Friday Fun: Almost Fall

The last full week of August brought a brief respite from the oppressive heat which means fall's cooler temps are sure to follow. It also means football. I've had the pleasure of attending the first two football practices for my oldest. His first comment on day one was, "It felt like they were torturing us." If he only knew; they had it easy.

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Facebook iPhone App Stats

Earlier this week there was a report that Facebook had over 100 million iPhone users. They were a little off in how they represented that number. The real number is 44 million monthly 'active users'. So there are 44 million users that have interacted with the iOS application. That is still huge by all accounts. Facebook was kind enough to release that there are also 12 million active Android users and 60 million Blackberry users. /via TUAW & Engadget

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Location Services, Indoors

Most Location Based Services (LBS) rely on GPS to determine a position of the device. When that isn't available your approximate location can be determined by cell tower triangulation. But once you head indoors both of those methods are hindered by the physical structure of the building. Point Inside is running a test with the supermarket chain Meijer where they are mapping the inside of the store and using the WiFi routers to determine location. This way users can find items without wandering up and down the aisles. Naturally offers are part of the application as well. There might be some interesting ideas for large hotels. /via RWW

Where do tweets go when they die?
Twitter prides itself on being real time but what happens to those old tweets? They do still exist and now a company called Topsy is making those old tweets new again by allowing users to search the old tweets. I found the service to be pretty good and although I was only searching my old tweets I was reminded of some things I thought were actually useful but had since forgotten. /via RWW

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T-Shirt Fun

I'm not sure if it was the giant stacked hamburger, the dinosaur with lasers attached to its head or the Chuck Norris like character on the front that reminded me of @luistoro but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share this t-shirt. /via Threadless

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Space Invaders – In Your Glass
Seriously, I don't think there is a Space Invader product that has been missed yet. I'm pretty certain you can decorate your entire house in Space Invaders stuff. I suppose Space Invader shaped ice cubes would make for a somewhat interesting conversation with the right group of people. You wouldn't want to get water stains on your furniture so hand them a Space Invader coaster to set their drink down while they watch you slice veggies on the cutting board. /ThinkGeek

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Dress Up Your iPhone and iPad

Every so often people ask about how they can spruce up their mac to play on the light up Apple on the back. Why stop there? This post has some great stickers that are sure to be a conversation starter on your next flight. So get hip and dress up that device. /via inewidea
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Facebook Places is Fun


My experience with the new Facebook Places feature has been quite entertaining. I'll not go through what it is, for that you can find a number other places that will do a much better job than I (Miami Herald Detroit Free Press MSNBC). However the fun started when I tried "tagging" a few people in my friend list. The reactions to my little experiment ran the gamut from anger to frustration to uncertainty to ridiculous. I don't have a sense for how useful Places will be in the future, but for right now it is kind of silly for my circle of 'friends'. 

Oversharing
There are no controls in Facebook Places to limit how frequently a person can check-in. User are presented with a lengthy list of options to choose from or they can add their own location if they don't see it on the list. Since there are no controls you can check-in to as many locations as you'd like as quickly as the app will let you. Not that big of a deal if you don't mind seeing this junk show up in the news feed. The reaction here almost ended up with my wife unfriending me because she found her news feed cluttered.

Phantom Tagging
The real fun starts when you start to randomly add Facebook friends to locations during the check-in process.I went on a binge and tagged a coworker that is very cautious with their usage on Facebook and they were not happy. Not because of what I did but unhappy that the news feed showed that I had tagged this person as being somewhere they were not. It did not go away until they were able to login to Facebook and change their settings. I also enjoyed a steak at 8am with a former coworker that I haven't seen in years of course this was through a random check-in at a restaurant that was not open. Two others were tagged at a coffee shop with me and they don't like coffee and live in another city. Another person I tagged at a gym, another at a kickboxing place and another at a golf store. I'm certain there have been some prank tagging making them appear at a place they shouldn't this would have been good fun in high school.

Same Place, Same Time
The issue I have with tagging is when it could be misread or misunderstood. Let's imagine a scenario where a wife sees that her husband "check-in" at a hotel while on a business trip. When looking at the hotel details the wife also notices that an old flame of the husband happens to be at the same hotel. I'm not suggesting that this is a rendezvous but in this scenario the wife might infer something is amiss. Another scenario could be that a some people are eating dinner at the same restaurant and "check-in". Perhaps these people are mutual friends of yours and you infer that you were left out of a dinner.

Stalker Texas Ranger
With a tool like Facebook Places it may be easier to keep track of where your friends are going which could be great but there could be a negative pattern. In addition to the the issues above there are people that will see an opportunity to take advantage of others naiveté with the check-in feature. There are ways to use Foursquare and Twitter to determine when people are not home thereby making them a target for crime. But robbing people is, hopefully, more of the exception. With tools like this "chance  encounters" may not be as innocent as they might have been in the past. You wouldn't want to always run into "that guy" when you go out for the evening. 

Conclusion
I realize some of these examples are a bit extreme and generally incidents are going to be few and far between. In fact I suspect there will be more stories about people being "sick" only to get busted for a  check-in or being tagged at the football game or movie theater while they ditch work. The main point here is to change your settings and gain control of tagging. If anything Facebook Places now makes it more important to use friend lists and organize them in a way that will allow you to share with the proper people.

