Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Is the New Pope Using Social Media?

Posted by JenThorpe at 2:24 AM on March 16, 2013

PontifexWe live in a world where the Pope can Tweet. Pope Benedict XVI was on Twitter. His handle was @Pontifex which sent out Tweets in English. There was also @Pontifex_ es (which was in Spanish and was the one I was following). All told, there were 8 different language versions of @Pontifex on Twitter.

Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope to use Twitter. Although he was not the first Pope to retire, he was the first do so in the past 600 years. This brings up the question: What does one do with the Twitter accounts of a retired Pope? This was not a question that anyone had to think about before, as there was no Twitter, or internet, 600 years ago.

Here’s what ended up happening. Pope Benedict XVI decided that the next Pope would have to decide for himself whether or not he wanted to Tweet. The @Pontifex accounts became inactive during the interim between Pope Benedict XVI retiring and the election of his successor, Pope Francis I. The Tweets sent out by the retired Pope were deleted.

On March 13, 2013, the @Pontifex account(s) sent out identical Tweets in Latin that said: HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCIUM. Now, was this sent out by Pope Francis I, or by someone else in the Vatican on his behalf? The word on the internet is that it was from the newly elected Pope. Now, we wait to see if he decides to continue to Tweet.

Meanwhile, several cyber squatters swooped in to buy every possible iteration of Pope Francis domain names. That was probably to be expected. The unexpected story, though, involves a Chicago lawyer named Chris Connors who somehow bought the domain name popefrancis.com from GoDaddy.com in 2010 – long before there was any expectation that there would be a Pope Francis I. Lawyer Chris Connors has started the process of giving the domain name to the newly elected Pope.

As far as I can tell, Pope Francis I is not on Facebook (at least, not yet). There is a Pope Francis page written entirely in English that says “Not an official page”. There also is one called Cadenal Jorge Bergoglio that entirely in Spanish. It was set up by two women to respectfully support him, and is also not an official page.

Facebook Revamps its News Feed

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 3:32 PM on March 7, 2013

Newsfeed Facebook introduced an update to News Feeds today. The idea behind News Feeds is to have a personal newspaper with all the content you are interested in one place. When it was first introduced according to Facebook, the News Feed was mostly text, with some images. Now News Feeds are primarily visual with images and videos becoming increasingly important. Facebook is trying to redesign News Feeds to meet what people are looking for today.

The first thing they announced was that images are now going to be front and center and more vibrant. This also means that ads will be more prominent, which is something businesses have been looking for. When a video shows up on your timeline, it will show who of your friends have shared the video. Facebook will also allow you to have choices of news feeds, so now you can just see all the music your friends are sharing and also the post from artist that you are interested in one news feed and another feed for all the public pages you are following. The sidebar will have a list of your feeds, the feeds will be listed by how you use them, with the most used at the top. Facebook News Feeds will also be consistent on how it looks and works over various devices. It will also be more responsive to the size of the device.

Facebook is letting a few people see the new News Feed first and then as is usual for them they will slowly release over time to the public. You can request to get in early by signing up on the wait list, however I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting to get in. I have to admit I looking forward to the ability to choose various feeds based on what I want to see at that time. I do wonder how they are going to integrate interest list into the new news feeds, they might have said but I missed it. I do know one thing that once it is released to the public there will be people complaining about the changes and those who will complain because it hasn’t changed enough.

Facebook’s Announcement: Big News or Much To Do About Nothing?

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:00 PM on January 15, 2013

Facebook Today Facebook announced the new Graph Search. This is not a keyword search like Google it is more of an asked a question search. For example you might ask; “what disaster movies do my friends like”.  Facebook will then come back with an answer to that query. It will only give you information that has been shared publicly and with you by your friends. I thought it looked interesting and it had possibilities but until I actually get to try it myself I will not make a final judgment on it.

