Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why Twitter might be correct in restricting 3rd party apps?



Outraged how Twitter banned Tweetro (Windows 8 app) because of some mythical limits of 100k user limit set by Twitter?

Though not pleased with Twitter decision to impose limits on bare clients given their shitty Android app and abandoning Mac app which used to be too good. But I come to conclude these 3rd party clients haven't evolved the way Twitter (and there web app) have evolved. Forcing developers to adhere to guidelines is part of the same reason to avoid Twitter getting hijacked by couple of apps used by most users. 

Remember UberMedia? UberMedia has got 5 different application for Twitter in Google Play Store for Android including newly launched Echofon (Free & Pro), TWIDROYD, UberSocial Pro. It's shady when same developer has 3 different app for Twitter, may be an tactics to overcome user limit? Likely TWIDROYD hasn't been updated few months before Echofon was launched.

And Twitter client have become something like an School/College project. Learning Android/iOS SDK, start with an Twitter app. This has resulted in flood of Twitter clients with no full feature and only confuse an non-techy person with no prior experience with Twitter clients.

To add this all every Twitter client does is,
1. Read Timeline
2. Retweet, Reply, DM
3. View Profile
4. Search User or hashtag

and then nothing. App targeting power users supports few more features,
1. Tweet Marker or remember TL position
2. Mute users/hashtag
3. X-Post to Facebook/Tumblr
4. Drafts

but what Twitter expects these power features to be are,
1. Read article or view image/video within client itself
2. Discover other users
3. And keep using Twitter.

An app becoming more than Twitter itself, isn't good for Twitter. All this put together is an big blow for developers who are developing Twitter client.

Will it hurt Twitter? Hard to say, few developers have stopped or pulled out their Twitter client and new ones are developing App.Net apps. Having not many 3rd party client didn't hurt Facebook that much but an not so useful client will.

In the end it'll come down to how Twitter plan to improve their client apps. Better follow Evernote, they give full attention to Mac, Windows, iOS & Android, and always make their client feature rich with fresh UI.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Has society changed?


"Never think what you have to offer is insignificant. There will always be someone out there that needs what you have to give.. "

Above was an quote from an IRC channel, which made me think how the way we help others have changed and how help offered has changed.

Given most government agencies has started to offer services via their site and data being released online most one needs is information on where to find it and what to do with it. All this had done is eliminate need for physical presence in offering help. Also has enabled anonymous help from faces which we may never see.

All this will have an defining effect on how the society will get shaped?



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why I might move out of @twitter


As @twitter as platform has grown the capabilities of it's service hasn't evolved with it. As such there are so many annoyances and difficulties in using @twitter.

Filtering Tweets: @twitter supports muting or blocking users for spam. But can't hide same tweet retweeted by multiple users. And no standard way to filter conversation involving 'others'. Two chatty people can pretty much fill the TL.

Not suited for discussion: Though one-to-one conversation works fine, it can get messy when involving more than few people. Facebook/Google+ are better suited for discussion rather than @twitter.

Too Casual: When @twitter decided not to sync unread tweets it was clear the focus of the platform is to be casual messaging network and not being an serious social network. And so @twitter will never be an replacement for Facebook or Google+. And with every day @twitter becomes an media and news discovery network connecting random people. Problem is there are other sites like Reddit which works better for discovering new stuff than @twitter.

As such only use of @twitter is casual rant/whine as and when required from mobile rather than of any use. With @twitter wanting to monetize the service at the earliest and the flaws which are by design, it's unlikely anything will change in near future.

tl;dr - @twitter doesn't serves any purpose for me

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rethinking the gagets strategy


Decision used to be plain simple - buy an laptop, wireless router and an smartphone. Lots have changed over the years and an buying gadgets is no longer simple.
Owning two wireless router already buying another one isn't an option for another couple of years. With the smartphone there isn't much of an option either, upgrade every 2-3 year to stay relevant. Only part most have to decide is on buying an tablet, laptop or an desktop. Laptop/Desktop is definitely an overkill 80% of the time for checking Reddit, Facebook or Twitter. Tablet feels natural for such tasks. Tablets suck when they come to internal storage. So it leads us to network storage. Leisurely read on tablet and stream music from network storage via wifi.

