I love my Facebook friends. I really do. But the ones on the far left and far right don’t seem to get it. Their political posts are often filled with animosity or, worse yet, reliance on Fox News. They don’t sway anyone. Instead their posts foster annoyance, or even make them look like they’re a few cards short of a full deck. If you use Chrome as your web browser, you can escape all that.
The Springpad overhaul that dropped in April led to some strong reactions from a significant portion of its userbase — but don’t count them out! I have it on good authority that they are still experiencing significant growth, and are still working toward bringing you the smartest, most actionable notebook app around. Their latest venture? Facebook integration — don’t worry, haters, it’s optional! — that allows you to turn the movies, TV shows, books, music, and places you “like” into searchable, organized notebooks. The information is then enhanced by services like Rotten Tomatoes, OpenTable, etc., and you can even showcase your favourites by sharing them back to your Facebook Timeline.
The new integration is a good move for Springpad (and much more focused than their last attempt at Facebook integration), as it makes an effort to enhance the experience of the social network juggernaut, as opposed to trying to compete against it. Twitter integration like this could be in the pipeline for Springpad, as well.
Springpad Facebook integration highlights:
New users who sign-up for Springpad through Facebook can choose to have “likes” automatically imported and categorized into Springpad notebooks
Springpad enhances “likes” with actionable information such as Rotten Tomatoes movie reviews and trailers, price comparisons, maps, product availability alerts, OpenTable reservation links, Foursquare tips and more
Springpad users can choose to share notebooks or individual items to their Facebook timeline
Posts to your Facebook timeline (either individual items or entire notebooks) are organized under the Springpad header
Facebook likes are now discoverable and actionable
Springpad is now available in the Facebook App Center
Currently, all items that you share back to your Facebook Timeline are public. This is in keeping with how Facebook does things, as well as with Springpad’s current “if you share it, it’s public” way of doing things. However, there is the possibility that options for selective sharing may come later, which I would like.
I would also love to see Springpad integrate with Facebook comments, to keep conversations surrounding the likes/notes streamlined — and some sort of automatic like/spring option for users of both platforms would be nice, too. For example, if I like something on someone else’s Facebook/Springpad timeline post, I would like it to spring on Springpad, or add it to my own notebook and my Facebook likes. Also, I would love it if things I add to my new Facebook-generated notebooks would appear as new likes on my Facebook timeline, as well. So far, this doesn’t seem to happen.
The new Springpad Facebook integration takes them one step further away from a standard notebook app, and forward in their evolution as an “inspirational life management” platform.
We’re big fans of Google+ here at 40Tech. In fact, if you follow the Twitter accounts of either 40Tech or Bobby Travis, you’ll see that we’re not posting there quite as much as we did in the past. Are we alone in the way Google+ has detracted from our ability to be as active on Twitter? Let us know how your social media usage has changed since Google+ has arrived.
Usually, I like to pull out new apps for the App of the Week. Every once in a while, though, one of my favourites releases something so cool that I have no choice but to add the “extra-special” label. For the second time this week, Springpad pushes itself into the 40Tech stream, first with a slick integration into the iOS 5 notifications system, and now by adding yet another level of personalization and social value to their service.
Springpad vs Evernote is a thing of the past. With every new update, Springpad moves farther away from being just a note-taking/remember everything app, and gets closer to being the definitive service for collecting, sorting through, and acting on what interests you. Their latest leaps into this arena bring you three things:
Customize Your Notebooks
Note:Notebook customizations show up in the most recent versions of the mobile apps: iOS 2.6+, and Android 2.4+.
The ability to easily customize your notebooks so that you see only what you want in the sidebar, and cut the extra steps out of the Quick Add process.
Customizing your Springpad notebooks is easy. All you need to do is hover over the notebook (or the open notebook’s title bar) until you see the little wrench appear by the name, click said wrench, and head to either the Navigation or Quick Add button that appears in the pop up settings dialogue.
Click and drag the navigation items to reposition them or delete them completely.
