August 12, 2009

Coolest power tools of some top geeks

The Geeks

JD LasicaDuring the Traveling Geeks’ trip to the United Kingdom last month, I spent some time polling the Geeks about the productivity and must-have tools that they use during the course of a typical workday.

I did the same thing during the first Geeks trip to Israel last year and came away with a wealth of apps, some of which I incorporated into my daily routine: See Tools the alpha geeks use. Back then, the list included Qik, TweetScan, FriendFeed, Skype, Bloglines, Pandora, Foxytunes, NetVibes, Socialthing, Seesmic, Adium — and it serves as an interesting snapshot in time of what tools some of the top Bay Area bloggers and technologists were using in spring 2008.

This time around there was more emphasis on social media services like Twitter as well as multimedia apps. Among the tools in the Geeks’ arsenal: Zemanta, Tweetdeck, HootSuite, PeopleBrowsr, Mindjet, Shopstyle and Friendfeed (Twitter and Facebook are givens). Remember, this is a partial, on-the-fly list of useful tools — intended to introduce readers to some apps they might not be using — and not a comprehensive list, and it also doesn’t take into consideration any of the startup apps’ we were introduced to in the UK.

Also, whether you’re a geek or not, please add your favorite tools in the comments so we can all learn what works for you!

Here’s our rundown:

JD Lasica

JD & MeghanFirefox, with occasional forays into Flock and Safari; Firebug and Zemanta plug-ins

WordPress, the open-source platform for my Socialmedia.biz and Socialbrite.org blogs

• I just started using HootSuite 2.0, a Web-based, Ajax-smart Twitter application that I find superior (so far) to the downloadable Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop apps. (I’m @jdlasica on Twitter.)

Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheets, which are superior to Google Docs (though I use the latter when forced)

Fetch tied to BBEdit, to manage files on my blogs’ servers

Snapz Pro X, to capture images and movies from any Mac computer screen

Flickr Uploadr, to batch-upload photos to my Flickr photostream

Paparazzi, a wonderful tool for Mac users to capture entire Web pages — even the portions that appear below the fold

zohoFinal Cut Express for almost all my video editing

Gmail for email and to store files in the cloud

Google Talk and Skype for most of my chats

Delicious for social bookmarking in the cloud

Google Reader to keep track of blogs and share stories to Socialbrite

Vimeo and Blip.tv for video sharing

VLC, the open source media player, to watch videos in almost any format

• Still alternating between iTunes and Pandora for my music jones

• Still trying to learn QuickSilver (so far unsuccessfully) for keyboard shortcuts. Considering LaunchBar.

Google calendar to manage my events, though I need to get back to using Upcoming more.

Facebook for wasting time

iPhone apps: Google maps (for location), Stanza and eReader (for reading), experimenting with Twitterfon, Tweetdeck, Twittelator and Simply Tweet for Twitter, Evernote (for keeping notes online), Loopt and Google Latitude for geo-awareness, Yelp for restaurants, Rocket Taxi, iTalk and QuickVoice (for interviews and recording random thoughts)

Robert Scoble

Robert ScobleRobert — the former famed Microsoft blogger — has gone to an all-Mac household (“I like the OS better,” he says), though he runs Windows 7 using Parallels Desktop on his MacBook Pro laptop.

Robert generally chooses his apps to run in the cloud rather than buying OEM packaged software. “I’m trying to move my life completely to the browser. Ido everything on the Internet. The only thing I do locally is video editing,” for which he uses iMovie for his personal videos.

Some of his choice apps:

peoplebrowsrFriendfeed (“Friendfeed is my chat application.”)

PeopleBrowsr, for social media search

Mindjet, for mindmapping presentations

Tweetdeck, to manage Twitter

Seesmic, to post video and manage Twitter

Google Docs and Spreadsheets for free office applications

iPhone 3GS, SimplyTweet and whole bunch of other apps

iMovie

Howard Rheingold

Howard RheingoldFirefox

CopyPaste Pro: “If I had to recommend only one tool for Mac users, this would be it. It remembers the last 200 objects of any media type that I cut or copied to the clipboard.”

Skype for voice over IP

Google Talk for chat

Social Media Classroom (of course)

Diigo, a research and knowledge-sharing tool

socialmediaclassroomFinal Cut Express

GraphicConverter

Seesmic Desktop

Powerpoint

WordPress

iPhone GS for video and Mobypicture and Pixelpipe apps

“Sky” Schuyler

Sky Schuyler, CTO of the Dalai Lama Foundation, served as the tech lead on our trip and time and again generously shared information about his tech habits. Some of his favorite tools:

WordPress to power a long list of blogs

• Sky uses a Flip Mino recorder and occasionally its internal software to do rudimentary video editing.

FeedWordPress: Sky configured this plug-in to suck our individual blog feeds into the TravelingGeeks.com WordPress blog.

YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in), a Firefox plug-in for Firefox that finds related posts within my blog and I have configured it with a special CSS so it also displays little thumbnails next to the suggested posts.

PGP to encrypt email and confidential data on his computer.

Google Docs, chiefly for sharing word docs in the cloud.

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August 10, 2009

A chat with the co-founder of FriendFeed

A chat with the co-founder of FriendFeed from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaToday came word that Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site, is buying the microblogging service FriendFeed.

This is interesting on a couple of levels. First, it provides further proof that Twitter — the microblogging platform that has taken the world by storm this year — is truly not for sale. Second, it ratchets up the faceoff between Facebook and Google for supremacy in the social networking space. The four co-founders of FriendFeed are all ex-Google employees. Co-founder Paul Buchheit (above), whom I interviewed a few weeks ago at the UGCX conference in San Jose, was the creator and lead developer of Gmail. He also suggested Google’s now-famous motto “Don’t be evil” in a 2000 meeting on company values according to Wikipedia

FriendFeed In this 10-minute interview, a relaxed Buchheit talks about the company’s origins and launch in October 2007 from the very simple idea of “letting me know what’s going on with my friends” (one co-founder came at it from the premise of “friend alerts”).

Early in our talk I asked Paul what differentiated FriendFeed from Facebooks’s personalized news stream and from Twitter. He said that FriendFeed tends to be more content- and communication-oriented, encouraging people to share tidbits about what’s going on with them, instead of alerting people what Facebook group they’d joined or whether they’d been bitten by a zombie.

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FriendFeed’s premise is quite similar to Twitter’s, and I should have asked Paul about how Twitter has successfully leveraged an outside developer community by letting coders build applications on top of its platform — and why FriendFeed hasn’t taken a similar approach. But we did get into some of the differences between the two services. I like how FriendFeed threads discussions, in a way similar to forums and bulletin boards, letting people chime in on interesting conversations and providing some context. You can also “Like” a posted item, which is an easy way of conveying your approval.

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June 25, 2009

Innovate ceaselessly, shamelessly, like Facebook

Chris AbrahamI heart Facebook. This morning I awoke to Yet Another Facebook Innovation (YAFI). Facebook amazes me because they are driven to make things easier for me — or at least give it a go. Facebook is willing to suffer constant backlash in order to improve usability and efficiency.

Case in point below:

New Friends Facebook Check Boxes

In this particular case, the innovation is what I call a “Twitterish” innovation — stealing something directly from Twitter. A couple weeks ago, I stayed up until 12:01AM to secure another hype-drenched Twitterish innovation: vanity URLS: facebook.com/chrisabraham — I am such a sucker!

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