You might have noticed already, if you administer community or professional pages or have developed Facebook applications, that contrary to your own personal wall you never get notified when someone post a status or write a comment on your pages?
This is a problem for most page administrators and there is a 32 pages long (and growing) thread with people complaining about this missing feature. This is a problem because without such a feature you have to periodically crawl your own pages to check if anyone posted anything (status or comment) and get the opportunity to eventually respond to it, or spam it. I guess that since they won’t get notified about this thread the Facebook people will never notice the problem…
One proposed solution to this issue is to “like” each and every status update you post on your pages wall, however, beside the fact that liking everything you post may look a bit awkward, this does not gets you notified when someone posts a new status.
I have some pages I need to watch, so missing this feature was really a problem to me. And when it itches, I scratch… Besides, I wanted to experiment with the new Facebook Graph API.
So I created this application, it’s called “Watch My Pages!” and provides users with receiving daily e-mail notifications when someone posts a status or writes a comment to their pages wall. If you like it, have a problem with it or think about a feature, just drop a message on it’s wall, I’ll get notified ;)
Since my LibraryThing application for Facebook is out it has clearly had a viral growth curve. So far there are only 435 users and every week I am looking for an inflection of this tendency. I know there will be one because there is a limited number of LibraryThing users on Facebook. My goal, right now, is to attract as many of them as possible on this application.
The next step will be to attract Facebook users to LibraryThing. But I know that for this I will need help from Tim Spalding and the LibraryThing team. I have always been grateful for their work but I must admit that I have been quite disappointed recently as I was trying to contact them and they constantly ignored me.
I am also thinking about open-sourcing the application, because I think it is both a good use case for people who are developing Python/Django applications on Google AppEngine and those who are developing for the Facebook platform. I still have to choose a license but the GNU Affero General Public License seems like a good match.
Anyway, if you love books, got plenty of them and want to share your readings, do not forget to give LibraryThing a try and once your are convinced, join the Facebook application, with this application you can:
- Add a tab and a box to your profile, listing your most recent books
- Choose the number of books to display in your profile tab
- Choose whether you want to display them with covers only or as a list which will include your ratings and reviews
- If you grant the application the right to publish to your stream it will publish books you add to LibraryThing on your wall
- It will also publish reviews as you write them on LibraryThing
You can also:
- Browse your Facebook friend’s books
- Find books on the search page
- Share a book you like or comment on it (those are Facebook only features and will not appear in LibraryThing)
- Add a book to your LibraryThing collection with a single click
- I left the office I was renting downtown and started working from home: It was a good move from work perspective, being alone at home allows me to be really productive. However, as the second part of the year was getting busier it became difficult to put limits and my work/life balance suffered.
- I worked the map editor of the DITA-OP but did not finish it: Not good at all, I have not been able to do a release this year. The other problem with the DITA-OP is that I don’t know my users. I know they are here, somewhere and I really need to find a way to gather the community.
- I started two toys projects, SidewikiRSS.com and a Facebook application for LibraryThing: SidewikiRSS.com is rolling on its own, it does not cost me anything beside the domain name (thanks Google App Engine), it’s used regularly and bring some traffic here. fbLibraryThing is slowly but steadily growing but I am wondering if I will be able to add new features – I am completely dependent on the LibraryThing API and I will need help from the LibraryThing team if I want to go farther.
- I completely put aside my super-secret Babelizr project: That’s not a good thing, for sure, but at least it was because of too much paid work. A positive thing is that I greatly improved my Python and Django skills with other projects and it will payoff for Babelizr.
- I can now consider myself an Amazon Web Services and Google App Engine expert: And that’s a tremendous addition to my curriculum. I need now to dedicate more time to their respective communities.
- I accepted too many projects in the second part of the year: The beginning of the year had been slow and I though I needed as many contacts as possible to build a sustainable business. Overall this is a good thing – especially since I exceeded my financial goals. The other positive side is that I only accepted interesting projects and that I met really nice people. But I really had a lot of pressure in the last quarter and this was definitely not the purpose of being a freelancer – “Working more to earn more” is not my moto.
- I did not blogged enough: Especially since I gained a lot of experience in many fields and with many tools, I should have definitely written more about these.
And last, but not least:
- I swam with sharks: Biggest thrill ever! I swam with two Oceanic Whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus) in the Red Sea. My only regret is that I have been totally unable to take a descent picture or make a video of this event.
- I skied almost every week-end of the winter season and hiked almost every week-end of the summer season: This prepared me really well for our 2 weeks vacation in Peru.
- I have been more than 80 times to the movie theater: Thanks to the Pathé Pass Yang offered me last Christmas. It allowed me to see movies (good and bad) that I would not have seen otherwise.
I think I can say it was a good year, tiring, a bit stressful near the end but a good year. However, I must say it did not bring me any closer to my biggest goal that is to find ways to automate my revenue stream, so I really need to work that out next year.
The other planned features of next year are:
- Releasing the latest version of the DITA-OP and finding a way to build and animate the community.
- More blogging (like everyblogger else) and tweeting. Find a better organization of my Facebook presence.
- Connecting with the LibraryThing team, although this proved to be difficult so far.
- Coming back to Babelizr, may be starting with building external interest around the project first in order to force commitment.
- Dedicating more time to online communities: Google App Engine, AWS, Drupal, Django, etc. May be through Stack Overflow.
- Planning of a 4 weeks vacation dedicated to hiking or diving.
- Watch as many movies as possible with my renewed Pathé Pass.
And, of course, keeping my clients happy :)
I only worked for two public projects this year (others are either private or still in stealth mode, so I cannot talk about them):
- Fontself, a startup company which provides a revolutionary new experience of text, through digital text personalization. It provides digital fonts that preserves the gestures of a given handwriting and the original look of the drawing appliance (ball-point pen, pencil, ink, paper, etc.). I participated in the design of the font distribution system and its implementation on the Amazon’s cloud infrastructure using Python and Django.
- nouvo.ch, the multimedia magazine from the Swiss Romand Television channel asked me to redevelop their website using the Drupal CMS and various media management modules.
As you might have noticed already, Facebook as been on vedovini.net since last December. To this purpose I have been using the Sociable! fbConnect plugin for WordPress that enables visitors to login using their Facebook credentials and later comment using their Facebook identity and feature those comments on their Facebook stream.
However, I wanted a deeper integration between this blog and my Facebook profile. Here is what I have done.
In the process of installing the fbConnect plugin you have to create a Facebook application and, among other things, Facebook applications feature a canvas page and an application tab. The canvas page is the main application page, the tab can be added to any user’s or page’s profiles.
To setup the canvas page you specify an URL that will either serve FBML (Facebook markup) or pure HTML. In the latter case the page is displayed in an IFRAME.
Initially, I used the IFRAME version to display the home page but I found awkward to have my blog design mixed with the Facebook design. Additionally this technique cannot be used for tabs, that only support FBML.
Finally, I crafted special pages on this blog that serves only FBML with a special Facebook styling extracted from Foxinni’s Facebook WordPress Theme. The resulting canvas page can bee seen here and the corresponding profile tab is now featured on my own Facebook profile, here (you may not be able to see this one because of Facebook privacy control so I inserted a screenshot below).
If this is getting enough interest I might package it as a WordPress plugin. Leave a comment if you are interested or if you have additional ideas.
UPDATE (2010-03-13): This is now a WordPress plugin, see my plugins page.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born
There is something coming, as opposed to Yeats I don’t think it will be the end of the civilization, but there is a war coming.
Weapons are ready and skirmishes have begun.
Image Credits: Perry French