Find out how much electricity you consume compared to your friends, those in your neighbourhood, or even your district with Facebook application ‘Social Electricity’, which uses data from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) to help people save energy.
I love this idea. I’ve always wanted to know how much my neighbor uses, but could you imagine the privacy implications? Opt-in is a must, but I do like bringing in the community element of being green.
Recently, my girlfriend and I decided to go with one car. We both work from home and so it makes sense. We get to split costs and avoid paying for something that costs money just sitting there (not to mention depreciation). But, we also have to share time in the car.
This means we’ve both pioneered new modes of transportation, with biking the clear winner. Where we’ve discovered just what it means when you say “that is too far”.
At first, it was a couple of blocks. Anything beyond that seemed like a waste of time, compared to driving. As we got in the groove that expanded out several miles. We’re up to a 5-mile range now, and pretty surprised at how much fits within that range:
Local natural foods market – 2.2 miles
Starbucks #1 – 1.5 miles
Starbucks #2 – 2.5 miles
The Beach (Huntington Beach Pier) – 4 miles
Gym – 1.1 miles
Blockbuster Video – 2.5 miles
Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 1.2 miles
One could nearly survive on all that. But, maybe we’re just lucky. We do live in a pretty dense area with a lot of local businesses. I wonder how your neighborhood works out. Have you measured up any of your local businesses?
As I’m getting more and more into this, I’ve started asking myself, “is driving really quicker?” After all, biking mostly avoids traffic, sometimes has quicker routes, and there are no parking problems. As an answer, I turned to Google Maps to compare the estimated times for driving vs. biking:
Local natural foods market – 6 mins driving // 13 mins biking
Starbucks #1 – 5 mins // 9 mins
Starbucks #2 – 7 mins // 15 mins
The Beach – 13 mins // 23 mins
Gym – 4 mins // 7 mins
Blockbuster Video – 7 mins // 15 mins
Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 6 mins // 7 mins
That’s pretty amazing and I would consider it a wash. Biking only adds on a few minutes to most locations. With driving, you also have to take into account red lights, traffic, time for parking, and time to walk from the parking lot to the store. Each of which can add a few minutes to the journey.
There is the added benefit of a solid workout, but that can also be a problem. Sometimes I want to bike, but I’m too tired or hungry to do so. Although, I think it has improved my endurance going on a lot of quick 1-2 mile jaunts. I’ve even looked at expanding my range to 7-10 miles. It was kinda fun looking-up what is within that perimeter: movie theater, more beaches, shopping mall, chocolate store (See’s Candy), Whole Foods, the library, etc.
I guess that’s how far I’m willing to bike…for now. Before we made this shift I never even considered biking to many of these places. Now, it seems ridiculous not to. I guess that how it happens when you’re trying something new, at first it seems out-of-reach and then after some time it becomes completely natural.
Happy 10th birthday, John Gruber, of the curation blog, Daring Fireball. A role model of mine in both style and eccentricity. I hope to one day achieve your level of excellence and also prove to the world that being a blogger can provide a happy life for me and my family.
This, from a 2008 interview, is still a better articulation of the joy of reading great sequential writing than you’ll regularly find:
Gruber: I’ve always enjoyed the way that with good columnists, it’s not just that their individual articles stand on their own, but that there’s something greater than the sum of the parts when you follow them as a regular reader.
And he can still better articulate what’s fun and compelling about link-sharing (which he’s been doing since before we deemed it curation) than anyone. From the same interview:
Gruber: There’s a certain pace and rhythm to what I’m going for [when I share links], a mix of the technical, the artful, the thoughtful, and the absurd. In the same way that I strive to achieve a certain voice in my prose, as a writer, I strive for a certain voice with regard to what I link to. No single item I post to the Linked List is all that important. It’s the mix, the gestalt of an entire day’s worth taken together, that matters to me.
The early Digg was brilliant and honest and democratic. Each digg was a vote and each vote counted towards the ultimate objective: moving a story closer and closer to the top position on the Digg homepage.
