Network Lifestyle And Activities Archive

Twitter–who see what and when

Another increasingly-popular social network service is Twitter. This was intended as a “microblogging” service but some people have been implementing it as another social network.

Like the similar Facebook article that I have written for Facebook novices, this will list who will see which information you post when you use Twitter. Here, I would recommend this as a bookmark or favourite or as something to print out and keep near the computer or have available on the business intranet.

Twitter lexicon

Tweet A public Twitter post. Also to leave a public post on Twitter
Follow To subscribe to a Twitter user’s Tweets (public comments)
Follower A person who subscribes to a user’s Tweets. Is also capable of receiving direct messages from the users they follow.
Hashtag A reference tag that is preceded by a # (hash) symbol and is used for filtering Tweets on a topic. Used primarily in front of cities, TV shows, brands, etc.
Mention or Reply A Tweet that features a Twitter user with that user’s name preceded by an @ symbol.

Who sees what

What you do Who sees this  
When you post a Tweet All your Twitter Followers  
When you Retweet someone’s else’s Tweet All your Twitter Followers Your followers will see the original Tweet suffixed by “Retweeted by <your_user_name>”
When you reply to someone else’s Tweet or mention another user in your Tweet All your Twitter Followers The Tweet will have the other person’s username preceded by the @ symbol and the user will be able to see the mentions or replies in the “reply / mention” filter
When you send a direct message to a Follower Only that specific Follower that you address Your Follower has to be following you to be able to be contacted by a Direct Message

What to do where on Twitter

General comment or broadcast message Post a Tweet Be careful what you write as all followers or potential followers can see what you write.
Reply to someone else’s Tweet or mention a Twitter user where confidentiality isn’t required Post the tweet using the Reply or Mention tools Again, be careful what you say when you write these posts.

This can be good for congratulating the user or offering some sympathy on an event they Tweeted about.

Direct private message to a Follower Post a Direct Message  

 

If someone follows you on your Twitter account, it may be a good idea to check that person out when you receive the notification by email. Here, you could then consider following that person and being able to use direct messaging as appropriately.

It is also worth noting that a lot of social Twitter users use “textspeak” (abbreviations and acronyms for common expressions used when sending SMS messages) when they send out Tweets. So you may have to use resources like the Urban Dictionary to help you understand some of this lingo.

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Authenticating users to services on limited-user-interface devices

Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray Disc Player

A Blu-ray player that has advanced set-top-box functionality and access to online services

There is an increasing trend to interlink services like photo-sharing and social-networking services with network-enabled devices other than PCs or “lightweight computers” like smartphones or tablet computers. This includes set-top boxes, network printers and digital picture frames and example applications include showing photo albums from Picasa or Facebook on the large TV, printing out pictures from Picasa or Facebook without the need for a computer or showing one’s Facebook Feed on an advanced Internet terminal like the Pure Sensia. One reason that is leading the concept on is the use of device platforms like HP ePrint, Panasonic VieraCast and Google TV, where an operating-system developer or a device manufacture use the platform to build up an “app” library for the device or operating system.

HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer

Printers even now can print material from online services

It will also become more common with VoIP telephony encouraging the development of “personal landline telephone” services as well as “personalised home environments” being brought about by home automation and security functions being part of the connected home.

The current situation

The main problem with these services is that they require the user to log in to the service using an alphanumeric user name and an alphanumeric password. This would be best done using the regular QWERTY keyboard of a computer.

But most of these devices would require one of these methods to enter the credentials:

TV remote control

A typical smart-TV remote control that can only offer “pick-and-choose” or 12-key data entry

