Facebook's ever-churning redesign mill just spat out some freshly ground News Feed — now it knows when you signed on last, and lets you talk about how totally fat Jennifer's getting with friends in real time via ticker. News, news, news!
Essentially, the News Feed will now dish up photos, status messages and the like based on what you've already seen, instead of the usual chronological downpour. If it's been a few days since you've checked Facebook (WHAT?), relevant stories you missed (close friends, family, etc) will be shown and flagged with a blue corner. If you're a habitual Facebooker, you'll just get the most recent stuff in order. It's a rational system that should help you wade through the inexorable crap flood of online stranger noise, and get straight to at least your fake friends.
There's also a more visually dramatic change to the page — a sidebar ticker. Facebook's been fiddling with what the hell to put there ever since they plopped the Facebook Chat bar to much bleating and dismay. Now Chat will share the space with a live-updating news stream, which you can use to hop into a conversation with your friends. Did someone post a funny video of a cat launched out of a cannon? Are your best pals talking about how funny it is? You'll see them doing it, and can easily jump in. At least that's how it's supposed to work. The updates are rolling out today, so we'll be able to see whether Facebook's nailed this particular update, or totally botched it. [Facebook]