July 10, 2010

10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks

With Facebook’s ever-changing layout, and the fact that other social sites are encroaching on its real-time update strangle-hold, it’s easy to forget that there are some pretty nifty tricks you can pull using your humble Facebook status.

We’ve pulled together 10 great how-to tips that will help you get the most out of your status update, from official features to apps, Easter eggs, jokes and more.

Perfect for newer Facebook () users, or anyone who is looking for a refresher, read on and let us know the ones you like in the comments below.

1. HOW TO: Add a Dislike Option to Your Status Update

“Like” buttons are everywhere on Facebook, and they’re everywhere on the web. But what if you want to update your status or share something that your friends can “dislike?” We know, your friends can choose to “comment” on your post, but where’s the fun in that?

The clever Status Magic Facebook app can add a dislike button to any status updates posted via the app. And if you wanted to really mix it up you can actually customize the second emotion to anything, such as “love,” “hate,” “disagree” or even “LOLs.”

2. HOW TO: Hide Status Updates From Certain People

Using Facebook’s general privacy settings (find these by hitting “account” on the top right of a Facebook page) you can select whether everyone, just friends or friends of friends can see your status updates. However, there is a way to narrow those options down even further.

You can select specific friend lists to see your status (relevant for work, special interest groups, etc.) or even individual people by name, which is useful for anyone organizing a surprise party.

To take advantage of these options, click the padlock icon just below your “what’s on your mind” box on your wall and a drop down menu should appear. Selecting “customize” will bring up more options such as “make this visible to” and “hide from” with the option to make your selection a default.

3. HOW TO: Pre-Schedule Status Updates

While SocialOomph, Sendible and HootSuite () offer the same kind of service, the simplest way to schedule Facebook status updates is by using the easy, free Later Bro service.

Just sign in with Facebook Connect, select your time zone, type in what it is you’d like to say, set the calendar and clock to when you’d like to say it, and presto!

4. HOW TO: Tag People in Your Status Updates

This was quite a big deal when it was announced this past September, but from the amount of searches on the topic “how can I make someone’s name go blue in a Facebook status?” it seems it’s not universally known.

To mention someone in a status update just type “@” (a la Twitter ()) in the status bar and start typing their name as it appears on Facebook. An auto-generated list will then come up with people in your social circle whose name starts with the letters you’ve typed. The feature also works with pages, brands, events and companies.

Hit the name you want, complete the update, click share and the name will become a hyperlink (you won’t see the @ symbol) and will appear in blue text.

5. HOW TO: Add Symbols to Your Facebook Status

Although there are plenty of emoticons that work with Facebook Chat, typing “:)” into Facebook’s status bar will not magically transform into a smiley yellow face. In fact, the only symbol you can create in a Facebook status update through the shortcut keys is a ♥, by typing “<3."

While this won't bother many Facebook users, others more used to punctuating their missives can copy and paste web-happy, universal symbols into the box, as you can see in the screengrab above.

PC users can also access some symbols by hitting “alt” + various number combinations (on a numerical keypad). So, while smileys are yet to hit Facebook statuses, you can annoy or amuse your buddies with symbols right now.

6. HOW TO: Turn Your Status Updates Into a Word Cloud

There’s a really fun way to visualize anyone’s status updates (even an entire country’s) as a word cloud. The Status Analyzer 3D app will look at what it is you’ve been chatting about lately and generate a list, and then a pretty, colorful, animated cloud as pictured above.

You can share the results with others on the social networking site by posting it to your friends’ walls or by adding it to your profile.

7. HOW TO: Have Fun With Facebook’s Humorous Language Options

While you can always change your setting into more sensible alternative languages, the site offers a couple of fun linguistic Easter eggs.

You can chose to have Facebook display upside down English, or, for anyone feeling a little salty, in “pirate.” Pirate essentially turns your status into your “plank,” your attachments into “loot” and instead of “share” it offers the option to “blabber t’ yer mates.”

Sadly, anything you type in the status bar won’t be upside down, or pirate-y. But with the use of some external sites you can achieve the same effect.

TypeUpsideDown.com and UpsideDownText.com are just two examples of sites that can flip your text, while the Talk Like a Pirate Day site can help you with your pirate translations.

