Merging multiple Facebook accounts into one

Once upon a time, I had two Facebook accounts. I wanted to have one for family and another for a “cooler” group of friends. I even had a blog entry on how to post to multiple Facebook accounts haha. At some point, it got to be too much of a hassle and I decided my life would be much more simple if I only had one…but…how do I move my friends from one account to the other? Well, there is no automated way to do it, but it can be done pretty simply. Read more

Share self-hosted WordPress photo to Facebook

In the past I’ve either uploaded photos to Flickr or Picasa (now Google+) and had a Facebook app (RSS Graffiti) automatically post status updates to Facebook via RSS. (Of course I also posted some one-off photos directly to Facebook.) However, something went wonky recently and RSS Graffiti started posting old items to my timeline. Not good!

After researching alternatives, I finally decided to self-host my photos on SeriouslyTrival.com and write a blog post on new photo additions, which WordPress automatcally posts to Facebook.

NextGEN Gallery

I settled on NextGEN gallery, billed as “the world’s most popular WordPress gallery plugin.” Exporting from Google+ and reimporting to NextGEN was pretty easy. I had already had things grouped in albums, so I just mirrored that in NextGEN. (NOTE: If you do this, import oldest first or last least your latest photos last. This will pay dividends later since you can use that to automatically order things.)

Page and CSS mods

I modded the NextGEN compact album view a bit to shorten the photo number display. I also modded the CSS to tighten up the font and added some height to the DIVs so they flowed smoother. I hate doing that since it makes upgrading harder, but the stock result just bugged me too much.

Short Code Annoyances

I also found that NextGEN short codes don’t play well with each other. For example, if you use nggtags and nggalbum on the same page, and a visitor clicks on an image from the nggtags short code, the nggalbum short code will still be evaluated and executed. (Note: having multiple instances of the same short code does not exhibit the same problem for some reason.)

The only solution I found was to create a separate subpage for each short code used, so I have separate nggtags, nggalbum and tagcloud pages–the latter two being subpages. I added hyperlinks at the top of the pages for navigation. Not the most elegant solution, but it works for now.

Uploading and Posting from iPhone

To upload iPhone photos to the website, I use the NextGEN iOS app. It’s pretty bare-bones, but does the job. Generally, I upload to an existing gallery named after the current year. This gallery is already part of an album included on my site’s Photo pages. I like to keep miscellaneous one-off photos in this album. (Events that have many photos, like vacations or holidays, get their own gallery, and I leave to handling on a desktop PC.)

Sidebar and Slideshow

I added the NextGEN Widget to the sidebar using the Recently Added option. I also added the NextGEN slideshow widget to the sidebar for fun.

Editing Photo Tags

To edit tags, you have to use the WordPress app which is a bit cumbersome on an iPhone. This feature is blatantly missing from the NextGEN app for some unknown reason even though it says you can in the app description. It may be better to wait until you can get to a real computer and browser, or even an iPad to edit tags.

Adding Facebook Sharing using FooBox

I also purchased the FooBox WordPress plugin. FooBox mods the image display routines and does a better job at resizing. The UI is also much nicer and has a more obvious navigation UI.

The real reason I chose FooBox was it’s social site integration, specifically simple Facebook sharing from an iPhone. You will need to go through some tedious steps to generate a Facebook App ID, but its fairly well-documented. (Note: Use your site’s name for the “Display Name” and your site’s URL for the “Site URL” fields. Don’t use “GetFooBox” which is shown in the example steps.)

I popped for the $47 multi-site license since it had lifetime updates. The single site version is $27. I found a 20% discount coupon but noticed that there have been discounts as high as 45%, so it’s worth a Google search.

Process to Share an Image on Facebook

So here is my process to upload a picture to my site and then share on Facebook:

  1. Use NextGEN app to upload the photo to a gallery and edit the title
  2. Open your website in Safari browser
  3. Find the recently added photo in the sidebar and tap to open (or alternatively, find the photo by navigating through your site. Using the sidebar widget is the easiest way)
  4. Tap the Facebook share icon
  5. Add some descriptive text for your status update and post to Facebook. That’s it!

