[Tech Talk] Say Sayonara to Facebook Image Compression

No matter if you’re an amateur photographer or an expert photo editor, if you load your photos to any sort of web server or social media site then you face the issue of image compression and for some of us – the results can look like a near nightmare.  Vibrant nuances of color, sleek lines and keen tones are lost to algorithms that take redundant chunks of your data’s bits and bytes.  The eventual result is that by pairing down the “redundancies” you’re left with a photo that your 10 year old cousin could have taken with last year’s iPhone.  Yikes.  Good news is there’s a fix for that, and I’m here to share the good news.

In the past few years, I’ve grown a lot more accustomed to editing photos in Lightroom as opposed to Photoshop.  Though I’m proud of most everything I can do – it’s felt like the one thing I couldn’t do was get the pretty picture to appear in Facebook the way I want.  I’m incredibly thankful that first, I’m not the only person to experience this problem, and secondly that I’ve come across multiple resources helping me fix the issue. So I can’t very well take all the credit, but I did do all the internet sleuthing by myself, so I can at least own that part; and through trial and purposeful error, I’ve seen the results first hand.  First, for those super excellent editors out there – I’ve heard through the wire that the compression algorithm affects JPG files more than PNG files, so if you’re willing to convert all of your images to PNGs – your photos will retain their crisp clarity and luminescence.

Master the Settings

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 6.11.50 PM

Do you know what the real difference between the top and bottom picture are? The bottom picture has smooth lines on faces and an even keeled blast of water, while the top looks more grainy, and less appealing.  I’ve heard some conflicting advice out there about exporting with a length of 720 or 960, and what I can say after some hands on experience – including the photos above, is that you really want to export at 2048 pixels, which is what the bottom picture is set to.  How about the one below? Between the left and right image – the sharpness of the right one is retained more than the left, and that’s the difference of loading a smaller image size, approximately 100k or less, so Facebook doesn’t compress the image itself.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 6.31.44 PM

One more time, for your cheat sheet:

Length at max: 2048

Resolution: 96

Image Size: 100kb

To save these proper settings – On the bottom left of your Export Window, toggle ‘Add’ to save your user pre-set. When you’re loading your pics, make sure that you Easy-peasy, happy exporting!

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 5.51.31 PM


What are your perfect export settings for lossless Facebook photo albums? I’ve read a lot of variations of the metrics I’m using and would love to hear from other photo gurus out there! Let me know in the comments below.

[Tech Tuesday] Loosen Facebook’s Uncomfortable Grasp On Your User Data

Somewhere between the excitement of the pure breadth of the internet and the desire to connect communities within it, Facebook was born.  And the world as we once knew it has never been the same.  My friends and I have casually joked about how we sit on the edge of an era, and we’re watching our counterparts on either side crumble from either too much, or too little, engagement with it.  The irony of social media’s evolution lies in two places.  First, instead of growing up with physical board games like Scrabble, people are  playing games like ‘Words with Friends‘ with absolute strangers that they have no intention of meeting.

Secondly, there’s this: over the course of our history as a country, Americans have felt a pretty specific way about Big Brother keeping all eyes and ears out of their business. Historically, the people to report for the census have by in large been representative of the middle to upper class white Majority in America.  By in large, it’s been the under-educated,the  low-income and first generation citizens of this country who either lack the capacity to fill out the forms, our a residence at which to receive the census.  As a Statistician and a Californian, I don’t put much stock in anything beyond AC Nielsen viewer data; but apparently the government doesn’t either, because they’re currently sitting on and turning to a wealth of data that we don’t even realize we’re contributing to on the daily.  Yep, you guessed it: Facebook.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment, the government has always wanted this demographic data on citizens – but with something like Facebook, where we as users choose what to share, or not share – if what they originally wanted was a molehill, what we’re now giving them is an entire mountain of information.  Every click, every mouse hover, every statement typed out and then deleted – it’s stored somewhere.  All of your friends, and then non-friends, and even those sometimes boyfriends and your now significant other, they’ve become data points:  documented, analyzed and stored forever.  On your parents, your loved ones, your future children, your feelings – they’re bitcode players in this new cyber-board game of the world.

According to Martin Smith, the producer of the exceptionally well done PBS Frontline series on ‘The United States of Secrets‘: “If the FBI came to your door and demanded photos of your wedding, the names and daily habits of your children, the restaurants you frequent, who you’ve called and texted for the past month, and where you’ll be staying on your upcoming vacation, you’d call your lawyer….But that’s exactly the sort of information we’re all sharing by living our lives digitally — and the government has taken notice in a big way.”