8. HOW TO: See Status Updates From Around the World

If you want to get a glimpse of the thoughts of Facebook users from around the world’s, head over to OpenBook.

Created by three San Fran web developers with a serious privacy message in mind, the site aggregates the status updates of everyone whose privacy levels are set to “everyone.”

You can narrow your searchable results down by gender and keywords to find out what people are saying about a certain topic. Or you can just browse the recent searches.

9. HOW TO: See Your Status Update Stats

Have you ever wondered how many times you have updated your status on Facebook? The Facebook app Status Statistics, can tell you this and more.

The app analyzes your updates and gives you a tidy list of how many you’ve written, the average word count and how many times a day you post. In addition, it generates a graph that shows you what time of day or what days of the week you normally update.

Old statuses are also searchable via the app, so you can find that witty retort you made back in November 2009 without having to scroll back through your history.

10. HOW TO: Play a Trick On Your Friends in Your Status Update

We have a funny one to end on — a way to play an amusing trick on your Facebook buddies.

This clever link “http://facebook.com/profile.php?=73322363″ looks like it could be a URL for anyone’s Facebook profile, actually takes anyone logged into Facebook to their own profile page.

If you try it out, be sure to remove the link preview that Facebook auto-ads. Have fun, and don’t be too mean…

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Google Maps Adds 45° Aerial Imagery For All Users

Google has granted all Google Maps users the ability to view aerial photos taken at a 45° angle. Just zoom in at one of the supported locations and you’ll get a better view than you could before.

The feature was previously only available to developers and as part of Labs for Google Maps, a set of work-in-progress features that you had to opt in to. Now anyone who uses Google MapsGoogle MapsGoogle Maps can see the aerial images, but the locations are limited to just a few cities in Europe and South Africa, and on the west coast of the United States.

These pictures are taken from the air, not from orbit, so they’re sharper and their angle allows you to appreciate landmarks and buildings as they appear from the side, not just directly above. Microsoft’s Bing Maps has offered similar, higher-quality images by default for some time, so Google’sGoogleGoogle playing catch-up here.

Where It’s Available

Google Maps 45° aerial imagery is only available for a few locations in North America, Europe and Africa at present, but hopefully it will expand to more locations later. For now, the supported locations include places in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, and Rustenburg in South Africa; Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara in the United States; Dortmund in Germany and Venice in Italy.

Here’s a map of the support locations. You can browse the map yourself at Google’s website.

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July 5, 2010

8-Bit Video Game Costume

8bit Costume 300x225 8 Bit Video Game Costume

Check out this for a fancy dress costume. It's designed to look like an old 8-bit character from a computer game. It is built from large pixels cut from high density foam. These large pixels are then glued to an articulated cardboard suit structure allowing the costume to be fairly light weight and wearable.

Around 4000 pixels were cut to make this costume although not all were cut for this particular costume as three in total will be made for a video project that is being worked on.

Check out the images below to see more of the 8-bit costume.
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July 1, 2010

MIT Researchers Developing Smartphone App for 2-Minute Eye Exams

MIT Media Labs researchers are field-testing a smartphone application and $1 plastic lens attachment system called NETRA — Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment — for eye exams.

NETRA is designed for doctors in developing countries that may not otherwise have access to expensive ophthalmological equipment for eye exams.

Using the application and cellphone lens attachment, patients can look into the lens to view parallel red and green lines. Fast Company explains that patients can then “use arrow keys on the phone to adjust those lines until they overlap. After just two minutes of testing, the app spits out an eyeglass prescription.”

The researchers will show off the application and hardware combination at SIGGRAGH 2010 in late July. Then, after testing, NETRA will launch under the umbrella of PerfectSight, a for-profit startup that will “market and produce the device for Asian and African markets.”

The application will run on multiple smartphones. Existing prototypes are being tested on the Samsung Behold II and Google Nexus One.

The video embedded below includes a walkthrough of the idea and technology behind NETRA.
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10 Beautiful Social Media Infographics

Infographics help communicate information in a digestible manner as they creatively present data in an understandable and engaging format. With social media growing at an ever increasing pace, there is now a wealth of data about how people interacting with one another on the web. Naturally, infographics have proven an excellent aid in expressing high volumes of social web information in a clear, visually appealing manner.

