7 Ways Facebook Can Make Money, Without Invading Your Privacy

Facebook privacy concerns reached a new warning level a couple years back when their product, Instagram, released new terms stating “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service” That effectively paved the way for them to use your photos however they want, outside of their service, for profit… including the potential of selling users photos as a stock photography service.

Instagram later recanted and revised the terms. They cite needing to generate revenue as a reason for the changes, and that’s reasonable. Since then, privacy issues continue to rise. The issue has even sparked a competing social network to spin up, with goals to:

  • never sell user data to advertisers or third parties
  • never show advertisements
  • not enforce a real-name policy

However, there are many ways for Facebook and Instagram to generate revenue without expanding their license on user generated content or pushing the privacy limits to a new low.

These ideas are not innovative and rather plain. (If Facebook wants more ground breaking ideas, they can hire me ;) Some of these ideas may invade the space of Facebook apps. That does pose a problem, but I think many users are in the same boat as I – we don’t need more third-party data sharing. With users losing trust in FB, the external apps are even less likely to be accepted.  Continue reading

Google’s Chromebook, are my expectations really that high?

Asus ChromebookWhat I’m comparing it to

My wife often uses an old 2006 MacBook Pro for web surfing, Google Docs, YouTube and a few other tasks that are generally considered lightweight by today’s standards. The MA610LL model came with a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo (dual core for those who’ve forgotten that processor), 667MHz system bus and even one of those spinny things that dies and has to be replaced. A DVD player, yeah, one of those.

To be fair, I did upgrade it to 4GB of RAM and put in a pretty snappy HDD – 7200RPM and can do well over 100MB/s r/w. Well, snappy by 2009 standards when I put it in there.

The screen is old, yellowed and looks like some of the backlight might be out. The CPU often runs at about 75%.

A Chromebook, that can run all Google’s stuff, right?

It would only make sense that a Google Chromebook could play 720p video off of YouTube. I mean, if this over eight year old Mac can do it, shouldn’t a current model Chromebook? Continue reading

Design is not simply aesthetics

Not everyone is a designer

This may seem obvious, but not everyone has design skills and talent. It doesn’t matter which aspect of user experience (UX) we’re talking about, not everyone can do it. Most agencies have a process in place to assign tasks based on skills required. Good agencies are capable at managing external clients, setting expectations, requirements, roles… and enforcing them.

When the client is internal to an organization, sometimes the lines can be blurred. A good process prevents conflicts. Without such a process, occasionally the client can attempt to be the designer.  Continue reading

The problem with poorly executed image compression

Century 21 Ad Campaign

Actual Century 21 Ad – unedited.

There was a time when image compression was both an art and a science. In the late 90’s I remember new tools coming out, like Fireworks, which gave us better quality images and smaller file sizes. Options like JPEG or GIF, baseline or progressive, selective or adaptive or… mattered. Many people have forgotten this, and many never knew how important it can be.

Often now we just make images PNGs, and we’re more concerned about latency than data transfer, so we often use sprites.

Century 21 Real Estate seems to be running an ad campaign. Unfortunately, one of the final steps in executing such a campaign – image compression – was mishandled. Undoubtedly, the process to create the campaign contained executives, product experts, at least one copywriter, photographer, makeup artist, model and graphic designer.

The problem with poorly executed image compression is that it renders all of those roles rather pointless. The execs and experts could be replaced by untrained monkeys. The copywriter & designer could be replaced by a three-year-old with a crayon. The photographer could have been replaced by a two-year-old with a camera phone from 2003, and perhaps some lighting tips from his mom. Continue reading

An easier resolution to the issue of “Microsoft [program] cannot be opened because of a problem” error when you start an Office program

microsoft office updater Microsoft provides several methods of fixing this issue, but they missed a rather easy one – Run the latest updater.

I usually don’t use PowerPoint, so the last time I installed Microsoft Office for Mac (2011) I didn’t install PowerPoint. Recently I needed PowerPoint, so I grabbed the Office installer and installed only PowerPoint. When I tried to launch PowerPoint, I got the error “Microsoft PowerPoint cannot be opened because of a problem”

I tried running the Microsoft AutoUpdate app, but it didn’t find any updates. I tried restarting the app a couple more times, and the issue persisted.

Then I searched for the issue, and found a Microsoft support page detailing three possible resolutions. The first two were non-issues and thus didn’t help at all. The third is to uninstall and reinstall Office. But I don’t really want to do that. I would probably lose things like my Lync history, Outlook settings… and I really just didn’t want to go through all that.

The answer? Just download the last Microsoft Office Update and run that. I quit all my Office apps, ran the updater, then launched PowerPoint and it worked. My Outlook settings and filters are all still intact.

Clearly, I did this running OS X (10.9.1 to be exact.) This may work for Windows instances of this error as well, I’m not sure. And I can’t say for sure that this fixes all instances of this error. It fixed it for me.