Tag Archives | Facebook

$10 Facebook Pac-Man With Strings Attached? No Thanks!

pacmanNamco is dipping its toes into Facebook gaming with two classic titles, Pac-Man and Dig Dug. Like virtually everyone, I enjoy Pac-Man, so I gave the app a spin.

Sadly, this venture has hardly any redeeming value. After installing the “J2Play” application, which apparently enables Namco’s games and others, you still have to download the game itself. The executable is 13MB and the installed product is 34MB.

To sync the game with your Facebook profile (so everyone can witness your skills), you have to log in every time you start playing, even if you’ve already signed into Facebook in a browser. The Pac-Man game itself does not match the smoothness and graphic feel of the original, and you can only play for 10 minutes before you’re asked to cough up $10.

“Such an epic fail,” one commenter writes on the App’s page. “This is pretty much a textbook example of how not to deploy a game on Facebook,” writes another. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Pac-Man is a quick-fix kind of game. It needs to fire up quickly or the whole purpose is lost. Furthermore, it’s not worth $10.

For good measure, here are some reasonable places to get your Pac-Man fix:

-At any of the various Web sites hosting free flash Pac-Man clones.

-At GameTap, where Internet Explorer 6 and 7 users can play online for free (registration to play through the GameTap client is temporarily closed).

-On Xbox Live Arcade, where $5 gets you the game, community high scores and the comfort of playing from your couch.

-At a real arcade, where you’re likely to get bored before your 40 quarters are gone.

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Facebook Users About to Get Vanity URLs

With Facebook increasingly more popular these days, and more and more social networking users ditching their MySpace profiles for the service, its no surprise that Facebook is beginning to borrow some of its competitors conveniences. One of them is the vanity URL.

Simply put, it’s so much easier to give someone your MySpace URL. I jumped on that bandwagon real early, so mine is nice and short: http://www.myspace.com/edoz. However, on Facebook, there’s no way I’d remember this doozy: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1014145619.

Up until recently, you had to be a band or group in order to get one of those nifty vanity URLs on Facebook. Well, that policy appears ready to change. A few folks, including Demi Moore, Aston Kutcher, and now Digg’s Kevin Rose have their own vanity URLs on Facebook.

When will this happen? It’s not quite clear just yet. But with it beginning for those social media elites already, its only a matter of time before us commonfolk get the same opportunity.


5Words for March 5th, 2009

5wordsWhat I’m reading this morning:

Twitter-like makeover for Facebook.

Ballmer: Windows Mobile needs work.

Amazon’s selling used video games.

Pogue slams Samsung’s Memoir phone.

Facebook spurns poor Ms. Batman.

Fab Four meets Rock Band.

Spy shots of new BlackBerry.

Windows 7’s revamped UAC: useless?

Vista SP2 available for download.

Interesting, nitpicky Safari 4 review.

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Malware is Messing with Facebook Users

A rogue application has struck Facebook for the second time within a week, reports Trend Micro’s Malware Blog. The malware uses social engineering to hoodwink Facebook users into installing it, and then proceeds to harvest their personal information. But don’t panic yet – it’s not that easy to do.

When a user installs the application, it propagates itself by spamming their friends profiles with fake but official sounding notices that they have violated the Facebook terms of service. In order to avoid “penalties,” the user is instructed to install the application. If the would-be victim falls for it, the cycle repeats.

Trend Micro has pointed out the obvious: Facebook should review its application hosting policy. The firm also recommended that users take responsibility for what they are installing, and to do some research beforehand.

One possible solution is a verification process for applications, but the problem would have to be more prevalent to justify its costs, said Caleb Sima, an HP executive that is the former co-founder and CTO of SPI Dynamics.

“Really, I don’t have much to say about this as I have been expecting it for a while. Its no different then email. I send you a link to a program you allow it to install it takes your contacts list and spams it out. There is nothing new here. Its just applied as a Facebook app or message.”

He also predicted that malware could start arising with any type of ‘app stores.’

The silver lining is that Faceobok applications are much harder to write and distribute than e-mails are, so it won’t be as big of a problem, Sima explained. Vigilance is the best course of action, he added. “Ultimately I don’t think there is much that Facebook can do about it besides act quickly to remove rogue apps when they are reported.”


Facebook's Radical New Approach to Terms of Service

facebooklogoLast week, Facebook reversed some changes it had made to its terms of service after it faced an uprising of unhappy members who weren’t pacified by founder Mark Zuckberg’s initial explanation of why the amendments shouldn’t bother anyone. That was expedient. Today, the company followed up by doing something kind of extraordinary: It’s created drafts of overarching Facebook Principles and specific Facebook Rights and Responsibilities, and is soliciting member feedback on them before they’re finalized. Zuckerberg also says that members will get to vote for or against the revised versions of both documents, although I can’t tell from his post whether those votes will be binding.

The Facebook Rights and Responsibilities aren’t radically different in spirit or style from a traditional TOS document, but they’re written in something closer to plain English than most and go further to explain the rationale behind the rules. But the linkage of this document’s specific policies to the philosophical stuff in the Facebook Principles is a big deal. Most terms of service are about lawyerly ass-covering, but Facebook is trying, at least, to make its rules about fulfilling the company’s mission. And if it truly listens and rolls member feedback into the final versions, that’s cool.

For a company that’s all about conversation and communications, Facebook often comes off as mysterious and autocratic–not just with this recent flap but also with earlier dust-ups like the one over Beacon “social ads.” In the past, it’s done a decent job of listening to members–but only as the third step in a process that usually went A) institute new policy; B) get all defensive when members carp about it; C) revise new policy based on their feedback. It’ll be fascinating to see how flipping that sequence of events around goes; I hope it works wonderfully well and influences other companies to make their terms of service more realistic, idealistic, and comprehensible…and to get their customers in on the conversation early on.

