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Help File: Facebook's changing privacy-settings pages; tuning into Comcast digital cable

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Q: The advice you gave about Facebook privacy settings last week is already obsolete.

A: The Palo Alto, Calif., social network can't seem to resist redesigning itself every few months; unfortunately, that habit extends to its privacy-settings interface.

(In case you've missed this disclaimer before, Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors.)

So the directions I gave last Sunday no longer apply. Now, if you want to ensure that only friends can see which items you've recommended with a click of a Facebook "Like" button at other sites (The Post's included), you're supposed to visit a "Friends, Tags and Connections" page in your privacy settings.

On that page, set "Activities," "Interests" and "Things I Like" to "Only Friends" to avoid broadcasting those details to strangers at Facebook or any other site.

Memo to Facebook executives: Consistency is a good thing in interface design.

Why did Comcast just encrypt the History, Discovery, SyFy and Speed TV channels?

Until Friday, this Kenilworth, N.J., resident had been using his DVD recorder's "QAM" digital-cable tuner to watch those channels -- "the only ones I watch," he e-mailed.

Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said the company normally encrypts everything but "Limited Basic" fare: local broadcast stations, government and educational channels. But as it upgrades its network to digital, "there may be temporary windows of time" when other channels come through in the clear in some areas.

But why encrypt these channels at all? The entertainment companies that own these channels demand it, Moyer said.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his blog.


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