Category: Social Networking

Samsung Galaxy Nexus hits Bell, Virgin on December 8th

Given that it’s going to be the first device in Canada to come equipped with the latest version of Android – Ice Cream Sandwich to those of you in the know – it’s fair to say there’s a good amount of anticipation surrounding the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was confirmed to be arriving on Bell and Virgin’s networks.

And now we know when and how much: December 8th is the date you’ll be able to take your place in line at participating retailers to grab one of these smartphones before the holidays and it will cost $159.95 on a new three-year term.

I know, I know – another line. I’m not a big fan of lining up either. Heck, I will intentionally wait weeks after a movie opens if it means I can avoid a line up for tickets.

So I’m a little intrigued by this new concept (at least I think it’s new) that Bell has cooked up called a “Bell Twitter line up.”

It works like this:

If you want the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on launch day, but you do not want to go and physically line up at a store, you can do your lining up a week earlier, and from the comfort of your home or office. But you’ll need a Twitter account and reliable internet access to do it.

On Thursday December 1st, hit Bell’s sign-up website between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. EST. If you’re one of the first 100 people to sign-in, you’ll be given a pre-populated tweet that you will then need to tweet from your account immediately. You must then check back in to the site every hour that day until 10 p.m. and repeat the process. This is how you will “stay in line.” At 10 p.m., if you’ve successfully tweeted the required tweets during the day, Bell will get in touch with you and arrange the shipping and payment.

Follow this process to the letter and your Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be shipped to the (Canadian) address of your choice and arrive the same day as the phone goes on sale (December 8th). No line ups, you don’t have to take the day off work or leave your kids or even miss your favourite TV show, and you’ll get your phone on the same day as those who had to line up. Not a bad option.

So Sync readers, does this idea of a virtual line up work for you? Or will you go the tried-and-true route and take your chances at a retail location?

Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of BCE Inc.


Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket Jobs funeral

It’s been a bad 18 hours.

Last night, while finishing dinner and settling into some homework with the kids, I got the call I knew would come sooner or later: Steve Jobs had died.

Needless to say, when you’re a tech editor, this is the kind of event that propels you into action mode – making sure you’ve got all the facts and then doing your best to tell readers what they need to know and helping put it all in context.

That’s what we did last night, and the process continued this morning and throughout the day.

And it wasn’t restricted to the media. As we watched the wires and Facebook and Twitter, it became apparent that the Internet itself was in a state of mourning for the man who, perhaps more than any other, had helped make it the thriving world of communication that it has become.

Some tributes were grand – whole websites dedicating their homepages to the visionary – others were small but no less powerful, like the Asian design student who artfully married the iconic Apple logo and a cameo of Steve Jobs into an elegant statement that Jobs himself would have found delightful.

But as is so often the case, there’s the one or two people (or groups) who choose to take a tragedy like the loss of Steve Jobs and turn it into an opportunity for grandstanding. That’s what the Westboro Baptist Church did when member Margie Phelps, the daughter of the church’s founder tweeted this:

It’s hard to know what to say to something like this when your brain is struggling just to understand the mentality that created it. But that didn’t stop the twitterverse from pointing out the irony, not to mention the hypocrisy that Phelps had used an iPhone to send her message.

To which she eventually responded:

Yeah, we’re apparently going down that road and it isn’t pretty.

While part of me is angered beyond words that Phelps would manipulate Jobs’ death in this way (along with the distress such a message must surely cause Jobs’ family) I couldn’t help but notice the strange flow of logic that she created. Is it just me, or does Steve Jobs end up being God as a result of creating the iPhone? If so, I think I could live with that. I might even become a fan of Intelligent Design. No one more than Steve Jobs proved that there is such a thing.

Rest in peace Mr. Jobs. You’ve earned it. Millions of times over.

