Late last year Mark Zuckerberg, founder and owner of Facebook, paid a visit to several companies in China. In particularly Zuckerberg visited Sina and met with CEO Charles Chao, had discussion with Alibaba and Taobao. He also had lunch with Baidu's CEO Robin Li, of whom Zuckerberg have known for a long time. The one China social giant that Zuckerberg did not meet was the team at the Beijing based Renren (人人网). As of this writing Renren is the largest social network in China with over 100 million users. Could this omission be because Renren copies Facebook too much?

You can see a comparison of their login pages below:

This similarity is not surprising given mainland Chinese counterfeiting and blatant imitation culture. There is even a Chinese phrase for this imitation culture, 山寨 (pinyin: shānzhài). It use to be focused mainly on clothing and handbags, but now everything you can think of and many items you can't imagine have Shanzai versions. The web site Shanzai.com highlights them all.

If you enjoy looking at photos on the Internet you will be familiar with the social photo sharing site Flickr, and may even have an account on it. Aside from Flickr many have also shared photos on the social network Facebook. The user experience for exploring photos on both of these sites are okay but they are rightfully focused on an individual rather than on the photos as they would if it was a photo browsing site, because both are social sharing web sites. Until now there are no tools to view these photos from your social graph on both of these networks together in one place, which the iPad app, Flickpad, is designed just for this purpose.

After you provide your Facebook and Flickr accounts credentials, the app will begin to load thumbnails of the new photos from your contacts on the respective sites. The nice things about this app compare to most photo viewing apps, is that it mimics the metaphor of a group of slides dumped onto a table top. As you can see from the app's Home screen that is exactly what you see. Each photos looks like the traditional slides, and you manipulate the photo slides by dragging them around on the screen. On the edge of the slides there are several useful information:

  • Title of the photo as entered by the photographer/owner of the photo.
  • Name of the person who shared the photo
  • Depending on the service the photo is from you can see either the number of people who viewed the photo (Flickr), or both the number of Likes and number of comments left by viewers (Facebook).

This real life metaphor begins to differ when you start to manipulate the photos. The app takes advantage of the iPad's multi-touch capabilities and created a set of gestures for managing the photos and manipulating them on the screen. Getting familiar with these gestures may take some time. I personally keeps going back to the Info button on the Home screen to review the gestures and I had been using this app for several months; although not daily.

Some of the natural gestures:

  • "Click on a Photo with one finger" = zooms into the photo view, displaying the full size of the photo with details of the photographer/owner and any captions they may have added. On this photo details page there is an option to view and contribute to comments for the photo. There is also an Options menu to enable the user to:
    • Email the photo
    • Open the photo in Safari
    • Even save the photo into the user's photo library

    The Favorite button allows use to add a photo as favorite or Like it depending on the site from which the photo is from; its icon changes accordingly to reflect the function. Initially it may not be obvious but the Slideshow button here will scroll through the individual photos of the set you were previously viewing.

  • "Flick the photo off the screen" = mark the photo as seen
  • "Pinch on a photo" = Pinch out will zoom in a single photo or a group of photos. Pinch in will zoom out or close a view.

Some hidden but useful gestures:

  • "With two fingers clicks on a photo and drag slightly" = will bring all the photos in the album together; remember sometimes there may be only one photo in an album. With the two fingers still on the group you can flick the group off the screen to mark them all as seen.
  • "Pinch" = in many cases you can use this gesture to close the screen you are viewing.

Conclusion

Overall there this is a well polished app for the iPad to address the purpose of browsing photos from Flickr and Facebook. Even if you only want to view photos from one of the two sites this is a great tool. The developer had recently updated the app to make many of the above functions behave even better. If you enjoying browsing photos this is definitely an app to get for your iPad.

Like all apps there are several features on my wish list I will be forwarding to the developer. One very useful addition will be to invoke a 3rd party helper apps to share a link to a photo or album. For example, invoking one of the iOS Twitter app to allow the user to tweet a link to one of the chosen photo. Similar to the behavior in the Mashable iPhone app, but definitely not the way the Mashable iPad app handles this same function.

Also, it will be nice to enable the actual display of the photo in the native service web site within mobile Safari.

Where to Get It

The developer, Shacked Software, is asking USD4.99 for Flickpad Pro available in the iTunes App Store and there is a free ad support version also.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesiPad, review

When I signed onto iTunes Ping this morning (HK time) I was able to connect my account to my Facebook account to locate my Facebook friends who are already on Ping. Later on in the morning I start to encounter problems with the Facebook connection. It first thinks that I am no longer connected, then when I try to reconnect it has trouble reaching Facebook.

