The past few weeks have been extremely difficult. First it started with 3 innocent teenagers being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and then brutally murdered. The situation has since escalated into a full on war.

Traveling around Israel for work has its perks, yes. I still get to see the beauty of the land every time I drive through Beit Shemesh to go to Tel Aviv. It’s stunning. I get awesome food, and I meet really interesting people.

But lately, it has been rather distracting too. I now continue my meetings while running into bomb shelters, evacuating buses on the side of the highway because of impending rocket fire, attending the funerals of lone soldiers along with 30,000 of my brothers and sisters, and visit their parents in their house of mourning. And I cry. A lot more than I should. This appears to be what life has become.

YouTube Preview Image

I have said countless times already when people ask me, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be right now. This is my home. I am proud to have the privilege to call it my home. I am proud of the morality of the army protecting me. I am proud to be here.

And here is the crazy thing, in some weird and sick way, the few rocket attacks that I have personally experienced have made me feel more connected to Israel than I ever though possible. So while it may be crazy, I find a sick sense of comfort in the few we have experienced in the central parts of Israel, because it connects me to the rest of the country. It’s still completely screwed up, I know.

But, You Feel Me, Right?

Maybe you don’t.

And I couldn’t shake the feeling that lots of people don’t get it.  It’s not their fault, I tell myself over and over, that they don’t understand what this rocket fire means. Hell, I didn’t even really get it until I experienced my first air raid siren and had to run for shelter.  It is hard to comprehend this, but since 2001, there has not been a month without rockets into Israel. That’s effing insane! True, this mainly affects the south, but Israel is a family. If you hurt your small toe, the rest of your body feels the pain. Sadly, I don’t think we were feeling this pain until rockets started falling more central. But Israelis do now.

I feared that others around the world didn’t.

I wanted needed to find a way to help and open up the worlds eyes. I needed to find a way to show what this daily and constant barrage feels like.

A Idea Exploded Into My Head!

Sorry about that header… the dark humor is helping us all cope :)

Anyway, you know those “days since last incident signs”?? Well, how about a simple counter which counted up from the last rocket launch? Whenever a rocket was fired into Israel, it would go back to zero and start over.  So I bought the domain IsraelHasBeenRocketFreeFor.com

israel_rocket_free_site

The Stated Goal

The stated goal was to just get views. It was a one off website to raise awareness. That. Was. It.  No money. Nothing. Just attention.

I reached out to my friend Uriel at MadeInJLM and asked him to connect me to a developer who might want to run with an idea I had. He put me touch with Yehonatan Tsirolnik, a recent graduate from High School who is brilliant and was up to the task. Incidentally, we also met in person the next night, but I digress.

Quick Execution and Scrappy Launch

We got the entire thing up and running in 48 hours and launched it around 10:30AM Friday, July 18th, 2014. Yehonatan and I both posted it on Facebook and twitter and I sent it out a few private messages to friends to give them a heads up. Then I went to meet my aunt for sushi.

This “thing” was LITERALLY racking up thousands of views!

Real time analytics were fascinating to watch. At any given time, there were between 200 and 500 people on the site, watching the timer count and reset.

israelrockerfree_realtime_analytics

Curious What Kind of Impact It Made?

At 2 days in:

  • We had a little over 34,000 unique visitors.
  • These mainly came from Facebook (4.9K shares) and some from twitter (237 RT’s)
  • The next day, that number more than doubled with over 78,000 unique visitors.
  • We got written up on The Times of Israel and then other publications followed.

By today July 25th 2014 at 4PM Israel time (when I am writing this):

  • we have over 196,000 unique visitors
  • 43,000 Facebook shares
  • 1575 RT’s (which feels small considering the flow I see on tweetdeck, but who am I to argue)
  • 136 +1′s. (We originally did not add Google+ shares because I had heard of significant anti semitic trolling there, so I wanted to steer clear. But later changed our mind)

Google_Analytics_-_rocket_site_-_7-25-2014

On a lighter note, one of my favorite tweets about it came from this guy:

It made me laugh… but it’s also the reality.

