Category Archives: Social networking

I hate relative time

As I’ve mentioned in passing before, I hate relative time on updates.

Twitter is the obvious one here. “About 8 hours ago”. “About 9 hours ago.” WTF use is that? Why not just tell me the time it happened, so I don’t have to mentally work it out?

It’s particularly useless if I want to compare the time of that Tweet to something outside Twitter.

Likewise the ABC Online News “4 hours 37 minutes ago” … jeez, just give me the publish time.

It’s doubly-annoying when presented on web pages, which may or may not get read immediately, and sometimes sit there for a while without being refreshed or updated. I come back half-an-hour later… “About 3 minutes ago”… oh really? When was that? 3 minutes before I last refreshed the page? Again, useless information.

The annoying thing is some programmer has actually jumped through hoops to display the time like this.

PLEASE, just give me the option of showing the ACTUAL time, not the relative time.

Now, does anybody know of a good Windows Twitter client that will show me actual times?

(OK, some people on Twitter reckoned Tweetdeck is one to try.)

Dear Social Networkers

Please Mr Twitter, can I have the option of exact Tweet times, not all this “about X hours ago” stuff? Precision matters sometimes, and I don't want to have to think too hard to figure out if it was morning, afternoon or night that it was posted.

Please Mr Facebook, I honestly don't give a rat's arse that some of my friends have become “Fans of X”. Really don't care. I don't want to see this in the news feed. But there appears to be no way of turning it off.

Setting your privacy on Facebook

Facebook don't really explain how to restrict some of your information to particular friends, but it's not hard to do with the new privacy settings.

1. First go to Friends, and if it doesn't already exist, make a Friends List called Limited Profile. This will be used to limit what some people can see. (You can use multiple lists to have different permissions.)

2. Put the appropriate people into it. (When confirming friends it gives you that option, too).

3. Then go into your Settings / Privacy Settings / Profile. You can customise who you want to see what, and exclude the Limited Profile people from seeing particular information — or have particular people see/not see whatever you want.

Easy.

Scrabulous is dead, long live WordScraper

Even though the official Scrabble isn’t available outside North America, Scrabulous has disappeared for all Facebook users.

The Scrabulous guys have thrown the game through the mixer and come up with WordScraper… which, to be honest, looks pretty similar, and may be almost as much fun.

Second Life heading down the gurgler

Didn't I say Second Life was a waste of time?

The companies that rushed to set up bases within the cult virtual world of Second Life appear to have wasted their time as many have shut down and others are “ghost towns”, an Australian researcher has found.aquaponics fish food cost2008/08/20/1218911810203.html?page=fullpage”>The Age: Few lives left for Second Life

As one of the pundits in the article says, “If you're looking at real numbers of people in terms of brand engagement, Second Life is really not the place to be.”

Can't argue with that. I reckon SecondLife is the 21st century equivalent to the original MSN.

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Spreading myths on FB

Oh jeez. Facebook is the new place where idiots forward hoaxes, including a reminder to forward it on to all your friends. All these were spotted on a single person’s wall:

“OMG this is amazing…. ever wanted to know who looks at your profile the most? to find out all you have to do is re post this to everyone on your friends list then press alt+f4 together then it should re-direct you to a status screen where it shows”

“BEWARE—— YOUR PROFILE: This is a message I received this morning. Someone is cloning our profiles. This person copies our pictures & creates a profile similar to ours. Then sends scrap, spam or garbage to our contacts or friends in Hi5 and other profile sites. Insulting them…or asking them personal information…Beware!!! Send this message to your friends, to prevent them from being offended in your name by other people. If you receive some junk mail from me, please inform me first, Ok? Send this to all your friends! REPOST>>>>”

“who has a crush on u?… man this is creepy its called mind reader. send this to every1 on ur list and then press F8 and ur crushes name will appear on ur screen”

“Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this! To anyone with kids of any age, here’s some advice.
Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about eleven things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.”
… (Snopes entry)

Sigh. Sometimes the proliferation of this crap gets me down. How can so many in the human race be so gullible?

Wild west vs Totalitarian regime

What was I saying the other day about being wary of SecondLife?

Cam and The Podcast Network got scammed over SL “real” estate.

But if SL is the Wild West, is Facebook a totalitarian regime? Evidently FB has a team of BOFHs who will apparently suspend your account for any number of reasons.

Why Facebook sucks

Now, I know there’s a lot to like about Facebook.

And I know the way it’s open to developers to fiddle about with it is part of its success.

But this in turn gives it a usability problems. For example, I noted a video on my home page, shared by someone I know. It looked interesting.

Video on Facebook

So I click it.

It doesn’t play the video. Nuh uh. Because I’m new to Facebook, instead it shows me a scary security dialogue offering to add the Facebook Video application to my account. And because we all know these days to be very wary of security dialogues (they mean something bad might happen if I choose the wrong option, right?) I have to very carefully read all of it.

Facebook Video installation

WTF?! Five security options, an application description and a disclaimer and a link to the Platform Application Terms of Use, plus a link in case I’m Afraid of abuse by this application? I JUST WANT TO WATCH THE FREAKING VIDEO!

You don’t get this problem with YouTube. Well, not if you’re one of the 99%* of people who already have Flash installed. (Hey, Facebook Video uses Flash as well, as it happens.)

*This is a guess, though from memory it’s something like that.

Seriously, all this is too much information. (And it turns out the first option is compulsory for this application — if you decide to be ultra-careful and don’t say Yes, you can’t have Facebook Video.) For something which is not actually an infrastructure security issue (unless I’ve seriously misread how Facebook works, all this lives inside your browser; nothing’s coming down to be installed on your computer), but is more of a privacy issue, I’d argue that sensible hidden defaults, only shown if the user is interested, would be more suitable for this kind of thing.

Now, as to why you’d post video hidden away in the Facebook walled garden, rather than on Youtube where anybody can find it… I can only assume that you don’t want too many people to see it, that you’re being fussy — you only want your “friends” or a particular demographic watching. It’s a little counter-intuitive when for most, it’s hits/views that are what we’re looking for — the more the merrier.

I guess that’s why I’m a Facebook cynic in general.

Social networking behind closed doors

Jeff Attwood writes about the perils of Walled Gardens — basically free-to-access Intranets which hide their useful data away behind registration where search engines can’t get to it.

I did join Facebook, but like Jeff, I’m wary of it for another reason: should one rely on it for keeping in contact with people when it could (theoretically) all go bellyup tomorrow?

Who remembers SixDegrees.com? A lot of people (myself included) got onto it and put in a bunch of data about ourselves, and tracked our friends, and got involved… and then it shut down.

Remember Friendster? Similar story. It’s still out there, but has fallen out of favour (for whatever reason). Which is a problem, because as people abandon their profiles, the data becomes out of date, and therefore useless.

Who’s to say this won’t happen again at some stage with Facebook, or Orkut, or Twitter, or any of the others?

Can anybody get an open, futureproof social networking tool running? Or is Jeff right — that the best we have is the Internet itself. It’s open, it’s timeless, it’s universal. Search for me on any search engine and you’ll find me. You won’t find my Facebook entry though.

Okay, okay, so Google works better for looking for specific people. It’s not so good for browsing for old contacts (Oh! I remember him!) or when you can’t remember the name. For many Aussies, Schoolfriends (aka Friends Reunited) has a critical mass of old school contacts, though many people don’t visit it very often.

Maybe one day somebody will create an open, useful, perpetual and commercially successful social networking service.