LONDON (AP) A report that Oxford University had changed its comma rule left some punctuation obsessives alarmed, annoyed, and distraught. Passions subsided as the university said the news was imprecise, incomplete and misleading.
Catch the difference between the two previous sentences? An “Oxford comma” was used before “and” in the first sentence, but is absent in the second, in accordance with the style used by The Associated Press.
Guides to correct style differ and the issue became heated on Twitter after reports of the Oxford comma’s demise.
But have no fear, comma-philes: the Oxford comma lives.
Oxford University Press, birthplace of the Oxford comma, said Thursday that there has been no change in its century-old style, and jumped into the Twittersphere to confirm that it still follows the standard set out in “New Hart’s Rules.”
The only explicit permission to dispense with the Oxford comma — apparently the cause of the alarm — was in a guide for university staff on writing press releases and internal communications. “It’s not new, it’s been online for several years already,” said Maria Coyle in the university press office.
Yet the report caused a Twitterstorm.
“For teaching me that the Oxford comma resolves ambiguity, I’d like to thank my parents, Sinead O’Connor and the Pope,” said Twitter user Aaron Suggs (@ktheory), deftly illustrating the potential damage that can be caused to a sentence’s meaning.
The kerfuffle at least answered the musical question posed by indie band Vampire Weekend: “Who gives a —- about an Oxford comma?”
Well, people like Heather Anne Halpert (@blurryellow): “Are you people insane? The Oxford comma is what separates us from the animals.”
Some style guides advocate the comma, others advise against it. Most also counsel using common sense to make the meaning clear.
William Strunk, Jr., who has guided generations of writers through “The Elements of Style,” wrote in the book’s first edition of 1918: “In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.”
That position is backed by “The Chicago Manual of Style” and the style manual of the U.S. Government Printing Office. The style guide of the British Broadcasting Corp. also commends liberal use of commas “in those pesky lists,” and advises a comma to separate each item.
But style guides from The Associated Press and the London newspapers The Times and The Guardian dispense with a comma before the conjunction. The Queen’s English Society agrees that “there is no need for a comma before the ‘and’ unless the sense demands it.”
And there is even a third school, exemplified by Henry W. Fowler. In “The King’s English” (2nd edition), published in 1908, he gave this example his approval: “Industry, honesty, and temperance, are essential to happiness.”
“We unhesitatingly recommend the original and fully stopped form, which should be used irrespective of style, and not be interfered with by rhetorical considerations; it is the only one to which there is never any objection,” Fowler said.
Students at Oxford University are free to choose a style in writing their papers. “They are just expected to use proper spelling and punctuation,” Coyle said.
British writer Lynn Truss observed in her popular style guide, “Eats, Shoots Leaves” — another example of how a comma or no comma changes meaning — that there are strong opinions on both sides.
“I’ll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken,” she advised.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
It would be all too easy for the founders of Twitter to become revolutionary heroes. In 2009, when the Iraqi people staged massive protests, the world learned about their ideals and their suffering through 140-character tweets. During the recent Arab spring, Twitter not only provided news but helped overthrow multiple governments.
But cofounders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are shying away from the revolutionary label. In this video, Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson asks the pair a leading question: Is their invention a tool for democracy? After responding with blank silence, Stone explains why he and Williams aren’t eager to align themselves with democratic ideals.
Stone and Williams have good reason for keeping their distance from the State Department. For one thing, they’ve got an image to maintain, not only as iconoclastic hipsters but as inventors of an appealingly simple technology. As Williams puts it earlier in this discussion, “We wanted to create products that were obvious and easy to use, and straightforward — not tricky, not trying to be too clever.”
There’s another reason for Stone and Williams to avoid ideological labels. As Williams goes on to say in this discussion, being an Internet entrepreneur means thinking internationally. On this website and elsewhere, they’ve happily claimed credit for Twitter’s success as a medium. But they won’t let it become a message. If they want to stay on top of the world, they must keep their product as fluid and transparent as water. Stone and Williams may not be tricky, but no one can say they aren’t clever.
2:00 p.m. | Updated President Obama will welcome some of his Twitter followers to the White House next week for a Tweetup and Twitter Town Hall, where he will answer questions about jobs and the economy that people across the country can begin posting today, using the hashtag, #askobama.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and executive chairman who recently returned to the company, will be the moderator of the event, to be held Wednesday afternoon in the East Room. He will pose the questions to Mr. Obama who will answer them for about an hour in front of two gigantic screens that will display the conversation on Twitter in real time.
