Vig the Geek
Pipe is here!

Yesterday I talked about my excitement for a new feature being dropped on us within the Facebook ecosystem. It’s not by Facebook. It’s a third party. This will be SUPER exciting to some people and boring to others, until you need it; then everyone will love it.

It’s called Pipe and it’s file sharing. Why is that cool? I’ll tell you all about. How big of a file can you send over email? 100MB typically. How big of a file can you send on Pipe? 1GB. That’s 10x the size.

You don’t need software. It doesn’t send over Facebook. It just uses Facebook. So if I want to send a file to Matt I just put it in the Pipe to Matt using the FB interface and off it goes. He gets a notification and pulls it out. Done.

What if he’s not online? Then I get a notification and Pipe asks me if I want to put the file in a content locker for him to grab whenever he’s around.

How does this differ from DropBox, Google Drive or Copy? Ease of use. I have all 3 of those services that I use just a little differently and my digital life wouldn’t be the same without them. 

Here is a great example of life before pipe. I wanted to get a certain set of workout videos. A friend burned them to DVD and put them in the mail. USPS MAIL and almost a week later I got them.

Someone else wanted them from me. I could have burned them again, but I have no idea where my blank DVDs are and going to the post office is a lot of work. So I decided to use DropBox. Shit. I have about 4GB available so they won’t fit. Now what? Let’s use Copy. Here was the process. I had to drag each 800MB file into my Copy enabled folder. But I couldn’t move them, I had to copy them - you’ll see why soon. Then I had to wait HOURS for them to sync with the cloud. I realized that the person I was sending them to was someone I interact with on Facebook only. So I messaged her there to get her personal email address. Then I shared the new Copy folder with her email address. She’s not a copy user so it was less direct. Then she got an email invite from me, clicked the link and was brought to a web interface to take the files. They are also still sitting in Copy’s cloud eating into my 37GB of total space. If she doesn’t move them out or copy and then delete them, they’ll sit there forever. So I need to keep up with her and make sure she has the content where she needs it and then I can delete them. 

That was the problem with the move. If I moved them in and she moved them out, then I no longer have them. So they are on my computer in their original spot, on my computer in the Copy folder and synced to my account in Copy’s cloud.

With Pipe I would have sent her each of the 800mb files by typing in her name on Facebook and once she received them, we would have been done. It’s really that simple.

The only caveat is that the content locker only holds 100MB. So if I send you a file and you’re not there so it goes into a locker waiting for you to return, it can’t be more than 100MB. That’s because there’s no telling when you’ll pick it up and they can’t have you sending gigs and gigs and have them sit on their side until you get around to picking them up. I understand that. Did I mention this service is FREE?

When you tell someone to email you, how often do you mean “Facebook message me?” This is another service that simplifies life without leaving Facebook and lets us interact with the largets digitally collocated group of people we know and it costs us no money, no software installs, no private information and no extra time. And the whole thing resembles the pipes in Super Mario Bros. so that just makes it fun.

So that’s why I’d call it game changer and I was so excited about it yesterday.

Facebook Home should go home

Yesterday Facebook announced it’s new Facebook phone called Facebook Home, but it was not what a lot of people were expecting. Honestly, it’s pretty stupid; and that’s coming from an avid Facebook user (we’ll call a spade a spade and say addict) and HUGE supporter of transparency and the social media movement. I’m sure not everyone heard about this, so I’ll be sure to explain.

The Facebook phone is actually just a downloadable piece of software called Facebook Home that installs on an Android phone (which phones it will actually work on based on existing Android OS version and hardware specifications has yet to be determined). If you don’t want to go through that trouble, you can buy the HTC First which is the first phone to come with Facebook Home on it.

