Half Byte blog is on Facebook

ye Old Half Byte blog is on Facebook.

The page is a work in progress, but you will find not only links to posts on the blog, but also news bits, opinion, tips and tricks. Come check it out!

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Facebook ipo a failure? really? What constitutes a success then?

People are calling the Facebook IPO a failure because it did not triple it’s opening price. Indeed, it retreated.  So what. I’d hardly call it a failure. Yet, people are already touting the end of Facebook.  Well, if that is the case, it has to be the most successful failure in business. Ever.

So, if that is a failure, what other ‘successful failures’ are there?

Let’s take a look.

First, lets look at Nintendo’s Wii.  Pundits wrote this thing off the day it was released. Yet, it went on to sell tens of millions of consoles and games. It still sells well today, but not at the level it did just two years ago.  Even so, it was called a turkey and that it was something a lot of people bought, played once or twice and put in a closet. Yet, those games dominated the charts for months at a time. Even now, it manages to garner high numbers for its games.  Has it lived out it’s life cycle? Yes. It is aging quickly now, but our Wii sees heavy use even today.  Not only is it the second biggest successful failure, it is, in my opinion, the best console ever.  It is the only I have ever seen that got my kid to actually stand up and get engaged in a game and not just sit on his duff.

Next, comes another game console, the Sony Playstation 3.  This turkey lagged behind Microsoft and Nintendo for years. Only recently has it really started to gain any momentum, but this comes after Sony lowered its price, several times and dumbed the thing down. But, it has sold millions. I suspect many of those sales were just for Blu-Ray since it was, at one point, the cheapest blu-ray player.  So, I will call it a successful failure.

Going back a couple of decades, and citing a company that no longer exists, we have the Pontiac Fiero. The Fiero began life as a commuter car. A two seater, it was meant to be a short haul means of transport. That it looked kind of sporty gave it a false image. People started buying them in droves. Dealers could not keep them in stock. Prices went through the roof…and so did the flames. Reports of the car bursting into flames for no apparent reason and reliability issues plagued the car. Pontiac scrapped it after just four years and 370 thousand vehicles produced.

Windows Vista.  What can I say? Vista is one example of why a company needs to stay in the good graces of the media.  Vista ‘failed’ because the tech press – and APPLE – were relentless in criticism against the operating system.  There were a few legit issues early on-like drivers-but they went away.  The biggest problem was with PC makers using components that were not capable enough to handle the operating system and ones in which Microsoft just stamped OK. Like Intel’s abysmal graphics chipset.  That, and the poor reception in the press, doomed the operating system.  Yet, just two years later, when Windows 7 shipped, Microsoft managed fool not only the public but the tech press into thinking Windows 7 was a gigantic leap over Vista. It isn’t. It is Vista 2.0.

There are lots of products and services that started out with a flash, but just kind of fizzled…like Zune, Pets.com, Sega’s Dreamcast or the Palm Pre.  These really were failures. As much as I liked all three of them, Zune, Dreamcast and Pre were failures. Big time failures. Yet, I would not call Facebook or Wii or even PS3 out and out failures. Each was a success.  Facebook will be around forever, but I suspect it will far surpass MySpace or any other such site and will be around for a few more years.  I don’t think I’ll buy stock, though.  No, I’m sure. I won’t buy the stock.

What other ‘successful failures’ can you think of? Leave a note in the comments.

Oh, Like this post if you agree. (See what I did there?)

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Facebook’s Timeline has arrived…how is it?

fbook_TimelineFacebook has finally rolled out it’s Timeline feature.  As is always the case, there are folks who already don’t like, even though they may or may not have seen or used it.  This happens whenever Facebook (or any application for that matter) makes changes.  This is normal, people generally are resistant to change.  And, sometimes, for good reason. Not every change that Facebook makes is good. In fact, it is generally the opposite. Most of the past changes ended doing something that hindered user’s privacy. And Timeline has that same potential, but…and this is a big but…everything in the Timeline has ALREADY been posted, publicly, to Facebook.  To give users an opportunity to review and remove or add information, photos, etc., they are not going to force the change for seven days, which is far more time than they have given in the past.

So, what is Timeline?  Timeline is, just as it states, a fbook_Timeline2timeline of everything you have done on Facebook. You could, if you were so inclined, put your entire life on the service.  You can document your birth, all of your important life events, relationships, family, work history, everything.  If you have used Facebook for any length of time, then quite a bit of this work is already done.  Even if you choose to leave it as is, it is still quite useful.