[Source: The Toronto Star]

How to download photos from Facebook at once, albums and all

I managed to get an invitation to Google+ before overcrowding forced Google to put the velvet ropes back-up soon after. In my quest to share photos on the new social network, I wanted an easy way to import my existing Facebook photos without pressing Right Click > Save As for hours. Thankfully, someone I follow on Google+ already had the same thought and found a solution.

Pick & Zip is a simple backup tool that downloads pictures from Facebook without the hassle of having to download photos individually. And it’s useful for more than just exporting the photos to another network like I have. What if you need to download Facebook photos for offline storage and viewing, or creating a slideshow for a party? Pick & Zip lets users do that by downloading a few photos, an entire album, or their entire collection, and archives it into a Zip file.

Anyone who has used Facebook also knows that many photos of you stored on the website were posted by friends and family. Pick & Zip takes care of those photos as well. Users can start mass downloads of Facebook photos in which they are tagged or entire albums from their friends.

UPDATE: Looking for a more direct approach? There’ a clever app called Move2Picasa that will do exactly what the name implies. The user just  needs to authorize a Facebook account by visiting and then wait as the app begins downloading and uploading your albums to Picasa.

There’s no way to select which albums because Move2Picasa grabs entire photo library, so you could be there for a while. You also will have a long time to wait for the process to start because it was featured on TechCrunch and was bombarded with requests, so there’s a rather long line.

Here’s how to do it with Pick & Zip.

  1. Visit and authorize the app through Facebook Connect. (You’ll need to give it permission in order for things to work.)
  2. To download your photos, click “Find My Photos” and click on the “Albums” section.
  3. Hover over the desired album and click the down arrow icon that looks like this.
  4. Click ZIP to download all photos stored in that album.
  5. Then extract that file to have all the photos stored on your computer.

To download only certain photos, click on the album and then click on each image that you wish to save. Once you’ve selected your image(s), press the download button above and click “Download my Selection” on the following page.

To download all Tagged photos, click on the “Tagged” tab and press the “Select All” button. Be sure to uncheck those photos that your oversharing friends tagged you in even though you don’t actually appear in them.

To download a Friends, Groups, or Pages photo, click on the tab on the left and follow the same instructions laid out in the previous explanations.

Now you’ve got an easy path to grab all the photos that you need. And if you’re not comfortable with the app continuing to have access to your information, it’s easy to remove the link between Facebook and Pick & Zip. Visit the Pick&Zip Facebook page and click “Remove” from the bottom left corner.

Thanks, Jake!

Facebook launching music service, but not in Canada

image credit:

According to a report by Parmy Olson on, Facebook has signed a deal with streaming music provider, Spotify, in a move that could see music added to the giant social network in as little as two weeks.

Unfortunately for Canadians and Americans, Spotify has yet to sign the necessary agreements with North American record labels to bring its very popular product to Facebookers in Canada and the U.S.

Olson makes the connection between Facebook and Spotify clear for those who aren’t familiar with the two organizations: Not only is Mark Zuckerberg a big fan of Spotify, Facebook’s first president and early Napster employee, Sean Parker, sits on Spotify’s board, while the two companies also share investors.

But the coming-together of these entities is not limited to dollars and directors. While Spotify started out in 2006 as a way to listen to music online, it has grown considerably since then, most recently in 2010 when it added a social networking feature powered by – you guessed it – Facebook.

Once integrated into Facebook officially, according to Olson, a Spotify icon of some description will appear to the left of users’ Newsfeed.

The intent is move Facebook’s media strategy forward (they already have a movie agreement with Warner Bros.) while giving Spotify access to a massive new source of potential subscribers. Spotify’s free service is ad-supported, but they also have a paid service which is ad-free and offers a higher bitrate for the music streams.

The real question however is: Will this new socially-powered angle prove tantalizing enough to Facebook users to make a real difference for either company? After all, this is hardly an original concept. Microsoft tried to make music social with their nearly-defunct Zune product – even going so far as to let users of their Zune media players “find” other Zune-ers who were located within range of the device’s Wi-Fi connection. Apple has kicked this can too with their poorly received Ping product which is now a feature built-in to every copy of iTunes and several of their devices including the iPhone. Yet even with Apple’s significant market share, Ping is hardly a success story.

