Saturday 15 September 2012

Facebook photo sharing frustrations

Wow, how difficult could it be? Very difficult!

I posted a photo shoot of some bands to a Facebook 'group' for the record company. Now, it seems unlike every other kind of post, photo or photo album in Facebook, ones in groups, even public groups, cannot be shared. Next to the 'like' and 'comment' links there is no 'share' link at all. Looked around for all kinds of other ways and nothing.

One of the bands then asked me to post the photos to their 'page' - note that this is a 'page' not a 'group' (although I don't really know why Facebook has these two separate concepts). So although I didn't really want two copies of the photos on Facebook, I uploaded them again to an album on my own personal page. Titled and re-tagged them all and thought I was almost done...

So, I clicked on one of the photos of this band, yes, I get a 'share' link, phew. The share dialog box comes up, defaulting to 'On your own timeline', I click on that to drop down the other options.. and what do you get? Two more choices, 'On a friend's timeline' and 'In a group'. But wait, what about sharing to a 'page', nope, you cannot do that!

This isn't about permissions, you can post a photo to the page if I upload a new copy, but you can't share an existing photo to the page.

I wish Facebook would sort out this stuff.

Sunday 4 March 2012

AirDrop and Apple IDs - it's meant to be simple!

AirDrop is a feature added on Mac OS X Lion. Before lion, if I wanted to send a file to another computer, for example my wife sitting next to me, there were a number of options - AirDrop was brought in to make this simple!

The simplest way for your average user is probably sending an email attachment. It works, but it's a bit much.. it clogs up your email, you have a number of steps too.

Another way is to do some kind of network sharing - this usually works too, but needs a bit of setup.

So when I heard about AirDrop I thought it sounded good, simple, 'it just works' etc. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work!

If my wife is sending to me, she will get an error about an invalid certificate. If I am sending to her, I get a message about it being declined - even though no message appears on her MacBook.

Apparently, even though AirDrop uses some kind of adhoc local wifi, it uses Apple IDs to help identify people. The thing that fixes the problems above is to go into my user account in System Preferences, remove the Apple ID from my account and add it back in, exactly the same as it was. Since I have only used AirDrop a few times I don't know if this always happened or when it started.

Now, to come on to Apple IDs. Recently I had to change my password on my Apple ID. I think I ended up having to change it in 4 places on my iPhone and 3 places on my MacBook. I can understand having to enter the new password on both devices, and I understand that there are multiple applications or features that use Apple IDs, and they support you using different IDs in each - However, 99% of users will be using the same Apple ID for all these applications/features - so come up with something better please Apple. You managed to do it for Twitter accounts, but not for your own accounts!

Sunday 12 February 2012

Why does iMessage suck so much?

I travel home from work on the London underground, the Metropolitan line to be precise, which not underground all the way, there are various points along the way where you can get phone reception. Quite often I am using my phone to let my wife know how far from home I am. Sometimes she is also on the same journey home, so at any one time either or both of us could be underground.

We used to use SMS messages to communicate, but if you don't have reception when the other person sends you a message, you don't get the message as soon as you get reception. The impression I get is the network provider attempts to resend the message, but often on a fairly long interval. As you can imagine, that is pretty useless.

Next we moved to using email, which actually works quite well. The sender knows it is sent, and the receiver can get the message as soon as they have reception. This seems good, but there are two relatively minor downsides. Firstly, email is a bit heavy weight for a short conversation - the iPhone Messages app gives you a nice conversation view, but with email you are building up a message that gets bigger each time due to the quoted text. Secondly, I don't usually have 'push' email on due to battery life.

So, when iMessage first came along I thought it would have the best of both SMS and Email worlds. Sadly it is actually worse than both. It seems to me that when you send an iMessage the communication is between the two iPhones rather than going via a server. Obviously it goes via a server in terms of network, but that is more routing than anything else - it doesn't seem to go to the equivalent of a mail server. This means both iPhones have to have reception at the same time. There's a fallback to sending an SMS, which seems to kick in sometimes, a bit randomly. It wouldn't be so bad if the device let you know what was happening - but what actually happens is not really that deterministic. It lets you think you have sent a message, when it hasn't, if you are lucky you might get a failure 20 minutes later. Sometimes sending a new message will flush through the previous 3 that you didn't know hadn't been successful. Sometimes you will never get a failure, but the recipient never gets it. When I get home I can check my wife's iPhone and it can look like a totally different conversation, messages missed, different order. It really is totally unreliable.

I conclude that Email is still the best form of communication for this kind of scenario - the sender and receiver are completely decoupled and the message immediately available (push or pull) to the recipient when they have reception.

So, Apple, why does iMessage suck so much?