It’s actually pretty darn easy!

Conclusion

One of the added benefits is that I now have a kickass photo gallery system. Self-hosting my images also drives traffic to my site. I really hope that tag editing is added to the NextGEN iOS app soon. It’s not a showstopper, but it is annoying. I’m also looking at some way to add a comment system for photos, but FooBox may not play nice I fear.

I really like the FooBox image display, particularly on an iOS device and sharing on Facebook is drop-dead simple which was my goal.

Updates:
2013-05-19
Uploading a batch of images isn’t possible using the NextGEN app so had to resort to FTP. I found that Photogene would also scale the image prior to upload which is a real time-saver. What you have to do is create the gallery using the NextGEN app and then upload the images with Photogene. Remember that spaces in the gallery name are converted to dashes. Also, you’ll then have to go into the WordPress app and choose the Scan Folder for New Images option on the gallery. It’s a bit of a pain, but less so than uploading one by one.

2013-05-20
Make sure you enable the Activate permalinks in the NextGEN options. Otherwise, you won’t get a good thumbnail in any posts you share on Facebook. Also, if you use Featured Images, I would stop. They don’t work right with NextGEN. Supposedly, it will be fixed in version 2.0. If you want a specific image to represent the post, use a full path for the file in an IMAGE tag, which can even point to a NextGEN image (e.g., http://seriouslytrivial.com/wp-content/gallery/coolpics/IMG_0001.jpg).

Facebook’s days are numbered

I think that Facebook will slowly see a MySpace-like death. It will become a victim of it’s own popularity. The bottom line is that the ONLY reason Facebook is popular is because people have their friends on it. Take that away and there is no reason to go there.

Kids are what drove Facebook’s meteoric rise and they will cause it’s demise. Kids will move to their own next big thing or just grow up and use it less and less. The new generation of kids just getting their taste of social networking will latch onto a different platform and blaze their own trail. Now that parents and grandparents are on there, Facebook looses cool factor. The younger generations don’t want their parents’ and grandparents’ noses in their day-to-day lives. For the older generation it’s a novelty and they will just stop using it.

I’ve gone weeks without opening Facebook and didn’t miss it. I didn’t die. My life wasn’t changed. It’s fun, but not inherently important.

Facebook fanboys will pooh pooh my theory and rattle off logical reasons why Facebook is not the next MySpace (Farmville, apps, mobile). I respond by saying it’s not the feature set that changes the game. It’s who really drives the popularity (the kids) and why they visit (because their friends are there).

Businesses are successful long-term because they have the ability to control the supply of their TRUE product and there is a demand for it. Facebook cannot control their users’ groups of friends. Period. It may not be fast or easy, but the same exact friend groups can be created on any social networking site.

Apple, for example, really sells innovation, not computers or phones. Sure they have patents and copyrights to protect their devices, but it’s obvious that Android and Windows can eventually match performance and features. However, Apple in recent times has been just a step ahead of their competition. They control the supply of their true product: innovation. If Apple were to rest on their laurels or, more likely, take a wrong turn in major product development, demand would suffer; competitors would catch up. If it took too long for Apple to correct course, consumers might permanently jump ship to Android or Windows.

As long as Apple continues to innovate in a popular way and avoids a major/long misstep, they will prosper. Since Facebook has no control over the actual network of friends, they are ultimately doomed.

I’ve shared this theory–and it is just a theory–with my 17-year old daughter and she can’t see a world without Facebook. However, rewind three or four years and she would have said the same thing about MySpace. I might have said the same thing about Yahoo, yet now I never use that. I might have said the same about Windows, but here I’m typing this on an iPad.

It will probably take years to see what happens. I think Zuckerberg is missing the boat by not going public. It just *feels* like Facebook has reached it’s top.

Posting to Facebook with a Thumbnail with an iOS Device

When you share a link using Facebook.com, it scans the page and lets you set a thumbnail image for the post. If you are on a webpage that you want to share, you can save a step if you have the Facebook Share Bookmarklet installed on your browser.