Twitter will select the questions, using curation tools and a group of Twitter users to help identify the most popular questions raised both before and during the event. Twitter will be relying on its own search and curation features as well as a company called Mass Relevance to help find questions and topics that are most frequently mentioned.
Macon Phillips, special assistant to the president and director of digital strategy, said that the event was an opportunity for the Mr. Obama to use the Twitter platform to hear directly from people outside of Washington.
“Twitter offers a compelling way to not only get information out but also to understand what people have to say about an issue,” he said. “That is why we are doubling down on our online engagement efforts.”
Earlier this year, Mr. Obama visited Facebook’s headquarters in California and fielded questions from Marc Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer. The event was live streamed and the questions and answers were displayed on Facebook’s platform.
Mr. Phillips said that there has been a new emphasis on using social media platforms throughout the federal government to help bolster customer service efforts as well as deliver, listen and collect information.
“It is a tool that helps people do their jobs,” Mr. Phillips said. “All of the people who have official White House accounts would tell you that it is a really helpful way to engage with people and bring in new ideas and be aware of new issues that they otherwise might have missed.”
A few weeks ago, the White House communications office assigned Jesse C. Lee, who formerly worked on Mr. Phillips team, to a new full-time role engaging and answering questions from Twitter users.
Earlier this month, members of Mr. Obama’s campaign team announced that he would be posting his own tweets on the @barackobama Twitter account from time to time, signing them, BO. With more than eight million followers, that account is used primarily for his re-election efforts while the @whitehouse account is used for administration news and updates.
Adam Sharp, Twitter’s manager of government and political partnerships, said that the curators chosen by Twitter to help select the questions would be a politically and geographically diverse group. He said the curators would ask the people in their communities to highlight what they think are the most important questions for the president to address.
Curators will also be retweeting questions and posting their own.
“We will have highly-engaged Twitter users from around the country to provide that geographic diversity to help identify good questions, “ he said. “This helps us make sure that we are addressing the concerns that the Twitter universe cares about. “
To participate, Twitter users need to include the hashtag #AskObama when posting their question. All questions with the hashtag will be included in the selection process. If Web users do not yet have a Twitter account, they can visit http://askobama.twitter.com to sign up and join the discussion.
For those @WhiteHouse followers who want to be considered to attend the Tweetup next week, they can sign up online at http://WhiteHouse.gov/Tweetup, according to Kori Schulman, deputy director of digital content, Office of Digital Strategy.
Ms. Schulman, who is the person behind the @whitehouse account, said that the goal is to have more Tweetups at the White House so that followers can engage more with senior administration officials and with each other.
Last year, Justin Timberlake played former Facebook president Sean Parker in the Oscar-nominated film The Social Network. Now it appears that Timberlake’s life is imitating art. The Grammy-winning singer holds a stake in Specific Media, which just shelled out $35 million to acquire MySpace, a site for which Timberlake will provide strategic direction.
“There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect,” Timberlake said in a statement. “MySpace has the potential to be that place. Art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there’s a natural social component to entertainment.”
Specific Media said it plans to “evolve MySpace into the premiere digital destination for original shows, video content, and music,” with specifics to be announced in about two months. But why Timberlake?
“As we started to recognize this transaction was going to happen, the one thing we wanted was help from the creative community,” Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook told AdAge. “We thought, ‘Who is the most talented person for this?’ And it was really Justin. We saw different groups of people, and he got incredibly passionate about it. ”
According to Vanderhook, Timberlake won’t be a hands-off investor. He’ll take up an office at MySpace’s headquarters in Beverly Hills where he’ll have a staff at his disposal. Vanderhook claims Timberlake’s role has nothing to do with his on-screen portrayal of Parker, who coincidentally commented on MySpace’s demise, saying that at one point, the site “could have been Facebook.”
Timberlake shares Specific Media’s vision for MySpace, Vanderhook told the AP. “When we met with Justin and we discussed what our strategy was, we hit a chord with him. One of his passions is he really enjoys helping other artists and creating a community for people to express themselves. I think we were blown away that we were able to get someone like Justin to be so excited about what we were doing,” he said.