I had friends messaging me on Facebook that we had close to a 10 hour stretch. Which ended shortly after that.

Mission Accomplished?

I think so. But I think we can still do more.

And I could go on, about some of the things I learned while doing this about marketing and creating a viral piece of content, but I want to save that for another time. The focus of this is the situation and awareness. Honestly, its been a rough past few weeks and I don’t really have the energy to write about this more. The only thing I hope happens with making this site is that it changes the perception of people around the world on Israel, even just a little bit.

Why I Am Telling You This

Aside from the fact that those stats are friggin awesome and it’s fun to share successes, I am mainly telling you this because I believe this perspective needs to be shared. Think to yourself, could you or anyone else live like this? Should Anyone live like this?

Please continue to share by buffering it, FB sharing it Tweeting it ———-> Tweet this

Thank you to everyone for your support, feedback, and interest. To family and friends who have reached out expressing concern, you know who you are and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means.

Keep following on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Chances are I won’t be posting them here, so that is the place to go.

As a quick disclaimer, while I appreciate comments, I will NOT tolerate any political debates or anti semitic remarks on my personal blog. So fair notice, if they are left, I will be deleting them.

 

 

{ 5 comments }

I Have Personally Gotten Hacked… Twice

You can’t be too safe online today. In the days of cyber attacks, heart bleed and other random threats you might find online, you need to secure yourself. And with so many random profiles and accounts, this can be really hard. Almost impossible.

In fact, I have personally gotten hacked twice.

First Hack: Classic Email Hack At My Grandfathers Funeral & Daughters Birth

The first time was a few years ago and it was the classic email hack. The date is September 2011 and it was on an on an old Yahoo account I don’t use anymore. It was the weekend after my grandfathers funeral. I woke up that morning with plans to go to the hospital to pick up my wife who had just given birth to our daughter, and the first thing I saw on my phone was a message from a friend saying, “dude, your email was hacked”.

 yahoo_hacked

f#ck.

As if I didn’t have enough going on! Once I realized it was just my yahoo and not my Gmail, I relaxed. There is nothing in there remotely important. But it did scare me into setting up 2 step verification.

Second Hack: Possible Twitter Infiltration… Just a Normal Day

The other time this happened was a couple months ago. My friend sent me a note and said, “did you mean to post that on twitter”. Sure enough, I looked and there it was. A non condoned tweet. And no I did not mean to send it.

bad_tweet_1

I started panicking and investigating. Crap, I hope my twitter account wasn’t hacked.

I was still able to access the account and nothing else on twitter was compromised. That was a relief.

On the unauthorized tweet, I clicked on the pinterest link which took me to my pinterest profile. Turns out, my Pinterest was hacked by Iranian Coders in Paris.

pinterest haacked by iranians

They created a random pinboard and added a link to one of their sites. Odd. I am not entirely sure how valuable hacking a relatively dormant and inactive Pinterest account was. Whatever. To be investigated later. But, hooray! I found the perpetrator.

By the way, BIG props to Pinterest for putting my account in safe mode due to suspicious activity. I wonder why this doesn’t happen with other accounts online (or perhaps it does and I have luckily not had to experience it). But I digress.

pinterest_hacked

It still doesn’t explain the rogue tweet. 

How Did the Pinterest Post End Up On My Twitter?

Simple, I allowed it. Years ago. When Pinterest first came on the scene, I must have given Pinterest permission to post whatever it wanted on my twitter account. In fact, it isn’t the only thing I discovered when investigating. Apparently, over the years, I had give access to over 70 different apps on Twitter. Many of which I had never even heard of and probably no longer existed. Facebook is the same and even more scary.

By the way, you probably have too. See for yourself:

On twitter go to: Settings -> Apps and view the apps you have given permission to.

On Facebook go to: Settings -> Apps -> Apps you use.