Facebook MessengerFor the better part of the past decade, I’ve been an active, eager and more than willing participant  in this social experiment. At first glance, they’re loaded words words but dive a little deeper and you’ll discover the unfortunate truth that it’s really not that far from it.  Our Facebook profiles are a better mirror of pop culture than personality.  In effect, they’ve become a written version of ‘The Sims’ where we’re allowed to embody and pursue any facet of our psyche – but now, advertisers profit from it and the government covets it.  So, it’s has to be time for us to break free from the ties of social media.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried deleting your account – but I have, and I can tell you that it’s a paradoxical statement. Your account will stay ‘live’ for two weeks just in case you have buyer’s remorse of that newfangled free time; and now there’s options to essentially put your account on temporary pause instead of deleting it.  Why?  Let’s face it, over time there’ll be better, brighter and bolder ways to analyze your clicks, catch-phrases and chat messages, so why not keep it stored somewhere in a digital locker until you need it?  From a data standpoint, it’s genius; too bad this is our lives we’re talking about here – and that’s no one’s fault but our own.

Facebook privacy changes roll out on a gross level fairly frequently, but whether we’ve been made aware or not, on a more nuanced level these changes constantly on our profiles. It’s not that I’m happy to announce this but every month or so I scour the internet in search of the latest in Facebook’s privacy predilection.  Partially, because I’m curious – and the other part, is as active as I am online I also want to be aware of how my data’s being used, especially if it’s being used without my permission.  There are so many uninformed people simply giving into this seemingly self gratifying system of social media – and I can say this, because I was one of them; but I’m not anymore and I’d love to share the wealth of my information. So, take some notes as I show y’all how to take back the reigns of your Facebook privacy settings.

A New, Optional Way to Share and Discover Music, TV and Movies_2


Earlier in May, Facebook altered the standard sharing setting of new users from ‘Public’ to ‘Friends’ – which was always a head scratching moment for me – and they let in on a new feature ‘audio sampling.’ If opted, Facebook can now access the microphone (if opted) and pick up on the soundtrack of your day, whether it’s ‘The Breakfast Club’ or ‘NOISIA’.

One thing that’s never made much sense to me was why Facebook Messenger needed a standalone application; sure, the UI is a little bit nicer, but functionality wise they do the same thing.  In the back of my always moving mind, it makes me wonder if it’s simply to store an even bigger wealth of user data for analysis.  So, it came as very little shock to me to me that Facebook continues to roll out impressive bold options with dire consequences.

Unfriending Facebook Messenger 

Just this week, there are two tweaks coming to the application that yes, helps streamline the process – but to what end?  If we download the actual messenger app, we can not only send pictures – but now, we can record and send videos via the Facebook app.  Video recording capabilities imply use of both the camera and our microphone, meaning that Facebook has access to both features on our phone.  The punchline? Since Facebook is part of PRISM: the government has access to them, too.  There’s an incredibly quick fix to this problem: stop using the application.  Yes, the stickers are adorable and there are so many ways to share – but put it in a text message and leave the third party applications (and the government) out of it.

Stop Facebook From Sharing Browser History

Last week, Gizmodo – one of my favorite Tech sites – raised some red flags about Facebook’s new advertising policy.  Since it’s gone public, the general public has been made increasingly clear just how much money Zuck has in his pocket and how much Facebook makes off of users via third party applications like Candy Crush and who knows what else.  Now, in an effort to streamline ads (read: increase revenue) Facebook’s browsing through our browser data for prime placement. Thankfully, there’s a way to ‘Opt Out of Ad-Sharing’ – head over to the Digital Advertising Alliance on each of your browsers and unsubscribe those snoopers. As a general rule with all things Facebook: when in doubt, opt out.

Don’t Give In To New Snapchat Rival, Slingshot

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about internet fads, everyone loves ‘New’ – and more often than not, the younger generation doesn’t want anything to do with Facebook or social media commitment of any kind (re: Snapchat).  It should be as no shock then that Facebook has produced a ‘worthy’ competitor with a different purpose.  With a catchy name and technology forward approach, Slingshot is a photo sharing app that only lets the viewer see a picture after they’ve sent one in response.  I love the concept – like a ‘Telephone’ game of photography, but don’t for one second think that this data – like Snapchats – is sitting somewhere, waiting to become a statistic.