MySpace won’t have a CEO anymore; current chief Mike Jones will make his exit within the next few months, and big cuts that include trimming MySpace’s staff of 400 by about half will follow. Vanderhook and his brother, Chris, will take over day-to-day operations at the site.
At its peak in October 2008, MySpace had about 73.3 million unique visitors every month, but as of May of this year, that figure slipped to about 35 million, the L.A. Times reports. Whether Timberlake will be able to help bring MySpace’s sexy back remains to be seen.
For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387915,00.asp
BY ANDY IHNATKO
June 30, 2011 1:10PM
Google | Getty
Updated: June 30, 2011 1:15PM
Google+ wasn’t released this week so much as it was simply revealed out of necessity, as its first wave of testers were allowed to activate their accounts. Google isn’t even describing it as a Product; instead, it’s a “Project,” indicating that they’re just conducting some live-fire exercises to see how civilians might approach and use some of these social-networking ideas the company has come up with.
The bullet features of this Project include Hangouts, Sparks, and Circles. Hangouts is a simple but interesting twist on group video chat. In the “room,” there are live thumbnails for everybody and Google+ senses who has the “lead” in the conversation on the fly. Ideally, it’ll be like you and your friends in a loose cluster at a party, drifting in and out of a group conversation. Potentially, it could be like one of those horrible conference-call meetings where the only person who ever gets heard is the one prone to talk faster and more loudly than everybody else.
Sparks seems like a conceptual evolution of some of Google Reader’s features for finding content based on blogs you’ve already subscribed to. Preload Sparks with your interests and it’ll start amassing “clippings” from the Web that it thinks will interest you. Hopefully, they’ll be of interest to your friends as well, and you’ll share them.
Which brings us to the core make-or-break feature of Google+:
(Already, I doubleplus hate that plus sign. If Google keeps the name, then I foresee many months of fighting the autocorrect features of all of my word processors. Those apps realize that a sentence that ends with a plus sign makes no sense, and flags it as an obvious mistake that should be immediately corrected. Those apps therefore show much more common sense than the people who decided to go with “Google+” as the new service’s name.)
(Sorry. That’s my problem, not yours.)
Which brings us to the core make-or-break feature of Google+: Circles. This is the mechanism by which you manage and organize the people in your social circle. Or, more appropriately, social circles. Circles makes it easy to build custom groups of people and thus allows you to carefully fine-tune your sharing. Example: it’s your turn at the karaoke mic during the company barbecue and you belt out an actually quite wonderfully loose and soulful version of “Kozmic Blues” in what can accurately be scored as a duet with Mr. Jose Cuervo. The next day, you can share the video with your coworkers (who’ve been asking for copies), your friends (who always knew you had a great voice) your immediate family (who will appreciate seeing you unwinding and enjoying yourself) but not your extended family (who haven’t seen you regularly since your cousin’s First Communion party, during which you stole two beers from the grownups’ cooler and then returned it an hour later all over the cake.
I already see many improvements over Facebook. Google+ duplicates many of Facebooks’ features, but makes things like “groups of friends” into a simple, accessible, and intuitive way of sharing items, instead of a complicated Power Feature. Personal privacy is still a sticky issue to navigate, but at least Google+ seems to have been built with the philosophy that people are worried about that stuff. Facebook’s company attitude should be “Everything should be shared and visible, unless the user decides to kick and fuss about it.”
And let’s applaud Google for creating a genuinely elegant user interface. The mechanism for creating and maintaining Circles is beautiful; it’s an impressive piece of webcraft. Overall, Google+ seems to indicate that the company has at long last tracked, shot and killed whoever it is in the front office who made sure that that every Google product and service should be optimized for a computer with a 486 processor running Windows 95 and accessing the Internet via dialup. Facebook, despite lots of effort, continues to be a gobstopping mess.
But the main attraction of Google+ is its integration into your normal habits. Facebook has been mostly useless to me largely because it forces me to leave the real world and travel to FacebookWorldLand to do damned-near anything.
Every time a security checkpoint at a public event makes me hand over the sealed liter of bottled water I bought for $1.79 at a 7-11 outside the venue, I know it isn’t about security. It’s about the $4.99 12-ounce bottles they’re selling inside. That’s how I feel every time I sign into Facebook and leave my familiar tools and resources behind. Facebook is greedy. It wants me to learn its language, use its currency, and submit to a search at the border during which I’m forced to jettison anything that the King of FaceBookWorldLand has decided will jam up the gears of empire.
