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Archive for November, 2007

More Friends

Nov 30, 2007 in 4 Stars, Facebook, Just For Fun, Utility

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Rating: ★★★★☆

More Friends by Chris Lee helps you find the most common 2nd degree friends in your social network.

How does it work?
It’s simple. This application will get a list of all your friends’ friends (second degree friends) and count who appeared the most. You can then use the application to discover those common friends that are not on your list. However, there’s one catch: You’ll have to get your friends to add this application, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to find their friend lists.

Facebook - Mutual FriendsI really like this idea. Facebook already does it to an extent, but only shows you friends you have directly in common when you view a particular person’s profile (see picture). If you have tons of friends, this could be tedious and you may never realize that some of your friends are mutual. More over, if many of your friends share a common friend, there’s a good chance you might know that common friend too. Unfortunately, More Friends is limited by Facebook’s FBQL restrictions on pulling friend lists only of those that have the application installed. This is awesome for More Friends (since it forces you to invite everyone you know), but too bad for me, because I can’t go about inviting my friends to install every application I test. And mind you, I test a lot of apps! I compliment them for being so up front about this from the get go, even before installing the application. To kick the wheels, I invite a few of my close friends that are used to my Facebook request spam.

I wait a few minutes for the app to update, as it appears that it does not get updated in real-time.. When it does update, I have new results under the “More Friends” tab.

Facebook - More Friends Found

Sure enough, it found a friend Rusty that I haven’t yet added to my contacts. Caveats aside, I think this is a great tool for finding lost contacts. I am tempted to invite spam everyone, to see who’s on Facebook that I haven’t yet befriended.

Installed

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Truphone ‘Call Me’ Button

Nov 30, 2007 in 5 Stars, Facebook

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Rating: ★★★★★

Facebook - Truphone Logo Truphone by Alistair T Campbell and Dean Elwood offers a Call Me button on your Facebook profile. Anyone viewing your profile can call you directly via their computer. Your telephone number will be held confidential and they promise not to sell your number to telemarketers. Best of all it’s free*, as in not for long. December 31st it switches over to a premium service. Hurry up and get your free calls in to select countries! They do their best to hide how much the service will cost after December 31st. Personally, I hate this tactic.

My first impressions after installing the app is the nice presentation.

Facebook - Truphone Main Page

They clearly indicate how many steps are involved in the process and best of all, haven’t skimped on the documentation. Everything is explained in great detail (except for prices after Dec 31st!). I find that most Facebook applications fall short of helpful FAQs.

Entering your number(s) is easy, but their language wasn’t immediately obvious. I kept on entering my telephone number in the field where it said “Truphone Number” and it kept saying the number didn’t exist. After paying a little closer attention, I realized I needed to enter my number under “World Landline or US/Canadian Mobile.”

Facebook - Truphone Enter Number

They also have advanced options for adding your Grand Central, SIP, or Google Talk address.

At this point, it loads a Java applet and shortly thereafter you receive an automated phone call validating your telephone number. After pressing ’1′ it disconnects and you’re instructed to click the “Activate” link that appears on the current page.
Facebook - Truphone Progress

After completing the last step, I become concerned that something is wrong. The fancy progress bar hasn’t changed and I wait for it to update. After all, shouldn’t the little gray dots turn to green or some sort of validating color that each step has been completed? Well, don’t wait around. You’re done as soon as it shows one active telephone number.

Now, a button will appear on your profile that anyone can click to call you.

Facebook - Truphone Call Me Button

Of course, the review wouldn’t be complete without a test. I click the button and it takes me to an application page which immediately initiates a phone call. I answer it and everything sounds great.

The program couldn’t be much easier to use. If you are interested in receiving phone calls from your friends on Facebook, this is not a bad way to go. One caveat is that they never give you the option to restrict the hours/days of the week you wish to receive phone calls. Don’t be surprised if you receive an unexpected phone call at 4am. Cheers!

NOTE: If you are a lucky GrandCentral user, I suggest you try out their Call Me button since it’ll be free for much longer that December 31st. Don’t have an account yet? Try InviteShare to find an invitation. Sorry Truphone, I’m going to install their button instead.

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Battle Hangman

Nov 29, 2007 in 3 Stars, Facebook, Gaming, Just For Fun

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s Hangman. You know the rules.

That’s the slogan to the Battle Hangman application by Scott Agass and Richard Matthews that brings the classic game of hangman to Facebook. They couldn’t be more right! Battle Hangman is exactly that.

Battle Hangman You Got Hunged!

It’s just like you remember it, you think of a word or phrase and have a friend try to guess it one letter at a time. For each correct guess you fill in all the characters of the word where that letter appears. For each wrong guess you draw another stick figure limb hanging from a noose. First the head, then the torso, followed by the right arm, left arm, right leg, and finally the left leg. If they guess the entire word or phrase before you draw their entire body then they win. Otherwise they get “hunged” (hanged).