For me, until recently, Buzzfeed, Instagram, and Slideshare were all sharing my activity every time I did something on their network (just to name a few). And most of the time, I had no knowledge of it. Imagine looking at some stupid top 37 list on Buzzfeed, taking an action and all that showing on Facebook. How embarrassing is that??? (It was for research I swear!) (by the way, I wrote about this EXACT fear almost 3 years here)

Heck, I even gave vizify access to my twitter to create the “end of the year video” for my year end conclusion post, and they took the liberty to change the link in my profile. Needless to say, their permissions were quickly revoked.

vizify hacks my twitter

Not Cool Vizify!

Protect Yourself And Your Networks

I don’t think you are at serious risk by giving these permissions. The worst that can happen (that I am aware of) is one of these apps post something on your behalf or access the information in your profile. They can’t steal your identify. But it’s still unsettling.

And what about hacking? You don’t want to get hacked.

Here are a number of things you can do to protect yourself online.

  • Check your permissions every once in a while. Not that anything terrible will happen if you don’t but why leave it to chance. You should know which apps have access to your accounts.
  • Start using 2 step verification. I use it for both my email and twitter. I agree, it can be annoying sometimes, but with Google Authenticator and the twitter verification texts, its really simple. And trust me, its way less annoying than actually getting hacked.
  • On top of two step verification, make sure your email password is unique and the most secure. If anyone ever tries to hack your account, guess where password resets go to. You guessed it. Email. Make sure no one can crack that one.
  • Create complicated passwords. If you are afraid you will forget it, then start using lastpass. Its awesome.

I would be really interested to hear about some of the horror stories other people have had where these permissions got them “caught” doing something online. Share below (or email me).

{ 2 comments }

I Am About To Get My First Cake Ever

Anyone who knows me knows that I have some dietary restrictions. This is a whole other topic which I am saving for my TED talk (yep, that’s a goal of mine), but given these restrictions, on my birthday, I have never recieved a cake at work. I mean, one time I did. They swore that it was Kosher but it wasn’t. It’s the thought that counts though, right? :)

Back to the cake.

This year, after moving to Israel, for the first time in my professional career, I was about to get a cake at work. I knew this because everyone gets a a cake.

There I am, in a meeting. Strategizing. Planning. And I forgot all about the cake. And then, right on que, the entire team barges in the the conference room to give me my cake. At last! A cake.

But, they also has another surprise for me loaded on the laptop. The domain aaronfriedman.com had been populated with less than flattering bits of information about me.

Have a look:

Took the screen shot from my phone

Took the screen shot from my phone

At first, I was really excited. “How on earth did you convince that guy to sell you the domain. This is the best birthday present EVER!”

But then the sad reality hit me that they didn’t actually buy it. All they did was convince the owner to change the information which had more or less been static for years. Trust me. I know. I monitor it.

A Taste of My Own Medicine  Almost Screwed Me

This all started in the first place because my personal belief is that everyone should control their online reputation. Not such a crazy idea, right? Well, when it was discovered that individuals on the team chose to not own the domain of their name, they were slowly acquired, one by one,  to teach lessons to the team. For starters, Ari Roth now has a website. (*Full disclosure, I do not own any of our colleagues websites, but I do wholeheartedly support the cause. I imagine one day, he will take it over, build the site real strong, and then this link will be awesome for him). I don’t get it. How can it be you work in internet marketing and don’t even care about this!?!? I for one have spent years working on branding myself a certain way online. Since I couldn’t own the domain of my name, I decided to brand something else. That was were Digital Highrise came from.

But it worked. And I rank for my name. It took time and hard work, but see the SERP for yourself:

Take That Dr. Aaron D. Friedman on a .edu site!

Take That Dr. Aaron D. Friedman on a .edu site!

Screwing With Other People’s Brand Online is NOT Cool

Don’t get me wrong. I am one for a good prank.  The problem with my colleagues prank was simply a control issue. I am not saying an old exact match domain, is going to win for those searches, at least it won’t in Google. Bing is another story and honestly, I am embarrassed for their algorithm based on those results. But having information on the internet, even as a joke, who knows what that can do or show up for. No less on a domain you don’t control.

