Tag: Facebook

Facebook Sync Revisited

Facebook Logo

Back in September last year I posted about a great program I use to sync my Facebook friends with Address Book in Mac OS X. And I thought I’d revisit the topic this year for all you iPhone users out there, because of a great feature in the Facebook app for the iPhone, you might (as some of my friends were) be unaware of…

If you open the Facebook app on your iPhone and select the friends section it will open up a list of your friends, but hidden away in the top left hand corner or here:

Facebook App Sync Option

You will see the option to “Sync”, which means exactly what you might imagine… YES! Finally you don’t have to take photos of each of your friends for your iPhone contacts, you can just have Facebook pull down the most recent version of their profile picture:

Facebook App Sync OptionsFirst you need to turn it on and then select if you want it to replace existing photos, which means it will replace any photos you already have and do this each time you sync, which as you can see I’ve selected (as I like the variety that results each time I sync) or don’t if you prefer.

And then just sit back and let it do it’s thing.

Cool. And hassle free. (After all, would you have ever got round to adding all those photos anyway?)

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , , ,

Facebook Fan Page Profile Picture #Fail

Facebook Logo

So we completed the new logo for Slingsby’s Driving Academy at the end of last week and began adding it to the website, designing letterheads and such. One of the first things that my client suggested to do (actually tried to do herself!) was to change the Facebook Fan Page Profile Picture.

Ideally this should be an easy process, after all she had added a picture in the first place to act as a placeholder whilst we finalised the logo. Unfortunately the Fan Page Profile Pictures do not act as you might expect. Firstly we tried with an image that included not only the logo but the company name.

Unfortunately the picture then centred on the text in the middle of the image and there appeared no way to change the part of the image that was sampled. :-( Facebook’s help pages provided no extra help, despite searching and we finally settled on this image to solve the gravatar problem:

Slingsby Driving Academy Facebook Logo

It’s a nice compromise on our part, but browsing the the Facebook user pages it is clear that Facebook is very unresponsive to users. There are frequently hundreds of messages requesting simple adjustments and changes, and very few responses from Facebook.

I imagine it must be very difficult for Facebook to cope with it’s significant growth, but it seems that rather than being responsive to its users and making small adjustments that improve the users experience. It’s disappointing that Facebook hasn’t embraced a more responsive interface.

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Working with Google Wave

Google Wave

Google WaveI was very excited by the demos of Google Wave last September and waited patiently for an invitation, one finally furnished by my brother. After a few hours of playing with it I set it aside and although I thought it might be useful for a couple of projects I was working on, I couldn’t really find an immediate use for it.

So at the start of the year I when I was approached by my old driving instructor to re-vitalise her website and later her brand I was finally given the opportunity to try out Google Wave in a real life situation. So I sent her an invite and began to discuss the project with her using Google Wave.

I was very surprised how quickly she adapted to using the Wave, I think it was largely the familiarity that using Facebook Chat had given her with IM clients, only this time she was most impressed with the ability to see what I was typing as I typed (even me correcting spelling mistakes).

For the first couple of weeks of the project – the most important weeks – we went back and forth across a couple of waves, one dedicated to each aspect of the project. I was able to show her screenshots of proposed designs and get immediate feedback, and post alterations we discussed.

Both of us were able to come back to the wave and check for updates and more importantly instead of our discussion being fragmented across multiple emails it was all kept in a single organised place. From a working perspective this made the design and approval process much easier.

In a matter of days we had her new website up and running. After this our use of Google Wave tailed off, probably due to the lack of effective notifications to email meaning once the project tailed off its initial pace she simply forgot to login and check and we defaulted back to emails and telephone calls.

There were a few other drawbacks: the uploading of images was not always successful and more than once I had to resort to email; the adding of comments did not always allow one to easily reply to a comment if it is the last in the list, rather than add a new comment.

Overall for very beta software it performed well for the purpose of managing the project. It is clear however that it needs significant improvement before it makes it way into usage by the general population. It could also do with being improved more quickly that it currently seems to be.

If you’d like to check out the product of our collaboration take a look here:


Oh and if you’d like an invite to the wave party I still have some so drop me a note in the comments.

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Changing Facebook Groups into Fan Pages

Facebook Logo

It’s surprising how often the skills a business owner develops in their private lives can be re-purposed to help them in their businesses. Although many of my clients are adverse if not allergic to the Internet, there are occasional exceptions and more often I’m finding Facebook is that exception.

Whilst re-designing Slingsby’s Driving Academy’s website earlier this week I had a really long discussion with my client about how best to promote her site and low and behold she told me she had already setup a group on Facebook to help promote her business.

Most people in the UK take their driving test around the age of 17 or 18, few people wait to 28 as I was when I started lessons with my client. So I suppose I really shouldn’t of been surprised that other past younger pupils had coaxed her onto Facebook and helped her setup a group.

So, after some discussion we decided that it might be better for her to have a Facebook Page, a more business orientated type of group. I’ve been reading articles on Mashable and the like for the past year on such services, but this was the first client I had found who was open to the idea of using Facebook as a method to promote her business.

So within a couple of minutes we had setup her Facebook Page and set both her, myself and her business partner as managing administrators. We used the Facebook Fan Badge Generator (see here) and added it to the sidebar of her new website. This process was all relatively simple, it was what followed that was not.