I suppose you could say that Google’s online presence is itself so big and so all-encompassing that this thing I so glibly call “the real world” is actually Googlestadt. And now, Emperor Doom has given us all a free, powerful new mechanism for sharing everything we see and read and like with our fellow subjects.
Er, yes. It does occur to me that it’s bad to allow the Emperor to scrutinize our daily habits and interactions even more closely than he already can.
(But this public street is no place for such talk. Come, into this alleyway, Dmitri. Quickly.)
Google will indeed be following your Google+ activity closely. They’ll use this information to enhance their ability to improve the results of your Web searches (hoorah!) and increase the advertising value of your personal profile and target you with ads (sonofa…). Well, the six letters in front of the plus sign should have been the dead giveaway. That’s their business. They were going to be doing that anyway, so long as you were planning to use Google services.
The point is that I can use Google+ and retain the feeling that I’m out on the real Web, doing anything I want to do. Their social networking services are also wired into every other Google service, including Search, Reader, Documents, and Picasa. Mobile apps allow me to access those features from wherever.
You can’t just stroll into a speakeasy and get Google+ today. It’s by invite-only, and the word is that even if you already got an invite, you might not be given a slot in the test program until Google has figured out how to accommodate the users they already have. But you can visit http://plus.google.com/ to see some video demos that are at turns compelling and so bizarrely conceptual that they look like Dharma Initiative training videos.
Besides, none of these features really mean anything today. Google+ is missing two key components: people and time. Social networks must struggle until they build a big enough membership that a random signee is likely to find enough friends in there to make it worth his or her while. Not even Google can speed that process up.
Most critically, Twitter and Facebook’s successes demonstrate that you can’t just roll out a social networking service and then sit back to await your tea and medals. It only develops into a relevant set of features after months and years of sending plates out of the kitchen and seeing what the customers send back. Then you make adjustments and try again. Through this slow, stubborn process are indispensable online tools made.
Even then, you need to give users time to define a role for the service in their lives. I love Twitter. Today, as I stand just shy of 50,000 followers, I can’t imagine getting by without it. But I went through two false starts with Twitter before I stopped mocking it and started to see where I could use this tool in my personal and professional life. All of the features were right there, you understand . . . but the instincts about how and where to use them effectively came only through months of trial and error.
When Google+ opens wide — maybe next year, maybe never — I’m certain, hopeful, even, that it’ll be many steps evolved from what I’m seeing today.
But please, Google: give Google+ and its users more time than you allowed for Google Wave to establish itself. And for God’s sake, do something about the plus sign at the end of its name.
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Facebook, the world’s biggest social networking website, is set to launch a new feature next week, possibly in the mobile or tablet arena, its CEO said.
SEATTLE (Reuters) – Facebook, the world’s biggest social networking website, is set to launch a new feature next week, possibly in the mobile or tablet arena, its CEO said.
Chief Executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a visit to Facebook’s Seattle office on Wednesday that the company planned to “launch something awesome” next week.
He said the project had been developed at the 40-person Seattle office, Facebook’s only major engineering center outside of its Palo Alto, California headquarters.
There has been speculation in technology blogs in recent weeks about various mobile products in development at Facebook, including the release of a long-awaited Facebook app for Apple Inc’s iPad and a specialized app for photo-sharing on the iPhone.
Facebook’s Seattle office has made a mark on the company’s mobile efforts, playing a central role in the development of Facebook’s unified mobile site, unveiled in March.
A Facebook spokesman declined to provide further details about Zuckerberg’s comments.
Facebook, the world’s largest Internet social network with more than 500 million users, is increasingly challenging established online companies like Google Inc and Yahoo Inc for consumers’ time online and for advertising dollars. According to the company, people that use Facebook on mobile devices are twice as active on the service than users on PCs.
Twitter and Facebook may have to prepare themselves for some new competition in the form of Google’s new social media offering Google+, an industry expert has warned.
“Facebook and Twitter need to be a bit worried. I didn’t hold out much hope for Google+ to begin with, but after having had a play I can see it will have a genuine use for people,” Cathie McGinn, strategy director of Mindshare, told Mumbrella.
