removal – Stay N Alive

Facebook Kills Custom Publishers – Kills 15,000 of My Users Too

What’s a lot for one site may be miniscule for another.  Recently, Facebook announced they were removing the ability for developers to write custom Publisher boxes “due to low usage” of the feature on the site.  The feature, which enabled any application to customize the publishing experience for users, was a little-known, and little-advertised feature known to produce a good amount of traffic for applications.  It was a successful feature though, and perhaps “best-kept secret” for many developers writing for Facebook Platform.  Shortly after it launched I remember a few developers writing about how just a few tweaks to the custom Publisher and adapting the experience to each user provided tremendous conversion in application adds for users.  I was sold.

On SocialToo, one significant tool we provided was the ability to, using the custom Publisher (which is still working now, until Facebook turns it off), allow Facebook users to publish to any Twitter profile, and any Page they administer, just with a few checkboxes attached to the Publisher box at the top of Facebook.  This way users with a preference towards Facebook (which, despite the popularity of Twitter in the blogging world, is very popular amongst marketers) could easily publish to their multiple accounts on a selective basis straight from their Facebook profile.

This was a huge success for me on SocialToo – so much that despite the majority of our features being Twitter-focused, this one small feature was bringing in a significant amount of conversions for me.  Users would authorize the SocialToo app, get the publishing feature, and at the same time learn about the other tools we provided for Twitter and elsewhere on SocialToo, purchasing our premium features straight from Facebook.  20% of my traffic came from Facebook as a result.  Near 15,000 of my 70,000+ users were using the application.

Yet, according to Facebook’s response on a developer forum post, they seem to be looking at mostly usage of the Publisher, not net-effect towards conversion (which is why developers were using the publisher – it was an advertising tool for their apps).  According to Facebook:

“We understand that the publisher feature was successfully used by some developers and enjoyed by users.  While it’s never easy to have a feature removed, we made this decision only after carefully reviewing the feature’s usage over time. For the sake of transparency, here are some basic usage stats that illustrate the approximate daily usage:
–          47 applications with more than 1000 stream publishes
–          10 applications with more than 10K stream publishes
–          0 applications with more than 100K stream publishes”

Usage of the publisher, number of publishes, etc. is an important factor, but Facebook still seems to be neglecting what those 10,000+ stream publishes per day were producing for those developers in terms of monetary value and overall conversions.  For my application, it was priceless.

I’m disappointed that Facebook is killing this feature.  I’m disappointed that they did it with such short notice and without it being on the roadmap they revealed at the end of 2009.  Yes, the numbers, according to Facebook, are small, but with only one document tucked away on the developers wiki devoted towards the subject can you blame it for being such a non-used feature?  From my own experience, the conversions alone it produced, and the utility it provided were enough to make it well worth the integration, and I promoted it to all my clients.

If usage was so low, it certainly wasn’t because it wasn’t useful or valuable.  It was because Facebook didn’t promote it or show the usefulness well enough.  Perhaps the API for it was too complicated – I don’t know.  I do know this is one of the many Facebook Platform features that have gone away that will be sorely missed.

I think one thing with Facebook Platform we can now be sure of is that while Facebook continues to increase usefulness of their platform on the web, their own website’s platform on is slowly being removed, piece by piece.  If this is the case I really wish they would put that on their roadmap.  As for the custom Publisher – this developer is drastically effected by its removal.

Can’t Install Vista SP1 Due to Language Pack Problems? Try This.

vista_sp1.pngFor the non-tech-heads visiting my blog you can probably ignore this one, although it might provide some useful insight if you’re having issues with upgrading to Vista SP1. I have had the biggest headache recently trying to get Vista Service Pack 1 installed on my Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit Edition PC. The new Vista SP1 is stated to have many bug improvements, and since Hulu would occasionally crash my machine during my wife’s viewing of old “Major Dad” episodes (yes, they even have that on there!), I finally got fed up with it.

The problem with Vista SP1 is if for some reason you thought you needed every single update out there and installed all the language packs (I actually do have a fascination with foreign languages), SP1 refuses to install, and won’t even show up in your list of automatic updates to install under Windows Update. So, I figured, why not just remove them? Well, it appears that that, too seems to be a bug in Vista. Despite the fact that it would take 30 minutes each (at least) to remove each language pack, eventually, I started getting errors on the last few language packs I was trying to install. Vista was fighting back with me, avoiding with a vengeance not to be upgraded.

So I searched all around the internet trying to find a solution – I wanted to fix all these bugs, but the bugs were keeping me from upgrading Vista to fix the bugs that were preventing the upgrade! (Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?) After a week of waiting for things to be resolved in various threads on Google with people that were experiencing the same issue, I came across this forum post from Saad Siddiqui on this thread on VistaHeads:

There is a workaround but it requires dealing with the registery so backup registery first.

1. press Windows Logo Key + R to open Run Dialog
2. Type regedit

there will be an entry for romanian language DELETE it. [for english the key is “en-US” in the navigation tree].

Repeat step three for


this will make SP1 installer to see only English Language there.

hence it will continue installation.



It was corrected that instead of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CONTROLSET001 it was really HKLM\SYSTEM\CONTROLSET001\Control\MUI\UILanguages, repeated for CONTROLSET003 and CURRENTCONTROLSET. Backup your registry first!!!

I tried this, removed all languages except US from the listed languages under my registry, and voila – all of the sudden Vista SP1 was appearing in my list of Automatic Updates! I installed it, and now my wife can watch her “Major Dad” episodes on Hulu just fine. It should be noted that even the Microsoft employee in that thread was unable to diagnose this.

So if you’re looking for a quick shortcut to get rid of all the pesky language packs so you can install Vista SP1, hopefully this provides a solution that works for you. Good luck!