Basically, a bookmarklet is just a bookmark that executes JavaScript code instead of going to an URL. On a desktop PC browser, you can install it by just dragging the bookmarklet to your toolbar. However, it’s a little trickier to install on a mobile browser.

Fortunately this page has easy instructions on how to install the Facebook bookmarklet (and other services) on a mobile browser. Basically, you click the link for the bookmarklet you want, save as a bookmark, and then edit the URL to remove some unneeded code. It’s pretty simple.

Sharing from RSS Reader

I consume most of my Internet news from RSS feeds via Google Reader using the Reeder iPad app. Reeder’s Facebook share feature doesn’t add a thumbnail, so I use the ReadItLater service to save posts that I want to share later on Facebook. ReadItLater has a Facebook share feature, but sadly it also doesn’t add a thumbnail. As such, I would use the browser bookmarklet method. Cumbersome, but it worked.

Anyways, I just discovered the iPad app Mr. Reader and its Facebook sharing feature supports the thumbnail! Hooray! Since both are based on Google Reader, it was a painless switch from Reeder to Mr. Reader.

YouTube Video Thumbnails

For whatever reason, the thumbnail often doesn’t appear for sites that embed a YouTube video if you use the bookmarklet method. What you need to do is click on the video to open it up in YouTube. Usually, the iOS YouTube app will open since iOS doesn’t support Flash. If you tap the Share button, the app will compose an email. Change the www. to m. and just copy up to the video ID. Here’s an example: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8d-MTIJ7ZZQ The video will open in the mobile YouTube website and the Facebook Share button there will allow you to specify a thumbnail. It’s a little cumbersome, but not bad. Another way is to just copy the video URL as it appears, open Facebook.com in Safari, and share the link normally.

I hope this makes it easier to share things on Facebook. Have fun!

Posting to multiple Facebook accounts, Part II

Almost exactly one year ago, I described how you can use Hellotxt.com to post to multiple Facebook accounts by using a Twitter account and having that get relayed into your secondary Facebook account. Not the most elegant solution, but it does work. Of course, I’m never satisfied so I continued the hunt. Recently I tried Posterous.com and actually got that to add multiple Facebook accounts; however, it sort of creates it’s own social site and I was just looking for a straight posting mechanism.

Rediscovering Pixelpipe

My most recent discovery is Pixelpipe. (It’s actually a re-discovery because I found I already had an account :-)) It is similar to Hellotxt in that it lets you send one post to multiple services, but Pixelpipe seems to have a much larger catalog of supported services, it calls “pipes”.

The pipe that suits my particular need is plain ol email. Yup, Pixelpipe will send your post to an email address. Sounds boring and is easily overlooked, but ended up being the Holy Grail for me. Since Facebook lets you update your status via email–voila!–put the two together and you can update multiple Facebook accounts using Pixelpipe!

All you need to do is determine your special Facebook status update email address. Just login to Facebook and then go to http://Facebook.com/mobile. Under “Upload via email” you’ll see it. The subject line is used as the status text and you can attach images. Keep in mind, of course, that you really need to protect this email address since it opens up the door for anyone to update your Facebook status!

On a side note, you can reset this email address to a new one, but it’s kinda hidden. You have to go to http://m.facebook.com/upload.php and click the Reset Address link.

I sort of like this method of updating my Facebook status because it doesn’t require me to give permissions to a third-party application. Also, it is purely one way.

Pixelpipe supports a plethora of other social sites including, of course, the ubiquitous Twitter. The interesting thing is that I came across Pixelpipe because it is listed in the Hellotxt applications. Guess they don’t see it as a competitor.

Multiple Facebook Pipes

Note that I was able to actually add two Facebook “pipes”, but it’s a little tricky. When you authenticate your Facebook account in Pixelpipe (or even Posterous), you are also logging into your Facebook account. As such, you have to open the Facebook page in your browser (press F5 to do a page reload to be sure) and log off before authenticating the second Facebook account. (If you don’t know how to log out, click on Account in the top-right corner and choose Logout from the drop-down menu.) My suspicion is that although this works, it’s an unintended result. I say this because if you later change the settings, you may see the warnings that you need to reauthorize your Facebook accounts.

iPhone App

Pixelpipe has a decent iPhone app too. It’s a little confusing at first. Initially, the app opens on its Media page and you see all the photos on your phone. It looks like the app wants you to upload *all* your pics somewhere, because there is a large scary green button that says Upload All. To just post a new status, tap the Post button at the bottom.

