Tag Archives: alternative

An alternative to Facebook events

7 Dec

After leaving Facebook, you realise how much people rely on it to organise events. Some organisations and even administrations actually only use Facebook to publicise their events, and people have to have an account to be able to RSVP, or even have a look at the detailed information.

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The pleasures of browsing a Facebook event when not signed up. Interestingly, the mobile view shows even less than the desktop website: not even a description of the event.

I thought I’d ask and look around for an alternative that people could use. Heck, even my local council advertises their events mostly through Facebook, how inclusive is that.

Ideally, my alternative event hosting would:

  • not require an account to RSVP or browse the information;
  • be free of charge;
  • be based on Free or Open Source software;
  • be respectful of privacy;
  • allow to export the event in different formats to add to calendars;
  • be easy to connect to Facebook.

The reality is that people still love the convenience of having all their events centralised in their Facebook, which means that if I am to convince some people to use a different service / platform, it will have to be nicely hooked up to Facebook so they don’t have to do twice as much work.

Sadly, the social network I am currently using (Diaspora, part of the Federation) does not have an event element to it. However, I used it to ask the community if they had ideas.

Some people recommended software like OpenSondage, Framadate (based on OpenSondage), and Dudle. Unfortunately, those are only enough to figure out what is the best time to schedule an event, as opposed to a fully-fledged event manager (where people see a description with a picture, find times and the address, can RSVP and share…).

I was also recommended to use ownCloud or Nextcloud to create an event with the calendar app. That is not enough, as it is not possible to advertise the event publicly – only through email. However, Framasoft based their software Framagenda on it, adding some functionalities like sharing the event by public link – but I could only figure out how to make a whole calendar public. It seems like the differences with the Nextcloud calendar element are minor.

Communecter is a great tool that allows to build a network between citizens, local councils, businesses and organisations. It looks very useful but is more directed towards organising and communicating at the local level, to foster inclusion  and involvement in the community. Not quite the simple event-creating tool I am looking for.

Open Event is Free Software (GPL-3.0) with several components to create events that follow a standard format and publish them to the web with a website generator, or to Android with an app generator; another component allows organisers to self-host a fully-fledged event manager that supports venues, programs and invitations. This is a very promising piece of software, and there is a live implementation at open-event-dev.herokuapp.com, but I could not register an account in order to test the event creation. It is definitely a project I will closely follow as it seems it is the closest to my requirements, but it seems it needs some more work to be usable on the demonstration website (server error when creating an account, 404 when trying to get a free ticket to an event, missing “how it works” page…). Their standardised format also makes it a great candidate for a potential integration in other Free Software projects like Diaspora.

Another very promising piece of Free Software that allows you to self-host is Attendize (AAL). It is already completely functional as a feature-full event management system (messaging, stats, ticketing and payment…), and is also very beautiful. There is a demonstration backend but it is only designed to test the software, which makes it less likely to replace an event manager that you simply need to sign up to. However, the software is very advanced and fits most of my requirements, so it is definitely something I would look into self-hosting.

Finally, Eventbrite is the obvious alternative that ticks most of the boxes. It is free of charge for free events, but their codebase is not entirely released as Free or Open Source software, although the company seems active on different FLOSS projects (see their GitHub account). They work hard on providing a good API to integrate their services to other apps and websites, which makes it super easy for Facebook users to have their event on both platforms.

In conclusion:

  • If you are ready to self-host, go with Attendize: it is Free Software and seems to do everything you might need it to as far as managing events goes. Also keep an eye out for developments in Open Event.
  • If you are advertising your events on Facebook but want to make them available to all, please create them on something like Eventbrite. They have a one-click Facebook publishing button that will make life easier, and you won’t coerce people into (re-)creating a Facebook account.

Do you know of other alternatives that would match the requirements?

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Leave Dropbox, join SpiderOak

27 Jul SpiderOak client and integration

While you are waiting for your own little home server to install your OwnCloud, make sure you change from Dropbox to SpiderOak as your default cloud storage service.

There are heaps of cloud storage businesses to choose from at the moment, but they differentiate in many ways. Dropbox is renowned for security and privacy issues, including possible involvement with PRISM and access to your files for copyright checks and deduplication. The English-language Wikipedia article about Dropbox details several issues that arose in the last few years. In SpiderOak’s case, data deduplication also exists but the difference is that it does not happen across users.

Surprinsingly, SpiderOak has been around longer than Dropbox: they started in 2007, and Dropbox the next year. They stress that their service focuses on security and privacy, using the term “zero-knowledge” to tell us that they won’t know anything about our personal stuff, and they have had a recent surge in new users because of the recent NSA revelations and the subsequent efforts of various non-for-profits to promote privacy in particular, and digital rights in general. On the 25th of July, their newsletter titled “Edward Snowden’s effect on SpiderOak” aknowledged that and read:

[…]We are excited to have you part of SpiderOak’s ‘Zero-Knowledge’ community. As more and more people become aware of our approach to user privacy and its implications for our digital lives, we can’t help but feel we are creating more than a business. We are actually creating a movement.
As it turns out, many people were listening when Edward Snowden mentioned SpiderOak. As a result, we’re seeing the highest rate of signups in our history. This has caused a dramatic increase in server load and customer inquiries. It’s been all hands on deck, around the clock to deliver the kind of service and response we feel is appropriate for such an occasion. By way of managing expectation, we plan to be fully adjusted within the week. […]
SpiderOak client and integration

SpiderOak client and integration

Another great thing about SpiderOak is that they provide a feature-full native client for Linux, including for Debian-, Fedora- and Slackware-based distributions, for both 32 and 64-bit architectures. In my test with both Ubuntu 13.10 and 14.04 (64-bit), the client integrated nicely with an indicator and a default sync folder that comes up in Nautilus (called the “SpiderOak Hive”). To find the client, go to their download page. You can also find their various open-source coding efforts on their GitHub page.

Because we are all about options, you can find other alternatives to Dropbox on the AlternativeTo website.

By the way, SpiderOak have a referral system that allows us to expand the free 2 GB storage space to up to 10 GB when getting friends to join (one GB per referral). If you want an extra gig when you join, let me know in a PM, I still have a few available.