Facebook LogoCan anybody and their taxi drivers view your Facebook profile? Do you really want them to?

Facebook has made it possible for you to individually set the privacy levels for almost all areas (or “boxes”) on your profile page via its profile privacy page. There, you can adjust privacy settings for the profile as a whole, for your basic and personal info, status updates, photos and videos tagged of you, your list of friends, your wall, and your work and education information. You can set these individually to be viewed only by your friends, by your friends and network(s), or by friends of friends. You can even customize these settings by picking one or more of these options. See screenshot below (click for a larger view).

Facebook Profile Privacy page

I thought my profile was limited to just my friends. Much to my dismay and while checking my profile privacy page for this post, I discovered that my profile wasn’t limited to only my friends. In fact, when I joined the Washington, DC network so that I could have Facebook Chat, my privacy settings were changed (without my knowledge) so that EVERYONE in the Washington, DC settings could view my profile! Aiiigggggh! The screenshot above shows that “Only Friends” and everyone in the “Washington, DC” network can see my profile stuff. I’m changing my settings so that only my friends can see my profile and the boxes on it.

Anyway …

Many folks may want to make sure their profiles are viewable only by their own friends. Some folks are more, ahem, open or seeking or adventuresome and may want to open up their profile. Either way, you may want to check your profile privacy page and make sure the settings there are what you want (or expect!) them to be. In my case, I’m glad I checked — I didn’t know 8,000,000 people in Washington, DC could view my profile. (And in fact, just about anybody can change or add their network to Washington, DC even if they’re not living there.)

This is part of an on-going series of posts on Facebook privacy.  See related posts on photo albums, profile page, and search options.

Facebook LogoI loooove Facebook. And so do many of my friends! In our photo albums, we post photos of our kids, of ourselves (whether it be sunnying ourselves at the beach or something a bit more decent), of our friends, even of our pets doing stupid tricks or just looking cute (come to think of it, so do the photos of our kids).

What many people don’t realize is that each photo album has its own privacy setting. When you first create a photo album — whether it’s your first or 10th — its privacy level is automatically set to “Everyone.” That means everyone can see it. You can choose from several privacy levels: Everyone, My Network and Friends, Only people at your network, Friends of Friends, or Only Friends. You can even customize who can and can’t see these photos. See screenshot below of the page that appears when you create a photo album:

Facebook Create Album Privacy Settings

If you only want your Friends to see these photos, then be sure to select “Only Friends.” Otherwise, everyone and their hairdressers would be able to see YOUR photos even if you’ve got the rest of your profile restricted to Friends only.

You can go back and check the privacy setting of all of your albums all at once via Facebook’s Photos Privacy page. Here, you’ll see a list of all of your photo albums with the option of changing the privacy level of each of these albums. Too bad there’s no option to change all of the albums at once — so if you’ve got 20 albums, it’ll be tedious changing each one individually. Be sure to click on “Save Settings” at the bottom of the page once you’ve changed the privacy setting(s)! Here’s a screenshot of what this page looks like.

Facebook Album Privacy Settings

So, go forth and have fun on Facebook, and be careful with your privacy!

This is part of an on-going series of posts on Facebook privacy.  See related posts on photo albums, profile page, and search options.

When I got onto my computer, I opened Facebook — and saw a friend’s status message that said:

woke up at 5:35 am… thanks to earthquake, that shake in Indiana

Earthquake status message on facebook

Whoa, an earthquake? In Indiana?! I sent that friend a wall-to-wall message asking if it was a meteorite strike rather than an earthquake, like what happened in another part of the USA the day before. No, it was indeed an earthquake, she said, and a 5.4 magnitude earthquake at that.

CNN soon confirmed it. A 5.4 magnitude earthquake took place in Illinois, and was felt as far away as where my friend is in Indiana. There are photos of damage. CNN has (at this moment) even stripped its home page to the bare basics to make it load quicker because so many people have been “hitting” CNN’s home page for news.

CNN earthquake article screenshot

I’ve heard of people using the social features of the Internet to share news.  This is similar to when people use Twitter to get out of jail in Egypt.  But this is my first time I’ve heard of a major news story from a friend via Facebook before I heard of it elsewhere on the news.

Getting word out about something newsworthy on a national scope, and having friends hear about it first before the news even report it? That’s something new, and that’s certainly something powerful.

Folks who are in the earthquake zone, keep us updated via your Facebook status messages, willya? And hope all is well at your homes and elsewhere.

