If you’re a Facebook user and are looking for a simple, unobtrusive way to view updates on your Mac OS X desktop, look no further than Facebook’s own menubar application. Facebook Desktop Notifications lives in your menubar, keeping your Dock and desktop free of icons, but easily accessible. The app displays your news feed in the drop down menu, which when clicked will take you to the appropriate place on your Facebook page. Shortcuts to your Facebook page, and new message creation are available at the top of the menu, as well as direct message shortcuts at the bottom. Desktop Notifications also offers you the ability, with a simple keyboard shortcut, to update your Facebook status via a simple input box. New Facebook notifications make the menubar icon turn blue, or if you have Growl installed, a popup Growl window appears. While there are a ton of applications that do a whole lot more, few offer the simplicity and “get out of my way” nature that Facebook Desktop Notifications does. For that reason, I love it. It’s stable, and does its job without me having to do or launch anything.
Adobe AIR apps are popping-up everywhere, so it was no surprise to see a full-featured Facebook application show up. What was surprising to me was to see that the developer is Adobe itself. Photo Uploader for Facebook is a multi-platform Facebook desktop application based on Adobe’s AIR technology. And while the name implies that it’s simply a photo uploader, it’s actually more full-featured than that. It’s not going to replace the use of the Web interface completely, but for most users, the app may do everything you need. Photo Uploader for Facebook offers views of your Profile page, Friends list, a Chat page, and of course, your Wall. The Wall page shows status updates of all your friends, as well as gives you the ability to update your status by clicking on your latest status update at the top of the screen.The app updates status at intervals that I couldn’t find a way to customize, but it appears to be fairly frequently. The chat screen works just like the Web-based chat feature does, with the added benefit that you can keep the chat window open and surf to other pages in your browser at the same time. The sidebar in the app window shows status updates, regardless of which view the main part of the window is showing. Quick access to Event Invites, your Inbox, Pokes and Friend Requests are also available via small icons at the top of the sidebar. The Photo Uploader offers basic Facebook integration. Upon clicking the Upload button, you are asked to choose which album you want your image to be uploaded into, or create a new one. Then, you drag & drop, or click the Add Photos button to bring in a single image, or folder full of images into the app’s window. From there, you can crop your image, rotate it, give it a caption, and tag it with keywords. I prefer to use desktop applications, rather than a service’s Web interface in almost all cases. I find them to (usually) be more full featured and easier to work with. I am not, however, a big fan of AIR applications – for a variety of reasons. Photo Uploader for Facebook is a rare exception to my anti-AIR preference. It’s stable, offers plenty of features, and I find the interface to be simple, and a big improvement over Facebook’s Web interface. Photo Uploader for Facebook can be downloaded and used for free from the Adobe AIR Marketplace, where you can find plenty of other AIR applications.
The number one way to spot an Internet @$$hole (referred to in the rest of this article as I.A.s) is to look on the potential turd-burglar’s Twitter page in the Bio section. If you see the word “expert” or “S.E.O.” or my favorite “S.E.O. Expert,” you have struck gold. You’ve come across the highest order of I.A. there is. If you follow them, drop them. If they follow you, block them. But for cryin’ out loud, don’t engage them – you’re just feeding wild animals that will eventually knock over your trash can and spill your garbage all over the driveway! Keep reading. There’s plenty more I.A.s out there to learn about.
In my two latest articles on Macworld.com, I take a quick look at two fantastic Social Networking applications for Mac OSX that are heavy on features and light on the pocketbook. With all the social-networking services out there like Digg, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit – not to mention RSS feeds, you can easily find yourself spending more time switching between Web sites than you do actually using them. Rather than jumping back and forth, save yourself some effort by using one application to bring your entire social network to your desktop for less than $20. For more control over the Internet’s favorite social photo-sharing site, I’ve got a fantastic Flickr app that’s sure to please amateurs and pros alike.