I have to say that my first thought when I was following the live blog this morning was that this was just another way to get people to stay on Facebook even more. In another word this is just another brick in the wall.  The fact that this graph search will be integrated with Bing makes this even more so. A question just occurred to me if I should share something to a friend does that information then become available to their friends in a search query. I believe it will, which is all the more reason to be careful on what you share on Facebook. I also think that people need to retrain themselves on how to do search. They are going to have to learn how to search by asking questions. Some analyst see this as a challenge to Google and Amazon

Julien Blin, an analyst covering consumer electronics and mobile broadband for Infonetics, took the argument a step further. He told CNET that Graph Search could become a major threat to Google and Amazon once it becomes available on mobile phones and incorporates the Facebook Gifts product.
“We could imagine a case where a Facebook user is searching for ‘friends who bought shoes in San Francisco.’ Then [Graph Search] would pull up a list of shoe stores with comments and reviews from friends,” he said. “The Facebook user would have the option to click on the Facebook ‘Want’ button to buy the items, or even gift the item to other users via Facebook Gifts. This type of service would compete directly with Amazon.”-Cnet.

I am skeptical, I may search Facebook for the local restaurants my friends like, but I am going to also see what the critics say about it. I love my friends but their idea of what is good and mine are definitely not the same.

There is a limited beta rolling out on January 16 a limited number of English-speaking Facebook users. It will take several months before becomes available to the general public.

Time to De-Clutter Your Social Media

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:07 PM on December 30, 2012

bigstock-Window-cleaner-using-a-squeege-30983438Happy New Year! Now is a time when many people make New Year’s Resolutions. This year, instead of making one that you know you won’t follow through with, try something that you can easily achieve. Clean up your social media!

Social media can be fun, but it can also be a time waster. One way to make it work for you is to do a little gardening. Keep the healthy “plants”, and get rid of the “weeds”. When you get done, you will have crafted your social media into a more pleasant and enjoyable place to visit.

Start with your Facebook account. There are a couple of helpful apps that can quickly remove or replace unwanted posts from your Facebook page.

Tired of looking at countless photos of the brand new baby of your friend from high school? Unbaby Me will replace the baby photos with cat photos. (You can select something other than cats if you prefer).

Social Fixer got a lot of use during the recent presidential election, as people used it to eliminate all those political posts. If your Facebook friends are still stuck in November, you may want to give Social Fixer a try. You can set it to remove posts that contain a series of words of your choosing, (which could be something unrelated to politics if you prefer).

My way of de-cluttering my Facebook account was to completely and entirely delete it. Those of you who are still on Facebook might want to read a Forbes article that was written by Elisa Doucette. She walks you through a variety of ways to use the tools within Facebook to tailor what you see from your Facebook friends.

I’ve learned a lot about how to make my Twitter experience a happier one. Go to a particular Twitter user’s page. Find the button with the silhouette of a person on it. This is where to find the helpful tools in Twitter.

Got a friend who re-tweets a bunch of stuff that you have absolutely no interest in? You can turn off their retweets. There is also a button that you can use to block Twitter users whom you do not wish to hear from – ever.

I use this one when I find a Twitter user who appears to be using his or her account specifically to start fights, encourage drama, and to generally be a person who “does not play well with others”. How do I find these people? Usually, they get re-tweeted into my Twitter feed. The people you block lose the ability to communicate with you on Twitter.

You can also make lists on Twitter. Put all of your family members into a list. Check that instead of your main feed for important news and updates from your loved ones. Make a list of podcasts that you listen to, or of the Twitter friends who all play a certain video game. Narrowing down what you see can save you a lot of time!

Image Stock Photo Window Cleaner Using a Squeegee to Wash a Window by BigStock

This Message Will Expire in Ten Seconds

Posted by JenThorpe at 1:30 AM on December 23, 2012

Poke AppFacebook has a new app called Poke. The name was inspired by the Facebook feature called Poke that has been a part of Facebook since 2004. The functionality of the app, however, is something that people are comparing to SnapChat.

