Sunday, January 31, 2010

Facebook: Half-hearted email replies

For a couple of weeks now, Facebook allows you to reply to a notification (e.g. when someone comments on your status) via email.

Xxx Xxxxxx commented on your status:

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras neque diam, tincidunt sit amet faucibus quis, tincidunt eu mauris. Nulla vitae est ipsum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. "

New Feature: Reply to this email to comment on this status.

To see the comment thread, follow the link below:
http://www.facebook.com/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks,
The Facebook Team
So just hit reply on this e-mail and type away your response.

A really nice feature, since most of the time I read the comment first via email, not on Facebook itself - no matter if mobile, iPod or Web. So being able to reply right from my mail-client is really convenient.

However, the one notification one cannot reply to via email, is a notification from a facebook message itself. If someone sends you a message on facebook, you have to log on to facebook and reply their.
Odd.
Half-hearted.
Please...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Urgent feature request for Google Reader

If some Google engineer reads this...(yeah, very likely):
Could you please do a quick hack in Google Reader that would allow me to "mark all items about iPad as read and boring".

That'd be helpful right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cowardly admin

How nice... I got this error message on a webserver just now:
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, /dev/null and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
The server administrator /dev/null... didn't know that admins are that self-conscious nowadays.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Regex Pitfall

I guess this was the first time ever that I had to search/match/replace with regular expressions across line boundaries.
Not the usual multi-line ("/m") operation; quite the contrary, I wanted the source string to be treated as one single line regardless of newline-characters in it.

In other words: the dot (".") should also match a newline.

Not that easy, it turns out.
Quoting from the Regex Tutorial:
The dot matches a single character, without caring what that character is. The only exception are newline characters. In all regex flavors discussed in this tutorial, the dot will not match a newline character by default. So by default, the dot is short for the negated character class [^\n] (UNIX regex flavors) or [^\r\n] (Windows regex flavors).
Changing this behavior is actually language dependent.
Since I needed it within JavaScript (XUL/Thunderbird) I had to revert to a [\s\S] instead of the .
JavaScript [does] not have an option to make the dot match line break characters. In
those languages, you can use a character
class
such as [\s\S] to match any character.
This character matches a character that is either a whitespace
character (including line break characters), or a character that is not a
whitespace character. Since all characters are either whitespace or
non-whitespace, this character class matches any character.
Weird. Unreadable. Requires a comment.
But it works.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Who is Facebook afraid of?

These days Facebook is really pushy and aggressive to get the data of your contacts who are not yet on Facebook.

Exhibit A: Facebook FriendFinder

Facebook seems to shove the FriendFinder into your face these days, no matter when or where on Facebook you are at the time.

For a time there even were almost full-size banners on top of the main Facebook page (stream) for it.



Exhibit B: The new iPhone app

The new Version 3.1 of the FaceBook app for the iPhone allows you to sync your iPhone Contacts with Facebook. Now as nice and handy this may be for syncing the Facebook contact information (picture, phone number, address, birthday, ...) down to your iPhone I'd never let all my phone contacts by synced up to Facebook.

Well, I don't have an iPhone (yet), but a - in this regard - functionally equivalent iPod Touch, which obviously does not contain as much contact information as my phone. And the E71 app for the iPhone is way to broken to ever get such a sync feature.

So this is not a problem for me, but I'd not even sync my handful of iPod contacts to Facebook. Even if I could.

They are really kind of desperate to get all your contacts data, i.e. your whole social graph.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Austrian ecard still not a Citizen Card

So during my previous attempt to activate my national health card ("ecard") as a citizen card ("B├╝rgerkarte") I was told that this very most recent version of the ecard was not yet supported and I should check back in January.

Guess what I did today...

Well to cut a long story short, it still does not work.

Why did I even bother to try...
I've been working in the IT industry for the last 20 years now [1], always on - sort of - the production side: vendor, developer, ... never really on the consumer side...

So I should know what a vendor or developer means by saying "in January". It's rather like February 12th or so... and not January 18th... duuuh... should've known... been there...

