Facebook Places using Bing Maps

Facebook has launched ‘Facebook Placesaccessible and the new Facebook iPhone application touch.facebook.com site on your moblie device. Select the Places button, find the location where you are and check-in. Just like that, the check-in will flow to your profile on Facebook.com complete with a Bing Map, a pin of your location and any commentary you’ve added to your check-in.

Places also includes the ability to see where your friends have checked in, a link to get directions to a place (via Bing Maps) and a Like button for the respective place page. The place information bubbles up to the actual Places page which has a larger map experience, plus an update for you to see all of your friends who’ve visited that location. This means you can see where your friends are checking and discover new places.

Facebook Places Bing Maps

With 500 million users overnight have the ability to check-in to locations providing a wealth of information to you and your friends about businesses, common places to visit and who of your friends is going to the most random locations.

Source and Image: http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/maps/archive/2010/08/18/facebook-places-launches-with-bing-d-out-maps.aspx

Making your rounded models look better

When you’re working with rounded objects whose edges have been smoothed, it’s sometimes hard to make things look good. That’s because curved surfaces don’t automatically produce a profile edge that helps to differentiate them from the background. You can see what I’m talking about in the images that follow; notice the (what I consider to be) unsatisfying outline of each of the rounded objects below?

Without Profiles turned on, rounded objects don’t stand out.

Turning on Profiles in the Styles dialog box produces a completely different result. At a Profiles setting of 2 pixels, perimeter edges become clearly visible. They’re a little chunky, though—and that’s not always the effect I’m aiming for.

Profiles that are 2 pixels thick often look too bold and cartoony.

Dialing down Profiles to 1 pixel solves the problem (see below).

Using a Profile thickness of 1 pixel makes rounded objects pop out from the background.

While this trick might seem obvious, it actually took eight years to soak into my brain. I never understood the benefit of setting my profile thickness to a single pixel. After all, edges are already that thickness—why spend the computer cycles to draw them again? Now I know. I thought others might benefit from my epiphany, embarrassingly late though it is.

It’s worth mentioning that telling SketchUp to draw Profiles can slow things down considerably if your model’s pushing the limits of your polygon budget. I only switch Profiles on when I need them.

Posted by Aidan Chopra, SketchUp Evangelist

Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews

Several weeks ago, before, during and after the Hotspot rollout, newly created reviews from reviewers with non-public Google profiles were having their Places reviews filtered. I tested this by writing a number of reviews, over time and many places in a secondary account. All of the reviews were accepted, none were published.

Google has now implemented a new, limited review profile called a “Places Profile” that allows reviews  to be shown but requires a new, quasi private profile with at least a nickname to proceed.

If a current Google account user without a public profile attempts to write a review on a business Place Page without this new Places profile they will see this message on the Places Page and will be unable to proceed until they visit Hotspot and enter their “nickname” (click to view larger) :

They are taken over to Hotspot and presented with this screen:

This new limited public profile is accompanied by a change in the Google Profile page that makes a clearer distinction between a public and non public profile although it makes no mention of the new limited Places Profile and offers no opportunity to create it:

Google has upgraded the HotPot Help Pages to better explain the role of the new Places Profile and notes what will occur to your existing reviews if no nickname is chosen:

Existing reviews & Places profile

You may have already written reviews or rated places on Google.

When you create a Places profile at google.com/hotpot, your new and existing reviews will be publicly attributed to the nickname that you specify.

If you don’t create a Places profile, but already have a public Google profile, your existing ratings & reviews will be attributed to your profile nickname (if available) or your first name. If you don’t have a public Google profile, your existing ratings & reviews will be attributed anonymously, e.g. to “A Google User”.

In cases where your reviews are attributed to you, your name links to an aggregate view of all your place ratings & reviews on Google.

The ratings and recomendations page in the Help files note that your new “nickname” will show to all in the following public Google  places:

Another change in Google’s review handling, is that new reviews often move to the bottom of the queue on the Places Page, not the top. How long they stay there is unclear but I presume that it is a change that is an effort to minimize the ability of a business to push a bad review off the top. It may be a matter of trust of the reviewer as well, as I have so far only noticed it on anonymous reviews.

This new, limited Places profile and its implementation unfortunately adds  a new layer of user complexity to newbie reviewers. The extra step opens a new window to create the profile. The user is presented with an unfamiliar, empty HotSpot window leaving them with no understanding why they are where they or what they need to do to get back to the Places page.

On the positive side, it will once again allow readers to see all of the reviews by a particular reviewer, returning some transparency that appeared to be lost several weeks ago during the transition period. It will force previous non-public reviewers to add a nickname if they want to add new reviews and will require a nickname for all new reviewers.

From Google’s point of view, it will force every reviewer into HotSpot and expose them to the interface and the recommendation engine. It should, over time increase viewers of it.

This new process though, by adding a layer of complexity and moving folks off of the Places Page, runs the risk of creating additional friction in the review process.