Have no friends? Well you probably don’t belong on Facebook but you can still enjoy Battle Hangman by playing against the computer. Soloists aside, this is actually a great way to build up your score.

Battle Hangman provides the person being challenged with a hint by requiring the challenger to choose from a select group of topics that include; Movies, Books, Song Titles, Bands/Musical Artists, Famous People, Places, Landmarks, Catchphrases, TV Shows, and Sports. Obviously if you’re a cut-throat winner who wants nothing but points you can cheat and throw in random words, misspellings, or off-topic answers — but that wouldn’t be much fun would it?

Battle Hangman Challenge

The point system works like so. Challenge a friend and if they don’t solve it, you get 10 points. Solve a challenge and you can earn up to 20 points or as low as 5 points, depending on how many limbs you have remaining. You can also earn a bonus 50 points per friend you invite, but that seems a little bit unfair.

The game is well developed. We didn’t run into any technical issues trying to use it. The interface is a little cluttered but not enough to stop you from being able to navigate your way around. The game has cute little stick figure animations that are a nice addition beyond the classic hand drawn game of hangman. You can also keep track of your score versus your friends or compete globally on the leaderboard for the most points.

The Result

If you like hangman you’ll probably enjoy Battle Hangman. I probably won’t keep it installed just because I haven’t played hangman since about the 4th grade and there is kind of a reason for that. There is some fun in the nostalgia of it though. We had a few laughs in the office trying to solve each others puzzles. I definitely suggest checking it out. At least until 6pm when you clock out of work.

_ _ i n s _ a _ _ e d

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Ayos iShare

Nov 29, 2007 in 3 Stars, Facebook, File Sharing

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ayos iShare by Sphorium Technologies provides a file sharing service with unlimited download limits and 500MB of Free Storage. By default, the 500MB is divided into two parts: 100MB of Personal Storage, and 400MB of Shared Storage. How you allocate it is ultimately up to you. But more than just file sharing, it provides extended features like searching your files, tracking revisions, organizing files, and sharing a common work space with your friends. There are tons more features that I left out, which you can view here.

Ayos iShare came at just the right time for me. I have been looking for an unrestricted file sharing program for Facebook. First thing I wanted to do was to upload a file. It took me a few seconds to find the link, it was hidden under “Options”. Personally, since this is a service all about file sharing, I think “Upload File” should be prominently featured.

Facebook - Ayos iShare Add File

Uploading a file went smoothly. I would have liked to see some sort eye-candy such as an AJAX indicator and for kicks an upload progress bar.

Facebook - Ayos iShare File List

After uploading, I tried to use the search functionality to find my file. At first, a simple search for a keyword in the description produced no results. After about 1 minute, it did however turn up. I haven’t yet figured out how to view the description, just edit the description. I would prefer if there was some way clicking to get the description of the file inline.

Facebook - Ayos iShare Search Results

You can also move files around, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t create a folder inline as you do with most file explorers.

Facebook - Ayos Move File

The business model is straightforward: upsell user on greater storage capacity with a monthly subscription fee starting at $3.99/mo. As much as I like 100% free services, I do support companies rolling out subscription models since in the end the only sustainable business is the one with cash flow.

Facebook - Ayos PayPal

My overall impression of the app is positive. It works as advertised and is easy to use. There are many more features I didn’t explore, such as the versioning and calendaring system. To be fair to Ayos, it is not just a file sharing application. It’s more of a collaborative content management system for the Facebook platform. My 3 star rating describes its effectiveness as a purely a file sharing application, and doesn’t take into consideration these other features.

I do expect certain usability improvements, however, before I would start using the app regularly. Most of them I’ve already mentioned. As a matter of personal opinion, I’m not a big fan of context menus/drop downs for web apps unless they are used to mimic the behavior of existing, well known applications (e.g. File menu in Windows). I think menus should be used to hide more obscure or advanced features away from regular users, but not used for all features.

In order for a file sharing app in this category to get my vote of 5 stars, it would have to mimic the behavior of a normal file explorer (e.g. Mac Finder or Windows Explorer). This is a reasonable expectation as I’ve seen the functionality implemented with Flash and even AJAX (as in some of the Web OS implementations). My justification for this is users shouldn’t have to learn yet one more interface to accomplish the simple task of file sharing. A file explorer’s interface is intuitive and works.

Update 2007-12-06:

Ayos iShare announced today that they now allow users to collaborate on group items. You can access this feature by clicking on the new tab called Group Items. Down the road, they say to expect a WebDAV capabilities, which will enable you to mount your files locally on your computer.

