Facebook’s transformation into a media app

Facebook

Facebook is the social network that defined what a social network was. It took real world social relationships into the digital world. Everything that people did offline, was now online on Facebook. You could have groups of friends, message them individually or in a group. Share posts and pictures, and most importantly get updates from all of the friends via News Feed. Facebook made it simple to stay updated with life events of everyone from your middle school friends to college friends.

Facebook has evolved over the years and has now changed fundamentally. If you login to Facebook today, you will not see status updates from friends, or pictures posted by friends. You will see news stories from Business Insider that were liked by your friends, or you might see other funny content like videos or memes that one your friends commented on. Facebook has turned from a social network to a media hub like Yahoo! was a decade ago. Except in this case, the content you see is what your friends like, so you might enjoy it as well (if you share a similar taste to your friends). Facebook also has Pages which allow brands like Pepsi or Unilever promote their products on the social media website, which show up as sponsored content in your feed. This is the new way to advertise products to the next generation. However, it has morphed a place where you communicated with friends and read about their life events, into a place where you go to read news you might be interested in, watch videos, and consume content that is created by an external website like Business Insider or one of the Facebook Pages that posts humorous content. Of course you might also see some updates posted by friends on rare occasions.

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Outernet and access to information

Outernet LanternThe internet is arguably one of the most life changing creations. Most of us take the Internet for granted. We have constant access to internet and can get all the information we need in seconds. We can also broadcast information and stay connected via email, social media or blogs. But a lot of the world does not have access to internet or has access to a small subset of censored internet data. Information is one of the most empowering things. Access to information can shape your thinking and help you make better informed decisions. It can expose you to different things that you did not know existed. Having access to all the academic knowledge from around the world can improve quality of education. This would lead to more knowledgable individuals making smarter decisions. In countries like Cuba where internet access is limited, expensive and censored, people have created a black market for data. There are people in Cuba that sell a 1TB hard drive loaded with content like music, movies, TV shows and other media from around the world. Some even setup WiFi hot spots and connect their hard drives so people can access the content nearby. On the other end of the spectrum, many countries in Africa don’t have internet access. There are some areas that have the ability to get 3G data connections but people don’t see a need to pay for internet access.

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Facebook’s problems

Facebook

Facebook has become the world’s largest community with almost a Billion users. It connects people from all over the world. Its where people share personal thoughts and photos. But Facebook has big problems that are being uncovered. When you have 100 friends posting updates everyday, you can see it all in the News Feed. When you have 300 friends posting 5 updates everyday, its 1500 posts. That is a lot to see in a day. So Facebook developed an algorithm called EdgeRank, that filters out content so you can see the content that matters most. While EdgeRank has worked well so far, there are many problems with it. First, it shows you more content from people you interact with. So if you like or comment on posts from a person, you will see more posts from that person. If you don’t interact with posts from certain people, they will stop showing up over time. If people don’t see content that they want to see, then they will stop coming to the site, killing their active user numbers and advertising revenue.

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Trend Micro shows you what 2020 is like

2020Japanese computer security company Trend Micro has started a web series about the future. The year is 2020 and everyone uses glasses with augmented reality. Everything can be accessed through your glass. It is the only gadget you use and the most important one. The series is based on an ICSPA report entitled Project 2020.

The technology is futuristic yet seems achievable in the near future, considering the speed at which it is evolving. The glass technology featured in the series seems impressive, yet shows how much humans depend on technology. Scenes where humans wave and gesture their hands to control their glass also seems bizarre, as everyone is highly connected yet very isolated.

The series consists of 9 episodes, out of which 3 have been made available so far. You can watch all the episodes on the link provided below.

Link: 2020 by Trend Micro

 

 

Is Two Factor Authentication the new standard?

Banks have been using Two Factor Authentication for a long time now. Some banks require entering a token during login, others only need it for money transfers. In the recent months, with growing cases of user account hacking, many online services are implementing Two Factor Authentication. The popular ones are GMail, Dropbox and Amazon AWS. But recently Facebook announced Two Factor Authentication support. The Facebook iOS/Android app acts as a soft-token and users that don’t have a smartphone, can use SMS to receive their tokens upon login. I think this is a good move, since a Facebook account acts as a persons identity due to all the personal information fed into accounts. But does Two Factor Authentication solve the problem? Can hackers not hijack account with Two Factor Authentication enabled? The answer is obviously No. It does make hijacking accounts much more difficult by adding a barrier and might make it not worth the while to hijack an account. But having a strong password along with Two Factor Authentication does make an account slightly more secure.

Evernote had also been hacked recently and is currently forcing password resets on all accounts. They are also going to introduce Two Factor Authentication very soon.

ProjectFlow makes project tracking simple

It can be pretty hard to keep track of all the projects with different tools. If you are not very tech savvy then tracking systems that require you to create tickets/tasks, add them to milestones and assign people to them which updating status for them, can be a little too much to do. ProjectFlow is a simple board that lets you track multiple projects in different phases with just a few clicks. Moving phases is as simple as dragging the project into the right column. This is a pretty good tool to stay on top of things. Its targeted for people working on a lot of projects and need a dashboard to see the overview of each project’s status.

Checkout ProjectFlow if you are a freelancer or contractor or just work on a lot of projects.

Link: ProjectFlow

Google wallet – where the future of NFC lies

NFC or Near Field Communication, has been catching a lot of heat. There are ventures by groups like BlackBerry and Bank of America or Google and MasterCard that are working on NFC solutions. So what is NFC? Its a way of electronically transmitting data (payment information in this case) to a receiver or the POS (Point of Sale) system used in stores.

It is true that our smart phones are taking care of our lives by providing networking, connectivity and convenience at our palms. It is the device of the future that holds our life, right from personal data to important work documents. The next step is replacing our wallets. Google seems to be taking a major step with its new offering of Google wallet.

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Postbox out of beta, for $39.95

Postbox is a feature-rich version of Mozilla Thunderbird. I had done a complete review of features of Postbox previously here. Postbix has finally come out of beta after 16 beta releases and is stable now. However, Postbox 1.0 is not going to be a Freeware and comes for US$39.95 for a license. If you want to try before you buy, Postbox has a 30-day free trial available.

If your question is “Should I get Postbox?”, then read on… If you just need a basic POP3/IMAP mail client to send plain and HTML mails, then Thunderbird is just fine. But if you are a power-user and want the Advanced search, Tabs, Auto-complete, ToDo lists and the cool Add-ons, then you can consider getting a license.

Personally, I think the price is a bit more and something like $19.99 could have been more appropriate. For that price I would consider getting Postbix and moving from Apple Mail.

Visit Postbox website

OpenID and Facebook Connect

I really wanted to write this post from a long time. But with lack of Blogging time, I was covering more of current issues. I just read about Government sites implementing OpenID and even Facebook is doing it, so I said I will write this post at once. There have been similar posts over the course of time, but now this topic is getting more interesting. So here it goes…

As the internet is growing at a rapid pace and everything is heading to the cloud, the number of website memberships increase. Right from E-mail, Online Banking, Shopping, Forums, Blogs and of course Social Networking. With so many login credentials to remember, OpenID came up with the strategy of 1 login for all websites. You can use your OpenID to login to your E-Mail, Online Banking, Shopping, Forum, Blogs and Social sites. This is indeed a great way to go. You also have several OpenID providers to choose from, so you can get OpenIDs of your choice.

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