Ed and Dan have introduced some great tools for this years challenge during pre-season and I thought I’d share my thoughts on them so far.
Flock is a “social media” browser built on the Mozilla engine (the same engine Firefox uses). Part of it’s awesomeness is that *most* firefox extensions will work in Flock. In fact, so far, of all the extensions I use (about 20), I’ve not found one that isn’t compatible. Another great thing about Flock is that a lot of the other tools (like twitter, youtube, facebook, etc) all integrate with the browser which means you can sign in to those accounts automatically. It even integrates with all your Google accounts, including gmail.
One of the coolest things about Flock, is that it makes subscribing to RSS feeds super simple. On any page with a live feed, a little RSS icon will turn orange on your address bar. All you have to do is click that icon and it subscribes to the feed for you. It’ll even remember your favorite feed reader and load it right in.
And the second coolest thing about Flock is the Media Bar. Anytime you land on a page (like flickr, youtube, and the like), that has media like videos and pictures, a bar opens up at the top of the browser window and shows you all of the content on that page. You can subscribe to the content, even! Just like an RSS feed!
Twitter is definitely awesome! It’s like a mini conversation hub. You can share thoughts, ideas, links and just about anything else – as long as it’s only 140 characters long. It brings “social” to your desktop and allows you to interact, in real time, with other twitterers all around the world.
I’ve actually been using Twhirl for quite some time (at the prompting of some of my Twitter friends) and at first, I didn’t really like it. But I’ve gotten to where it’s one of those tools I’d rather not be without. Twhirl is simply a desktop client, compatible to both Windows and Mac, that uses Adobe Air as it’s platform and allows you to Twitter from your desktop as opposed to Twitter’s web interface. (You can even use Pownce from Twhirl.) If you Twitter – and you SHOULD – check out Twhirl.
This is one awesome reader! I used to use bloglines and although I liked it, it was lacking function that I found frustrating. I then went to a desktop client for a while until I finally decided to try Google Reader. One of the things I like best is the ability to use what’s called list view. This allows me to see the blog name, the post title and brief snippet of the opening paragraph. It lets me decide if I want to open it up and read it or not. And I’ll tell ya, with over 300 feeds in my reader, it sure makes reading A LOT faster.
And just like gmail, Google Reader has a star system so you can save the ones you like most for easy finding later. It also allows you to organize your feeds by folders. I keep all of my “must reads” in a folder called Favorites and browse it first every day.
You can also set it show only new posts or to show all posts. I love this feature and keep it set on show new that it’s easy to find new stuff and be bogged down by stuff I’ve already read.
If you have the greasemonkey and the stylish extensions installed, you can even view the actual post page form the originating blog. This is great if you want to leave a comment but don’t want to have to go to the blog to actually do it. A very big time saver for me.
Ok . . . this is getting rather long and I’m only half way through the cool tools. So, for your sake, dear reader, I will break this into 2 chunks and post part 2 tomorrow.
~ Annie (lsandrsn on the 30dc forum)
GTalk – silverlunace