doesn’t inform you until the actual release date of the game. So if you pre-order a month or so early and you’re thinking you are going to get the game shipped on day 1, you don’t find out until that day arrives that they ran out. It’s really unfortunate, since I guess Amazon has no idea what their supplies will be like when they start taking pre-orders. Today I got this message about Guitar Hero III (PS3), which got released today:

We wanted to let you know that there is an unexpected delay with your video game order you placed on September 11 2007 17:47 PDT. Unfortunately, we are unable to ship the product(s) as soon as we expected and need to provide you with a new estimate of when they may be delivered:

“Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Bundle” [Video Game]
Estimated arrival date: 12/31/2007

I pre-ordered a month and a half early and they estimated it would take anywhere from 1 to 2 additional months to get a copy of the game sent to me. That’s pretty ridiculous and why I won’t be buying video games from Amazon anymore.

Bug report: Two things that suck about Gmail

Gmail is the best web app there is, period. It’s also my sole interface to email. It’s close to perfect, but a couple things keep me from calling it as such.

I get a ton of spam, in the low thousands per day, and gmail is pretty good about most of it, but it does generate a lot of false positives. Given that say 3,000 spam messages come in every day, false markings on 3 or 4 messages is damn good percentage wise (putting gmail’s filters as 99.99+% accurate), but it still sucks to miss out on legit email. I’ve found a couple places where Gmail is lacking:

  1. I have a few filters for mailing lists and email from my websites’ contact forms, which each get labels. Stuff I filter on sender or receiver and label should bypass spam filters. Today I missed several messages addressed to my contact form and one mailing list message that was merely someone’s eulogy of a lost friend. I don’t think spammers are going to guess all my filter rules and labels to get around Gmail’s spam-catcher so I think it’d be safe to skip the spam checks on any specially filtered or labeled mail. If you’re on a mailing list that gets spam, you should probably fix it through your mailing list software, not your client. I can’t have any false positives with private mailing lists (spammers will never join) or contact forms (it’s my first point of contact with outside strangers and very important that I don’t miss any).
  2. I get a lot of phishing scam email that makes it into my inbox and Gmail’s phishing reporting makes you think you’re doing something substantial (it requires the extra step and all), but in reality I’ll get several exact copies of things I’ve already reported as phishing scams minutes to hours after I report the first one. It’d be nice if Gmail would kill any and all future attempts that match previously reported phishing spam.

Bug Report: travel with Kiehl’s products

kiehls1.jpg For the last 20 years of my life, I washed my face with regular body soap whenever I was in the shower. I was also plagued by oily skin (still am). Three years ago, a friend showed me the wonders of Kiehl’s products. I eventually found a face cleanser that became a life saver. I always thought it was dumb that I could be 30 years old and still get a zit, but that basically doesn’t happen any more. For the first time in my life, I have clear clean skin (that gets oily after a few hours, but still).

The problem is even though the small 4oz bottle has a cap that gives a satisfying “snap” when you close it, I can’t keep the thing closed and sealed when I fly.

It started a couple years ago, when I flew across the country and the bottle exploded in my toiletries bag. After that, I started flying with it in a ziplock bag, and every flight afterwards has ended with some leakage of blue goo. I tried stowing my toiletries separate in an overhead bin. I’ve tried it deep within checked luggage. Always, the same result.


I’ve bought several bottles of the stuff and every time I fly, I still get the leak in the cap. It surprises me that this has continued for a couple years because I figure the kind of people that pay a lot for cleansers would typically be people that fly a lot and they’d solve this.

Suggestions for a fix: I think it’s time to rethink the friction-held cap. Perhaps a screw top, perhaps one of those caps with the tube that folds over to make a definite seal? Maybe make a travel-only cap for flying? Or I guess I could continue with the ziplock bags and maybe use tape, but it seems like something easy Kiehl’s could fix.

update: Kiehl’s customer service got back to me with a nice note suggesting that due to cabin pressure, the caps they use now will tend to open up a bit and suggest putting tape over them when you travel (duh, I didn’t think to try that). A friend suggested the same tape remedy and noted if they moved to a more reliable cap it would likely be harder to flip open with a single finger, as they work now. I guess I’ll start taping up the bottles when I travel now, but it was great to hear I wasn’t alone in this.