MyPunchbowl Now Travels

April 15, 2008

MyPunchbowl logoMy favorite party-planning website, MyPunchbowl, just got better. It has partnered with Kayak.com and is now offering flight / hotel / car search services directly from the MyPunchbowl site. That is, guests who confirm party attendance can now make travel arrangements as well. Convenience, with Punch served with it!


  • Event hosts can search flights, cars, and hotels directly from their MyPunchbowl account
  • Event guests have travel search capabilities directly within the MyPunchbowl save the date or online invitation
  • A simple option enables hosts to choose whether or not to display the travel center on the guest view

Not sure yet if guests can make reservations directly from the MyPunchbowl site, or if they’d be taken to Kayak.com to complete arrangements.

MyPunchbowl and Kayak.com

Facebook Adds Chat

April 7, 2008

Facebook LogoFacebook just added a new function where you can chat via instant messaging with any of your 1,273 Facebook friends.

It’s not yet available to everyone — and if you have it already, I’m jealous like heck but feel free to brag about it in the comments.  On the other hand, it should be coming to your Facebook account over the next several days.

As far as I know, it doesn’t “cross over” with AIM / Yahoo / etc, but I wonder if it will in the near future.

(Thanks, TechCrunch / Inside Facebook!)

MyPunchbowl logoI’ve long touted MyPunchbowl as the premiere online party-planning destination.  Its interface is snazzy and cool and clear – especially compared to tired, ad-bloated Evite.  MyPunchbowl boasts a few functions not found elsewhere, like its colloborative pick-a-date feature.

Recently, MyPunchbowl outgrew its old headquarters and moved to larger digs.  Matt, MyPunchbowl founder, then did a blog post asking MyPunchbowl fans to help make its new place more green.  So, I FTD‘ed (or maybe I 1-800-Flower‘ed) them a nice plant.

(This was so unlike me, I swear.  I’m usually unmoved by pleas for contributions, gifts, love.  I do contribute financially once in a while to a couple of my favorite blogs, but that’s it.  So, I don’t know just what persuaded me to send MyPunchbowl a nice plant.  Maybe MyPunchbowl gave off the right vibe in its green plea.)

Yesterday, MyPunchbowl Matt wrote a very nice blog post personally thanking me and explaining who I am and who my Proud Geek blog primarily serves.  Matt even pointed out one of my favorite blog posts, Doing Everything Online (and made a suggestion about it too).

Nice to feel some love in return.  (Don’t worry, my honey bear boyfriend, you’re still my one and only love, other than our daughters!)  And having just moved to a new house last week, I totally understand the chaos that moving can cause.  Thanks in turn, Matt!  I’m gonna use MyPunchbowl to plan our housewarming party.

Got a hankering to know just exactly what time it is, whereever you are? Wanting to synchronize time with your pals but can’t decide whose watch / smartphone has exactly the correct time?

Go pay time.gov a visit on your mobile device / smartphone / pager.

time.gov screenshotBut what’s that? Time.gov’s Java-enabled functions doesn’t work on your smartphone? (These Java pages make it possible to see the time in real time on computers and Java-enabled phones – with the seconds running.) Don’t fret. Almost buried in a corner of many time.gov pages is a tiny link saying “Disable Java Animation” — clicking on this link allows you to see a non-Java version of that page. In fact, when you find your time zone and then get the non-Java version of that page, don’t forget to bookmark it on your smartphone’s web browser so you can quickly refer to it again. But keep in mind that, unlike Java versions of these pages, non-Java time.gov pages only show the time at the exact time the page was loaded onto your browser – that is, the time isn’t updated automatically unless you refresh the page.

I know many smartphones – including the Palm Treos – can automatically get the time and date from the network. But leaving this functionality on can be a huge power drain for the Palm Treos (and possibly other devices) – so that’s where having a bookmark to time.gov can come in handy if you leave this functionality off.

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a list of links to the non-Java pages of the various USA time zones. Gosh, ain’t it interesting how many time zones there really are in the USA and its territories? And remember when Alaska’s number of time zones changed from the previous four to just two now?

Happy times are indeed here! (And yes, I had previously blogged about checking time.gov from your computer.)

List of non-Java versions of time.gov time zone webpages:

Facebook LogoAt around 3:30am this morning, I got two emails from Facebook asking me to confirm the registration of one of my email addresses which I rarely use. The two emails were identical (probably the result of multiple attempts), and says (with certain information omitted):

Hey [name - similar to mine but with the last several letters missing],

You recently registered for Facebook using this email address. To complete your registration, follow the link below:

[Link deleted]

(If clicking on the link doesn’t work, try copying and pasting it into your browser.)

If you did not register for Facebook, please disregard this message.
Check out http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=49 if you have any questions.

