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The internet is an ever evolving sphere of knowledge and ways of communicating with people is ever increasing. When I first started using the internet back in the dark ages MSN had just come into fruition and everyone was and still is using it, then along with other messengers came websites like Ringo, Myspace, Facebook and Bebo to name a few.
Bebo is sold to those of us thinking of signing up that it is “the next generation social networking site where members can stay in touch with their College friends, connect with friends, share photos, discover new interests and just hang out.” A lot of my fiends from School, University and some work places all have Bebo accounts and I signed up for mine well over a year ago when it wasn’t ‘cool’ to be a member of Bebo because Myspace was ‘the place to be’ so my account lay dormant and dull until recently.
What is all the fuss about Bebo… well I certainly prefer it to Myspace because with Myspace you are forever getting invites and adverts from the next wannabe Madonna wanting to become your best friend, Bebo is solely used as a community or a networking place that only available for personal, non-commercial use only, and you have to be 13 and over to use the service. So if you are a member of a Band looking to add lots of fans, then Bebo isn’t really for you.
So why would I become a member of Bebo? Well as I have said already, Bebo is an online community which allows you to keep in touch with old friends, possibly old boyfriends/girlfriends, family members (it avoids having to call them) or whoever else you might want to keep in touch with. I have an ex-teacher on mine and it is very scary to find out what he has been up to and who with, you know when all those suspicions as a pupil were actually true all along? Scary but true. If you are not a member of Myspace (where have you been) and are wanting something easy to use, easy to find your friends on and easy to maintain then try Bebo.
So what do you do to register? Well you do have to be over 13 years old for a start and you do need to have an email address. Then you simply go to www.bebo.com and click on ‘register’ and fill out all of the appropriate details such as name, username, gender, date of birth, country etc… read the terms and agreement and voila that was the registration part. Once you have confirmed your e-mail address you are free to start using your own Bebo space.
Now initially when I signed up for Bebo I did find the whole thing rather weird, the homepage does look very amateurish and in front of you there are Bands, Beboers, Sponsor profiles and your log in space on the bottom left hand side of the screen. The bands reference is where mostly fans of bands have set up ‘Bebo pages’ in support of their favourite band and you can add yourself as a groupie to certain bands. Now I have no idea which bands are real and which ones are fake unless they otherwise state, but part of me doubts that Oasis and U2 would sit in front of Bebo for hours creating pages to advertise themselves, but who knows…
So once you log into your Bebo account, in front of you will be a pretty dull and boring screen with an image for a picture on the top left hand side and underneath are some different options to help you fill out your profile to make it look more attractive, such as:
** Add Skype Now**
Pictures of bebo.com online address book
for those of you using Skype, Bebo and Skype have joined forces to allow both users through this site to contact one another.
** Upload Profile Photo** Well it does exactly what it says on the tin really, you simply find a photo of yourself and upload it, just as you would with any other site and within seconds it will appear. If like me you are never happy with photos of yourself, you can change it as often as you like.
**Edit profile** this section of Bebo is split up into mini sections on a vast page which you can choose, or not choose to add little titbits of information about yourself. Starting with the basics you are asked to enter your name and screen name, it is worth noting that if you are under 21 Bebo do advise that you do not enter your full name as your username, however you then go on to enter your date of birth (which you can keep private), your town and a few other similar pieces of information. You can either opt to include your full home address or not, but if you do it is only visible to your direct friends.
Following on from that the next section on the profile page is titled ‘Me, My Life and I’ and in no more 1000 words you are asked to describe yourself. Once you have done this, the information will be displayed on your homepage next to your photograph.
Next we the have ‘These are a few of my favourite things’ section. Some of the sections already have headlines within them such as ‘Things I am scared of’, now you can choose to keep those set headlines or change them to make them relevant and you are given seven boxes to add some more quirky bits of information about yourself and once you have done that, this again will all be shown on your homepage on the far right hand side.
Further down the page we have a few final options as to whether or not to make your profile accessible for anyone who is a member of Bebo to look at or just those people on your friends list. Mine is not accessible to everyone simply because I have lots of photos of my family on there and only those I consider friends are giving the pleasure of viewing them. Should anyone decide they want to be my friend then they can send a friends request to be added and I can either choose to accept or decline the invitation, the one thing you will never know is whether or not your friendship request has been declined which is really irritating in some ways.
There is an option called ‘My Other Half’ and here you can simply add your other half to show people who they are, if you don’t have an other half you can add any one of your friends, providing they don’t have another half. Or you can choose to leave it blank.
So once you have entered all of your information and have saved it, if you click on the profile button at the top of the screen, everything you have added should now be visible. Now having done that your screen will still look rather dull and boring, so maybe it is time to ‘jazz it up’ a bit and to do that you need to find a ‘skin’ which you like.