For cryin out loud, this domain was just sitting there completely dormant, and still it. This other Aaron Friedman domain squatter could have held the information on there and bribed me. “If you want it, buy the domain from me. FOR TEN MILLION DOLLARS!” He could have tormented me for the rest of my digital life!

Getting It Taken Down Could Be a Disaster

I did everything I could. And I am not going to go into the big details, but needless to say, the fate of getting this taken down was in the hands of my team alone. There was no valid whois record for this guy, no email address listed. It was bad. The only contact information I ended up finding was by using the waybackmachine and he didn’t respond.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Turns out, this guy has a soul, and decided to change it back. He did reject my offer to buy the domain but that is a separate topic.

I hope we all learned a little lesson from this escapade. Don’t screw with someone’s brand online, unless you have 100% control. It’s just plain not nice and you might not get as lucky as I did.

Aaronfriedman pranked for birthday

This pretty much sums up the moment of discovery

TL;DR

Don’t F#*k with other people’s brand online… It’s not nice. (tweet that line —-> Tweet)

{ 0 comments }

A lot of people approach me in person and comment on the sharing I do on-line. And truth be told, I share a lot. Ever since we made Aliyah, my social media posting has hit all time highs.

Why? Simple. Keeping in touch is important and I want to share our life with our family and friends. What easier way than to mass post on social media!

You Spend All Day Online Don’t you?

But I do get lots of odd questions from people.” Do you spend all day on the computer?” “Don’t you have better things to do?” “Doesn’t it take a ton of time?” “Who the hell cares about what you post?” “Really, who the hell cares?”

The answers to these questions are:

  1. Yes & No
  2. Yes (which is why the last one was a hybrid)
  3. No
  4. People
  5. Lots of people.I will explain

Turns Out, People Do Care

How do I know people care? Because in a strange twist of events, many people talk to me about social media offline. I never expected that, but I don’t care. What stinks though is the perception people have of my online behavior. The truth is, I do spend all my time on the computer, but not on social media. While my job is on the computer, 90% of all social media I am involved in comes from my trusty phone. And more specifically, it happens when I have “free time” or need a break. From a time perspective, I make it take as little time as possible, while getting the most “reach” possible.

It actually takes me very little time.

How I Share Online

Lets break it down. I really only share a handful of things online, which is pretty limited to Facebook and Twitter (I dabble in Google+ but still haven’t jumped in head first yet aside from work):

  • Images of my family, interesting observations, and funny things
  • Articles mainly related to technology, SEO or Social Media.
  • Random tweets: Much less often than anything else but I share them.

How Do You Share Images?

My go to for sharing images is Instagram. Not because I love Instagram, but more because it allows me to share on Twitter and Facebook at the same time. The wrench in this was when Instagram started fighting with Twitter and images stopped showing up. For a while there I just dealt with it, but I almost left Instagram because of it. Then, I discovered this IFTTT formula which takes every image I post to Instagram and converts it into a Twitter Pic, which means the image shows up on Twitter natively. People actually get to see it again.

If Instagram Then Twitter

h/t http://www.businessinsider.com/instagram-twitter-ifttt-2013-12

What About Article and Video Sharing?

The little secret here is that while it might seem like I post all the time, the reality is, most of the articles are scheduled. Buffer is my go to app for tweeting. I love the idea that I can read an article and share it at a later time. it spreads out engagement over the course of a day. Not only that, if you sync it with Followerwonk, it creates a schedule for you based on when your following actually is active on twitter. With the very simple click of the share button, I can easily send it directly to buffer to go out later.

And Then There Is Blogging

So this is the obvious biggest challenge because to do it well takes the most time. I put up my first blog post on a blogger account Tuesday February 10th 2009, and it is embarrassing (good luck finding it). I can see how my writing has evolved. How I took on my own voice. And I have gone through waves to figure out what “works best” for me. First it was just random no direction blogging. Then it turned into a news outlet (for about 2 weeks). Then I started writing about work which is where things started getting the most serious. Only later did I realize that I liked writing about life more than anything else. Well, life and my social media life. The point is, blogging is where I have seen my work life and personal life intertwine more than anywhere else. Which is why, usually, it will have the most personal twist to it.

