notifications – Stay N Alive

Facebook Starting to Test Fan Page Notifications

My wife just got an interesting e-mail notification from Facebook about a Facebook Page she is a fan of.  The notification was a summary of the activity on the Page for the day.  The text of the e-mail goes as such:

“Here is this week’s summary for the Facebook Page: **************

0 Fans this week (7 total Fans)
0 Wall Posts, Comments, and Likes this week (0 last week)
2 Visits to your page this week (1 Visits last week)

Update your Fans:*********
Visit your Insights Page:*********
Get more Fans with Facebook Ads:***************

The Facebook Team”

Granted, the Page she was a fan of is not one that gets a lot of activity, it leads me to wonder if Facebook is beginning to enable e-mail notifications for Facebook Page activity on the site.  I wonder if there were comments or Wall posts if those would have been included as well.

Facebook has had amazing notification features for normal user Profiles up to this point, but for Fan Pages, the notifications have been lacking.  Users have been forced to resort to third party solutions such as NutshellMail (of which I am a user) to deliver notifications for such Pages to their e-mail inbox.  On my own Fan Pages for myself and my Facebook books, this has been the biggest complaint amongst Fan Page administrators, that there was no way to be notified off the site when new activity occured on their Fan Page.

It appears this very soon won’t be the problem any more.  Usually when Facebook tests features like this, it means a solution is just around the corner.  Now the big question is, how can I get this enabled on my account?

Is anyone else seeing this on their Facebook Account?  I’m interested to hear what you’re seeing.

Facebook Posts New Dashboard API Methods, Prepares New Interface

facebook platformEarly today Facebook posted a series of new API methods to their Developer Wiki enabling developers to post updates to what was previously called the “Application Navigation”, but what would now appear to be called “the Dashboard”.  The Dashboard API aims to provide an easier interface for users to find updates to their favorite apps without cluttering the stream.  At the same time, the Dashboard API tries to encourage more users to bookmark applications and provide applications on Facebook Platform another means of sharing information with their users.

The Dashboard, which will appear on the left-hand navigation either in place of or near the Friend Lists, should launch to users in the next week or two according to a vision statement posted by Mark Zuckerberg recently and the current developer roadmap.  When launched, users will be able to bookmark their favorite applications on Facebook or on their favorite Facebook Connect-enabled site and those applications will appear in the left-navigation in the new Dashboard.  Applications can then send updates, incrementing a counter when new updates are posted, enabling users to know when new updates are available from their favorite applications.  When the user clicks on each application they are taken to a page with the updates.

In addition to traditional applications, according to the new developer documentation there will be a games category in the dashboard.  If applications have categorized themselves as a game in the Facebook App directory, their app will appear underneath the Games category.  This category appears to try and make it easier for users to manage all their games under one easy navigation so they can focus on the more productive apps beyond just gaming.  Other applications appear under an Applications category, and there is also a “Friends’ Games” and “Friends’ Applications” category enabling users to view applications and games their friends are using, I assume.

The new Dashboard API enables developers to do all the things mentioned above, and comes alongside the 6 month developer roadmap announced earlier by Facebook.  The roadmap comes with mixed criticism from developers, with some excited for new integration opportunities and better organization, while other developers mad at the removal of some features in the planned changes.  One developer I talked to today was frustrated with the frequent changes Facebook makes on the site itself, opting to begin moving his development efforts more over to Facebook Connect where he has more control.  I believe that is exactly where Facebook wants him.

The new Dashboard API should provide new opportunities for developers to update their users and easily notify users of changes within their apps. The API, according to the documentation, is available for development and testing now.  According to the documentation there is no sandbox for the new API, but developers can start testing these methods on their own servers.  It is unclear how developers will be able to begin testing the UI for the new methods.


Services Need to Stop With the Twitter Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid ManTonight for about a full hour many Rackspace sites, including their own Slicehost service,, Laughing Squid-hosted sites, Posterous,, and even my own  Ben Parr of Mashable even noticed, asking if a bunch of websites has all just crashed.  I was reminded to check the status of my own site by a few posts by Duncan Riley on, followed by a blog post of his own.  That prompted me to realize my entire site had been down for over an hour, which prompted me to check their Twitter account, which prompted me to check their status blog that gave a few more details.

This got me thinking – why are services so reliant on Twitter to get the word out to their customers?  Have we gotten that lazy? In the past a service with “Fanatical Support” would have sent out a brief e-mail to their customers notifying them of the update.  Do they just expect all their customers to be checking every single one of their Twitter updates?  I have to admit as a customer I’m a bit disappointed.

I don’t mean to pick on just Rackspace though.  Rackspace aren’t the only ones doing this.  It has come to be common practice amongst companies to just post status updates on their own Twitter account and (occasionally) blog without using the oldest means of notification, a push means for that matter out to their users – e-mail.  I admit even my own service SocialToo has been guilty of this occasionally and I have vowed for more mission-critical issues facing my customers that we will try to be more diligent in letting them know, via e-mail of the issues facing them, as soon as possible.  That said, I’m one of two employees/contractors working for the company right now, as compared to Rackspace’s and other companies’ hundreds.

I think it’s time companies that provide mission-critical services start laying off the Twitter Kool-Aid, and focusing on more serious means such as e-mail so their customers can become aware, as the issues are happening to the accounts they pay for.  It’s time we get back to using e-mail as a communications medium.  Now that I’m aware of the issue, I’m checking their blog frequently for updates, but a simple e-mail would have made huge strides in making the $600 I pay monthly to the service more worth it.

As of the end of this writing it appears the problems are mostly resolved.  I am anxiously awaiting an e-mail explaining the problem, but hope in the future they can get infrastructure in place to quickly notify us via e-mail as fast as they were able to do on Twitter.  I hope other services can also learn from this and prepare for similar circumstances.  While I’ll continue to enjoy the service I’ve had from Slicehost, I would have liked to see more than just a Twitter update surrounding this.

UPDATE: Ironically, Ed Millard on FriendFeed pointed out that the support address for Rackspace is sigh