Global TV Tech Buzz: Facebook Home

18% of time on a mobile is spent on Facebook.

Is it any shock then, that as Facebook tries to increase monetization of mobile that they would release their own platform, Facebook Home.

“Today we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Facebook campus earlier this week. “Or more accurately, we’re going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great, simple social device.”

Mark Zuckerberg is quick to say this is not a Facebook phone. A successful phone would reach maybe 3% of Facebook’s 1 Billion strong user base. Instead, the company has developed an experience for the Android platform that will help it reach mobile users and give them an immersive Facebook experience with Facebook Home.

From the moment you turn on your phone, you see what your friends are doing. Even with the phone locked, the screen will still show photos, updates, and messages. You can chat with friends in any app with something called Chat Heads.

“The home screen is really the soul of your phone,” Zuckerberg said. “You look at it 100 times a day.” And so, naturally, Facebook is going for the soul.
via The Atlantic

On the surface it looks beautiful, and a great step for easily the most used social network. BUT, (and you knew there was a but).. can you trust Facebook?

Facebook Home is not a story about “making the world more open and connected,” in general,” The Atlantic warns. “This a story about Facebook “making the world more open and connected,” with all the specific definitions the company brings to those ideas.”

Om Malik writes, “Facebook’s history as a repeat offender on privacy, and playing loose and easy with our data means that need to be even more vigilant about privacy issues, thanks to this Home app/faux-OS.”

Malik doesn’t believe Zuckerberg when he says this is a platform and not an app. He says it is the first hit of a delicious drug that will be free at first, the public hooked, and the true costs only to be revealed later with a full fledged OS.

The Atlantic notes that during his presentation, Zuckerberg freely substituted the words “people” and “Facebook friends” throughout. It was almost as a way to suggest that they are one in the same, and the way we look at the world should be through the lens of Facebook.

In fact, Facebook Home should put privacy advocates on alert, for this application erodes any idea of privacy. If you install this, then it is very likely that Facebook is going to be able to track your every move, and every little action.

GPS is enabled in our phones, and with Facebook controlling the information that you send back, it can quickly learn where you live, where you work, where you hang out, and what you do. Honestly? Any phone can really do that, but you have to trust the company and with Facebook there is already a level of trust that has been broken numerous times. Facebook will monitor location data through Home continuously UNLESS you turn off location services. Trust me, you’re not going to keep flipping that switch off and on.

Zuckerberg has said Home will serve ads, in the way Amazon Kindle does. With so much personal information about you through your profile, and movements, expect those ads to be very targeted, and worth a lot of money.

The first Facebook phone, will be the HTC First, but other HTC and Samsung phones will be open to using the Facebook Home platform this Friday. Zuckerberg says Facebook Home will only be available for Android users because of the openness of the system.

We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today. And we will work with Apple to do the best experience that we can, within what they want, but I think that a lot of people who really like Facebook — and just judging from the numbers, people are spending one-fifth of their time in phones on Facebook, that’s a lot of people — this could really tip things in that direction. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

I deleted Instagram when it was bought by Facebook, and I try to put as little personal information as possible in to the social network. I use it as a way to creep on friends, but I rarely post photos or personal stories directly to the network. I don’t like a lot of pages, and I try to keep my presence as minimal as possible.

The end game for Facebook is simple: to know as much as it possibly can about you to serve you perfectly targeted ads. The idea is that Facebook becomes your friend, and those sponsored stories in your stream become so relevant because of all Facebook knows about you, that you won’t even notice. That is when Facebook wins – when the disruptive nature of ads disappears. Home is another step towards that finish line.

APP OF THE WEEK TSN Masters [free]

My single favorite seasonal app has to be the one from TSN and The Masters. It streams coverage from Amen Corner, allows you to follow specific groups around the course, and gives you a chance to watch The Masters from anywhere. TSN and Global will pool resources to produce original highlights both before and post rounds on location. The app was updated this week to support the retina displays.

Holding Brands Hostage And The Etiquette Of Complaining Via Social Media

There’s a longstanding joke: “Why is it called golf? ….Because f*** was already taken.”

The same line of thinking could be applied to social media in that it’s called “social media” because “passive aggressive” was already taken. Never mind the fact that online communication tears down the real relationships between real friends and replaces them with digital ties, it also takes our non-existent relationships with strangers and adds a digital element.

Before social media if you sat next to an annoying person on the bus, you would simply groan about it and complain to your colleagues, in real life, later at work. Now, Twitter and Facebook are an outlet for everything that affects us throughout the day. From smelly patrons on transit, to loud talkers at Starbucks to poor customer service, everything is instantly shared with everyone in 140 characters or less.