  • “Pick-n-choose”, where the user uses a D-pad on the device’s control surface to pick letters from a letter grid shown on the device’s display. This is a method used primarily with set-top-box applications like “Pixel Eyes” (a Picasa / Filckr front-end) for TiVo; or used on most Internet radios to determine the network password for a Wi-Fi network.
  • Small on-screen QWERTY keyboard for a touchscreen device. This is a practice used on smartphones and tablet computers that have this interface but is becoming common with network printers and other devices that use a touchscreen. This interface can be awkward and prone to errors if the device uses a small screen as common with most printers.
  • “SMS-style” with a 12-key keyboard. This is where the device is equipped with a 12-key numeric keyboard not dissimilar to a telephone and the user enters the credentials as if they are tapping out a text message on a mobile phone. This practice may be used on communications devices (dialling phone numbers), security devices (entering access codes) or consumer electronics (direct-entry channel / track selection).
  • 26-key alphabetic keyboard. This is where each letter of the alphabet is allocated a key usually in a 5×5 matrix in alphabetical order. You still may have to press a button to change case or switch to numeric or punctuation mode. This has been used with some of Sony’s MiniDisc decks for track labelling and is still used with some Brother labellers for entering label text, but is not commonly being used as a text-entry method for consumer electronics devices due to size, design or cost limitations.

As well, most of the implementations don’t allow for proper “hot-seat” operation by remembering just the user name; and therefore require the user to provide both the user-name and password when they want to use the service. This can then be made more awkward with the interfaces listed above.

Facebook’s login method

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer (D410a)

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer -implementing a simplified device enrollment for Facebook’s HP ePrint setup

Facebook have improved on this with their HP ePrint app which is part of the HP Envy 100 printer which I have on loan for review. Here, the printer displayed an “authentication code” which I had to enter in to the Facebook Devices page (http://www.facebook.com/device). Here, you would have to log in with your Facebook credentials if you haven’t done so already. Then the printer is associated with your Facebook account.

The only limitation with this method is that the device is bound to only one FB account and multiple users can’t switch between their Facebook accounts. This can also make a Facebook user more vulnerable to undesirable control-panel modification to their account if the app allows it.

The reality with most devices

Most devices like network printers or set-top boxes are typically operated by multiple users. What needs to happen is a simplified multi-user login and authentication experience that suits this class of device.

This is also more so as the authentication parameters used by Google (Picasa, YouTube), Facebook and others are becoming central to the “single sign-on” environments offered by these service providers and these “single sign-on” providers could appeal as credentials bases for home network applications like NAS management or even building security.

What could be done

A situation using a combination of the “Facebook limited-device login” method and the login experience that one encounters when using an automatic teller machine or EFTPOS terminal would be appropriate here. This is where a device can keep multiple “device account codes” for multiple accounts as well as securing these accounts with a numeric PIN.

Main points

A credentials service like Facebook, Windows Live or Google could add a simplified “numeric PIN” field for limited user-interface devices as well as the text-based password. The simplified “numeric PIN” which would be four or six digits long would only be able to work on qualified devices and the user would need to key in their text-based password to log in from a computer or smartphone.

Devices that support “limited interface” operation create a “device account passcode” for each account that is to use the device. This allows the device to create a reference between the account on the service and the account on the device. When a user is added to the device, this would be shown on the device’s user interface and the user enters this in to a “Devices Login” page at the credentials service’s Website.

Add user

  1. A user selects the option to “add user” to the device using the device’s control surface.
  2. The device’s user interface creates a “device account passcode” and shows it on the device’s user-interface (LCD display, TV screen, etc). In the case of a network printer, it could also print out this “account passcode”.
  3. The user transcribes this “device account passcode” to the credentials service Website (Google, Facebook, Windows Live, etc) using a regular computer or other Web-browser-equipped device.
  4. If the user hasn’t previously defined a numeric PIN for “limited-interface access”, the service invites the user to enter and confirm a numeric PIN of own choosing if they agree to “protected device access”. This could be done either through the Web browser or continued at the device’s control surface.
    If they have previously defined the numeric PIN, the device will challenge them to enter the numeric PIN using its control surface.
  5. The user’s account is bound to the device and the user would be logged in.

Switching between users on a device;

1 A user would go to the “Users” menu on the device and selects their user name represented as how they are known on the credentials service (Facebook name, etc) from the user list.

2 The user then keys in the numeric PIN using the device’s control surface

3 If successful, the device is “given” to the user and the user then interacts with the service from the device’s control surface

Other points of note

All users have opportunity to “remove themselves” from the device by going to the “user settings” UI and selecting “Remove User” option. Some devices may allow privileged users to remove other users from the device and there could be the option for users to change their numeric PIN from the device’s control surface.