Selected as part of a group who were given access to trial the platform, McGinn said it has a good balance of Twitter and Facebook functions.
“They may have just about got this right. There’ a good balance between the functionality that replicates the stuff we do in real life. For example catching up with a group of friends which you can do on the group webcam or group text messaging where everyone can be a part of the conversation,” she said.
Google+ follows previous failed attempts by the online juggernaut through Wave and Buzz.
“I was a massive fan of Wave, but the problem was it had too many bugs when Google released it,” she added.
“With Google+ they’re trying to roll it out cautiously, and I think it’s more robust than anything else they’ve released in Beta.”
The site has three main features. Circles – where you can group friends into different categories, choosing who views which content; Sparks – based on shared-interest communities; and Hangout – where multi-person video calls are made.
“If I want to opt-in to a news feed that’s about branded content I can, and it’s not going to be interrupted with photos of my friends’ babies. And I feel very secure that I’m not going to upload a photo from the weekend that my professional colleagues are going to see,” McGinn said.
June 30th, 2011 at 8:51 am
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Today from “The Conversation”: http://theconversation.edu.au/…..ebook-2073
Google has finally nailed it. All it needs to do now is incentivise loyalists to spread the word.
it’s a carbon copy of facebook. so yeah, maybe they have nailed it.
For the moment, Google+ seems too similiar to Facebook. A user wouldn’t want to maintain two of these services, for one to succeed the other will need to lose users. Facebook and Twitter are different enough that it provides value for people to use both, but it doesn’t look the case with Google+
I don’t see any killer features that would make people leave Facebook en masse to Google+.
Also, the name Google+ makes it really awkward to use any punctuation after writing it!
I’ve got access, like Buzz and Wave can’t find almost any mates who are on it.
It doesn’t seem a lot different from Buzz with more privacy settings – I’m not sure really what it does that is better than Facebook, except lock privacy down better. And let’s be honest, in spite of what we say, the lack of privacy on FB is what we like about it – lock your privacy down, and stalk those who don’t….
And +1 to the awkward name.
It will need momentum, and critical mass. I’ve signed up, and invited a few mates, but I’d still struggle to justify *why* they should sign up? Are people outside the curious industry people going to be clamouring for invites to this?
Do we really need another social network? I struggle to see this one taking off. Greedy Google. Greedy.
I vote we go back to socialising in the real world!
Based on the amount of conversation on Twitter today and the number of people clamouring for invitations, I think there will be quicker uptake on a much wider scale than Wave etc. (plus Facebook at its inception). And the utility is clear.
I think Sparks offers a huge opportunity for brands right now, and perhaps we’ll see branded profiles and inclusion in Circles later on.
Sparks, which is a feed of content related to topics of your choice, will be a really sophisticated feed of stuff people like you, and the people you like, like. A great opportunity for brands creating interesting, engaging and valuable content to reach the most targeted audience.
I think it will succeed because it has that element of serendipity that Facebook can’t offer. Because Google, after all, has the whole web to select from, as well as years of deep data about its users, and in that respect at least Facebook is on the back foot.
I’m looking forward to watching this play out…
Have your say
The co-founder and public face of Twitter, Biz Stone, is to cease his work with the micro-blogging company and team up with his former colleagues in an attempt to invent the next big thing on the internet.
The 37-year-old entrepreneur is restarting the company that spawned Twitter five years ago – a venture called The Obvious Group – to experiment with making “systems that help people work together to improve the world”.
Twitter, meanwhile, will have to do without the man who has been its creative director during a period of explosive growth, but before it has worked out how to turn a profit from the business. The company, which has built up more than 200 million users, publishing 2,200 of its 140-character “tweets” every second, will continue to call on Mr Stone as an adviser, it was announced.
Its co-founder’s move is only the latest in the management hokey-cokey at Twitter, which has had four chief executives in its short life. Evan Williams, an early backer of Mr Stone’s, stepped down from the post last October, saying he would remain involved as an adviser, but he has also now left the company. He will work with Mr Stone on The Obvious Group. Meanwhile, another co-founder and early chief executive, Jack Dorsey, returned to Twitter last year as product chief, although he is also simultaneously running a fast-growing start-up called Square. Twitter’s current chief executive, Dick Costolo, is a former product executive at Google.
