Facebook blowback blows

or, "Facebook, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden" (this is a terrible reference)

You know why I'm sick of this Facebook redesign (and every Facebook change, ever)? The inevitable and inexorable whining.

Yes, I realize that whining about people that are whining is standard-issue hypocritical. But I'd like to believe that I'm putting forth a more reasonable case than the thousands of one-line comments to the "New Layout Vote" Facebook app.

People cried "stalker feed" at the introduction of news feeds. People hated tabbed profile pages (I loved it, I was sick of all the app boxes) as much as people hated the loss of "Facebook guy." Yadda yadda yadda. Facebook seems to go through it's period every six months or so.

But for some reason, Facebook has been surpassing MySpace in active users and traffic. (And it's still getting bigger.)

In the end, we'll all just deal with it and move on, because the most common suggestion ("go back to the old one") is literally a step back and a waste of Facebook's time and money. It's coherent enough and I think, with time they'll make it work (like every design change they've made). The naysayers can have their fill, but this is not a branding disaster that Facebook should backpedal upon. (Aside: the new name for Sci Fi Channel should be.)

But! Instead of simply bitching about the whole blowback overreaction—I got heat for this last time Facebook made changes—I challenge folks to "put up or shut up" and actually develop a coherent argument against the changes. This is how sick I am of seeing that app and those statuses on my home page.

Keep reading. Really.


Speaking of, I wonder who runs that one Facebook app, because it's obviously not Facebook themselves.

That screenshot image on the app's page, comes from one of those previews on the official Facebook blog. The ol' "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" images on the app page come from 74.55.245.18. That IP reverses to "elnexus.com," according to samspade.org. Just a regular ol' site that sells computers. That domain, in turn, shows a private registration as opposed to a company name or contact. (Yes, I'm aware I'm a little crazy, digging into the reverse DNS record and the domain whois records and all. It's that hackin', web developin' side of me.)

Hrmm.

Oddness aside, the overwhelmingly negative response indicated by that app is (in my eyes) severely based on response bias. As in, most of the results come out negative because dislike of the change solicits a stronger vocal response than the positive opinion of a user who likes or tolerates it. There aren't a lot of people who love it enough to voice that about it, leading to the lower positive response percentage. Everybody else on the middle-ground to positive end of the scale won't care enough and won't care for your app invites.


So, a challenge. Don't like the design? Create an opinion of more than 20 words. Hate the design a lot? Quit Facebook. All of your stuff will still be there if you decide to come back. "Put up or shut up," or "shut up and jam," if you will. If people are still talking about this redesign when my Spring Break is over (March 29), then I'll delete my Facebook account for at least two weeks from that date.

It's part "I guess the new iteration is that bad," part "I need to get away from the whiners," part "here's an excuse to deactivate my account again."


Actually, scratch that. I'm going to deactivate my account come Spring Break (midday Friday) and we'll see what happens from there. I just remembered how liberating it is to disconnect from that and reconnect with everything else in life. (How many hours do you use Facebook or MySpace or Twitter, eh?)

I've used this quote before and someday, I swear I'll write something really meaningful around it:

Electronic communities build nothing. You wind up with nothing. We are dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go out and do something. We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.
—Kurt Vonnegut

So maybe let's (you, me, whoever) stop complaining about some intangible pixels and words on a screen for a little while. Maybe I shouldn't have bothered to write this and maybe we shouldn't care so much about minutiae in our technological niceties, after all. There are better things to worry about and better ways to waste our time.

Maybe.

One week with Windows 7

I like Macs, I really do.

But there's something about having 18 GB of music as FLAC files (which iTunes, due to Apple's proprietary ways, will never support) that keeps me from wanting to make the plunge. That and a legitimate, PC-only copy of Adobe CS3 Design Premium that I paid for. And those good ol' PC games. Among plenty of other things.

So what's the next-best thing? Non-stop bleeding-edge PC software, that's what. Last week, I broke down and decided to install Windows 7 on my main computer.

(Please don't follow my example without thinking it through. I essentially have a software deathwish with all the nightly/beta versions of software I use—my e-mail program is called "Shredder," for crying out loud. I have an external hard drive and Amazon S3 that I backup to for a reason.)


tl;dr summary version: Windows 7 does not suck, takes some awesome interface cues from OS X, would buy again A+++++++++++

Interested parties, read on.


At first glance, the Windows 7 beta installs and operates just like Vista does. I can't say too much about the performance (I'm running on awesome hardware), but I will note a few of the more noticeable ways that Windows 7's user interface moves forward from Vista.

One webcomic I read lightly noted that Windows 7 is "like Vista, only minus the huge amounts of suck, and they decided to stick awesome in all the places where the suck used to be. Also, puppies." Minus that puppies part, that's pretty spot-on.

First things first: User Account Control

I figured I should put this at the top since it was essentially the biggest public gripe against Vista.

The infamous UAC prompts are a lot nicer on the intake. There's a lot less "alert fatigue" by default, as Windows only "shades" the desktop under certain circumstances, normally presents only one prompt at a time, and prompts a whole lot less than before—all significant improvements over Vista.

It's a lot less annoying than Vista and probably near the same level as OS X—although I'm going to give this one to Windows 7 since alerts don't always come looking for an administrator password.

Biggest, perhaps best change: Taskbar

Windows 7 'hot track' hover color

Nothing else in Windows screams "I want to be like a Mac" as much as the new taskbar in Windows 7. The ol' window title stripes—from every Windows version since Windows 95—are gone and are now replaced by a combined taskbar/quicklaunch area that Microsoft has nicknamed the "Superbar."