Full disclosure: Technologizer has its own terms of service, which are based on the ones that govern use of WordPress.com, the platform that powers most of our site. I think they’re pretty fair, but they’re definitely traditional in tone and takeaway. According to Google Analytics, they’ve been viewed a grand total of 101 times since this site’s debut–and at least a few of those clicks came from yours truly. But if you’ve got any input on them, lemme know. And I just might come up with a set of Technologizer Principles for your input…


5Words for February 18th, 2009


Late today–I’ve been airborne:

Facebook reverts to old terms.

Intel and Nvidia’s legal tussle.

Folks are dropping cable, apparently.

Tumblr shuts down unkind blogs.

Verizon preps for 4G wireless.

Mozilla: iPhone jailbreaking is OK

Microsoft kills subscription software offering

Text in school, get arrested.

Time to stop using CAPTCHA?

Western Digital’s remotely-accessible drive.

April 5th arrival for Nintendo DSi.

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5Words for February 17th, 2009

5wordsExcept for phones, pretty quiet:

Facebook: Users control their info.

Pirate Bay escapes some charges.

One charger for every phone.

Nokia puts Skype on phones.

Satellite radio may sidestep bankruptcy.

Card counting’s easier with iPhone.

Toshiba buys Fujitsu drive business.

Canon sues over fake blogger.

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Yahoo Rolls Out “Open” Strategy

yahoologoCycles of innovation on the Web happen rapidly, and even Yahoo fans might concede that the company has failed to keep pace with change. That’s contributed to its well-publicized recent woes. Now the company is being forced to reinvent itself by doing more to appeal to developers and embedding social networking features in its heavily-trafficked Web services.

The latest phase of that transition is an extension of its Yahoo Open Strategy (YOS) to some of its most popular Web properties, including My Yahoo, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Toolbar, and across the company’s media Web sites.

Mostly notably, today Yahoo announced an upgrade to Yahoo Mail that serves up information that might be of interest to subscribers. The Mail site now resembles an e-mail inbox with elements of Facebook; applications and notifications surround e-mails. It keeps people in touch and looped in at a glance.

Yahoo is offering six initial Web services, including ones from third parties: Family Journal, Flixster Movies, Flickr, Photos by Xoopit, WordPress, and Yahoo Greetings. The company said in its blog that it is working to safeguard the sensitivity of users’ personal e-mail, and it will refine its application security model before opening the door to developers.

When I think of how much of my day is spent on Facebook (more than I care to admit), it makes perfect sense to follow that model. I usually have two separate browser windows open: one for Facebook and one for Gmail. Combining that functionality makes perfect sense–it’s just a shame that Yahoo had to be prodded to do it.

The Yahoo home page now has an applications sidebar that is open to third party developers, and the company has published a new theme API. Notifications about contacts’ activities across Yahoo Web properties is displayed when the user is logged in. Some notifications are pulled from Yahoo TV and Yahoo Music.

Yahoo announced its YOS strategy in October, and introduced its development platform, including Yahoo Application Platform (YAP), Yahoo Social Platform (YSP), and Yahoo Query Language (YQL), at that time. From the looks of what it has accomplished to date, Yahoo should manage to stop the hemorrhaging and retain many of its millions of users. It may even attract some new ones.


Google Friend Connect? Confusing! Facebook Connect? Not Bad!

facebookgoogleconnectGoogle and Facebook have both rolled out new platforms designed to spread their tendrils across more of the Web than ever. The names–Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect–are similar. (Very similar.) So are the overarching goals, which is to let folks use login IDs they already have to sign into sites and manage friendships all around the Web. But the emphasis of the two services are quite different. And based on my wholly unscientific first impressions, Facebook Connect is more fully baked.

Google Friend Connect is pitching itself as an easy way for anyone with a Web site to add some community functionality in a hurry. (In that respect, it’s a competitor to Ning, which Technologizer uses to power our Technologizer Community.) It provides widgets for features such as Facebook-style Wall posts, user reviews, and finding and adding friends, and lets users of these features sign in with Google, Yahoo, AIM, or OpenID accounts. All of this involves pasting of code snippets into a site–it’s not much more tricky than embedding a YouTube video.

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Twitter Sounds Like a Good Fit for Facebook

twitterNews has surfaced from Kara Swisher at AllThingsDigital about apparent talks that had been ongoing between Twitter and Facebook. Under the discussed terms, Facebook would have acquired the micro-blogging site for $500 million in Facebook stock. Facebook initiated the talks in mid-October, but they seemed to have broken off sometime around the beginning of this month.

The reasons for the breakdown in talks was the typical merger concerns over integration and whatnot. However, it also appears as if some within Twitter wanted to first try to build up the revenue side of their business on their own before looking outside of the company.

As it is well known. Twitter has no real revenue stream, and is being funded by venure capalists. With the economy going sound — and VC with it — now may be a good time to get that going.

In any case, it seems at least to me that Twitter would be a great fit for Facebook. The social networking site’s users are already familiar with twitter-like functionality through status updates, and Twitter users could stand to benefit from Facebook’s development team which likely could assist in making the service more stable.

$500 million is also more than a fair price to offer for Twitter. The latest round of funding put a value of the company at about $100 million, and as I’ve said previously, it has no real incoming revenue.

I’m not sure how Twitter thinks it is going to monetize the system, or why they should wait. With such uncertianty in the economy, just take the money and run.