And after I write, I share. And this is practically the only one I do manually.

How About Browsing, Reading, and Just Being Social

My go to app for finding information is Feedly. It is on my phone so whenever I am in a tremp, or waiting room, or whatever, While it is the best replacement for google reader that I have found to date. It’s not perfect. For instance, it doesn’t send me to the actual article. I can only browse from within the app… which is more annoying than you would imagine. Especially when you want to share that article.

Pocket is awesome, but I basically save articles I want to read and rarely get to them… which stinks.

Here is the crazy little secret. I don’t use any special apps on my phone to browse through my social networks.

  • For Facebook I use the organic app
  • For Twitter, I use the organic app

And That’s It

As much as I want to be social, I also don’t want it to take over my life. The above ways are what I have found to limit that as much as possible. So, I hope this post helps some of you. And if you have some other tricks that can make it easier for me, I would love to hear about it.

{ 1 comment }

Sometimes our lives on social media can be deceiving. Sometimes things aren’t all they seem and our perfect little lives are a bit more complicated than seen. And sometimes, those perfect moments are a flat out lie. I agree with the sentiment my friend Sarah shares when she writes about the lies we tell on Facebook.

h/t Jon Henshaw's Facebook

h/t Jon Henshaw‘s Facebook

What You Think Happened

Allow me for a moment to share a photo and caption of a delightful day I had with my daughter.

perfect_day_at_the_park

Honestly, it was a perfect day at the park. We were having a great time.

And, if I had left it to Google+ you would also think the rest of the day was one that any parent would be envious of

What Actually Happened

Now let me break down for you what you are ACTUALLY seeing.

We went to the park, started by having a great time. Swings were fun, playing in the rocks, standard, climbing on the jungle gym. Scared lifeless by an octopus. Made to leave the park. Tried to console by blowing bubbles and sharing endless supplies of chocolate with child. All good.

Oh, whats that? You missed the octopus scene?

Thats right. Google censored that piece out, and until a few days later, I didn’t share the real footage that piece was censored out because I was busy dealing with the traumatized child.

Here is what really happened.

So there you have it. Just realize that things aren’t always as they seem. Lucky for all of you, I am a bit too transparent so you get to see this gem.

P.S. She has gotten over the trauma. She is back at the park :)

{ 2 comments }

Keeping In Touch

by Aaron Friedman on February 14, 2014

in Life

This morning, I started thinking about some of our friends back in the states. Why this morning more than any other morning? I don’t know. But the truth is, we think about our family and friends back in Chicago (and all over the states) all the time. Not because we sit around missing them terribly and wondering what has become of their lives. The opposite. To some extent, because of technology, we still feel involved in their lives on a day to day basis.

Years ago, when people would make Aliyah (or move anywhere else in the world for that matter), while an exciting event, they also became extremely disconnected from the people they left behind.

Israel Cake

Sweet cake… sad feelings

Thanks to modern day technology, we get to keep tabs on whats going on in the lives of lots of our friends, share ours with them. And its REALLY easy to get in touch.

Call Me… Maybe? (like I am sitting right next to you)

The cellphone plans we have here are dirt cheap and allow free calls to the US. Awesome. But that is only one way. How could people call us?

Well, right before we left America, we transferred our US cellphone numbers to Google Voice. The plan was, in order for our friends and family to call us easily, we would have this little device called the Obi100 hooked up to our Google Voice creating a land line. Shortly after we moved here, Golan, which is our service provider, was handing out free oversees numbers that people could call and would ring on our cells.

Since we had our numbers on Google Voice, we just forwarded our Google Voice numbers to that free US number Golan gave us and magic, our family and friends can call the same numbers we had in the US and it will ring all the way over here in Israel.

