Hootsuite 2.0 Twitter Web App

hoosuitelogoYes, your humble author was one of the lucky few that managed to grab one of the 100 free private beta invites from Mashable last night. And here comes my little write up of what you can expect to see from Hootsuite after it comes out from its web 2.0 update. For any of you who don’t know (or haven’t guessed from the title) Hootsuite is yet another web app for twitter.

Interface:

I have to say that Hootsuite has to be, as far as web apps go, one of the most powerful I’ve seen. I actually prefer it over twitter itself for the amount of control over the different Twitter streams that can be aggregated. Firstly, when you sign on to the new Hootsuite you find yourself now presented with a tabbed interface (which is completely dragable). The default tab is a welcome page with updates from Hootsuite and featured users. By default there is also a second tab with your twitter profile home feed, replies, DM’s and pending tweets (because yes, with Hootsuite you can set tweets for later).

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But this is only the beginning. The true power of the new Hootsuite is in the custom tabs which you can create to aggregate pretty much any data from twitter and save it into a tabs and columns within those tabs. The columns you can create are cover just about every range of data that you could want to monitor on twitter, anything from keyword tracking (up to a maximum of 3 in one search), twitter search, and the ability to organise people into different groups (eg. friends, co-workers, etc.) and the number of columns and tabs seems practically unlimited.

Multiple Accounts:

Another great feature of Hootsuite (which hasn’t changed much since the original version) is the ability to add multiple user accounts so those of you with more than 1 can keep track and post to multiple accounts all in one place. Other profiles can also be added as ‘admin’ level or ‘editor’ level so that if your a company or blog, you can have multiple people handling different twitter accounts from one place.

Integration:

And its not just posting to twitter that Hootsuite provides for. The site also gives good connections into Ping.fm so you should be able to post to just about anything. They also have connection for RSS/atom feeds if your one to use your twitter account as an RSS reader.

Stats:

Finally Hootsuite update is going to include twitter statistics for the links in your tweets. They get broken down into graphs displaying number of clicks per day, from what region of the world and the top refers for the links. A very useful little tool if you have a blog that shares posts on twitter to monitor how many people your pulling from twitter.

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As i mentioned early Hootsuite is still currently in Private beta, but keep your eyes peeled for any information about when they plan on releasing it to the public. From the looks of it it shouldn’t be too long now!

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Brighten Up Your Blog With Social Buttons

social_buttonsIf you happen to be a regular reader of this little blog you might have noticed that I have added some new profile links and a RSS link to the right hand side of his blog. I thought it might brighten it up a bit and make it look a tad more professional.

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Unfortunately I can’t take credit for them in anyway (I happen to be terrible at photoshop), but they come from a great site called mysocialbuttons.com which provides all sorts of swanky graphics which you can use to proudly display your user profiles across the web for all to see (as you can see I’ve provided a few examples). And the best part is that it’s all available for absolutely nothing! All of the buttons have links back to the original authors where you should be able to get terms of use etc.

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The site provides lots of different icons and badges collected into different sets from most popular social networks including Digg, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Delicious and Flickr. Often the icons are supported in multiple sizes so there’s bound to be a style that suites your blog. Although it is worth mentioning that not all collections include icons for all social services.

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Spotify: Good Music For Free

Are you bummed out that YouTube is removing all of its music videos? Wondering where your going to get your fix of free music? Spotify is the answer.

Ok, this is probably one of my best software finds ever. I actually cannot believe how long I have gone without using this program now that I know about it.

Spotify is a freely available application which you can download to your pc and will let you browse through an extensive library of music (and i really mean extensive, not perfect but much better than i was expecting), in what I am sure is a rip off of the iTunes style interface. But the most impressive part is that not once has Spotify ever given me a “Buffering” or “Loading” sign at all (and I’m using a not-to-spectacular 3G connection) and the audio quality is crystal clear.

spotify

 

The program itself is pretty solid, with the majority of features you’d expect: search, there’s a radio function provided, and they provide a “what’s new?” and “top lists” section. They even include the ability to create your own play lists so that you can keep you favourite tracks close.