Change the item-type without moving anything (change Everything to Board, for example).
Change the way notes are sorted when you open that navigation item (by Added, Modified, Tag, etc.).
Change the Starting View for that navigation item to default as title-only, title-with-description, or grid.
Different navigation types will have different options, depending on their function. For example, the Types Section and Tags Section also allow you to decide how many of their items to show in the sidebar, as well as to decide if you want to sort by note count or name. That last bit, alone, will make life easier for those who use GTD in Springpad, and the other features won’t hurt either.
This is where things get fun. The best thing an app like Springpad can do is make it as fast and easy as possible for you to get things into it. Springpad was already pretty good at this, especially via their mobile apps, but sometimes it was a bit of a pain to select notebook, then select item type (or change item type, if Springpad’s auto-select got it wrong), etc., etc. Now you have the ability to make sure that the notebook only shows the options that you need to see.
You can select by the standard add a Note, Task, By Type, Look It Up, et al, as well as by Recipe, Book, Movie, and more. You can also choose client-specific options. This is fantastic if you do most of your collecting for that notebook by mobile, as you can then set it to collect only by Photo, Audio Recording, Barcode, or Search Nearby. Please note that Android devices currently do not allow adding alarms, contacts, or events, and mobile devices in general do not allow adding from My Stuff. Quick Add can be used to filter these items out.
Save, Share, and Download New Notebook Templates
The ability to save your new notebooks as a template for other notebooks, share it with others, or easily adopt their shared templates.
Once your notebook is customized just how you like it, you can use it as a template for new notebooks by selecting it from the “Choose template for this notebook” dropdown menu (in the same place you name the new notebook).
Unfortunately, this only applies to new notebooks — there is no option to apply a template to a notebook you already have. If this annoys you, don’t worry, there’s an easy fix:
Create a new notebook
Add the desired template
Open the old notebook
Click Edit in the top left of the notes area
Click the checkbox to select all or use the dropdowns to filter and select (or just use a saved filter and Edit/checkbox)
Use the Notebooks dropdown to add the new notebook
Delete the old notebook
Sharing Notebook Templates
All you have to do here is open up the settings, and click where it tells you to get the share link. None of your notes are shared, or any other private information, only the template. the link will lead to a page that allows people to Spring and install the theme. Add it wherever you like to add links: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, your blog, a public Springpad notebook just for templates — wherever.
Springpad already has a few templates available on their blog that can get you started, complete with ideas on how to make the most of them on the web and on the go. Check them out, and follow the prompts to install them: Gift Ideas template, Recipe Book template, Books to Read template.
Share your custom notebook templates in the comments!
Friends Stuff + Facebook = More Awesome
In case you haven’t heard, Springpad has integrated Facebook into Friends Stuff, so you can easily check out and add your friends’ Likes and Check-ins. We’re talkin’ movies, books, TV shows, music, places, and the like that your real-life friends recommend; easily viewable and sortable in your Springpad app, and easy to add to your own notebooks for later access.
The Friends Stuff Facebook integration is in beta, but if you click the link in the Homecreen’s sidebar and authenticate with Facebook, you should be able to get connected. At the very least, you will be put on the list and Springpad will send you an email to let you know when you can access the new feature.
Check out the Friends Stuff + Facebook video:
So yeah… That’s a lot of Springpad awesome for one day. Kudos to CEO Jeff Janer and the entire Springpad crew for continually thinking of and adding new ways to make their service useful and unique. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
What do you think about Springpad’s new additions?
Today, 40Tech is pleased to present a guest post by Lisa from USDirect.Com.
Facebook started with a few simple ideas, mainly serving as a way to stay connected with friends. In the early stages, it was a used solely by Harvard students and then gradually became available to other college students throughout the country, eventually going worldwide. When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, he didn’t realize the billion dollar force it would create. Let’s take a look at the differences in Facebook then and now.