After all this time, the photo albums, the Timeline updates, finding the perfect words for a status only to know that you’ve stored the previous 27 awkward versions -Facebook has truly become the government’s ‘long con’- so, how much longer are you going to give in? Phone a friend, step outside with a polaroid camera, write your parents a letter – but become an active participant in your life, as opposed to a passive member of this Matrix.

[The Audiofiles] ‘Listn’ Up, Music Lovers – There’s A New App For You

One of the many amazing benefits to growing up in an excessively digital age, is our constant accessibility to music.  Whether it’s by our choice or not, it feels like our brains are being bombarded by beats on the daily: it’s the hold music on your company conference calls, the muzack playing in the elevators between the floors at the doctors office, your iPod at the gym, the SiriusXM radio in your car, the Spotify app you hooked up to your Facebook account or the occasional stop off on Soundcloud.  Believe you me – I’m not complaining by any means; in fact, if possible I would have an ongoing soundtrack to my life and I would always be in charge of the volume.

Listn’s Dashboard

Throughout the years of being expertly plugged into the interwebs, I’ve developed a network of sites that I use to feed my thirst for tunage.  Back in it’s inception, I dove right into Soundrop.fm – which is a great social resource for new music; slowly but surely, all that came from that was a reintegration into Spotify.   I currently dabble in Hypem and Soundcloud when I’m on the prowl for something new, Spotify when I’m curious what my friends are groovin’ to and then the occasional YouTube video for some visual treats.    The only downside to having multiple music platforms is that there hasn’t been a quick or easy way to streamline all of the sites into one. Thankfully, with the growing popularity of websites like Klout that aggregate your social media presence it only makes sense that some group of music loving techies thought to do the same with all of the streaming media around the web.  So, world – meet your new best friend, Listn: a social way to aggregate your audio and find out about the latest and greatest in the music scene.

photoTrust me when I say  – you don’t want to know how many tabs I have open in my browser right now and about a third of them are devoted to the pursuit of music. There are a host of stites that Listn uses to manifest user data, and right now that’s iTunes, Spotify, Hypem, Youtube and Soundcloud. The latest and greatest to addition is Rdio – a website that lets you stream high quality audio for a minimal fee: after 6 months of free listening, $4.99 a month or $9.99 for unlimited listening capabilities. If you’re like me, you’re thinking- WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER – and if you’re not, we might want to rethink the future of our relationship.

The brainchild of Montreal’s MFive Labs, Listn is currently being funded through Kickstarter – where creative endeavors (like Apps, Movies, etc) go for funding.  As of right now, they have raised approximately $500,000 and have released the application for free!   Right now the application is only available for the iPhone (le sighso if you’ve been eating your Apple a day, you’re in luck.  As with most everything in life, good apps come in due time for Android.  The iPhones have an essentially seamless interaction between their applications that Android simply doesn’t have yet,  so hopefully there will be a a version that can work with the upcoming Android KitKat 4.4 OS installation in January (fingers crossed).

Listn’s Userpage



[The Audiofiles] Soundrop – Music To My Ears


My name is Amanda, and I’m addicted to music.

Electronic Music. Acoustic Music. Trance Music. Rock Music.

Live Music.

Good Music. 

All Music.

Thoughts come to me in song lyrics.
I’m too busy dancing to your ringtone to answer your call.
I eat, breathe, laugh and sleep in four to the floor time.
I equally love and hate Shazam when it can’t recognize the eccentric remixes I find.
That ‘new’ song you love? I probably know a remix in each and every EDM genre.

By a rough estimate, I spend at least half the time I’m awake enveloped by the pounding basslines, serenading synths and delicious drops of music: From the moment I wake up, the current alarm tone on my phone sets my pace for the day at 128 BPM, I refresh my Hypem feed as clothes fly around my room like a hurricane and with my iPod in hand – bounce from my apartment to the car, plug it in, turn it up and head out.

The glory of living in the age of social media sharing, technology and kickin’ beats is that there are always new ways to both share and listen to music.

It started off with Pandora and the ability to craft unique radio stations that evolve over time and Last.fm which keeps track of your listening history and makes it easy to share favorite tracks socially.  As the social media craze caught wind, so did the necessity to change the way we’re both listening to and appreciating music.

Spotify, currently one of the best known third party applications for both listening to and discovering new music with friends, has more or less revolutionized this idea.  The company was started in the United Kingdom in 2008 and finally opened up registration to include the United States in the 2011.  Shortly after, they formed a timely partnership with Facebook that requires all users to tie their accounts together – not only encouraging the social aspect of Spotify, but more or less requiring it. There are tons awesome features on Spotify – like the ability to create collaborative playlists with your friends.  However, once you’ve linked accounts you can tell which one of your friends still listens to Nickelback and who has suddenly become a raver kitten – so world be warned, if you’re embarrassed by your musical selection Spotify might not be the music application for you.