So, if anyone cares to try this "in January", i.e. before 18-Feb-2010, just be so kind and post a comment with your results here.

--
[1] OMG...that long?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Show sender's picture in Thunderbird 3

With Thunderbird 3 you now can store a photo to each contact.


Nice feature, but totally pointless without an option to actually display this photo next to the emails.

Now for the good part: there is an add-on to do exactly this...

Contact Photos :: Add-ons for Thunderbird



It looks if it can find the sender of the email in any of your address books, and there is a picture stored with this record. If so, it will be displayed in the message header. If not, a dummy picture is displayed.

You can control the behavior a bit...


I know the Mac folks will now brag that their Apple Mail software could do this for years... And you are right... It was overdue.

Now all we need is a way to easily collect those photos (with gravatars not being that popular). Since the address book in Thunderbird still lacks usability, there is of course no way to simple drag and drop images into the address book... Maybe I'll hack this...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Quiz: What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote an published a Facebook app that reveals how much data a Facebook app can actually see from you and your friends.
Nice thing, is that they made it in the form of the quite popular quizzes.

Read the story here, or try it yourself (if you are on Facebook) ...
HINT: always choose the worst possible (from a privacy point of view) answer... that will help...

Turns out that an app can see almost everything, regardless of what you say in your privacy settings, and - more shockingly - it can see a lot about your friends as well... and they don't even know about it...
The ACLU quiz demonstrates this by actually showing you some of your friends data.

Go directly the quiz on Facebook.

Key take away:
So some of your profile data might even be read by an app that a friend is using... you don't even know it, much less authorized it.

So:
#1 Don't take those quizzes
#2 Accepting a friend request on Facebook just got one more thing to consider ('cause you don't know what apps they use)

Sees Scott McNealy was right: "There is no privacy - get over it" [1].
I still hate that attitude... but he seems to be more and more right...

--
[1] there are slight variations of this quote... but all to the same effect.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Gartner acquires Burton Group

Oha, coming home from a 3 days vacation (not even that offline) I stumbled upon this
Burton Group Identity Blog: Gartner acquires Burton Group: "Gartner acquires Burton Group"

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Scheduled Sync for the E71

Just when I was about to rant about the lack of periodic or automatied calendar sync on the E71 (over-the-air/OTA via SyncML) I did in fact google for it and found that the Bergamot project on Google Code does provide exactly this.

The program is called SWIM and this is what it does:


Swim is a utility for automatic periodic synchronization of data with internet servers such as Google Calendar (through GooSync), Mobical, Zyb, ScheduleWorld, Ovi or any system running Funambol. It makes use of the existing SyncML support in the system, and adds timing capabilities, something both UIQ and S60 mysteriously lack! You can set it to sync your data every 15 minutes, every hour, every 4 hours, every 12 hours, daily, or weekly.

Swim uses the existing Synchronization functionality and profiles from the E71... which is cool, so there is no difference if you sync manually through the menu or run the synchronization scheduled.

The how-to section is quite ok... here are some tips and tricks from my installation, though:

  • For my E71 I needed version 0.41 from the download section. The more recent v 0.50 did not do anything.
    The tricky part is, getting the beast signed using the Symbian
    Open Signed Online tool.
    This is also well explained in the
    How To Install section: just upload the unsigned .SIS file, download the signed .SIS file and install this to the phone.
  • However, I ran in to the problem that my phone said that the certificate of the signed .SIS file was “not yet” valid. A google search for that revealed that this is a common problem with - as it seems - the clock of the signing server and the phone being too far out of sync. The trick is, to put the phone 1 day ahead, install the software, and the put the phone back today.
    Frankly, I don't really see why I should (self-)sign software at all, if the only way to install it, is with a kludge like that.
  • Anyway, after that it ran just fine, I put it to 30min synchronization interval for starts and thats what it did... After a day of observation (without any problem) I put it to 12hrs, which is sufficient to have my corporate (Sun) calender synched with my phone...
So Hooray and thanks to the Bergamot project...