Getting Started with Facebook Application Development

Woman at vintage computer with 8-inch floppy disk Photoshopped to have a Facebook label

If you were looking for a quick and easy way to get started developing Facebook applications (perhaps you’re attending the upcoming Facebook Developer Garage/Camp in Toronto), you’re in luck: I’ve written the first of a number of articles that tackle that topic. Head on over to the Tucows Developer Blog and check out Getting Started with Facebook Application Development.


Facebook Developer Garage/Camp: Tuesday August 7th

Facebook Developer Garage Toronto
Click this logo to see the event’s Facebook page.

Facebook Camp Toronto
Click this logo to see the event’s wiki page.

It’s the event so anticipated that it had to have more than one name. Whether you call it Facebook Developer Garage Toronto [this links to its Facebook page] or Facebook Camp Toronto [this links to its wiki page], so many Toronto-based developers have expressed an interest in attending that they had to change to a larger venue.

Originally scheduled to take place at No Regrets Cafe and Restaurant (home of a number of DemoCamp Toronto events), Facebook Garage/Camp will now take place at the MaRS Centre (101 College Street, Toronto, just east of Queen’s Park subway station). The event takes place on Tuesday, August 7, 2007, formally starts at 6:30 p.m. and the schedule is listed below:

Facebook Garage/Camp Description and Schedule
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Please join us to thrash out Facebook Platform: share ideas, troll for partners on your latest project, check out app demonstrations, seek developer support direct from Facebook Developers, or just socialize with people like you.

The Facebook Platform Team will give an introduction to Platform, discuss best practices around product design & viral marketing techniques, and hold a technical Q&A.

Please come ready to share, participate, and absorb new ideas along with other Facebook app developers.

  • 6:00 – Social/Mingling
  • 6:30 – Introduction by Colin Smillie Roy Pereira and Andrew Cherwenka
  • 6:40 – Best Practices around Product Design and Viral Marketing (Meagan Marks,
  • 7:30 – Anatomy of a Facebook Application (Jay Goldman and Michael Glenn, Radiant Core)
  • 7:50 – FBML Overview (Sunil Boodram, Trapeze Media)
  • 8:10 – FQL Overview (Craig Saila)
  • 8:30 – Updating the Facebook Profile (Colin Smillie, Refresh Partners)
  • 8:50 – Demo: .Net Sample Application (Ricardo Covo)
  • 9:00 – Demo: Carpool by Zimride (Rajat Suri)
  • 9:10 – Demo: Ogrant by Shachin Ghelani
  • 9:20 – Wrap-up and drinks

The event is free to the public, but they do request that you sign up for the event. The problem is that there are currently two sign-up rosters — one on the Facebook page and one on the wiki page. If you’d like to attend, I suggest that you sign up on both.


If Radio is Bad for Music, Why Has Payola Existed All These Years?

Yellow 60’s-era transistor radio

A Brief History of Payola

Alan FreedSee the gentleman on the left? That’s Alan Freed, the “Father of Rock and Roll”. As a radio DJ and music television show host in the 50’s, he popularized the term “Rock and Roll”, turning it from an obscure euphemism for sex into a household phrase for a music genre. He helped break the color barrier in music, introducing America to acts like Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

His career and reputation were destroyed in the (painfully-named) Payola scandal, in which he accepted bribes from record companies to give their records more airplay. Dick Clark’s career was almost destroyed as well, but by cooperating with the authorities and selling off his share of a record company, he was able to have the charges against him reduced to a slap on the wrist.

(Freed, unable to find much work in the wake of the scandal, turned to alcohol and died of cirrhosis in 1965.)

Payola still exists today, thanks to a legal loophole. Rather than going directly to radio stations, record companies hire “indies” (independent promoters, not independent labels) to promote their albums — and by promote, I mean “provide payment as inducement to play their albums”. For more on the relationships between record companies, indies and radio stations, see this How Stuff Works article.

Radio: Bad for the Recording Industry?

Here’s a report from Techdirt earlier today:

Remember a few months back when the RIAA started asking the government to get radio stations to pay up for promoting their music? This seemed pretty ludicrous (especially when you add in the fact that record labels for years have paid radio stations via payola to get them to play their music in the first place). Well, the group organized by the RIAA to push this plan has found a professor to publish a study saying that radio actually makes people buy less music. This way, they can claim that radio actually is not a promotional medium for music.

Techdirt asks the question and I repeat it: If radio is bad for music as the RIAA says, why have record companies been bribing radio stations all these years?