But if social music on Facebook is going to be a success, it will happen in Canada. Why? Turns out our very own country has the world’s most extreme users of Facebook. I can’t say I’m surprised. Sync readers seem to have an insatiable appetite for all things Facebook-related. So that’s all the more reason why Spotify has to hurry up and sort out whatever remaining legal hurdles it faces with record labels and add Canada to its list of supported countries. Heck, given how rabid Canadians are when it comes to Facebook, it might make sense to get the Canadian deals ironed out first, before the U.S. – we could be the perfect test-bed for new features.

Alright readers – your turn: Are you excited by the idea of being able to share your musical tastes with your FB friends via an integrated platform like Spotify?


Facebook adds Friendship Pages; controversy erupts

Reading all of the interactions between two friends on Facebook just got a lot easier. Click to enlarge.

Reading all of the interactions between two friends on Facebook just got a lot easier. Click to enlarge.

Last week, and without much in the way of fanfare, Facebook launched a new feature on their massively popular social network called “Friendship Pages“. The tool lets you view an aggregated page of all of the comments, likes and wall posts that two of your Facebook buddies have had with each other. You can also see the friends they have in common, the events they both attended and the photos in which both of them are tagged. In fact these pages even pull the most recent photo in which the two people are tagged as the profile photo for the upper left corner.

To try it out, go to the profile page of any of your friends. Under their profile photo, you’ll see a new link that says “View You and Friend” – this will take you to the Friendship Page for you and that friend. On this page you’ll see a brick in the top right corner called “Browse Friendships” where you can see the Friendship Pages belonging to any two of your other friends. The only time this won’t work is if you don’t have permission to see both people’s profiles.

While this new feature doesn’t change a thing in terms of privacy – none of the info visible through Friendship Pages was hidden previously – the reaction that people are having toward it suggests that it crosses the murky “creepy line” and reactions on Twitter seem to bear this out.

The reason for the reaction seems to centre around context. Even though Facebook users are now well and truly aware of the fact that items they post to the site are visible to their network of friends (assuming that you haven’t modified your privacy settings), being able to browse these interactions chronologically and in as much depth as you like, changes the dynamic just enough that it raises serious questions.

As one colleague pointed out, Facebook interactions are often one part of multi-platform experience. The effect of reading a comment thread between two friends on Facebook is like listening to one half of a conversation – especially if those two people are engaged in real-world, SMS, Twitter, Instant Messenger and other forms of communication. And unless you decide to block someone from seeing your profile page, there is no way to turn off their access to your Friendship Pages.

Perhaps the sensitivity around this new feature is based on the realization that Facebook has now become a prime tool in court cases, many of which are divorce proceedings.

An example of a Friendship Page on Facebook. Courtesy of Facebook's Blog. Click to enlarge.

An example of a Friendship Page on Facebook. Courtesy of Facebook's Blog. Click to enlarge.

In his introduction to the new feature, Facebook engineer Wayne Kao says, “When it’s between two people who share a lot, the page really starts to reflect their friendship.”  I think that might be the dark side to this well-intentioned tool.

Stories of people “Face-stalking” their exes, cheating with other Facebook users or even trolling their former classmates looking for potential romantic affairs are easy to find. And while Friendship Pages aren’t likely to reveal romantic liaisons given that the information is already shared, the social patterns they bring to light might be the start of some uncomfortable conversations between partners, or between exes.

So readers, if you Facebook, please take our poll and leave us a comment – what’s your take on Friendship Pages? Cool or Creepy?