The Beginning of Facebook
In the beginning of Facebook, there were very few features. There were no status updates, messages, photo albums, or even the platform to create a News Feed. At that time, everyone could provide and access only basic information. It was only a simple tool to be used by some people for some virtual social interaction. However, Zuckerberg achieved instant success when he launched thefacebook.com, with over 600 students instantly joining the first day and almost 1,000 joined the following day.
Original Facebook accounts had to be from a Harvard.edu email address and user names were verified.
What it did have:
Friends and Friend Request options, something that increased the underlying value of Facebook.
The Invitations feature was also available but the user had to input the email addresses as there was no Import Contact option.
A basic profile option, which only permitted uploading a single photo.
User data lists, including gender, birthdate, favorite music and books, about me, dorm info, phone numbers, and course information.
Search option – find users by name, courses, class year, etc.
A friend graph, which was later removed
Facebook as we Know it Now
Facebook went viral, as net folks like to say. It spread like wildfire. Facebook became a public forum and social media communication tool, no longer used only by college students. Facebook became a platform for sharing an array of content for millions of people.
Because of the rising popularity in the News Feed function, people became concerned with controlling who sees their content. In 2009, Zuckerberg worked to build a better privacy model that applied to news feeds, photos and videos, and all aspects of a profile. Facebook’s settings have made it easier for users to hide information and now require users to gain permission before allowing a connection. They are also able to moderate and punish spammers.
The popularity of Facebook and relevance it has in our culture inspired the 2010 film, “The Social Network,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake.
The User is in Control
In 2010, Facebook launched community pages. It also started various other ways to provide users social and personalized experiences on foreign sites they used. The rest is in your hands. You can now chat with your friends, group your conversations, and communication via Facebook is easier.They say the only thing that is constant is change and this is truly applicable to Facebook.
About the Author: Lisa is an avid yoga enthusiast who enjoys writing in her spare time for USdirect.com – home of Direct TV.
Do you remember when cell phones were for rich people? It’s only a short jump in my memory to the day when a homeless kid got angry at me when I told him I didn’t have any change; convinced I must be lying because I was carrying a mobile phone. You know, back when they still kind of looked like phones, and Nokia was king? I felt bad for the guy, but I really was broke. I got the cell phone on credit, could barely pay for the bill, and was having many a fight with the company over false charges.
This ramble isn’t to point out that cell phone companies were crooks, even back then, and it’s not to talk about my questionable technology-money choices. The point is that this was only a few years back. I was in my early 20’s — I’m only in my mid-30’s now — and have gone from having no computer, an unused email address, and the blissful (and retrospective) peace of not knowing or caring where people were or what they were doing, to being a geek tech-blogger that makes his living in online marketing and communications. I own an iPhone, my hold-out wife has finally gotten an Android, and my three-year-old owns my iPad — and regularly sends me artwork via email.
Tech is Hungry
Technology is now in the palms of tiny little hands. It’s affordable, or at least readily available, to the majority of the planet, and it’s entire weight of purpose seems to be to interconnect everyone and everything as fast and as in depth as possible. The flow of information has reached truly epic proportions, as has the ability and desire to track that flow, along the habits of the people drowning in it.
The technology behind this phenomenon feeds upon itself, and in many cases, it exists only to further itself. Some of the biggest blogs out there are only so popular because people need a filter; a place to better understand, control, and find some sense of order in the massive technology machine — redundant as that phrase may seem. Smaller blogs exist for the same reason. It was likely part of why Evan started 40Tech, why I joined him, and why you are reading this post right now.
Facebook is a prime example of the direction of technology. It’s sole purpose is to become familiar and intricately entwined with as much of your life as possible. It attempts to augment your life; make it easier, faster, more connected. It’s addictive. Facebook is so successful at this that it has become embedded in the general populace to the extent that it can almost be perceived in the same way as a governing body. It creates rules that dictate our way of life, is an easy target for privacy concerns and conspiracy theories, and the smallest changes can lead to virtual revolt and widespread public outcry. Facebook, much like many of the governments out there, projects an image of a body that wants to further mankind; make the world we live in a better place and all that. And like many governments, it’s more than a bit of a stretch for most people to really believe that’s true.