Here are 10 infographics that prove as beautiful as they are interesting.

1. Social Web Involvement

This is a global map of social web involvement which illustrates that hundreds of millions of web users are creating and sharing content every month. It provides a clear visualization of the ways in which social technologies are adopted differently across the world, showing the number of active bloggers, social networkers, video sharers, photo uploaders and microbloggers.

Interestingly, it reveals that despite the Twitter hype, microblogging is still not a mass social activity and is nowhere near the size and scale of blogging.

2. Social Marketing Compass

A compass is a device for orientating oneself and guiding physical direction. The social marketing compass points a brand in a physical and experimental direction, allowing them to connect with their customers, peers, and influencers, where those users already interact and seek guidance online.

Created to illustrate social marketing within the book Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, this infographic was also available as a poster to celebrate the book’s pre-sale.

3. Web Trend Map

The Web Trend Map plots the Internet’s leading names and domains onto the Tokyo Metro map. Domains and personalities are carefully selected through dialogue with map enthusiasts, and every domain is evaluated based on traffic, revenue, and character. As a result, the map produces a web of associations: some provocative, some curious, others ironically accurate.

It’s available as an A0 poster (33.25 x 46.75 inches) and is printed in Tokyo, Japan, on exquisite, heavyweight, matte paper.

4. Conversation Prism

The Conversation Prism is a visual mapping of the shifting landscape of social networks and micro communities. It beautifully represents social media tools for marketing, finance, human resources and more. Each tool is represented by their logo and arranged in a circular, flower-like structure. The graphic will continue to evolve as services and conversation channels emerge, fuse, and dissipate.

It provides a visual representation of the true expansiveness of the Social Web and the conversations that define it and is an update to Version 1.0 which was released in August 2008.

5. Popular Site Demographics

Numerous social media sites have witnessed explosive growth of their user bases in the last several years, but it’s a known fact that user demographics, including age, gender, income and education, vary across different platforms. This infographic maps the demographics of the world’s 7 most popular social media sites.

While there aren’t any quantitative data points listed, it’s definitely worth a quick glance to see how the various sites compare to one another.

6. Social Landscape

This infographic describes and ranks 10 popular social media channels by customer communication, brand exposure, traffic generation and SEO impact, which enables us to get a good grasp of how each tool helps users achieve business goals.

It acts as a roadmap of the social web and demonstrates which social channel will give the most bang for the buck in terms of customer communication, brand exposure, traffic, and SEO.

7. How are Mobile Phones Changing Social Media?

The mobile web is growing at an exponential rate, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. This infographic illustrates the rates at which people use the mobile web for social activities.

It highlights a few intriguing facts, such as that there are more than 100 million active Facebook mobile users, and that those mobile users are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users. It also notes that 18-34 year olds account for about 50% of mobile social networking usage, with female usage higher than male usage.

8. The Boom Of Social Sites

The explosion of social networking sites over the past decade has facilitated a transformation in the way we communicate with each other. This infographic details some of the social communities with over 1 million users, both active and defunct.

The actual timeline itself is pretty interesting as you can clearly see the explosion of social networks between 2003 and 2006 (with the creation of Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn), and the relative slowdown in their creation after 2007.

9. The Biggest Shift

The Biggest Shift details the importance and extent of social media. Essentially, if you are looking to utilize word of mouth advertising, social media is there to help boost your efforts. By focusing your marketing attention to the top social networking websites, you will see the immediate benefits of “fishing where the fish are”.

It’s difficult to ignore the facts; YouTube is now the second largest search engine on the web; 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared each week on Facebook; and perhaps most significantly, 96% of 18-35 year olds are on a social network.

10. Social Media In Business

This is a closer look into the adoption of social media platforms by global Fortune 100 companies as they look to leverage these networks to reach and communicate with their target audiences.

While Facebook may still be the biggest social networking site, when it comes to business, Twitter seems to be the favorite among the Fortune 100 companies, with 65% owning a corporate Twitter account.

Which infographics do you think best showcase the intricacies of social media?

Series supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe

This series is supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe, Ben & Jerry’s new line-up of Fair Trade and frozen iced coffee drinks. Learn more about it here.

[img credit: despair.com]


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