February 2008 – Page 2 – Stay N Alive

Google Releases Spreadsheets Forms – S3 Equivalent Coming?

Google FormsYesterday Google announced a rather interesting, and I believe strategic move, allowing users of Google Docs to put forms in front of their online spreadsheets through Google Docs.  I didn’t realize this until now, but Google really has a dynamic, unflattened data source that they have been providing through their Google Spreadsheets.  Now, with the ability to add forms, in many ways we are seeing another hosted development platform for website owners to use for whatever they would like to collect data for.  This has been long needed – I can’t tell you how many people have asked me at some time to install Formmail.pl for them to send them e-mails of a simple form they have installed on their website.  Now, they can just set up a Google doc, and a form to front that doc, and no e-mail is necessary!

The functionality is very simple right now, but one has to remember this is Google, which at one point was just a simple search engine.  Google always starts simple, and takes over the world with that simple plan.  Imagine if Google were to incorporate their new graphing API into these forms for simple survey-taking capabilities.  Now, add to that the ability for more robust reporting beyond that, ability to include single cells from a spreadsheet, and perhaps a query language of sorts to interface with it.  Google could very soon be competing with perhaps at first the likes of Amazon S3 storage services, but even more, their SimpleDB query engine, at a much more robust level.  This is Google after all.  I wouldn’t put it past them.

My Technometria Interview

I had the privilege last week to interview with Phil Windley, host of Technometria on the IT Conversations podcasting network.  He talked to me about Facebook, its use in business, privacy and security issues surrounding Facebook, and some quick questions on how to set up an application on Facebook.  I think we covered a lot (I need to get over my “uh” problem), and this is a great thing to forward on to that business person in your organization that is contemplating a Facebook Strategy.  I think we covered quite a bit across the board of what we go over in the book.  You can listen to the interview here:


Google Announces Go-Live Date for Orkut

It appears I spoke too soon.  About 5 minutes ago Google announced Orkut will launch their applications to all users the last week in February.  I was close – an announcement was made, and they will be launching OpenSocial 0.7 tomorrow, the same day MySpace opens to developers.  In essence, OpenSocial is going live tomorrow.  It just won’t be visible to the public until the last week in February.  It appears, as I said, Google had to have the last word.

Expect Big Things From Google Tomorrow

Google OpenSocialAs I mentioned earlier, I think the MySpace launch is way bigger than just MySpace.  Watch carefully tomorrow.  There have been several announcements at Google that hint that you may just see Orkut go live tomorrow as well.  From the Release Notes for the latest version of OpenSocial (0.7), under Orkut container update:

 “Close for gadget whitelist submission Feb 5”

I’m not quite sure what this fully means, other than it looks like things are finishing up for Orkut tomorrow.  Also, today Google released a blog post, of which they stated:

The best news is that, based on numerous discussions with both app developers as well as container sites, we believe OpenSocial 0.7 has all the necessary pieces to launch OpenSocial apps to users at scale. In fact, both hi5 and orkut will be using OpenSocial 0.7 for their upcoming user-facing launches.

On the mailing list today (just 6 hours ago), an Orkut developer stated:

We haven’t pushed v0.7 yet, but we’re planning to do it soon.  In the
meantime, use feature=”opensocial-0.6″ and I’ll post when v0.7 is

It’s looking like 0.7 is soon to go live “soon”, and will more than likely with it, make it very possible for sites like Orkut who have been in testing for so long to go live with it (rather than just a developer sandbox like it has now).  MySpace itself will release in a sandbox for about a month on it (I just got word MySpace has officially launched to developers).  Is Orkut getting ready to do a one-up on MySpace tomorrow?

Facebook Developer Guidelines Added to Developer Wiki

I noticed this set of guidelines posted to the Facebook Developers Wiki on Saturday. The guidelines are not surprising, considering the recent backlash surrounding forced invites in many of the applications currently on Facebook. The guidelines are as followed, and I’m sure more will be added:


  • Do not force a user to send invites.

    • Show the invite page after performing an action.
    • Make it clear the action has been performed, and that the user is not forced to send invites to continue using the app/perform the action.
    • You may also include a link to the invite page somewhere in your application.
    • Sending invites for an app using another app is prohibited by the TOS.

  • Do not use invites for ranking purposes.

    • When using invites as part of an application’s function, such as user ranking, make sure there are other ranking methods that can replace invites.
    • Using invites alone increases the chances for the application, and the user’s rank within it to lose value.

  • Do not use blocked markup, or attempt to use sketchy methods to gain a user’s attention in the Requests page.

    • Usage of CSS, large fonts, and other prohibited markup is looked down upon by the community. We highly discourage this.
    • Usage of blocked markup can also lead to the removal of your application due to violation to the TOS.

User Interface

  • Do not use Javascript alert().
  • JS alerts are annoying to the user, disrupt the smoothness of the experience, and does not fit in well with the Facebook UI.
  • JS alert() is not allowed by Facebook.

Are there any other guidelines you think need to be added that frustrate you?