I wasn’t a huge fan of people being able to track my latest and greatest melodic moves, and I definitely didn’t feel like scrolling through a laundry list of the bands I stopped listening to years ago every time I logged into my Facebook.  Needless to say, I was on the hunt for something better.  When another music sharing site called Turntable.fm popped up on my radar, I couldn’t help but get excited: it was unlike anything else currently out there.  After you sign up, you can go to thousands of different ‘DJ Rooms’ that have a five turntable set-up for up to 5 users to DJ “back-to-back” .  When the site was created, rooms had a 200 user capacity – but now there’s seemingly no limit to the number of people enjoying the app.  The only downfall of Turntable.fm being that if you want to have your shot at a DJ slot, you might have to wait an incredibly long time – especially in a popular room.  I used the site for a few months, but found myself going back to Hypem and Digitally Imported, where I felt that  either the sets had more strength or I had creative license to play whatever I want.

Well enter the game changer: Soundrop.fm. I litererally only found out about the website this morning, but after playing around with it for most of the day I think I’ve finally found a keeper.  They took a pretty page from the Turntable.fm book – having genre, artist and label based ‘Rooms’ where each member of the room can both add tracks with the search feature and vote their favorites into higher position.  The more votes, the closer to the top of the queue.

There are currently two ways to enjoy Soundrop, they have a nice little web based interface that’s a little glitchy but very easy to use and – in an incredibly genius move – you can also access the application through Spotify.  To me, the difference between Soundrop and Spotify is both social and temporal.  Spotify is wonderful for creating a catalog of songs your friends love that you can listen to at your own discretion, whenever you want most likely by yourself.  Soundrop, on the other hand, tells you what your friends are listening to right now and let’s you all enjoy it together.  Completely fitting that their motto is ‘Music Sounds Better With Friends’ – and I couldn’t agree more!

Tech Tuesday: Facebook Announces ‘Graphic Searches’

It’s an Announcement, Bitches.
Facebook announcement days are always interesting ones – everyone crowds around their computer, headphones in their ears in a silent unison; seated in the most comfortable position possible to acknowledge what privacy settings are going to be thwarted today.  Only, this morning’s Facebook announcement wasn’t about privacy, timeline conversions or a new API – today’s announcement was much, much bigger than that.

Facebook Graphic Search
First and foremost, I want to give Google credit where it’s due – their search algorithms are beyond out of this world and I really wish I could crack them; they’re starting to roll out personalized searches (which I just signed up for) and Facebook’s new ‘Graphic Search’ feature definitely takes a page from their book.  But, unlike Google – they took the idea and ran a marathon with it: the GUI looks absolutely incredible and I want it now.Graphic Search

What this new search allows for is data dives into user content to search for answers to questions you haven’t even thought of yet, like:

  • How many of my girl friends in Hollywood own miniature dogs and love cupcakes?
  • Do any of my Hippie friends in Echo Park and Venice have a job and a car?

The crazy thing to me is that not only will you be able to search through your friends – you’ll be able to search the general Facebook public as well.

The Bottom Line
This doesn’t just make us more searchable for our friends, this simple feature will make it easier for Brands to perform deep data dives which help determine the value of each and every ad, as well as helping to boost site revenue via impeccable product placement.  With new ways to search our Timelines, I’m guessing this also means more security measures to prevent unwanted data mining.

Patience Doesn’t Have To Be a Virtue
If you’re like me, when you want something – you want it now: if you wanted it in five minutes, you would ask for it in five minutes – correct?  Anyhow, I digress.  But Facebook is rolling out it’s new Graphic Search to anyone who’s willing to be one of their Beta Test Bunnies, so if you’re down for the get down – enroll right here.

Tech Tuesday: Alpha Beta’s and the Wonderful World of Netflix

It’s been a while since I’ve done a ‘Tech Tuesday‘ segment – but that’s because there hasn’t been a whole new lot to report.  From my perspective, ever since the big Apple unveiling all has been more or less quiet in the world of beeps and bit logic – but, this week I definitely see some moving and shaking on my radar.

Alpha Beta‘s

When you breathe, sleep and eat tech, there’s nothing quite as exciting as getting to preview and help debug early renditions of applications and web clients.  Back when AOL Instant Messenger was still fairly relevant, they had a portion of the webpage for their chat client devoted to Beta testing – we would get the client first, sure – there’d be some bugs here and awkward application crashes over there, but overall it was pretty neat playing around with brand spankin’ new features.