If you log into your Facebook account you can select a friend to Poke. I’ve never entirely understood the purpose of this function, but I suspect it is used as a means to let someone you have “friended” … I suppose be reminded that you still exist and want to communicate with them. Whatever happened to a friendly message that starts with “hello”?

The Poke app, is not the same as the Poke feature in Facebook. The Facebook Poke app was released on December 21, 2012, and is a mobile app. Right now, it is only for iOS devices. One might assume that there could eventually be an Android version, (but there isn’t one right now). You can download it onto your iOS device for free.

The Poke app allows users to send a message, a photo, or a video to their Facebook friends who also are using the Poke app. Which, I suppose, can tell you which of your “friends” are using iOS mobile devices.

The message, photo, or video you send will last for a specific time that you set. You can have it appear for 1 second, 3 seconds, 5 seconds, or 10 seconds. Your friend (or friends, as you can choose to send something to multiple users, or groups, at the same time), must press the screen and hold it in order to see the message you sent. After the time expires, the message disappears.

It is easy to see why Poke is being compared to SnapChat. There is some concern that people will use Poke to send messages, photos, and videos, that are of the “not safe for work” variety, (since it has been said that people use SnapChat specifically for that purpose). Facebook sort of acknowledges this potential. It says:

If you ever see something you’re uncomfortable with, you can click the gear menu and report it.

Facebook adds new features to its Android app

Posted by Alan at 6:59 AM on December 7, 2012

This morning Facebook quietly pushed a fairly major update to it’s Android app. The company has been largely taken to task over it’s mobile app due it’s lack of functionality and poor performance. This new update certainly doesn’t fix all of the problems and it won’t make customers suddenly happy, but there are a few nice new functions added.

First up there is the ability to share items from your news feed. It’s about time! You will now see a small share button at the bottom right of each item. You can click this and then write a comment to go along with your share.

You can also create albums now by clicking the “Photo” button above the timeline. This brings up a page that displays all of the photos stored on your device. By default all of them are checked, which is a bit of a hassle because it means you need to uncheck most before getting started.

Finally, Facebook has made some improvements to photo tagging and included a fix for a status update failure affecting some users.

The changes do help to improve the experience, but the app still doesn’t feel native to Android. In fact, Facebook has recently been coaxing it’s employees to begin using Android phones in order to better know how the app works with hopes of making more improvements.

Judge Approves Facebook “Sponsored Stories” Settlement

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:11 PM on December 3, 2012

There has been an interesting update to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that was about Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories”. This is the lawsuit that was filed in federal court in San Jose, California, by five Facebook members who were upset after seeing their likenesses appear on one of Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” without their permission.

In short, the five people said that Facebook violated California law by publicizing when a user clicks “like” on pages of certain advertisers and when Facebook puts that information into its “Sponsored Stories” feature. At the time, Facebook was not giving users a way to opt out of having their likenesses included in advertisements in this way, and it was not paying users whose likenesses or opinions were placed into an ad.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided that the Facebook users who filed the lawsuit were able to show “economic injury could occur through Facebook’s use of their names, photographs, and likenesses”. The result was that Facebook was going to have to pay $10 million dollars to a charity. As far as I can tell, the exact charity was never named.

Today, the details of the settlement have been changed. Instead of Facebook giving $10 million dollars to a charity, Facebook is going to have to set aside $20 million.

That money is to be used to provide payments of up to $10 dollars to each Facebook user who has objected to being included in the “Sponsored Stories”. Facebook has also agreed to create new controls that will give users the ability to opt out of being put into “Sponsored Stories”.

The new details of the settlement have been approved by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg. Both Facebook and the users who filed the class-action lawsuit have agreed to the new settlement.