What do you think of Facebook’s Friendship Pages?online survey

Facebook launches Places in Canada

Facebook's Logo for Places

Facebook's Logo for Places

Good news all of you Facebooking Canadians – and I know that’s almost all of you – Facebook Places has just launched here. In case you haven’t been following the launch in the U.S., in a nutshell, Places is a new feature that lets you perform a “check-in” similar to services like FourSquare and Gowalla. The idea being that if you like sharing everything about your life on Facebook, maybe you’d like to share where you are at any given point in time.

Sounds great? Sounds a little scary? You’re probably right. I’m not a big fan of these check-in services yet – but mainly because I suspect none of my friends really care that much if I’m parking my car and headed into Tim Horton’s for my morning cup of joe. That said, if Tim Horton’s cares, and wants to reward me for my continued loyalty by making some of those cups of coffee free, well heck, I might just become a Places fan. Maybe. Of course Marc makes a really good point that you should always think twice before telling the whole world you’re not at home.

For all the details, I’m going to pass it over to the official Facebook announcement (and their How-To Video) since there’s just far too much info here and I think they’ve done a good job at communicating the key points….

A sample of Facebook Places on an iPhone

Facebook Places interface on an iPhone

Lots of people were already sharing their location with friends via their status updates (‘I’m at the CN Tower with Kelly’). Facebook Places just makes this easier, more consistent and more social.
Why use Facebook Places?

·         To share where you are with friends

·         To find friends who are nearby

·         To help you discover new places of interest, recommended by your friends

When would you use Facebook Places?

a.       Student heading to university for the first time

So you’re starting university and you’ll find that, in a very short space of time, you’ll meet lots of new friends. Your Facebook friend count will shoot up! When you’re in your halls of residence it might be easy to find your new friends and hang out with them, but how about on campus?

·         You check in to the biology department building on campus at lunchtime. Your neighbour from residence has checked in at the history building next door. You can send them a message and arrange to meet for lunch.

·         Check in at the library to let your new course friends know that you’re picking up the required reading for your first lecture. You see that Josh and Amy from your seminar class are also checked in at the library and appear as ‘Here Now’. You can arrange to get together to share thoughts.

·         Check in and tag your friends at the pub, does anyone else want to join?

·         You really wanted to go out tonight but your new roommates are staying in. You see that your some fellow students have just ‘checked in’ at a bar downtown so you send them a quick message and decide to head over and join them instead. 

b.      Young professional

You’re a busy, young professional, based in a bustling city. You work hard and want to make the most of your free time with friends and family.

·         You check in at a conference and see that a key contact for your business is there as well. She mentions that she’s grabbing a coffee in the café so you can head over to meet her there.

·         You check in and tag your team from work at a local bar so that colleagues from other departments can come and meet you for that post-work drink

·         You’re at the local pub to watch Sunday’s big game on the big screen, and see that a friend of yours has checked in at the pub up the road which he says has the biggest screens you’ll ever see. Not only have you found out that your friend is close by so you can arrange to meet up, but you’ve been given a great recommendation

How does Facebook Places work?

From your iPhone:

·         Make sure you have downloaded the latest version of the Facebook application for iPhone

·         Click on the Places icon within the Facebook application (centre of the screen) and allow the application to use your location when prompted so that it can show you nearby places

·         Choose the place that matches where you are. Or, if there isn’t one already, create a new one

·         Tap the ‘Check in’ button to share that you’re at this place

·         You can also choose to add more details about what you’re doing there or why you like it

·         You might also want to tag friends that are with you. Be aware that you can only tag others if you are checking in too and only if their privacy settings allow you to

·         In the ‘People Here Now’ section, you can see who else is checked in at that place (this section is visible for a limited amount of time and only to people who are checked in there, or you can opt out of appearing there all together)

Places is also available through, on any phone that supports HTML5 and geo location.  

Where does it appear when I ‘Check in’?

When you ‘Check in’ at say, the library, your check in appears:

·         On your Wall

·         Depending on your privacy settings, on the news feed of your friends

·         On the Places page in the ‘People Here Now’ section (as long as your privacy settings allow) and in the ‘Recent Activity’ section, visible only to friends and others you allow to see your recent activities when they visit the Places page

Why can people tag me?