Facebook isn’t going anywhere, either — not without a scandal that shakes the entire foundation of their business to the core, or a hostile takeover by a frightened government or technological superpower. With some of the things in the media regarding questionable privacy practices and the rapid expansion of Google+, those things may not seem so far-fetched, but even if the big bad were to happen to the social media giant, it would probably just morph, as opposed to vanish.
Social connectivity is a way of life for us now; whether we like it or not, and no matter the anxiety, stress, or fun disorders it could cause or amplify. It appeals to the voyeur in us. It allows us to meet people we would otherwise never meet, and keep in touch with people to a degree that would be impossible without it. It is a part of work, school, play, business, entertainment, and everyday, mundane life. For Pete’s sake, your washing machine can already contact you to let you know your laundry is done, and there are tweeting dog collars, man!
Bring on the Microchips!
Over the next 10-20 years, unless the “social media bubble” or end of days people are right, we will likely find ourselves micro-chipped, QR-coded, and surfing the web while jogging with augmented reality sunglasses that also allow us to huddle with our families, friends, or business contacts on GoogleBook. Don’t ask me how they will take our video — somebody else will figure that out, I’m sure. That is, of course, unless we are all suffering from wifi, cellular, and bluetooth radiation poisoning, which could bring the world to a screeching and potentially catastrophic halt that would make Y2K fears look like a happy day at the park.
Or maybe we’ll be busy ripping the fabric of the universe apart with time machines. Did you hear that Albert Einstein may have been wrong? Some scientists at CERN, near Geneva, may have just recorded neutrinos that were travelling faster than the speed of light. That might disprove the Theory of Relativity and screw up one of the major fundamentals of modern physics. Learned that on Google+, I did… And I’ll be sharing it on Facebook, too.
9/28/2011 UPDATE: Facebook has responded to the complaints . . . sort of. For an in depth explanation of Facebook’s response, check out Nik Cubrilovic’s blog post.
Facebook has some explaining to do, if the findings of one blogger are true. Nik Cubrilovic, an entrepreneur and developer, recently analyzed Facebook’s tracking cookies, and found some surprising behavior. Specifically, even if you log out of your Facebook account, “Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit.” Before you get too upset, though, read on.
Though the initial excitement of Google+ has worn off, millions of users are still using the service and more people connect every day. For its part, Google has been working hard at bringing the preview social network closer to a production offering, adding social gaming without annoying people, verified accounts for prominent users and famous folk, and ironing out their sign-up rules (the heavily debated real name only policy). They have also been paying attention to their mobile apps, finally adding post sharing into the Android app. iOS users had to wait a bit, as is per usual, but the much awaited update is now available in the app store.
But is development coming along too slowly to keep up interest?
Personally, I’m a huge fan of Google+. There are a lot of innovative uses that are cropping up — cooking classes via hangout, blog replacement, collaborative writing groups; Evan and I are even putting together a hangout-based pen and paper roleplaying game, cementing our geek status once and for all. Google+ is also a fantastic place to meet and converse with new people, focusing on like interests over general broadcasting, which makes for better conversation and better relationships.
The problem is, I’ve started to notice that my streams are starting to degrade. People appear to be less active, less conversant, or generally gone and gone. This could be due to the end of the summer — people are getting busier as the school season and work focus heat up — and it could be part of the overall ebb and flow of a new product. It could also be that Google is taking too long to get their service off the ground and into the hands of the general public.
Gmail was in beta for years, and to the point that it was really more of a long-standing joke than anything else, but the Internet back then was, if you can believe it, less fickle. With the world takeover of social networking and subsequent obsession with real-time streams, the attention span of your average user is practically gnat-sized. And let’s not forget that, in order to get noticed in the massive amounts of information flowing through the digital-verse, bloggers and people in general tend to gravitate toward sweeping sentiments of “wow this is awesome” build-up and “it’s never gonna make it, and here’s why!!!” doom and gloom statements. And yes, I realize that it wouldn’t take a stretch if the imagination to lump this post in with them, no matter what I say t the contrary. The point is, it makes it really hard to accurately gauge if a service will live or die.