It could be feasible for a device to provide varying levels of access to a user’s account. For example, a device shared by a household could allow “view-only” access to certain data while a user who is directly logged in can add or modify the data.

There could be the option to integrate local user-authentication information on devices that support this by relating the “device passcode” with the local user-authentication data record. This could allow a device like a security system to allow the user to gain access to functionalities associated with the credentials service but the user still uses their regular passcode associated with the device.

Conclusion

Once companies like social-networking or photo-sharing sites work on ways to support multi-user one-device scenarios with limited user-interface devices, this could open up paths of innovation for the devices and the services.

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Bridging common Internet technology with the courtroom

Article

BBC News – Byte-sized revolution heralds Twitter in Scottish court

My Comments

Over the many hundreds of years, the courts of justice, especially those countries that work to British common law like the UK and Australia, have been overly cautious about the use of recording and reporting technology during the cases brought before them.

Now, a sentencing hearing held in the Scottish High Court has become the first courtroom venue to allow the use of Twitter to permit dissemination of information by observers. The Twitter-based technology would have worked well with remand and sentencing hearings in criminal cases or the conclusion of a case; where there are short exchanges. As well, these hearings, especially the remand hearings may work as a logical bookmark for a court case. On the other hand, “blog-type” reporting, where a regular bulletin is published on a Web page; at the end of each day’s proceedings, could become relevant for long-form civil and criminal cases.

One main concern that the judiciary would have about this is the protection of justice against situations like “trial by media”. It also may be of concern with criminal, family and other cases involving children or other vulnerable people and there is a desire in these cases to limit exposure of these people to pejorative media coverage.

I would suggest that the judiciary investigate the issue of the courtroom and the Internet through various means. This could include integration of questions regarding Web coverage of cases being part of specific cases across the legal fabric; trial-running of specific provisions in particular hearings or cases like what the Scottish High Court had done and even having particular cases of common interest being live-blogged by trusted reporters. As well, lawyers, judges and magistrates who have valuable knowledge or experience concerning the online courtroom should be encouraged to publish their findings as much as possible. The legislative pillar of government should also investigate this topic in case laws have to be revised concerning this practice.

As well, there could be investigation in to secure RSS feeds as a technological measure for the justice system. This is where people have to be authenticated before the can have access to this feed. This could be extended to a courthouse running a case-specific “keep-u-posted” RSS feed service searchable by case number or participant so that people who are part of or are following a case can know what is going.

Once the judiciary investigates the feasibility of the “online courtroom”, they can integrate this pillar of government in to the “e-government” agenda. As well, those who do cover a court case using live-blogging or other online techniques need to keep core principles of justice in their minds.

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New changes coming ahead for the handheld PlayStation Experience

Articles

Sony’s official NGP announcement video hits the web | Engadget

PSP Reborn: The Quad-Core Next Generation Portable (NGP) | Sony Insider

Your Guide To The Sony Next-Generation Portable | CNET Crave

Sony annonce sa "3DS killer" | TF1.fr (France – French language)

My Comments

Sony have implemented a few changes for the PlayStation Gaming Platform which will be affecting this platform as a handheld-gaming platform. What they have realised is that the PlayStation Portable or PSP has reached its peak and is facing competition from the iOS and Android mobile devices when it comes to handheld gaming.

NGP – Next-Generation Portable

This console, which is intended to be the successor to the PSP has also been rated as a a “Nintendo 3DS-killer” according to TF1 in France.

It has a 5” AMOLED touchscreen but there are still the control buttons that eager gameplayers can keep “mashing”; as well as two analogue joysticks for its control options. Like the iOS and Android devices, there will be support for sensors. These will be in the form of a GPS, gyroscope and accelerometer as well as a front camera and a back camera as well as rear touchpads.

All these sensors are there to permit “augmented reality” and other enhanced gaming experiences. Examples of this included looking around sports-type games in a first-person form such as looking around a pool table or golf tee before hitting off that shot.