The story is not completely over, though. Attorneys for the Center for Public Interest Law want Facebook to be required to obtain affirmative consent from parents before Facebook uses the name or photo of any Facebook user who is under the age of 18 in the “Sponsored Stories”, (or anywhere else). The current settlement does not include that protection. There is the possibility that an objection to this settlement will be filed.

Image: Stock Photo Ten Dollars by BigStock

Firefox changes it’s status with Facebook, now “in a relationship”

Posted by Alan at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2012

Mozilla is becoming more social. Today the Firefox web browser maker announced full integration with Facebook Messenger. The app works much the same as any Firefox add-on, but it has been built on some brand new technology.

Messenger for Firefox utilizes the new Social API from Mozilla. Users will need to be running the latest version of Firefox, but seeing as the browser generally updates users automatically, that should not be a problem. The extension doesn’t come with the latest version though — you will still need to visit the above link to install it.

The add-on will allow you to chat with friends and view status updates from whatever web page you are on, so no more clicking back to that tab that you keep open while you are surfing. And, Mozilla promises that this is just the beginning.

“Today’s Facebook integration is just the start of making Firefox more social. We’ll soon add support for more features and multiple providers.”

Where will the browser maker go next? My best guess would be Twitter, but it’s likely the company will look at all social platforms in an effort to keep, and grow, market share.

Facebook buys up “Facebook live staging” domains

Posted by Alan at 6:47 PM on December 1, 2012

While this may or may not have anything to do with the earlier Facebook-Zynga news, the company has quietly bought up several new domains. A major internet company buying up domain names may not be normally news, but when it’s Facebook and it comes on the heels of other major news surrounding the company, it becomes magnified.

On November 30th (yesterday) Facebook registered the domain names FacebookLiveStaging.com (WHOIS), FacebookLiveStaging.net (WHOIS) and FacebookLiveStaging.org (WHOIS). The domains were all registered though the internet brand protection company MarkMonitor.

At the moment none of these domains lead to any site or even a place marker. So what does the social media giant have in mind for these URL’s? Only time will tell and there is really no point in speculating at this time. Does anyone have any ideas? Let us know in the comments below.

Zynga and Facebook Change their Relationship Status

Posted by JenThorpe at 7:57 PM on November 30, 2012

It’s not yet “Facebook official”, but it looks like game maker Zynga and the social media website Facebook have talked about changing their relationship with each other. The two have been together for years, and I never expected them to consider revising their partnership. However, it seems that they have had “a talk”.

The two companies have reached a new agreement that amends the one they created together in 2010. They aren’t going to do a complete and total “we are never, ever, getting back together” breakup. It’s more like they have each become interested in a more open relationship than what they previously had with each other. Each appears to want have less inter-dependence with the other.

It seems that at least some of the changes will become effective on March 31, 2013. Facebook is going to stop giving what has been seen as a “privileged status” or as “preferential treatment” to Zynga. The 2010 agreement provided Zynga with guaranteed promotions of certain Zynga games on Facebook. Instead, Zynga will be governed by the same rules and policies as the rest of the game companies that are on Facebook.

Facebook will be allowed to develop its own games. Word has it that the company feels it “was not in the business of building games” and doesn’t have plans to start creating them.

Zynga is going to have more freedom to operate its own, standalone, gaming website. They can choose not to display Faecbook’s ads on Zynga.com. They can also choose to not to collect revenue for games on Zynga.com in favor of using Facebook’s payment system. If it goes that route, Facebook will take a 30% cut of that revenue.

Those of you who are playing Zynga games on Facebook need not worry. Games like “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars” are staying put. The difference is that the games will stop featuring cross-promotions that direct you to Zynga.com. At the same time, you won’t be able to play at Zynga.com and tap into your friends who are connected to the games through Facebook.

Personally, I think this is good news. The changes could, potentially, make it possible for people like me, who play games but do not want a Facebook account, to be able to check out some of Zynga’s games.

Image: Stock Photo Broken Heart by BigStock