Automatic Searching

Q - What do the following services have in common? Backtype.com, Blogsearch.Google.com, Search.Twitter.com

A - They all allow updates, either via RSS or email, whenever your particular search term is found.

Between the three of them, you can be notified if someone mentions your name, your company, your competitors, or even your current gadget love interest, be it in a blog entry, comment, or even a tweet. We all have something that we enjoy reading about or knowing about, why not give them a try? Subscribe to their alerts via RSS or email, and let the updates start rolling in.

(note: News.Google.com has RSS feeds for their search terms as well, if you are looking for mainstream news outlets)


Google Reader *heart* n8x0

I am happy to say that the new version of GReader works many times better on the Nokia N-Series Browsers. Instead of having to go to a crippled version designed for cell phones, you can use the normal reader. It's a bit sluggish (though that may be the device), but certainly serviceable.

I haven't used it that extensively, but the I was able to get around the various feeds without difficulty. One more app that I use on a regular basis available on the n800. I'm loving it.


GReader - Facelift. But is it Faster?

Official Google Reader Blog: Square is the new round.

Looks like GReader is getting a facelift.  I hope it plays better with the Nokia browsers than the current version.  I use Reader all the time at my PC, but am forced to use the mobile version when away beause the MicroB browser on my n800 crawls so bad it's unusuable.

I can't wait to try it out!


TweetDeck: the App That Keeps on Giving

TweetDeck is a Twitter application that I've been using for quite some time. It's developed and maintained by a one man team: Ian Dodsworth. What initially drew me to the program was the ability to group tweets into different columns. While I do not follow hundreds of people, this feature alone made the program worth using for me. As much as I loved using Twhirl, once I started using TweetDeck I never looked back. Like it's predecessor on my system, it runs on Adobe Air, so it'll run wherever you can install that particular runtime environment.

At the time, what I didn't realize, is how responsive Ian is with his development. Not just to bug fixes and giving help to users who need it, but also in response to feature suggestions and then their implementation. Since I started using the program here are some of the things that he's added:

- A slew of URL shortening services (it seems he adds new ones every release).
- TwitPic and 12Seconds support.
- Built in spell check (YES!).
- Visual and audible tweet notifications.
- International font support.
- Color palette customization.
- Un/Read indication, the ability to clear read tweets.
- Integration with Search.Twitter.com.
- Replies are pulled in via the above, so you can see anyone who has replied to you, regardless of following status.

Going forward, we have to look forward to multi account support, among other things. This is particularly impressive considering that he is a team of ONE.

If you access Twitter on a computer, you are doing yourself a huge disservice by not checking out this program. It has changed the way that I interact with the service, and I know that my usage is relatively light compared to a lot of people out there. Just having a separate column for people I know, verses news or other automatic posting services helps to cut down the signal to noise ratio.

There arn't many programs out there that I endorse 100%, this is one of them.

Check it out at: www.TweetDeck.com.

Slight Adjustment to Layout

I've gone ahead and updated the template, very simple, single column. As a result ten posts on the main page made the main page way too long, so I've cut it back to just five.

The header image is something that I've been wanting to use for a very long time just never got around to implementing it. Random shot I took in a subway that conveys, to me anyway a lot of depth.


Really Simple Syndication. No, REALLY.

"Why is it that websites that are good end up bloatware? They put so much stuff on the same page it doesn't load right. IGN's page has gotten really bad, going their page is just cheese." -- E.A.Q.

The above was said by a good friend of mine in a chat last month. My initial response to him was confusion, I really hadn't noticed IGN had changed their page at all. I read their stuff, particularly their reviews quite regularly. Before I switched over to using Chrome, I had Firefox so extensioned up with JS-disabling, Ad-blocking, and page modifying extensions, that at that time it would have been a normal response. Chrome most certainly does not block Javascript or ad's, so what was the problem? How could I miss something that such a problem to my friend?

The answer is simple. I rarely go to the main IGN page. I pull everything in via RSS into Google Reader. When you use something so much and so often, you start to take it for granted that everybody does as well. Think: asking someone for their phone number, expecting a mobile and getting their home phone because they do not have a cell phone. Shocked, you wonder, how can they not have a cell phone?

I wondered the same thing, how can someone who spends time visiting various news sites on an on going basis, get by without RSS? This goes hand in hand with the recent Forrester report on consumer adoption of RSS. This report has been mentioned on various other blogs and news sites following it's release, including various suppositions as to why it's the case. Are you ready for another?

From my experience, people don't use RSS, even after it's been explained to them, because they do not see the point. There are so many out there that would benefit from using a dedicated feed reader, and yet they insist time after time that they can just visit the website. They need to be shown what a great tool it is.