That all sounds fantastic I hear you say, “But what’s the catch?” Well I’m afraid that there is just one: every 10 or so songs you have to listen to an audio ad which lasts about 30s, and there are a few little pop ups occasionally, but that’s it. Hardly bad considering your getting unlimited amounts of music for free. However if you are really bothered by this you can buy a monthly subscription or a day pass to rid yourself of the ads.

At the moment Spotify will run on both Windows or Mac, but I’ve seen it running with Wine on Linux and there were absolutely no problems with it.

Iphone App: Wunder Radio

In this mornings post I’m going to give a little write up to the Wunder Radio app, winner of best radio app at Macworld 2008.

Wunder Radio does pretty much what it says on the tin, it’s an Iphone app which allows the user to connect to hundreds of local and internet radio stations across your area and across the globe.

Wunder Radio comes with most of the features you would hope you’d find. You can search for a radio station, or browse through categories of genre, location etc.  Wunder Radio has the ability to show you local radio stations near you via GPS (invaluable for local news, weather, traffic reports etc.)You can also favorite a radio station at the touch of a button. Another great feature is that it displays similar radio station suggestions along with the one your tuned into, making it easy for discovery of new stations. If you can’t fine the radio station your looking for then you can even enter your own URL to add it to your library. When your listening in to your favorite station, Wunder Radio will give you recommendations of ‘stations like this’ allowing you to find new stations to your taste.

What makes this app really good is that it is one of those few apps that just work when you want them to. I’ve been using it for a little while and it always buffers relatively fast, even on a slow connection. And i have never had it crash. The downside is that it eats into the battery like theres no tomorrow. It also costs im afraid, the heft price of £3.49 (or about $5.01), but I have to say that it is definatley worth it if you love your radio.

Skydrive – 25GB of free online storge

20px|Windows Live Logo Windows Live SkyDrive
Image via Wikipedia

I cant believe I’m about to praise a Microsoft product, but i have to say, that this is a very useful tool indeed.

Skydrive is basically and online storage space for documents, photos etc. offering you 25GB of space online for free, all you have to do is sign in with your Windows Live account (or just create one).

Once in you have the ability to create folders and photo albums, decide whether there shared or not, even change the background etc. very much like the windows file system. One of the features i like most about it is that you can change the permissions of the people who are allowed to view and edit the files and folders, ranging from everyone to specific individuals who i select. I’m currently using Skydrive to share photos around my family.

Great, whats the catch? i here you say. Well yes, being Microsoft there is always a catch which is that you cannot upload files bigger than 50MB in one go. So while being great for documents, photos etc. there isn’t much room for videos. And there are other services offering a larger amount of space (ADrive for example) but they don’t offer the same group editing for free. Still, despite this i don’t think that 25GB of free space is anything to be grumbled at.

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Still Using IE? Just Try These:

I realise that i haven’t done a post in a little while so i thought I’d get back into it with this one. I’m going to have a little look at the web browsers that are out there right now and see some of the benefits and faults they offer. And no, I’m not just going to whine on about how Firefox rules all (even though it does). Anyway, lets get on with it.

Firefox

Yup, I’m going to get the big one out of the way with first. Anyone who ever thought “Hey, you know what? IE sucks so much that there must be something better out there” knows what an achievement Firefox is. The best part of Firefox for me is not the browser itself, but the huge extensions library that it comes with. Firefox would be nothing with out its add-ons allowing the user to completely revolutionise not only the looks a

nd style of  Firefox but its entire functionality. As i type these words, about 3 extensions are currently helping to build it quicker and easier than anything that could be achieved in any other browsers.

Apart from the extensions, there are multiple features that put Firefox a notch above the rest. For one thing its one of the safest browsers out there, far more secure than Internet Explorer. In the year since i discovered Firefox, i have not had one virus infect my PC, as compared with the many, many infections achieved thanks to IE.

Another reason for choosing Firefox it is one of the quickest browsers out there on the web, i pretty well has the competition beat on speed. The only browser I’ve found that beats it is Midori which is only available for Linux, so for everyone else go for Firefox.

Get Firefox

Flock
Image via Wikipedia

Flock

Flock is the lesser known cousin to Firefox. Boasting similar characteristics to Firefox and even sharing the extensions library (it has its own until a few months ago when the projects were merged). There is a big and very useful difference to it. Flock prides itself on being the “social web browser”. For any of you out there who love social networks as much as i do, you will find this one a real treat.