I’m guilty of the passive agressive bitching and complaining, I admit it. It seems that blasting out a complaint to the world on Twitter is a way of getting it off our chest without actual confrontation. That may work for complaining about the people on the bus, or the behaviour of drivers, but if you passive aggressively bitch about a business you are holding that brand hostage and not giving them a chance to effectively respond.


A recent article in Maclean’s opened my eyes to the other side of the equation. Restaurants are being held hostage by everyone with a smartphone. Instant reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Chow Hound, and Twitter matter, and the customer knows this, tossing a following of a few hundred twitter followers in the face of managers.

Amy Lu, a small-time Toronto food blogger with a few hundred twitter followers tossed this at the Windsor Arms Hotel when she arrived early for her tea seating and found that her seat was not yet ready.

She didn’t approach the hostess stand to investigate the matter (as perhaps one would have done 5 years ago before the proliferation of social media), she put her face in her phone and passive aggressively blasted the establishment effectively holding them hostage with the threat of a nasty review.

What is a brand to do in the face of these threats? I have long argued that bloggers give themselves far more credit than they deserve when considering themselves media and demanding access to events, but in a world where the collective wisdom of the crowd is relied upon so heavily, a nasty experience by a savvy (not necessarily influential) user can quickly float to the top of the heap and last forever. Amy may only have 750 followers on Twitter, but Yelp is accessed by millions.

Lu was given a spa gift certificate by the hotel as a gesture in light of her negative experience. And, like food to the ducks at the park, this sort of response will only encourage the passive aggressive behaviour from the peanut gallery. It will inflate the self importance of the social media crowd and, instead of dealing with problems one-on-one, they’ll continue to complain with their megaphone.

I asked a friend of mine who owns a group of high end, popular restaurants how she handles the social media.

In the beginning, I’d actually panic when complaints would come in. If you can imagine, trying to find one body on a Saturday night in a room full of 400 other people, when their avi is Barbie, is nearly impossible and so stressful. Regardless however, I did my best to find as many as I could and make the situation right.

I’d say that 99% of the tweets we deal with in a day are positive, but we can’t be perfect for everyone all the time.

Regardless of who the tweeter is, they are a customer. Bottom line. They deserve the courtesy of a response and an attempt to make the problem right.

Media is a funny thing. I don’t play to media or to bloggers. I don’t RT random blogger reviews whether positive or negative. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten bullied like that article, but people definitely try to push their weight around.


What my friend is doing is the right first step – she’s listening. If you are on Twitter with your business, the message you push out is far less important than the message you are hearing. Twitter is a valuable tool for business to monitor opinion and to manage reputation.

I have tweeted bad experiences with major brands before. I didn’t get passive aggressive, I used Twitter as a way to directly addressed the brand. One responded with a request for a detailed email, the other ignored my tweet altogether. Even after giving details in the email, my issue was left unresolved.

If a brand is on Twitter, they are showing they are willing to be responsive. Not responding to tweets is like putting out a 1-800 number and never answering the phone. Similarly, if a brand is going to engage a customer, they need to see it to the end. Leaving it hanging is just as bad as not responding.


1. What would you have done 5 years ago? You’d call, write a letter, ask to speak to a manager. It would be a one-on-one issue that would be handled privately. Try that approach first.

2. Don’t add a character or word before Tweeting at the brand so your entire stream sees the tweet. @ them directly. If they follow you, ask to take the complaint to DM before addressing it. Give the brand a chance to do properly by the problem before you lash out passive aggressively to your entire audience.

3. Threatening a bad review if you don’t get satisfaction only makes you look like a spoiled brat. Yes, the brand has to take your threat seriously, because Yelp, TripAdvisor, Twitter, and Facebook all matter, but you’re being a terrorist. You’re scaring the brand into helping you, and I wish more brands could afford to not negotiate with terrorists like Amy Lu who hold brands hostage.

It’s a two way street of common sense, really. Think about how you would handle the situation face to face, and take that approach to social media. Be polite, be discreet, listen, engage.

Only after all those avenues fail you should you take your complaints to the masses and make a YouTube video.

APP OF THE WEEK: Yelp [free] Urbanspoon [free]
When customer reviews are done right, they are very useful. Yelp will help you find restaurants around you when you’re in a pinch, and even offer up specific menu advice.

If you have no idea what you want, playing menu roulette with Urbanspoon will give suggestions and advice from users.

Global TV Tech Buzz: Star Wars Identities At Telus World Of Science

It is Oscar weekend, and so we are celebrating in the geekiest way I know how, with a segment all about Star Wars.

Star Wars has made a bit of news this week as it was revealed Harrison Ford is on board to revive his Han Solo character. Well into his 70s by the time Episode VII will come around, it will be interesting to see if he can still make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.