The gaming performance has been improved over the PSP with use of a quad-core Cortex A9 processor, 512Mb RAM and PowerVR SGC 543 MP4+ graphics subsystem. This then can allow for some of the more heavier titles that will appeal to a lot of the players.

This console will have network connectivity in the form of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But there will be versions that will come with 3G wireless-broadband technology, in a similar vein to the smartphones and tablet computers.

I often wonder whether this connectivity will allow for more than downloading of games and extras from the PlayStation Store or playing games via the the PlayStation Network. The applications that I am thinking of include peer-to-peer gaming; interaction with the DLNA Home Media Network or interoperability with the PS3 games console.

The storage in this console consists of an SDHC card slot for user-data storage as well as 16Gb on board/ But Sony are also using a new flash-memory-based cartridge format for distributing pre-packaged games.

As far as games availability goes for the initial run, most of the games that are available for the PS3 are intended to be ported to this console. It will be interesting to see what games will take advantage of the touchscreen and the sensors that this handheld has.

I also wonder whether the games will make use of the relatively-large choice of user interfaces that this console offers such as the buttons and joysticks, the touchscreen or the sensors. This is whether as alternative interfaces or as interfaces that are particular to the game or part thereof.

PlayStation Experience for Android – PlayStation Suite

As well, Sony intend to bring out a “PlayStation Suite” app for certain Android phones so that these can be played like the PSP or the NGP. The big question that I have about this is which phones will be able to run this software and whether there will be the full range of games on this platform. This could certainly put Apple on notice when it comes to the smartphone as a gaming platform, because of the PlayStation platform’s prowess with the advanced games like the Final Fantasy series of adventure games.

At the moment, this PlayStation Experience will be limited to an emulator which will be used to play the games that existed for the original Sony PlayStation console.

Conclusion – What could happen to the PlayStation brand?

The introduction of sensors and touchscreens to the PlayStation Experience could allow Sony to add extra dimensions to the games available for this platform and use the PlayStation name as a reference point for console and mobile gaming. Who knows whether Sony will extend this brand to premium Windows and MacOS X games that are meant to be played on those “gaming rigs”?

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How to organise your established Facebook Photos in to albums.

A lot of us who use Facebook upload pictures to the Photos application for our Facebook Friends (or others) to view. We then end up with larger albums like “Assorted Pictures / Random Pictures” for those pictures that don’t have a common thread like a trip for example. Similarly, when we take pictures using our mobile devices, we end up creating a “Mobile Uploads” album which houses the pictures that came from our mobile devices.

To move a photo in to an album

1. Click on the photo that you want to move. You will see a single-image view of the photo.

2. Click the “Edit this photo” option. You will see a thumbnail of the photo as well as a large field for the caption and a list of any tags that exist.

3. Under the thumbnail of the photo, there is a checkbox to make the image your album cover as well as the “Move to” option.

4. Click the drop-down list at the right of the “Move To” option to choose which album you want to move the picture to.  This drop-down list will be populated with the names of the albums that already exist in your Facebook account.

NB: You have to have an album already created in your Facebook Photos account.

5. Click “Save Changes” and the picture will be moved to the album that you want.

My comments about this process.

This process could be improved by allowing you to move the pictures at the thumbnail view and / or allowing you to move a group of multiple pictures at once.

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The Beatles now on Apple iTunes

 

The Beatles come to iTunes at last | Circuit Breaker – CNET News

My Comments

Ever since the Beatles have come to iTunes, I have had some concerns about this exclusivity practice. What I fear will happen is that iTunes and EMI will take advantage of the fact that the Fab Four have become a major turning point in popular music and work out ways to gouge the customers.

My first question is whether Apple will extend the exclusive-sale contract beyond the initial year as agreed and when will competing download outlets be able to sell this music after the initial year? This also includes that issue that I had heard about of late where EMI made it possible for iTunes to charge extra to the Australian market for the same material.

