Category Archives: Social Networking

TweetNow

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The concept is simple.  You need to update your status or send a quick tweet.  You find an interesting link or article you want to post.  No time to catch up on what is going on in the Twitterverse or the 300 tweets you are behind on.  Just need to post an update.  That’s TweetNow!

TweetNow is a simple WPF application designed to allow for posting quick updates to a Twitter account.  It is currently in development and is actively being tested by our staff of testers.  Well, not really staff.  Just me.  And a few friends.

Initial Release Features

– Secure authentication via oAuth
– Multiple account support
– Automatic URL shortening

Future Release Features

– Minimize to system tray
– Hotkey activation
– Post photos to TwitPic

Updating your social network is a snap!

In my previous post, I talked about the difficulty keeping all your social networking sites up to date. When I was trying out Blogo tonight, I came across Ping.fm.

The premise of Ping.fm is that “Ping.fm is a simple service that makes updating your social networks a snap.”

Exactly what I need. Once you create your free account at Ping.fm, the dashboard allows you to add a number of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Flickr, and lots more. That means that you update from one spot, and the update gets pushed to the rest of those services automatically. Pretty neat stuff.

Blog Clients for the Mac

Although primarily I’m a PC, I do like to see what options are available outside my virtualized environment and available on the Mac.

Mac has a whole array of blogging applications available with a variety of features, but I’ve never been a fan of any of them. I’ve stayed pretty close to Windows Live Writer and have done most of my blogging from that platform.

That being said, it’s been a couple of months and I thought I’d do a another search for some good blogging tools for the Mac. I came across two of them tonight, one of which I am using for this entry.

First of all is ScribeFire. This is a nice little blogging tool that integrates directly into the Firefox browser. No separate application installation required, just a small plug-in for the browser. Full editor with a lot of the features that most bloggers would be looking for and some pretty darn good user reviews. I used it for a previous post I did on virtualizing Exchange and it worked just fine.

I am kind of the opinion that browser plug-ins can be pretty limited and their stability questionable at times because of dependencies on the browser itself, but ScribeFire seems pretty solid.

Secondly was Blogo. This is a full-blown Mac application with a pretty fantastic GUI; maybe a little overdone. The cool part about this application is it’s ability to microblog, that is, post mini-entries to Twitter. Not only can I do that, but if I create a regular blog posting for my website, it will automatically post a link to my Twitter account so you’re really getting some nice cross-platform interaction.

Part of the problem with the social networking era is that there are a handful of sites that are expecting you to update your “status”, but who really does that? A tool that can do it all at once, whether it be just your blog, or your blog…plus Twitter…plus Facebook. Pretty powerful.

ScribeFire is free which is always nice. Blogo will cost you $25 after the 21-day trial. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s your favorite blogging tool?

Twitter

I’m still trying to understand the premise behind Twitter.  It’s one of those projects that really caught on.  Twitter’s claim to fame is that they offer a way for people all over cyberspace to see what everybody else is up to.  The question is simple: what are you doing right now?

You can post a response (known as a “tweet”) to your Twitter page via the Twitter website, instant message, or third-party applications which support the Twitter API.  It seems like such a simple concept that who would really care to use this?

You’d be surprised.  Twitter went live in March 2006, and though its tough to find exact numbers around their user base, it grew substantially in the first half of 2007.  But why is it so interesting to hear that “I’m painting my bedroom” or “watching Friends re-runs” and sharing that with the entire world?  Who knows, but it certainly seems to encourage the type of behavior that leads to wasting lots of time. 

But there are some interesting dialogues that take place over Twitter.  Last week when Yahoo! was in the midst of layoffs, Ryan Kuder, a (now ex) Yahoo! employee twittered his entire experience from getting the call to pack up his office, to the end of the day turning in his badge and his final campus latte.  You can read “Getting Fired At Yahoo: A Twitter Log” over at Silicon Alley Insider.  It’s pretty interesting and makes the Twitter concept a little more intriguing.

So, last week I signed up for a Twitter account to give it a try.  I was more interested in evaluating the API to see if I could find something useful to use it for.  In a couple of nights, I wrote a Windows Mobile application for my phone to be able to send tweets from wherever I was at at any given moment based on the Twitter API and a wrapper that needed to be reworked a little to run with Windows Mobile.  I’m not sure how active I will be as a Twitterer, but I had to see what it was all about.

Migrating to a New Blog Engine

Some time ago I made the switch to using WordPress as my primary blogging engine.  I hosted it myself and had mySQL and PHP for the infrastructure.

WordPress is a tried and true blogging engine so I was very impressed at its stability and performance.  One thing I didn’t like, which wasn’t really shortfall of the application, was my inability to customize and build my own themes.  The platform was PHP which made it very difficult for me since I really have no background in PHP.  I was “stuck” with off the shelf themes and the inability to customize the engine to my needs.

The other night I came across an open-source app called BlogEngine.net.  This is available for free from CodePlex and is developed by a community of dotnet junkies.  They leverage things like user controls, master pages, and other features of the .NET Framework.  Exactly what I was looking for.

The installation is straight-forward and doesn’t require anything special.  The primary storage for blog pages and posts is in an XML file.  You also have the option to use a SQL database.  In my migration I am just using the default XML option.  It works for what I use it for.

There are a lot of extra capabilities built into the product that I don’t use.  You can read more about those on their website.

I migrated my blog over to this new engine this last week.  The migration from WordPress was difficult since there are a not a lot of tools to do so.  The default tool does an export from either BlogML or RSS.  With RSS you can only export the post contents; this doesn’t get your comments for you.  BlogML is a implementation of RSS that extends the structure to include additional information like comments and categories.

Like I said, I didn’t have very good luck in exporting.  I basically was able to track down a WordPress to BlogML plugin for WordPress that replaces the existing RSS export capabilities.  The big problem I experienced was the export failed to pull all of my categories due to a database error and left all of my posts with no category association.  I spent most of the weekend fixing this.  That wasn’t much fun.

I also worked on porting the theme I was using in WordPress to the new engine.  That was simpler, but there are still a few quirky things with the new engine when it comes to building out a stylesheet for the theme.

BlogEngine.net has have support for the Metaweblog API so you can use most blogging tools like Windows Live Writer.

Do you Twitter?

I saw Scoble mention this earlier on his blog today.

Don’t get all worked up.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  It’s not a medical condition, or something funny you do that keeps people staring directly at you.

A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!

It’s a pretty simple concept.  You can check out Twitter.com to see what people all around the world are doing at this exact moment.  Things like “trying to look busy at the office” are commonplace.  You can submit your answer via phone, IM or their website.

So, join the network, add some friends and Twitter away.