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UPDATE 12/05/2011 : app was split in two distinct apps: Restyler and Privatebook

I gave myself 3 goals when I decided to participate to the Kynetx contest about remixing/extending Facebook:

  1. encrypt chat communication
  2. stylesheet injection
  3. add a social “I don’t like” button

I didn’t make it to code goal 3 but well,  I pushed goal 1 and 2 a little bit further then initially planned.

It always bothered me that FB was saving all the nonsense, savagery, insults and bad jokes I was sending through the chat so I thought of a simple parade: let’s encrypt each message in the browser before sending and decrypt it on the other side, all this in javascript. For a start I decided to use base64 but now that it works I am thinking of letting the users choose some stronger encryption and actually there are plenty of implementations of strong encryption in javascript including PGP. Now that facebook and twitter have become essential tools for revolutions I guess this could also help some people to bypass censorship on a large scale with a browser and a bookmarklet, couldn’t be simpler. After diving in the guts of FB javascript ( very similar to some peruvian jungle exploration) I finally found the entry point to the chat system were I could hook my code. But why not generalize this system to all the data that can be published to FB? Thanks to the beautiful jquery livequery plugin this became quite fun so now almost everything is encrypted: chat messages, comments, links, events… Every input gets encrypted in the browser, sent and stored encrypted to FB, and decoded automatically in the browser again so everything seems transparent. Other users can view the data clicking on the bookmarklet or installing an extension in their browser.

2nd goal is the answer to a little survey I made about what functionnality some FB addicts would like to see: themes. Actually there are quite a few FB apps that do that ( didn’t test any ) but then I stumbled on the Stylish extension which seemed a much better solution to me. Hmmm… I don’t care much about design, probably because I am such an idiot in CSS and Photoshop but well , Stylish gets 30000 installs a week on Chrome and 138000 on Firefox , enough to change my point of view! I unzipped chrome and FF extensions to have a look on how to port it and that was an interesting experience because it showed that chrome extensions could be ported to pure javascript almost automatically ( if the author hadn’t chosen webkit opendatabase for local storage which is not supported in all browsers). On the FF side I was affraid of how much code , native methods , manifests , xml and so on were necesary to do the same thing so I left the xpi as fast as I had unzipped it…It also the showed the clear advantage of “kynetx browser apps” compared to extensions: maintenance. One code for all browsers.
So want do we have now? A kynetx browser app compatible with the stylish site where you can find all kind of ugly and less ugly themes , not only for facebook, that you can install with one click. You can install several and then switch between them later on. Stylish doesn’t exist for IE… great!

Please check Restyler and Privatebook posts for installation info.

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