Flock is all about integration into social networks straight from your web browser. At the moment flock currently supplies integration tools with sites such as Digg, Twitter, Pownce, Picasa, Facebook, Myspace, Delicious, Youtube and more. Flock also has a built in blog editor with support for most major blogging platforms as well as mail connections. There is also an inbuilt photo up loader for supported photo accounts.

Personally, i really like flock, and it would most likely be my second choice to Firefox, but for some reason i find that i tend to stick with Firefox due to its simplicity. Because its built on the Mozilla platform, flock shares many of the same features as Firefox, but for those of you who like a lot of integration, then flock is highly recommended.

Get Flock

Google Chrome

Google Chrome
Image via Wikipedia

A few months back Google decided that it would get in on the web browser scene with its own web browser. The first thing i thought when i heard about it was oh no, here’s another condemned to fail Google experiment that will be crushed by the likes of Firefox in a few months. But while not exactly conquering the browser-verse, i has enjoyed more success that i was expecting.

The best thing about Google Chrome has to be simplicity, while the previous two browsers have lots of shiny bells and whistles in the form of add-ons etc. Chrome has the exact opposite, while still managing to be a pretty effective tool. The interface is minimalistic and scarce. It loads up and its basically screen and address bar, not much else. There is however one feature that a lot of people like which other browsers don’t have: the incognito window. Going to the menu in Chrome and you have an option to “Open a new incognito window”. This will bring up a new window very much like any other, but will allow you to pursue anonymous browsing across the web without running through an external site, giving integration others don’t have.

I think Chrome is a remarkably good attempt from Google and with a little continued improvement, Chrome could grow up to be a very good little browser. I would definitely recommend for those whom want simplicity and functionality.

Get Chrome

Opera

Opera has been around for a little while now, but that doesn’t mean that its in anyway out dated. I don’t tend to use it too much, but there are a few things that i like about it. Firstly, there’s the way that it handles tabs, which i think is better than any other browser on the net, the best part being that it has a “closed tabs” function that allows you to re open recent closed tabs rather than trail through your history, this is something that i have to have an add-on for in Firefox. The second feature is its speed dial start-up, something which has also been turned into a Firefox add-on and I’m pretty sure Chrome nicked it for there start-up as well. Basically speed dial allows you to set up your 9 favorite sites and you can just press and number to access that site in a button click. The final feature is its in-built mail accounts, much like the one mentioned in Flock.

Get Opera

Safari

Anyone who has an Iphone or Itouch will know what Safari is. Its the standard Mac browser as well(you wouldn’t guess it’s made by Apple?. To be honest with you this is a pretty good choice for anyone who wants something a bit like Internet explorer, but doesn’t want anything too far off. It’s a lot faster than IE, but as for features it really doesn’t differ that much, and its not nearly as simplistic as Google Chrome, but it certainly makes for a nice middle ground. But if your looking for something a bit more exciting I’d suggest you try elsewhere.

Get Safari

So thats it, i eurgh all you Internet Explorer users to go out and give something else a try! Whats your favorite browser? Have i missed one? Leave some feedback…

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Gumtree: Get Your Second Hand Stuff

gumtreeI recently needed an new monitor for my desktop computer but your average PC World charges well over the price that i can afford on my income. However i have managed to solve this problem (as usual) with technology.

Gumtree is basically Craigslist but for the UK (and some world city’s, but not the US), which makes it a lot more helpful to me (being a UK resident). The main advantage to UK residents is that it has support for a lot more towns/cities. On Craigslist my town wasn’t even listed, but on Gumtree there was even smaller towns listed in my surrounding area.

I found that the user interface was much more user friendly and easier on the eye than Craigslist. It’s easy to find your local location as most of the web addresses start with yourtown.gumtree.com, or the site has a location finder.

Gumtree’s services provide all the things you’d expect to find on a classifides adds site. The is support for properties and room, jobs, personals and (my favorite) free stuff! Gumtree allows contact to posters via a telephone number or e-mail address, and also has the ability to subscribe via e-mail to any updates in a catagories you might want to monitor.

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