Today, we vote on Facebook with every share and on Twitter with every tweet, and conversations take place across loads of different sites, apps, and networks. So how do we surface “what the Internet is talking about,” when the Internet is talking beyond the walls of Digg.com? We tear down the walls. When we launch v1, users will continue to be able to digg stories, but Digg scores will also take into account Facebook shares and tweets. Roll over any Digg score to see the breakdown. We’re excited to see how this new data can help us identify the best stories on the web.
If you use foursquare to check-in to your favorite locations and share those notifications on Facebook, then you’re in for a treat.
Foursquare has announced that your foursquare check-ins will now populate your Timeline map. Before, only actual Facebook check-ins as well as location tagged images would populate that map. This is a pretty nifty update.
When you visit someone’s map on their Timeline, you can see pins of all of the places that they’ve been without you having to dig through their actual profile to find location-style updates. Adding foursquare check-ins will certainly make this a more enjoyable experience.
If you’re wondering about all your past check-ins, I only show about two months worth of history on my Facebook map. This could mean that only the check-ins since Foursquare integrated with Facebook Timeline are included.
A few days ago Instagram was rumored to be valued at $500 million. A few months ago it was $300 million. Its last round — just a year ago – valued the company at $100 million.
The rising valuation of the company was reflective of the growing audience it has been garnering, despite being just on the iPhone. It had reached nearly 30 million registered users before it launched an Android app.
So the question is: Why did Mark Zuckerberg buy Instagram at twice the valuation that professional venture investors were putting on it?
This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.
My translation: Facebook was scared shitless and knew that for first time in its life it arguably had a competitor that could not only eat its lunch, but also destroy its future prospects. Why? Because Facebook is essentially about photos, and Instagram had found and attacked Facebook’s achilles heel — mobile photo sharing.
Facebook has a problem. After its IPO completes it needs many quarters of strong revenue and profit growth to report to convince investors to stay put and convince new ones to buy the stock.
Zuckerberg is aiming at turning the $80 to $100 billion valuation that will happen at IPO into a $500 billion to $1 trillion company. How will he do that?
Look at mobile.
Today Facebook has NO revenues from mobile. None. That’s amazing, since so many people, hundreds of millions of us, use Facebook on mobile clients.
That will change very quickly after the IPO. Instagram will play a huge role here, plus Facebook gets a very talented mobile development team that has built world-leading mobile apps on iOS and Android (which got a million users in its first day).
When I first started blogging, Jason Kottke, of kottke.org, was a sort-of hero for what I wanted to do. His style of blogging is very similar to mine and so are his design aesthetics.
As time has progressed, I’ve switched from the hero archetype to more of a hopeful-peer. My delusions of equality were boosted when I noticed Jason’s latest redesign of his blog. Where several of the features match the design I created for this blog.
When you read a blog there are so many items for you to click. It’s like you’re in Times Square and everyone wants your attention. That isn’t very Jobsian (Steve Jobs-esque) especially when I only want you to do three things on my blog: read it, share it, and (hopefully) enjoy the ads.
So, I have taken the opposite, ultra-minimalist approach, the only-what-you-need-to-survive style. Everything is gone, links are minimal, and reading is clutter-free.
Jason has taken this approach for years, probably long before I even dreamed of being a blogger, but now he is going for gold. Joining the ultra-minimalist brigade, and several of his updates match mine. While others completely blow me out of the water (mirror on Tumblr?).
It’s a great confidence boost for me, but also leaves me with some things to copy or rather “good artists copy, great artists steal”.
Here is the update in Jason’s own words.
In doing the design, I focused on three things: simplicity, the reading/viewing experience, and sharing.
Simplicity. kottke.org has always been relatively spare, but this time around I left in only what was necessary. Posts have a title, a publish date, text, and some sharing buttons. Tags got pushed to the individual archive page and posts are uncredited (just like the Economist!). In the sidebar that appears on every page, there are three navigation links, other ways to follow the site, and an ad and job board posting, to pay the bills.
Reading/viewing experience. I made the reading column wider (640px) for bigger photos & video embeds and increased the type size for easier reading. But the biggest and most exciting change is using Whitney ScreenSmart for the display font, provided by Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ long-awaited web font service, which is currently in private beta.
