Should we follow companies that limit Twitter access?

A few days ago I wrote a tweet about whether it was fair to follow companies that don’t allow their employees access to Twitter. It got one response, and I’m not sure I was very clear. On second thought, I don’t think I phrased the question well. The question isn’t really whether it’s fair to follow companies, but whether it’s good for the Twittersphere.

Here’s what I’m thinking about: The success of Twittering from a business perspective depends on there being a large audience of followers ready to read & act on tweets. If there is no audience, there is no reaction. However, many companies block access to Twitter (and Facebook, and Linkedin, and etc.) to most of their employees, even as they ramp up social media marketing plans. This seems hypocritical (or at least short sighted) to me.

In a B2C world it’s not necessarily a problem, but in a B2B world it is. At the office I’m a customer for, say, trade show logistics, or business analysis. At home I’m not. So am I going to follow these people at the expense of valuable personal time in short supply, if I can access Twitter only from home?

There seems to be an assumption that while they’ve done the prudent thing in blocking access, all of their customers aren’t as sharp and will leave things wide open.

I wonder if many decades ago companies were ramping up their telemarketing campaigns even as they enforced policies limiting phone access to their employees? Or before that, direct mail campaigns back when people didn’t get their own mail?

So, should we follow companies that limit Twitter access to their own employees?

A simple way to not irritate your visitors

Do you have double doors? You know, the typical aluminum & glass doors that nearly every store or small office has.

Have you ever walked up to one of those doors and tried to open it, only to find it is locked and you have to use the other one? What ran through your mind?

It’s annoying. It says that the microscopic potential energy loss or door hinge maintenance is more important than ease of entry or exit. It makes it more difficult when people are entering and exiting at the same time. Maybe you felt stupid, as if you were supposed to see that the door was locked somehow.

If you’ve locked the door on the right upon entry, you’re irritating people before they even have a chance to meet you. If you lock the other one, the last thing going through their mind as they leave is unpleasant.

Adding a sign that says ‘use other door’ doesn’t help. It might as well say ‘Welcome cattle! Make sure you follow all rules and signs or your visit will become even more unpleasant!’

Do us all a favor, and unlock the door.

Access data import is idiotic

So I’m importing a bunch of data into Access from Excel, and for whatever reason today is a day full of strange bugs and bizarre behaviour. So I’ve resorted to exporting much of the data out of Excel into CSV files…


Have you ever noticed these idiotic things about importing data into Access?

  1. If you try to import a CSV file, you’ll get an error if the file is open in any other pogram. Why? I can import in other contexts with no problems with open files.
  2. When you open a CSV file in Excel, and then save it, Excel throws up an error box stating that the sheet may contain features that are incompatible with CSV format. I’m not sure how that could be, but one must still answer that they do indeed want to keep the file in the format it is in before Excel will save the file.
  3. Excel (and Word) often decide that you have changed something in a file when you haven’t, prompting you to save when you don’t need to. CSV files are simple in format – if I didn’t add or subtract data, it didn’t change.

I know there are several import tools out there, but it bugs me to have to buy another application to get something done that Access/Excel should do more easily.


Insisting on security risks – revisted

A while back I wrote a post about companies insisting we put our accounts at risk by forcing us to answer silly questions that would serve as a backup in case we lose a password. You know, like what our favorite color is, where we were born, and other commonly available items.

Thanks to Bruce Schneier’s post on Secret Questions I’ve learned about some research people have done on the subject. Yep, it’s just as stupid an idea as I originally thought, and they point out something I hadn’t noticed – people often forget the answers they give. Who has the same favorite color or movie forever?

Since I wrote my post on the subject, I’ve taken to using a very long password to these questions, which are becoming increasingly popular – even with companies that should know better.