Mark Hamill revealed that George Lucas made each of the main players a promise that none of their characters would be re-cast should they choose not to come back. Hamill says he’s game for a Luke Skywalker reprise. Still no word from Leia or Lando.

With mastermind of the re-booted Star Trek behind the Star Wars controls, it’s also interesting to note that William Shatner has made himself available for the Star Wars film. Now that would be an interesting twist.


A traveling exhibit of Star Wars art, costumes, and movie memorabilia would have been enough to bring out the crowds. Toss in a bit of science, and you have something that works for everyone.

Star Wars Identities examines how the world around us affects our personality. Tracing the growth of Anakin and Luke, it examines genetics, environment, mentoring, personality, and choice. Luke and Anakin had very similar challenges through life, but approached them very differently, and the results were equally opposite.

You wear a wrist band and make the choices for your character as you wander through the exhibits. You start with choosing your race, and end with deciding whether or not to accept the Emperor’s offer and join the dark side.


From the original R2D2 to Leia‘s bikini, it’s all here. Han Solo‘s frozen carbon form. Anakin Skywalker‘s pod racer. Yoda. Chewbacca. C3PO. Stormtroopers. Droids. Darth Vader. The collection of costumes, models, and artifacts is amazing.

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darth vader collage star wars identities

But it is the collection of art work on the walls that tells the truly interesting stories.

Jabba was originally a biped, Darth Vader is a hybrid of two original ideas, Han Solo started as an alien, Luke Skywalker was once Luke Starkiller, and .. was even done as a female.


Star Wars Identities ends at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton at the end of March. This exhibit is NOT coming to Calgary. Only 75 people are allowed in the exhibit every 15 minutes. You cannot just show up and expect to get a ticket. Go online and book a time so you don’t spend hours in line or, worse, show up to find it is sold out.

geoblocking oscars appAPP OF THE WEEK

It is Oscar night and there is an app for that. The official Oscar app will take you beyond the telecast with more than a dozen streaming video channels from the red carpet to backstage. It’s getting rave reviews, but it is a US app only. All the cool features won’t work in Canada.

So, instead, play Angry Birds Star Wars.

Global TV Tech Buzz: Spring Break Travel Gadgetry

It’s almost here. With Teacher’s Convention coming at us this week, you can almost smell spring break just around the corner. So for those planning getaways because you’ve just about had enough of winter and you know that no matter what Balzac Billy said last week we have AT LEAST 6 more weeks of winter left, here are some gadgety gadgets to get you ready to hit the road/beach/vacation:

Trakdot [$49.95 for the device, $8.99 for activation and a $12.99 annual service fee.]
We can track our iPhones and our friends when they get lost, why can’t we track our luggage? Trakdot is a very clever little GPS beacon that you pack inside your suitcase so that you can watch it while you’re on the way to your destination. If you get to Ft Lauderdale and your bags are missing, you can say “I know, they’re in Cleveland,” because you’ll be able to see it all on your phone.

Dont want to splurge on this service? You can stuff an iPhone or an iPod in the suitcase and using the Find my iPhone feature to track where your suitcase has been misplaced.

Run out of juice on the plane or the bus or the car? This will power up a bunch of stuff in a pinch. Also handy if you use your phone as a camera and burn through it in a matter of hours.

Waterproof Camera
Sure, you love your iPhone or iPod to take pictures, most of us have gone to taking pictures with our mobile, but if you really want to get wet and wild, bring along a waterproof splasher. The other good reason to bring along an old-school point and shoot? There’s a better chance the batteries are going to be charged.

Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise cancelling headphones can do two things, keep noise out and keep sound in.

Plastic Bag
To keep my gadgetry somewhat protected from wetness when I travel, I use ziploc bags to carry them. It also keeps everything together in my suitcase. I put spare batteries, headphones, adapters, memory cards – everything in the baggie.

Okay this is plane silly. And yes, I mean plane silly. If you’re traveling on an airline that nickels and dimes for every piece of luggage you take, why not wear your luggage? Jaktogo is a suitcase that turns into a coat so you don’t have to pay luggage fees.

Check Your Phone Plan
We’ve talked about this before. If you’re going to travel internationally, watch how you use your phone. Turn roaming off. Add a data plan. Call your provider and see if they can unlock it so you can get a local SIM card and plan. Better yet? Leave the phone at home, or only use WiFi when you’re on vacation.


If you don’t know where you want to go yet, but you just know you want to get out of here, try using Google Flights to help you track air fare to various destinations. All the tour operators access the same prices provided by the airlines. Google Flights collects them in one spot and puts them on a graph so you can see how the price changes and whether or not the price you’ve been quoted is a good deal or not.

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