Facebook’s proposed policy changes: VOTE

Your voice. Your vote.

Facebook has proposed a number of policy changes to their “Data Use Policy” and their “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” (SRR). Users have been given the ability to vote on whether they want these proposed changes to go ahead or not. The result of this vote is only binding if at least 30% of all of Facebook’s over 1 billion active users vote, otherwise it is only “suggestive”.

Unfortunately, Facebook has made it difficult to see what exactly the changes are. The only way is to actually read through all four documents: the proposed and current SRRs, and the proposed and current Data Use Policies. To help you make an informed decision in your vote, I’ve gone through them both and highlighted the important changes for you.

If you wish to read these documents yourself:

Facebook’s current Data Use Policy

Facebook’s proposed Data Use Policy

Facebook’s current SRR

Facebook’s proposed SRR

If you want to go and vote on the decision, and I strongly encourage you to do so, then please go to The Vote Page by clicking here. Make sure you do so before 10th December, 2012, because that is the deadline (12:00 PM PST, or 20:00/8:00 PM UTC). Do it at some time on the 9th or earlier to be safe.

The first, and in my opinion most important, change made is the removal of the following statement that was present in the original SRR. A similar removal was made from the Data Use Policy.

If more than 7,000 users post a substantive comment on a particular proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives. The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote.

This means that future changes would not be subject to a vote in the same way that this one is.

They have also removed some of the control over Facebook email, and who can control what gets sent. In the following quote, all but the first sentence was removed (the part struck out did not exist on the proposed document).

Your Facebook email address includes your public username like so: username@facebook.com. You can control who can start a message thread with you using your “How You Connect” settings. If they include others on that message, the others can reply too.

The following few quotes were added in which seem to simply clarify practices already undertaken by Facebook, rather than actually changing Facebook policy.

When you hide things on your timeline, like posts or connections, it means those things will not appear on your timeline. But, remember, anyone in the audience of those posts or who can see a connection may still see it elsewhere, like on someone else’s timeline or in search results. You can also delete or change the audience of content you post.

And

But remember that people can still find you or a link to your timeline on Facebook through other people and the things they share about you or through other posts, like if you are tagged in a friend’s photo or post something to a public page.

And

As described in the what your friends and others share about you section of this policy, your friends and others may share information about you. They may share photos or other information about you and tag you in their posts. If you do not like a particular post, tell them or report the post.

In addition, they are now more clear about which pieces of information—which you have already provided them—they may use in order to show you more relevant ads.

If you indicate that you are interested in topics, such as by liking a Page, including topics such as products, brands, religion, health status, or political views, you may see ads related to those topics as well. We require advertisers to comply with our Advertising Guidelines, including provisions relating to the use of sensitive data. Try this tool yourself to see one of the ways advertisers target ads and what information they see at:https://www.facebook.com/ads/create/

Other clarifications regarding users who violate the terms of service:

We also may retain information from accounts disabled for violations of our terms for at least a year to prevent repeat abuse or other violations of our terms.

Finally, they add new information about Facebook “affiliates”, which include Facebook-owned properties like Instagram, Facebook Inc., and Facebook Ireland Ltd

We may share information we receive with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Facebook is part of, or that become part of that group (often these companies are called affiliates). Likewise, our affiliates may share information with us as well. This sharing is done in compliance with applicable laws including where such applicable laws require consent. We and our affiliates may use shared information to help provide, understand, and improve our services and their own services.

I hope that this summary of the changes helps you to make an informed decision on whether you believe the proposed changes benefit Facebook or not; and regardless of whether you prefer the current documents or the proposed changes, I hope that you will vote for your preferred choice. Please share this information with as many people as you can in order to try and reach the immense goal of over 300 million votes and make this referendum binding.

Click here to go to the voting page and cast your vote!