Installed (for now)

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Spotlight

Nov 29, 2007 in 4 Stars, Facebook

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Facebook - Spotlight Logo

Spotlight by Peopleized enables you to conduct interviews of your friends on Facebook. The idea is intriguing to me, because I rarely get around to interviewing my friends. After thinking for a few minutes, all sorts of questions and interview topics came to mind. I thought it would be interesting to interview some of my close friends in order to get to know them little better and to see if we share any common ground.

After installing the application, you’re prompted to enter the names of up to 5 friends to interview, the title of your interview, and the ability to ask as many questions as you like.
Facebook - Spotlight Create Interview

After entering the first question, click “Add Question”. Each question you add is appended to a list below.

Facebook - Spotlight Question List

I like how easy it is to add, edit, delete, and sort your questions. It just worked. My only recommendation would be some sort of preview mode to see what the interview will look like to the recipient.

When proceeding from this step, you’re prompted to send an email to your friends asking them to be interviewed. This step is optional. If you decline, they will just be notified via Facebook requests.

Facebook - Spotlight Completed Interview

When they complete your interview, you’re notified via email. Personally, I don’t like this because I already get spammed by so much automated mail, I don’t need anymore; it should be a feature when I setup the interview to be notified via email. Interviews are displayed in a clear fashion with speech bubbles. Once you’re done interviewing your friends, you can ask them to interview you. I expected to be able to specify the topic of the interview, but didn’t see the option. There are some more features of the application that I invite you to explore.

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The 12 Walls of Facebook — Part 3

Nov 29, 2007 in Chat, Facebook, Messaging, Photo, Utility, Video

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Emotion Wall

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Emotion Wall Facebook Application Emotion Wall is a little known wall with only 199 daily active users.

It’s got some great features, lets you import YouTube videos and images into your posts. It’s got a simple interface and even has a few cute emoticons. It uses a BBC style code to insert the images and videos which is neat.

Wall owners can create a sticky at the top of their wall and users have the option to post private messages.

Emotion Wall Screenshot

Though, it’s a little spammier than I’d like for an application and will push an ad in your face at every opportunity. Clicking on ‘More’ brings you to a page with more options for posting. Though part of the form is to “invite friends to write on my wall” and it’s always checked.

I had to disable my mini-feed as every change I made blasted an announcement out to all my friends. After about 10 seconds I have 4 items to nuke from my news feed.

It’s not a bad wall and if you don’t mind subjecting your friends to advertising torture you might want to check it out, just be sure to disable it’s access to your mini-feed or you’ll be sorry.

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Classic Wall

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Classic Wall Facebook Application I really wanted to review this application because it boasts interesting features such as “Historically accurate representation of the pre-September 2005 Facebook Wall!”

Well, long story short… it doesn’t work… but somehow 31 of his friends still have it installed.

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Comment Wall

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Comment Wall Facebook Application Seems like every wall application makes big claims that they usually can’t live up to like “Get rid of your old and crappy wall and get a little more creative :) ”. Well, this one did just that.

The wall does have some good features, like HTML in your comments.

You can also add a video or image — I think. The interface to do so is extremely unfriendly. After clicking the “Add Image or Video” button and being presented with such an incredibly complex page, I gave up and just clicked my back button.

I like the simplicity on (only) the profile page, it didn’t spam my news feed for every action I performed and no ads (seriously — no ads). It has good features, but it’s just not user friendly.

There’s a reason why this wall only has 25 daily active users — they were the only people on Facebook that could figure it out.

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My Appology

Sorry about the post today. The other wall review posts were more interesting as they had walls actually worth checking out. I had higher expectations for these walls, but hopefully I saved you some time.

 

 

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Will the real Olsen Twin please stand up?

Nov 28, 2007 in Facebook

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Just For Fun

Which Olsen Twin Are You? Fullhouse

I thought this was too funny not to share. A reader messaged me to inform me that there is a hidden Easter Egg in the Which Olsen Twin Are You Facebook application I reviewed earlier this week. Apparently it unlocks a hidden third identity. If you can figure out who that identity is or want to take a guess submit your answers in the comments below. I don’t want to spoil the fun.

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the Bar|Book

Nov 28, 2007 in 4 Stars, Events, Facebook, Food and Drink

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Social Networking before Social Networks

the Bar|Book About

Before there were social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster we had to network the old fashion way. You know the one I’m talking about, it’s the sole reason you have (or had) a liver. That’s right — it’s time to get our booze on. Now someone pour me another Dark and Stormy!

The Bar|Book for Facebook tries to bring back the good old days by getting us offline and back into the scene. Created by a team of four alcoholic developers, Erik Ober, Will Chu, Paul Kowssari, and Mike Weber, the Bar|Book helps you connect with other Facebook members who are self described regulars at your favorite local bars and clubs.