If you look under your photograph on your profile page you will see three other options to use to manage your page. The first one is Change Skin in my case because I already have a Metoyou Tatty Teddy Skin as my ‘skin’ and a skin is pretty much a background and there are over 80 pages of skins, some people make them for you and there are plenty of websites you can use to find a skin, like with Myspace. Once you have found one you like, or through endless searching you have found something suitable you simply click ‘use skin’ or if you are still not sure you can click on ‘preview’ to see what it looks like. You can change your skin as often as you like and if you have two or three which you really like, you can add them to ‘your favourites’ and when the time comes to change your skin, it will save you hours of searching because it is saved in your favourites. Now I like the skin aspect of Bebo because it makes everyone’s page individual to them, they brighten the place up and some of them are really very detailed and have been made by someone who has a lot of skills. Now if you are a bit of an artist and want to make your own then you can, all you need to do is click on the ‘roll your own’ option and following the guidelines to complete your task. I have many friends who are much more artistically talented than I am and thanks to them I got the skin I now use.
The next important option is the ‘change modules’ option. At the bottom of your Bebo homepage there are different options called modules and these are: Friends, Widgets, Quizzes, Blog, Photos, Whiteboard, Bands, Flashbox, Polls, changes, playlists and Messages. In this section you can move all but two of the modules around on your page to how you want it to look. Friends and Messages are the only two options you cannot move.
Friends – This will show all of your friends using their homepage photograph and their username and you can have as many friends as you like but only the ‘top 16’ will be viewable at a first glance. The rest of them can be viewed if you click on ‘view all’ and you can change your friends around as often as you want.
To find your friends, you can either search for them using the search option, it is time consuming however, you can send an email to all of your friends to let them know you have arrived and this is a really easy way of finding your current friends because using your email address and password, your contacts will be listed and Bebo can tell you whether or not they are a member and you can quickly request they add you to their friends or if all else fails, you can get a web badge which you can post on other websites to display the fact you are a Bebo member and people can use the link given to add you to their friends.
Widgets – What a word widget it is, brilliant. Anyway a widget allows you to be creative and using a partner site to Bebo you can create things such as slideshows of photographs, voice comments, guestbooks, Countdown timers etc… basically there are lots of different ways to add some of your own artistic style to Bebo using one of these sites. Mine has my wedding photographs as a slideshow, pictures of my cats Dude and Geezer as another slideshow and I have a countdown timer saying how long it is to my birthday, not that I need reminding, but others do.
Quizzes – You can make up any sort of Quiz that you want to make up. The most popular being ‘How well do you know me’ Quiz and it is your turn to test your friends on how well they actually do you know.
Blog – This is probably the least used section of my Bebo but you can keep a Blog should you wish too and this is the section to do that in. You simple type it and post it and people are able to leave you comments.
Photos – In this section Bebo allow you to upload photo’s and put them into what they call ‘albums’ and again people can view them and leave comments. Uploading them is very easy and you can also add captions to them should you feel the need.
Whiteboard – now this is probably my most favourite part of the site other than the messages section. Like whiteboards which are now used in schools to replace the blackboard in this ‘PC’ age… you have a whiteboard on your homepage which allows yourself and your friends to draw pictures for one another using the mouse. This for me is hours of endless fun to see how rubbish myself and my friends really are.
Bands – as explained before, this section will show all of the bands; sometimes TV shows and celebrity’s fan clubs that you have chosen to become a groupie of.
Flashbox – here you would add a music video, an advert, Anime or whatever else is on offer using the Bebo TV option which can be found on the top taskbar and should you find something your really like you can choose to add it using the flash box and it will appear on your homepage. I did have My Chemical Romance’s ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ for a long time.
Polls – here you can choose to create your own poll and let your friends vote in it and it can be a poll on anything that you feel is relevant to you.
Changes – Every time someone on your friends list makes a change to his or her Bebo it is displayed within this section. Playlists – This is like a Bebo radio on your homepage and you simply add the songs like you like to your play list and well… play them.
Finally we have messages which allows your friends if you are on a restricted profile to leave you messages which will appear on your homepage and they have 1000 words to leave you a message, which they can do more than once if they have a lot to say to you. There is also an option of giving someone your ‘love’ for the day and this is in the shape of a red love heart which you can give to one of your friends to show them you really care. It can only be given once a day so be careful who you give it too and people can give you their love and the number of loves you have is shown on your homepage below your profile along with how many times your page has been viewed.
Now this does sound like an awful lot of things to have on your homepage, for me it was far too many so I used the option ‘Unused Modules’ and removed the four I didn’t like so that they do not appear on my homepage. If you decide you like them all, then you can keep them.
The final thing to mention is ‘Mail’ a link to which you will find on the top task bar. This is like private messaging where you can leave messages for your friends that you don’t want anyone else to see and to make them more interesting you can also add skins to your messages in the same way you would with your homepage.
So that in a nutshell is Bebo and why do I use it? Well it is much easier to manage than Myspace, the alerts when you get a new message actually work, unlike Myspace which for me work sporadically and although the HTML feature on Bebo is one of life’s mysteries, I have a lot of old friends on here who I lost touch with many years ago and it is a nice easy way to keep in touch. For those of you who don’t have Myspace or even if you do then I would definitely recommend that you give Bebo a try, you never know what or who you might find lurking.