Actually, It’s Canadian Telcos’ Preferred Means of Payment

Photo courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele.

For reference, see:


Kids Say Email is Only for Talking to “The Man”

Tombstone: “Here lies email — Not really dead, but used by kids only to talk to *THE MAN*.”
Image created using the Tombstone Generator.

The younger set aren’t communicating via email, according to this c|net Digital Kids news story:

Just ask a group of teen Internet entrepreneurs, who readily admit that traditional e-mail is better suited for keeping up professional relationships or communicating with adults.

“I only use e-mail for my business and to get sponsors,” Martina Butler, the host of the teen podcast Emo Girl Talk, said during a panel discussion here at the Mashup 2007 conference, which is focused on the technology generation. With friends, Bulter said she only sends notes via a social network.

“Sometimes I say I e-mailed you, but I mean I Myspace’d or Facebook’ed you,” she said.

Reading this, I was reminded of danah boyd’s presentation, My Friends, MySpace at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. One of the points she made that stuck out in my head is that young people see email as a medium for communicating with people for have power over them: parents, school officials, employers, college admissions boards — in other words, “The Man”.

The use of social networking software rather than email for communications means that there’s some Balkanization going on, with users of each social networking app unable to send messages to friends on other social networking apps. The article points out that this problem may in fact be an opportunity:

…Ashley Qualls, president of WhateverLife, a graphical tool for users of MySpace, said she keeps adding on new social networks to her roster of memberships online. “People leave a trail of where they decide to go,” she said.

Badshah said that to subscribe to only one social network means losing out on friendships with people who are active on other rival social networks. That’s because having real estate on MySpace or Facebook means keeping tabs with only certain friends through messaging, blogs and recent photos. That the two major social networks don’t interoperate could be reason for a new social network that could act as an intermediary to aggregate friends in one place, Badshah said, much the way Trillian did for IM applications like Yahoo and AOL.

“It’s a problem for teens–you’re like losing out on some of your friends if you choose just one,” he said.

“To have all your buddy lists in one place, that’s where this is going,” Badshah said.


Tucows @ HostingCon 2007 Today Through Wednesday

HostingCon 2007

Tucows will be in Chicago at HostingCon 2007, which starts today (Monday, July 23rd) and runs until Wednesday, July 25th at Navy Pier. HostingCon bills itself as “the largest gathering of hosted services professionals in the world” and for more details about the conference, check our their conference program.

We’ll be making our presence known there — I won’t be there, but my coworkers Kim, Leona, Adam and Hasdeep will. Be sure to keep an eye out for squishy cows and…

Our Booth

We’ll have a booth in the exhibitors’ hall — booth 817, which is right beside the networking lounge. Feel free to come chat with us about our new Email Service, Premium Domains and other upcoming things from Tucows.

You can look for booth 817 on the official HostingCon map or use our slightly customized one below to find us:

Map of HostingCon 2007 highlighting location of Tucows' booth

Our Session: Rethinking Domain Name Search

This Wednesday, July 25th, from 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. in room 109, Product Manager for Domains Adam Eisner will be making his presentation, Rethinking Domain Name Search.

Here’s the description of his presentation:

With the rise of the domain name aftermarket, many expired names never return to the public for repurchase. This, combined with the fact most web hosting companies don’t provide an effective domain name search feature on their website, results in many lost sales opportunities for domain names, web hosting, email and more.

This session will show web hosts how to “re-think” their website’s domain name search strategy in response to market developments like better name suggestion technology, fewer available names, and the rise of the domain name aftermarket. The strategies outlined and demonstrated will help web hosts obtain tangible improvements in their domain name and web hosting sales.

Topics covered will include:

  • How to improve sales by improving your existing domain name search process (using tangible examples)
  • Maximizing the number of relevant results provided using name suggestion technology
  • Using domain name aftermarket to ensure customers receive the most relevant domain name availability results possible

Come on out and say hello!

Cross-posted to the Tucows Developer Blog


Hey, Facebook: It’s Spelled “availAble”!

One area of user interface development that could stand some improvement is spell-checking. I’m not aware of any widely-used system for spell-checking a web application’s template or resource files, but good spelling certainly helps an app look more professional.

The latest spelling mistake in an application I’ve seen comes from the “Edit App” page for Facebook developers. One of the fields on the page lets you specify the “Canvas Page URL”, the URL within where your app can be found. It uses Ajax to give you instant feedback as to whether the URL is available or not as you type — but the word “Available” is misspelled:

Facebook Developer UI telling me that my chosen application URL is “availible”

Cross-posted to the Tucows Developer Blog