To post selected  image(s) to your Pixelpipe services follow these steps (Substitute the word “post” where Pixelpipe say “upload” and things will make more sense.):

  1. Tap the arrow to the right of the picture
  2. Enter your post text in the Title field
  3. Tap the Save button
  4. Select the image by tapping the thumbnail. A checkmark will appear next to the thumbnail.
  5. The green button on the bottom will change to “Upload 1 item”. Click it. (Obviously you can select and upload more than one image at a time if you want to.)

Pixelpipe @Tags can be used to post to only certain services. Tags without the @ will appear as Twitter hashtags. The Caption entry has no impact on Facebook or Twitter. It is used as the caption text should you post to, say, Flickr

Image Hosting

The images are uploaded to your Facebook photos and, by default, somewhere on Pixelpipe for linked Twitter pics. (Note that you can set images to automatically scale down prior to uploading in the Settings, which is a nice feature–no reason to be posting 5MP images usually.) If you have, say, Flickr added as a pipe, you can have your Twitter pics hosted there instead of on Pixelpipe. In other words, the URL-shortened link will point to Flickr. Other image sites are supported.

The app is not compatible with the iPad for some reason, but you can just use the website page on the iPad.

So far I’m very happy with Pixelpipe, but am kinda sad to stop using Hellotxt. Of course, I’m fickle and who knows what I’ll be using tomorrow!

UPDATE 2010-08-05:
I tried setting up two email Pixelpipe services pointing to two different Facebook accounts, but this stopped working today. Facebook must have some sort of spam detection that ignores duplicate posts to multiple emails. I guess that makes sense. My solution is to have one actual Facebook service and one email to Facebook. That should be ok, I hope.

Trillian Astra beta multi-protocol IM client

For years, I used Trillian Pro (TPro) exclusively to chat with all of my ICQ, AIM, MSN, and gTalk friends. I liked it cuz I could not only handle all of IM needs in once place, but it saved conversations, which is nice when you need to refer back to something. It would also monitor my gmail and yahoo webmail accounts.  However, TPro would often grab up a boatload of RAM and I migrated over to the web-based Meebo.com client several months ago.

The folks at Cerulean Studios have been working on the next generation of Trillian called Astra for years. So long, in fact, I thought it would never come out and I had given up. Well, it finally is in beta and I installed it today. I’m thrilled to report that so far it works as well as TPro and is occupying a paltry 14k of RAM.

I won’t even attempt to cover all of it’s features and benefits, go over here for that. Some neat new Astra features that TPro didn’t have include support for Facebook including chat, and Twitter.

It feels like more of a TPro version 4 than an entirely new app. It has a spiffier look, but functionally it’s very similar to TPro. It still has the same confusing options and preferences that always seemed to be scattered all over the UI. Fortunately, you don’t have to mess with settings too much, but on the plus side it is very configurable.

Fixing the memory issue alone is enough for me to return to Trillian and I’m happy to be back. Web clients are nice, but there’s nothing like a good desktop app. It installed right over my TPro and retained all of the existing accounts and settings. I believe after 30 days I’m going to have to pony up $10 to upgrade. It’s $25 for new users. Worth it IMHO.

Multi-protocol IM web client with Facebook support

I had been using Trillian to IM all my friends from ICQ, AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and gTalk; however, I switched to the web-based Meebo.com awhile back. Anyways, after being a little frustrated with the feature-lacking Facebook chat feature I just discovered that they added Facebook support to Meebo!

It’s very basic as well, but you can see a list of FB online friends and determine at a glance when they come off from being idle. The input area is nicer as well and each post shows a time which is nice. Check it out. Meebo is a free service.