Friday Fun: Where’s a cold front when you need it?

I’m about to declare a weather bankruptcy on the heat in Texas. I’ve been around here long enough to know that it gets hot but I’m done. Seriously, I wonder what it would take to pack up the entire family operation and live in a cooler state for a couple of weeks. Is that possible? I recently talked to my neighbor and he got 2nd degree burns on his feet just walking to the swimming pool. Yikes!

Twitter via SMS
The folks at Twitter rolled out a new feature, Fast Follow, that really has some great potential when trying to reach customers. Twitter has allowed SMS from the very beginning but this new service allows you to follow a Twitter feed without having a Twitter account. Perhaps you would like to follow Groupon Dallas and don’t want or need a Twitter account; you’re covered. You need only type: Follow @GrouponDallas and send it to 40404. This is a great option for locations where SMS is pervasive and they are adding more locations globally all the time. /via ReadWriteWeb 

Android is Blowin’ Up Some Kind of Huge
There are a number of Android devices available and every couple of weeks a new devices shows up. This week the Droid 2 from Motorola hit store shelves and looks pretty sharp. There are a number of other devices in the product pipeline and Google is no doubt excited. CEO Eric Schmidt recently reported that 200,000 Android powered devices are sold each day. Now comes word that Android market share has surpassed the iPhone and is just behind RIM. Keep in mind that we’re still talking smart phones at this point. In just a few months you’ll see Android on TV’s, tablets and more. /via Engadget

Speaking of Android
Over at Gizmodo they posted a handy resource that will help you optimize your Android battery life so you don’t have a bunch of apps or services constantly draining your battery. Pretty handy if you have an Android device. /via Gizmodo

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The Bamboo Bottle
I have to say this is a pretty slick looking bottle. The Bamboo Bottle is a bamboo sleeve with a glass bottle on the inside and a couple of plastic pieces. Before you cry foul they are quick to point out that the use of plastic is not ideal but necessary until they can find an alternative. /via Gizmodo

Twitter Tweet Button
This week Twitter released a new Tweet Button that makes it even easier to share content into the Twitter stream. The idea is to make it even easier to share content and also help curate the stream to elevate quality accounts. Twitter also uses their own URL shortening service with they argue will help reduce malicious links. /via Twitter and Mashable

Friday Fun: Pass the Torch

I’m not passing a torch, but the headline this past week was the attempt by Blackberry to keep corporate users and attract consumers by launching a new platform with OS 6 and a new device called the Torch. Links to many reviews will give you an idea about what is good/bad about the device and platform. Personally, this feels like a band-aid on a cut that needs stitches. I don’t think consumers are going to get too excited with this device.

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Blackberry to Guide Your Path With Torch
It may not come as a surprise that RIM has been against the ropes as more organizations adopt iPhones and now Android devices. Blackberry devices lack the style and sophistication of newer touch devices. There are plenty of people that swear by their BB and can crank out an email in a blink of an eye and the  Blackberry Torch aims to bridge the gap between the old school and the new school. There are some touch capabilities on the screen but not in the same sense you would find with on Apple or Android OS devices. There is a full keyboard which may provide some comfort to those not willing or ready to move to a full touch interface. 

Review Wrap-Up
I’m not on the guest list when it comes to these things so I have not hands on impressions. Not that it would matter anyway since I have no BB experience. Oh, wait I did have to look at an email on a BB a few years ago during a meeting. Suffice to say I have no context with which to judge the device. But these guys do so  give them a read if you are so inclined.

Carrying a Torch for RIM – the Gartenberg Take – Michael Gartenberg via Slashgear
Blackberry Torch Review – Matt Buchanan via Gizmodo
Blackberry Torch Review – Joshua Topolsky via Engadget
BlackBerry’s New Torch Makes a Leap From Drab – Walt Mossberg via All Things Digital (WSJ)


Uphill Climb for RIM

Before the Torch and the new OS 6 showed up this week Blackberry devices felt “old and busted” and the Android and iPhone devices were the “new hotness”. Turns out I wasn’t far off as Good Technology released a report that showed a huge increase in their support and implementation of devices to corporate users. Good is seeing a trend where 20% of their corporate customers support at least three platforms. /via ReadWriteWeb

Budapest in 70 Billion Pixels
You’ve no doubt played with a Google map where you pick some random spot on Earth and zoom in and keep going until you see some guy cutting the grass or people having a picnic in the park. That is a vertical zoom, but did you know you can do that same thing from a horizontal plane? There is a curious group of people that have quite a passion for this type of photography. Budapest is the largest one to date. You may also be interested in the Burj Dubai, Barak Obama’s Inauguration or perhaps Rio de Janeiro.

Apple and the Mysterious Patents
There are no shortage of opinions about the recent patent applications that were made public by Apple. TechCrunch found some oddly similar existing apps in the store that have been reflected in the patents designs. For what it’s worth Apple appears to be applying for the patent for the services that would make these applications work, not the interface design. Still unsettling in my opinion.