Social Media SIG
Answers by Jessica Scott
Much of the SIG and the regular Q&A were conducted using a developers' version of Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10. Windows 8 - it might have a different name when it's released - is considerably different than Windows 7 because Microsoft is trying to develop a Windows version that will operate well on PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Because the room was set up for what we assumed was a function later on Saturday, we had only the Social Media SIG because it would have been difficult to close the wall to create two rooms. As a result, Toby and Jessica Scott bantered about who should narrate and who should run the computer. Toby said he had nothing to say, and Jessica responded he should still narrate because "you sound better at saying nothing than I do."
This SIG happened just a few days after Facebook made a lot of changes to its interface and announced that more are coming, so some of the answers might not be valid for long.
Q: I put pictures in Facebook, but they seem to roll as other people put things in. What's the point of it if the photos just disappear?
A: Michael Shalkey: There's a difference between photos in the stream and photos in an album. If you use Photos under your name, the picture will scroll down to older posts. If you use the album, people can find the photos anytime.
Jessica Scott: It used to be that photos you posted on the wall went to an album called Wall Photos.
If you go to your Home page, one of the menu items above the "What's on your mind?" box is Add Photo. Clicking on it brings up the choices of Upload Photo or Video, Use Webcam and Create Photo Album. Clicking on each one brings up choices related to the task you picked. Each option lets you determine where the photo or video will be posted. If you create an album, you can name the album and select the photos to put in it.
Michael Shalkey: Click on your name, and you'll find Photos. Click on that to get to the albums. There should be an easy way to arrange them by date, but I haven't found it.
Many people are abandoning Facebook and moving to Google+, which is now open to anyone who wants to join. Many people have been using Facebook for long enough that they think they've messed it up and would like to start over. You can go to Google+ and start over with new friends and layouts. You can see photos from your circles in Google+ and your own photos. You can drag and drop photos in albums to rearrange them, label them and tag them (add people's names to the pictures). You can also pick who can see your photos.
Google also has a feature to hold a videoconference with up to 10 people.
Toby Scott: Be careful with that, though. It's not always available because of the server space and bandwidth required.
Michael Shalkey: You can put friends and people you follow in categories. I can have a circle for CIPCUG, family, and people who think they're my friends but I really don't want to follow them. You can mute conversations in both Facebook and Google.
This has been a significant month for the computer world because the first version of Windows 8 became available; Google+ opened to everyone; and changes were announced at Facebook and Netflix.
Recording TV programs
Q: How can I record programs now that VHS tapes and VCRs have effectively disappeared?
A: Michael Shalkey: The movie, TV and recording companies don't want you to be able to record shows so you can show them outside your home or share them with other people. There are ways to record from some cable company and satellite boxes, but the legality is questionable.
Audience member: My Direct TV has a USB input and you can plug in an external hard drive.
Michael Shalkey: Rick Smith tried that and it didn't work. That's really there just to be able to reconfigure your recorder. When you unplug the drive, whatever you recorded is scrambled.
From the audience: My TV box has a jack that lets me record to a capture device.
Toby: You can do that, but you'll lose some quality. The companies that provide the entertainment to the cable and satellite companies don't want them to allow recording to another device, so making it possible would violate the contract.
Michael: There's a "sort of solution" to bypass the problem. You can go to Amazon or iTunes and buy an episode. That's probably easier than trying to do it with a VCR and finding a VHS tape, but not all TV networks allow this. The free Hulu service is getting less and less and programming and even the paid version has issues and is getting more limits on its programs. Not all shows are available. TV networks prefer that you go their websites, but even they don't make all programs available. "Fringe," for instance, is really locked down on a paid site.
Toby: The networks cite ratings problems as one reason they don't want this kind of time sharing.
Michael: I don't buy that argument because the industry can get details on every time a show is watched via streaming or download. The Nielsen ratings are based on estimates resulting from a comparatively small number of households with diaries or other monitoring methods for what's being watched, but advertisers are hesitant to accept any other estimates, especially for online viewing. Nielsen ratings have been found to be very inaccurate.
We were talking about Facebook, Google+ and sharing your life. Your grandchildren will have a life you'll never know because of the Internet and services available. They'll never have to reconnect with people because they'll never lose contact with them. They'll all be able to find people in ways you can't today.
Many people are saying that Google+ will be a Twitter killer instead of a Facebook killer.
Toby: I've pretty much given up on my personal Facebook page because I don't really care what people are having for breakfast or the high score in the game of the week. It's become somewhere between useless and unnecessary. But I do find the Groups pages quite useful, and Google+ does not have anything similar. I've used group pages for CIPCUG, my class reunion committee and Ventura County Computers. I'm also using Twitter for limited technical posts.