My second question is whether the material will be available through iTunes Plus as unprotected MP3 files or as digitally-constrained files that only work with iTunes and the iPod / iPhone / iPad hardware families? There has been a lot of concern about Apple’s digital-rights-management management constraining playback of content from competing devices like DLNA-compliant home networks for example. What I would like to see for the Beatles music is that the content is as MP3 files that are able to be played on competing smartphones and personal media players or via the DLNA home media network even through the period of exclusivity.

I would still be very careful about any period where highly-valued media is made exclusive to one distribution platform over other competing platforms and check for issues like useability on competing devices before committing to it. As well, I am looking forward to the day when competing online music stores can sell the Beatles discography.

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Surfing the Net while watching TV – now the thing amongst the young

 

76% of 18 to 24-year-olds Browse the Internet While Watching TV | eHomeUpgrade

My comments

I have read the eHomeUpgrade article about how young people are surfing the Web while they are watching TV. There are various factors that I have observed that are encouraging this kind of activity and are based a lot on observation and experience.

Younger people being more likely to be tech-savvy

Ever since the 1980s, information technology has become a key part of one’s education in most school curriculums. Initially this started off with “computer studies” or something similarly-named being a secondary-school subject, but has moved towards computer use being integrated in to regular school studies over the last twenty years.

Similarly, most younger people have been known to adopt to newer technologies more easily than people of older age groups. This typically has been noticed by the “kids” being the ones who can work consumer-electronics devices beyond the basic requirements like setting the clock on a video recorder, or being “nimble-fingered” with the mobile phone’s keypad to send text messages.  

The current home-computing environments that promote this activity

One is the proliferation of laptops, notebooks, netbooks and similar portable computers available new or secondhand at prices that most could afford as well as smartphones that have integrated Web-browsing capability being available under subsidised-handset contract. All these devices are equipped with an integrated Wi-Fi wireless-network adaptor which allows for use-anywhere functionality.

They would typically be used in a Wi-Fi-based home networks which has coverage that extends to areas where a television set would be located like the lounge room. Another situation that also commonly exists would be the colocation of a TV set and a a computer in a teenager’s own bedroom or the lounge areas that teenagers or other young people primarily use like “games rooms”, “rumpus rooms” or simply the secondary lobby in a two-storey house.

These setups would encourage the use of an Internet-connected computer while watching TV shows, which I have seen a lot of at home with a teenager who was often had a laptop going while watching TV.

TV shows running Websites

As well, most TV studios are operating programme-specific Websites that are seen as a way of extending the programme’s value. This typically includes the providing of extra video material, Web downloads, forums and the like and is often used as a way to make the show appeal to the younger generation.

It is also supplemented by information pages like Internet Movie Database and epguides.com as well as fan-created “unofficial” Websites for the various TV shows and show genres. They will have such information like episode guides with season, episode an “first-screen” information as well as biographies for the characters in the show, cast and crew details.

In some cases, this is also tied in with Web-based “catch-up TV” where you can see recently-screened episodes as well as supplementary video material.

The Social Web

This leads me to the Social Web being the primary reason for surfing the Web while watching TV. Here, viewers use the show’s Web forums, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to chat with like-minded friends and fans, and in the case of the social networks, use “official front ends” like Facebook Pages and Twitter hashtags to participate with the show. Some TV shows like, panel shows or reality-TV shows may link these feeds in to the show’s fabric by having the compere read out selected content from the Social Web or have a ticker at the bottom of the screen showing similar information. An example of this is when ABC-TV Australia was running “Q and A” on Monday nights, they had a Twitter hashtag called #qanda and all of the Tweets with this hashtag appeared as a ticker on the bottom of the screen.

Recently there have been some social-network sites centred around TV shows where one can “check in” and chat with like-minded viewers about favourite shows.

The various social networks have been made easier to use with smartphones and similar devices either through a client app written for the popular smartphone and “Web-tablet” platforms or a handheld-optimised “mobile view” of the social network’s Web view.

Conclusion

The combination of technologically-astute young people, ubiquitous portable computers, the home network and the Internet, TV-show Websites and the Social Web all reinforce the fact that TV isn’t for lounging in front of anymore.