The reading experience on mobile devices has also been improved. The text was formerly too small to read, the blue border was a pain in the ass (especially since the upgrade to iOS 5 on the iPhone & iPad changed how the border was displayed when zoomed), and the mobile version was poorly advertised.
Sharing. I’ve always thought of kottke.org as a place where people come to find interesting things to read and look at, and design has always been crafted with that as the priority. A few months ago, I read an interview with Jonah Peretti about what BuzzFeed is up to and he said something that stuck with me: people don’t just come to BuzzFeed to look at things, they come to find stuff to share with their friends. As I thought about it, I realized that’s true of kottke.org as well…and I haven’t been doing a good enough job of making it easy for people to do.
So this new design has a few more sharing options. Accompanying each post is a Twitter tweet button and a Facebook like button.
Have you ever thought about renting out your car, like an automobile version of Airbnb?
The trend is catching on as “personal car sharing” comes to Los Angeles in March 2012. It already exists in Boston and San Francisco as a distinct service compared to Zipcar, which rents out cars owned by Zipcar-itself.
RelayRides, based in Boston, is expanding a service that allows car owners to rent their vehicles to other licensed drivers by the hour or the day.
Personal car sharing was legalized in California last year, but RelayRides and the other two companies that offered the service in the state (Getaround and Spride) operated only in San Francisco.
“AB 1871 allows Californians to rent their cars by the hour to offset their costs of ownership, as well as cars’ impact on the environment. Previously, California law prevented personal cars from being rented for commercial use.
Under the new law, individuals who rent their personal cars need to carry auto-insurance levels at least three times greater than the state’s current minimums of $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person and $5,000 for damage to property.” via Greenspace
Car sharing would seem to work best where “it’s easy to live without a car,” Clark said, meaning a dense city with good public transportation. In areas such as L.A., where the opposite is true, Clark expects car sharing will be used as an alternative to buying a second or third car.
“A lot of families always need one car and sometimes need two,” Clark said. “Right now, their only option is to round up. The only way to access that car when they need it is to own one.”
The starting price for RelayRides rentals is $5 per hour and includes gas, 20 miles of driving and insurance. RelayRides keeps 35% of the rental cost. The remaining 65% goes to the car owner. Monthly payments, which average $250, are sent to owners.
Total convenience – No more walking a mile to some gas station to pick up a car: RelayRides cars live where you live! Whether it’s down the block, across the street, or in your neighbor’s driveway, RelayRides cars are always conveniently located.
This is a guest post by Kirby Plessas (@kirbstr), President and CEO of Plessas Experts Network, a consultancy that informs, trains, and researches for clients on internet technology, information extraction, security and worldwide internet usage.
Just as users are getting settled into the new Facebook feed style that was released a few weeks ago, Facebook is prepping again for another major change. I don’t purport to know all of the effects of the next set of changes, but at least three items have caught my attention.
First, is the shiny and pretty new timeline feature. I have to admit, it is going to make profile pages much more attractive. I have not switched to timeline early although I know that some friends have because I wanted to wait until the official switch so I can experience the changes with the masses and notice what is effecting them. This is also the reason why I don’t use any add-ons to adjust my Facebook view (although I know there are some great functional ones out there, such as Better Facebook or the Chrome extension that suppresses the new and annoying ticker). I like my Facebook raw and gritty, if you will.
But the beauty and the danger in the new Timeline feature is that it partially solves one of the major gaps in Facebook – search. Now, I am unsure that you will be able to search through time on a profile via keyword (as would ultimately be my preference), but you could rewind and fast-forward through someone’s account through their timeline and see what they had to say a year ago or more. While this might not seem to be a privacy issue (users put this information out there – they didn’t care then), it is because until now, profile visitors could only go back in time to a minor degree to see what was posted. People change their minds and opinions they may have had two years ago may no longer be valid or what seemed funny back then might not seem funny now.