When the Facebook timeline was introduced and everyone was bitching about converting their profile, I took the exact opposite approach.  Because I knew I’d be forced to use it anyways I decided to become an early adapter.  When Timeline was introduced, Facebook wanted any and all willing developers to get with it and start creating new applications and widgets for the Timeline – but for them to use the API, they first had to understand it.  This meant that developers were given a first pass at the timeline.  Am I a Facebook developer? Definitely not! But, that’s pretty inconsequential at this point: I told Facebook that I was and that I wanted to create a new application, but I was required to produce or release a public, or final, product.  The next time I opened up my user profile – babam, I was Timelined.

The Old:

toolbar fbook


The New:

fbook firefox

Currently, Firefox has a web browser sitting in Beta testing – just waiting on people like me, and maybe even you, to come by and give it a whirl before it’s rolled out to the general public. Why is it worth testing? Firefox just added Facebook messenger to their Beta test.  So now, instead of being forced to keep a Facebook tab open to facilitate chat – meaning you can roam the web as you please with your posse in tow and stop liking so many cat pictures.  To boot, I can finally do away with the Facebook Toolbar add-in that I’ve been so loyal to over the past year.

Disney and Netflix: Streaming Sweetly

Huge huge huge news for Disney lovers, Netflix addicts and anyone paying attention to streaming media!  This morning, the Walt Disney Studios and Netflix got together and kicked out a multiyear licensing agreement granting Netflix exclusive rights to Disney’s movie library which includes catalog titles, direct to video titles and New Releases.

Typically, this content is reserved for HBO, Showtime and Starz which make this a huge deal in the studio world; marking the first time a major Hollywood movie studio granted rights to a provider of streaming content over a premium TV network. Starting on Tuesday, members can start perusing the Disney catalog titles and by the time Spring of 2013 rolls around, Netflix users will be able to watch direct-to-video releases the same day they’re released in stores.  Unfortunately, some movies distributed by the Walt Disney Company are still under contract with Starz and those won’t be rolling out until 2016. This deal comes approximately two years after Netflix began streaming Disney and ABC Family TV shows within weeks of the air date.

To me, this has super interesting implications – first of all, the Disney online store is saying goodbye to the world; meaning that Netflix will be the one and only place to go if you want to stream Disney content.  Secondly, with a decreased presence on Network and Cable television, it should catapult amount of monthly streaming subscribers on Netflix – a path they’re willing to walk since they’re planning on phasing out their physical DVD services.

Secondly, since Disney has a hand in the ESPN cookie jar – would this pave the way for streaming live sports content?  You could even have MLB, NFL or NBA streaming packages that you can subscribe to through the ESPN website or strictly through Netflix – the possibilities are basically endless!

Tech Tuesday: Instagram Web Profile Preview

Instagram Web Profiles Coming Soon!

The camp over at Instagram Headquarters seems to have been hard at work as of late.  After their billion dollar acquisition over the Summer, I think most people with an eye on either company were expecting big changes on the Facebook mobile end of things.  Specifically, a better camera equipped with filters and a more streamlined uploading system.  What I didn’t expect – but adore – is the upcoming addition of accessible web profiles for Instagram pages.

I, for one, am a huge fan of this idea.  When I started using Instagram last April, the only frustrating thing about the mobile app was that there was no clean or simple way to view a users  picture trail.  For the last six months or so, I’ve been using a great website called Statigram.  At the most basic level it organizes your pictures in a simple fashion, adds categories to pictures and lets the user group their followings however they choose.  It’s also much easier to search for people and hashtags compared to the mobile Instagram application.

From the looks of it (see  below), the Instagram web profile is a marriage of Statigram and Facebook. The pictures are organized in precisely the same fashion with the images in chronological order; the newest image  first and then time increases as you wind left and down the page.  All other elements of the profile are almost replicated from Facebook: the header image is eerily similar to the cover photo we’re now used, the user photo is in the same exact place, and the tally of photos, following and followers takes the place of the types of elements in our Facebook profiles (Photos, Friends, etc…).

All in all, I’m a huge fan and can’t wait until my profile is rolled out to me! However, over time I’d think maintaining independent Facebook and Instagram profiles would become fairly redundant – especially when they look so damn similar.  It would only make sense that overtime, our Facebook  Timeline would incorporate our Instagram Web Profile, which would then render it obsolete.