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Integrating TV and the Web nowadays

Article

The Emergence of Social TV via ‘Check-in’ – The Good and Bad | eHomeUpgrade

My comments

The Web has become increasingly integrated with our TV-viewing habits, whether through the use of “official” or fan-generated Websites for particular shows or events or users using Facebook to post information about shows that they watch from a laptop or netbook while watching TV. Some of the “official” or fan-generated Websites have integrated bulletin boards were people who like the show can chat with each other regarding the show or particular characters / actors.

Recently, there have been various sites like www.epguides.com which provide comprehensive information on many TV serials. In some cases, these can help out with environments where a broadcaster may show some seasons or some episodes of a particular series or simply to know how “behind” an overseas broadcaster is on a TV serial compared to the show’s home country.

Now the social Web is being further integrated with the likes of Miso and Tunerfish which are like a social network based around favourite or currently-viewed TV shows. In some cases, these sites have some form of integration with the main social networks like Facebook.

This has been brought about through the ubiquity of the home network with the attendant arrival of IP-enabled TVs and set-top boxes as well as the popularisation of laptops, netbooks, MIDs and smartphones that are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi wireless links.

The real issue nowadays is whether many of us are likely to use these sites and are likely to have the laptop, netbook or iPad on the coffee table and logged in to one of these sites while we watch our favourite TV shows? Also would the experience work better if the user interface for these services was integrated in to one of the new IP-capable TVs or set-top boxes like the upcoming Android TV platform?

Now this is showing that the TV and the Web are becoming not just competing media but complementary media in the age of the home network.

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Could this e-government initiative be upsetting the applecart in Europe as far as the Browser Choice initiative is concerned?

Article

E-Government-Offensive im Microsoft-Browser | news.ORF.at (Austria – German language)

My comments and brief interpretation

Judging from my basic understanding of the German language together with use of Google’s machine translation, I had “got the gist” of this situation which would be considered hostile to the European Commission’s agenda concerning Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.

What I was reading here was that the federal government in Austria were placing heavy emphasis on Internet Explorer 8 as part of their “e-government” initiative. This was including a downloadable toolbar add-in amongst obvious page-optimisation for this browser.

Most likely, I would suspect that, like most large organisations, the Austrian government uses Internet Explorer 8 as part of their standard operating environment and they expect that most users in that country may have stuck with IE8 even during the “Browser Choice Screen” switchover. One could say that this government could get away with this practice because many public and private organisations supply iPhone client apps to make their “front-end” useable on an iPhone which may be platform-specific.

What I would like to see with this is that if the government sites become less useful or unable to fulfil their function because of the preference for a particular browser is concerned, then the sites should be organised to at least fulfil their function no matter the desktop-computer user agent.

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Product Review: Facebook Friend Wheel

I had talked about on this blog about the kind of influence different posts you make in Facebook will have in your Facebook Friend circle. In one of the articles, I had mentioned a Facebook application called Friend Wheel which shows a graphical representation of your Friend List.

You enable this free application by adding it to your Facebook Profile like you would with a social game like Farmville.

This application works through your Facebook friend list and identifies any situations where your Facebook Friends have other Facebook Friends that are in your list in their lists. Then it resolves these relationships in a graphical manner by plotting each Friend’s name as a node on the edge of a circle and showing each link as a line. It can show clusters of people who know each other through a particular community by “bunching” the people together. There is the ability not to plot friends that aren’t connected to other Facebook Friends in your list, which may be beneficial to those who have links with larger social circles.

The Wheel can he shown as a static image or, for most of us who have Flash-enabled Web environment (which doesn’t include the Apple iPad), there is a Flash version which allows you to hover over the name of a Facebook Friend and show their connections to any of your other Facebook Friends.

It can be slow with larger Facebook Friend lists, especially those that are well connected because of having to plot many nodes and draw many lines. But it is speedy with most Friend lists. There isn’t an option to take advantage of the “lists” function so that you can plot the Friend Wheel on the social sets that you define using these lists. As well, it doesn’t identify Facebook Friends who have subscribed to any particular Fan Pages or Groups.

One main use that I would find for this application is if you are investigating the “reach” of comments or other material posted on particular Facebook Friends’ Walls.

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