A Very Different Generation

I mentioned previously about the death of the Mormon President, Gordon B. Hinckley.  What I found fascinating was the response on sites like Twitter and Facebook to his death.  Gordon B. Hinckley is the President of the LDS church that truly brought the church into the 21st century.  Yesterday was his funeral, and as a token, I thought I would post this image, showing the true devotion, through avenues like Facebook, those in and out of Mormon communities have for this man (note only one non-GBH feed item at this point in time).  I think this shows as a tribute to where Gordon B. Hinckley has brought the LDS church in this century:

On a related note, you can follow live here to find out who the next President/Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be, tomorrow at 11am.

fb:21-plus – Pornography coming to Facebook?

I noticed a rather controversial tag added to the Facebook developer’s wiki today. The tag is called fb:21-plus. From the documentation, fb:21-plus “Restricts content to users who match the ages.”. Here’s an example of it’s use:

Oh la laBarney?

The only use of this that I can see is for the production of more mature content. Does this mean Facebook is going to become a haven for pornography? Facebook terms of service says one cannot:

upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;

Is pornography one of those things, and is this an area Facebook really wants to get into? What are your thoughts?

UPDATE: I just realized there is also an fb:18-plus tag just added as well (why not just do an fb:age-above tag?)

Microsoft to Buy Yahoo, Microsoft and Open Source Collide

Today Microsoft announced they were putting in a bid to buy Yahoo, Inc.  I am torn on this one, and slightly confused on what may happen if this actually takes place.  Like, will I now have to sign in with Microsoft Passport on all of the Yahoo sites?  Will OpenId still be in Yahoo’s plans?  What about yui?  And what will happen with all of the Linux developers and sysadmins there?

The biggest part of this announcement I think, which hasn’t really been mentioned, is this will mean Microsoft will now own Zimbra, perhaps Exchange’s biggest Open Source competitor in the E-mail/Groupware server market.  Yahoo has been all about Open Source.  Microsoft shuns it, and encourages their employees to look away from it.  How in the world is Microsoft set up to handle such an acquisition?

The Book is Off to the Press, but Wait — There’s More!

I'm On Facebook -- Now What??? - Order Today!I’m extremely happy and relieved to say that “I’m on Facebook — Now What???” is off to the press, and the eBook is now available for purchase on the HappyAbout.info site.  It has been a long time coming, but we’re finished!  “I’m on Facebook — Now What???” is now officially one of the first books of its type available for sale, anywhere.  Jason and I are pretty proud of that, and hope you enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed writing it.  If you’ve pre-ordered an eCopy, you have probably already received it, or will receive it in the next day.  Purchase your copy here!

We love reviews!  If you have a short review, we’ll post a link to Amazon.com for the book as soon as it is up, and you can post your reviews there.  The more reviews we have there I am told increases our visibility on Amazon, so feel free to write one up, but save it for when I post it here.  Also, you may start blogging about the book now!  Our publisher has a terrific affiliate program, so if you’d like to make a little money off of your review in your blog, you can do so here.  Also, don’t forget to add yourself as a fan to the Facebook Page, and subscribe to our blog at FacebookAdvice.com!  Thanks again to Jason for his hard work and example in writing the book – he has been an excellent co-author to work with.  Also, thanks to Lorenzen and Scoble for their great contributions to the Foreward and Afterward!

Wait, there’s more…

I’ve had so much fun writing this book, that I’ve decided to write another one.  Today, I just signed a contract with O’Reilly to write what will be probably the first published manual on Facebook FBML.  It will be a “small animals” book, which means it won’t quite be a full sized book, but it’s not quite a Pocket Reference either.  It will most likely be called, “FBML Essentials”.  So, if you’re a developer, anxious to develop Facebook applications, stay tuned!  I will probably be putting together a separate site for that book too, similar to what we have done for facebookadvice.com.  Please, feel free to share below your frustrations with Facebook development – I’d love to hear the most common complaints and perhaps resolve those in the book!

O’Reilly is also helping me get to Graphing Social Patterns West (no one has invited me to speak though, sorry – I am open for speaking engagements while I’m out there though!) March 3-4.  If I get any other appointments I might leave earlier in the week, so feel free to book me for your user group meetings, radio, TV, podcasts, or whatever while I’m out in the L.A./San Diego area (that is my home away from home, as my grandparents live there)!

Demo of Prologue With Joseph Scott, Developer at Automattic

I sat down for lunch at Applebees with Joseph Scott, a Developer at Automattic, who was the developer on the Prologue project. As I mentioned earlier, Prologue is essentially, as I term it, “OpenSocial for Twitter“, and allows you to create your own Twitter-like community on any WordPress blog with the addition of just a simple WordPress theme. In the demo, he shows how it works, and then we discuss potential uses for the theme, and ways one can use Prologue in their own Blogging environment. It was an enjoyable and interesting conversation!

Demo of Prologue With Joseph Scott, Developer at Automattic from Jesse Stay on Vimeo.