Idea: Partial fullscreen

Both Microsoft (with Windows 8) and Apple (since OS X 10.7 “Lion”) are moving towards a paradigm in their desktop operating systems that encourages the use of full screen apps. Whether you love it or hate it, this seems to be the way things are moving in the near future.

Even for those that like it, there are certainly some drawbacks. Some programmes just work better when they can be used on top of others. Note-taking apps like TextEdit or Notepad can work great over the top of a full-screen web browser, and it would be nice to be able to call up an IM window without having to switch over to another space if you’re working on a full-screen document.

Apps could use a partial fullscreen API to specify that they are suitable for being used on top of fullscreen applications, and then any windows open in them would appear in a menu after opening a drawer that is on one edge of the screen (perhaps some form of gesture or keyboard shortcut could also be used, or it could auto-hide, to preserve screen real estate).

In Windows 8 this could be added to the Charms menu, in OS X, I would say a three-fingered swipe from the very edge of the touchpad, but really any method could be used if the drawer were to be hidden when not in use.

When you pull out the drawer, a menu of all installed apps that can use partial fullscreen would appear, and upon clicking on the one you want, it would appear in the place of the drawer at the edge of the screen. Perhaps there could also be a simple tabbed system to switch between different partial fullscreen apps, such as different text windows, IM windows, etc.

People could benefit from something like this in a variety of ways:

  • Note taking while browsing websites for research purposes
  • Instant Messaging/chat while browsing the web
  • Audio libraries during fullscreen production or web browsing
  • Watching video while browsing the web

Fullscreen applications are great. You get more screen real-estate, they can help to minimise unwanted distractions. The problem is there are some cases where you want to be able to see more than one window at a time, for a variety of purposes. Partial fullscreen would help get the best of both worlds.

What do you think about partial fullscreen? Leave a comment down below.

Learning the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

This is a brief instructional blog post on how to switch to the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, an alternative to the standard QWERTY keyboard layout used by most English speakers. The advantages are that it is much faster than QWERTY, and it involves far fewer hand movements, making its users less susceptible to RSIs like carpel tunnel syndrome.

First thing I would recommend: DO NOT buy stickers for your keyboard, or a keyboard with the keys in a different layout. These will help you short-term, but will be a serious hindrance in the long-run. By not having the keyboard layout visually correct, you will be unable to look down, and will be forced to learn to touch type. I know that myself, even though I could mostly touch-type QWERTY before, I still looked at the keyboard a lot. Now, I don’t need to do it at all. This allows me to type a lot faster than I could before, even ignoring the advantage inherent in the Dvorak keyboard.

A good idea would be to print out a copy of the Dvorak keyboard (linked directly below this paragraph), and place it under your monitor, where it can be easily seen. Draw lines under the U and H, just like on the F and J on a QWERTY keyboard, to help give you a visual reference.
http://www.theworldofstuff.com/dvorak/dvorak.png

Then, go to the keyboard preferences, and install the Dvorak keyboard. Let me know your Operating System and I can provide more detailed instructions on how to do that, but it’s quite easy. No CDs or downloads required.

Next, you should find somewhere you can take lessons online. I’ve posted two of the sites that I used when I made the switch.
http://www.powertyping.com/dvorak/typing.html
http://www.typingweb.com/tutor/

Now comes the key point: type in Dvorak as much as you can. Let your friends know what you’re doing, and tell them to expect slow responses on Instant Messengers and Facebook, etc. Only go back to using the QWERTY keyboard in times where you really need to type fast.

Two extra pages that can be really useful, are
http://www.theworldofstuff.com/dvorak/
http://www.theworldofstuff.com/dvorak/compare.html

I hope you can keep in touch and let me know how it goes! Comments on this blog are appreciated, and if you Reddit, then consider joining /r/dvorak
Good luck!

The myth of the retina display

As more and more Android phones are coming out with high resolution displays, along the same line as Apple's iPhone's Retina Display, many tech journalists are comparing their screens to the iPhone. They're saying thingts like "it's lower than the iPhone, but still above the 'magic' 300 pixels per inch mark".