Luckily, Facebook has already provided us with a privacy tool that will keep the history within your timeline private, however, it is pretty much napalm to everything in your account. If you take a look at your privacy settings, there is an option to “limit the audience for your past posts.” This allows you to retroactively reset the privacy setting for everything you have in your account up until now to your default setting. I’ve used it a few times to set everything to “friends only,” which wiped out the few public posts I had created, and it works like a charm. To block your timeline from being exploited, you could use that tool to set all past posts to “only me” and thus make them privately searchable but blocked even to friends. I’m going to do this… soon. But the side effect is that everything posted up through now will be effectively wiped out from any of my friends’ point of view. Anything I want them to see, I will have to find myself and manually redo the privacy settings so they can view it. I don’t guarantee this would be the case with photos as well (which is probably the main thing I would want my friends to see on my timeline), but I am guessing it is.
MAJOR EDIT: Turns out this is not a solution after all. While Facebook limits posts you made viewable to the public or friends of friends to a default “friends” setting, it won’t affect every post and you cannot set it to “Only Me.” As a result, you will have to go through and get rid of posts manually. Because Facebook doesn’t give you an easy way to do this until you activate Timeline, I am changing my stance on activating it early and suggest anyone who wants to know what it will do to their account before it is viewable by everyone, activate Timeline now.
Second, timeline will also prompt users into entering even more data about themselves, such as previous employment. This might be a counter against popular professional networking site, LinkedIn. If people move their resumes and CVs over to Facebook, they may no longer have a need for yet another social network. Keep your eyes open, you may see professional recommendations as a new feature eventually. In addition, it prompts users to select which of their Facebook friends worked or studied at the same places, effectively tagging this onto multiple people’s profiles and timelines all at once. I have required all tags to be approved by me before adding them to may account and I suggest you do the same so that your resume is not automatically filled out for you by well-meaning friends.
Second, is the new instant sharing innovation, a definite privacy issue. Like Timeline, this isn’t a big deal if you are paying attention, but there are so many people out there apparently not payingattention to even the most basic Facebook privacy changes. Coming soon, any Facebook App that you add could include the new automatic sharing option where instead of “liking” a web article, just that fact that you clicked on the link to read that article or watched a video would be broadcast across Facebook to your default privacy settings. Some might not care, but others may not want professional friends to know how much they read the gossip pages, others may not want their political preferences highlighted across Facebook, etc. There are quitea fewpeople already concerned about this.
I have a solution (work around) for you that I will be employing myself. First, go through your applications and delete the ones you don’t recognize. I would only keep the ones actively in use. This could solve the problem entirely, but some apps you may not want drop. If you are actively using one that might expose your reading habits (which could be any), then move on to the next step.
Since I am going to keep using my favorite apps and some of those might employ this instant sharing, I am banishing Facebook to its own dedicated browser. I’ll probably use Opera. The key is to use a browser that is different enough from your commonly used browser so that they will not share cookies/logins. If you use Chrome, don’t use Flock (or Rockmelt?) as they are based on the same code and could share cookies. Same with different versions of Firefox. Choose a browser that you like but don’t often use and keep it strictly for Facebook use. I do need to highlight that you will need to log out of Facebook on your active browser and delete all cookies for this to work, a major side effect of which would be that you cannot then use Facebook as the login to other sites using that same browser. This could be a major detractor for some, as the Facebook login across multiple sites is a great convenience and in many cases more secure.
Third and last, there is also the controversy over Facebook tracking users even when logged out. I’m not surprised, but the uproar about it reminds me of the uproar over the iPhone GPS tracking issue, so I wonder if that will stop Facebook from extensive tracking for a while. To me, this is almost a non-issue since I now expect to be tracked by pretty much every website I visit whether I log in or not. I’m also being tracked by my browsers and search engines. Everyone wants to know where I’ve been, what I had for lunch and whether I prefer Pepsi or Coke. This is the way the internet pays for itself. The only thing that really bugs me about it is that it is very secretive. Many people I know are talking about tracking and its pros and cons but there are also many people who are uneducated about who tracks you, why they track you, and how to avoid being tracked when desired. To learn more about internet tracking, please check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Here are some relevant articles.