Given the above, thought what would I be buying if I had a chance to do this from scratch.

My home gadget plan would be,
1. Main wireless router in hall. Apple Airport Express so I can Airplay from laptop to external speakers. Cost: $99
2. Secondary router in bedroom which acts as an repeater but I would prefer an extended LAN from hall to bedroom. Linksys router running dd-wrt should do well. Cost: $40-50
3. Any decent smartphone should do, right now it's Galaxy Nexus. Almost beats iPhone. Cost: $400
4. Macbook Air 13", right now have an 15" Macbook pro which was based on the display resolution available 2 years back. Now 13" Macbook supports 1440*900 resolution and as powerful as my old 2010 15" MBP which serves my need very well. And cheaper. I prefer extending the use of my existing laptop and would suggest the same to others for simple reason CPU speed, RAM & HDD requirement has saturated and does;t need frequent upgrade as smartphone. Cost: $1200
5. Nexus 7, for the simple reason I already own Nexus phone and Android has got awesome and doesn't burn my wallet. Cost: $199
6. D-Link or Buffalo 2-bay NAS, this would costs around $200 without the drives. Supports backup for Macbook and can stream music to phone/tablet. Idea is to use two 2TB drive as RAID mirror for redundancy. Already got an 750GB WD external HDD which will transform to TimeMachine backup and all other stuff which doesn't need redundant backup. Cost: $150-200 and drives cost additional 2 x $130

Overall cost if one had to start fresh, $2379. More or less an cost of the new Retina Macbook pro.

If wall between hall & bedroom doesn't degrade wifi signal the secondary router is redundant. And one could wait for hard disk prices to come down or buy one disk now and other when the prices come down. Cost could be managed around $2100.

Any suggestions not compromising the expected functionality?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Apple's Mac apps gets boring and less useful?

During Windows XP era, first thing one do after installation is to use IE to download all sort of alternate apps like Firefox, Outlook/Thunderbird & Gtalk client. Same continued even when updareded to Vist and then to 7. Though IE improved a lot over time. However when I moved entirely to OS X nothing of that happened. With Snow Leopard Safari worked fine, Address book was functional and syncs fine with GMail, iChat can connect to Gtalk/Facebook, mail client worked fine with IMAP/Exchange with no conversation view and not much keyboard shortcut friendly. Unless someone is looking for an special functionality 3rd part application isn't required at all.

Things changed a lot with Lion upgrade. Safari doesn't provide smooth experience and will refresh page every time you hit back button. It'll also hange every now and then. Address book got the worst UI refresh. Mail client got little better with conversation view. And lastly iChat reamined the same. Yeh, iChat got plugin support which no one writes. iCal might be an exception as I like it better than in 10.6 though I use QuickCal most of the time and Remember the Milk primarily.

All of these made me look for alternative. Apps that get the works done without crippling the UI. Replaced mail app with Sparrow, cobook instead of address app and Chrome instead of Safari, RememberTheMilk & QuickCal instead of iCal.

All of this raises an question is OS X entering an era where people look for 3rd party apps and no more rely on Apple for bundled apps? Well executed Mac App Store will help this a lot. Or is it just an phase where few user don't like Apple's design but will eventually get along?

It's hard to say. May be these apps will improve over iteration but use of 3rd party apps instead of bundled apps will be on rise.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top 5 reasons to use Google Apps

1. Custom Domains
Why else would any one use it? Email id on your own domain name and not looking suspicious as spam.

2. Sync on all platforms
Owning an OS X device & Android, this is an blessing.

3. Not linked to Facebook
Staying away from noise. Most things happen in Facebook but the important ones still on Gmail.

4. Control Google Service
Pretty much turn of Google service to the minimum. All I have mail, docs, contacts, finance, G+. Compare this to normal Google account where every new service & product will be enabled by default.

