A month without Facebook

I’ve been a month without Facebook… well.. I say I’m a month without it – but truth be told a few days ago I reactivated my account for the day to see if there’s anything I miss.

 

There wasn’t.

 

I have a few gripes here. The first thing is the new interface on the Facebook App. My first thoughts were this: “Have Facebook fired their UX team?!”. There is a new user interface which, after I looked at it for a few minutes I came to the very quick conclusion that I intensely disliked it. It’s ugly, cluttered and for someone who was wondering if he wanted to come back to Facebook, it turned me off immediately.

 

There is a theory which applies to web design which I guess should also apply to app design – you have 5 seconds to grab the users attention. If you don’t, they will leave. Facebook for Android certainly didn’t grab mine. Not in any sort of positive light.

 

I’ve been told that I’m not alone here. Earlier on I received a text message from one of my friends which said that she had “Joined the ‘Delete your Facebook’ bandwagon”. Up until that point, I was unaware that any such bandwagon existed. After I looked into it a little more, I found that there has been an outcry of concerns regarding the new “Identify TV and Music” feature. This feature listens to background noise as you are making a post from your app to give the option to add this detected information to your post. People are concerned about their privacy and that’s something that I do understand. It is a bit creepy.

 

When I decided that I needed a break from Facebook, it wasn’t out of any moral standpoint. It was because I needed to get things done. I needed to spend some time learning and improving my web design and front end skills. I’ve managed to do this and am happy with what I have achieved so far. Then I realised that for many people, Facebook is more than just a community, more than just a social network. For many people, Facebook is an extension on themselves. Facebook is not just used as a communicative tool, it’s like another part of you. Not just part of your life, but part of you as a person.

 

This isn’t what I want to use the internet for. As a tool for communication – absolutely, the internet is amazing. As a learning resource, the internet is amazing. I want to use the internet to improve myself, to improve my skills and learn new ones. I want to make connections with people who I don’t know who have the same interests, passions, motivation and drive as I do. To collaborate towards something that can ultimately make a difference. To learn from each other, teach and to help. Shouldn’t this be the case? With so many people, this just isn’t the case any more. There is one website they visit. One website they have any sort of interest in. Isn’t it just a little sad?

ChromeOS – But it’s just a browser..

“But it’s just a browser” is something that most people say when they hear of the Google operating system. I’ve been using a Chromebook since Samsung released the Samsung Chromebook. My old Acer laptop died a death and I needed something quickly which wasn’t going to cost me a bomb. So a Chrome OS based laptop seemed like a good idea.

 

Chromebooks are generally marketed at people who use the devices as browsers. Maybe you want to take a look at Facebook, listen to tracks on Spotify or search for something you’re interested in. But the longer I used Chrome OS, the more I realised the potential of what it could be. It’s not just a browser. It’s not just something to use for social networking. It can be used for a lot more and has the potential to change the way people use desktop and laptop devices in years to come.

 

I started learning front end web development and web design a few months ago. I needed to find an IDE which would support me on Chrome OS and what I found were massively powerful environments which rendered my need to use anything desktop based obsolete. Almost. We’re starting to see more and more applications being powered in the cloud and this has huge advantages in an IDE. Codio is my most recent discovery. Codio is in its beta stage and it doesn’t just support HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript. Languages and databases it supports include:

 

Languages: C, Node, Ruby, Python, PHP (and Composer), Go, Haskell, Java, Lua, Pascal, Rust, Scala

Databases: MongoDB, MySQL, PHPMyAdmin, Postgresql, SQLite3, Redis, Memcached

 

This is fantastic and provides a seriously powerful application that you can do just about anything you need with it. This isn’t the only web based IDE available. You can also check out Codenvy, Cloud 9 and a whole heap of others. The Google App store gives a fantastic list under development tools that can give you a great experience.

 

This of course can be used by anyone with a Chrome browser, not just someone with a Chrome OS device – however, you’re only paying a fraction of the price for a Chromebook, Chromebox or a Chromebase. It is most certainly worth it if you are a front or back end developer.

 

One drawback for me though is in design. The best software I can find for design has been Pixlr Editor. Pixlr is great for what it is, but it’s lacking some simple features.. even a ruler would be nice. This makes it a bit of a hassle creating a mock-up design before bringing it in to front end. I am however convinced that this will improve with time and maybe even companies like Adobe will provide applications (at a subscription I would assume) for developers and designers running a Chrome OS system. Until that day though, I am going to have to take a look at my options on a Windows or Mac system.

 

I’ll conclude with this. Chrome OS is in its infancy and has already made a big dent into the market. When Google released the Pixel, it showed other manufacturers what COULD be the future. Some companies like HP have taken this idea and provided the HP Chromebook 14 which is an awesome system with an awesome display. I believe within the next 5 years a MASSIVE amount of software providers will realise that internet speeds have increased so dramatically that they can provide great cloud based software. I believe that the future is on the cloud and while I love Chrome OS, I know it’s not quite there yet – but it will be.