How one man beat the Facebook vanity clock

Joseph Kitchens decided to see if he could beat the Facebook vanity countdown clock. He succeeded beyond his wildest imaginings. Although the CTO of Plaxo, who also happens to be called Joseph, is one of many miffed Josephs.

There is one thing worse than being Joe Schmo. And that is being Joe Schmo on Facebook.

So Joseph Kitchens, co-owner of Kitchen's Field Services in Hutto, Texas, decided he had to use his technological and deductive skills to become Facebook's one and only Amazing Technicolor Joseph.

Joseph was so happy (but surely not vain) to have achieved the vanity status of facebook.com/joseph that he decided, in a series of e-mails, to reveal the secrets of his success.

It all sounded terribly clever to me. But then it would, wouldn't it?

The first task was for Joseph to synchronize his mind, his eyes, and his fingers with the Facebook countdown. It was all done with a precision far beyond that of most military forces.

"I set my alarm on my cell phone to remind me that registration was near," he said. "I was watching the clock count down. When it reached 30 seconds until registration time, I hit the refresh button because sometimes pages will change before the automatic refresh."

You see, I had no idea about that. But I am sure that some of you did. And what an advantage this appliance of science gave to Joseph's quest for immortality.

"So about 25 seconds before the clock finished counting for everyone else, I was already at the registration page," he said.

This is the famous Texan cafe in Hutto, Texas, soon, no doubt, to be renamed Facebook Joseph's Cafe. CC Mcdlttx/Flickr

At this point I am seriously wondering how many other clever people out there were being as wise as Joseph. Perhaps not enough.

But here's the really strange thing. Facebook offered him four vain options. Facebook.com/joseph was merely the fourth. Ahead of it was Joseph1, which seems, yet again, to reveal Facebook's weak grasp of human purity.

"I clicked it and it gave me a confirmation...and all this happened before the actual countdown ended," said the newly crowned Facebook Joseph.

He still hasn't quite got over his good fortune. It is as if Scarlett Johansson had walked over to him in a bar and slipped him her phone number and the address of a fine, cheap fitness trainer. So he was only too happy to reveal more about his technique.

"I figured that I might get in a few seconds early but did not expect 30 seconds. I refreshed at the one minute mark as well as the 45 second mark and I was brought back to the countdown."

And then he got really technical. "The link throughout the process never changed. Facebook had the html as a countdown clock that automatically refreshed as the clock hit zero," he revealed.

He couldn't stop himself musing further about the technical minutiae that may have brought him to his new self.

"By the time clocks were getting close to zero, I am guessing Facebook overwrote the html file with the registration page for the vanity names. Anyone that hit refresh or simply typed in the registration page at the t-30 seconds and counting got that registration page," he said.

So Joseph Kitchens became Facebook Joseph by, quite simply, beating the clock.

However, because the world is what it is--a seething mass of envious, unhappy beings--he immediately received word from other peeved Josephs. Around 20 of them.

"Some of them had 'Joseph' as an option but when they clicked on it, it gave them four new options," he said.

One aggrieved customer seems to have been Joseph Smarr, the CTO of Plaxo. He Twittered around 3pm PST Friday, a full 6 hours before the countdown: "As i suspected, facebook.com/joseph was already taken before 9pm, but http://facebook.com/jsmarr is all mine :)"

Which all seems a little odd to me. But I am sure some of you will be able to enlighten what might have happened here.

In the meantime, let us all hail the man who was once an ordinary Joe and became a somebody Joseph.

 

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