The Bar|Book has a clean interface that is simple to use and more refined than most Facebook apps. The first thing you do once you install the Bar|Book is set your location if it hasn’t already detected it for you. For me it immediately knew I was in Los Angeles, CA. Once your location is set you can begin browsing bars and clubs in your area. Each listing has a photo and description that you can click for more information or add it to your scenes.

Each scene lets you browse a list of regulars by photo, leave comments, and receive events. It is a great way to keep up with what is happening at your local favorite hot spot. There is also a central news feed that keeps you up to date on other things happening on the Bar|Book, including your friends and what’s hot.

The Result

the Bar|Book Drinks

If you’re heavy into the nightlife the Bar|Book is a great addition to Facebook. You can connect with the regulars from your favorite spots. They’ve recently added a new feature for friend spotting that allows you to keep a history of all the times and places you’ve run into your friends at local watering holes. Just for fun you can send friends virtual drinks, which is similar to some of the other Facebook apps like Booze Mail. The difference being that this is just a feature of the Bar|Book rather than the entire application.

A weakness of the Bar|Book is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to easily track your friends. It would be a lot more useful if they provided a tab with your Facebook friends so you can browse their favorite scenes and coordinate your bar hopping. It is probably less useful for those who don’t live in major metropolitan areas though as the ratio of regulars to population is fairly low. Luckily for me there were already over 3,000 in Los Angeles, and 4,000 in Hollywood at of the time of this review.

Overall I think the Bar|Book is a great application for Facebook because it helps people with a common interest connect both online and offline. That should be the ultimate goal of any social application, to facilitate and enhance human connections.

the Bar|Book Scenes

Installed, see you at The Father’s Office in Santa Monica!

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The 12 Walls of Facebook — Part 2

Nov 28, 2007 in 4 Stars, Chat, Facebook, Messaging, Photo, Utility, Video

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FunWall

Rating: ★★★★☆

FunWall Facebook Application We’ve gone over Super and Advanced, now it’s time for something Fun. Well I thought “Fun” was just another adjective the marketing department threw in front of “Wall” to get people to install it… But you know what? It does have some fun elements.

The interface is quite simple and clean, you have a button for normal posts and a few other options like Photo, Video, Graffiti and a Slideshow…

Funwall Facebook Application Screenshot

Now here’s where the “Fun” comes in… Adding a photo here has more than what you would think. After you upload your photo, you can edit it. There’s a bunch of effects to choose from like shine, glitter, hearts, thought bubbles. You can add other things such as horns, mustache, buck teeth, pig noses and much more.

FunWall also provides you with a graffiti option to draw on the pics you upload so you too can be the new Perez Hilton.

Videos can only be added from YouTube, though this seems to be the norm. The “Fun” they added to videos is simple… they let you theme your video by putting a border around it. They have a dozen or so to choose from — my favorite is the old school 70′s tv set border.

It’s easy to see why Slide applications have become so popular. This one is worth checking out… it’s got great features and it isn’t too spamy.

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Best Wall

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Best Wall Facebook Application Hmmm… this wall is called the Best Wall. Though I think a better name for it would have been Definately NOT the Best Wall or Worst Wall.

Try to think of the default Wall by Facebook… now take away all the features, like wall-to-wall, links to write on friends wall, message, DELETE. Oh ya and I forgot to mention, there’s no way for any of your friends to write on your wall.

Best Wall Facebook Application Screenshot
Ummmmmm… where is the text box and the post button?

To sum up, don’t waste your time. (the rating below should be considered -1 star).

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Hot

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Hot Facebook Application Not Hot Wall, just Hot.

This wall reminds me a little of FunWall… but with all the fun removed.

You can do stuff like add Photos, Videos, etc., but it’s a pain in the ass to do so. When you try to add a photo (or video) it first prompts you to select from a list of either photos or videos. If I clicked “Add a Photo”, why would I then want to select from a random list of photos?

On this page you can click “Upload a Photo” which will upload it into their photo mix for everyone to select from. No thanks.

If you do decide to go through with it and complete the process, it prompts you to blast it out to all your friends (all are selected by default). All I wanted to do was upload a photo to my wall. Grrrr…

I don’t see why you’d want to install this one when there are much better walls out there. This wall is lacking in features, spamy, annoying and tries to get you to install their other Facebook apps. Avoid!

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Doodle Friends

Nov 28, 2007 in 3 Stars, Facebook, Photo

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Doodle Friends Faceboook Application

Doodle Friends is a what you see is what you get kind of application. You select your friends and match them up to pre-drawn doodles. You can create little nicknames for them… and… well, that’s about it.

Doodle Friends is simple and cute — and who doesn’t like simple and cute?

Below are the Doodle Friends I created…

MY Doodle Friends

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