After a few more attempts the Facebook Connect button on the Ping Home page in iTunes disappeared.

Did Apple kill the Ping Facebook application? Or did Facebook killed it because it stressed Facebook's API infrastructure too much?

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesApple Inc-

Other than the "Red Shirt Movement" in Thailand there is also a movement to stop using Facebook. This all started when Facebook announce their "Open Graph API" initiative. I am not going to explain the details of this API here, because there are extensive documentations on Facebook's Developers web site. The reason for concern is not because Facebook has opened its API, but how Facebook is doing so and the side effects of these actions.

From the beginning, users of Facebook have used it as a private network where people share personal information with only people they desire and no one else. In recent days/months due to various changes to Facebook it has betrayed this trust that over 400 million Facebook users have placed on the site.

One may argue that Facebook does have many privacy settings (100s), and these settings are design to protect the personal information of a user's account. Unfortunately Facebook set the default for these settings to allow "everyone" access to these personal data. So if a user is not familiar or not aware of these privacy settings, his personal information, which were originally private will all become automatically public.

Facebook's responds to these concerns from users by saying that any information posted to the Internet are public. This statement is correct, as I had already explained in my post Dangers of Young Generations on The Net, but this does not justify their recent actions.

The reason why people are so angry with Facebook is because Facebook originally established itself as a private network. So private that only people from certain US universities can join network. Even then only people that a user approves can see his personal information. Unlike services like Twitter and others, where the site/service owners explicitly remind their users the information submitted are public. In the recent months Facebook quietly changed this and began publicizing users' personal data onto the Internet and search engines. Each time Facebook does this, users will have to carefully examine Facebook's actions and revisit their Privacy settings to ensure proper personal privacy is maintained.

Due to Facebook's recent actions and attitudes toward personal privacy, the We're Quitting Facebook movement is asking people who agree with them to quit Facebook and delete their account on the site. To make this impact more public, they asked everyone to do it together on May 31st.

Unfortunately for many deleting their Facebook accounts is not an option. One reason may be because your Facebook account is associated with a Facebook Fan page, which you are an owner or administrator to. Deleting the Personal Facebook account will prevent you from managing these Fan pages.

If you're like me, belongs to the group of users who are concern with Facebook's exposure of our private data but do not want to delete your Facebook account, then the following will be the steps you should take:

  1. Log into Facebook.
  2. Go to the Facebook Edit Profile page.
  3. Go into each section:
    • Basic Information
    • Profile Picture
    • Relationships
    • Likes and Interests
    • Education and Work
    • Contact Information

    within this page and remove all content that you will not want to published on the Internet. Don't take into consideration your Facebook Privacy settings, because Facebook may change the meaning of these settings anytime.

If you are not administering any Facebook Fan page, you should still do the above and then deactivate your account.

If you want to voice your opinions you can leave them here as comments below and/or post them on the Facebook Site Governance Fan page.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesadvice

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ebckRNly_QAt Pacific Coffee this morning I observed a boy; about the age of ten, at an Internet workstation. From the start I see that he is fidgety, and is the type who cannot sit still. When he jumps onto the computer the first thing he does is sign into Facebook. He scans the posts in his Home stream, then proceeds to FishVille for the next 15 minutes.

Throughout his time on the computer I see that he is still fidgety and cannot sit still, but he is able to endure this urge and stay put for FishVille. It is quite interesting how Zynga is able to create games that are addictive to both young and old, but I will leave that for another post.

What worries me is that there is no signs of his parents. I hope they have taught him the basics of information sharing on The Net and it's dangers.

Please don't get me wrong. I am all for our young generations embracing technologies, but they need to be first educated on the dangers and importance of personal privacy before jumping in head first. This is particularly important given the recent revamp of Facebook's privacy settings for it's user accounts.

I think there needs to be some basic education for everyone who use the Net, no matter at what age. I am definitely not speaking for the monitoring of The Net or filtering The Net access for the end users. The two extremes in this being China and Australia.

It is impossible for any governing body to determine all dangerous or inappropriate contents and activities, which exist today and in the future. Also who is to say what is dangerous and what is appropriate. The society should determine that. It is much more practical to educate the users, empower them to make those decisions, and allow them to act accordingly to protect themselves.

