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How Facebook did its own thing, and listened to its users

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

A little while ago, Facebook introduced its new chat sidebar. As part of a whole raft of other changes, this was the most visible. It changed the chat pop-up box to a sidebar that could be permanently attached to the right hand side of the page and contained a selection of users that you interacted with the most, whether they were online or not. As with most of the changes that Facebook makes, there was a large outcry from Facebook users saying that it was an awful decision.

Now I generally have liked most of Facebook’s changes, but it seems to me that there is no logical benefit for this change. But knowing that Facebook does what it does, I went about learning to¬† live with it.

Now it seems that Facebook has listened to its users, and modified the changes it made. Now, instead of showing just a selection, there is now a link at the bottom of the chat sidebar which says “More Online Friends” and clicking on that will jump the chat sidebar down to show you more friends that are currently online. You can also now scroll manually the sidebar which is a great addition.

This is something that anyone who is in business should take note of. You should always look at ways to improve your product, and when you do make changes you should stick to your guns. However, when there is an outcry against it, look at why there are complaints and see if there is a way to modify your changes to update your product to be what the user wants as well.

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Do I look as old as I feel?

Age has always been a funny thing for me. I’ve always felt a bit older than I actually was. Perhaps it was my time as a preachers kid, when my parents were ministers of a (to be honest) mostly elderly congregation. I would get to know them, and would relate well to them, even though I was only a kid.

Perhaps it’s my group of mates, who were all two years older than me – yet I fitted in with them like I was the same as them (to the point where they often forget that I’m younger than them).

Either way, I think it’s been good for me to be able to relate well with those that are older than me. It opens up opportunities, it helps with work (as I think I’m one of the youngest people in most offices that I work in), and it just works well.

That said, I have enjoyed having younger friends in recent times. Liesl’s friends are all a couple of years younger than me. And while sometimes they want to go clubbing when I’m kind of over that phase of my life, I think that it is good for me (and everyone) to have friends of all ages.

So while I’ve never lied about my age (never even tried to buy alcohol before I was 18 – which made me annoyed when I did and they didn’t check my id), I believe many have thought that I was older than I actually am.

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Over my life so far, I have had the opportunity to make friends in very different situations. From the various primary schools, high schools, university, church and now work, I’ve got lots of friends. My Facebook (which is the way to show how many friends you have) has 620 friends, and I am proud to say that I have a personal connection with most of them. There’s a couple that I’ve only met online (mostly through my time on, which I was a regular for a number of years), but most of them I have met in one form or another through my life.

I’m also glad that through all these different places, I still keep in touch with a number of my friends. There are some that were friends for a while, but we’ve since lost touch. For example, one of my first mates from Pre Primary I now no longer see or really talk to, while I’ve renewed a friendship just recently with another primary school friend after moving close to him.

But there have also been those that are in the close group of friends that I see regularly. Since meeting these guys at church from around when I was in year 8, we’ve been close ever since. When they got their licences when I was in year 10, weekends would often end up with them coming around and us going for a random drive somewhere. I remember driving all over Perth with these guys delivering invitations because we thought it would be cheaper. It was memorable especially after coming down a steep hill and our driver poured stale coke on the brakes to cool them down. Wasn’t a great idea, but those brakes had fantastic grip for years to come.

See, friends aren’t just those guys you hang out with regularly. Friends are the ones who are there when memories are made. Friends are the guys who make the memories. Friends are not the guys who bail you out when you get in trouble, there the ones who are sitting there saying “Well, this sucks, but it was so totally worth it!”

To all my friends, big and small, who have made an impact on my life over the years, thanks. You’re totally awesome.

Postaday2011 links

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What makes me smile

"Sharing smile!"
Image by abhiomkar via Flickr

I had a little trouble coming up with something for todays topic. It’s not that nothing makes me smile, but I wanted to pick something specific. See, a lot of things make me smile. Getting a solution for a problem at work so that something finally works the way it was intended – that makes me smile. Seeing weight loss each day as I weigh in on the wii, that makes me smile. Seeing my wife, my family, my friends happy, that makes me smile. I’m heading to my brother-in-law’s wedding today, and I’m sure that will make me smile. Seeing young people stepping out in their faith – that makes me smile.

I’m thankful for so much at the moment, and they all make me smile.

What makes you smile?

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