Facebook whingers

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Facefart

Loving all the people who don’t like the new facebook “we can use your posts, comments and images in adverts” policies being touted, and who think that simply posting that “I do not give you permission…” etc. is enough to prevent this.

Sorry folks, by using facebook (for free, remember) you agree to *their* terms and conditions. If you don’t agree to them, then you can’t use the service. It’s not an “agreement” in that you sit down over a pint and discuss one-to-one how you’re going to use the service (for free) and then walk off after a handshake.

Facebook provide you with a contract to which you must agree to use their service. Part of that contract is that they are permitted to *change* that contract as long as they give fair notice (they seem to think 7 days is fair). If you don’t agree to the contract (in whole or in part), you don’t use the service. That’s the agreement.

Frankly, I think it’s a storm in a teacup. The example of usage they’ve mentioned is, for instance, an advert for a venue underneath which they may place a post from one of your friends who’s been there before. A post/picture you’ll already have seen as you’re on their friends list. They aren’t taking stuff you’ve posted to a limited audience (friends, groups…) and posting them publicly.

Get over it, or get out. Good luck gaining as large an audience or following on Google+ with its echoing walls.

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Pipes test

Image representing Pipes as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I’ve just made an attempt to use Yahoo Pipes to merge my feeds and publish them to facebook. This post is a test to see if this import works, and if so then I should have a new Note sometime in the next couple of hours.

I didn’t have much luck with Pipes in the past, and the trial run within Pipes failed claiming it couldn’t connect to the feeds despite a manual check showing that they worked fine.

Well, I guess I’ll find out in the morning…

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Why the new facebook layout is crap

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Facebook - at least the logo's not changed

A large number of people received the new facebook layout yesterday. I gather this was facebook’s “6th birthday present” to its users. Some had had it since earlier in the year and others still haven’t got it – but will.

There are a lot of ways of looking at the design, but the single biggest flaw is that things have changed. It’s not so much what they have changed into, but the fact that things people have become used to have been moved or tweeked for no discernible reason.

This might not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but I know of one user who’s dyslexic. For him to get used to finding something that’s moved from one corner to another is a big deal – he uses interfaces by memorising the location of things, not by visually recognising them. He has to relearn the interface from scratch – and for what purpose? None that I can ascertain.

I don’t use facebook to any great depth, so what I’ve spotted is likely to be fairly superficial. However, none of it makes any sense to me. First up is shifting the bottom bar around. The chat area is still at the bottom of the screen while the rest of the bar has been removed. Notifications are now in the top left instead of the bottom right.

This does give an extra line of screen real estate. I think. Or is the top now a little larger? However, it’s this particular move that’s caused problems for my dyslexic friend (and I’m sure many like him).

My particular bugbear is that I can’t be bothered with the news feed. It’s a mess and I really couldn’t care two hoots who is giving stupid virtual gifts to who, or who’s just got a highscore on some crappy game. I just want status updates.

In the previous version, I went to the correct area and dragged “Status” to the top of the list. Henceforth when I visited my “Home” area, I received status updates. This is no longer possible. “Home” now takes me to News Feed. It won’t even default to “Most Recent” so I have a completely useless splatter of informational crap that is of no use whatsoever.

I now have to go into “Friends” in the leftmost column. This in itself is badly-designed as there’s no indication whatsoever that “Friends” opens up sub-menus. There is a reason we have design standards, such as little boxes with “+” in them, or arrows with move from right-pointing to down-pointing. It’s simple design practise which facebook have chosen to ignore.

Once there, I’m stuck in the default Friends page and I then click on the newly-appeared “Status Updates” menu item to get what I used to find by simply clicking “Home” in the past. As far as I can tell, there is no way to set this as my default view.

Given that the press release from facebook read as follows:

A simplified home page to provide easier access to what you’re looking for on Facebook. You can now quickly navigate to commonly-used areas of the site from the top and left hand menus. From the Top Menu, you can now easily find new messages, requests, and notifications using the icons in the top, left hand corner. The left hand menu is now where you can find all of your applications, previously located in the bottom dock.

