Archive for Facebook

Google Buzz

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by newideasconsult

Interesting features were added to my GMAIL account yesterday, called Google Buzz, and though I normally follow the online buzz about Google, circumstances led to this added feature surprising me completely.
It currently allows me to add a status message as we do in Facebook, follow friends and have friends follow me, and add third party updates to my profile, from Twitter, Flickr, and Picasa for example.

Though this is not Wave, which is pretty much an open invitation to wave in whatever direction to whoever you wish with whatever you want, Buzz seems to be the initial rumblings of a Google project getting it right. Many people find Facebook and other similar services cumbersome, or daunting in terms of the many features you are faced with when you first log in. Google may have gotten things right when they took several generations of people on in GMAIL, then added features such as chat at a later stage, all the time enriching the offering one or two features at a time. Taking the next step and allowing a more social interaction between GMAIL contacts or ‘friends’ is to me a more natural progression than being thrown in the deep end with full feature sites such as Facebook day one. Even my 72year old father could find Buzz quite exciting and easy to navigate and learn.

Obviously, just like Facebook, the problem lies in how this great ‘idea’ is implemented, and it seems to me that Google fell right into the same old trap with the default settings within Buzz.  The main issue for me is the public display of frequent email friends within my list, done without my initial permission.  Friends lists in Facebook has also often been the problem for them, and the Google Buzz team need to review FB’s experience and ensure they learn from it and fix the Buzz issues asap or face a tremendous backlash because of this security ‘hole’.


Facebook security changes good, but misleading…

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2009 by newideasconsult

Facebook released their long expected security changes yesterday (9 Dec 2009) with the expected barrage of comments on sites around the world.
The changes are good, more comprehensive than before, but the initial wizard is highly misleading and can open up previously secure profiles without the user fully understanding what he or she has done.

Here is how Facebook informed me of the potential changes that I could make to ‘enable’ their new settings:

Initial Security Screen
Initial Security Screen

The problem with this screen is that it represents two sides only, the first being the OPEN settings for everything as one choice, and the second the ‘Old Settings’.  Who can remember what their old settings were for one, other than nerds like me of course?  Who won’t think to select the ‘new’ options since the preceding message from Facebook talked about how ‘new security’ options were so good for me and so much better than the ‘old’ options?

Worse of all is that Facebook defaults ALL your security settings to the OPEN setting option as can be clearly seen in the screen print above.  Surely this is a grossly incompetent way to represent ‘new security features’ to users who more often than not are non-technical and lost amongst the standard Facebook options anyway?  Who in the world authorized this public relations time bomb???

To get past this offending screen you need to select each option offered on the screen as ‘OLD SETTINGS’ or you will be badly surprised at who can find you, see you and connect with you. Dont make the mistake of simply agreeing with these default settings, EVER!  Once past go directly to your Settings option on the top right hand menu in your profile and select Privacy Options first, for some more hidden surprises, as the screenshot from my profile shows:

Facebook Privacy Problem
Facebook Privacy Problem

TO FIX THIS – Go straight to ‘Website’ and ‘Add me as a Friend’ and change the ‘default’ NEW option back to your previous setting as it will be ‘EVERYONE’ after the new changes were announced. Not sure why this is done when ALL my other options clearly show I want ‘Friends Only’ for all the sensitive stuff and at worst ‘Friends of Friends’ for the not-so-important stuff…

Now for a little hidden surprise I never thought would be so open – go again to Privacy Settings under Settings, and then to ‘Applications and websites’.  Select ‘What your friends can share about you’ – O JOY! – finally some spam control…  As you can see from the Facebook default options your ‘trusting’ friends can give away just about everything there is to know about you to 3rd party applications, even if your own privacy settings under ‘What you share’ is completely set to the opposite. A very unfortunate default setting from Facebook as ‘What your friends can share about you’ should closely follow your choices under ‘What you share’ in my opinion!

Once done, go through each of the other three security options under Settings and ensure you have everything set to what you want it to be and NEVER trust Facebook’s default suggestions! EVER!

As for Facebook’s security team, EISH!  Your rollout sucks! With all the options you now offer your users, the rollout should have been applauded! Instead the rollout methodology used created the opposite effect because you chose to offer the non secure settings as defaults to users when they are asked to accept the changes, not to mention the default hidden changes were set to ‘EVERYONE’ as well.  Again, EISH!

My final word – check your settings repeatedly!  The changes can give you more control over your information, hence the title of this post suggesting that the changes are actually ‘good’, but the way the rollout has happened turns this all on its head and leaves you very exposed if you do not check and recheck your settings.

UPDATE 1: According to PC World’s David Coursey Facebook have made further changes to the security and privacy settings now, making this update a sort of rolling change I guess.  The most important part to check out since this amendment is the privacy setting of your Friend’s List’s public setting, in other words apparently the new amendments will allow you to make your Friend’s List invisible now to the outside world and 3rd party applications.  My advice? Check and recheck your privacy settings in every part of the Settings options list Facebook gives you in your profile.

Applications and websites


Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2009 by newideasconsult

Ok, here’s my issue with Twitter…

Do we really need this ‘new’ concept of communication? Am I in the minority here or is this a service that, though possibly exciting to some, seem somewhat spare and even frustrating? In fact to be honest I find it similar to spam, as irritating, and terminated my overeager original registration made in those first months after their launch when we all acted like Twits and signed up.

I get status reports of similar frequency and length from networks like Ning, Linkedin and of course Facebook. Possibly for these reasons I have not yet missed being a Twit. Anyone else feel the same way?

NoSQL is a fantastic step in the right direction…

Posted in General, Innovation, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2009 by newideasconsult

Man, I love the idea of doing away with a traditional RDBMS in favor of something loosely referred to as the NoSQL lobby 😉  And there are some BIG names behind this ‘movement’ like Linkedin, Facebook, Stumbleupon and Google to name a few, though I must admit this was the first I ever heard of it.

Finding new ways to index and search data is old takkie by now, but it remains exciting now that there seems to be a convergence of minds on the issue, because it speaks of market potential.  Commercial drivers are the strongest contributors to DB developments and often when there is a lack of those, we see stagnation in innovation, as we have seen in this space over the past few years.

One of the most exciting DB technology I was introduced to over the last 10 years must be Cache, because it does DB faster than any of the traditional brands!  No wonder mobile networks use Cache so much, as it clearly works well for high volume high speed environments.  By the way, Cache does both relational and object technology designs pretty well.  Now the NoSQL movement is claiming we can do away with databases altogether and approach the idea of data repositories totally differently.

Changing the way we address data has become BIG money these days, more so because of the search engine battles and the resulting web products it spawned in competition and partnership to itself.  Match that to a corporate drive to be more cost effective in terms of data processing, and it’s no wonder we are witnessing changing times in this industry.

Thanks to Slashdot’s reference to the NoSQL community, I am now enlightened and will be watching this space closely c 😉