To top things off, Facebook hasn’t been sitting about with thumbs in nethers, either. They’ve been paying attention to what people like about G+ over Facebook and have been making changes to how their own streams work, attempting to make it easier to share with those you want to share with, and even (finally) updating their mobile apps for new sharing and privacy options.
I say again, I’m digging Google+ — but I dug Google Wave, too. I think that Google’s push to integrate Plus into their overall offerings will help keep things moving, but I have to wonder: if users as a whole notice their streams downgrading in quality and movement, will it start one of those slow spirals into web oblivion?
It’s been a few months now, what are your thoughts?
One of the biggest bitches for me when it comes to Facebook is the way it handles social gaming. Yes, social gaming can be fun, and the quest to get the most points, coin, trophies, et al has its satisfying moments — but the constant invitations, notifications, and culling of said items from my Facebook stream is annoying as hell. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment, either. Google+ is jumping in to the games space today, and I’m happy to report that they, once again, appear to have gotten it right.
The Facebook method of social gaming is actually very effective if your goal is to use social pressure and addiction propensity to keep people on your social network. Those things, in many ways, are the basis of how Facebook and its attached products work, and many people are tired of it. Google+ broke that model right from the start by removing any mention of “friends” and letting you decide how to label people in your social circles. Google+ games, which is rolling out today, keeps the low-pressure approach by keeping the crap out of your stream. As they say right in their blog post: ” Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t.”
First of all, Games will have their own page that is accessible from the top of your stream. If you don’t see it yet, don’t fret, you know how Google loves a staggered rollout — just give it time. Once you’re on the page, you can see all of the latest updates from your circles, run through the invites you have (or ignore them entirely), and take a look at the games that other people you’re connected with have been playing. If you are the type that loves to broadcast your score and rub your awesomeness in the face of the masses, you can still do that — but the masses will be your circles, and they will only see your bragging and/or challenges when they feel like gaming themselves and can respond accordingly.
Better for everyone that way…
There are several games available already, such as Bejeweled Blitz, Bubble Island, and Diamond Dash for the Columns/Tetris style games lovers; Zynga makes an appearance with Zynga Poker, and there are also Sudoku, Dragons of Atlantis, Crime City, Zombie Lane, Dragon Age Legends (hell yeah!), and more. Angry Birds is in there too — but I don’t think I want to have to kill them again. The first time was difficult enough! I nearly had to call Mike Tyson to help me out…
So far, the Google+ Games implementation doesn’t disappoint. Remember, though, as with everything else about Google’s new social network, it’s still only a preview. If you run into some problems, try not to hold it against them. Yet.
Our last post on Google+ was a question on what you thought of the hype surrounding it. We’ve had a chance to play with it now, and so have many of you — and all in all, we like it. That’s not what this post is about though. This post is about taking advantage of Google opening up unlimited storage in Picasa as a result of Google Plus, and how you can use that, and a handy migration tool called Move2Picasa to backup your Facebook photos — whether you plan to use Google’s new social network or not.
UPDATE: The creator of Move2Picasa has changed the URL to the Chrome extension (the correct one is now in the post), and has changed the name of the Move2Picasa extension toMove Your Photos. Thanks to Peter Pawlak on Plus for catching that!
Note on Unlimited Storage: Google has opened up storage in Picasa, in general. Plus users have free, unlimited storage for photos that are a maximum resolution of 2048X2048 pixels (and videos that are a maximum of 15 minutes), and 1GB of free storage for larger resolution photos. Anything over the 1GB (or whatever you have paid for additional storage) will be automatically resized down to the maximum free resolution. Non-Plus users get basically the same service, but their maximum resolution for photos is only 800X800 pixels.