“My work on Twitter has spanned more than half a decade and I will continue to work with the company for many years to come,” Mr Stone announced on his personal blog. “During this time – especially lately – it has come to my attention that the Twitter crew and its leadership team have grown incredibly productive. I’ve decided that the most effective use of my time is to get out of the way until I’m called upon to be of some specific use.”
Mr Stone – who was once named Nerd of the Year by GQ magazine – has become semi-detached from Twitter in recent months. Earlier this year he was hired by The Huffington Post, the news and views website, to develop its “social impact strategy”.
Explaining the decision to relaunch The Obvious Group, he said he had never been more excited about the potential of the internet. “The possibility to reach and connect expansive numbers of people fundamentally changes the nature of what’s possible when it comes to building businesses on the internet,” he said.
There is no shortage of money available from investors who might want to back the company’s new projects, particularly given the track records of Mr Stone, Mr Williams and another Twitter co-founder Jason Goldman, who is also joining them.
Investors have bid up the value of Twitter itself to around $8bn (£4.9bn) on private share-trading markets, despite it never having turned a profit. Mr Stone announced the relaunch of The Obvious Group at the Aspen Ideas Conference in the Colorado ski resort this week, but remained tight lipped on what ideas they might have for new businesses.
Meanwhile, Mr Dorsey’s second venture, Square, has secured $100m in financing from investors, valuing the company at more than $1bn. Square’s plug-in device lets small businessmen and sole traders use their mobile phones to accept credit-card payments from other people. In April, Square said Visa, the credit-card payment firm, had invested an undisclosed sum in the company.
A popular Twitter-like service in China with 140 million users was hit by a worm earlier this week that resembles past attacks that infected Twitter and MySpace, according to a security analyst.
Sina Weibo, a microblog service in China, said the worm first appeared on Tuesday night at 8:20 p.m. Beijing time. Affected posts displayed a malicious link with enticing messages like “Move a woman’s heart with 100 lines of poetry” or “Software to listen to other people’s phones.” When the link was clicked, the user’s own account would re-post and send out private messages circulating the malicious link again.
Sina reported in a post to users on Wednesday that the worm had been stopped on the same night at 9:25 p.m. The problem stemmed from a flaw in the web pages that the worm could exploit.
Sina said it reported the matter to the public security and that it will take further steps to improve the safety of its social networking service.
Zhao Wei, CEO of Chinese security company Knownsec, said the worm was of a type that has affected many other social networking sites by exploiting cross-site scripting vulnerabilities. “Before, different kinds of worms have appeared on large social networking sites like Twitter, MySpace” he said. Other Chinese social networking sites have also been victims, he said.
In 2009, Twitter was hit with the “StalkDaily” worm created by a 17-year-old. The worm created thousands of spam messages on the site by getting users to click on a malicious link. Lack of attention to security resulted in these worm attacks from occurring, Zhao said. In the case of Sina’s social networking site, only tens of thousands of microblog users were affected, Zhao estimated.
Sina Weibo is one of China’s largest Twitter-like services, and has become a hot new destination for the country’s Internet users, which number at 457 million, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.
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Does the idea of a Facebook phone have you tutting to
yourself? We know – they’ll be making a movie about the social network site
next won’t they? Anyway, putting that cynicism to one side, we know that the
youth market is big on social media, so it is no surprise that the mobile arena
has grasped this and endeavoured to make its own mark. And here it is in the
shape of the HTC Salsa – a neat device that holds Facebook integration at its
core but offers enough to make it a viable handset in its own right.
The first thing of note about the HTC Salsa is its
dimensions, While it features a good-sized 3.4in touch display, it still
manages to be neater than many of its rivals. It measures just less than an
inch thick and weighs in at just 120g, so it’s pleasingly compact in the hand.
We now expect HTC handsets to boast an aluminium unibody, and it is indeed
pretty solid – turn it over and you’ll see some darker plastic panes that look
a bit like a patchwork pattern – you’ll either love it or hate it, we reckon.
Another release from HTC, the ChaCha, has a QWERTY
keyboard, but the Salsa relies solely on the touch display – you’ll find back,
search and home screen functions all at the bottom of the screen. There are
some physical buttons – a volume rocker, camera button (hooray!) and of course
that Facebook button on the bottom lip. It’s not too overbearing, which you may
have feared when you heard the phrase ‘Facebook phone’. All in all, it boasts
an elegant design that is both small and solid, which manages to make some of
its rivals look a bit overweight.