One of the things I’ve always liked about Facebook is the interaction with friends and the ability to post links, links that often have previews. I use this quite a bit to find things that interest me or even to replace the Favorites in my browser. Problem, though, is that if you have an active feed, this can be difficult.  Finding items, in the past, has been a chore. Timeline helps you with that.  Even so, it will still require some effort as not everything is displayed, but you can still get to what you want easily.fbook_Timeline3

As I said, not everything will be displayed. Many posts will appear as a dot in your timeline. Simply hover over the dot and the post will display. It would take far too long for the page to load in your browser if they displayed everything.  I don’t mind this at all.  In fact, after only a couple of days, I rather like Timeline.

One of the better things they did is re-organize your info.  It now displays in a horizontal bar with the highlights, including your work, school and relationship status. It shows nine thumbnails, at random, of your friends and also has maps and your likes. There is an ‘Update Info’ button that lets you expand and update the information.  The organization and appearance are clean and, as my fiancé noted, it looks more ‘grown up.’ She’s right, it does.fbook_Timeline4

Another nice, but simple thing they did was allow you to pick a photo to act as your ‘cover’.  What that is is a photo that takes up about a third of  the upper portion of the page and has in inset of your avatar photo on the lower left.  It makes it look personal without being cartoonish.

The Timeline also has boxes that show your recent activity, the games you play and, of course, the rest of your timeline (which consists of the items from your newsfeed.)  You edit or remove these boxes, so if you don’t want people to know you are addicted to Words With Friends, you can hide it from the Timeline.

You can also update your status, add photos, add locations or life events from a floating toolbar.  As you scroll down your page, the floating bar moves with you, staying at the top of the browser window.  A nice feature.

Usability is pretty good, but, with all things electronic, it is not perfect and there will be those who will just hate this.  I think, though, that most users will embrace the change.

I would urge everyone to give it a chance. Google is probably warming up their copying machine to make Google+ look like this as well.

UPDATE:

facebookAndroidTimelineIt seems that the Android flavor of the Facebook has been updated to incorporate the Timeline.  The update was made available today.  You can go to the Android App Store on your phone and download the new version now.  As with the web version, the Android version makes your page more organized and has a nice, clean appearance. It looks pretty much like the web version, but is, due to screen limitations, only one column.

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Your online privacy: Facebook

So, one of the more egregious violations of your online privacy was done by Facebook.  A while back, they very quietly changed their privacy settings and, as a result, left most users wide open.  Photos, personal information, etc. was available to pretty much anyone. Users had to go and manually change the settings.  Facebook took so much flack over this (and Mark Zuckerberg’s famous quote stemmed from this) and implemented new and improved privacy settings.

Those settings are pretty straight forward and Facebook provides a public setting, a friends setting, friends of friends and a custom setting.  Choosing the custom setting gives you more flexibility. For example, I don’t care if Jane Public knows I live in Richmond, but would not want my photos made available.  You can fine tune these settings.  You  can choose who sees any of your posts, comments, likes, photos and just about anything else you post on Facebook.

Where things get dicey are with the games and applications.  Things like Farmville will ask to have access to your wall.  They also gain access to all of your contacts, so your friends now become targets for these applications and games and will get invites and other status updates from the applications.  Some people won’t mind while others will.

fbprivacy1Fortunately, you can block some or all of the applications. At the bottom of the ‘Choose Your Privacy Settings’ page is the Block Lists link.  Click on that and you will see the block settings.

This page lets you block users and application invites and events.

While Facebook says they simplified –and they have – the privacy settings, they are still pretty daunting to fumble through.  It is pretty safe, however, to select ‘Friends’ and let that be your default.

One other feature that Facebook implemented recently will let you download EVERYTHING you have done on Facebook. It will give you back your photos, all of your posts AND, more importantly, all of your mail and instant message logs.  It’s pretty scary what Facebook saves, so, the best advice I have, don’t post anything that you would be embarrassed by having Facebook save.  I would encourage you to download your stuff at least once, just to see what Facebook saved.  You can do so by going to your Account Settings, clicking the ‘learn more’ link next to ‘Download Your Information’ and follow the directions. It takes about thirty minutes for it to gather your stuff. It will email you a link to download the file.

fbprivacy2

Facebook’s privacy settings are far better now than they once were and following a few simple things will help guard your privacy:

  • Change your privacy settings to at least Friends
  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want family and friends to see or know
  • Download your stuff to see just what Facebook saves
  • Be careful when playing games, taking quizzes (some of them want to charge your cell phone, so read all of that small print first before accepting anything)
  • Never accept a friend that you do not know

Facebook is a great site and a good tool for re-connecting with friends and family. I have re-connected with some folks that I never thought I would see or hear from again.  A little prudence will go a long way in protecting your privacy.

 

Note: Facebook has a page that will explain the various settings. You find that here.

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