When people do things, whether that is going to the pub or to the movies, they will usually do it with friends. When friends want to see what you’ve been up to they usually want to see who you’ve been doing it with.  For example, if your photos had just you in them they wouldn’t be nearly so interesting! Tagging is what makes them so interesting.  It makes sense to extend this to Places as it makes the whole process more fun and engaging. 

Where does it appear when a friend tags me?

If your friend checks you in somewhere and you have already accepted check ins (by previously checking into a place yourself, or allowing others to check you in) the check in will appear:

·         On your Wall and in your News Feed

·         On the Wall of the person who tagged you as well as their News Feed (according to the set privacy controls)

·         On the Places page

o   You may appear in the ‘Here Now’ and ‘Friend’s activity’ sections of the place page (Only people currently checked into the same place will see the ‘Here Now’ section and only people you and your friends allow to access your updates will be able to see the ‘Friend’s activity’ section and only if they navigate to the place page)

If you‘ve never interacted with Places, or you have been tagged and clicked “Not Now”, here’s what happens when a friend tags you:

·         The post shows up on the Wall of the friend who tagged you, subject to his or her privacy settings (it will not appear on your Wall).

·         In the Recent Activity on the Place Page (visible only to the tagger’s friends)

·         You DO NOT appear in the Here Now section on the Place Page

·         You DO NOT show up in the “Friends Who Have Visited” on the Place Page on

·         Additionally, no location data will be associated with your name. 

I’m a bit worried about who can see where I am if my friends and I are using Facebook Places. What can I do to keep this private?

·         Facebook Places is an optional service, you have to actively start using it and ‘Check in’ for it to appear on your profile

·         People can tag you just as they can with photos, but you have to give approval to be CHECKED IN. 

·         Your ‘Check ins’ are visible to your ‘Friends only’ unless you have your master control set to ‘Everyone’, in which case Places will default to ‘Everyone’, in line with your explicit desire to share things more broadly (you can be even more restrictive than ’friends only’ if you want to and select just certain people to share with)

·         You have to actively allow people to check you in and can remove this from your profile via your computer or your mobile

·         If you do not want anyone to see you have been tagged at a place, you can turn off the ability for your friends to tag you from your privacy settings under “Allow friends to check me in” setting.

·         If you prefer not to appear in the ‘People Here Now’ section on a place page after you check in, you can uncheck the appropriate box in your privacy controls

Must you tweet your dinner? Really?

73232241I just read Rhonda’s post on the future of social networking etiquette and it reminded me of something that happened recently.

Over the Labour Day weekend, my wife and I spent a few fantastic days in Quebec City. The weather was perfect and we wandered the streets for hours just taking in all the sights and sounds. If you haven’t been, you should go, it’s a national treasure.

On our first night, we had dinner at a superb five star restaurant called L’Initiale. The food was sublime. It was a pricey meal, but well worth it.

Midway through our appetizer, my wife looked over my shoulder and said in a whisper “I think that guy over there is tweeting”.

As discreetly as I could manage, I looked over to the table she had indicated. I saw a thirty-something couple about to enjoy what I assume was their appetizer. The guy had his Blackberry out and was typing intently.

He then took a photo of his food. And typed a few more lines.

Now, ordinarily, I couldn’t care less what people at another table do so long as they aren’t disturbing others, and they certainly weren’t disturbing us in the least.

But I couldn’t help thinking that some things should never be considered acceptable in certain situations.

It’s rude to answer your phone if you’re in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with someone, unless it’s an emergency.

It’s not okay to cut someone off when you’re driving.

And I think snapping photos of your dinner and tweeting your thoughts on each course isn’t acceptable in a fancy restaurant. I’m not even sure if it’s okay at a McDonalds, but I realize there’s a pretty big difference.

What are your thoughts on the growing question of tech-etiquette in public places?