Social networking is at the heart of this handset. Press
the Facebook button and you’ll be able to send a status update to your wall –
or indeed to your choice of friend’s wall – with just a few clicks. If you like
taking snaps or video with your camera phone, it’s easy to upload them to
Facebook. You’re also able to back up your images to Facebook – not a good idea
if you’d rather some didn’t see the light of day!
Listening to a great track on the Salsa’s media player?
Press the F button and you can share it with your Facebook crew. Just make sure
it isn’t anything too embarrassing!
You can also sync contacts on the Salsa and you’ll see your Facebook friends
have appeared in the contact book; plus their birthdays will have been put on
your calendar – great if you generally
use Facebook for reminding you about these special dates.
If you’ve used an HTC handset before, you’ll have
encountered the Friend Stream widget, which aggregates all your Flickr, Twitter
and Facebook info such as posts, messages and so on into one feed – excellent
if you have a presence on several social network sites. These can be filtered
by photo, video, link or status update.
You can also use the built-in Facebook Chat app, but be
aware that it is apt to go offline or close down, and it also often defaults to
online mode, which means that you are likely to encounter a number of open chat
windows next time you log in via the internet.
So there are plenty of functions to give you access to your
social life online. At the top left of the display you’ll see a nifty
notification bar, which brings together SMS, synched email accounts and all
that’s happening on your networks. It gives you the chance to feel like you’re
the ruler of your own little online domain, with an omnipresence that you
couldn’t get elsewhere!
What the Salsa really does well is playing up to the
immediacy of the social network site. Browsing the net and you encounter a fun
link or interesting video? Press the Facebook button and it will drag the link
to the ‘post’ facility. If you like sharing links, pictures and video, and love
being the first to do so among your virtual social circle, you’ll love this. It
is also possible to change the link’s thumbnail and input a comment, just as
you might do on the internet – it’s an added touch that shows just how much
thought has gone into bringing this Facebook functionality to the Salsa.
Whatever you choose to do – post a video, link or image – it’s easy to get to
grips with, and works smoothly and quickly.
Back to basics
But while the Facebook button is the Salsa’s USP, let’s not
forget that the Salsa is a top mid-range Android smartphone, boasting the
latest operating system for Android – Gingerbread 2.3.3 – and the latest
incarnation of HTC’s Sense user interface. Sense is amazingly intuitive, and
easy to customise, plus there are built-in apps that offer pretty much all you
could want – including an FM radio player, Google Maps, News and Weather feeds
and YouTube browser. And of course you have access to more than 300,000 apps at
Anyone who has used Android handsets will be familiar with
the seven home screens – all of which are customisable – and to which you can
add your choice of folders, shortcuts and apps.
The five-megapixel snapper is merely adequate compared with
the cameras on more expensive smartphones, but it is good enough for quickly
uploading pictures to the internet. The handset can also record 480p (720×480)
video and also features a front-facing VGA camera for making video calls.
At this price, you might not expect the screen to be that
great. And while it’s not up there with the Super AMOLED or Retina Display,
nevertheless the 320×480 pixel LCD screen does a good job – colours appear
vibrant, although you may find you need to zoom in a little (just pinch to
zoom) if you are looking at webpages.
is also impressive – you’ll get a good day and more out of a full battery
charge. The on-screen keyboard proves responsive, so that inputting posts and
updates is simple. You won’t be drooling over the HTC Salsa if you’re really
after a dual-core handset – its 800MHz chip is not the fastest out there, but
it doesn’t really have to be. But do be aware that its slow speed means that
you won’t be able to watch Flash videos in-browser.
What HTC has tried to do with the Salsa is produce a phone
that has Facebook at its core, while still doing everything else you’d expect
from a mobile device. And it does just that. Its features manage to ensure your
virtual interactions work smoothly and easily, so that you’ll interact and
share more. But it’s more than a good social network phone –it’s also a great
Android handset with excellent battery life, a vibrant screen and a decent
choice of apps and features on board. All in all, if you’re a Facebook fan
who’s after a good all-rounder, the HTC Salsa is the phone for you.