A first hand example of this is my brother-in-law. He works in IT, programs on the side, and visits the standard tech-news sites on an on going basis (Slashdot, Gizmodo, etc, etc), and had Google account. Yet, never opened Reader up once. He just didn't get it. I logged him into Reader, subscribed to the sites that he could remember off the top of his head, and within 5 minutes everything clicked. One place to get all of my news. So much time saved. He couldn't believe that he'd never done it before.

In order for RSS usage (in the sense of consumer's using dedicated readers) to grow, the practical use needs to be demonstrated. People already acclimated to seeing MSNBC pop up as their start page in IE, what if you replaced that with an online feed reader pulling in the content from MSNBC, People, and any other site that visiting. RSS moves from a Huh? to a Can't-Live-Without.


Customer Love

My wife had been out of town all of last week, so when she got back on Friday, we took the chance to do something we don't do too often: watch a few movies. We went and picked up two of them from the local store, one of which was National Treasure 2. Put it into the DVD player, fired it up, and got treated to eight and a half minutes advertisements.

The best part?

There was no way to skip or fast forward through them. (Even more fun when a pillow fell off the couch an onto the remote, causing the series to reset back to zero after going about a third of the way through).

I don't understand the reasoning behind it. We chose to pay for the movie. We are then forced to watch a preview for Snow White NOW ON BLU-RAY!!!! Followed then by further re-dredges from their vault, now on a brand new format. However, if we would have viewed the movie through an alternative means, we would have watched the movie, and just the movie, and not have been subjected to a bunch of marketing tripe.

Companies whine and whine about how their distribution rights are being infringed upon, and yet, they are the very one's who can't deliver a product that people want to pay for. Is anyone surprised here?


Chrome: Shiny Enough to Make a Difference?

A recent comic at UserFriendly.org made me smile. It's something that I can totally relate to:

Now that Chrome is little over a week old, I've had some time to use it. It's also been installed at home, and used by the Missus. Her initial thoughts can be summed up by the question that she asked after it had been on our system and set as the default browser for the day: "Did you really get rid of Firefox?" She then followed up with: "I want it back." I later found out that the browser had locked up on her several times, and that's why she wanted it back. Further thoughts from her are as of yet forthcoming.

My usage habits are a bit more complex. At work I use no less than two separate browsers most of the time, and sometimes as often as four due to the many online systems that I access (Firefox, IE, and occasionally Prism and Flock). How does Chrome fit in with all of that?

I've found that I much prefer Chrome's application shortcut feature to be a superior replacement to Prism (application shortcut + m.twitter.com = ROCK). As for just plain browsing (what I've used Flock for), I prefer Chrome as well. So two browsers have just been replaced with Chrome, not too bad!

What about the long term? Speaking personally, I don't think that Chrome will ever totally replace Firefox in my own use. There are just too many extensions that I rely on. For day to day browsing and non specific usage, it does a wonderful job, and is already gaining headway on my own PC here.

All of that aside, the most important aspect of Chrome is the competition that it will give both to Microsoft and Mozilla. Google's in a very good position to market and push a new browser (some may argue that they're in the best position). Competition breeds innovation and therefore a better product, consumers win all around, even those don't switch browsers.


Cutting the Fat

Verizon's email client on their cell phones is pretty much garbage, so I've abandoned using it altogether. Opting to simply forward my personal email, all of it, to my cell phone's SMS email address. Basically letting the text messaging act as an instant email notification. This had a very unexpected side effect, though. It made me very conscious about what exactly I was getting in my email.

Every email message is now sent to my phone, and I realized just how much garbage I was getting. Things that I really don't care about, that I was always a bit too lazy to opt-out of, but still didn't mind deleting on a regular basis, week after week, or month after month. Not really spam, just solicited advertising that I had been given due to my email address being in some companies database.

It certainly gave me the incentive to take the few seconds to opt out of those emails. Got me thinking, also, as to how many other people do the same thing. Legitimate email advertisements, that they don't even read, but never bother to opt out of, just deleting them over and over ad nauseam.


Convenience vs. Customization

When given the option, I'll usually choose something (usually an item or program) that will allow me a greater level of customization, rather than something that is easier to use. While initially there may be some more time setting up the highly customizable piece, in the end it's worth it to me to get the usually relativly unique functionality that I'm looking for. Miranda for IM, and an n800 for my portable device of choice.It's too bad that they're not always mutually exclusive. There are plenty of things that are both inconvienant and lack any sort of official customization options, (VZW I'm looking at *YOU*). In some cases, you can always go the unofficial route, but even so, you'll never have the device that fully fits what you're looking for when things are so locked down.

It's too bad that they're not always mutually exclusive. There are plenty of things that are both inconvienant and lack any sort of official customization options, (VZW I'm looking at *YOU*). In some cases, you can always go the unofficial route, but even so, you'll never have the device that fully fits what you're looking for when things are so locked down.