Games On the Phone Actually Have Value

Ariella enjoys this much more than I do, but she keeps in contact with people by playing games with them like words with friends. I don’t play games as much but when I do I share it with people on Facebook and make them hate me for getting them addicted to Flappy Bird (sorry!! :) )

Flappybird_hell

Sharing Our Life on Facebook and Following Yours

Years ago, when people moved across the ocean, because of the time zone differences, it was just hard to see what was going on over on the other side. Well, I know how big my friends kids are getting, and when something exciting happens in their lives because these things show up in my news feeds. Sometimes we miss things, sure, but it is extremely easy for us to check up and see whats going on.

We can also share our lives and whats going on with us. I know people probably think I share waaaaay too much (I can’t believe I have become that stereotype, but it’s ok, I can handle it). You should know before you pass judgment though, that we do it for you. We share so you know whats going on with us and we love when you do the same. We want to see how big your kids are getting, and we want to know when you are having a tough day so we can send you words of encouragement.

We still want to be part of your lives.

 

Video Conferencing and Google+ Hangouts

Facebook only goes so far. So does phone. I am a big fan of video chats and try to use it as much as I can. Forget about family for a second (because we skype with them multiple times a week), but friends who we would only see on a vacation back to the states or if they come here we get to see. It makes all the distance just a little closer.

Ross and Aaron Hangout

Embrace Sharing and Keep in Touch

So I guess what I am saying is, while people have problems with what technology means as far as giving up some privacy (I have something coming on this soon), honestly, I say bring it! The pros for us far out weigh the cons and I welcome these advancements which make keeping in touch that much easier.

{ 1 comment }

A Year To Never Be Forgotten

In January 2013, I saw the new year come in from within Israel and I see it leave from here too. I was here for SMX Israel, and when I returned to Chicago after the conference, I knew this year would be exciting / scary / thrilling /  Stressful / and any other emotion you can likely think of.

Not much later, we packed our lives up into a 20 ft container and sent it across the ocean so we could move to Israel. The build up was remarkable, and when the day arrived, we boarded the plane. And I still have those vivid memories of walking out of the airport, being greeted by total strangers who handed us little flags, candy and showered us with hugs singing “welcome home”.

I still remember getting to our new home and spending the first week sleeping on thin mattresses on the floor because our belongings were still traveling in the ocean. And I remember the day it all arrived. I remember the zoo, playing on and looking over the balcony with my kids at the amazing sunsets. I can remember all my walks down the streets of Jerusalem on my way to work, and my visits to the western wall, and other amazing places around this tiny, brilliant, little country.

On our balcony loving our new life!

On our balcony loving our new life!

Those memories are in my head, for the rest of my life. It’s like a movie I can play on demand whenever I think of them.

Parts of Them Also Live On The Internet

And as the year wraps up, social platforms across the web start sending out reminders of what your year was like. What is fascinating is how different the experiences are summed up in all these videos. According to Google+, we spend the larger part of the year, packing up and moving across the world, we hung out with close friends, went to some excellent conferences, and my 5 year old son may be dating a girl in his class. According to Facebook, my wife and I had a child (which by the way did not happen in 2013), I left a job, started a job, and tried to pimp a childrens book my mom wrote. And on Twitter, to sum it up, Israel, technology, and conferences.

Google+ is probably the closest to reality, and the twitter video I was able to manipulate a little, but in many ways, all these recaps really don’t do my year justice. For me, these memories will have to live on with me, for myself and those I shared them with. Which is nice too. In many ways, those that were there following along, were a part of those experiences.

Creating New Memories Together

Although you can’t share in my unrefined memories, feel free to enjoy the ones that have been created from my social media accounts, which you helped be apart of.

Here’s to creating new amazing memories with y0u in 2014!

Memories on Google+

Also check out my Facebook year end review  and Twitter review via vizify

(***Note: I REALLY wanted to create my own year end review video, but alas, I had some horrendous technical difficulties, and time… always missing time, was not on my side. So the above are y reflections. At some point in the near future, I do want to create this video. I hope 2014 brings lots more video for us to share together.***)

 

{ 0 comments }