Icons work in a very Mac Dock-like fashion, in which running programs will show up in the taskbar, but are joined by the ability to "pin" items to the taskbar, essentially creating a permanent shortcut to that program.

I repeat: it's very OS X. In terms of usability, it's essentially a variation of the Mac Dock. And that's not a bad thing. I tend to have way too many windows open at once, so this UI style appears a lot less cluttered than vintage Windows.

Windows 7 'quick peek' and 'hot track' color

Main differences from Mac are the addition of the window preview and what Microsoft nicknamed "hot track coloring," where an icon's background color (on hover) matches the icon's most dominant color—both of which can be seen in the images above. (In cases with a low-saturation or greyscale icon, I've noticed Windows default to a theme-dependent color.)

Another nice feature is the "Window Peek." Not only does the taskbar give you a window preview, but if you hover over one of them (and if the window isn't minimized), Windows will hide all other windows to show you that one.

Windows 7 'window peek'

Everything else I liked

  • Drivers are entirely the same as Vista's. No breaking changes here, I got up and running nice and quick.
  • The Windows 7 desktop operates just like Vista's, with the added ability to select multiple wallpapers and make a "slide show" of your desktop. Yes, Mac OS X does this already. Nice touches that go beyond the Mac method include the ability to select specific wallpapers to slideshow (versus OS X which can only select whole directories) and an added "Next desktop background image" option when you right-click the desktop
  • Like XP and Vista, you can choose to hide system tray icons (those little things next to the clock). With Windows 7, I've found the ability to actually click and drag icons into the "hiding area." I'm only vaguely sure this is new, but it's still nice to mention.

Things that did not impress

  • "Aero Shake"—If you drag a window and shake it, all other windows become minimized. I don't see how that's necessarily useful at all, outside of people who get distracted by windows in their periphery.
  • "Desktop Peek"—like that "Window Peek" feature, if you hover over the "show desktop" strip at the end of the taskbar, all the windows go transparent and you can see the desktop. Great. The moment your mouse leaves that area, it goes back to normal. You might as well just click that button. I don't see the novelty in showing all the window borders and the desktop without being able to actually use the desktop directly. (Caveat: I don't like widgets, I don't use Mac's Dashboard and I don't use Windows Gadgets. I could see how a "peek" could possibly be useful for that, but I'm still not sold.)
  • "Libraries"—or, "yet another way for you to find 'My Documents.'" No, really, it's nice that there's an aggregation of all the shared "My Documents," "My Music," and etc. folders you have available to you. I just don't see it very useful since I don't know anybody that uses Windows sharing on their home directories like that.

And Django was it’s name-o

So I'm blogging again. First time in one hundred, eighty-seven days. Great.

In a way, it's a last-ditch effort to overcome a dry spell—it's been ages since I've written or photographed anything particularly well. I won't lie that I've been in a bit of a creative slump lately.

And in another way, it's an effort to make this a bit more credible again. It's about damn time I update my own site—what kind of new media douchebag leaves a site like this to rot? (A lazy one, that's what.)

As you can see (or not, if you're feed-reading this), this site's all dolled up with a new, made-from-scratch look. The front page should navigate quickly and integrates with a bunch of sites to keep my Web 2.0 stalkers happy. I've also moved from a WordPress installation to a Django-powered blog system that I whipped up. I've also moved servers, yadda yadda…I'll spare repeating myself and just point you design and tech nerds to the colophon.

Long story short: shiny new blog, awesome stuff under the hood, and I plan on writing more frequently than once a year.

Happy Friday the 13th, eh?

Seattle

I don't really have anything to say about my trip to Seattle last weekend that the photos can't say for me. It was awesome and that's precisely what they say.

(And to think, I'll be out of the Northwest completely next weekend.)

I enjoyed driving there, I watched the Blue Angels practice a bit (again I have to ask, who in the world decided that closing the city's main East-West interstate for three hours was a good idea?), walked around the Seattle Center area (Space Needle and all), had some delicious Filipino food, hung around Pike Place Market, and got a chance to see a Mariners game at Safeco Field. (Over the course of 2-3 days; there's no way in hell I'd be hectic enough to cram that into one.)

View the slideshow or browse the photoset manually.

Select photos after the jump.

I'm pretty sure I captioned most of the photos, so click 'em if you want some context.

Columbia River / Wanapum Lake

  Low Flying Objects: Watch your head.  Needle n' Wheel

EMP

Pike Place Market

    Safeco Field

Safeco Field

Jim Edmonds is “!@#$% done with the Cardinals”

According to a messageboard post by Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch:

No, what he did was this, according to Mike Claiborne of KTRS:

When FSN's Brent Stover and Claiborne (KTRS) approached Edmonds after the game for a quickie on-field interview that has become standard procedure for MLB rights holders, Edmonds blew them off and said:

"I'm (censored) done with St. Louis TV and radio and I'm (censored) done with the Cardinals."

And then he walked into the Cubs dugout.

Me, I'd love to pretend the above never happened. I'd love to pretend that Jimmy ain't playing on the Cubs. You know, just relive 2004 all over again.
Jim Edmonds, 2004 NLCS home run

But no, that's not going to happen.

Jim Edmonds is dead to me. He's a Cub now. And an asshole. (I'll admit that I'd heard similar things about him while still a Cardinal, that I batted a blind eye to.)

(Stat update: As of the third inning today, Jimmy is batting 3-for-12 2-for-15 against the Redbirds -- both being home runs.)