I would take issue with the use of “easily find”. Something that’s easily found should be immediately apparent, not located by means of a random search. I would also be tempted to say that the left hand columns isn’t a menu – it’s a list. Until you click on it and realise it just looks like a list.

Sure, it’s functional. There’s no denying the new look is tidier and reduces redundancy (there were so many ways on one screen to do the same thing before). But it’s very poor design. For a brand new user it lacks indication of the functionality of certain areas and for experienced users it’s moved things too far from where they were before with no obvious indication of where to look to find them.

As an aside, I think it’s badly programmed as well. This may just be coincidence, but when I left my browser (Chrome) on the Status Update page for about 11 hours yesterday when I was out, I came home to find that it was using stupid amounts of memory and froze. I never had this issue with the old design.

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Posting multiple blogs to facebook

This icon, known as the "feed icon" ...
More feeds, please, vicar!

Yes, OK. I gave up and started using facebook because so many of you don’t bother to reply to emails or use Twitter. It’s all your fault. You all suck. Fine.

One (of several) annoying things I’ve found with facebook is that it will only let you publish feed from one blog on your wall. I have two that I want to put up there. I started off with one of them, which it popped up as “notes” well enough, putting the complete blog post up. But that wasn’t enough so I started digging.

I found a few feed “aggregators” which effectively take multiple RSS feeds and create one merged feed from that. Yes, I know that’s not the correct term for them, bit it does make sense. Unfortunately, none of them published the entire article. Instead they’d publish the first few hundred words followed by a “click here to see the rest” link to the original page.

In honesty, this did the job although I know personally that I often won’t bother. And I wanted people to read everything.

For the record, the aggregator I settled on was Feedoor which did the best job with the most ease. It’s also set at my favourite price point, i.e. it’s free. [NOTE: Mamod from Feedoor saw this blog post, replied and sorted out my feed from them so that the next step wasn’t needed! Please see the comments]

As luck would have it, I just found another website. What this one does is takes partial feeds from anywhere, locates the original posts and creates a complete feed from it. This web page is Five Filters.

Popping my feed from Feedoor into Five Filters generates a complete RSS feed containing posts from both this blog and my travel blog. I put the full URL given my by Five Filters into my “notes” page on facebook and *ta-da*, the whole shebang.

Yes, only a few lines show on my wall, but it now includes the images from the blog posts and it means people can stay within facebook if they don’t want to hop out to another page. Clicking on the article takes you to the entire blog post as a note within facebook.

A bit of a long way around, but finally the job is done.

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One reason to like facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
facebook

Generally speaking I don’t use facebook. I have an account because some people insist on trying to contact me on it so at least I get the messages and can tell them to send me a bloody email. I have three blogs (all with contact details on), an email address, mobile number, Twitter feed, Skype address and regularly use MSN Messenger.

As such I don’t feel I need facebook. The only thing it does is open me up to more arseholes I went to school with trying to get back in touch with me. As a very general rule, if I’m not in touch with them now it’s very likely I don’t want to be.

Anyway, for those who didn’t know facebook today/yesterday (not too sure, don’t really care) allowed all of their users to nab a personalised URL for their facebook page. There was huge demand for this – in fairness it’s better to tell someone your page is at “…facebook.com/SteveJones” rather than “…facebook.com/SteveJones1234”.

After a few hours they’d registered over three million of the things. The load on the servers must have been enormous, and credit to them there was no slowdown or system failure. Needless to say, the team were all in place to monitor the temperatures, wires and servers to ensure it went well. Mashable! has a good story on this from which I’ve pinched the photo below.

As I said, I don’t give a toss about facebook, but I can at least say that someone there has taste. Can you spot why?

Launching 3 million+ "vanity URLs". Thirsty work?
Launching 3 million+ "vanity URLs". Thirsty work?
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