Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Comparing Social Software Desktop Clients

There are a bunch of desktop clients available for Twitter, but here I am trying to target the clients that allow accessing other social networks, and facilitate cross posting. With this sudden surge of social networks and a lot of people are getting on to multiple networks like Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, Yammer, Twitter etc and it is high time that we have clients which connect to other networks too.


Twhirl

Twhirl has pretty slick interface and connects to Jaiku and Ping.fm. It uses Ping.fm to connect to other social networks like Facebook and MySpace but does not connect by itself. Twhirl does not let you see the status updates and activities in your other networks on your desktop client. Instead, it just facilitates cross-posting your updates only. The application is light weight and very user friendly.


TweetDeck

TweetDeck is one of the widely used desktop clients for Twitter. It has Spaz, Snitter, Twhirl, DestroyTwitter etc as competitors. TweetDeck has column based view and you can add quite a few columns for search terms that you want to track. This is apart from your own stream, replies stream and direct messages stream. Twhirl does not give you this flexibility. TweetDeck recently brought out a pre-release version which integrates with Facebook where it allows the user to view status updates of friends on Facebook as well as post messages from Twitter on to Facebook. Being a pre-release version, they have kept it pretty simple. TweetDeck also has API usage statistics and Twitter status. It, however, needs to provide more customizations for the UI like changing fonts and resizing columns.


AlertThingy

AlertThingy's enhanced version was recently released and allows access to Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, Basecamp, Flickr and a host of other social networks. Apart from messages, you can post links and photos on to Facebook which is not provided in TweetDeck or Twhirl. Not just that, AlertThingy lets you access news feeds too which I think is pretty cool. It lags behind in customizations of the UI though. It comes as a very handy tool when you want to use Twitter with Yammer and Facebook. They also have a FriendFeed version. If your popup notification is ON, it can become a little irritating after a while whereas TweetDeck and Twhirl have pretty slick notification system. TweetDeck and Twhirl also scores with reply and re-tweet buttons placed on the Avatar rather than as a separate "Option" in AlertThingy.

All three of these are built on Adobe AIR which makes it work on both Windows and Mac. AlertThingy is rich with functionalities and looks like it has become complicated, but Twhirl and TweetDeck keeps it simple. TweetDeck offers better experience in its simplicity.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Facebook Integration On TweetDeck Helps?


TweetDeck has a pre-release version out with Facebook integration. Now, there is AlertThingy that connects to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Yammer etc which seems to be far more comprehensive. TweetDeck, however, has the edge of being one of the most popular tool that works with Twitter.

What you get from the Facebook integration is "status" messages. This integration helps us work from single platform to connect to all the social networks and communicate. But, for me, Facebook integration does not make much of a sense except for the fact that it just lets you see the status messages or cross-post messages on to Facebook.

The power of status messages on Facebook is just like tweets on Twitter, but with lesser frequency and more privacy. Status messages evoke participation and communication through responses in the form of comments. But with tools like TweetDeck and AlertThingy, the commenting feature takes a hit. Not just that, for friends who have not signed up on twitter, you need to respond through Facebook by logging in. TweetDeck and AlertThingy fails here.

If Facebook lets developers access comments through their API and TweetDeck can come up with a innovative UI design on Adobe AIR to pull comments from Facebook and also give provision to post comments back into Facebook, then the integration makes a lot of sense and is useful for social media geeks.

I used Facebook integration feature on TweetDeck for couple of days and did not see any benefit.

Did anyone of you find TweetDeck-Facebook integration in its current form useful?

And Here Comes The Flying Car

No more road trips?

Seen flying cars in movies? Here comes one for real.

"Terrafugia Transition" is first flying car and it passed the first flight test on March 5th, 2009.

It can fly up to 450 miles at 115 miles per hour.

"... two-seat, four-wheeled, carbon-fiber-composite aircraft, which can fly up to 450 miles at 115 miles per hour and is distinguished by folding wings that ratchet out of the way when it’s on the ground. That makes the craft just 80 inches wide, narrow enough to tool down the highway—where it can go up to 65 mph and get 30 miles to the gallon."

The video of the first test:



I want 500 meters stretch infront of my apartment so that I can take off this "car". I am going to write a letter to GHMC for leveling the road.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Working From Home

Let me say ... I love it.

Working from home is not a new concept but in India, probably it is not encouraged. I am not talking about people who are into free lancing. This about those people who work for large enterprises and works along with a team to deliver services.

Now, why I love it?

1. Freedom: It lets me operate the way I want to and the pressure is far less compared to being nailed down to a ergonomic (or not so ergonomic) chair and the manager or team lead breathing down your neck.

2. More productive: Given the freedom and environment that I am most comfortable with, I get more work done than when I am in office. In fact, I log into start work earlier than what I would do when I am in office. Moreover, when I am at home, I somehow feel more responsible towards what needs to be delivered and does not feel that I am stretching myself.

3. No distraction: Working from home is a bliss if you need long hours of concentration. It is next to impossible to get that level of concentration if you are in office where people bump into you and end up in casual conversations that you sometimes cannot escape and ultimately lose time.


4. Other benefits:
  • No commute
  • No traffic jams ( and no heart attacks)
  • Save fuel
  • No pollution
  • Not stuck with canteen food (especially when Chinese Combo has banana and curd rice)

These were personal benefits. But, for corporates, there are huge benefits by promoting this culture.

1. Save on the infrastructure - Reduce investment in power, desk space, desktops, phones and other company utilities. Instead divert fraction of this investment to setup better servers and connectivity infrastructure (VPN, Bandwidth, 3G etc.)

2. People care - Employees benefit out of less travel (health, time and monitory benefit). The concerns of work-life balance by employees get addressed as they get to be at home and they feel responsible for their own time.

3. Business Continuity - For any incidents like 9/11, this kind of operation model always helps with such attacks never affecting the services because you don't station all you employees at one place. One recent incident was the snow fall in the UK where most of the services were disrupted. But there was one case where Silicon.com ensured business continuity by having people work from home.

Working from home has its own set of challenges which corporates may dig out. I am going to try an give some answers here for those challenges.

1. Collaboration & interacting with a team - While this may be one of the prime concerns, instant messaging (IM), VoIP and collaboration tools like Google Docs are always there as a solution to this. For the conference facilities across geographies, there are virtual platforms like SecondLife that can be tapped to reduce travel.

2. Monitoring the staff - Yes, this is a problem. Working from home culture is not going to start working just like that. Unified Communications Technology can be used to create monitoring mechanisms. Clear roles and responsibilities need to be defined for the employees who form a team and thereby creating accountability.

For people interested, here is a post about tips for working from home.

There are some things I miss when I work from home. The human interaction, all the gossips and office politics :). But then, there is Facebook, Twitter and IM for that (i know, not for human interaction). These not just things for personal use. Its high time business starts using these and avail the benefits.

C'mon, this is age of the internet.

Having said that, I have some work to finish before I go to office tomorrow.