Move2Picasa started as a website-based tool put together by Aman Kumar Jain, a web developer from Pune, India. It was leapt upon immediately by many of the early adopters of Plus, and the servers were quickly overloaded to the point that the site wouldn’t even load. Aman worked to solve the issues, and has now migrated Move2Picasa to a Google Chrome Extension .
The extension works beautifully! I copied over 1600 photos from Facebook to Picasa in less than an hour, and I barely had to lift a finger.
Here’s how it works:
After installing the extension from the Web Store, click on it to log in to Facebook. You will be presented with a page that, after a minor load time, has all of your Facebook photos broken down into albums. The top left of the page shows a legend that identifies the coloured boxes surrounding the photos, which are yellow for “In queue,” by default. The top right of the page provides some simple tools to select or deselect all, pause and close to come back later, and to logout from the tool completely.
Each album has check boxes directly below the album name that allows you to make quick choices to Upload All or Upload None of the photos of that album. You can also click on individual photos to select or deselect them for uploading, which is handy, because you may have certain photos that you want to weed out before they are copied to Picasa. Like the yellow boxes, Upload All is selected by default.
NOTE: At this point you may notice one weirdness: some of your albums may not be showing any pictures. Don’t panic. This is either because there are no pictures in that album, or because the albums have only one photo. Hopefully, this minor bug will be fixed soon — in the meantime, you may want to head to Facebook and add those errant solo photos to a combined album (you may have to log out and log back in to Move2Picasa to see the changes), or simply download them manually from Facebook and upload them to Picasa without the tool.
Once you have chosen the photos you want to copy over to Picasa, click the Upload button on the bottom of the page, and sit back and let Move2Picasa do all the heavy lifting for you!
When I did it, I didn’t notice any extra load on my computer, and had no problem doing whatever else I needed to do while it ran in the background. Some people have reported the occasional error pop-up that breaks the operation (this happened to me, too), but Aman posted to my thread on Google+ (find me here, we can add each other to our respective circles and you can read it) that the issue had been fixed. It was barely a problem, in any case, as all I and the other users who had the problem needed to do was click the upload button again, and the handy countdown picked up right where it had left off.
Before you know it, you will have complete duplicates of your Facebook albums living in Picasa, ready to do with as you please. The only caveats I have discovered so far is that the images appear to be the Facebook-resized versions only, as opposed to the full-res photos Facebook supports now (though I would love for someone to confirm otherwise), and that Move2Picasa does not support caption importing. That last bit is too bad, but hopefully will change at some point in the future. Move2Picasa as a Chrome Extension is only a couple of days old, after all.
Some of you may wonder why you should care. You may have no use for Google+, or Plus, or whatever people want to call it, and think that it is just another hyped Google product that will crash and burn. And it might; you never know. The fact that Plus has already surpassed 10 million users (though many are probably not active — but then, neither are bulk of Facebook’s hundreds of millions) indicates otherwise, however. The efforts that Google is putting into design and to integrate Plus into its overall offerings — possibly making it the connecting flagship of Google’s main products — is another strong reason to think Google+ may be around for a while yet.
Whichever way Google’s social efforts go this time, it is unlikely Picasa is going to fizzle away anytime soon. Take it from someone who lost the entire first year of photos with the lovely lady who is now my wife (due to a backup hard drive falling off of a bloody coffee table!), it never hurts to have another backup of your precious photos. The fact that this is an online backup with practically unlimited storage, an interface that allows easy viewing and sharing, and a built-in photo editor doesn’t hurt either. So why not use it?
If you still don’t want any part of Plus, Picasa does offer unlimited storage for everyone, now, but, as mentioned in the note at the beginning of the article, you will only be allowed to upload photos that are 800X800 pixel resolution, as opposed to the 2048X2048 resolution offered to Plus users. If you go that route, though, I’m not entirely sure Move2Picasa will work for you. I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but I haven’t tried it that way. Why would I? Whether I stick with Google+ or not, I’m definitely ok with having dust bunnies swarm over my account if the trade off is the unlimited storage and backup of higher resolution photos.