What I wanted to do was move all of the members of the group across to the Fan Page. Sounds simple right. Surely Facebook must have a method for you to do this automatically? Ah… Once Upon A Time…

So it seems from this post at College Web Editor (here) that Facebook originally did this for you, a simple email over to Facebook and they would handle the transfer. Seems a bit complicated really to me – why they couldn’t just create an automated system to handle it I don’t know.

This, however, didn’t last long. The College Web Editor article was written in May 08, by mid 09 this had changed and Facebook was no longer offering this service (see here, here and here). What has surprised me so much how quickly I could find information from sources other than Facebook and them abandoning this service.

So what can you do?

Well it seems that the only solution that Facebook recommends is for you to message all of your Facebook group members and ask them to become fans.

What did we do?

Well we just posted to the group’s wall and after ten minutes, we had four fans, after an hour we had eight and so on, by the close of business that day we had over thirty. At the time of writing we have sixty fans. So success.

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How many tabs did you have open?

I regularly and bitterly complain about the shortcoming of my browsers. As a prolific internet consumer I have grown into the habit of having many windows open, which have in turn many tabs open. At the time of writing I am running the latest build of webkit as my primary browser, if I ask it to quit (the only way you can find out how many windows and tabs you have open) it reports back:

Yikes! How Many Webpages?
Yikes! How Many Webpages?

(Notice how webkit is reported as Safari (same in the menu bar (which is extra confusing if you happen to have both open at the same time!))

As it happens I recently restarted my computer so I don’t have Safari 4 also open, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. I’ll tend to keep some things running in Safari 4 just in case webkit crashes (which as it’s a nightly build it does quite often, but less frequently than Safari with this many tabs open). I do however have Firefox open, which it turn has five windows, with forty tabs open.

I also have about half a dozen custom Fluid browsers open at any one time to take care of the custom web services I use on a daily basis such as Google Reader (always over 1000+ articles to read… why oh why), Github (which my brother reliably informs me is the Geeks Facebook), Facebook (for us mere mortals), Pivotal Tracker (for my projects); in fact if I tend to use a service everyday I tend to have a fluid browser for it…

It was unsurprising then when I read Sal Cangeloso’s post entitled Why can’t I run 80 tabs in Firefox I experienced an all too familiar sense of déjà vu as he described his problem. My sprawling number of tabs is also generated by the number of ideas I have floating about in my head, a simple query to google to answer a basic problem can often lead to 10-20 tabs on its own, assuming you don’t stumble across anything interesting that is… if so add another 10?

Regular crashes in Safari 4 forced me to try out Webkit nightly builds (which are surprisingly more stable), unlike him I abandoned Firefox as a primary browser a good deal of time ago as I have never found it able to cope with a 100+ tabs  (which I frequently reach by the end of the day) without it becoming unresponsive or crashing; but still I suffer frequent crashes and all the attenuated irritation.

Like Sal I also initially thought that it was perhaps my older system, and before I upgraded earlier this year to a shiny new MBP (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM) it was much worse, but to be frank it’s not much better. Since fleeing from Safari 4 to Webkit Nightly I have tended to restart and reload my browser once a day (having it restore all previously open tabs), which has certainly made things better but not perfect.

It seems to me that there is a significant problem with web browsing on this scale. I have tried to use various web services to organise it efficiently from delicious, where I have thousands of bookmarks (once bookmarked never revisited – usually much quicker to just re-google) to google’s own bookmarking service (useless) to activating the full web history storage. Currently I am finding Safari / Webkit’s coverflow history helpful but its not enough.

Personally I think more and more of us are using the web in this prolific way and whilst I agree with Sal that there is definitely something up with our browsers I think that Google and the major browser developers have failed to adapt quickly enough to this changing phenomenon. Or offer us any tools to make it easier…

For example why in OS X.6 can’t I click on the Safari or Webkit icon in the Dock and see a list of sites I currently have open? When I have 20 tabs open in a single window I won’t necessarily remember which one it is, and so I end up cycling away through innumerable tabs. And though I try to keep them organised, being able to move tabs to different windows has helped, it’s certainly laborious.

The bookmarking tools in Safari / Webkit in particular are laughably basic. I use my menu bar bookmarks for bookmarklets such as my current favourites: Smush.it, TinyURL!, Translate into English, Send to Site Sucker, Google Bookmark… and there we go, googling a source url for Smush.it told me there was a wordpress plugin (which I’ll have to install) and now I have another tab open.

There does not seem to be much innovation in this area and I can reassure Sal that he’s not the only one suffering and that there has to be an improvement or progress in these areas soon (or it might just drive me mad!).

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Facebook Sync

Facebook Logo

As I’m in the middle of cleaning up my address book, I thought I’d also re-sync with Facebook (yes it’s possible!).

A new version of AddressBookSync is now available courtesy of Dan Auclair. The short and sweet of it is that it lets you link your friends from Facebook with contacts in your Apple Address Book, which I have to say is pretty neat.

It even lets you match Facebook friends with contacts in your Address Book when the names differ, which is great improvement from the earlier version I was using. All in all it lets you sync: Profile Pictures, Birthdays and Profile URLs. Unfortunately Facebook doesn’t let you sync email or telephone records. :-(


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