5. There is no free alternative
Upto 10-users Google Apps is free. Can't find an free alternative for hosting email on my own domain. Fastmail, Hover and all are bloody costly.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RememberTheMilk on Mac

Fan of RememberTheMilk GTD and trying to find a way to use in Mac? You are not alone. Devs haven't made any announcement of desktop app. However there is an Outlook plugin for pro users. Had to say the webapp is nicely done, simple and still packs lots of features. Huge plus is keyboard shortcuts. Good thing is RTM supports iCal to which other calendar applications can subscribe to. It does not work both ways, can create new tasks.

There are two ways to half-integrate RTM in Mac,
1. Subscribe through Mac's in-built iCal. Simplest approach but iCal had to kept open to refresh changes in RTM which I don't prefer.
2. Second approach involves Google calendar and as a bonus will show RTM tasks in Android calendar application. RTM provides GCal widget but go ahead and subscribe to RTM iCal. Now RTM tasks will show up in application that support Google Calendar, one such app is QuickCal for Mac. QuickCal is a menu bar application and in one keyboard shortcut all RTM tasks will be listed.

One thing missing in above two approach is adding tasks to RTM. Well, there is a Ruby library that supports RTM api and can be used through Alfred to add tasks to RTM. Instructions here.

For full task management I still use RTM webapp but above two approach works well 75% of time without having to switch application.

Tips for Indian Users:
RTM supports reminders via SMS. Unfortunately only Reliance India is supported and RTM has no plans to expand it to Airtel/Vodafaone/Aircel which most use. However Twitter can send SMS for any direct message across mobile networks and RTM supports reminders via Twitter. Make use of it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What to do with Twitter?

Using Twitter is only limited by choice one make. Want to follow breaking news or music bands or an private message to a friend? No problem Twitter can do all that. Problem arises on how to consume all these tweets from various corner fo the world. Facebook manages these by prioritizing messages based on whom one interacts a lot and silently hiding updates from less active friends. Twitter does it in different way by not showing unread count. Ignoring updates is common to both networks.

'More' is a problem with Twitter as with any social network, especially for someone like me who don't like missing an update. My twitter client of choice Echofon remembers last read position making things easier. What happened lately is my following got out of control. If one were to explore 'whom to follow' suggestion we'll end up spam like posts in TL. None of people or blog sites or news feeds I followed in Twitter were spam. But as whole I started treating them as 'spam' and start to ignore posts which looked uninteresting on first glance. This is exactly when reading links in tweets went down and interacted less with other tweeples. Simply couldn't keep pace with least hundred of tweets every hour. Looking for a solution started to use Instapaper/Pinboard to mark posts to read later. Unfortunately twitter isn't my day job, filtering what to read and what not to. 'Read Later' wasn't the solution. Un-following is the only way out. But whom to unfollow and how pick on similar ones?

After some thought came with a solution to use combination of Twitter and RSS feed reader.

  1. Unfollow ones who simply linked RSS feed to twitter and have no intention of interacting on Twitter. Quite a lot of new sites do that. Almost all Indian news sites other than FirstPost are simply bots. Would we buy more than 2 newspaper? NO.

  2. Unfollow Science & Maths related ones, as it requires some quality time to read properly. RSS reader is best fit for this.

  3. Unfollow people (not real life friends) who spent all day on twitter and chatty. One line jokers & funny people mostly, good to have them in TL but not must.

  4. Use twitter lists to catch up with casual ones without the need to follow.

What is left is - breaking news, gadgets & technology, friends & random people with interest in similar topics (Politics, Business, Cricket, Liberals) with whom I may agree or disagree.

After all these my twitter TL is under control. Even after a hectic day I can pretty much catch up all things happened in Twitterverse.

TL;DR - RSS isn't dead. Following more than 150 active twitter accounts is spammy.

PS: Initial comparison between Twitter & Facebook is to show Facebook is no better.