The Facebook Team

But the thing is … I never tried to register that email address with Facebook. Obviously someone else tried to use my email address to add an account to Facebook. Thank goodness Facebook sends an email to that email address requiring the new member to confirm the registration via a link or else the new account will be deleted. Otherwise, I would have been the victim of fraud (or perhaps the victim of an honest mistake?).

Be careful when you get emails like this. And read them carefully — and don’t just blindly click on a link without understanding what may happen. If I had clicked on the link above (which I deleted), I would have allowed someone else to create an account using my email address.

In fact, there’s something you can do now to prevent others from trying to register with Facebook using your less-used email addresses. In Facebook, click on the “Edit Profile” link, then click on the “Contact” tab. You’ll see a list of your current email addresses registered with Facebook, with a link to “Add / Remove Emails.” Go ahead and add all of your email addresses, and check your inboxes for these email addresses to confirm the registration. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to adjust your privacy settings so that only your friends, or no one, can see these addresses.

Facebook Profile Page

Zoho logoMy favorite on-line wordprocessor — Zoho Writer — has now made it possible to work on documents even when disconnected from the Internet. Makes it mightly useful when flying, or taking the (non-WiFi-equipped) bus or train, or otherwise when you’re (horrors!) not hooked up to the Internet.

A couple months ago, I wrote that Zoho Writer had incorporated Google Gears, a handy browser add-on that makes it possible for users to still use certain webpage features even when not connected to the Internet. But at that time, that incorporation was actually pretty basic — users could only view documents off-line and could not actually create or edit documents.

With the new update, announced earlier this week, Zoho Writer can now be used to view, create, and edit documents whether on-line or off-line. Just be sure to turn this feature on and allow it to download your Zoho Writer files before you actually go off-line!

Like I mentioned the last time, I find it so ironic that Zoho has been using Google Gears to its fullest capabilities, while Google has not yet used Google Gears to bring off-line capabilities to its own on-line word processing suite (Google Docs). But in Zoho’s recent blog post announcing that Zoho Writer is now fully available off-line, Zoho graciously commended Google for its product and its support.

A word of advice to Zoho, though: can you please, pretty please caption or subtitle (in English) your videos? I’d love to watch them, especially the YouTube interview of two Zoho engineers talking about Google Gears. You see, I’m deaf (and so are many of my readers), and even though I’m a faithful Zoho user, I can’t understand your videos – sigh!

Gmail Thoughts

November 28, 2007

Gmail LogoEver since Chatter Email on the Treo now works well with Google’s Gmail, I’ve been using Gmail heavily over the past week. Even though I struggled at first with it, I must admit I have fallen completely in love with Gmail.

Gmail is quite different from most email programs and email websites. We’re so used to the Outlook / Yahoo / Hotmail format, with folders on the left and all emails listed separately in your inbox. Rather, Gmail uses “Tags” instead of folders, and groups together all emails in the same thread rather than listing them separately in the inbox. And if you want to file away an email, you “Archive” it (even after you’ve already tagged it).

At first, I didn’t like having to tag an email and THEN archiving it (a 2- to 3-click process) if I wanted to file away an email on Gmail. And it felt a bit cumbersome to constantly hunt for the right button with my mouse.

And then I discovered “Better Gmail.”

Better Gmail is a Firefox-only extension that adds a good number (I think 25!) of Gmail-specific extensions and features — most of which were developed by other people and then collected under one application. I didn’t like keyboard shortcuts before (I prefer the mouse!), but now with Better Gmail, I love how a few keyboard clicks takes care of just about everything on Gmail. And I really like Better Gmail’s “Filter Assistant” that’s at the top of each email and which makes it easy for you to create filters. Now whenever I get an email to my mom, it’s automatically tagged as “Family” — and every time I send an email to her, my email is automatically tagged as “Family” and then archived. (Yes, I admit it, I’m a mommy’s boy.) Better Gmail also comes with several “skins” — or new looks for Gmail. And Better Gmail adds numerous other features to Gmail — I ain’t gonna list them all here.

But yes, Better Gmail only works with the increasingly popular Firefox browser. I use Firefox on my PCs at home, but at work I grit my teeth and use either Internet Explorer or Netscape — neither of which works with Better Gmail.

The best thing yet about Gmail (and Better Gmail)? It’s free. Even its IMAP functionality is free. Yahoo Mail charges you a yearly fee if you want to use its now-primitive POP functionality — and Yahoo Mail doesn’t even offer IMAP.

Gmail — it’s gonna be the start of a beautiful friendship …


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