Twhirl Updates, Now Integrated with FeedFriend

I love the concept of lifestreaming. Initially I used Tumblr, but then specific web apps started to turn up and I checked them all out and kept coming back to FeedFriend. With the release today of the latest update to twhirl, the popular twitter client now owned by seesmic; my decision to use FeedFriend was consolidated.

It took a while to work out that the latest iteration of twhirl now incorporates FeedFriend. So now, once set up you get a window just like the twitter one but in it is the feed from FeedFriend. You can see everything that your friends are doing, blog posts, tweets and everything else that they have added to their FeedFriend account right in Twhirl!

Although I rave about the virtues of RSS this is different. FeedFriend summarizes all my friends social networking and blogging activities in one place. Not only do I see updates as they happen, but it is content that I would follow more closely if I could. Now I can. I am interested in what they have to say but as you know my RSS reader can look like a train wreck at times and I miss things. Now I don’t have to.

But it doesn’t just stop at being able to see what they are doing but I can also comment on them as well. The comments go to FeedFriend and not the place where they were posted though. This might mean on average fewer page views over time. But I do have to read the post and that you have to go to the post to do. Video however is displayed on FeedFriend. So I am more likely to comment in FeedFriend. Which is also part of the functionality of the new FeedFriend feature in Twhirl.

There is no doubt for me that this feature has changed my online life. I am going to be able to be more involved with the conversation and more inclined to do so. It has consolidated my online friends and people that I like and enjoy to watch. It makes the content more relevant. twhirl is becoming a killer app.

One thing that I thought was not that clear were the instruction on how to make the magic happen. So, quick summary here.

  1. Download twhirl, you will also need to install Adobe AIR Runtime. You’ll be prompted to do so if you have not got it already.
  2. Go to settings and Click the “Open Accounts”. Here you can add your twitter accounts (and yes multiple accounts for twitter are supported).
  3. Open Accounts from the settings screen

  4. Now the cool FriendFeed stuff, use the pulldown menu to select “FriendFeed” and enter your FriendFeed user name (it is the one that appears in your URL for FeedFriend).
  5. Click “Connect”, you will be prompted to enter your remote key. If you don’t know it there is a link to get it – or try this one. Get your remote key
  6. That is it, your done. You will now see a separate window with your FeedFriend friends feed in it

Hope that helps some people.

I have noticed that the FriendFeed servers are under a bit of strain, timing out and being unavailable and other interesting errors. Maybe the timeline for FriendFeed doesn’t update as it should, like mine is tending to do. But I am sure these problems will be fixed in time. I am excited about these changes and new features. Loving it, the seesmic and twhirl teams deserve a slap on the back, thanks guys. Keep up the great work.

There is a video from Loic on the new features but the instructions are not that great but listening to Loic is. Feel free to add me to FeedFriend, I think I am going to be using it more!

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Flickr Make it Easier to Share Images

You see an image on Flickr and you want to share it with a friend or a family member. Now you have to copy and paste the link into an email or some other form of getting that link to them, right… Not any more.

Send_to_a_friend screenshotFlickr have introduced easy photo sharing right from the source of the image. Now my only problem was that after hearing about the feature and wanting to check it out but I’d be damned if I could find the feature. After a bit of looking around in a few menus  and having no luck I went back to the image page and looked more thoroughly. I spotted the option in the bottom right of the page in small print. “Send to a Friend”

Not sure why Flickr has made this feature so hard to find. Or is that that I am not observant enough? Features like this should be easy to find and use. No problem with the ease of use, in fact 10/10. They get a 2/10 for easy to find, in my opinion. Maybe they are trying to save on the bandwidth or something. Beats me.

Clicking that link throws you to a page with the option to send the image via email or to another Flickr member. There is a default message that you can add to or just send as is. The default message is fine in my book. I sent one to myself. The cool thing about this feature is that the recipient gets the message and the image in their inbox with an additional link to the page on Flickr that it comes from. What this means is that they can save the image locally. To save a photo on Flickr from the web page you have to have an account and be logged in. Now you don’t, provided someone with an account send it to you.

Nice feature and I think I might actually upgrade my account to a pro account as this is great for family and friends and I am going to use it a lot. I am actually trying to update my Flickr page more often, to keep the family in the loop a bit better. Some of our family are a couple of 1000 kay away and I know they will appreciate it. Thanks Flickr!

Flickr_Home_Screenshot

Add Platial Maps Widget to Your WordPress.com Blog

As you can see there have been a few changes around here. I found some motivation from somewhere and decided to update the widgets and ended up with a whole new look. I am still working on a few things but if you find something that isn’t quite right let me know. Since I was editing the widgets for the new theme I came across a new widget for WordPress.com users. It looks like I got the hop on the WordPress guys on this one as they are yet to release it.

You will notice in the sidebar widgets that there is now a Platial Mapkit widget available. Add it to your sidebar and it will show a mini map of the starting location that you specify when you set it up. Cool, but it gets better, you can add places with placemarks and readers can add their own with comments. Tag placemarks, add users as buddies and more.

Platial Mapkit Widget SampleThe Widget displayed is the one you see here. My options have been included but you can make yours up to whatever you wish. You will have to create an account if you wish to use the widget in your blog. I have also added a placemark for the approximate location of this blog’s HQ, so you can see what they look like.