Before we get into what this does and why it’s stupid, let’s talk about all the inane conversations that are cropping up as a result. There are a million arguments about why Facebook went with Android and most of the wars say that it’s because Facebook hates Apple and wants the iPhone to die. We all know that the relationship between Apple and Facebook is unique and has been tricky for years, but Facebook doesn’t want the iPhone to die. With the smartphone market being split close to even, so is Facebook’s mobile user base. I’m sure they do not want roughly 50% of their users to have to buy a new phone. Also, the technology just makes sense. Android is an open platform. You can slap another UI layer on top where you can’t with the iPhone. Keep in mind that this WILL absolutely slow your Android phone down. I’m not going to get into how much work it is to parse your touch through the layers of Facebook Home to UI to OS to hardware back through OS up to UI to Facebook home to initiate a a reaction and back down to hardware to display so you can actually see what you’ve done. It’s why Android phones come with such beefed up hardware specs. They need it to survive. Remember early Motorola Motoblur phones and how the scroll never moved smoothly? See? The point of all of this is that Android is the customizable OS (which Google has admitted they partially regret).

So what actually is it? This article reads like a multi-level marketing scam where I promise you tons of money but never tell you how to actually make it, I know. I’m getting there, I promise. It’s nothing. Your home screen is a feed of all of your pictures and posts and basically a newsfeed as well as notifications. Chat Heads is burning down the house. Oh wait, that was a band called the Talking Heads. Chat Heads are little annoying pop ups with pictures of your friends (or likely pictures of your friends pets, kids and symbols for the cause du jour) that let you know they want something and they happen while using other apps. So right in the middle of sending an email you see a friend’s profile picture pop in with a chat request. Then there’s an app launcher, which is basically like every other app launcher. They tell you to organize all of your favorite apps and essentials on the main page and add pages as necessary.  So that’s all it is.

Now what you’re really waiting for - the holes in this idea. First of all, it’s intrusive. Facebook lets you know of things Facebook needs your attention for while you’re doing anything and everything else. Because Facebook doesn’t waste enough of your day, now it can bother the shit out of you until you give it attention. If you own this phone, you just got a Jack Russell Terrier named Facebook. Second, Facebook’s app on the iPhone works well when it works, which is not often. Facebook’s app on Android works more consistently, but overall more poorly. Why on Earth would we believe that Facebook is qualified to basically make an OS or a layer that bakes Facebook into the OS? Is it their outstanding track record with updates and usability to this point?

Oh and then there’s privacy. Do you get ads on Facebook on your computer? What about the mobile app? Remember when ads used to be random? Those were the days. I’d get ads for pantyhose and kids’ toys and other things I’d never use - like gym memberships and health food. And then they all disappeared and I started seeing ads for technology items and goofy desk toys and all the stuff I was searching for, liking and commenting on. HOLY SHIT! Facebook is using my data to create targeted ads. Now that never bothered me because their service is free and I’m voluntarily using it and sharing data. I have to see ads; I may as well see ones that apply to me.

But if this is all part of my phone, will I get an ad for pizza if I text message you about Pizza? Will Facebook know if Pizza Hut EMAILS me? Facebook and email are separate. Text messaging is private. All of my other apps currently have to be authorized to be used with my Facebook app. The minute Facebook is not an app on my phone, but it is baked into my phone, that authorization is no longer required. My entire life is opt-out, not opt-in, and how much do you want to bet there is no opt-out function. You permanently opted-in when you bought the phone or downloaded Facebook Home.

Let’s face facts, is it that hard to access Facebook now that you’re ready to sell your soul and sign away all rights to privacy to make it just a tad easier?

Here is some good news. Since there is a regular Android OS at the core, all apps should work. Well… they all work instantly across Motorola Motoblur, Samsung TouchWiz and HTC Sense with all different Android versions right? No? What about Amazon Kindle? So your apps now have another flavor of Android to contend with and may not work.

Here is what makes me really, really not understand this move. It’s not like Facebook is still trying to win out against Myspace or Friendster and this will put them over the top. They are the only game in town. What is the benefit to being more obnoxious and in our faces? I bet it’s advertising dollars so go back and re-read the paragraph about ads. Or… handset makers are giving Facebook a few bucks on the back side when these FB Home-enabled devices start selling. Or maybe it’s just part of the Facebook land grab to appease shareholders. Regardless, how much of that sounds like it’s done with you, the user, in mind?

There are rumors that all private messages on Facebook prior to 2010 are not publicly viewable by anyone on your friends list. Here is what I’ve found and the fix action.

Louie wanted to address some things he didn’t like about the iPhone 5. So that’s what we did.