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The importance of signal / noise ratio, or how Facebook is shooting itself in the foot.

I subscribed to Facebook in January 2008. It was the trendy thing to do, and I found it quite useful. It brought a new type of connection with my friends. I had friends abroad with which keeping in touch was a bit challenging. We could now interact whenever and lightly follow each other's life events.

By then I had the notifications activated, pinging me when I was explicitly mentioned by someone, or on a birthday. The signal / noise ratio was high.

[The signal noise ratio is a number between 0 and 1. The higher, the better, meaning less noise and so a better signal. In my analogy, if all notifications and/or posts present an interest to me, this ratio is 1. If most are of no interest, it is closer to 0. For example my main mailbox is close to zero now, with an overwhelming number of spam.]

So the signal / noise ratio was high, meaning every time I had a notification popping on my phone I would be interested by it. Facebook was a source of news and not at all an annoyance.

Fast forward to today. I read this very interesting article by Beth Skwarecki and suddenly realized tides had turned. Most notifications are of no interest to me anymore and interesting notifications are extremely scarce. Moreover, I only see posts from ~30 of my friends now, leaving the rest no opportunity to keep me up to date. Sometimes I go see the wall of some of my "silent" Facebook friends only to see plenty of updates that I didn't see in my timeline. It's as if Facebook decided that I was not really "friends" with that person. By themselves. Also, when browsing my timeline, the majority of the posts I see are of no interest to me.

The signal / noise ratio had been dropping dramatically. I knew that, but I now realized how terribly low it was. It's no wonder the new generation doesn't want to go to facebook anymore, it has become a spam machine. It doesn't have any appeal anymore.

As a result I did silence the Facebook app on all my devices. And I realized a lot of my friends had already done so in the past months.

Not only did this have kind of silenced my phone but I found myself going 10 times less on Facebook than before. Yes, Beth was right, I clearly didn't need to go there that often. Once of twice a week is just fine.

Of course, I lost a few stuff in the process. I usually now read birthday notifications a couple of days late. Well, it was a good feature, but clearly not worth being harassed by Facebook on a daily basis. Because this is what it has become. Harassment.

So a bit like with a toxic friend, I'm taking distances. And I feel so much better now.

So I guess spamming people with notifications and mixing timeline with commercial content does bring some money. Or even a lot. But if you overdo it, it will break the confidence that your users have in your service. And it's something that is really hard to overturn.

You overdid it.

Categories : General rambling, News

Tired of so many notifications ...

I'm not going to rehash it all, Beth Skwarecki said it perfectly, with practical tips and tricks: https://lifehacker.com/your-notifications-are-lying-to-you-1829334172

Pure madness

The other day I was waiting on a disqus blog to start up, loading the comments section. I have a 20MB/s ADSL line. I can download at 1.8 Mega Bytes per second without any issue.

The browser was spinning for so long that I decided to hit F12 in Firefox and headed for the "Network" tab. I hit F5 at that stage.

When everything was finished loading I could read:

340 requests, 7 557,42 KB

Granted, the content was available way before everything was loaded. But still. 7 Megabytes. 340 requests... This is PURE MADNESS!

Then again, buzzfeed.com's home page:

223 requests, 9 382,25 KB

Ok, ok, this is buzzfeed. Let's go to the nytimes.com.

283 requests, 8 158,95 KB

The biggest page of the website I'm currently working on shows:

40 requests, 198,45 KB

Out of these, there are 32 images that come out of a DB. And I find that too high and am trying to reduce it.

This. Is. Madness... Pure madness. But it seems to be the web today.

The good news is, on the performance front it is quite easy to get an edge. There is always an opportunity :-)

Categories : Web Design

Is it lunch yet?

I get it, you're hungry. Because luch time can never be too soon, I've designed this webpage:

http://isitlunchyet.org/

Just set it up as your homepage and everytime you open a tab you'll see if it's that time of the day already. On Chrome, you can use the New Tab Redirect extension, on Firefox, the New Tab Override extension.

Tags :
Categories : Humour

JPEG Compression: Is 80 the magic quality - Part 1 - the retina screens

Foreword - encoding JPEGs

How do you encode your JPEGs ?

Let's take a concrete example. You you have a 150x150 image. You want to compress it in JPG, but which quality settings should you use? JPEG encoders usually take a quality setting as a parameter, between Q1 and Q100, where 1 is the worst quality and 100 the best.

An image encoded in different qualities. The legend shows the quality setting and the corresponding filesize.
Q 10 - 1579B
Q 20 - 1960B
Q 30 - 2260B
Q 40 - 2513B
Q 50 - 2729B
Q 60 - 2973B
Q 70 - 3308B
Q 80 - 3826B
Q 90 - 4939B
Q 100 - 32KB

We can see that the greater the quality, the better and bigger the image. There is clearly a compromise to be done as Q100 is clearly too big an image and the increase in filesize doesn't translate to an equivalent increase in visual quality. 80 seems a sensible choice. The filesize is 3.8KB.

While this 80 quality settings is the most sensible, we're going to show that in some circumstances it is completely off the mark.

In this first part, we'll focus on high density displays, aka retina screens as they were first introduced by Apple a few years ago.

Read more...

Categories : Web Design
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