The map is powered by Google Maps and therefore includes either a map view a satellite view or a mix. As well as zooming in and out and all the usual Google Map goodness. I also noticed a Google Earth link on my homepage map I set up on Platial to take a look at it.

I have not added the widget to this blog, I’d rather keep the lines that I do and not stuff it full of other stuff. Plus it is another thing I have to keep track of if it was here. Although the map I created is available to view, you can see it here. Platial is not only open to WordPress.com users but all bloggers and site designers. So if this is your cup of tea then take a look. The design is simple and to the point and the size is good for a blog, it will fit most if not all blog sidebars. I had not heard of the service before now but it looks pretty good and a bit of fun.

WordPress.com users need to click the link on the widget when it is selected in the set-up. The link is in the text “Making maps at Platial is free”.

Create an account and configure it as you wish. It is fairly simple and straight forward. You can edit these settings easily after you have joined as well so don’t worry too much if you make a mistake.

The last bit is a bit tricky, since I had no “instructions” from the guys here at WordPress I had to work it out. The widget asks you to type in the “Platial Map Id:”. This is the last digits that you see at the end of the Bookmark for your map widget that you have created. That is the Map Id that you need to enter into the widget field and hit submit.

Once that is done just slide the widget into place on your sidebar and save the changes and your done. WordPress we have maps!

Platial Screenshot

This Blog is Part of the Beta Group to Test Snap!

I have just learned that the Rooster’s Rail is part of the beta group of blogs on WordPress that is testing a plugin called Snap, which is short for Snap Preview Anywhere™. I am very very excited about being a part of this group. I saw Snap some time ago and liked the concept a lot. So much so that I have requested that it be implemented on The Global Geek Podcast Blog. Hopefully that is happening in the next couple of months. For those people that don’t know what Snap is you are probably asking, what the heck is The Rooster on about now?

Snap is a great feature that enables visitors to your site or blog mouse or hover over a link and have a preview pop up. Yeah it is just eye-candy really. But it does give you a bit of an idea if you want to go to a site or not, what it looks like. The images are high resolution so they look great. Or maybe you are just curious and don’t want to visit but just have a peek. Tops, this is great for that. In addition to that it is just plain cool!

Anyone can have Snap on their site by signing up and placing some code in their page. Us WordPressers don’t have the ability to put this type of code in our pages, especially since this is a script. Yet again the WordPress gurus have come through and are giving us feature after feature, and now we get Snap! Woot. This is definitely a place you want to be. I continue to be impressed and pleased to be a part of this community.

For those that absolutely dislike this feature, you can disable it. Doing this will disable Snap on any site not just the one you are looking at. You must refresh the page to not see them. The good thing is that it is not permanent. Disabling it works by using a cookie in your browser. So if you want the functionality of Snap back just delete your browser cookies.

This is a great feature for WordPress users and readers and I sure hope that they keep it. I like it and I think it is useful. Thanks Matt and crew another winner in my book and I am looking forward to seeing it utilized in my posts. Readers of this blog, I would love to know what you think and I will include your comments in my feedback to WordPress Admin. I would also be interested to know what other beta testers here thought about it.

Snap Preview Anywhere Screenshot

Closing Tabs in Firefox

Get Firefox!I don’t understand this, even the Scobleizer is saying it. Firefox 2 RC2 was released yesterday and I see Scoble is saying that it is much faster and:

“(it has the improved tabs that IE 7 has, where the close box is on the tab itself, much nicer).”

I agree the tab thing has been a long requested feature, but I still don’t know why. Comparing Firefox to IE, Ugh!

I have had the ability to close each tab that I open from the tab itself for as long as I can remember in the current version! As you do! I can not remember where I read it but I think it was something entitled “Power User Tips for Firefox” or something like that. I would not have a clue of the URL so please don’t ask. But I remember having the same issue with closing tabs being new to Firefox at the time. In this document I read that for those with a three button mouse – hover the tab and click the wheel, tab now closed. For those that did not know the wheel is a button as well; it is.

At least one commenter has said it related to Scoble’s post, smart cookie “Woody” says:

““Middle-click” has always closed tabs. There is no need for the close icon. Middle click on a link opens the url in a new tabs. I imagine must people don’t realize the power of the “middle click”. And if you using an old Mac mouse you never will.”

I have done this for ages and it still surprises me that people are still unaware of this feature, especially self confessed geeks! I just hope that the feature remains in Firefox 2, otherwise I will have to get used to left clicking the now included close icon!

Nice Feature Added to Skype 2.6 Beta

Skype LogoI was fairly damning of the new 2.6 beta for Skype. I was harsh because I did not think that anything was all that new, interesting, useful or innovative. But today I have learned of a new feature that is pretty cool.

They have added a bandwidth indicator. This is a great curiosity tool and just plain interesting. Despite what new users of Skype might think, Skype really does not consume that much bandwidth and this little feature shows you just how much it does use. Down the bottom of the call window there is an icon, hover over it and it will give you a read out of bandwidth in and out.

Skype bandwidth indicator

This feature was one requested by developers but for the rest of use it is useful and interesting. I guess it is like having a thermometer at home, it doesn’t really change what you wear but it is interesting and fun to have and compare. Same with this and geeks love this stuff and it appeals to us.

I am not sure if the feature accurately measures bandwidth in a video call but that would be good to know.

Cool feature Skype boys and girls but where is the record button? By the way you have to enable this feature in the advanced options to see it.