Bits & Bytes: Facebook draws ire of users with frequent changes
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 3:32 AM
You may have recently seen Facebook users post walls of legalese on their profiles.
It might seem that the users have been taken over by the Pod People's attorneys, but the real motivation is an attempt by users to prevent Facebook from disclosing, disseminating, copying, selling or projecting on the side of a barn their personal information.
It's a hoax.
Users can't retroactively negate the terms of the agreements they agreed to when signing up for the service. That hasn't stopped people from posting them anyway.
Why? Because wild urban legends continue to exist. People believe Bill Gates will give them an iPad or the president is a legal resident of Liechtenstein. Yet it seems warnings about Facebook's schemes are more easily believed.
This tells me that Facebook has a perception problem that runs deeper than run-of-the-mill paranoia.
Part of this is the flip side of Facebook's agility. They dethroned MySpace and stayed on top in part by constantly tweaking and adding new features to the site. It's an impressive feat, but many users don't want constant change, even when they lead to better things.
But they don't always lead to better things. Never mind the uproar over timeline or the tweaks in the search algorithm that make the site decide you don't actually want to see posts from your wife. Facebook has long been plagued by overly complicated privacy controls, and several past glitches have exposed private data.
There are also new concerns surrounding Facebook's public company status and the renewed quest for revenue. If the site isn't shy about allowing you to pay money to promote a post, many people fear the next step is selling data outright.
Agility is one thing, but Facebook needs to become more transparent. Otherwise, people will assume they're up to no good and could likely try a new competitor.
App of the week: Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (iOS)
Some days you spring out of bed, and some days you have to struggle to regain consciousness. That's because our sleep is governed in cycles that bounce back and forth between light and deep, but these cycles don't always align with your alarm clock. Sleep Cycle hopes to fix that and try to wake you up only when you're in a more shallow cycle.
The app works by staying on your bed near your pillow and measuring your movements with the accelerometer. Movements during deep sleep are different than movements during light sleep, so the phone can estimate your cycle. Then just set a 30-minute window for waking up, and the app will pick a time to make the start of the day as gentle as possible.
99 cents, Maciek Drejak Labs
Suggest an app for App of the Week at email@example.com
Microsoft sales reports conflict with other Windows 8 statistics
Microsoft announced last week that Windows 8 has sold 40 million copies so far, which is outpacing sales of Windows 7. That sounds like the operating system is off to a great start.
But other statistics muddy the picture. Research firm StatCounter announced near the same time that the actual number of computers using Windows 8 is closer to 15 million.
Why such a huge gap? I can only guess, but the answer may lie in licenses bought by computer manufacturers to install on their computers. But is it normal for manufacturers to stockpile 35 million copies of Windows, or has Microsoft cut them a deal to encourage advance sales? I don't know.
The company also noted it sold 75,000 Xbox 360s during Black Friday, which makes the lack of statistics for Microsoft's much-hyped Surface tablets a little eyebrow-raising.
New tech-geared TV series include reality show about fighting robots
If you're taking the time to read this column, then you might be interested in two new tech-related TV shows that have been announced. AMC has ordered a pilot for a show called "Halt and Catch Fire," a fictionalized drama about computer visionaries hoping to change the course of computing in the 1980s.
That might sound dull as dishwater, but remember "The Social Network," the film about the founding of Facebook, managed to be fascinating. Not to mention the '80s really were rife with innovation, ambition and more than a little backstabbing. So it might be worth a shot.
The other show is "Robot Combat League," a reality show on Syfy (Cox cable channel 45) about real-life, 1,000-pound robots that can stand on two legs and beat the silicon stuffing out of each other. This one starts Feb. 26 in case you want to see giant androids punching each other in the face. And who wouldn't?
Original Print Headline: Facebook draws users' ire with changes
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Photo illustration by ETHAN ERICKSON / Tulsa World
Microsoft reported sales of 40 million copies so far of Windows 8, but another outlet has different numbers. Bloomberg