If you remember the following each time you use the Internet you will be on your way to protecting yourself. The following list is in no particular order:

4 Rules of Using the Internet

  • Always explicitly log off any web site or services instead of just closing the web browser.
  • Never opens/clicks on links directly within emails. Try to locate the referenced content yourself on the said web site or retype the URL yourself in your web browser. Pay attention to any hyperlinks (URLs) that may be trying to spoof the site it is pretending to be.
  • Do not click or download any attachments from anyone; even from people you know, unless that person had previously told you he will send you an attachment.
  • Before you share any information (content) onto the Internet, you should stop for a moment and think whether you are willing to have this content permanently stored/live on the Internet.

I hope you find these information useful and you will share them with as many people as possible, especially young children.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesObservation

Facebook iPhone LogoThis morning (Hong Kong time) Apple finally approved version 3.0 of Facebook's iPhone application on the iTunes App Store. It had been widely talked about since Joe Hewitt, the developer for Facebook iPhone application, announced on August 16th of its submission to Apple for approval on the App Store. Only took 13 days, 1 day shy of Apple's stated average time to approve an iPhone application on the App Store.

This new version has a brand new UI and much better UX than the previous version. With many of the tasks rethought with an obvious user centric refinement.

Facebook - Home ScreenThere is now a Home screen where you can find the default functions (icons): News Feeds, Profile, Friends, Inbox, Chat, Requests, Events, Photos and Notes. This new Home screen makes it easy to add placeholder icons (at the moment individual Friends Profile or Pages) onto it. This new interface can imply we may see the ability to add Facebook application icons some time in the future.

Facebook - Home Screen AdditionThe Facebook Home screen utilized the iPhone's built in technique for rearranging icons on the Home screen. So to adjust the positions of icons or remove placeholder icons, one just need to click-and-hold any icon on the Home screen. After doing so, the little icons on the Home screen will shake; like they do on the iPhone's own Home screen, the icons that are not default will also have a cross icon near the top left corner of the icon, for users to click to delete them.Facebook - Modify Home Screen Icon

Clicking on the placeholder icons for your friends or Pages will jump directly to the respective Profile page.

The News Feeds screen has been improved. You can now see Likes and number of comments for each message right on the feed/stream. Embedded photos in the message are displayed right away, but unfortunately, clicking on an embedded video will receive an alert message

Sorry, Facebook Video is not yet compatible with the iPhones and iPod Touches, but we're working on it

Facebook - News FeedClicking on the Plus icon besides a message will bring up the actions: Likes and Comment, instead of the expected action of reading the detailed version of the message. This screen also look exceptionally sparse, leading one to believe that more actions may be coming in the next version. I can imagine a one: "Share".

Facebook - Action ScreenIf there are Likes or Comments for a message, the Comments and Likes bar will display at the bottom of the message. Clicking it will bring up the detailed version of the message, which redisplays the message, the last person who liked the message, the total number of people who liked it, and the list of all the comments left for the message. Facebook - Comments ThreadFrom here, the user can click on a button to indicate one Likes the message, or leave a comment by start typing in the Comments field.

Facebook - Events ListEvents in the new Facebook iPhone application has also been improved. The user can now see the list of events from the Groups or Pages s/he belongs to.

The list of events are separated into two groups "Upcoming Events" and "Past Events". The Past Events are sorted in reverse chronological order, which makes sense, but I think the Upcoming Events should be sorted in chronological order. So if you have many events you will not have to scroll several pages down before seeing the next event.

Facebook - EventOn this Events page, you can also choose to view all the upcoming birthdays. The application intelligently only expanded the individual list of birthdays for the current month. To see birthdays in other future months, the user will have to click on the name of the month, where a new screen with the list of birthdays on the chosen month are shown.

Facebook - PhotosClicking on an event in the list will bring up the Event Detailed view. Showing all the information about an event including the ability to indicate whether one is attending the event, plus see a list of guests who had indicated: Confirmed, Maybe, Declined, and Awaiting.

Photos is another function that had been refined. It now separates photos uploaded via different methods (ie. Ping.fm, Posterous, etc.).

One cool thing about the new Facebook iPhone application is that it will jump back to the last screen you were on when you exited the application.

Overall this is a great update to the Facebook iPhone application and well worth the download, especially if you are a heavy Facebook user. Given that it is a free application, even casual Facebook user should download it to give it a try.

While posting a message on the Wall of the new Facebook group, "New York Fries Lovers in HK". I notice something amazing, I was able to go forward in time after submitting the post. You can see what I mean in the screen shot below, but if you want to see it live on Facebook, you will have to get there in the next hour and you will have to be in the Eastern hemisphere.

Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesObservation