Facebook StateTray

Facebook StateTray

Facebook StateTray, uploaded by Daniele Muscetta on Flickr.

This is a Screenshot of the small application I first described in my previous blog post.

It is a simple Windows Form that lets you change your status on Facebook without having to browse to the site. It does not rely on Facebook’s API (as they won’t let you change your status, at least to date) but is really uses a hack on the Facebook mobile pages. It is based on PHP code posted by Christian Flickinger, ported to C# (.Net 2.0) by me.

When you pull down the form you get to see the settings:

Facebook State Tray

Those can be stored in an XML file, that gets loaded automatically every time the program starts.
Beware that password ARE displayed and stored in clear text.

The idea so far is that you run it on your PC and you just keep it resized so it does not show the “dangerous” bits.
You can keep it minimized on the tray in windows, pop it up when you need to update your status, write your new status and click “change” – it will freeze for a couple of seconds while updates your status, since it uses synchronous calls – then you can minimize it again.

UPDATED –  September 1st 2007: I have been asked by Facebook to pull down the source code from the Net, as it violates their terms of service (I had not realized that). Apologies to all.

Facebook API and WinForm experiment

While testing with the Facebook API, I started creating a WinForm using the Facebook Toolkit.

What I had in mind was a simple program that would run on my PC, maybe minimized in the system tray, that would let me update my status in a click, thorugh the day, without having to log on to the website. Most of the day I am busy working, and I don’t really have time to go surf and check Facebook… but I like the possibility for people to hear how I am doing. Changing the status would keep them up to date, and would keep my profile current.

As I figured out afterwards, their API does not yet let you change your status yet.

There are other people asking for this possibility… but then I went further searching on the Internet, and I found this blog: http://www.nexdot.net/blog/2007/04/20/updating-facebook-status-using-php/

I just hacked together a small WinForm written in C# that reimplements this idea.

Facebook StateTray

I indeed would like to thank Christian for the idea, and my friend and colleague Pierluigi for his precious help with the regular expressions 🙂

At the moment it has terrible things such as hardcoded passwords in it, but as soon as I will have time to polish the code a bit, I will post it.

One more thing I would like to do with it is turning it from a standalone application into a Live Messenger Add-In, so that it synchronizes my messenger status with the one of Facebook. When I will have time for that.

Facebook development

I have been quite hooked into Facebook for the last couple of days, figuring out what it can and cannot do. It can do a lot. The possibility to inject code and brand new application into it is absolutely awesome.

PopFly lets you create mashups and even custom blocks, and I liked that too. But you have to use fancy-shiny Silverlight (which is very cool indeed, but probably not *always* necesary) and you can only create blocks using Javascript. Sure, as someone as already written, the meaning of AJAX is “javascript now works”. I can understand (even if I don’t know them for sure) the reasons behind certain choices. But I find it limiting. Maybe it is because I don’t like Javascript. It must be it. 

Facebook, instead, empowers you to inject code into their social networking framework. Any code. In whatever language you like. They started it in PHP, but you can plug-in whatever you like: Java, Ruby, Perl…. you can even have your application running on your own server, still providing a seamless experience inside of facebook. This opens up to millions of possibilities, and I got fascinated by that.

At the same time, the paranoid part of myself has been thinking to the security implications of it. This open platform is cool, but it also sounds like a framework for cross-site-scripting (XSS) attacks. Sure, you can “report” an application made by a third party that does something weird… but who will really notice if all that happens under the hood is that your cookies get stolen (and someone accesses your bank account) ? Will you figure it out it has happenend because you wanted to see the “dancing pigs” loaded in your profile ? Or will you figure it out at all ?

This said, I set aside my fear for a while and I delved into coding. What I did learn in the last couple of years, having slowly moved away from security engagements, is to relax. When I was working costantly with security I was a lot more paranoid. Now I case much less, and I live a lot more.

So I developed a couple of quick and simple apps running from this very server into Facebook, and I started using thePHP5 library they provide, so to be able to follow the examples first and figure out how it was working.

Now I also want to take a look at the .NET library for facebook when I have time. It sounds cool.



Facebook_Daniele, uploaded by Daniele Muscetta on Flickr.

Yet another social networking. I am on there too, now.

Ah, and by the way, I really find it incredible that every time I invite some people to a new social networking site (it has happened for all of them), it happens that some (many) of the persons I have invited reply to me or call me asking me “is this really sent by you ?” “it looked like spam” “what is this thing” and the like.

Come on, guys, we are in year 2007, you still don’t know what social networking is… especially if you work in IT you are sort of a dinosaur, you know?

Le Citta’ Invisibili

A couple of my pictures have been included in the book “Le Citta’ Invisibili”, that can be bought online on lulu.com.

This is a collection of photos first appeared on the “Bianco e Nero” user group on Flickr, under the common theme of talking about “the invisible cities”:

“[…] Le città invisibili sono i nostri buchi neri, cioe’ quelle parti di città che vengono dimenticate e lasciate a se stesse, al buio, fino a quando l’ennesimo caso di cronaca non le riporta alla ribalta per qualche giorno. Sono i quartieri che non si sono mai sviluppati, sono i quartieri che si degradano negli anni, i quartieri nati sotto l’emergenza e dove prevalgono problemi di degrado abitativo, di occupazione e di integrazione fra i vecchi e i nuovi emarginati. […]”

There are two versions:
the cheap version, but the quality of the print is not very good;
the more expensive version, where the quality is ok.
Or you can even download a PDF here and spend nothing 🙂

Time Capsule

Yahoo has done it again. Yet another cool photographic site: Time Capsule.
They show every day that they really GET the community thing. Thumbs up for them.

On a side note, I honestly ignore why do you need to UPLOAD photos there and you can’t just LINK or REFERENCE photos you’ve already uploaded on Flickr (isn’t it a site they bought ?). So I don’t see the effort in any INTEGRATION here. I don’t get why. If I had a photo platform like Flickr I would use its Web API to let registered users just “PASS OVER” some pictures from one site to the other.

But, hey…. regardless…..it looks really COOL. It really does. More cool than actually USEFUL (it reminds me of Intrusion Detection Systems… but I digress), but that’s how this amount of community things are. It’s not useful for your business, but it is good for your heart.

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