It's important to note, though, that the 'magic' 300 really isn't that magic at all. In Apple's announcement, although it wasn't on the slide, Steve mentioned that 300 ppi is the human eye's limit to resolve an image at a distance of around ____ inches.
Many people seem to have forgotten this last part, and are taking the number to just be 300 ppi. If we take the definition of a retina display to be a display that the human eye is incapable of resolving at its intended use distance, then for a larger display, such as a tablet or a computer, the required pixels per inch will be lower. In the case of these larger Android tablets, such as the Galaxy Nexus, which is 4.65 inches, compared to the iPhones 3.5 inches, it's probably safe to say that you'll be holding it a little bit further from your face, and thus the required pixel density will be a little lower.  Thus, the difference of 14 pixels per inch makes even less of a difference than it would if they were held at the same distance.
Device Resolution Size PPI
Retina iPhone 960 x 640 3.5” 329.65
iPad 1024 x 768 9.7” 131.96
Double resolution iPad 2048 x 1536 9.7” 263.92
Galaxy Nexus 1280 x 720 4.65” 315.83
Information courtesy of AnandTech and this DPI calculator
 
 
Now, let me consider the rumours of a retina display iPad. If the same pixel density were used for the iPad as the iPhone, 330 ppi, at the same size, the iPad's screen would be a massive 2558 x 1919 However, because the iPad would be held further away, it's probably safe to simply double the iPad's resolution to 2048 x 1536, and call that a retina display. That gives a pixel density of 264, according to this DPI calculator. This not only makes it much easier to achieve (a significantly lower resolution display, which is likely cheaper to manufacture, and would draw less power), but also makes it easier for developers. A simple doubling in size would provide them with the same assistance as they got when the iPhone 4 was released with its retina display.

YouTube Easter Egg: Let Google Rick Roll you!

I just discovered a cool little Easter Egg that YouTube has included in its HTML5 version.

By going to http://youtube.com/html5 and joining the experiment, the right click menu on a video will give you the option to ‘Save Video As…’ If you click that option, it takes you to a video of Rick Astley’s song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up, better known as the Rick Roll video.

Why not use this as a clever way to Rick Roll your friends?

Picture instructions on how to join the HTML5 experimentA picture showing the context menu when you right click on a YouTube video

A quick side note, this will only work with videos that do not display ads. The HTML5 player can’t display ads, so YouTube reverts to the normal Flash player, even if you’re in HTML5 mode.

To switch back to the normal Flash mode permanently, just go to the same page, and click ‘Leave the HTML5 Trial’

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it with friends and leaving a comment.

Problems with WordPress

About two weeks or so ago now, I was working on another blog post about the power of a tool named Prey. Months ago, I created a draft post where I posted a link to an interesting story regarding Prey, and then left for a while.

When I came back to work on it again, I was working for a couple of hours, and I had pretty much finished. I decided it was best to save it, even though I know WordPress should autosave anyway. It was at this point that I experienced a problem… Continue reading

How to update Facebook from Twitter

This post looks at how you can easily update Facebook and Twitter at the same time, while only visiting Twitter, or your favourite Twitter client.

  1. Go to Facebook, and search for “Selective Tweets”

    Select the App with that name.
  2. Type in your Twitter handle in the box next to the “@”, and click “save”
  3. Then just append “#fb” to the end of any tweet, and it will automatically be sent to Facebook as your status. Read past the break for a few little extras

  4. One final thing you can do is choose to be able to put the #fb anywhere in the tweet. The developer mentions that there can be some complications to this, however. If you want to do this, go to the settings, and put a tick in the box next to “Allow the #fb tag anywhere in the tweet?” You should then be able to put #fb anywhere within the tweet to send it to Facebook.

Please leave a comment, was this useful or not? Do you know any good alternatives? What did you think of the post? Or just any general comments.